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On Bruce Dixon's "Occupy Where?"


In his latest piece on called “Occupy Where? What’s In It For Black and Brown People?, Bruce skillfully explains the movement, why it needed to be started by white young people:

“Make no mistake about it, reclaiming the right of the poor, jobless and discontented to peaceably assemble, while politically paralyzing mayors and police forces used to cracking heads and dispersing malcontents is a project only white protesters could have accomplished without police violence and massive arrests.”

and what’s in it for black and brown people and ultimately for everybody.

“We are the 99%” may not be deep analysis of political economy, but it's a promising start, an open door, an invitation to investigate and explain how inequality and injustice are not bugs in the system, but have always been its basic features.”

The Occupy Wall Street movement is shining a big spot light on the dark corners of America where joblessness, poverty, hunger, and homelessness exists. People around the world were shocked at the pictures of the Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina. And now many Americans are shaken by how much of our rights to assemble have been taken away by years of city ordinances that essentially criminalize poverty. What? It’s a crime to assemble in a public space? What? It’s a crime to pitch a tent? What? It’s a crime to serve a meal in public? (Hat tip to Marie who called in to the Alex Bennett SiriusXM radio show to explain this.)

As Bruce points out:

“If the first occupiers in Zucotti Park had been young and black, they'd instantly have been branded a street gang and arrested en masse, with or without violence, but certainly with little media play or sympathy. If the first occupiers were black, and blathering about the ravages of finance capital and how neither of the two parties were worth a damn, they certainly would not have been endorsed by what passes for the preacher-infested local leadership of black communities. Tied as they are to corporate philanthropy, corporate financing, the corporate-run Democratic party and its corporate-friendly trickle-down black president, our black misleadership class would have run, not walked away from black occupiers who failed to identify as staunch pro-Obama Democrats.”

And, oh boy, did Bruce gets some flack Wednesday on Mark Thompson’s “Make It Plain” on SiriusXM Left from a couple of Obama supporters when he repeated some of the above criticism. Laura from Iowa is Mark’s Facebook administrator. She is also a health practitioner and worked on the Obama campaign. Like many others, it was her first foray into electoral politics. She gets so angry at Bruce, she said, that she can’t listen to him when he is on Mark’s show and ends up turning off her radio. “”Why can’t you say anything good about the president,” she asked angrily.

Bruce tried to explain that his job in life is to seek the truth and then be telling it not to make apologies for politicians.

It is always an eye opener for me to read Bruce Dixon and Glen Ford. I feel pretty stupid about how this system of ours really works when I read about it from their point of view. Is it true that feeding people in public might be considered a crime? Sneaky.

This Occupy is just that. It's an occupation. It’s not about rallies or protests or demands. It’s about our sovereign right to assemble. It cannot be that just those who “own” property have rights to sleep and eat. It cannot be that only those who “own” property can have a police force that protects them. We still have Justices of the Peace, but why do we now have “law enforcement” instead of “officers of the peace”? (Hat tip to Bob from Tennessee on Dave Marsh’s radio show “Live from the Land of Hope and Dreams”.)

Read his whole piece. It reveals why local Occupies are very important. In Atlanta, there is a scam afoot to take tax payer money to gentrify a neighborhood rather than use it for public stuff like schools and transportation. Surprise! Surprise! Shine that spotlight, Bruce. Oh and Go Greeks!

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Submitted by MontanaMaven on

The importance of local occupies really became clear to me with Bruce's post and with what happened in Oakland. I was much impressed with the organization of the homeless in Occupy New Haven and Vast Left's video of Occupy Boston really makes these movements personal. Can't find the link.

Oh and read Glen Ford's awesome piece on Occupy All the Harlems.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

. Is it true that feeding people in public might be considered a crime?

yes, in a few localities in Florida and elsewhere people have been arrested for feeding the homeless.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

So Michelle plants an organic garden and then pitches personal responsibility for obesity. Does she tell her husband she has a tough time with high fructose corn syrup? Does she think Illinois based Archer Daniels Midland should be more responsible? Is she working towards ending poverty so that children can eat well? But yes, she did put one in as opposed to the Clintons who Alice Waters lobbied hard but never stepped up to the plate.

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

Interesting reading, to say the least. Someone provided a link to that Fritz Tucker piece on the OWS leaders. There was one bit that I found a little crazy-making:

I've met occupiers who claimed the concerns of immigrants and black people had no place in the occupy movement because they were “divisive.” They said this to me in an Atlanta park that the occupiers shared with a hundred homeless black men.

This encapsulates so much of what's been wrong with the progressive movement over the last few decades. We're not progressives, we're ecologists, or we're civil rights advocates, or we're human rights advocates, or we're union/labor advocates. We all pursue these individual agendas and we all get our asses handed to us when we do.

When you see stuff like labor unions saying screw the environment by supporting Keystone XL for a lousy 4500 (or fewer) temporary jobs that will probably be non-union anyway, you have to ask yourself just how much these guys like losing.

I wish I could remember where I first encountered that thought, but whoever wrote it was right. We don't hang together. Let's say for a moment that Glen or Bruce (not quite sure who was doing the talking in that quote) brought up something that only minorities would be interested in. If it gets lots of minorities on board, isn't it something worth supporting? Just tell the people who aren't supportive of it "We're doing this so that they help us". If it's no skin off the rest of us, what's wrong with that?

Submitted by lambert on

... have had their hair on fire about the left not hanging together for some time. (I suppose I don't consider the career progressives the left....).