Occupy Wall Street Struggles to Make ‘the 99%’ Look Like Everybody
Source: NY Times
Two weeks into Occupy Wall Street’s takeover of Zuccotti Park, a group of Bronx community organizers and friends rode the subway down to Lower Manhattan to check out a movement they supported in principle.
When they got there, they recalled, they found what they had suspected: a largely white and middle-class crowd that claimed to represent “the 99 percent” but bore little resemblance to most of the people in the group’s own community. That community, the South Bronx, is one of the poorest areas of the country and home almost exclusively to blacks and Hispanics.
“Nobody looked like us,” said Rodrigo Venegas, 31, co-founder of Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, a center for political activism and hip-hop run out of a warehouse in Mott Haven. “It was white, liberal, young people who for the first time in their life are feeling a small percentage of what black and brown communities have been feeling for hundreds of years.”
Even as the Occupy Wall Street protests have spread and grown, many critics have pointed to the visible scarcity of blacks and other minorities in the protesters’ ranks, notwithstanding the occasional infusions of color, whether from black celebrities like Kanye West, or from union members who have rallied with the protesters, or from a Muslim prayer service at Zuccotti Park last week.
But that reality has begun to change, with minorities and people of color increasingly taking to the streets, as the movement responds to the criticism that a people’s movement should look more like the people.
I posted this because I really, really hate this article. It's primary purpose is to divide people, using race and gender. I wonder who that serves - not poor, black and latino communities in the outer boroughs, like my neighborhood.
By the way, OWS started the People of Color Working Group weeks ago. OWS told white men to shut up and let more women and people of color speak - weeks ago. Why wasn't that reported?
Of course, it's often valid and usually ignored. If there's a racial/ethnic imbalance we we don't like the group, we usually assume that the imbalance proves intent until absolutely, positively proven otherwise.
If we like the group we usually cut it some slack and find excuses. Racial imbalance? Maybe the missing racial percentages just didnt' feel like participating. (It's a potentially true comment in all cases; it's just evil to ask it in many cases.)
It's ridiculous to expect OWS to have an affirmative action plan on file with the government. The biggest problem with the article is that it assumes that the parameters of a movement are determined by who shows up at a given time. It happens that young white people are more confident, and less risk-aversive. No surprise there, is there? That's like criticizing OWS for using technology.
Here's another bogus critique we hear: How come OWS puts its money in a bank? Wassamatta, are they hypocrites?
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