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Watercooler: Identity

Hi, y’all.

Tomorrow is the third meeting of the Occupy Austin Conscious Relationships Discussion Group. So far the discussions have been deeply thought provoking, just by virtue of getting a bunch of people with wildly different viewpoints together — people choosing to live their lives in different ways, with different abilities, orientations, upbringings … (Here are the notes from the second meeting about assumptions)

The next meeting is about gender roles and how they fit, or don’t our actual lives. In preparation, I’ve posted some conversation starters on my Facebook, like this classic CRIMETHINC Gender subversion poster or John Scalzi’s recent article on privilege and straight white male geeks. You can imagine the lively discussion that has resulted.

I keep feeling though that I have to defend myself against the idea that we should just transcend our differences overnight — stop talking about sexual orientation, race, or maybe even class and just recognize our common humanity. Perhaps it’s a beautiful idea, but how do we get there without working (fighting!) to dismantle the old systems, the old ways of thinking about all these divisions? To me, it feels like a position of privilege to make this argument — I’ve never struggled with that (gender, sexual orientation, bigotry of many kinds), so you should just get over your struggles with it.

In a way, it’s similar to what Occupy Wall Street itself faces. We can imagine that “A Better World Is Possible,” but unless we have serious discussions about what that would look like, and what’s wrong with this world, I don’t know how we’ll ever get there.

That’s what’s on my mind today, what’s on yours?

This is today’s open thread.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and