Professor Hector R. Cordero-Guzman, PhD measured the increasing interest and levels of participation and involvement in Occupy Wall Street (OWS) by tracking the traffic to the main site for the protests- occupywallst.org.
Monitoring an average close to 400,000 visits per day, Cordero-Guzman found among the demographic characteristics of the 1619 users who took his survey:
“that 81.3% of respondents considered themselves White, 1.3% Black\African American, 3.2% Asian, .4% Native American Indian, 2.9% Mixed, 7.7% Hispanic, and 3.2% considered themselves some other group.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau ‘whites’ will be a minority by 2050 as the twenty-somethings that form the core of the occupy protests enter their 60s. If the data generated by the study is a snap shot of the occupy movement across the United States, yet another minority group – the future few – are forming a power base that does not in many ways include the realities of the future majority populations of this country.
Class has dominated the ‘occupy’ discourse over and above concerns about race and gender. As a minority, this aspect of the ‘occupy’ movement did not initially cause me to feel alienated from the movement. If I were asked yesterday, how I identified with the OWS movement, I would have proudly answered, that ‘I march under the banner or the 99%’. As long as the movement was speaking for and to my social and economic concerns, I did not feel the need to take a second look at the racial make up of the movement.
Two things happen over the course of the last 32 hours that have unsettled my comfort level with an unqualified identification with the OWS movement.
In response to a post that I have submitted for discussion in several occupy.org forums a moderator of occupynashville.org after reading my “We The People Initiative” and presumably reviewing the subject matter of my blog (blog.erace-inc.com) made the following general comments before deleting my post:
- ‘you did not write the proposal, it sounds like a group of people contributed to it’
- ‘you have abused our private messages (PM) to Spam users’
- ‘you are trying to use this site to promote your blog and your agenda’ of race, gender etc.’
- ‘issues of race and gender are important but not a focus of organizing at this time’
- ‘you have not answered my questions about the ‘origin’ of the proposal’
- ‘your proposal is not interesting as a lack of replies attest “ENOUGH SAID”
After reading the moderator’s comments, I came across Cordero-Guzman’s preliminary study sampling the demographic composition of the OWS movement as it is reflected in traffic to occupywallst.org. It occurred to me that there is a difference between the 99% and the OWS movement. More important than this distinction first entering my mind is the possibility that OWS movement may not include the energy and synergy of the future majority populations that will compose the 99% in 40 years time viz., in 2050.
It is unclear to me where the hostility towards my posts on occupynashville.org site originated.. In response to the moderator, I attempted to address her concerns by pointing out that I:
- did not Spam any users nor create the hash-tag to which she attributed the spamming
- good or bad, I wrote every word of the “We The People Initiative”
- have [had] no agenda to promote my blog or any specific issues of race or gender
The only reason that my blog is mentioned at all on the site is in response to questions directed at me seeking information about the author and origin of the “We The People Initiative”. In resovling the issue the administrator of the occupynashville.org site took a no non-sense reasonable approach to the dispute that I view as a positive indication about the future of the movement in Nashville and overall.
After reading and responding to the moderator’s sentiments paraphrased above, I read about the demographics of the movement. My experience in the occupynashville.org discussion forum made me pay closer attention to Cordero-Guzman’s study. In this sense, the moderator’s reaction to me, my proposal and my blog was helpful and positive in so far as it served as a catalyst for my reassessment of the movement is trying not to be and what that means to me.
Cordero-Guzman’s observations point out among other things that:
- “92.1% of the sample has some college, a college degree, or a graduate degree.”
The only time you reach the 90 percentile when considering the education of blacks and Hispanics, is when you are speaking of high school drop-out rates in rural areas and inner cities.
“50.4% were employed full-time and an additional 20.4% were employed part-time.”
The only time you see numbers this high about employment among blacks and Hispanics is if the discussion has to do with the disproportionate unemployment rates in minority communities.
According to the study, between 60 and 70 percent of the respondents regularly use facebook or twitter. Due to a huge technology gap along the lines of economic disparities, that percentage is amplified in the negative among minorities.
With much effort, sacrifice and determination the ‘occupy’ movement will hopefully not only last through the winter months but continue to grow in number and in influence. As this infant movement succeeds in harnessing the power of ‘the People’, I sincerely hope that it will actively encourage life experiences colored by differences of sex, race, gender and sexual orientation to inform in more creative ways the many aims and varied purposes of the movement.
When the most extreme and I would argue necessary elements of the movement are shouting “down with the government”, the fact that blacks and Hispanics have been down and out under the current government in the many years preceding the ‘Great Recession’ should weigh heavy on their minds.
As ‘anarchist’ champion their cause in loud and boisterous choruses, they should imagine what a black or Hispanic youth living in lethal lawless neighborhoods think when they see on television these young ‘white boyz’ wearing Palestinian scarfs demanding an end to current iterations of law-and-order that oppress them as they attempt to experience all the follies of their young lives with effortless anticipations.
Feel good liberals basking in the glory of global ambitions that envision the movement spreading to places 3,000 miles away, should keep in mind that within and outside of city’s limits across the country, over 800,000 kids in the richest country in the world are going to bed tonight without dinner ending a day that began without the breakfast served at the more organized occupy protest sites around the country.
Above all, we must not forget that this movement as it has begun to define itself is not a vanguard consisting of the poor and disinherited millions that have been living under the ‘poverty line’ for many years. Rather, the occupy movement’ is a vanguard of the middling classes that have recently had more and more occasions to live as 40 plus million poor and destitute U.S. Citizens have existed for years.
Just because the core of the current protesters have awakened, does not mean that it is morning in ‘America’ for everyone. Now that your eyes are open to and through your own situations and circumstance, open your minds to learning from people who have turned rock bottom into a foundation for basic subsistence and survival. Remember this when the resolve of the occupy movement is tested during the bitter winter ahead.
The next time you are bickering in your general assemblies, have a moment of silence for the voices and experiences that have been silenced by the persistent powerlessness of poverty since President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty in his 1964 State of the Union address. These are some of the same voices that were probably a mere whisper in your ear when the economy was ‘perky’ and a caffè latte in chique coffee houses was part of your budget and daily routine.
In conclusion, don’t boast too loud about the benefits of vague goals, a lack of structure and a leaderless movement. The people of all shapes, colors, origins and orientations whose current situation has crushed their dreams, thwarted their goals and left them wondering in an economic wilderness might overhear you. If the movement addresses their concerns you may be fortunate enough to see them standing in solidarity next to you in the places and the spaces that you occupy.
It can and will be said that this post plays the ‘race card’. This is not the case if for no other reason than as indicated in the demographic study, that card is apparently not even in the deck!