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Where are People of Color on Occupying Wallstreet?

by Jim Taggart October 21, 2011

I’ve looked at dozens and dozens of photos of Occupying Wall Street, including video and TV coverage. One thing has struck me, and that it’s essentially a white person’s protest – some would say carnival.

It wasn’t until I listened to an interview with 79 year-old comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory that it really sunk in. Occupying Wall Street (including its Canadian version) is a middle-class gig. Lots of middle-class young people, replete with laptops, tablets and iPhones, many wearing silly costumes (some scary).

In his interview this past Monday with CBC Radio’s Anna Maria Tremonti, Gregory spoke briefly on the Wall Street protests. In addition to the Caucasian skewing of the protesters, Gregory took affront to their appropriating the civil rights label of the 1960s. There’s a world of difference between the two.

In my Monday post Will the Wall Street Protests Flame Out? A Call for Focused Leadership I made the following comment: “… when one looks at the joblessness of young African American males in the U.S. and the country’s growing underclass, it’s amazing that the Capital hasn’t been burned to the ground.”

My view is that Occupying Wall Street, as a metaphor for speaking out against the growing polarization of society (Canada’s division between rich and poor is one of the fastest growing in the industrialized world), lacks not just focus and leadership but also representation from society.

For those key reasons, the movement is largely a sham and will gradually dissolve.

What say you?

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom. 

– Martin Luther King, Jr.