The Occupy Wall Street actions have given us an opportunity to reflect upon where Black folks are these days with politics and economic injustice. Dwight Hobbes recently wrote an article headlined “Blacks scarce at Occupy Minnesota.” In it he pointed out that “Black participation in Occupy Minnesota has been less than overwhelming.”
There are several reasons, good and bad, for the lack of broader participation. But Hobbes is right — no Black folks of note have spoken at the local occupy events. Unfortunately he wasn’t there on the occasions of rallies and marches in which the crowd was at least 10 percent Black, especially the first two weekends of the occupation in October.
I spoke on several occasions at these events; in fact, most of the local news outlets recorded me on a few occasions. But I don’t consider myself a person of note because I am the radical political guy in the community who is opposed to this social/political/economic system. I agree with Martin Luther King, Jr. who said that eventually, in order to have real justice, there must be a radical restructuring of this society.
I also agree with Malcolm X when he pointed out that this system by its nature and design cannot produce racial justice, or economic justice. “A chicken cannot produce a duck egg,” explained Malcolm. “If it did, it would be called a revolutionary chicken.”
But the question remains why there is not more Black participation. And to be completely accurate, the Occupy movements in Oakland, Atlanta, and few other cities were primarily Black led.
It would be fair based on the history of race relations in this country to be cautious about nearly any movement that is or appears to be White-initiated. But that nervousness is being used as subterfuge by those who know better.
One of the reasons some of our middle-class brothers have “White”-baited the Occupy action is because they find it an excuse to not get involved. Some of these Negroes don’t want to get involved and don’t want others to get involved not because the majority of participants are White, but because they disagree with the Occupiers.
In a word, they are comfortable. They have made their peace with this predatory, profit-motive-driven pilfery known as capitalism. In other words, they are okay with things as they are. Their homes have not been foreclosed upon, nor have they lost jobs; they are content to bury their heads in the sand.
And too many others of us are just clueless or apathetic or have just given up. After all, exploitation is an everyday experience for some of us. So why should they get excited about some people calling out the immorality of it all?
And at bottom that is what this is: immoral. A society is indeed immoral that allows some to collect millions in bonuses for having ripped off its fellow citizens and yet allows millions of others so go jobless, homeless and hopeless.
Some will use as an excuse that the theft of $12 trillion from the public purse didn’t affect Black people. They are misguided; if one pays taxes, owns a home with a subprime or adjustable mortgage, invested in the stock market, or depends on a pension, then this robbery affected you. In other words, the banking and financial industry bailout affected us all.
According to Devonna Walker in an article written for alternet.org, “The single most crippling blow [to the Black middle class] has been the real estate and foreclosure crisis. It has stripped Black families of more wealth than any single event in U.S. history. Due entirely to subprime loans, Black borrowers are expected to lose between $71 billion and $92 billion.”
The economic crisis is a White folks’ thing? I don’t think so!
I say if you don’t think you want to be involved, just sit it out. If the banks’ thievery of over $12 trillion is okay with you, then sit it out. If the biggest rip-off of Black wealth by the banks and other institutions doesn’t bother you, then sit it out. You will have a lot of company both Black and White.
Mel Reeves welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.