BLACK OUT! At Occupy Philadelphia
We had a Black Out! at Occupy Philadelphia. Why?
Saturday, two sisters were called Niggers by two of the volunteers at Occupy Philadelphia at the cell-phone charging stations. They were also told to go back to Africa, and that each white man should own a slave. When the sista’s called security, security asked them to leave the premises because they thought they were apart of the UHURU movement. Even if they were a part of that movement, they should not have been asked to leave without any mention of their verbal and spirtual abuse.
So a small collective formed a drummer’s circle and started a rally, only to be met with on-lookers who didn’t understand why there was a Pan-African flag at an “American” event. We were called racist. People kept coming to us to tell us that all of us are people and that race is behind us!
When we wanted to address the people at the people’s assembly, we had to beg to get a spot on the program. They kept asking us if we were going to be violent. We eventually told the gate-keepers that we were going to be given the mic, or we were going to take the mic. We eventually got our spot.
As the sister was talking about her experience, there were some members in support - but many of the people were asking us to hurry up and finish, one guy using signals to get us to hurry up.
We spoke out about RACISM IN THE 99 percent.
We spoke out about how nobody was taking about the racist foundation of coporate greed.
How do we talk about classim without taking about racism?
We were called racist because we empowered ourselves and stood up for what was right.
Man, fuck you Philadelphia.
this is why I almost never, ever say What The Fuck… to reserve it for instances like this in which no other phrase can properly describe my reaction
This was not the only racially motivated incident in the past 5 days. This city is a piece of shit when it comes to race and it breaks my fucking heart we can’t just shut the fuck up for 5 minutes and listen to our damn neighbors’ experiences and concerns. So many wounds in this city and so much fucking stuck up, nonsensical, full of shit privilege in so-called progressive activists - I could honestly cry at this point today. Fix it, Philadelphia. Step the fuck up for once in your broke-ass, choke-in-the-face-of-every-opportunity, inferiority-complex-having, screw-you-buddy-mentality life and get it the fuck together. Key word there: together. No group can do this alone.
1. Stop dismissing racial concerns in the movement. You cannot ignore centuries of history and current lived experience because “that’s not what this is about”. For POCs it has always been about that. Every damn second of every damn day. Fuck you.
2. Make it clear to everyone at every opportunity that oppressive language is unacceptable and unwelcome. You have a mic and attention - fucking use it.
3. Take a good look at who’s doing safety and what they’re trained to do in these situations - there are problems there, as well as some great people. Address the problems.
4. Respect. Understand there are different perspectives, especially regarding law enforcement and incarceration. Understand MOVE may have been “20 years ago - get over it already” to you, but it still burns for Cobbs Creek and West Philly. It’s as emblematic of the world as anything is to you.
5. Criticisms of individuals and factors of the movement do not necessarily need to diminish it. Don’t get defensive or dismissive. This is an opportunity to build strength, heal old wounds, and rebuild communities but only if we listen openly and whole-heartedly, respect each other, and address our internal problems. Do otherwise and we’ve already failed.
Thank you, ladies, for sharing with us. I am so very sorry, and so very angry, and so very ashamed.
Don’t break my heart again, Philadelphia.
As a security (actually called Safety) person at occupy Philly I have only one clarifying statement to this, all parties involved were asked to leave the area including the racist white persons. Other than that I have to say that this is a rather shortened but accurate portrayal of the incident. Since that incident all safety persons are required to attend training for De-escalation, Nonviolence training and some have attended Sensitivity training.
When the PoC had an open meeting I was unfortunately on shift and unable to attend. I am hoping they have another meeting and that I can attend.
Just for the record, I am a white, (former) middle class, middle aged, male. I try to be as anti racist as someone with my privilege can be.