Oct 26, 2011 by

Via Chris Levister:

“My first question was where are the blacks, Latino’s and other minorities? My next question was are people of color too busy making ends meet to join the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement, or is there a disconnect between progressives and people of color?”

So during his regular visit to the barber on Saturday Leeds a black American, fully expected the crowded black shop to be in full tilt over the protests.

“Hold your breath Bro,” explained Jason Haney, a Saturday regular. “This is not black folk’s protest.”

“Black folk have been protesting and going through hell since the ‘man’ brought us over here from Africa,” he said.

“Young white Americans are finally getting a taste of the kind of hell black Americans have endured for generations,” said an unapologetic Shaun Rubinson during a discussion at Andre’s Hair Salon in San Bernardino.

“I don’t think blacks are rejecting this movement. We are just too busy surviving,” said Rubinson, a long time hair stylist whose clients include all races.

“Ignore them. There are a bunch of anti-Semitic anarchists in there,” my husband flatly stated when I told him about the police actions at Occupy Oakland last night. He could have just as easily added that I pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Dis-missed.

I compounded the matter further by using Google to check out connections between Jewish people and the Occupy movements across the country. The initial crop of links made me wonder if Google itself was anti-Semitic. It’s so nice, after all these centuries and all our assurances of how supposedly enlightened the human race has become, to come across all the ways in which your people are still being used to discredit protests of injustice and inequality. Being able to dismiss something like Occupy Wall Street as a Jewish plot still has traction, scarily enough, and it goes into explaining why my husband would want nothing to do with any of it – too many people still can’t get over the fact that no, we don’t accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior, nor do we accept the teachings of Muhammad. As a result, the smallest amount of Jewish involvement in any movement for change is enough to taint that movement in too many people’s eyes.

Dan isn’t wrong about the anarchists or the anti-Semitism – but he overestimates its current impact on the movement thus far. It’s one of the problems with protests built on leaderless systems: how to subdue the extremist elements in your midst without seeming like you’re lowering a hammer on their rights to express themselves. I don’t know how a good a job is being done of subduing those elements in favor of addressing the greater issues of income inequality and how it is turning the majority of the people in this country into wage slaves. Until the management of those elements is taken into account, it is right to be cautious. It is also right to wonder why none of this began happening in 2008, when the poorest members of our society were being hit the hardest.

And I’m ultimately not sure how avoidable any of it is.


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