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chicago dyke's picture

Just wondering, but how many of the OWS folk are brown and/or speak say, Spanish?

This is important, and will define the "movement." I bet a lot of you are like me (and color isn't important, in this sense) but if you are, you're too broke to pitch a tent in Manhattan. Because if you leave your job, you'll lose your house or apartment, and other stuff you need to live.

Ironically, I have too much work to do today (a Sunday, no less!) so this will be a short post. But seriously, how can the poor going to become part of this movement? Are any in the 'leadership' of it reaching out to the working poor? It appears that there is a degree of what some would call 'global' solidarity. Do the factory slaves in Asia who made the cell phone cameras that are making lots of white, globally speaking financial top "1%" (and if you don't know, anyone making more than ~$40,000/yr is in the top 1%) activists youtube famous know that "someone is fighting for their rights?" If not, why not? Revolution that doesn't include the peasants isn't really "revolution."

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Submitted by lambert on

I think the progressive stack shows good impulses -- that do not, as okanagen points out, confront class as a stack -- but I see this in terms of the horizontal scaling issue. How to scale out the Occupations? It's hard work to be poor! This post raises an identical issue. Why aren't the hotel workers at the GA? Well, they're working for shit money and using horrible public transport, for starters. That said, I think the way to go forward with the issue is to start with a GA. What other forum is there?

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Bruce Dixon did a really good post on this at Black Agenda Report.

From "From Occupying the Financial Districts to Occupying the Goods in Our Hoods":

The event, and Occupy Chicago too, are overwhelmingly white. For a city that's still a quarter black after losing some 200,000 African Americans in recent years, that's problematic. I didn't see any Latinos either. This was less true on Columbus Day, when transit and teachers unions and SEIU swelled their ranks for an afternoon. But the union leaderships in Chicago have been Democratic Party functionaries for a long time. Their clear objective is to take over, or at least take some credit in the eyes of their members and the public, for the protests.

I asked some south side activists about the nature of their disconnect with the people occupying Chicago's financial district.

“We'll see a lot more black people involved in this occupation stuff,” J.R. Fleming of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Movement told me, “when we start occupying these thousands of vacant bank-owned homes and apartments. You can take a day to protest downtown, and come back here and you're still homeless or about to be homeless. When we occupy the goods in our hoods, that will be the occupation that means something to people out here. That will be the occupation that really makes a difference.”.

So yeah, when all you have is deteriorating public transport to get you around (cue Los Angelos, probably the worst there is), and a shitty job you can't leave because you or your kids will starve or be made homeless, then the only place you are going to be occupying is your workplace, or your neighborhood.

Regarding the Progressive Stack, I think it is a great concept and you have to start somewhere. But wow, that word "Progressive" is just so fucked out the gate that it sets off bells for me. I'm thinking "creative class" and Booman, and so on, so it doesn't surprise me that it apparently doesn't specifically address class, or the digital divide, or the marginalized underclasses at all. I hope it isn't all about the optics.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

esta aqui.

I hear lots of Spanish being spoken in Zuccotti Park. About one in three New Yorkers, after all, speaks Spanish. Also, there are many Spaniards around, direct from the occupations in Madrid.

There's a working group for translation. And, at least as of last week, there's a Spanish language GA.

Submitted by lambert on

All that pre-planning paid off big time, I'm guessing. Needs to spread. Wish we had more reports like this one from LA, Austin...

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

They marches to City Hall, the Brooklyn Bridge, and now Times Square are raising awareness of the occupation, and they're giving people who aren't part of Occupy Wall Street a chance to join in.

A trip to a working-class neighborhood would be a good idea, but it would take a lot of logistics to support that. I think they can do it, and I think they should do it, but they'll have to plan for it.

Submitted by lambert on

To me, that's key. The Occupiers should not descend on "the neighborhoods" (Philly expression) without showing the elementary form of politeness of asking (The "dirty hippies" frame is there, just waiting to be used. Off topic, but not: OccupyPhilly should definitely march and if possible compete in the Mummer's parade). Not "We're here to help you because we're not working right now, we're smart, we're, er, really white.... " which is another frame just waiting to happen. Leadership is not domination but service...

Something like this happened in Madrid; after Puerta del Sol broke up, they move out into the neighborhoods. Foreclosure defense would be one issue that's immediately obvious.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

From today's OWS report on yesterday's Oct 15 demos:

New Yorkers congregated in assemblies organized by borough, and then flooded the subway system en mass to join the movement in Manhattan. A group calling itself Todo Boricua Para Wall Street marched as a Puerto Rican contingent of several hundred playing traditional music and waving the Lares flag, a symbol of resistance to colonial Spain. "Puerto Ricans are the 99% and we will continue to join our brothers and sisters in occupying Wall Street," said David Galarza Santa, a trade unionist from Sunset Park, Brooklyn. "We are here to stand with all Latinos, who are being scapegoated by the 1%, while it is the bankers who have caused this crisis and the banks who are breaking the law."

Puerto Ricans are to today's New York what Italians and Irish were fifty or sixty years ago.. "Nuyoricans" are the civil servants, the shopkeepers the union rank and file. You can't Occupy New York without getting Boricuas on board.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

Transcript from the meeting minutes of yesterday's NY General Assembly:

Proposal: to buy a 6500W bio-diesel generator to power entire site. Fuel has been donated. (many spirit fingers)
Cost: $2,200
Oops. Can we get a temp check?
Any blocks?
Darrell from finance has no objections to the item. However, for the process, these are capital expenditures. They should come to finance first, to see if there are other options, or to see how much they are going to cost over the long-term.
Point of process: that is not a block. That is a concern.
A concern: is the bio-diesel source infinite?
Nope, 2 months.
Stack is now open for clarifying questions.
1 question from Kathryn: I want to know who is providing the generator, please.
Any last clarifying questions?
Alguna otra pregunta?
Stack is closed.
I’d like to do another temp check
Quiero chequear la tempuratura?
Algun bloque?

Consensus!!! It tastes so good!

Si, el consenso es sabroso!

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

With the caveat that I can only speak for what I've seen and participated in, I'll try to address some of the points you raise.

I have seen no lack of brown people at the Liberty Plaza Occupation via Livestream. Nor is there an absence of Spanish spoken, though personally I think there could be more.

The local Occupation I'm involved in and support in Sacramento is not at all as white and privileged as some seem to be, but everyone I know who is seriously interested in seeing the movement grow is very conscious of the need for outreach to those who aren't necessarily as WiFied and mobile, nor as young, as many of the most dedicated activists are. (White Male Dominance is not an issue -- at least not yet -- at the local Occupation; "arrogant, self-important little twits" are!)

A local Occupier who is confined to a wheelchair was arrested for civil disobedience last night. He's been doing what he can to get the word out too. We were active participants in Indigenous People's Day the day before yesterday, and the Occupation is trying to hook up more directly with established multi-cultural organizations. All these are just examples of what is going on to expand the base of the Occupation to really be inclusive.

That doesn't mean the relatively well off are excluded. Far from it.

Not everyone is in a position to pitch a tent; not everyone is called on to do it, either, not in New York and not anywhere else I'm aware of. Those who can, yay! Those who can't do it support those who can. Employed people who want to stay employed can't afford to dedicate their lives to this movement, and they are not really called on to do it.

The desperately poor and homeless are part of the movement in Sacramento, though perhaps not to the degree they are present rather than active. People of all status do what they can when and how they can -- even if it is little more than listening to someone speechify -- and it's all good.

But the absence of many poor people who aren't already associated with the Plaza somehow has been noted widely, and strategies are being worked out to provide easier access for everyone.

Part of the concept, too, is that "we're all peasants" in the eyes of those at the very top of the pyramid. I was discussing this yesterday with a fellow who had conducted the "Privilege vs Oppression" workshop that highlighted how well off (Privileged) some of us there in the Plaza were compared to others (Oppressed). Though I probably didn't make the point very well, I was trying to get across the idea that the exercise may actually reinforce division within the Underclass to the advantage of the Overclass. Just because someone in the 99% is relatively better off in every way than someone else in the 99% -- and we were able to visualize just how stark the division is through the exercise -- doesn't mean that we aren't ALL "peasants" in the eyes of the 1%. Their rule is dependent in part on our continuing to focus on division and difference within our own group.

When we do that, we reinforce our own powerlessness.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

I embedded a video at my place showing a protest at a foreclosure auction. Amazing stuff.

Maybe the working poor could identify injustices like that and plan actions for them? I think an ongoing occupation might be a lot harder for the reasons you cite, but if they see their neighborhoods being torn down (or other outrages of the 1% in their backyard) they could take a case by case direct action with whoever had the time and resources to spare.

Submitted by lambert on

I don't want to be a Polyanna or a finger wagger, just that mutual respect is important . Now, my own class bias enters in, I am sure, but I see media as something that is important that the working poor are not likely to have mastered. Perhaps I am wrong. No matter what, the media should be servant and not master. Difficult!

Submitted by Stone Riley on

Our little group here at Occupy Worcester (Massachusetts) so far consists mainly of folk from the permanent White underclass that was created in New England long ago to serve the mills.

These are not the nouveau poor recently stripped of privilege but rather old-poor folk who are newly lit with hope. And by the way, racism has never been a popular option with them. And also, they were one of the founding populations of the American labor movement. And in the last few generations they've been beaten down severely by the closing of the mills.

But still, the history of the Black folk who are here is worse. They are largely descended from refugees who fled the South in the twentieth century. Once here in New England, they found themselves classified by the power structure here as lesser beings even than the mill hand Whites.

Latino folks are more recent here but their reception by the power structure seems to largely follow the experience of Blacks.

So far, in our first two weeks of Occupy Worcester, we've got a pretty strong forward outreach. We are volunteering for the anti-foreclosure effort and sending garbage pick-up crews to the most blighted neighborhood in town which is, of course, mostly people of color.

We are still getting the skeptical stand off reaction from the other ethnic groups but I'm optimistic it won't last. We need them. When they see that we're for real, they will decide that they need us.

Submitted by lambert on

Thanks for logging in and telling us this. Please, as much detail as you can give! We really want to hear how this goes, and also how to emulate! #OccupyWorcester

Stone, don't be overly modest. This is worth a post! Document, take photos, because the cleanup concept is new and others should now.