Occupy the ‘Hood

This one is just going to be a stub. I would have liked it to be a full-length post, but a) I’m running out of time in the week, and b) there’s other stuff that I want to get said before Movie Friday. So I will instead just invite you to read about something I think is very cool and important:

Just one week into the Occupy Wall Street movement, some activists identified what they considered a major flaw in the organising process, saying that people of colour in the United States were left out of the initial mobilisation. From the start, the Occupy movement has prided itself on representing “99 per cent” of the population, meaning they have vastly different experiences from the highest earning one per cent, who have a much stronger ability to control and affect both the financial system and the government.

But some activists view the 99 per cent claim critically, saying that they were not included, and therefore the claim is problematic. As soon as Malik Rhaasan began to use Facebook and Twitter for his idea of “Occupy the Hood”, an Occupy sub-organisation that would aim to bring people of colour into the organising process, it began to catch on. Between the two outreach tools, the group has more than 7,000 followers from around the world, and at least five major US cities have organised their own chapters.

I mentioned some aspects of this phenomenon before, but the fact is that the problems plaguing the middle class in the United States have been the reality for black and brown Americans for many years. The police brutality leveled against peaceful protesters is also nothing new to black Americans – at least nobody has been shot for wallet possession yet. 

The fact is that you can’t talk about issues of economic inequality without talking about racism – they are strongly linked. The irony inherent fact that it has taken an international financial catastrophe for the rest of the country to recognize that an unfair political and financial system is a problem is not lost on those who have been scholars of racism. And while I’m glad that we’re finally angry enough to do something about the system, I’m more glad that groups like Occupy the ‘Hood aren’t letting the opportunity to raise important issues pass by.

There’s nothing really specific to report here, but I am following OtH on Twitter and am glad that these issues aren’t being swept under the rug in the interest of “sticking to the main focus”.

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  1. thztds says

    I happened to catch the Smiley & West show this past weekend (Tavis Smiley & Cornel West radio program) talking about the Occupy movement. West suggested that one of the reasons for lower turnout among minorities is that this type of protest carries a reasonable risk of arrest, and that being arrested when one is black or brown is often a significantly different experience than being arrested when one is white. Even if the charge is a relatively tame “unlawful assembly.”

    Of course, this program aired the weekend after West himself was arrested for demonstrating on the steps of the Supreme Court.


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