A few years ago, I interviewed a white gay male for a job with my staffing agency’s client. I didn’t ask him if he was gay. It was something that he shared openly at the end of the interview once we were past the formalities. For a reason I’d find out a few sentences later, he thought it was a good idea to talk about his time living in California and the fight for gay marriage — more specifically the passing of Proposition 8. I just listened as he took a good meeting south:
“The African American vote is going to be really important for Proposition 8. Every vote’s going to count.”
“We’ll see,” I said with a nod as I figured out how to close the interview without this conversation going further. But before I could deflect, and tell him I had to get to a meeting that didn’t exist, he continued.
“You guys know about the struggle. You’ve faced some of the same civil rights challenges. Hopefully we can unite on this one and get it done.”
Faced the same challenges? The f**k are you talking about right now? Would my struggle matter if it wasn’t tied to yours? I couldn’t go there, so I replied with humor to extinguish the flame growing in my chest.
“I just want the world to be one big happy place where we all get along. Know what I mean?”
He laughed. I mustered a chuckle. I ended the interview and went back to my desk. It sounded like he genuinely wanted to see us unite for a greater cause — his cause. But his comparison of the struggles didn’t sit right with me. I conducted a different type of interview in my head.
- Did your family have to move from Mississippi to New York because someone burned down your grandfather’s farm?
- Have you been pulled over by the police for Driving While Gay in a ritzy neighborhood?
- Have you ever gotten interview feedback about a gay male and the first thing they said was “He speaks really well?”
“Your struggle is not the same as mine. It never will be.” I thought to myself. There is no amount of rehearsal he could’ve done had I conducted that interview. He would’ve been just as uncomfortable as he’d made me.
I’m telling you this story because I was reminded of it while reading a few tweets on Thursday night after the Million Hoodie march in New York City. What happened on my Twitter timeline reflected much of what went down at the actual march. (Not a surprise since people are becoming their avatars. And if you reject Twitter, feel free to keep finding out things last. Just saying.)
Much of the discussion on my timeline was heated. Several black people I follow were involved in heated exchanges with members of Occupy Wall Street, a movement that’s starting to remind me of The Blob: It absorbs every cause in its path, gains some strength along the way, but never takes on an identifiable shape. But that’s a conversation for another day. Anyway…
At first, I didn’t understand the messages flowing through my timeline on Thursday night. So I looked closer. I wanted to understand why so many black people I’ve been following for a while were telling random names with white faces for avatars “This is not about you. You don’t understand the struggle.” So I searched for #OWS and #occupywallstreet tweets to see what all the Hoopla was about. And much to my dismay and partially to my surprise, Occupy Wall Street supporters were using the Trayvon tragedy and hashtag #millionhoodies to push their own ambiguous agendas. They’d type something like “Justice for Trayvon #ows #trayvon” or “The struggle continues! #ows #trayvon”
On the surface, this looks harmless. You could argue that combining the hashtags was a way of showing solidarity with the Million Hoodie movement. But if you combine this with the many accounts of what happened at the march, you’ll see there’s much more to the social media outrage than 140 characters.
Occupy Wall Street had co-opted the march. They had taken the Million Hoodie movement for the Trayvon Martin tragedy and made it about their million causes. Some chanted “We are the 99%” while others yelled “F*ck the Police,” knocked over barricades, and wreaked havoc on New York City’s financial district. Yet, many claimed that they were standing in solidarity with us against injustice. Take a look at the video below. Does this look like what we wanted people to be aware of? Or does this look like people with their own agenda?
I think it’s the latter. Besides, imagine if we said this sh*t and acted like this? Bullets, death, and discouragement.
The evening of March 22, 2012 was supposed to be about Trayvon Martin, both on social media and in the streets of New York City where the rally and march took place. It was a chance to bring awareness not only to a life that shouldn’t have been lost, but to the bigger issue of the racial injustice that continues to course through the veins of the not so post-racial United States of America. And with scenes like that above, it’s hard for me to not be skeptical when someone that doesn’t look like me tells me that they understand the struggle, and we’re fighting for the same things. It’s hard for me to not think some people are shouting solidarity while whispering ulterior motives. How much do you know about my struggle? Better yet, how much did you care about my struggle before it started to look like your own?
OWS claims to be about the 99%, but I can’t look at the video, read these stories, and scan tweets claiming to cosign the Trayvon movement without a skeptic side-eye of what they’re really about. Let’s face it. OWS is a 99% white movement with 1% truly understanding what it is to be Black in America. There are some OWS supporters that will read this and say “I’m not one of the 99.” But how do you think we feel when we’re stereotyped, harrassed, and/or killed for nothing more than the color of our skin?
No matter how much you try to get it, you’ll never understand. If you want to stand with us, then do so. Otherwise, we don’t want to hear anything about the other causes you represent. It’s been about you for centuries. Just give us a few minutes to be heard. Is that too much to ask?
Great post Slim. I gotta sleep on this one…
I know! My thoughts exactly.
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"It’s been about you for centuries. Just give us a few minutes to be heard. Is that too much to ask?"
Apparently it is!
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As a supporter and reader of this site I appreciate the pieces you all write simply because you voice an opinion for some of us who don't get the stage to. Your first point resonates with a lot of brothers I speak with here in CHI. HOW IN THEE !@# IS THE STRUGGLE THE SAME??! When diverting this concept we are called gay bashers or the homo phobic (fear of homosexual) term. We need to come to grips with what ever we feel and other bs. I simply reply to the notion, whatever is done in private time is private matter , while in public though handle your business. You were on point with that the other interview. More than likely the answers would have been no. And even if there were a yes, is the oppression really there?
Per the OWS crowd, I hear them chat 99% but the last time I checked, how much success have they been having? Where are their charges, demands, and solidified issues??? Yea I ride with the NY T Martin supporters. Take yall bulls!@# else where we lost one of our 99% to maybe another 99% or 1% who knows right now. Per your interview, you took a coy way to end it, its the same way we have to always end it. Get uncomfortable to make others feel non threaten…..
Meant to say, appreciate this comment and your support of the site. Trying to make the voice heard. Nahmean?!
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It seems like everyone wants to pull the “I understand your struggle card” when they need our support but when the tables turn unless their agenda can be added to our movement, the other groups are nowhere to be found. I have no problem with someone from a different walk of life supporting our struggle. Another thing that has gotten to me are people saying “everyone is up in arms because a white (non black) guy killed a black boy, if it had been black man you guys wouldn’t be rallying” While race is definitely a factor the other issue is the justice system that is suppose to serve and protect us, let this young boy and his family down by not arresting and prosecuting Zimmerman. If Zimmerman was black he couldn’t have walked out of the police station on “yeah I shot him in self defense even though I followed him like you said not too”.
Sidenote: I agree. While I believe no group of people should be discriminated against, I don’t feel comfortable saying what black people have been through in America is exactly like what the LBGT community is struggling with today . Over 200 years of slavery and another 100 years of discrimination isn’t quite the same as fighting against proposition 8.
I agree with you, every struggle is unique in its issues and context. It is intellectual laziness to compound discordant struggles together. I think the man you interviewed was just being silly. If you were hispanic was he going to talk about immigration reform and tell you how he understands "your struggle". It is morally shady to co-opt another struggle into yours. As for the OWS folk, I have been struggling to understand the concrete and realistic demands of this group and have come up with squat they need to take a seat, they are being as ignorant as the people who had a club party "in support" of Trayvon Martin. They both need to have a seat. They can support the cause but shouldnt swallow it in theirs.
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This is exactly what jewish people did during the civil rights movement. Piggy back off of our progress and passed us right on up after . shame shame shame
This is not accurate.
I’m not afraid to tell the truth. White people and “white ethnics” who have become “white” have allowed whiteness to corrupt their souls to the point that they have no moral compass or respect for humanity. Personally, I keep my interactions with them to a minimum because I just ncan’t fathom their ignorance nor am I going to take on the burden of making them conscious of their reality. I’m not surprised at the reactions of “whites” or the black buffoons that provide cover for them. It is what it is and I think black people would be better off in this country if we stopped caring about them and pay more attention to our own communities.
I was at the march and we dignified people were trying to distance ourselves from OWS. I saw the video above last week and I was like, "where the hell were they doing that!?" Cause we were chillin, chanting Trayvon, marching and being peaceful human beings. It was easy to tell who the OWS'ers were and who the TM supporters were. We were clean and well presented. They were dirty and a bunch of hoodlums…not all…but MOST.
I really enjoyed reading your post and the comments made by othes. The Trayvon story has recently been on the news in London, England but of course, we only get to see parts of what has happened, so I need to educate myself via other means. I can only guess that the 'gay' person you interviewed needed to off-load about his struggles and the only way that he could get you to actually sit up and take notice was to 'mould you' into the same dough as himself. That way, you should of got the message. (if you know what I mean). Just a thought.
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Thanks for this post. I always struggle with the question you're representing for two reasons: 1) there is nothing worse than someone sweeping your difficulties under the rug by trying to falsely even the playing field; and 2) even that said, coalition building is SO important with social change. It's not enough for every black person to stand up, or every gay person to stand up. Alone, these movements' achievements are limited to their own communities.
How do you find the balance between recognizing that you're different and not pretending to know what you don't understand, but coalition building so that a white majority (and yes, whether you like it or not white people are still a majority in this country) are forced to realise that discriminating on any grounds is no longer something you can get away with?
The fact is, no matter what you agree with, when the majority decides to discriminate less against a particular group EVERYBODY benefits, because it changes the climate in which we live. Without denying history or the unique ways in which race, gender, class intersect to make a shitty time for some people rather than others, we still have to get over this, because while we get angry about who struggled more, the majority keeps making bank and quietly removing everyone's rights.
Divide and conquer. The strategy never changes.
Agreed. I'm not a big fan of the "my struggle is worse than yours" so you can't even speak on it mentality. What if the interviewee was black and also gay? Would that had made his struggle worse than yours? No, just different.
"How do you find the balance between recognizing that you're different and not pretending to know what you don't understand, but coalition building…?"
I think the trick is to build the coalition based on what the various struggles DO actually have in common. For example, Slim writes "But how do you think we feel when we’re stereotyped, harrassed, and/or killed for nothing more than the color of our skin?" Well, gay people are stereotyped, harrassed, and/or killed for nothing more than their sexual preference. Women are stereotyped, harrassed, raped and/or killed for nothing more than their gender. It's possible to recognize and empathize based on these similarities without being so presumptuous as to claim that any one of us truly understands another's plight. But what victims of one struggle CAN understand about those of another is that thing they have in common: the experience of being discriminated against.
Perhaps an understanding of race as a class issue would assist you in seeing that it IS the same struggle as OWS. To ignore the class basis of racism is to buy into the racist philosophy, and pretty much guarantees it will never be rendered obsolete. Divide and conquer anyone? Ignore the unity of the struggle, the unity of the shared experience of opppression and exploitation and you just do the oppressor's job for them.
This, "an understanding of race as a class issue," is a highly problematic statement. Trayvon Martin's case is a great example of that. Trayvon was from a middle class family, same "class" as Zimmerman, yet zimmerman still perceived his race before he perceived anything else. It was Zimmerman's perception of his race and the fact that he associated a heightened propensity for crime with that race that caused his murder. The fact that folks like you refuse to make that distinction is a huge part of the problem, and and huge reason why I find it difficult to support OWS.
But thanks for the comment.
And also, this whole concept of "race as a class issue" has no historical foundation in fact. It's just a means of appeasing liberal white guilt instead of dealing with the much more harsh realities of the whys and hows of racism in America.
You definitely could have hit her with the Dr. J line of the season:
Word, a lot of people feel that way. Let's move on.
I do think that Trayvon Martin was racially profiled by George Zimmerman. The hate crime charge is the most stringent to prove but the fact that the feds are investigating suggests that there is some basis for this charge.
To Ruby's point, the racial hierarchy was born out of the desire to quash a class insurrection. In A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America, Ronald Takaki persuasively argues that a rebellion was growing which united white indentured servants with African slaves against the landowners. At this time in America, indentured whites and African slaves freely mingled and mated (see Wanda Sykes genealogical tree in the New York Times last week for proof). This was before the invention of chattel slavery for Africans whose terms of servitude were identical to European Whites. However, both groups realized that they were poor and would remain poor unless the class structure was eliminated. Thus, a rebellion was planned. The ruling class quashed the rebellion and devised a racial hierarchy designed to separate poor whites from poor Blacks. Chattel slavery was instituted to ensure that Blacks would remain enslaved while poor whites had definitive terms of servitude, suggesting that they were in a better class than African slaves. All of this was designed to ensure that Whites and Blacks who were not members of the wealthy elite would never unite to overthrow the class structure, which is still in existence today.
Sorry for the lecture, but this is a point that needs to be thoroughly discussed! Most, I strongly encourage you to read A Different Mirror by Ronald Takaki. The book is thoroughly researched and very illuminating.
I'm familiar with Tukaki's work – and I might even agree that it deserves discussion – but it's not applicable here.
There was no class issue here. None at all. OWS sought to make it a class issue for their own gain. The fact that their gain (a more inclusive economic policy) might tangentially impact minorities in a positive way doesn't excuse the fact that they co-opted a march dedicated toward bringing attention to Trayvon's situation.
Just because OWS' goals might be helpful toward blacks doesn't mean their movement gets to takeover every black movement. The idea that it does is born out of the white privilege so many of the OWS protestors unconsciously harbor – despite their seemingly liberal politics.
Good comment though. Much appreciated.
But the other thing I gotta bring up is that the OWS movement only exists at the level it does because the housing market crashed and too many white folks lost their houses and found it hard to get jobs. Blacks home ownership been at the same level these past 20 years as it was before segregation ended and nobody cared, black unemployment been sky high for years (particularly amongst black males) and nobody really cared. National unemployment levels go over 10% and white folks start going crazy, shutting sh*t down and acting a fool in public places. Soon as the unemployment numbers dip back down to normal levels, all those folks with 4 masters in Liberal Art related fields will go back to teaching or curating publicly funded art galleries and museums and blacks will still have the same problems we've always had.
It's just like how nobody really cared when crack was destroying the black community. It's not till it effects the masses that anyone really begins to care. It's not an issue until it's an issue for the masses. And when it becomes an issue for the masses, white folks want us to buy in and get on board their movement, meanwhile, we been fighting alone for decades. You'll have to pardon our reluctance. Got a movement? Get the blacks involved. The communists and socialists did it when they were trying to get a foot hold, the LGBT community is doing it now, and so is OWS. It's insulting.
Took the words right out of my mouth, most. There is a distinct class problem, but that really touches on a myriad of racial issues that come with being black. Regardless, it's irrelevant to the cause of Trayvon Martin.
"The fact that their gain (a more inclusive economic policy) might tangentially impact minorities in a positive way doesn't excuse the fact that they co-opted a march dedicated toward bringing attention to Trayvon's situation. "
and therein lies the problem with political movements that are opposed to "identity politics." They refuse to acknowledge that it's going to take more than an elimination of class to deal with problems of racism, patriarchy, etc.
Though I do think we need an anti-racism movement that is not centered around individual events; we can't rally every time someone is killed then continue living a lifestyle that supports a structure that allows this to happen.
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I don’t think that non-black people don’t care about black issues, but I do think it is generally true that people are not motivated to act differently in their lives until they are affected by something themselves. When unemployment goes down they will still care, but may not be AS ripe for action. I think that is why the Occupy movement (which I’m not a part of) could have been more important and maybe still can be. They haven’t yet coalesced into a formidable movement with clear goals which has been the case in most of the movements that I was a part of in the last decade after the Battle in Seattle. But they have had some sort of blob like affect. The leaderless movement at its ideal will coalesce into something more spontaneous and righteous, but the risk is that it gets co-opted by the media and other statist interests. If you don’t say what you are about then they will for you.
What is clear from the video is that they can’t control certain members of their movement, and you also have to understand that for real, the people who cause trouble may be working for the police themselves. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and infiltration is a problem that most movements have yet to find an adequate response for.
The meaning of understanding is “to perceive the intended meaning or significance.” Are people allowed to understand black struggles? Actually you cannot take that away from me or anyone. I understand you, does not mean that I am you, or that I pretend to know what you are going through. It does mean that I think perceive your struggle, live next to and genuinely respect your communities, and have witnessed the hands of power exercising itself against your people unjustly time and time again, for real. It does mean that I live in the south, that even though I am “of color” and experienced racism and fear it is likely not in the same magnitude.
And while you guys are mad at some idiots climbing a bull and its implications, whether or not they were trying to co-opt the march (which is insensitive and disrespectful) at least they are trying to reach out and unite. You can have your movement and they can have theirs, I can live on my block and you can live on yours, but don’t you think there’s some truth in “strength in numbers” and don’t you think that people should be always trying to unite causes in spirit if not in practice? Ok Occupy may be shittily organized and misguided, but you are wrong if you think that there aren’t a whole mess of people in America that are genuinely pissed off at what is happening to black people and who feel that the threat to your community tacitly means the threat to all. I would say that the numbers are growing and perhaps if yall cared less about “understanding” and more about people “standing with” you, I would think that something bigger might occur.
THIS RIGHT HERE.
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No one marches for the kids shot and killed in Chicago EVERY year, but then again, its not election year every year is it? You gotta wonder whose behind this when it gets such airplay, Obama chimes in, and for YEARS kids are being shot in cities alll across Amerika and not a single march. Now one kid gets shot, on an election cycle, and BAM!! NOW YOU CARE?? BS! You gotta care 24/7, not just when obama tells you to.
Uh huh. And out of all those murderers, how many of them do the police know their identity, know they did the crime, and yet have not even been arrested?
"You gotta care 24/7, not just when obama tells you to."
WTF are you talking about? Obama didn't even mention anything about this case until last week.
So I'm assuming you've been leading one-person marches everyday through Chi-town for the fallen kids that have been ignored???
…go ahead I'll wait.
I guess, i'll respond to this.
People's accusations and suspicions are deeply rooted in what they would do in similar circumstances. Anybody making this argument is likely the person they are talking about. Let's think about this logically, how do you know that no one cares about those kids in Chicago? Do you care 24/7? Did you not see that we did a post on weekend before last in Chicago? Talked about the situation in Jamaica, Queens too. You see, I actually care. I do my part. It's not about a march or a national campaign. It's about the daily grind of mentoring youth in your city. I truly feel that when people make comments like this… they are actually the ones who don't care. Because if you did, you would know that there are tons of organizations, churchs and city officials doing something to stop gun violence and youth violence everyday. Get invovled.
Yes J…All of this. I can't stand people who are anti-everything, offer no solutions, no involvement, and are only out to stand on some holier-than-thou mess. #DoBetter
Well said. This post perfectly illustrates my growing frustration of the Oppression Olympics (I first saw this term said by Jamilah, formerly of the Sister Toldja moniker). It totally distracts from the fight itself to fight over each struggle because while there are similarities when you look at the bigger picture, you can’t solve them all with one huge brush stroke. They each have complexities and nuances that have to be adhered to separately, and carefully. It’ll be an insult NOT to I’ve each struggle special attention.
Anonymous G@y Interviewee: "You guys know about the struggle. You’ve faced some of the same civil rights challenges."
That's comparing an apple to an entire orchard of oranges. Tell you what, if you can find enough martyrs of your cause to get to the very conservative estimate of two million Africans that died in the Middle Passage (note: that's just on the way over here, not what happened when we got here), I'll give the slightest amount of equivalency to our respective struggles.
Slim: "How much do you know about my struggle? Better yet, how much did you care about my struggle before it started to look like your own?"
This. This was Stokely Carmichael's lament when James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Henry Schwerner (two white men and one black man) were murdered, and the nation collectively finally got behind the civil rights movement…because now white people were dying.
As for the Occupy crowd, they lost what little respect I had for them. How disgraceful is it that they take the death of a 17-year old kid to advance their ambiguous cause/s?
Same thing happened with the crack epidemic. It's fine if black men and women in the ghetto kill each other and abandon their families over this stuff. White kids get a hold of it and the president declares war on drugs.
Another good example Most.
I partially understand. A person may not give money to a foundation for people with lupus, Celiac disease or Alzheimers until they or a family member gets the disease. But when you get the common cold, don't tell the AIDS patient with a failing immune system that you understand the struggle just because you're both coughing.
Especially if you (or, by extension, your people) are directly to blame for my sickness. A stretch, I know, but that's how we (as a people) feel sometimes.
And then the worst part is, when you get rid of your cold, you forget all about me and my incurable, life long disease.
I really think it was so much more deeper than that. I think they used heroin and crack cocaine to try and wipe us out. After Reaganomics was fully implemented they pulled the plug on crack cocaine and heroin by shifting Black men into a new epidemic. Jail. It was a hook, line and sinker plan. No jobs in the 50s-60s, send them to Vietnam in the 70s, bring them home, give them dope, then give them crack, then give them guns, now let's go send them all to jail.
Slim: "And if you reject Twitter, feel free to keep finding out things last. Just saying.)"
I've made peace with that.
lol. I deleted my main twitter account in favour of my "profersonal" one, so I have no idea what's going on in the tweets these days beyond what Huffington post tells me.
Good post @ Slim. That guy has clearly never been coached for an interview.
The sad part is that he's someone that probably makes 130K today. I don't think he's ever had the opportunity to say that in an interview.
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For real, Slim keeps coming with the zingers every week.!! There's nothing funnier than when someone who's not on twitter tries to 'break' news to you, and you have to politely break it down that you heard about said incidence 2 weeks ago.
Slim, I will never understand your struggles you will never understand mine. As a white girl in the south, I am automatically labelled a racist just because of my skin color. I have a step mother that is wonderful, lives off of MLK in Daytona Beach, makes me feel like part of the family when I am there. I have also been in a fight after watching Roots in high school and crying, having my car door slammed into by a lady that claimed "those days are over, they have freed the slaves." (Had zero to do with race, but everything to do with the fact she just hit my brand new car with her door.) Not to mention a sexual assault, and a group of teenage kids that gathered after a counseling session at the high school to cuss and back me down after I stood up for one of the smaller children.
Reverse racism is alive and well, I love my step mom her family and feel perfectly safe being in MLK. Because others know my connection to there, in the rest of Florida, I am just another racist white girl to the majority of onlookers.
You poor thing. My heart bleeds for you…
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I'm really confused as to the point you're trying to make here – none of the points you've presented do anything with so-called Reverse Racism – which, by the way is a myth. Maybe people have inaccurately judged you, but are you really going to tell me that these examples are representative of pure intolerance due to the color of your skin? Not to invalidate your struggles – I think you're just mislabeling them.
Racism is racism. The definition of racism is not "white people unjustly hating black people"…so there's nothing to reverse. Reverse Racism does NOT exist. Mkay? Alright.
If you feel that the incidents you described were caused by racist blacks, fair enough. They judged you unfairly based on the actions of others…and that is wrong. Point blank.
HOWEVER, a few incidents with a few racist blacks (and there are some) canNOT be compared to a suppressive culture of hatred to an entire race of people. Your experiences are valid though. I'm sorry you had to experience that. Our experiences, as you noted, are indeed different.
Hello! I feel bad that some of the OWS people don't exactly know how to act at times but I do believe that the message of OWS is against injustice, ALL injustice! They went to the march in solidarity with the injustice. OWS does not appear focused but actually they are, there are just so many problems and so many people (99%) who feel shafted or wronged in some way and they finally have a place to express themselves. They are made up of all people of all races and represent everyone. They truly care about this injustice. And most of them are peaceful, non-violent, clean, working and educated.
This is actually not accurate.
"most of them are peaceful, non-violent, clean, working and educated."
I would explain, but let me ask you a serious question… what about that population is the 99%?
Don't worry, i'll wait.
Great read….and difficult digest. Trayvon Martin’s death has given sound to an undercurrent that has been brewing continuously. We, Black America, have been sounding the alarm for centuries only to be told we are over exaggerating or making every issue to be a race one. No one can tell our story like we can, so please trust us, we know the truth. I personally do believe Trayvon’s injustice is a call to all people of moral conscience, yet this fight is one to be started, supported, and first manned by us. All are welcomed to join; it is us who must first take the stand. We must stand for our seed or literally die trying. It is not enough just to be a speaker; we must be people of action. And shame on those who exploit this rise for their own benefit. Though I am def a believer of the grassroot movements, Occupy has no core. No one plan, meaning, or organization nor vision.
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I really supported OWS in the beginning. I went to their rally down Broadway full of hippie love, even wrote a piece on my blog supporting them. That was before I found out its a way for homeless 20-somethings to find something to do and someplace to live. The biggest problem OWSers had when they cleaned out Zucotti was where to sleep that night. And they took what could have been a great social uprising and made it into a mockery.
This is just the nail in the coffin.
I think the nail in coffin was when someone asked them what their list of demands was. That's when I changed the channel.
To your other point, I was going to mention that up thread, but I have a friend who was doing security for OWS. He told me that it was lliterally a bunch of crazy people and homeless people. Crime was at like 26% in those camps. The local police wouldn't police inside the camp, so they had to hire private security. He told me that at least once a day he was pulling men off women and fights just wouldn't ever stop. Sad state of affairs there.
Dope write up!
Life is still not fair…
i totally get this post. not to be tangential, but i feel the same way when i see white feminists in the US citing atrocities in the DRC and countries in the Middle East in an effort to further their cause here in the US. I think women's rights abroad and domestic women's rights are very separate issues. The women in the DRC just want to be able to cook dinner for the family without worrying that a stranger will come in their home and rape them in front of their husband and children. Are white feminists in the US worrying about that? Have white women EVER had to worry about that in this country? Not that I'm aware of… but the stories and profiles of these women are used to advocate for funding for US non-profits all the time.
I know my comment will rub ppl the wrong way, but it is what it is.
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This is actually a good parallel on unfortunate circumstances. No wrong rub here.
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Partially because it's not accurate.
Rape does not have a color. I hate people thinking that it does. It's rape. White women get raped everyday, they also get raped in front of their husband and children too.
Are you familiar with the current situation in Eastern DRC and what the average women in that area deals with on a day to day basis? Go educate yourself, and then draw a parallel to what the average American white woman is dealing with on a day to day basis. Then come back and we’ll talk :-).
Good post, Slim.
Like you, I watched my TL on twitter, and saw the back/forth between OWS and those who were at the march supporting Trayvon. The problem is some want to co-opt the Civil Rights Movement, and the continued black struggle in this country as their own. It becomes a, "look, we're all suffering together" type of argument when that couldn't be any further from the truth. Injustice is injustice. Period. However, you can't latch your cause onto another cause in an attempt to gain more exposure. Racial injustice is not akin to class injustice or any other injustices. You can't compare Trayvon, Rekia, or the Arab lady killed by the racist who left a note telling her to go back to her country, to #ows or the Gay Rights Movement. Completely distict and separate. For the life of me, I don't understand how they want us to stand with them, when they won't stand with us. With us, not on top of us, attempting to put their cause at the forefront. Stand with us, and we'll do the same.
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"how much did you care about my struggle before it started to look like your own?"
Another point… so anti-HIV drugs were some of the fastest drugs to make it through the pharmaceutical pipeline in history. Why? Because the advocacy done by the gay community. People have said that the reason why the gay community was able to be so effective and have such an impact on politics was b/c their spokespeople are primarily comprised of white males. Gay or not, they were still white males and this whole country works in their favor.
Its upsetting b/c you have some illnesses that have been around for YEARS but b/c of the demographic of the ppl at risk, no one pays attention to them. Like SICKLE CELL?
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Sickle cell is sort of a bad example. I get you're using it because it primarily affects blacks, but what sort of drug would you be talking about here? HIV drugs work on the virus' ability to reproduce, do they not? Whereas sickle cells are your body's own cells changing shape in response to stressors such as a lack of O2 in your bloodstream, or dehydration. Sickle cell is genetic… I'm just trying to imagine the process of creating a drug to combat sickle cell itself, as opposed to it's effects.
I just learned me something from this thread. Learned me a lot actually.
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The sickle cell community needs more than just pharmaceuticals. Care for the psychosocial aspects of the disease and alternatives to emergency departments are just a couple of things that suffer when NIH, etc. cut funding for sickle cell.
I think many who work in health (services) research will acknowledge that HIV has been a priority in funding whereas other disease have to go through the motions with funding.
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I have so many complex thoughts about the situations that you've presented.
First, on the Trayvon Martin rally in NY, it was really distressing to the march diverge so far away from the cause. Not just OWS, but a whole bunch of other causes latched on to promote their own agendas. And some people seemed to have shown up with the sole intent of starting recklessness. I remember first arriving there and being pleasantly surprised by the amount of non-blacks that had shown up at Union Square park — only to realize that a whole bunch of them were there on some "we are the 99% " stuff and some "the NYPD is evil" mantra, which has NOTHING to do with Trayvon Martin's struggle. I don't know why they couldn't just let us have our moment…I eventually left because it devolved into people shouting over each other about things that had nothing to do with Trayvon.
Secondly, I don't know what it is about people that feel that they have to compare struggles, real or imagined, but it drives me nuts. First of all, not everyone's black experience is the same, so when they try to identify with broad generalizations, not only is it wrong, its insulting. Also, a lot of people that try to parallel their experiences to the civil rights movement and what have you are also the same people that try to downplay how ingrained racism is in our culture today – sometimes in the same thought process! It's amazing, really. I see it a lot in the present-day feminist movement.
I have a lot more jumbled in my head, but its really hard to organize my thoughts during the hectic workday – but I'm sure there will be a lot of great discussion today.
i said something similar about not really liking how ppl try to parallel the gay rights movement to the civil rights movement in my last post. http://biggerthomas.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/all-…
i got a bunch of texts about that one. apparently i was being insensitive even though i'm a supporter of equal rights for gays. smh
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My feelings about white privilege and this new age "we are all one" BS is summed up nicely by Tim Wise who ironically is a white man: http://www.timwise.org/2012/03/trayvon-martin-whi…
His last paragraph was the 1-2 punch that brings it all home:
"Yesterday, I received an e-mail from someone suggesting that perhaps we should begin to sport buttons like those that became so ubiquitous in the case of Troy Davis last year. You know the buttons, right? The ones that said: “I am Troy Davis.” The ones that aimed at solidarity with an unjustly executed man, but which, on the lapels and t-shirts of white people seemed, to me at least, more banal and offensive than anything else, since we were not, in fact (and would not likely ever be) in the position of Troy Davis. And while in this case too, I understand the sentiment and appreciate the real compassion underlying the suggestion — or the no-doubt-soon-to-be-witnessed insertion of Trayvon Martin’s name in many a Facebook profile handle — I feel that perhaps we who are white should remind ourselves, before we jump on either bandwagon, that unfortunately, we are much less like Trayvon Martin and much more like George Zimmerman."
The simple fact that this person you interviewed felt ok in talking about prop 8 speaks to his privilege.
Chris Rock had an awesome quote, "You could say that black people made progress, but to say black people have made progress would mean that black people deserved to be segregated," he said. "The reality is that white people have gotten less crazy. My father didn't suddenly deserve to eat with people because he deserved it. The people who were denying him his rights got less crazy."
Under this premise, I can understand how women's rights, civil rights, and gay rights can stand together. I just do not think it applies to Occupy Wall Street. Of course people will say that comparing women's, civil and gay rights to each other is like apples and oranges, but it's all fruit. The main reason why many of us cannot stand together is because of little nuissances that make our struggle different.
Let's look at three Denzel movies and the gross differences in the message to drive this one home.
2) Malcolm X
3) Courage Under Fire
In each of those movies there is injustice which should outrage everyone, but they are slightly different. That's why people divide and conquer themselves on these issues.
"Chris Rock had an awesome quote, "You could say that black people made progress, but to say black people have made progress would mean that black people deserved to be segregated," "
Rock is my favorite comedian by far, but I couldn't disagree with his assertion here more. We have made progress relative to where we have been as a people. Me believing this does not mean I believe we deserved to be in that position in the first place.
But I'm sure many people feel both ways about it so lets move on.
I don't see how you disagree with that point. It's a very true statement. Black people didn't deserve to be segregated. I think what Chris Rock was saying as a whole means more than what you picked out too. It speaks to the ridiculousness of oppression in our world. To me Black people progressing would be when we start seeing people make it from being on welfare, unemployed and illiterate and make it to the middle class. But a person's civil rights are to be expected. A lot of this goes back to the Declaration of Independence. White folks back then was just cray.
"I don't see how you disagree with that point."
It's clear we're not looking at it from the same perspective at the end of the day, which is cool. Doesn't mean one person is right or wrong. Just looking at that statement through a different prism, that's all.
Did Black people deserve to be segregated: No (We Agree here)
Have black people made progress as whole relative to where we have been: Yes. (According to Rock, me answering yes means my first answer above shoud have been yes. It is not, however)
Is that progress as far along as it should be? Obviously, no. (I'm guessing this is more or less the point you and what you say Rock is trying to convey.)
In a nutshell I believe most people agree with these bullet points which is the perspective I am coming from.
I'm in agreement with your disagreement.
"It's all fruit" and you can identify what the fruit is with civil, womens and gay rights. With OWS it's all a blur as to what exactly they want. I will give them credit for spreading this "occupy" philosophy, right…everything and their mama is being "occupied" and folks are rethinking how they interact with various institutions. That's a good thing.
I'm a fan of the Arab Spring (AS) movement. Talk about great twitter moments! I learned so much reading tweets from folks in the Arab world and understanding how we can REALLY change things in modern times. I think OWS can learn a thing or two from the AS.
So in my real life I work for a progressive i.e., white organization that is deals with several Civil Rights issues, but they are really focusing on gay marriage equality right now. So I work in the department that deals w/ Black churches and getting them involved and active on a wide array of progressive issues. But we (my boss and I) bump heads with the powers that be because they just want us to push "their" agenda. Or maybe wave a magic wand and make the Black church more "sympathetic" to their cause? And why don't they (Black folks) just get it? But people are not fools and they know when they are being used. And I think maybe Slim said it last week about the whole presenting things on a garbage can. There is very little discussion and dialogue about real issues and trying to understand one another's POV. It's like, "let's just blob all our issues together" when in reality their issue will always trump and be the one that is championed.
Nice read. My issue with the OWS folks is that I don't understand what they want. What is their overall goal? With the Trayvon Martin case it's clear cut, justice for a young man that has been unjustly murdered. With the OWS folks what is it? Is it to change the job market in general (good luck with that), Is it just something to do? Are they hoping a random person will come offer them a job? Or are they just looking for a reason to complain? I agree that black folk have been having issues finding jobs forever so it's kind of hard for me to feel bad now that the majority is having problems finding and keeping them.
Honestly (as unsympathetic as this may sound) I kind of feel like instead of camping out they could be somewhere filling out a job application because they probably aren't going to get very far laid up in front of the building of some big corporation picketing. I understand that a problem exists but maybe if the OWS people had a solid goal then I could see them making some progress. I can empathize with OWS in some ways but at this point I feel like it's time to come with a plan or keep it moving. It’s not fair to other valid (and more pressing) issues for them to use people like Trayvon martin for their own benefit.
I hate the gay vs black civil rights debate because it always ignores black LGBT folks.
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I agree with you 100%. This was one of my main issues with the rally. It went very quickly from being about Trayvon to a rally against NYC police and the 99%. Both arguably good causes, but it wasn't abt that that night.
I think alot of people are jumping on the Trayvon Band wagon…. Most will forget about this when the headlines stop. I agree that OWS does not rep the 99%, They are using Trayvon to get their buzz out again. Really who's checking for OWS anymore?
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Let's play a little game Slim. The gay white guy never tells you he's gay. You become very good friends. You are out with a couple of your buddies.Coming up from the opposite side is your new friend hand in hand with his lover, who happens to be black. He says "hey Slim I want you to meet my husband".Now be honest. What would you do? I have a feeling you would brush him off and be pissed that he never told you he was gay before. And now your friends might think you might be a player for the other team.And if you happen to be gay, you would be ashamed and be deeply locked in the closet. Think about the gay black guy who had to grow up in Mississippi. Have a great day
I wish I had something intelligent to add. I feel very strongly about the issue and I agree with Slim and the commenters who states my views so eloquently. So let me be ignant about it.
Gay people? You are not disenfranchised and you have so much power you should be ashamed of youselves trying to steal the little bit of progress other people have made. STFU and quit trying to bully people. You pretty much own the media, and everybody knows it. Have a seat. Btw? Gay sex is gross and wrong to most people. Keep it to yourself and we can all get along.
Occupy? You can STFU as well. Bunch of entitled white kids whining that you don’t have a job. Guess what? Nobody owes you a job. Or a house. Take a fugging bath or a class on goal setting or sit and contemplate how democracy actually works. At your mama’s house. Not the public sphere where intelligent, goal oriented adults are trying to have a dialogue.
wow. black people, still the most self absorbed bottom feeders on the planet.
ever see the movie PCU (with an early Ari Gold aka Jeremy Piven) where there is a group of people on line for a party and one guy says "Hey I'm black, I should be at the front of this line b/c 400 years of slavery". Than some gay says "I should be at the front of this line b/c blah blah" than a woman says "Pipe down, woman have been held down and raped since the dawn of man." Meanwhile the man in charge just takes all their money. Seriously, what do we get from all this "different struggle" that you helped to established today?
Yo today's accomplishment's are made off the backs of unselfish Blacks AND Whites to sacrificed and stood up for a future. Today I just see people thinking for themselves and it become too easy for the masses to just turn a message off.
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i know im tardy to the party but… this is an EXCELLENT post. i think you articulated your point very well – esp as it comes to these so-called "combined" causes. brilliant.
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I'd agree that the oppression against people who are black and against those who are LGBT are completely different. There may be a point in the idea that both groups are going through a civil rights struggle, but those two struggles are very different.
I think the folks in the Occupy movement are staring to figure things out. But it is frustrating because we are figuring things out so slowly, and hurting a lot of people in the process as we try to deal with our internal issues and to simultaneously discover the real world outside our movement, the real face and concerns of the 99%, and the real ways white supremacy not only overlaps with some of the social and economic ills we're struggling to heal, but flat out causes the vast majority of them.
Yet, frustrating as our persistent ignorance, apathy and denial are, there are also, I think, at least a few causes for hope. For one, I think people in the Occupy Movement are just now beginning to really acknowledge that there is an undeniable connection between Occupyy's core causes and the struggles of people of color. We still largely misunderstand that connection, but we are finally beginning to see it; several months ago, when I first joined this movement, it was very difficult to even talk to Occupiers about racial justice, let alone white supremacy. At that time, a few failed to even acknowledge that white supremacy remains a problem in our country and that we should therefore work for racial justice, and those who did acknowledge that racial justice is a valid and vital cause and that white supremacy is a very real problem were still usually quick to say "but those are 'special' issues and if we take them up, it will detract from our core purpose to fight for economic justice". Today thankfully, I rarely if ever hear that argument, and we are beginning to partner with local migrant and racial justice organizations— yes, to join in on the Justice for Trayvon marches — and to talk about how our corporate oligarchy oppresses people of color more than any other group in the 99%. This is, of course, only half the picture. My hope now, as talk of total cultural transformation begins to rise within the Occupy Movement, is that we will figure out that the struggle against white supremacy culture is the struggle that will transform our world and help undo most (if not all) of the problems Occupy is struggling against… and that in addition to making a commitment to anti-racism as a core—if not the core—part of our movement, we will learn acknowledge our own complicity in the social ills we're struggling to heal, to be allies to people of color, and discover the true and most powerful meaning of "solidarity".
I do not ask people of color to be patient with us — I know you have been asked to be patient for far too long and it is well beyond time for us to get our act together — but I do ask that you not give up all hope that we will figure everything out and do the right thing.