Occupy Wall Street has been going strong for over a month. People from all walks of life have occupied Zucotti Park, which has been nicknamed Liberty Square, protesting bank bailouts, corporate greed, and the unchecked power of Wall Street in Washington. The protestors say that they represent the 99% of Americans and seek a political agenda that is more attuned to the 99% rather than the wealthiest 1% it currently seems to cater to.
As part of the larger Occupy Together phenomenon, 100 movements have sprouted up nationally and there have now been 1,500 “Occupy” inspired protests in 82 countries worldwide. Among the faces are college students with excessive student loan debt, elderly people who have lost their homes to foreclosure, and people who have been laid off from their jobs and have spent months unemployed while searching for new opportunities amidst this vicious job market. Given how heavily the recession has affected Black unemployment rates and how large a percentage of Black America occupies the 99%, one might assume that Black people would be on the front lines of the “Occupy” protest. However, this has not been the case.
Perhaps Black America simply does not believe in the movement yet. Many have criticized the Occupy protestors for being disorganized, and not having a set of clear goals. Footage of the chaos on the Brooklyn Bridge where 700 people were arrested during an Occupy march is all over the web. Videos of women being pepper sprayed in the face, and police officers beating protestors indiscriminately have also gone viral. Given these images, it is possible that Black America feels the stakes are too high to support a movement that has yet to definitively define itself.Some see the ability to protest in this fashion as a sign of privilege. Camping out in Zucotti Park is simply not possible for everyone. While there may be Black moral support for the Occupy movement, physical support may not be something they can afford. There are many people in the 99% Black and non-Black alike doing their best to hold on to the jobs they’ve got. Still others are working multiple part-time jobs just to make ends meet. Many have families that they need to support. Occupying any space besides a workplace might simply feel unrealistic to them. But what about the unemployed masses of Black Americans that are constantly being talked about?
Black celebrities such as Kanye West, Russell Simmons and Danny Glover have publicly supported the Occupy movement, but even with such an endorsement, Black people have had relatively low attendance. Some believe this is in part because when Black people turn on their televisions or search the web, they look out into the crowd and see mostly white faces. This gives Black Americans the sense that the protests are not about them. However, someone must take the first step. If Black people want to see themselves in the movement, Black people have to put themselves in the movement.The main tenets of Occupy Together are wealth inequality, poverty, the burden of debt and unemployment. There are multiple reasons why Black people have not supported the Occupy movement in mass, but many more reasons why they should. Black unemployment has reached rates that have not been seen in decades. Elderly Black people are being ousted from homes they have lived in since the Civil Rights era. Almost half of Black children live in poverty. The wealth gap between Blacks and Whites continues to widen. Black families around the country continue to be torn apart by the prison system from which Wall Street earns billions each year. Black people have every reason to become a part of this movement. Black people must stand up and be counted because Black voices need to be an integral part of this movement to ensure that Wall Street and the government are held accountable.
Furthermore, I do not see any relevance of the NESARA theory to this issue o OWS. It is an unwelcome distraction and an inappropriate venue to air it.
EDWARD HILL, a dean at Cleveland State University, on new issues like poverty confronting the suburbs.
We are all the summation of our own life experiences…and that is all. Nobody can speak for anybody else…all that we can do is look at the data on how they voted and leave our guesses as to their motivations aside. Fact is, there really is no such thing as a black perspective or white perspective as that grossly oversimplifies each individual’s perspective, which is dangerous…and basic sociology.
Most folks remember Cynthia McKinney as the Congresswoman from Georgia, not for the futile Green Party run. I will bet that most black folks have never heard of her either (I don’t know anybody that does), including the Koch brother’s own “black walnut” candidate, Herman (Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan) Cain. Do you know who David Cobb is? What does it matter? All Green Party votes are essentially votes for Republicans anyway. Do any of us really “get it”?
That is not exactly true as there are plenty of things that have changed as a result of progressive white folks becoming socially conscious (that did not directly affect them). They pushed for this change because it was the right thing to do…just like voting for President Obama. The black vote comprised only 13% of the total vote in 2008, with 96% of those voting for President Obama. White folks are the reason that the President was elected. I’d say that we have made significant progress in this country, but we still have a ways to go. It does not help when you have high visibility guys like Herman Cain telling white rednecks in the Repugnican debate audience that racial discrimination is over in this country, and that if you aren’t rich, it is your own damned fault (or Obama’s).
Black folks only comprise 12.6% of the total population, so depending somewhat on progressive whites to further the cause is part of the cross that must be born by a decided minority…any minority.
Like the original piece said, “Black people have every reason to become a part of this movement.”. These are class issues that transcend race. But, if folks want to be counted, they must first vote.
In the 2004 and 2008 national races, roughly 64% of the eligible voters did so. The difference was that in 2008 with Barack Obama on the ballot, the makeup of the 131 million who voted was markedly different. While the number of non-Hispanic white voters remained roughly the same, 2 million more blacks, 2 million more Latinos and 600,000 more Asians turned out. Compared with 2004, the voting rate for black, Asian and Hispanic voters increased by about four percentage points. The rate for whites declined by one percentage point.
Will the black vote be there for President Obama as well? Will it be there if no black candidates are on the Presidential ballot in 2016? What if Herman Cain (or someone of like philosophy) is on the ballot in 2016, will blacks turn out to support him or her?
Bringing people of color up into the work force with real job skills and proper training programs. I work in the science and technology sector. We have very few black scientific Phds (One) and graduate students. Our program has 3 black graduate students currently in our department. I could count on my hand how many have graduated the program. Now this is actually progress for our department. When I arrived in 1998 it was zero. Progress for black Americans in high technology arenas is very slow. We have many people of color in science but my concern still falls with black americans that have been in this country for years that need to be brought forward in the science and technology fields. Thanks Sol for bringing this to light.
Love you Bertha and hope you are doing well.
Steve in Texas.