Monday, October 10, 2011

Why I support Occupy The Hood

by Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin on Monday, October 10, 2011

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
excites me.

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Power was a widespread, but decentralized mass movement which superceded the civil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.


Ife Johari Uhuru said...

Thank you so much for this GREAT article! My name is Ife Johari Uhuru with Occupy The Hood... We would like you to contact us at
We look forward to speaking with you!

Anonymous said...

Wow this article just disapointed me so much. I joined occupy the hood in support of my black brothers and sisters. Yes, I am white, but we are all brothers and sisters of God. I grew up in Miami and went to school in little haiti in Miami, so I know what it is like to be a minority. I have seen first hand the racism and struggles of being a black person. I SEE IT. I KNOW IT IS THERE. I believe in your mission and I completely understand your frustration. Racism is alive and well in this country and clearly and blantantly obvious in politics. However, you need to understand that turning against people who are most likely to join with you and rise up against these forces is counter productive. You just alienated me (and I am sure a lot of other people), made me feel like I am some racist cracker. What did I do? You are creating hostility, at a time when we need to all come together for a common cause. You are approaching the situation with anger, instead of approaching with love. You might not get such resistance if you didnt assume that every white person is middle class posers and uncaring of your concerns. That is very broad and RASICT comment. You are only alienating people with this type of talk and getting the exact OPPOSITE results that you are trying to achieve. ijs With that being said, lets come together. Peace and Love will overcome this tragedy. Not anger and hate.

Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings about this article. I'm posting anonymously because of it. I STRONGLY support the self-deterministic point of Occupy The Hood. The inner-city concerns of POC have not been addressed by OWS.

On the other hand, I find some of the language alienating...OTH made an aliance with OWS...But how can you join with an organization and have "allies" while you are using this kind of alienating language?

I strongly suggest contacting the folks down in New Orleans, Peoples Organization for Progress for a little guidance in this area. They have many years of experience in this area. They are GREAT. I'm sure that they would be glad to help. This is just a suggestion. I hope that you consider it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - Peoples Organization for Progress is in Newark. Duh.

I Rode on the Wings of an Angel said...

Well I'm glad to have gotten this e-mail informing me on a movement for the poor and I agree in fact know that the middle class for the most part are not doing enough. I didn't read all your statement occupy The Hood and strolled down to read some comments, the one comment where the person says that you have alienated him. I can't find where you alienated anyone but will go back and read closer in a little while. I spend my life helping poor, low income people. I'm in the trenches a place where the middle class and preachers don’t go. So that is why I can identify with much that I have read and I approve with blessings. If I ever took part in a movement or started my own I would not alienate anybody. If I did I would correct it if I can. In the 60's I wrestled with where I stand. Do I roll with movement’s blacks against whites such as NOI? Do I roll with Martin Luther King movements where whites and blacks stood side by side? Do I roll with Huey Newton? In my actions of the past I met with Huey Newton with CIA surrounding us, I stood side by side with blacks and whites protesting and fighting for rights and respected and understood the Muslim movement in America. If I were Johari Jhuru I would first of all follow my heart but at the same time not exclude those that want to take part such as whites. The one thing for sure you should not be discouraged because as a Prophet of God I know you're on the right path. Sometimes when we word things it don’t come out right, I know what you meant and in truth if you were to exclude anyone you would have made it clear. My book “I Rode on the Wings of an Angel” by Maxwell Bennett can be found at you neighborhood library I would encourage everyone to check it out it cost you nothing by going to your library. You will find a plan to help the poor and America you will find secrets the Government don’t want you to know about the illegal tax law

Prospector said...

@ disapointed me so much

If you look like a racist cracker and you talk like a racist cracker and you feel like a racist - just do the math.
The best thing you can do for the poor/Black/Native peoples and yourself, is to get your own ship in order.

We in the hood, have so much on our plate already that it will serve us no purpose to try to ignore 400 years of experience just to make you feel good. We absolutely must acknowledge these past 400 years and come to the realization that any help from our white "brothers and sisters" that hasn't come yet, probably isn't coming.

If you truly wanted to help, you'd be in among your own people explaining to them that they'd better get their shit together because they have been for centuries abusing the best friends they ever had. We don't need you to preach to the choir.
You don't need to be all hugged up with Black folks in order to do the right thing. We know what that is and if you're doing it, it'll be it's own reward.

@Lorenzo Kom'boa Ervin
This is a beautiful article and I'm with you the movement needs all the help we can give it. We positively must do this thing ourselves and stop waiting for help. We suffered from some major losses in the seventies and eighties in the form of the murder and exile and incarceration of the cream of our leadership. Along with the massive injection of addictive drugs into our neighborhoods which combined with designer laws put a generation plus, of our young men behind bars. So here we are today. The time is now and the place is the hood while we still have a hood. It's going to take all of the strength and ingenuity and cooperation we can muster, to make this happen. The fact is if anybody can do it we can. We built America once and we can do it again but this time we'll include ourselves. Rght?