Monday, October 31, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
thanks to my soul (sisterhood of unity and love) sisters for inviting me to join their panel discussion yesterday about the challenges women of color face in
professional work environments. these young sisters are sharp.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
as the occupy movement sweeps the world, i'm surprised by the near silence from black progressives, radicals and revolutionaries. aside from cornel west, glen ford, and omali yeshitela, little analysis has been given to developing a principled response to occupy wall street (and others) by people of color.*
while i recognize and embrace this moment of protest, i'm slow to join a movement led by members of the status quo--it's a common criticism that white men predominate the occupy movement. this absence of color is a barrier to creating legitimate systemic change, as people of color--not whites--are those most affected by this country's social, political, and economic oppression.
aside from the privileged status of the movement's leadership, i find other contradictions in the occupy movement:
1.) the majority of the protesters can go home: although i've seen pictures of protesters holding signs denouncing the big banks' roles in the foreclosure crisis, most of the white people who hold them have a home which they can return. massive foreclosures after the housing crash disproportionately affected blacks and latinos, exacerbating this country's wealth chasm. historically, protests like the occupy movement are dominated by students and people with enough material resources to escape the chains and responsibilities of wage slavery.
2.) our demands are unique: of course, points of unity exist, but the white men who lead occupy wall street cannot personally testify to the harms of mass incarceration, police brutality, legal kidnappings by child welfare agencies, and poor education systems. therefore, people of color cannot expect whites to lead a movement that seeks to overturn the foregoing socio-political contradictions. we are our own liberators.
3.) laying with dogs will give you fleas: without any clear demands, the occupy movement is headed towards the kind of liberal reforms seen in the 1960s. while these reforms may have widened the social safety net, they failed to reach the structural racism and discrimination that creates inequality. coalescing with the power structure by seeking reforms will only give rise to limited gains.
i recognize that putting an end to perpetual wars and military occupations, deregulated corporations and banks, corporate citizenship, etc. are all causes which overlap among many movements on the left. also, i welcome the spirit of radical change which the occupy movements have embarked upon. however, people of color have the responsibility to create and participate in revolutionary spaces that speak to our needs as an oppressed people. we cannot allow the occupy movement to "occupy" our liberation struggle.
for more on this topic visit people of color organize.
*cornel west, glen ford, and omali yeshitela are simply examples. i am not cosigning their thoughts or interpretations.
Monday, October 24, 2011
"she was black before it was fashionable to be black." -gil scott-heron
nina simone, 1933-2003
"through [lorainne hansberry], i started thinking about myself as a black person in a country run by white people and a woman in a world run by men."
"the worst thing about that kind of prejudice is that you feel hurt and angry and all the rest of it, it feeds you self-doubt. you start thinking, maybe i'm not good enough."
"if i'd picked up a shotgun instead of a piano, a lot of motherfuckers would be dead right now."
"i'm just a soul whose intentions are good...oh lord please don't let me be misunderstood."
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
"it's a chess game...we have to think of their reaction to our action..."
as the occupy movement stretches across the united states, the october 2011 protest is taking place in freedom plaza in washington, dc. the protest, organized months before occupy wall street began in new york city, is an amalgamation of anti-war activists and war veterans who are protesting america's wars in the middle east. while the protest has become synonymous with occupy dc, the demographics and demands are very different. at october 2011, the protesters were middle-aged, mostly white and united around the common goal of ending what they see as us dollars being used to fund imperial wars.
i spoke at length with don anderson (pictured below) a vietnam veteran who says he's been protesting wars since he returned from vietnam and received a spinal injury at a veterans' hospital in portland, oregon. he described his struggles as a disabled veteran being ignored by the veteran's administration despite his success as a us soldier, receiving several medals of honor and commendations.
the lack of racial diversity at october 2011 stuck out like a sore thumb, and i asked one sister, jimeislen northen (grandson pictured in the stroller below) what motivated her to be a part of the protest. "i felt motivated to be a part of change. i've been out of work for over a year. i came to dc after spending a week at occupy wall street in new york. as the numbers of protesters and protests grow, people in power will be forced to listen." ms. northern believes people of color are less aware of the issues and how change occurs, prohibiting them from taking part in the occupy movement.
although many of the protesters came to dc to engage in civil disobedience and planned to get arrested after remaining at freedom plaza past the city's alloted permit time of 2 pm on sunday, october 10th, city officials offered to extend october 2011's permit for 4 months. that means the protest has legitimacy through the winter, when temperatures drop to hypothermic conditions in washington, dc. the government's extension worked to quell the media attention october 2011 would have received had the nearly 100 protesters been arrested.
|don anderson, vietnam veteran|
|teenagers dancing in the plaza while the protest took place in the background|
|jimeislen northern's grandson is fast asleep in his stroller|
all pictures taken by t olugbala and are a product of politics and fashion. please credit the source when using these images.