Monday, October 10, 2011
I am about to go participate in an action called, tentatively, Occupy Oakland. I'm sure I will have a lot more to say after I see what is actually going down, but for now, I am experiencing some hesitation. I don't know everything about everything, no matter how often I pretend that I do, but I know a lot about who's been living in (or rather, moving into) Oakland over the last 6 1/2 years or so. I'm social, I'm connected, I've worked service jobs in which I've gotten to know quite a few, uh, young people, and I've done some movement work in which I've gotten to know a bunch of progressives and radicals.
And, it's not exactly news, I think, to point out that there is clearly a divide between progressives of color/their allies and, well, frankly, white anarchists. (The completely apolitical and apathetic hipsters are not really relevant to this conversation, though they're around, too. And growing in numbers. Every day. FML.) This is true in the larger Bay Area but is concentrated in Oakland in a particularly nuanced way. In my experience, white anarchists here are not particularly interested in putting people who have been historically disenfranchised, and their needs, at the center of any movement. They express a certain type of rage that communities of color have not had the privilege of expressing without experiencing major consequences. I'm not sure how to put it, but I have met very few white, self-identified anarchists in the Bay Area who are willing to check their relative privilege on this front and act accordingly . . . and yet, we all live and work and protest right up against each other, and with each other. The white anarchists show up to the Oscar Grant rallies. (And have Oscar Grant posters up in their living rooms. But you go to their party, and you're one of two brown people there, and people don't see you, and sometimes literally step on you. But I digress.) Brown people show up to queer events and fundraise for environmental organizations. We overlap and intersect and brush up against each other in ways I haven't seen in other places. And sometimes we bump into each other. So.
So. I'm nervous. Just a wee bit nervous. Oakland never gets quite as hyphy as the media likes to tell people we do. Our protests tend to be quite controlled, actually. (Which often sorta bums me out.) But something is bubbling, just under the surface. I'm curious whether the various groups of people who show up today will actually be able to band together over an agreed upon agenda, set of demands, whatever. Or whether we'll instead fight to be able to say one of us is more right than the other. And miss the point. Again.
More to come . . .