Saturday, October 08, 2011


long before there was an Occupy Wall Street
Much has been made by some by the lack of participation of People of Color at Occupy Wall Street sites around the country.  It's true, People of Color have been staying away.  It isn't hard to figure out why and the young folks in this new movement need to figure it out. Anyway, I've been there before so I will not bother you with my thoughts right now.  I will just say until the new movement begins to deal with issues of significance to People of Color, until it realizes the differences between being a middle class white person trying to pay back their college loan and the plight of African Americans in America, until it recognizes the need to not talk to People of Color, but listen to them, not try to tell them what to do, but take leadership from them, People of Color ain't coming down...and neither are lots of people like me.  This movement cannot make real change until it understands what race means in America and takes on white supremacy, white privilege and racism directly...with other white people.  I hate to be such a grouch, but its time to grow up folks. The short comment below from Midwest Mountain Mama speaks volumes.


the point to me is not that they are not including us—because that accepts the white supremacist media narrative that this is the first time protests against capitalism have happened. 
the point to me is that we are including THEM.  WE laid the ground work for this moment in time with our bodies, communities, love and stregnth. WE created the critical analysis for this moment, WE created the models of resistance and transformative change, WE have been organizing for the past 500 years, and WE have been the ones organizing especially hard in the post-911 world—THEY are joining the rest of us. THAT is the point to me—to make sure the question does not get rewritten to “where are all the people of color” when we all know the real question is “where have the white folks been?”


Jay said...

But People of Color are at OWS: they were their when labor marched in solidarity with the OWS action, and they are there now.

OWSers joined the march for Troy Davis that went by their location, too. None of the OWSers I've heard from, and none of those here in Cleveland I have met or observed, have been telling People of Color anything; OWS is an expression of many contradictions, but in dealing with People of Color I have seen a lot of humility.

This article speaks of Haitian activists planning a solidarity visit to OWN:

Oread Daily said...

Good for Cleveland. Listen, I know I don't know what is going on everywhere and I am sure labor brings Black folks with them.

Oread Daily said...

However, look at the marches and the like in most places and on most days and you see an ocean of white faces and a few people of color. You see signs about the 99% as if that 99% is just some large homogeneous mass. It isn't and we shouldn't pretend like it is. Lowest common denominator politics leads to...lowest common denominator results. We may be all members of the human race, but our lives,our histories, our experiences, our levels of oppression, and our histories of struggle against that oppression are not the same. White folks never experienced slavery, Jim Crow, and all the rest of the racist shit that this country has been built on...not rich white folks, not working class white folks, not even poor white folks. In my city, Kansas City, the city went nuts because black kids decided to hang out in an "exclusive" entertainment and shopping area. Hundreds of cops were called out each weekend, and finally a curfew was declared to keep these kids away. That ain't much, but it is an example of what People of Color face everyday. White people simply do not experience that. One last question, what if the economy were to come back, what if those middle class white folks got their jobs back, what if those white kids could pay off their school loans and go back to school, how many will continue occupying here there and everywhere on behalf of all the African Americans, Native Americans, and other People of Color once more left behind. Be honest. Where have they been.

Ruslan said...

To be honest part of the problem is that there are many white people who still have it good enough to be ABLE to have long, drawn out protests like this. I'd imagine that many non-white people would love to show up and protest but they are stuck in jobs which don't permit them to do so. And also remember that parent-funded white college students can take an arrest or pay a fine. That might not be financially feasible for many non-whites. Privilege definitely plays a role, I'm sad to say.

That's why people need to point this out to many of these white folks. I got a bit pissed myself when I read the demands of one Occupy protest and they seemed to be geared almost exclusively toward favoring college students and graduates. As a working-class white dude who never went to college, I was hopping mad. It demanded, for example, $15 per hour minimum for college graduates. I guess those of us who have qualifications but no degree are screwed. Bottom line is- privilege is an issue here, but the positive side is that it presents a good opportunity to teach some of these people about privilege and how it works.

Speaking of non-whites, what's the deal with lumping everybody who doesn't fit into "white"(a difficult question indeed) into a new group called "People of Color?" You're talking about countless different ethnic groups and cultures and you turn them into "People of Color?" We already have to break down the false identity of "white", we aren't going to succeed by lumping the rest into one group. I know that "People of Color" is a pretty common phrase, but you must understand I've traveled to many countries, and seen many nationalities most Americans have never heard of. The idea of lumping them into one group just because they don't necessarily fit America's socially constructed "white" identity seems as insidious as when the first slave-owning rulers lumped different Europeans into a group they would call "white."

Ruslan said...

" One last question, what if the economy were to come back, what if those middle class white folks got their jobs back, what if those white kids could pay off their school loans and go back to school, how many will continue occupying here there and everywhere on behalf of all the African Americans, Native Americans, and other People of Color once more left behind."

That's a damn good question. America's so-called "middle class" bought into the meritocracy myth, and while things were good these suburban idiots preached about how hard-working and special they were. Poor people had only themselves to blame they assured us. And if they weren't millionaires yet well, that was just because of the taxes. Then the shit hit the fan and these people don't know what to do. They feel real fear for the first time in their life; everything the believed in is crumbling before them.

The only way to prevent the scenario you speak of is to take the WHOLE system down. It can't be about "saving the middle class", it has to be about the working class, period. And they need to drop this 99% bullshit because 99% includes a LOT of people who are part of the problem, not the solution.