The new mass movement, Occupy Wall Street, has already birthed a number of movement
of oppressed peoples of color:Indigenous/African/Carribbean, etc. They are
DeColonize OWS, the People of Color Working Group, and Occupy the Hood. It is Occupy
the Hood, which is an actual Black working class political tendency, which has the
most promise as far as Africans in America are concerned. They are not only trying
to pressure the white majority to make a place the for voices of Black/POC people,
but also organzing an independent tendency which can organize inour communities
around issues effecting us especially. it is that latter dimension which really
For years, I have heard, but not seen a Black revolutionary mass movement in the hip
hop era, which is free of middle class conventional politics or being manipuated by
some power-hungry preachers/politicians. This movement has the potential to create a
genuine mass movment of the poor and oppresssed, based in the urban inner cities. It
is a youth centered movement, but seems to understand if it raises issues of
oppressed peoples in Harlem, North Philly, South Memphis, or other hoods in other
places, they can bring a true majority together, an army of the poor.
In order for that to happen, they have to put the people and mass grassroots
politics in command, and be based totally around popular issues. In saying
"politics", I am not talking about electoral politics, which I considere virtually
useless and weak, I am talking about putting the Black poor together as a class, and
then using their numbers to confront the white capitalist government and its
financial sector in an anti-capitalist protest movement.
It is this what made the Black protest movement of the 1960's so dynamic, not just a
number of small militant groups fighting isolated in various communities. Black
Power was a widespread, but decentralized mass movement which superceded the civil
rights phase, even before the assassination of Dr. M.L. King. Groups like the Black
Panther Party, League of Revolutionary Black Workers and others had become mass
movements in their own right, instead of tailing after white radicals.
This can happen again, and in my mind, Occupy the hood is that movement best
situated to make that hapen in this period. They are part of the Wall Street
tendency, and can unite with other POC tendencies and even anti-racist/anti-colonial
whites to wage an internal battle inside OWS to make it accountable to POC's instead
of just white middle class workers who have lost their jobs, homes, or money in this
period. We have suffered far worse.
Over 1 million Black/POC people are in the prison system, which destroys not just
the prisoner but his family and community. We have the highest evels of unemployment
in the USA, "officially" 16.7%, but actually far higher at Great Depression levels
of 26%. We have the highest number of urban homeless. We have record levels of
infant mortality, approaching the 3rd world. On and on we are catching hell more
than anybody, and we are the class of surplus labor that all economists speak of who
have considered the matter.
But we need to organize, not not just bemoan our fate or curse our luck. We can
change everything with out all-out struggle, on our own terms. We do not have to be
shackeled by the racism and backwardness of white workers. Through a movement like
Occupy the Hood, we can orgnize not only our own communities, but through that
organize the world who would unite with our struggle. So, to end this, I see the
potential of this movement more than anything else to come along in the hip hop era.
They seem to "get it", and understand instinctively that they can organize their
peoples to not only destroy Wall Street, which is based on our slavery and
exploitation, but the entire system of capitalist oppression. Memphis has been
designated the poorest city in the USA. I'm honored to be part of this movement in
anyway, and will do everything I can to push it forward. I am not interested in
"leading" it, they seem to have already gotten founders and collective leadership
that can do the job at this early stage. I hope tht all power will continue to rest
in the local communites, and that they shut out all m anner of political
opportunists seeking to become the next Obama or politician using the movement as a
launching pad. Only if power is in the hands of the people will it succeed.
Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin: I have pointed out many times that middle class white people
cannot represent the interests of the poor and communities of color. We must
speak for ourselves, and not allow our issues to be coopted by white middle class
poseurs. These Occupy Memphis people aren’t suffering from mass imprisonment,
depression levels of unemployment, the highest levels of poverty in the nat...ion,
record infant mortality of Black babies, and other ills we are suffering from, they
are not even among the number of peoples losing their houses, these folks are just
trying to empower themselves at our expense. They are not in solidarity with the
struggles of peoples of color, and don’t even care if we are represented at all.
This is “their” movement, and they have made it clear that they mean to maintain
control over it. Sure, individual Black, Hispanic or other POC can join in, but our
issues are not taking precedence or even being discussed at all, even in a majority
Black city like Memphis. After years of faking that the Left had concerns about
diversity and so on, now it is revealed that they don’t give a damn at all.