I have participated in my local community’s Occupy Bellingham protests the last two Fridays. These weekly gatherings are part of the Occupy Together gatherings in resonance with Occupy Wall Street protests in NYC.
On Saturday my family and good friends traveled to Seattle to participate in the Global Day of Action. We marched with 3,000 from around the area, ranging from babies in front packs carried by their moms or dads, to elders with gray (or no) hair. A few notable handmade signs included:
“My community police officer pays a higher percent of taxes than General Electric.”
“My mom didn’t work her ass off so that the bank CEOs could be rich.”
“When the poor have no food, they will have no choice but to eat the 1%.”
For me, the Occupy Wall Street movement is not only about economic balance and social justice. It’s about understanding that the birth of the American corporation coincides with the end of chattel slavery in the U.S over 150 years ago. Wall Street was funded by slavery, and the corporation has become the new plantation.
Many Americans with primarily European lineage have not been able to see this difficult truth. But ask any American with African heritage, and they will affirm: the American and global economy was built on the backs of their enslaved ancestors.
“American slavery was the economic cornerstone on which American wealth and power were built — wealth and power which lasts to this day, as do the psycho-social consequences of American slavery, both for the descendants of the enslaved as well as the descendants of the enslavers.” (from Randall Robinson, foreword to Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing by Dr. Joy DeGruy)
Recognizing and reconciling this truth of American history is not easy, but the good news is this: the history we know, the history we don’t know, has been inherited by all of us who are here today. This means we need each other, perhaps more than ever before, to come together in ceremony, in constellation circles, in protests, in prayer, to break bread together, so that together we can look our children and grandchildren in the eyes and assure them that we are the ones who will recognize where there is injustice and imbalance still waiting to be seen — instead of passing the task along to them.
Here’s to freedom and justice for all.