Posts tagged occupy wall street.
A year ago this week, I published an article in the Voice about art and Occupy Wall Street. Having written for years about art and resistance played out mostly as a theoretical or formal exercise, the occupation in Zuccotti Park felt like a miracle, a genuine efflorescence of nonviolent protest. Inspired by occupations and uprisings around the globe, OWS—despite all its problems—represented a moment in which people came together and created a brief, provisionally utopian community where art and living converged.
Is contemporary art politically useless? Does it serve only as a bystander, offering smart academic responses—or worse, packaging revolution into edgier-than-average commodities to sell to the very elites that these movements challenged? Does art lay the ground for future insurrections, or merely undergird a whole system of capitalist thought and institutions that have to be changed before anything else can change?
It was widely remarked on at the time that the art world—well-known artists and others involved in the institutions of art—did not figure prominently. Instead, many participants came from fields like anthropology, geography, or public medicine. But now that Arab Spring, Occupy, and the global “movement of squares” have receded and art has stepped back into its customary role, analyzing and historicizing events by turning them into objects and showcasing them in exhibitions, a few questions arise:
Let’s look at a few local examples. (read more)
Hell’s Angel dog being being frisked at one of the Occupy protests.
From the amazing new Tumblr: Awwcupy Wall Street, The Occupy movement’s cutest protesters.
Brooklyn College associate professor of sociology Alex S. Vitale and illustrator Chi Birmingham chart the evolution of police riot gear from the war protests of the 60s and 70s, through the trade protests of the mid-90s, to the current Occupy Wall Street demonstrations and their various national offshoots.
It’s hard not to notice that once the right number of white folks are affected, people want to take to the street. Unemployment numbers are high? We’ve had high unemployment for years. People are living in or near the poverty line? Yeah — we know.
When minorities speak up and say there is an issue, we are told maybe we are doing something wrong. Perhaps we are targeted by the police because of what we are wearing. Perhaps we don’t look for jobs the right way. Maybe we aren’t educated enough. But now that it’s affecting other folks, now there’s a problem. Now we need to come together and fight the power. Someone tweeted at me that we need to come together and not point out silly differences like race because we’re in this together!
Yes, we can — and have (there is support from various folks of color) — come together within this movement, but you can’t expect us to throw away “race” and ignore history. Even the violence that’s happening with the Occupiers right now is looked at differently because of race. You can’t be surprised that people have reservations about this when you look at how our issues have been dealt with before.
I’m not making an argument for ignoring the movement because a lot of the movement ignored us. But I am saying take a moment to walk away from your righteousness to understand that your newfound plight has been some people’s plight for generations.
We just didn’t have a catchy name for it.
Black America’s fight for income equality is not on Wall Street, but is a matter of day-to-day survival. The more pressing battles are against tenant evictions, police brutality and street crime. This group doesn’t see a reason to join the amorphous Occupiers.
There’s some other good stuff in the article, but this stuck out to me. A leaderless movement with vague goals & no real plan on how to achieve them really does not address what has been happening in our communities. And that’s before we get into the history of successful black communities being destroyed at the hands of dissatisfied whites.
Waziyatawin speaks to Occupy Oakland.
“With European countries facing bankruptcy, we are witnessing the endgame of capitalism. The paradigm of unlimited growth is inherently unsustainable. It always has been, but this truth is finally catching up to American society. Given the realities of peak debt and peak oil, we are now facing the collapse of the American economy and the collapse of civilization more broadly. These, combined with the crises emerging from global warming, climate change, and the collapsing of ecosystems due to hyperexploitation means that it is time for everyone to recognize the harm of the existing systems and institutions, and to seek to dismantle them completely before it is all destroyed. You will not find your justice in capitalism. You will not find your justice in the colonial government of the United States. You will find justice when the institutions of capitalism and colonialism are destroyed and replaced with sustainable ways of being that nurture and protect all life.”
[Picture: Background: 8 piece pie style color split with light blue and green alternating. Foreground: White man with black-rimmed glasses wearing a pink and black striped t-shirt, a small black bag strapped over his shoulder, and visible tattoos on his arms. Top text: “All this divisiveness is hurting our cause” Bottom text: “So just accept that I’m right”]
OWS protesters, is that you?
White feminists, is that you?
(especially important to think about given the way the narrative of outrage about police brutality at occupy wall street is so premised on the violation of white individuals…because, you know, police brutality just started happening…its not like certain communities have been targeted for centuries by the state….)