November 15, 2011

Occupy My Street

Allow me to preface this by saying that I try to abstain from overtly political posts. This blog is intended to be funny. Whether it succeeds or not is up for debate. I ask your indulgence on this topic, however.

Look, nobody with a rational brain thinks that corporate America are angels. But this is the worst possible representation of the opposition.

As I watch these protests, what I mostly see is young white people. And the people that I personally know who support this are young white people. Most with college education. The same people who, without the system they're railing against in place, would not have that precious college education.

And when I see them espousing faux revolutionary rhetoric, it angers me. Because they're, for the most part, afforded the luxury of protesting. Hey, I'd be down there too. If it wasn't for my shitty, menial job. The job I took because I had no choice. Well, that's not entirely true. I had the choice of having a job that is, frankly, beneath my skill level, or starving to death. But see, I want to make something of myself. And rather than crying about shit, I have a job I hate. And I save the money I make from that job I hate. That's America.

My grandparents worked hard. Goddamn hard. So I can only imagine if I told them that I was going out to make a difference and they asked me what I was doing, I said "I'm going to yell at the top of my lungs at a building that won't hear me." My grandparents are both deceased, but I can feel the whooping they'd put on me if I said that.

What's happened is protests have become fashionable. Mike Myers is showing up, and he's not sure why. Questlove is tweeting about it. He's closer to being the 1% than the 99%. Sorry, Questo. You've put major work in on some major artists' records. Royalties being what they are...we both know it's true. All the Boots Riley RTs in the world can't change that.

So, what do I want? I don't know. But I know that what I've seen so far is horrible. All these "Occupy" movements seem to be formless forces fueled by empty ideology. There have been no plans to deal with any of the very foreseeable consequences. And that's what has lead to the horrible acts of brutality in Oakland. The preventable trauma in Philadelphia. You, the 99%, are to blame for this. If you want the glory of standing up to Wall St., then the other side of the coin says that you MUST accept the brutal reality of what you've allowed to happen. If you are in solidarity with the chants and the tent cities, then so too are you in solidarity with the lack of protection for your women and lack of a peaceful exit plan. In all the interviews I've seen, people are referring to their fellow protesters as "brothers" and "sisters." A noble colloquialism, to be sure. 

Occupy Philadelphia got Mayor Michael Nutter, on Twitter,  to proclaim that he, too, is part of the 99%. Unfortunately, this happened only a day after the reported rape of a 25 year old Occupy Philly protester. Which of her "brothers" and "sisters" were there to protect her?

Again, to be perfectly clear, I don't disagree with the message. But I must ask of those taking an active role in this demonstration, what do you wish to achieve? Are you there to be a part of something? Are you there to be seen? Are you there because you're angry that you don't have a job? Do you agree with your general assembly's manifesto? Did you vote on it? Do you truly believe you are accomplishing something?

Or do you just feel better after a few hours of verbally venting your frustrations? If so, there's nothing wrong with that. This country has been in a shitty state for a long time. There's a lot of people pissed off. I'm one of them. And rightfully so. But I believe it's important to separate your personal anger from the goals of a larger group that may not necessarily represent your point of view. You know the old saying about being judged by the company you keep. I fear for the safety of those that have been swept up in the rhetoric of these Occupy groups. As I wrote this, I watched the NYPD raid the Liberty Square area of the original Occupy Wall St. group. And I got the sense that a lot of those people didn't realize how serious of a situation they were in, until it was too late.  

I've said nothing of the uneasy feelings I have about OWS and their subsidiaries collecting and dispensing funds. That OWS has apparently tried to repeatedly implement a governing body to control their funds sits very uneasily with me. That the OWS general assembly has repeatedly voted this down, yet it still comes up for vote, that disturbs me even more.

I'm all for power to the people. That's where it belongs. But it must be exercised responsibly. Unlike algebra, a negative vs a negative does not result in a positive. Often, it results in a much greater negative. That is what I see us dealing with here. To surmise in the most hacky and cliche way possible, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Checks and balances, yo.

More than anything, what disturbs me are the boundaries that have been drawn. Apparently, we're either the 99% or the 1%. If I could choose, I'd choose the 1%. Hell, why not? That shit would be awesome!

But it's this divisiveness that worries me. Must we be the 99 or the 1? Outside of this discourse, what do those numbers mean? Should we really define ourselves (and thus, in a pointed manner, our neighbors?) in such a way? If my neighbor, whom I've known for years to be an upstanding person and a dear friend, happens to make an amount of money that lands them, however unwittingly, in a certain bracket that eludes me, must I rail against them daily? Is that my obligation for landing in the 99%?

Is the entirety of the human race split on some Lucy and Ricky shit? Is the very act of being born a human a commitment to one side or the other, based on circumstances you couldn't possibly control? 

If so, I must respectfully recuse myself from the human race. A difficult choice, but one I deem equally vital to my soul and my sanity. I find myself to be neither the 99% or the 1%.

I am the none percent.

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