Occupy Wall Street: Black Voices for Economic Justice Must Be Heard

Published on ZNet, by Ron Daniels, October 12, 2011.

Struggling to come up for air from a brutal schedule, for several weeks I had been planning to write an article about the necessity of those affected by the Great Recession to take to the streets to express their outrage. Before I could put pen to paper it happened. 

A disparate band of mostly young protesters from around the country, disgusted with the rapacious behavior of 21st century “Robber Barons,” marched on Wall Street and set up a camp called “Occupy Wall Street.” As an organizer one never knows what event, what incident or action will be the spark that galvanizes a movement for change. In the face of a Great Recession, precipitated by the greed-driven and reckless behavior of the bandits on Wall Street, there has been growing discontent among the American people, but with rare exception (mass actions by labor and allies in Wisconsin and Ohio) there has been a noticeable absence of mass action, particularly on the left. Indeed, over the past couple of years, it has been the Tea Party Patriots who have captured media attention and dominated the national discourse with their caravans and protest demonstrations calling for deep spending cuts, deficit and debt reduction, lower taxes and limited government. Purportedly born out of outrage over the bail-out of Wall Street, curiously the Tea Party has leveled its fire at “big government” as opposed to the bandits on Wall Street who committed the crime.

On the left, President Obama has been the primary target of outrage for his failure to articulate and fight for more progressive policies, including bailing out the victims of the sub-prime mortgage scam and more aggressively reining in, even investigating and prosecuting those who caused the crisis. In a recent series of articles on strategy for the progressive movement in 2012 and beyond, I suggested that rather than focus exclusively on Obama, progressives need to act boldly to galvanize a movement around the vision, values and principles of a socially responsible economy where the needs, interests and aspirations of the people take precedent over profit and property as dictated by corporations and financial institutions – Wall Street. In a political environment where a timid President is hampered by the noise and obstructionist tactics of the reactionaries, we who believe in a different definition of “freedom and democracy” than the conservatives must take to the streets and mobilize to march on ballot boxes to articulate and advance our vision and agenda. We must work to “unite the many to defeat the few!”

What has now become the Occupy Wall Street movement that is spreading across the nation like wildfire is potentially a game changer, a turning point, a social movement with the potential to impact the political discourse by refocusing on the urgent need to preserve and expand the budding culture of rights fought for by generations of progressives … //

This is not a time for people of African descent to sit on the sidelines. Black folks who have lost their homes to foreclosure or are underwater because of the sub-prime mortgage scam, Black students who are drowning in debt from student loans and the Black joblessness should mount parallel but supportive “Occupy” marches and rallies all across the nation. Africans in America should heed the admonition of the Gary Black Political Agenda; our voices must be heard “because it is our people who are most deeply hurt and ravaged by the present systems of society.” Black Voices for Economic Justice should gear up to Occupy Wall Street and march on ballot boxes with a vengeance in 2012 to vigorously advance an agenda for reform and fundamental change! (full long text).

  • (Dr. Ron Daniels is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. His articles and essays also appear on the IBW websites ibw21.org and northstarnews.com.
  • To send a message, arrange media interviews or speaking engagements, Dr. Daniels can be reached via email here.
  • See also Daniel’s ZSpace Page).

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