Occupy the Ghetto, by Bryan K. Bullock

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.

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Occupy Wall Street’s Race Problem, by Kenyon Farrow

Speaking of Percentages...

An article in the American Prospect lays bare the stark race problem of the “Occupy” movement. Writer Kenyon Farrow analyzes the problematic frames in addition to other manifestations of white privilege.

Comparing debt to slavery, believing police won’t hurt you, or wanting to take back the America you see as rightfully yours are things that suggest OWS is actually appealing to an imagined white (re)public. Rather than trying to figure out how to diversify the Occupy Wall Street movement, white progressives need to think long and hard about their use of frameworks and rhetoric that situate blacks at the margins of the movement.

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Statement from DeColonize LA, by DeColonize LA


A statement was posted by DeColonize LA yesterday on the UnpermittedLA blog questioning through their shared experiences the ‘leaderless’ claims of Occupy LA and how it has actually functioned to marginalize the more disenfranchised sectors of the 99%. The breaking point came when a flier with names and photos of activists was circulated accusing them of seeking to ‘hijack’ the movement and provoke police. At this juncture, DeColonize LA is shifting focus to form popular assemblies throughout the city instead.

We made several attempts to present proposals, workshops, and discussions at the General Assembly, in small groups, and in one-on-one conversations. Although the overall Occupation movement nationally aspires to use participatory democracy and the consensus process to be inclusive of the people, the efforts by the leadership to maintain informal control have prevented discussion or recognition of patriarchy, white supremacy, classism, heteronormativity, and other layers of oppression that exist in the broader society, which continue to be perpetuated within this “occupation.” Women of color in particular have been silenced. Many of us are tired of futilely trying to explain to middle class white activists that they really aren’t experiencing the same levels of oppression as people of color or the working class or underclass. The constant rhetoric of the “99%” and calls for blind “unity” have the effect of hiding inequalities and very real systems of oppression that exist beyond the “1%-99%” dichotomy and rendering invisible the struggles of a majority of the people in this city.

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A History of Georgia’s 1%: Why You Must Face Race to Occupy Atlanta, by Kung Li

Lewis gets blocked at Occupy Atlanta

Last Friday, Civil Rights Activist turned Congressman John Lewis was blocked from addressing Occupy Atlanta’s general assembly. The person who opposed the idea did so on the basis of “kick starting a democratic process where no singular human being is inherently more valuable than any other human being” – you know, the very ideal Lewis risked and damn near lost his life as a black man and SNCC organizer decades before the Occupy movement ever got started. The incident highlights many of the issues Disoccupy aggregates articles on. A news & analysis piece from Colorlines delves into why confronting race is integral to any efforts to take on the 1% and offers historical examinations of Occupied Atlanta in 1865/1906/1960/1996 and 2011 to further shine a light.

Getting it right about race is important for the Occupy movement everywhere, but especially here in Georgia, where there is nothing subtle about the relationship between race, corporations and the government. Georgia’s government was created by and for plantation farmers, the original 1 percent, running antebellum corporations. And that 1 percent has been using everything in its power, most notably the criminal justice system, to hold on to its centuries-old gains.

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BLACK OUT! At Occupy Philadelphia, by Complex Brown

Over the weekend, two black women were called the N-word by two volunteers at Occupy Philadelphia (and that’s not all!) A Black Out protest was organized in response to the hateful racial epithets. The participating activists were actually derided as being divisive and told by people who came up to them that racism is a thing of the past. Forget that Blacks and Latinos have been the hardest hit by the recession.

We spoke out about RACISM IN THE 99 percent. We spoke out about how nobody was talking about the racist foundation of corporate greed. How do we talk about classim without taking about racism? American wealth can not be discussed without mention of free African slave labor, the rice, tobacco, sugar and cotton industry. We were called racist because we empowered ourselves and stood up for what was right.

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Desis Take Action At Occupy Wall Street, with video by V.V., with video by Thanu Yakupitiyage

A great link that, aside from great conversation on video, also points out how the General Assembly’s official document doesn’t tell the full story of how it feels to be a person of color fighting for a voice at Occupy:

How many activities and movements or even conversations have I forgone, thinking that they had no space for me? How many times have I thought that some purportedly progressive activity wasn’t even considering anyone like me? How many times have I walked away, rather than saying anything, because I was bone-tired?

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Seven Occupy Wall Street Racial Justice Roadblocks Posted, by Ernesto

As so many people of forward seeking to make sense of Occupy and move forward, Ernesto approaches some inherent obstacles, like Consciousness of History, Credibility Gaps, The Power of Political Trickle Down, Lack of Leaders Means Leaders Move Covertly, Lack of Agenda, Occupy Language, Process Issues. He concludes by addressing those people of color who engaging with Occupy:

It is the obligation of people of color who want to be involved in Occupy efforts and wish to see more political investment by communities of color to organize in a united fashion independent of Occupy actions, and to do community outreach. It is on you to meet with our communities who cannot or will not come out to these events, for whatever reason, hear openly and share their concerns with a movement you clearly wish to support. It is up to you to lead community mobilizations. If you have no relationships or credibility in those communities, beyond your skin tone, it is up to you to be honest about that and mend fences and/or build relationships.

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