Occupy Wall Street Movement is now about a month old. It
began way before people gathered at Zuccotti
Park, which sits in the shadows
of Wall Street. It
began before the Canadian anti-capitalist maga zine Adbuster
issued a call to spark an American “Tahrir moment” (in reference
to the situation in Cairo that resulted
regime change). It certainly began long before a group of
organizers met at 16 Beaver Street to create the New York City
General Assembly. It started before the occupation of the
Wisconsin Capitol last year. And while all of the above
may have been fuel, the Occupy Wall Street Movement has
been simmering for about a decade. It was stirred to a boil
in the last few years by U.S. corporate bloodsuckers and a GOP-dominated
Congress who have thumbed their noses at the majority of
citizens in this country.
The Occupy Wall Street
Movement (OWS) has spread to about 1,000 cities in the U.S.
and throughout Europe, Asian, and Africa.
That’s because neo-liberal policies have created a global
financial system that is choking the life out of 99 Percenters
all around the world.
For at least the last
twenty years, the salaries of the working class have not
just flattened, they have taken a dip, given the rise in
the cost of living. During this same time span, the gap
between the 1% and the 99% has tripled, pushing more Americans
into poverty. While we lined up at pantry centers for food,
lost our homes, filed bankruptcy because of health care
catastrophes and witnessed a decline in the stability of
our neighborhoods, the elite in this country have been jet-setting
around, eating at the finest restaurants, going home to
their nice mansions and finding more ways to exploit the
world and keep wars going.
Some media observers
and political pundits keep pressing the protestors for their
demands as in what-do-you-people-want? Movements have their
own unique rhythms, their ebbs and flows. It’s okay that
people have come out to express their anger and outrage
at a system that has caused a lot of economic damage at
taxpayers’ expense. The ruling class and their Congressional
cronies need to see the scope of this anger. We are tired
of Wall Street getting bailouts on the People’s dime. Enough
is enough and quite frankly, we’re out of dimes.
Each city’s Occupy looks
and acts differently. It will take some time for those who
are at the heart of the actions to get to know one another,
to struggle through acts and words of racism, sexism and
homophobia, to learn consensus building - all necessary
to create a truly democratic space.
For example, Occupy
L.A. has stated that it’s in it for the long haul and has
put together Principles of Solidarity for its Action Assembly.
It plans on reaching out to diverse communities and neighborhoods
to bring them into the process.
Louis has its own website, being transparent about decisions
and actions. With the World Series coming to St.
Louis, the group will surely utilize this opportunity to
raise important issues affecting families in this region
with national eyes on us.
And the movement is
getting more organized - creating websites to inform people
of actions, raising monies, etc. They are organizing food,
shelter, medical care, libraries and a host of other needs
Ultimately, the OWS
Movement will have to figure out strategy and tactics that
will ensure tangible changes in the future. We
should always be guided by the eloquent words of Frederick
Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never
did and it never will.”
With thousands of people
being mobilized across the country, it would be a travesty
not to use the power of the people to force some concessions
that will ease our economic pain. We can choose from a smorgasbord
of economic injustices to address: mass unemployment, rampant
home foreclosures, slashes in social services, defunding
of public education, increases in health care costs, etc.
People will need to graduate from chants and signs to a
political agenda that spells out what must happen to “Make
Wall Street Pay for the Crisis!”
This is a broad based,
intergenerational, multi-racial movement that could bring
meaningful changes in this country, especially as we head
into the 2012 elections. Let’s work towards minimizing empty
rhetoric and pockets and maximizing our political power
and economic victories.
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Jamala Rogers, is the leader
of the Organization
for Black Struggle in St.
Louis and the Black
Radical Congress National Organizer. Additionally, she
is an Alston-Bannerman Fellow. Click
here to contact Ms. Rogers.