Which side am I on? #OccupyOakland’s

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere! Hella #OccupyOakland." Posted on Oakland's City Hall Wednesday evening, October 26th.

Over the past couple of weeks Oakland has become famous for something other than it’s murder rate!

#OccupyOakland has highlighted it’s rich history with civil protest and our city has once again become national news. The actions of the local police department and the city government has  given Oakland’s arm of #OccupyWallStreet new energy and support from all over the world including myself.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Barbara Lee/Elihu Harris Lecture series featuring Dr. Dorothy Cotton and Reverend C.T. Vivian. The Lee/Harris lecture series features activists from the Civil Rights era who share words of wisdom to inspire youth. Vivian and Cotton, who both worked with Martin Luther King Junior as part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, spoke to a roomful of young students and Oakland residents about the need for continued advocacy and activism during our current economic crisis and for the upcoming 2012 election.

A student at Merritt College opened the discussion with a question: In the struggle of justice, peace and a stronger democracy..which side are you on? I have listened to opinions pro and con about the Occupy movement and decided that is very important for me to give Occupy Oakland my full support.

Why? Because I am one of the 99 percent! 

That seems too easy right? It is..but it’s still true. I am a young African – American female, subject to the systematic racism and prejudice that plagues this country today. I am what some might call middle class, yet I’m living check to check. As an independent consultant I am what you would call a small business..something that our government often encourages more of. Yet, I am the portion of the middle class that suffers from the inequitable tax system having to pay a higher percentage of my income than those that make way more money than I do.

I have to give Vice Presidential candidate Herman Cain a small measure of credit. The fact that I am not rich is my own fault. I chose not to become a doctor or work for a corporation that would give me more money.  I chose to live in a city where home-ownership is nearly impossible for a single person.

However, I also chose to be dedicated towards helping the community, making advocacy not only part of my work but part of my life. I feel good about that choice.

Given that..choosing to support Occupy Oakland is a natural fit for me and should surprise no one.

(Some of my friends weren’t surprised at all..they fully expected to me to be one of the arrested on Tuesday night..lol!)

The Occupy Movement has no purpose..

I disagree. The occupy movement gives voice to struggle of peace, stronger democracy and justice. Many complain that there isn’t a specific goal or plan and that there are too many issues to address.  True. The occupy movement is not merely about banks taking our money to line their own pockets, or about lack of jobs. It’s about issues with race, class, prejudice. Who are most affected by the lack of jobs? African-Americans. Who is negatively affected by our horrible tax system? Middle and lower class. Who is being targeted by unfair police actions? Young minority males. Who are affected when public schools are closed? All of our children!

The eviction of occupy protestors and aggressive action by the City of Oakland/OPD against Occupy Oakland last Tuesday  has clearly demonstrated the continued struggle for peace, democracy and justice.

We can’t solve these problems with one single law, or action. That’s impossible. Yet, what can happen is that our voices can be heard and for the ‘powerful’ to realize that they can not continue with business as usual. We have the power to put our money where our mouths are. We can boycott, sit-in, march, vote, shout, dance .. but most importantly..BE HEARD!

But what does supporting Occupy Oakland accomplish?

It has encouraged people of all races, gender and economic status (within the 99% and even the 1% (Micheal Moore..Danny Glover?) to come together and speak out about equity and it has visibly shifted the political discourse.

It has made Mayor Jean Quan and the Oakland Police Department reconsider their actions against peaceful protest and prompted the City Council to hold a special meeting to evaluate Oakland’s response to future protests in the city. (Thursday, 5:30 pm, City Hall)

Bank of America is dropping their $5 fee for debit cards! Can we attribute that to Occupy?  Maybe ..maybe not. But many unhappy customers made their voices heard and a change was accomplished.

Imagine what else can be possible by continuing to speak out.

The success of the Occupy Movement can mean different things (as outlined by this blog post on CNN). However what really resonates with me is that thousands of people are willing to do  SOMETHING.

There is nothing more irritating than a complainer that does nothing. (IMO)

You have to camp out and live in a tent in order to support Occupy.

No you don’t. You can stay in your comfy bed and you can go still go to work. However, there are other things you can do to show your support

  • You can attend #Occupy general assembly meetings which usually happen early evening. You can participate in rally’s that happen over the weekend or in evenings.
  • You can attend city council meetings. (Thursday, 5 pm City Hall to discuss Occupy Oakland eviction)
  • You can share your opinions with your peers. Have discussions that generate concrete ideas and ways we can make change happen within our own sphere of influence.
  • Patronize small business.
  • You can encourage your friends to stay safe and peaceful when they participate in protests.
  • Retweet an informative tweet.  Like a facebook post.
  • You can write a letter to “The Editor” of a newspaper.
  • You can call your congressman and ask them to support bills that help the 99%.
  • You can donate to the presidential campaign that best supports your ideals.
  • You can sign petitions. Make phone calls.
  • Send in your ballot on Nov. 15th.
  • You can donate food and supplies to the tent community in downtown Oakland.
  • You can educate youth about peaceful protest.

Participation can mean many things.  The whole point of occupy is to show that the 99% are not silent doormats waiting to be stepped on.

General Strike, November 2nd

The general strike, Wednesday Nov. 2nd, is one day where we as a city can collectively raise our voices. I encourage those that can to participate. You don’t have to take a whole day off.  You can participate in three rally’s that will occur throughout the day as outlined in the poster below.

So Oakland..are you going to participate in the General Strike?

or.. General Public

Do you agree or disagree with the occupy movement?

Have thoughts about the city’s response to Occupy Oakland?

Share! Hopefully I will see you tomorrow. I will participate at 5 pm and share pics/tweets. 🙂

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