|Occupy No, Liberation Yes! By N'ya Finley|
|Wednesday, 14 December 2011 20:18|
The Occupy DC Movement has firmly implanted itself at both Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square. While there may be some differences in leadership and strategy, the Occupy movement is connected to the national critique of corporate capitalism and the uneven distribution of political power and wealth in America. On the surface, the movement extols moral and ethical principles of racial and economic equity that I individually and organizationally support. Therefore, I felt compelled to visit both sites and see how I could become part of this cadre of people who were questioning and challenging the institutions of power. Time and space does not allow me a full account of every event or a detailed analysis, but it does permit me to share my personal accounts thus far.
I first visited the Freedom Plaza site on Friday, October 6th and subsequently have attended several General Assembly meetings in the evening. On that day, amongst the array of colorful tents, the multiracial and multiethnic groups of people, the protest songs, and speaker after speaker, I canvassed the Plaza.
I approached a casually dressed Caucasian man in his mid-40s and asked him why he was here. He replied, "I lost my job and am living on the fringes of society." I said, "I empathize with you, but do you know what the unemployment rate is for Black people in DC?" He did not.
I then approached a Caucasian woman in her mid-40s, colorfully dressed, with a sign reading "I am the 99%." Respectfully, I told her that if she wanted to send a strong and powerful message, she should go and occupy the deplorable neighborhoods of poverty to see some of the faces of the 99% in this city in addition to occupying Freedom Plaza. Her response was "Go and get them and bring them down here."
Two weeks later I visited McPherson Square, and again I walked around looking, listening, and reflecting on the mostly Caucasian environment, which saw a sprinkling of Black people and other people of color. I went over to the information booth, picked up some literature, and started a conversation with a gentleman who was working the booth. We exchange pleasantries, and he told me more about Occupy DC at McPherson Square. I attended the "People of Color" Committee meeting and discovered that white male patriarchy and paternalism is a major issue at McPherson Square since Caucasian males occupy much of the leadership positions and monopolize the ideas, opinions, and perspectives.
Gender issues and concerns were also expressed as were the continued impact of white supremacy and domination. There was much discussion about the national and international political and economic implications of the word "occupy" to indigenous people and people of color. The imperialist and colonialist nature of the word and its offensive tone and tenor to persons of color not only in DC but throughout occupy centers around the country. Equally important is the occupying status of the District of Columbia by Congress, which denies proper representation in the halls of Congress. The continued occupation by a morally and ethically anemic City Council that's more interested in speaking to the needs of the privileged and connected, who promote corporate interests over the needs and interests of its entire citizenry.
A recurring theme I continue to hear in the different committees and meetings I have attended is "we want more people of color, especially Black people, involved." I cannot respond on behalf of the multitude of perspectives and opinions within the Black Community; however, my informal questioning continues to return me to the word "trust." The Occupy Movement claims to be serious in its intent to challenge the societal values of rugged individualism, privilege, selfishness, and resource access for some. The movement advocates for recreating a more inclusive space for a more diverse representation of Americans, classes of people from different walks of life, and perspectives in its challenge to corporate capitalism and the redistribution of political and economic power. Therefore, if it is indeed serious, the movement and we must be ready to engage in the true radical revolution of values that encourages the systematic and structural change that will benefit all humans. This revolution will take place in the spirit of love and authentic solidarity of human worth and dignity in true liberation of all of our souls, for we all are a work in progress. So as the Occupy DC movement gains momentum, I strongly suggest we consider changing the name to "Liberate DC" as a profound and critical assessment of the movement's motives and aims, for we all are under occupation of societal, bankrupt values that do not honor and respect the dignity and worth of all human beings. Occupy DC, No; Liberate DC, Yes!
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 December 2011 20:21|