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Occupy Movement Still

Surviving, To Hold Gathering

Image by david_shankbone and used under a Creative Commons lisence.

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A Smaller But Lasting Group Of Concerned People Will Gather Aug. 21 to 25 in Kalamazoo, Mich., To Explore How To Best Bring Meaningful Change To The United States


By Charles Parke
Modern Times Magazine

Aug. 8, 2013 —  This year’s Occupy Wall Street (Inter) National Gathering held Aug. 21 to 25 in Kalamazoo, Mich., will ask the 99% to try to envision a world where race doesn’t determine who controls things.

I don’t mean just the power structure of our government to its citizens but also our business structures and community building methods that have been centered around those of a European background at the expense of all others.

Is power concentrated in the hands of white males simply because that’s how its been determined by the past? Habit probably can’t explain the scope of the problem, but even if its that simple, the matter of changing long-ingrained behaviors is highly difficult.

In many ways the history of our country is different based upon one’s perspective and there are different points of view. Some take pride in the American Revolution, the founding fathers and how the justice system developed. Basically, what is taught in our schools.

But others have a different point-of-view. They decry that states like Arizona have banned ethnic studies and similar programs which sought to place an emphasis on remembering those who once were considered residents but not really full-fledged citizens.

Others see history from the point of view of African Americans who struggled to break free from the yoke of slavery — free to vote, free to marry, free to work and eat where they choose.

There are also those who view history through the issues faced by Hispanics: seeking work and safety in the United States, and although they were once embraced by farmers, they have become subject to words like “illegal” in order to criminalize their presence.

Then, there are Native peoples who battle to defend their native lands.

The teaching of these concepts and the study of history is not meant as an atempt to take the power of other groups away. Like Occupy, the idea is only to break up unfairly concentrated power, to create a system where barriers to achievement are removed. Few, if any, want to see whites go back to Europe, but instead want to see an end to the politics of colonization that give one group the right to “discover” and force a system on others. Consensus is the heart of the Occupy movement, by opening up the decision making process to avoid decisions that benefit the majority at a cost to minorities.

The US government is a perfect example of this type of power. Rarely can a candidate win an election without corporate endorsement and a good media image. Business operates on a similar model: Ideas that challenge profits may not be appropriate for an employee within a corporation internally but are silenced externally as well. This type of rigged system means new ideas, people with different experiences and ways of doing things as is often true for minorities and women are often excluded, at least from positions of power in these bodies.

It often seems to me that activist groups should naturally move in another direction. Unfortunately, though, the same things occur.

In many activist meetings, decisions are made to move further discussion online — a solution that works quite well for many white activists but not so well for minority groups, the homeless or poor whites. People chosen to speak or give interviews often fit popular media standards of appearance. This often leads to them becoming well known and moving into leadership. Independent media has been a powerful tool expanded greatly during Occupy to show people what is really happening in America. However some point to independent media being largely self-taught and self-funded meaning those who have equipment (laptops, quality videocamera’s) are more able to do it.  Likewise, those with a strong background from college, coming from a neighborhood with better schools or a private school have a real advantage in writing and speaking English and are usually more successful.

Beyond the simple idea of advantages comes the habit of how we distribute power.  Often when a group needs someone to be in charge of tech, communications, meetings or other issues they choose the person who already has the best resume and experience. This means rather than training the people before them, they have sorted those who are willing to find those who typically grew up with high levels of technology, have a college degree or job in management or communication. This rarely leads to empowering those who join organizations and often means activist organizations having a largely white power structure.

Occupy groups attempting to bring change to the world started by getting people together to meet face to face — to put names on real people and find out what their experience of America was. To discuss equally how to solve these problems. This is something I think few, if any could say they have tried in government or corporate worlds and is the opposite of colonization by encompassing both the voices of the weak and the powerful to build something that both can live with. It takes a long time to have that conversation, it is difficult, it asks people to give up power they’ve long held and share.

Achieving that goal is unlikely, like every big dream. Many think Occupy already failed, gave up and went home. This is not the case, no matter what the mainstream news says. Occupy is neither the first or only group to ever dream this. The power to shape the world comes from spreading that dream, getting enough people to dream together that they will wake up in the morning and realize change just requires them to go about their lives treating others as they’d like to be treated. We all want to be listened to, when someone has power over us and abuses that power we are — each and everyone of us — angry.  However, anger, while OK to be expressed, will only go away when people sit down and discuss how to find ways to fix our problems.

Occupy will gather to discuss decolonizing the minds and reality of the 99% in KALAMAZOO MICHIGAN from AUGUST 21-25. For five days they will work on community and movement building with Turtle Soup Kitchen of the Rainbow Family of Living Light feeding the people. Speakers include Cindy Sheehan, David Cobb, Bill Moyer and Julia Trigg Crawford. Organizers say “We believe that the people of the world need to speak openly to each other about how to make a better world. We ask you to join with us, bringing your ideas, your struggles, and your voice — come to Kalamazoo! There will be a special focus on indigenous peoples, race, gender, and class throughout the convergence, considering the particular perspectives of these communities on each of the main topics of the individual days.”
Occupy National Gathering on Facebook

Charles Parke is an activist from Phoenix. He can be reached at
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