In this piece, lawyer Bryan K. Bullock takes a look at how the “Occupy” movement has failed to articulate a racial justice agenda on behalf of its own contradictions. The frame is “Main Street” vs. Wall Street, but what about King Drive?
I went to a meeting of a local “occupation” group, which was, predictably, attended mainly by liberal whites. I walked in just in time to hear a young white man suggesting that confrontation with the police was the logical next step because drastic measures were needed. He obviously has had a different life experience than I have had in dealing with the police and therefore didn’t know what he was asking for. I spoke and expressed my sentiments to the group, namely that we in poor black communities need grocery stores, economic investment and jobs, and that the “occupy” movement was not addressing these fundamental issues. I told them that unless they were willing to address these issues, I personally, would not want to “occupy” with them. They listened. Most, though not all, agreed with my thoughts. Then they began to say that they were concerned about the “big” issues like Wall Street and wars and that they probably needed to also be concerned about the people who live in places like Gary. I was insulted by their arrogance. Living in a food dessert IS a big issue. Living in an economic wasteland IS a big deal. Having one’s school system privatized IS a big issue. Rampant crime, underground economies and police brutality ARE big issues. Not having jobs that one can walk to or that are located in one’s hometown, IS a big issue.