The Beginning of Spring

There is no time like the present.

The present may be Winter, but Spring is already upon us.

It is not so much the Spring though, as much as it is the fresh energy of the warmer months. Occupy actions have been springing up all around the nation, even during these bitter cold times.

As I saw on my tour of the Western Occupations, the movement is still growing. Super active core groups and organizers are using these lean times to plan and coordinate. Out of these more focused actions has come a renewed sense of urgency.

Occupy activists have taken part in several actions lately, and more are still being planned.

Below is a excerpt from The Occupied Wall Street Journal‘s Jennifer Sacks series entitled Reports from the front lines. It does a great job of breaking down what’s been going on the past few days in the movement from the viewpoint of someone who’s been there.

This week in Occupy, demonstrators swarmed on Washington D.C. to mark three milestones: the 83rd birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the return of Congress following the holiday break and the second anniversary of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

#On January 16, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the Occupy The Dreamaction drew hundreds of demonstrators to Washington D.C. to protest the Federal Reserve Bank’s monetary policy and growing income inequality.

#On January 17, occupiers entered the Rayburn House Office Building, the home of Congress, where they dropped a banner from the front of the structure and roamed the hallways in search of representatives to talk policy with as part of the Occupy Congress action. Demonstrators outside were serenaded by Madison Rising, a self-described “pro-American” conservative band, who performed an impromptu five-song set. Lead singer Dave Bray said that, to his shock, “we were met with a warm welcome.”

Sgt. Shamar Thomas at Grand Central Station, January 3. Photo: Allison Kilkenny

#Elsewhere on January 17, occupiers demonstrated outside the Apollo Theater in Harlem, where President Obama was holding a $36,000-per-ticket fundraiser. (The average median income in Harlemis $27,515.)

#On January 20, the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision – which granted corporations the same rights as people when it comes to political spending, prompting the rise of wallet-busting SuperPACs – demonstrators occupied 75 federal courthouses across the country, including the Supreme Court, and staged Occupy the Courtsto promote a 28th constitutional amendmentdeclaring that corporations are not people and that campaign contributions are not a form of speech. Once the peaceful demonstration reached the steps of the Supreme Court, police swooped in, arresting 11. Activists in more than one hundred cities participated, including Boston, Minneapolis, Cleveland and London.

These highly coordinated actions were in the planning stages as I took my tour. The Occupy Portland Camp, as well as those is Denver and Phoenix, were planning these actions for weeks before they happened.

The discussion of change and its path to fruition are still ongoing.

Don’t be fooled by the media blackout. These events are still in your town, even the deep Red like Idaho, are planning events and action in solidarity with these national movements.

Occupations are spreading to smaller divisions, individual neighborhoods within bigger city Occupy flags. Neighborhood GAs with report backs and individual autonomous Occupy locations as well.

The stronger numbers are increasingly coming from retirees, working families with children, and small business owners. These are things I have seen with my own two eyes.

Entire families, conservative religious families, two children in tow, are showing up to rallies.

Local business are not just sympathetic, but actively working with Occupy organizers to provide shelter, food, supplies, services and even rally points.

The retirees are coming from all walks of life. From nursing home patients, those with fixed incomes, veterans of more foreign wars than were formally declared by congress, and regular blue collar workers just trying to get back what they put in.

This movement is so much bigger than the mainstream media would ever allow to be shown.

Don’t fall victim to the apathy that has been so effortlessly imposed upon us. Real change is possible, if only through perseverance through opposition and hardship, it is achievable.

Direct actions are taking hold. Incremental gains are being made. The focus on local government and sustainability has been effective. 

Localities are putting forth the resolutions the Occupy Movements are calling for. They are beginning to listen to the people’s voices once again.

As always, we must think globally, but assert our demands for positive change locally.

On Racial Inclusion

There is a very real mistrust of the Occupy movement among many people of color. This has led to a widespread push to consider renaming or creating sub committees and working groups for the Decolonize movement.

I do not think either movement is exclusive, and do see the value of both, but this post is just to explain a little bit about why the differences are felt so that each side may understand why their is such intense feelings for names.

First is an example of movies.

Pop culture reservations aside, most of America watches movies. Whether it is on TV or the internet or even in a theater once in a while, people watch these movies to be entertained. It shows the a world they can relate to in some way. Even when it is a cartoon or film about another world, there ares still themes and character types that translate into our own experience.

Well what about the people that don’t see themselves in those movies? Or only see things they recognize and identify with portrayed in negative fashions?

This is what happens to people of color.

In the movie industry, which pervades most American’s lives as well as those around the world, race and socio-economic status are typically favored to white individuals. Being a person of color usually makes you the villain or comic relief, very rarely a serious hero.

Only independent or blacksploitation, or foreign-made films really take a look at these serious inequities which are being reinforced with every single piece of media we watch, read or listen to.

Then you look at the history.

This nation was built by imperialist Anglo slaveholders who wished to be free from persecution. They slaughtered most of an indigenous population of unique cultures to create their own utopia.

The system was set up for the benefit of these first immigrant men and all others were marginalized. It has been less than a century since even women could actually vote in our government. Not to mention the Civil Rights movement and Chicano movements, whose gains can still be counted in small victories, later infringed upon anyway. We locked up thousands of U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry during the WWII. We’ve swept aside treaties with Native American peoples pretty much at whim for out entire history as a nation.

Reading something so blunt strikes many people as odd, or wrong in some way, but I am not naive. Call it conspiracy or consciousness, adversarial nature or awareness, it doesn’t matter much.

This is reality.

Which is not to say it is not to say change isn’t coming. We should consider these failings as lessons we can build on. The only real failure would be letting the status quo continue and these gains taken back and forgotten.

This is not meant to blame anyone directly, it is simply the system that has been set up and complied with by everyone. Some are simply unaware of what they are doing,

The system is incredibly insidious because of the subconscious delivery of these messages. Anyone not taking the time to deconstruct them might overlook their significance. They might just be pictures on a wall. But that is only on the surface.

Everyone should take a second to look around, analyze their surroundings. They must actually think about the pictures, literature and other messages they are constantly fed.

These messages are not there  by accident.

People in power write the policies that create these messages. Not being aware of their impacts is no excuse. Being aware of them and continuing to comply with them only continues the cycle of oppression.

When you only see good things happening to White people, and people of color being portrayed negatively, you don’t have to be racist, you’re just judgmentally socialized.

It becomes a structural part of your psyche. You don’t have to know it to be the truth, it just is. The same way the military trains you to do things without question, children are being raised with preconceived notions that will rule their lives.

We are all just people, with the same problems, the same successes, the same capabilities. We must show that in everything we do if we wish to see a change. Simply overlooking things so innate as movies, literature and  can undermine a whole generation.

There are only so many times I can say this.

Be conscious. Deconstruct your world. Build it anew. Build it better.

Which all comes back to the movements, whether it is Occupy or Decolonize, I think there is room for both.

They are separate ideals with overlapping concerns. If you are mindful that there are other groups working towards the same goals, cooperation can be used to build both movements, creating a strengthened base while maintaining diversity of thought.

There is long-standing mistrust and issues between those who have been working for specific causes, especially those of color, and the newcomers to the Occupy movement specifically.

The Occupy movements are a larger forum though, Decolonize concerns are directed and specific, combining them and spreading awareness is key to the success of both.

We must work together to make process real.