On Privilege

Something that struck me as odd during my travels was the pervasive awareness of privilege, White privilege in particular.

Not just by people  of color, but by White people with those advantages, coming down on themselves for the abuses their peers have committed, and the legacy they have been born into.

Those of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds other than those of the first English and Anglo  have always known of the challenges that face us simply due to physical appearance,

The mistrust is culturally ingrained as part of our history in this country. But it is making progress.

I have personally heard privileged Anglo individuals admitting that it is people like them that have taken us into the sad state we’re in.

It was literally a rich White male saying rich White males are the problem. But it was that exact statement that truly gave me pause.

He wasn’t actually saying all rich White men are a problem with society, he was just finally acknowledging the fact that privilege and advantage is given to a very small segment of society in this county, and in turn, being exploited for their own benefit to the detriment of nearly all others.

He was acknowledging the fact that our current society marginalizes people of color at every turn.

Some people of color dismiss it as fashionable in these types of situations, but I saw their intent to be genuine.

I come from privilege too. As a second generation American of Mexican descent, I did not know the same rough barrios my parents did. We struggled, but I always had food on the table.

It was not until I got older and experienced those same drug infested crime riddled streets for myself that I began to understand. I had to find out for myself how these realities were, they were not my daily life, as they were for my parents and grandparents.

Still, I see their struggle as part of my own. I am only able to do what I do through the efforts of my grandfathers in the fields and the Army, my grandmothers care and supervision, through the constant raw physical exertion of my father and the dedicated perseverance of my mother. Their struggles to give their children better lives have given me these wonderful opportunities to share information and help facilitate change.

It is the privileges they have afforded me that makes me want to do what I can for others.

We all have certain talents, strengths and privileges. Whether it is our skin color, socio-economic status, natural ability, or hard work ethic, we all have gifts at our disposal.

We should not ever be ashamed of who we are or what we have been given. It is simply that we must use these gifts to their full extent.

Having a gift is not something to be ashamed of, not using it, is.

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On Names

Robbery

The crowd grew as the Occupy Rose Parade march advanced down the route on Jan. 2, passing many of the same institutions it was protesting, confident in their constitutional rights to free expression and peaceable assembly.

They already know who we are.

During my trip, as I was getting to know some of the most socially conscious people I have ever met,  it occurred to me that publishing their names was probably not the best idea. As the trip went on, though, it became abundantly clear that it did not matter whether I printed them or not.

People have had their computers hacked into, websites infiltrated, communications intercepted and information seized. This is apart from all those already identified through arrests, protest participation and video coverage.

This movement is peaceful, nonviolent and LEGAL. There is technically no reason for protestors to be afraid of showing their faces. Sadly, this is not the reality. Law enforcement keeps track of participants, period. People get beaten, pepper sprayed and tear gas cannoned to the head.

Those who are trying to hide do so out of self-preservation. And with good reason. After the recent passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, and the coming H.R. 3166: Enemy Expatriation Act, government sanctions on perceived threats are becoming much more severe.

The NDAA authorizes indefinite detention, with no contact to the outside world, no right to trial and no avenue towards release other than through the system that put you there. H.R. 3166 threatens to strip you of your citizenship in the United States and deny you all the rights thereof.

I did not want to unfairly endanger anyone for exercising their rights. Sanctions against those speaking out seemed far to severe and unconstitutional. If I printed names I could not ethically justify contributing to these sanctions.

As my trip progressed I began to see things differently.

The people I met and interacted with were all aware of what being part of the Occupy movement means. The challenges they face. The repercussions of arrest. The fact that they become targets for law enforcement.

Those who have already been arrested have confirmed this, guards and officers have admitted it. Reporters and activists have been visited by agents from the FBI and other departments regarding their involvement. Communications via secure servers have been intercepted and used to identify participants.

In hearing all this, from so many different sources, I began to realize how little it mattered what I chose. The government already knows who is participating, they watch the live streams too.

Still, it should not matter. Protesters are not doing anything illegal, Oakland Black Bloc actions aside. It is a constitutional right to participate in these actions. There should be no need to conceal your identity, but in reality, certain threats to civil liberties do stem directly from political participation, which just goes to show you which direction this country is heading.

All said, I decided that what is most important is that I share the information I gathered on this trip, the names are irrelevant. I am sure the government already knows who they are, but publicly declaring themselves is up to them, they know what they face.

Until then all I can say is that I am exercising my duty, as a journalist, to share the information the public wishes to know, the information corporate media is blatantly ignoring.

My name is Frank Thomas Cardenas. I publish this website and I believe in my constitutional right to do so.

– Serious Note