On Privilege

There’s lots of ways to frame what I’m trying to do with Banging Rocks. Tonight I’m focusing on privilege.

I have two streams of privilege.

Stream One: I’m a white cis hetero male with a good education and a flexible job from an undivided, accepting and moderately affluent home whose neurodiversity gets pegged as some flavour of “Gifted” most of the time. I’ve been exposed to the sort of folks and situations that have helped me develop intellectually, physically, emotionally and spiritually (not that I don’t have a LONG way to go in each case). I live in a the place and culture in which I was raised, one where all these traits are celebrated and lifted up.

Stream Two: I’ve had the extraordinary fortune to be exposed to the people, places, events, ideas and experiences that have helped me understand my level of privilege, and have nudged me into understanding lived experience other than my own, and not only how little of my privilege is earned, but how meaningless the idea of earned privilege even is. Everything is dependent. We are wolf notes in a universal orchestra. Where our gifts and our obstacles come from matters (know, challenge and honour your roots).

None of that means I haven’t had my own struggles, or worked hard in life. None of it is anything to feel guilty about on its own. But once you realize it, there’s a choice. You wake up. You see the world on fire. You see that the food you are putting into your mouth is from stolen land tended by exploited workers and watch the toxins we douse our environment with give rise to all manner of illness. You see the lemmingRun towards oblivion and the rise of a level of disparity that’s a new force in human history (yes, I know history a bit. No, I don’t see any parallels). THEN you have a choice, of what you’re going to do with that privilege.

It isn’t a simple switch. The binary of “Woke” / “Not Woke” is much less compelling to me than the recognition of the non-laminar continuum of decision I’m in the midst of, with less responsible choices to one side and an infinite branching topology of trade-offs and optimizations on the other side, any of which may or may not be a more worthy choice than another. That hodgepodge rainbow bridge is the one I’m working to cross.

When people ask me what Banging Rocks is about, my pat answer is “Banging Rocks uses VR and related technology for positive social impact”.

Because that’s pretty meaningless on its own, I usually end up saying something like: “What that really means is I find the people, organizations and issues that I find compelling, and find a way to bring them together into viable projects in an extremely emergent way”.

Here’s what I want that to mean. At its heart.

I’m not trying to divest myself of privilege. I’m trying to aim that privilege to where it can do the most good.

I’m White. I want to collaborate with those who aren’t to bring their voices and stories to new ears in new ways, and together to vision forward into something better than the increasingly racially charged and simplified world we’re in.

I’m a Cis Hetero Male. I want to collaborate with the LGBTQ2+ communities to help tell a story that’s about love, and about the transformative power – NOT of acceptance, because acceptance is a grudging halfway, but of enthusiastic embrace of diversity borne of an understanding that diversity is our greatest strength. Differentiation is what allows the glorious complex edge that is where Life has and will always happen.

I’ve come from an Undivided, Accepting home. I want to work with those who are building their own unity and acceptance, and who are innovating both out of their own unique brilliance and out of the necessity that comes from not having seen what that looks like in their own lives.

I come from affluence; not the mansion sort, but the never-had-to-wonder-where-my-next-meal-was-coming-from-growing-up sort. The family-has-two-cars-and-I-can-focus-on-my-studies-when-at-University sort. I want to work to build the tools that help us see how the current system works and why, and that help us imagine forward and create something more equitable, more inspiring, and more sustainable.

I also come from the sort of affluence that is so ubiquitously colonial that the colonizer eye doesn’t even recognize it as such. I want to work to decolonize – heart, mind, language, land, economy and nationhood. I want to work with the individuals and Nations who are interested in working with a colonizer eager to acknowledge, learn, listen, document, And those who want to work together to bridge a way forward through the cascading, traumatic, ongoing apocalypse being perpetrated.

My neurodiversity gets pegged as “Gifted”. Or Weirdo. I want to work with all the other weirdos whose neurological ways of experiencing and being in the world gets judged as “not normal” to help our culture stop marginalizing them or trying to fix them and start instead to understand and support them, and ideally realize that diversity is what yields cultural robustness. I also want to work with those who feel bound to normalcy and let that bondage prevent them from actually given the amazing gifts they have to offer to the world and themselves.

I live in the land and culture where I was raised. I want to work with those forced away from their homelands. I want collaborate to build community, to document and pass on culture and cultural learning, and to help others understand the complex, nuanced and vibrant lives and trajectories that lie behind the two dimensionalizing words “immigrant” and “refugee”.

I live on stolen, unceded land and benefit daily from it. I want to partner (not appropriate) with those whose cultures have been bulldozed through settlement, systematic oppression and cultural genocide to build a functional future together that respects not only the power and wisdom of First Nations, but respects in a real and practical way the sovereignty and rights those Nations deserve.

There’s lots of ways to frame what I’m working on at Banging Rocks. This is one. If it seems wrong-headed or hearted, maybe there’s something you can teach me. If any of that resonates, maybe you’re someone I should be working with. There’s a growing group of extraordinary collaborators coming together, and an even larger web of amazing people helping transform the world that we’re beginning to tap into.

Maybe we can work together to transform things.

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