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USA: The Challenge of Diversity in the “Occupy” Movement

This post is part of our special coverage #Occupy Worldwide.

One month since the initial occupation of the financial district of New York City, Wall Street, collective actions in the city have continued to diversify while people have taken over new public spaces. Activists and organizations from the Bronx,BrooklynWashington HeigthsEast Harlem and Jamaica neighborhoods of Queens that – for a long time – have resisted political, economic and social inequalities, are now also expressing their indignation.

Malik Rashan, one of the founders of the movement to integrate communities, Occupy the Hood, explains that he noticed the absence of African-American and Latinos at Liberty Plaza and decided to summon them. The movement Occupy the Hood (@OccupyTheHood) has expanded to various cities in the USA in an attempt to expand the presence of people from different races and nationalities in the occupy movement.

Here is an interview with Malik posted by Eliad19606 to YouTube:

People of Color /#OccupyWallStreet was created for the same reason. This group is looking to “develop critical conscience about the movement” and to continue integrating the most affected people during the economic crisis.

In their website, there is an archive of their past actions and minutes of their meetings. One minute, for example, announces their alliance with the dance group Mexica, who performed at Wall Street on October 10th, in tribute to mother earth. You can read two articles on this event, “Dispatches from Indigenous People’s Day Part 1 & 2“, by Thanu Yakupitiyage and Saara Azadi, respectively.

In this video published by Thanuska on YouTube, there is a fragment of the ceremony:

Clearly, while protests continue on the streets, newspapers, the Internet, on TV, and in our minds, people will be motivated to ask how can they honor their multiple histories, identities and struggles and – at the same time- fight together for a deep transformation of society.  In fact, there has been an interesting debate on the use of the concept “occupy” to define this movement. People from different races, ethnicities and cultures have been discussing and reflecting on the meaning of “occupation” in their lives and contexts. It is a debate that evidences the challenge of building an inclusive and horizontal movement.

At it is well explained by activist and writer Harsha Walia in her letter to Occupy Together movement:

Embracing this plurality and having an open heart to potentially uncomfortable truths about systemic oppression beyond the ‘evil corporations and greedy banks’ will strengthen this movement. Ignoring the hierarchies of power between us does not make them magically disappear. It actually does the opposite – it entrenches those inequalities.

To read the full text, visit the blog in front and center: critical voices of the 99%. This digital platform presents voices of marginalized communities that are essential in the discussions that are taking place presently.

This post is part of our special coverage #Occupy Worldwide.

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