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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Thoughts on the Occupy Movement

The other day on KPFA I finally heard someone speak the truth. He said that for Blacks in the South (and elsewhere in this country), the American Dream has always been the American Nightmare. He said that the only reason we are having all these "Occupies" is because White people are finally having their dreams smashed. White youth can't get jobs despite their college degrees. They have big student loans they can't pay. They believe that their dreams will not come true. People of color have always been in this boat...and no one cared. According to this guy, the people in the streets are upset because they will not become rich like the 1%. Feeling entitled, they are angry because it will not happen.

Although I an not officially a woman of color, I too, have felt outside the restaurant looking in because I am 'not white enough.' Coming from a bilingual, bi cultural southern European family, and looking 'ethnic' has put me in a no-man's-land of not being a minority and thus eligible for special programs, but being treated like one in many ways. I have not gotten jobs I was qualified for because they had to hire a minority despite the fact that the person was not at all qualified. I once dated a man for a short time, who broke it off because I was 'too ethnic looking' and he could not completely accept me.

For me the dream has been the American Fantasy. I am educated. I have a Masters degree, nearly 2, in fact, and worked on a doctorate. I have certificates, credentials and a lot of training. I have not gotten jobs because I was 'overqualified'. On the other hand, since a couple of my degrees were at State Universities rather than private or Ivy-league schools, I have been considered 'not as smart' as others. I worked my way through college and finished my masters with no debt. But this is what 'working class' people do....not the rich. I have been looked-down on for that. My academic advisor in my doctoral program said I did not have my 'priorities straight' when I told her I had to work full-time rather than working on my dissertation. She did not understand that there were no parents or spouse supporting me.

I have basically been 'under-employed' for 22 years. While I may have been working, I was a seasonal, temporary, or part-time person at California Department of Parks and Recreation for 7 years, at the U.S.
Postal Service for 7 years.....Thus, no benefits, no retirement, no medical...no security. When I got hit by a truck and could no longer deliver mail, they terminated me. I was often the second choice at a interview. But since there was only one position, second was not good enough.

Capitalism has always been a system where a few people make money off the backs of others...slaves or low-wage earners. Globalization is not new either. Capitalists have always sought the cheapest source of
goods, the lowest labor costs....the ever-growing market. It doesn't mean it's right. Every so often, the folks rebel. Things change a little, but because the capitalists control the sources of all things the folks need...protests don't last long or are squashed. In the past, the protesters were simply killed. End of protest. Capitalists shrugged their shoulders and carried on.

I have been listening to the radio which has been covering all the 'Occupy' events. Many people speak about how great it is that 'people are working together, feeding each other, taking care of medical and housing needs'. Well, we'll see how long this lasts. The diversity that exists in this culture means that we do not share the same values. In fact, this is the area where there the most diversity. Sharing and giving only works over time, when people have integrity. If they eat for free, they do something in return - child care, cleaning, helping out in some way. But in this country, few people have integrity.

Individuals need to examine themselves. Could they function without their iPads, cars, expensive bikes, Whole Foods....? Living in the land of privilege and entitlement...it is a 'lark' to protest - be out there in the streets with the homeless. Just like most of the 'hippies' that arrived in San Francisco during the Summer of Love, they had their trust funds behind them. They had their safety net. They could just cut their hair, take a bath, change clothes and go home. My friends and I, coming from working class backgrounds, knew that if we quit our jobs at the car wash and hitchhiked to SF we would probably die in the street. No one would/could rescue us.

Now, many of those 'hippies' are wealthy entrepreneurs, business owners etc. They used their parents' money and property to build organic farms, herb schools, healing centers, and other types of 'alternative'
businesses. Fine. Good use of the money. Better than other choices. But make no mistake. They came from people with money. They were not working class or poor. Today they are famous and well-off. They still
run things. Now they use 'interns' to do the work free. It is not called slavery anymore because they volunteer for it.

How many of the people in the streets today HAVE to be there because they have no other choice? How about taking the homeless home? Rather than playing at being homeless....true caring would be to bring them
home. Have them live with you in your house - FREE. See how long that would last. Hanging out with the homeless in the street for awhile is one thing, but truly helping them by giving them your bed is another.

Examine your conscience. What is the TRUTH? Are you really living hand-to-mouth? Why? Don't get me wrong...I know the 1% controls this country and the world. But I am not stupid. I have always known this.
It is not a big surprise. Can it change? Not sure and have no idea what it would look like. Forty years ago, I set my priorities. I am living with the choices I made. And it is not easy. My conscience is clear. I know I did not cause the problems in the world. I have lived close to the bottom "so I would not have far to fall" when things got worse. I knew this day was coming.

History shows us that there has almost always been economic disparity - coinciding with the concept of private property. And that occurred when people developed agriculture and men realized they had something
to do with procreation. When men knew they helped make a baby and started accumulating stuff due to settled life and agriculture, they wanted to keep their stuff - women, children and cows.Women were considered chattel until about 150 years ago in the West. A man's property. I don't know enough about the rest of the world, but I suspect it's not that different. By controlling women and their issue, they passed their stuff on to their sons. Amassing more and more wealth in a family.

This has been going on for at least 5000 years, maybe more. So....the job of 'changing things' is a big one. It is programmed into our genes. In fact, our genetic makeup probably is directly connected to this idea of private property. 'Survival of the fittest' is/was the battle cry of the robber barons at the beginning of the 20th century and Wall Street types today.

Of course, if/when Mother Earth has her turn, the 'fittest' may be defined differently. Perhaps the most resilient and resourceful will be the survivors. Probably the homeless. They already know how to survive with nothing.

To see what else I'm up to go to my herb blog   my astrology blog  and my 2012 blog

1 comment:

marshmallow jane said...

Hi Judy. This is your pal Marsha from Winton. Your blogs are so intelligent. I think that a part of feeling "different" is a choice. I understand being poor but not poor enough. My brother recently made the comment that birth control is free for poor people. When I was a single mother and working, I had to buy my own birth control. I didn't qualify for freebies. In fact, a hysterectomy was free; I think a tubal ligation was also. They were covered by my insurance, but the pill and IUD were not covered. So I get what you are saying.

Yet, focusing on being poor is much about perception. For instance, my sister writes a nice blog about dogs. She wants to be seen as a dog expert, and she wants other bloggers to join her group. She makes a good case until she talks about her employment history. She says, "I worked harder than anyone and got paid less." Her statement smacks of bitterness, and it takes away from her expertise, and it takes away from her blog. Do we want sympathy or respect? We can paint any picture of ourselves in our blogs that we want. I find the persona of a blog fascinating when I can picture a knowledgeable fascinating entity, instead of a poor woman sitting at home on her computer, trying to make a buck with her blog.

I got off track. I would have sympathy for the occupy people if they knew why they were there. There is no one at the center of the organization. This will not work. A strong faction will eventually take control. A loosely woven group can't survive.

I was a hippie. I loved my long hair and bell bottoms. I made some beautiful pants from drapery fabric. I was struggling far too much supporting myself to ever consider going to a rally. Years later I joined an organization for reproductive rights with their promise that they'd contact me if a group of them ever formed to protest. It would seem that I never hear of these things until they've already happened.

I have mixed feelings about the occupy movement. Much of our success depends on our attitudes. I will die saying this, even if I sometimes struggle. How many of these "occupy" people have jobs? How many of these people can't live without their cell phones and iPods and iPads and high definition TVs?--as you've stated.

My daughter-in-law is 1/2 black. She never feels rejected due to race. She doesn't play the race card. She doesn't own a race card. her skin is dark enough to pass for black. Some of the occupy movement is much about perception and what we think we deserve. Although an individual's life experience will mold his or her political stance, I tend to be more comfortable reading blogs that are not heavily flavored by personal experience that may also be seen as bitterness.