Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Conflicted Opinions About The Occupy The Hood Movement

Written by Azizi Powell

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

I have a thing about names & nicknames. I collect names, particularly names from African languages & Arabic names. I like finding out the origins & meanings of specific names. Way back in 1967 I changed my first name and adopted the Swahili name "Azizi" to reflect my African heritage. Although my extended family still calls me by my birth name, I don't think it fits who I am any longer. And it's not just personal names that interest me. I like studying how nations got their names, and what those names mean. I also like the look and sound of certain business or group names more than others. And I like it when the name of a business or group reflects what the business or group is really all about.

Take the Occupy Wall Street movement and other Occupy movements. I don't have any problem with Occupy movement's goals. I am part of the 99%. But I don't like the Occupy name, mostly because of this:

OCCUPY WALL STREET: The Game of Colonialism and further nationalism to be decolonized from the “Left”

From the protests on the streets of WALL STREET in the name of “ending capitalism” – organizers, protestors, and activists have been encouraged to “occupy” different places that symbolize greed and power. There’s just one problem: THE UNITED STATES IS ALREADY BEING OCCUPIED. THIS IS INDIGENOUS LAND. And it’s been occupied for quite some time now.

I also need to mention that New York City is Haudenosaunee territory and home to many other First Nations. Waiting to see if that’s been mentioned anywhere.; Jessica Yee On September 30, 2011


Yeah alright. I realize that the "Occupy" brand is real hot right now and it's probably way too late to do anything about that name. But I still think that the problems that Jessica Yee and others have articulated about the use of the word "occupy" are righteous. That's partly why I think it's a shame that the People of Color spin off of Occupy Wall Street is named "Occupy The Hood".

Here's some information about "Occupy The Hood":


...going to ground zero of many of these [Occupy] protests will likely place you in a sea of white faces.

It’s this very reason that the sub-movement Occupy The Hood was born. It was started by two activist friends Malik Rhasaan, 39, from Queens, New York and Ife Johari Uhuru, 35, from Detroit, Michigan. What began as an awareness campaign to get people of color involved in Occupy Wall Street has caught on with media outlets such as BET, The Village Voice and Loop 21 documenting their story. Like the Occupy Wall Street movement, OTH is getting the word out via social media—which has proved to be quite successful.


Occupy the Hood Aims to Bring More Minorities Into the Occupy Wall Street Fold

Strategically, Occupy the Hood doesn't want to separate itself from Occupy Wall Street. But the leaders say that minority concerns are often left out of the OWS discussion. "I see Occupy Wall Street putting forth demands and a lot of times those demands don't speak to the 99% that we all claim to be," Uhuru said. "Some people can't speak for certain people."


I know that this isn't Occupy The Hood's fault, as their representatives didn't write that article, but I just wanna say that "minorities" is so 1960s. Instead of "minority", the group referent that means the same thing that is mostly used now is "People of Color" (PoC). Just so ya know.

But that's part of the problem. Is Occupy the Hood a movement that is directed to all People of Color or is it really just directed to Black folks and to Latino folks (as is mentioned in most of the videos and facebook comments that I've read about that new movement?) And if it's only directed to Black folks & Latinos, why not just say that instead of calling it a People of Color movement? Because, less we've forgotten this fact, Native Americans are People of Color too. And it seems to me that the Occupy The Hood sub-set of Occupy Wall Street is (further) dissin Native Americans by not being aware of or acknowleging that it is aware of the concerns that a number of Native Americans have voiced about colonialization and the "occupy" name.

But that's just one problem I have with the "Occupy The Hood" name. Another problem I have is that we (meaning People of Color) already Occupy our NeighborHOODS. But actually all People of Color don't really live in the hood. I know this might reflect the fact that I'm a grandmother, but the word "hood" sounds awfully ghetto to me. I guess I'm still not all that in to that particular hip-hop referent. I'm concerned the Occupy The Hood name reinforces a monolithic highly negative image of Black communities. Are all Black communities "the hood"? Really??

Furthermore, the Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy movements in the USA & around the world are demonstrating (engaging in protest marches) and engaging in sit-ins (occupying public spaces like the renamed Liberty Park) to call attention to the issues of the 99%. Occupy The Hood "chapters" which have already formed in numerous cities plan to have separate demonstrations. Perhaps some of these marches will be joined by the White demonstratators from the Occupy movement in that same city. But if these marches are comprised of all Black folks, or all Latino folks (some of whom are Black) or if the marches are made up of mostly Black & Latino folks, will they be treated with the same hands off wait & see treatment that's presently being used with the mostly White Occupy movement protests? I very much doubt it. And will those protest have the money to bail people out of jail when they get charged more excessively than White people get charged? (which is usually the case in the USA) I really hope so.

But, in spite of its name, and inspite of the concerns that I've articulated, Occupy The Hood has my support for things like this:

Occupy The Hood’ Rally Emphasizes Unity, Fighting Injustice

October 22, 2011; by Ann Coleman
Dudley Square in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston was transformed on the evening of October 21, 2011 into an open-air public forum for the area’s predominately Black and Latino residents. The meeting, called Occupy the Hood, included speeches and messages of solidarity with Occupy Boston from the more than 400 people gathered in the public park.

For more than three hours, Jamarhl Crawford, editor and publisher of The Blackstonian, emceed a list of community organizers, ministers, teachers, students, and workers of color. The speakers articulated issues many racially segregated neighborhoods face including unemployment, the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) program, police brutality, foreclosures, lack of diversity in city government, lack of educational opportunity, racial profiling, redistricting, budget cuts, housing, human services, civic engagement, and racism.

Of course, articulating issues isn't enough. We (People of Color) already know what the issues are. But it would be a good thing if the energy that is fueling Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy movements is directed to these specific issues that usually impact us more than those same issues impact most White people. If so, and depending on the strategies for change that these Occupy movements use, regardless of their names, count me as a supporter.

Here's a video about an Occupy The Hood march:

Occupy Troy / Occupy the Hood

Uploaded by urbandisasterrecords on Oct 13, 2011

Pastor Willie Bacote from The Missing Link Street Ministry is leading a Occupy Troy and Occupy the Hood March at 12:00 from Monument Square in downtown
Troy to Freedom Square at 101st and 5th in N. Troy. At 2:00 Pastor Willie will help facilitate a Peoples Mic for our neighbors and friends to aire their greivencesabout what's happening in the world and our communitiy right now..So come march, rant and then we will feast on the bounty of the Collard City Garden..
This may be a demonstration but in reality it will be a great awakening and party..peace..c u there..


Here are two comments from that video's viewer comment thread:

That's hilarious! What's to even occupy there? You occupy the Power centers silly. No one will hear you and no one will care. You can't just have a rally and just get what you want. We all have to vote on things and fund things. If there is no money, how are you going to do that?

This goes beyond protest, this is about individual empowerment in our future through inclusion, solidarity, direct action, and crowd sourcing solutions.


Occupy The Hood (Occupy Pittsburgh)

Uploaded by lordvyke on Oct 17, 2011

occupy the hood at occupy pittsburgh 10/15/2011

Occupy The Hood We love The Babies!!!!

Uploaded by MrMalikification on Sep 29, 2011

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