Occupy Movement and Racial Justice

I have been following the Occupy Olympia Facebook group. Lots of good discussion happening on there.

Here are a few highlights relating to the important issue of racial justice. I learned from Malik @OccupyTheHood that food stamps have been discontinued in Detroit. Malik said: "Like usual, the white community has a cold, we have the flu." Learn more about "Black Occupy" here, and watch this short video (which is also featured at the site in the previous link):

@OccupyTheHood, Occupy Wall Street from adele pham on Vimeo

The People of Color Organize! website has an article that identifies racial justice roadblocks in the movement. From a description posted to Facebook:

As so many people of forward seeking to make sense of Occupy and move forward, Ernesto approaches some inherent obstacles, like Consciousness of History, Credibility Gaps, The Power of Political Trickle Down, Lack of Leaders Means Leaders M...ove Covertly, Lack of Agenda, Occupy Language, Process Issues. He concludes by addressing those people of color who engaging with Occupy:

Thoughts about Percival Landing, and Ethnic and Racial Diversity

The new Percival Landing is up and running. Definitely some major improvements, like the water fountains just for one example. I walked around there a week or so ago, shortly after the grand opening. One conversation I heard was some parents apologizing to their kids that the playground wasn't ready.

The Harbor House is an interesting component. A friend asked what homeless people will think of it. Good question I think.

Here we have a nice warm room with a fireplace...on a cold winter night. Maybe ouch.

Harbor House is interesting, and despite the what some might consider lack of respect toward those of us suffering from economic (and other) hardships, I think there is still other potential for improvement.

Maybe the space could be used more of as a visitor center. Maybe even story-tellers could work there, and people could go there to learn about this area, and past events and peoples. Maybe along the lines of a welcome center.

I would suggest adding a significant indigenous component to the Harbor House. I appreciate the salmon over the fireplace. I think it would add a lot of meaning if the building would tell more of the story of the indigenous population. Who were they? What were their names? What did they do? What happened to them? Where are their ancestors now? The Harbor House might be a good location to tell some of these stories.

Part Two: Ethnic and Racial Diversity, and other thoughts about today:

I was on my way to a neighborhood in East Lacey this morning when I passed a police officer with a scowl. I wondered, was the scowl for me, or was it a general sort of scowl?

Prisons and Profits? Can we have both?

It's bitter sweet to be writing about prisons during the week that Gil Scott-Heron died. I believe that Gil did some time for possession of cocaine.  That tells you so much about the current purpose of the incarceration industry.  I guess there's a good chance that with a record and prison time that Gil lost the right to vote.  Think about that.  The guy that wrote the television will not be televised could be disenfranchised. There it is.  That is the purpose of the war on drugs.  To disenfranchise a certain population.  Dark skin have anything to do with it?  I don't know.  You get to decide for yourself. But I do hope you will think about it.

Anyway, back to prisons and profits.  If you want to have prisons in your society, a good purpose for a prison would be to rehabilitate folks.  To give them skills that help in the world on the other side of the bars.  Forget about punishment.  We are likely to get plenty of punishment in this life, let's work on opportunity, stability, value.  Instead of creating a revolving door for throwaway people in the Prison/Justice Casino, how about we focus on a value-added system?

I am not dead set against profit.  I understand that the profit motive, that style, fashion, all that stuff that powers the capitalist model, is like a natural force in the world.  It's like wind and tide.  Fashion/desire/style is like human weather.  Capture it and you can move things.  But let's make sure that profit is derived from the right things.  I am ok with incentives that would turn a reasonable profit for a system that would create outcomes that the community desires.  

Economics and Humanities: Public Services or Private Profits?

The Supremes gave orders to California to do something about the prison over-crowding recently. It was a split 5-4 decision as most controversial decisions will be from the current court because there are 4 strongly conservative ideological votes on the court (alito, roberts, scalia, thomas for those tracking the justices) one swing vote (kennedy) and four liberal ? votes (breyer, ginsburg, kagan and sotomayor). The court reflects the country these days. This decision is really much ado about nothing. Like the Obama health care plan, tweaking the current prison system will keep bureaucrats busy, but these changes will not produce the significant change that is needed in these systems. With health care, it is clear that the for-profit health care system needs to be forced to compete head to head with Medicare for Everyone. Health care accounts for 17.6% of the national economy according to recent studies. That chunk of the economy is currently firmly in the "for profit" category and the folks enjoying the profits of health care are the industry captains, the chiefs and CEOs who control the economics and availability of care. They are not giving these profits up without a fight. Vermont threw down the gauntlet and has enacted single payer medical care. California legislators have sent this kind of law to the governor twice and The Guvenator vetoed the legislation twice. Hey, CA, send the legislation to Governor Brown if you are serious about this.

1853 Olympia (read Emmett's comment too)

Moderator edit: People be warned before reading the following inflammatory text, and involves anti-indigenous racism:

I came across this while browsing through local historical newspapers.

Later edit from Sarah: I was appalled when I found this but not surprised. Because it fits with the theme of sundown towns and racism I wanted to bring it to the surface. If it is too disturbing and unwanted for Olyblog I can easily take it down.

Some Photos from the Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression/Anti-Fear Mongering Event

Friedman, Saliba, Siddiqui: Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Anti-Arab Racism
Andrew and Ayub after the panel discussion
Wednesday 3 November 2010
Olympia, WA

More information about this event here

This was a great discussion about the topics of Anti-Semitism, Anti-Jewish Oppression and Jew-Hating, Islamophobia, and Anti-Arab racism in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as the greater global environment of (waning) US and Anglo-American hegemony.

Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and Anti-Arab racism panel discussion in Olympia

Glenn Greenwald at SPSCC: When the word terrorism is used as a weapon to erode civil liberties

Glenn Greenwald at SPSCC Presented by BRICK, Monday 1 November 2010 The SPSCC student group BRICK (Building Revolution by Increasing Community Knowledge) brought social critic and activist Glenn Greenwald to town yesterday for a speech about civil rights and terrorism in the era of the Obama Administration. Greenwald is a regular contributor to Salon.com, and there is more information about his current tour there, and more information about him, and his visit to SPSCC on the BRICK website here.

Greenwald was trained as a constitutional attorney, and practiced as a litigator in New York before giving up on the courts to become a writer. He has written articles for The New York Times, LA Times, Harper's, and other noteworthy publications.

Greenwald talked about popular conceptions of civil liberties and terrorism, and detailed how these are often false. For example, even though the definition of civil liberties is quite simple—it's basically the set of rules that protect people against government intrusion (e.g. freedom of speech, and protection against unreasonable search and seizure)—that a lot of people don't understand what civil liberties are about. When you think about civil liberties, think about the Bill of Rights.

And terrorism, in contrast, is something that people popularly think they know and understand, but in reality, the definition is really nebulous and popularly misunderstood.

To the Olympia Food Co-op Board of Directors

I am currently reading the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Stride Toward Freedom. The book is an account of the bus boycott of 1955-56 in Montgomery Alabama. It's a fascinating read, and I recommend it to anyone and everyone. There are some interesting parallels between the situation in the South in the 1950s and the situation today in Israel/Palestine. Some of the ideas in Dr. King's account helped me to formulate this statement to the Olympia Food Co-op Board of Directors in regard to the ongoing boycott of products from Israel:

Thank you to the Olympia Food Co-op Board of Directors for holding fast on the boycott of products from Israel.

This boycott amounts to noncooperation with injustice. The way that the government of Israel and some Israelis are treating Palestinians is unacceptable.

The decision to boycott was correct. Israel needs to change, for the good of both Palestinians and Jews.

When our government is unaccountable to the interests of human rights (and even life itself,) a courageous and principled and strong stand like this of the co-op is truly awesome and inspiring—and necessary.

Human rights are for everyone.

Thank you again for this courageous act of noncooperation!

Berd Whitlock

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