By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
Like The French, radical black folk are genetically predisposed to support all signs of insurrection, insurgency, and revolutionary suicide wherever in the known universe they rear their lovely and indignant little heads. That said, some observers of the current American progressive scene have accurately noted OWS's paucity of participants proudly gleaming signs of African descent and dissent. Herewith a few of our idle speculations as to wherefore art thou anti-capitalist Negroid rabble-rousers riled up over any of the causes now being featured at Zuccotti Park.
10. YOUR BASIC SOAP-AND-WATER THEORY We love the funkmetaphorically speaking. Ditto goes for colored folk's oft-stated ardor for all things "gully", "gritty," "grimy," and "dirty south." But you out your nat'chall black mind if you think hordes of y'all people will be thronging any protest site that gotta be quarantined, evacuated, or sanitized before the party for rights can continue. Whether from the boojie middle rungs or the bootylicious lower depths, black folk generally refuse to accept the bummy notion that good politics and good grooming need be mutually exclusive. And that whole open-air-food-prep-and-serving-line thing? Not so good a look in many a woogie's book. Strictly family backyard barbecue action. Bottom line: Black folk do demos, but they don't do dirtespecially all those white-gloved and odoriferous-sensitive sisters who easily account for 80 percent of OWS's sideline African Friends Group.
REASONS WHY WE SHOULD ANYWAY Nomadic African women can make a lean-to look palatial in the outback. OWS could surely benefit from an Afrocentric woman's touch. OWS would become known instead as "Occupy and De-Uglify Wall Street." Imagine the difference made by scented candles, patchouli, potted plants, and colorful fabrics. Imagine her rage for spotless and sterilized surfaces set loose on Liberty Street. A rage so bordering on OCD, Pigpen himself would be too shook to leave behind one speck of unconsecrated crud. Yoga in the morning, African dance in the afternoon, prayer and meditation before bed, goddess and ancestor worship all the live-long day. That OWS shiznit would get friggin' spiritual. OWS would get closer to godliness than the Garden of Eden. No silly housecleaning ruses would ever be thrown up again.
9. OUR ABSENCE AS RADICAL LOVE Our sincere desire to see OWS stay alive has us coordinating scant, sporadic, barely visible visits to Zuccotti Park. Hence OWS doesn't come off as "A Black Thang." Because we know that once deemed so, Mike Bloomberg and Ray Kelly would feel compelled to set more upon the movement than decrepit desk sergeants with pepper spray. No longer would cops find the heart to wade alone into the crowds of wan young figures with no backup and meaty fists a' swinging. As Sterling Brown once observed, when they come after even one Stagolee, "They don't come by Ones/They don't come by Twos/They come by Tens." Trust. Thanks to our overwhelming no-show of numbers, 49,000 shots haven't been fired at OWS yet.
8. THE NIGGAS ARE SCARED OR BORED OF REVOLUTION THEORY Say whut? Since when? When it comes to showing radical heart, we damn sure got nothing to prove. Protest history shows our folk couldn't be turned around by deputized terrorists armed with dynamite, firebombs, C4, tanks, AKs, machine guns, fixed bayonets, billy clubs, K-9 corps, truncheons, or water hoses. Stop-and-frisk has prepped most brothers to anticipate a cell block visit just for being Slewfoot While Black. We ain't never been skeered of fighting the good fight. We love a good dust-up on pay-per-view or in the street just on GP! Out there on the street, though, all we need is to feel like you got our backs like we got yours. Herein might lie the rub. People fresh to daily struggle may need to earn our trust more. Clearly we're in no hurry to make loads of new friends spanking new to police brutality.
7. THE OWS BEST GO GET A LATE-PASS THEORY The sudden realization by OWS-ers that American elites never signed the social contract and will sell the people out for a fat cat's dimehey, no news flash over here. Black folk got wise to the game back in 1865 when we realized neither 40 acres nor a mule would be forthcoming. Also, as one sharp strapping ready for whatever you got youngblood recently put it, "I ain't about to go get arrested with some muhfuhkuhs who just figured out yesterday that this shit ain't right."
REASONS WHY WE SHOULD RECONSIDER BEFRIENDING NU PEOPLE VIRGIN TO DAILY NYPD ASSWHUPPINGS Repeatedly finding oneself on the business end of a NYPD nightstick and expecting the same result is either a sign of madness or a sign of virtual blacknuss. Either way, even your most hardened Pan-Afrikanist should now be open to giving the OWS-ers a hug of solidarity. Maybe if organized, this form of outreach could function as the larger community's first olive branch. (Air kisses and arms length for some snooty African noses still, I know).
6. THE PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX CRICKETS THEORY The predominant age range of OWS's paler male participants is roughly 18-29. This age group among African American cats accounts for 40 percent of the country's prison populationa national crisis which predates the bailout by several decades. This disgraceful disparity could likely continue after every OWS-er has been gainfully reabsorbed into the American workforce. Although Wall Street profits from our brothers' massive enslavement by incarceration, so does Main Street. Perhaps OWS should ponder putting prison abolition on their unformulated list of demands. Until then, some black progressives, though duly sympathetic, might not hear a roar coming from Zuccotti but simply crickets.
5. THE MOM AND POPS AIN'T HAVING IT/I NEED MY PAYCHECK THEORY Currently employed grown-ass black folk will tell you they can't spare not one day off the plantation for this worthy cause. More than a few young black folk now in college have an inbred fear of being cut off by mom and pop if caught on camera decrying capitalism and inviting arrest when they need to be hitting those books. Such parents might even harbor high hopes of their prodigal progeny becoming well-paid corporate shills. Coming out Rad, Green, and Anti-Goldman Sachs in some black families can require more heroics than coming out punk rock musician. Or even sapphic Muslim MC. One just imagines the fallout that might occur in the Herman Cain household, for example.
4. THE GREAT RACE AND CLASS DIVIDE/SCHOOL-LUNCH-TABLE THEORY It's hard to locate many instances in American radical or cultural history where goo-gobs of black folk leapt to join predominantly non-black movements. Or even school lunch tables. Post-racial as Obama's voting bloc might have been, America remains a country more divided by race than class. Even the most progressive non-black folk tend to only have that One Good Black friend in their social clusterfuck. Radical politics can make for less estranged bedfellows, but OWS still has America's mucky river of racial segregation and alienation to cross. Not to mention a certain perception, right or wrong, that OWS is white privilege gone wild again. More enlightened self-interest than interrogating whiteness on the agenda.
REASONS WHY WE COULD AT LEAST OFFER OWS A SPARE BAG OR TWO OF C-TOWN KALE OR COLLARDS Although we used to have the dibs on kick-starting revolt, these OWS kids are onto something big and quite necessary here. The groundswell looks globally awesome from here in Harlem. How many times have you, à la Malcolm X said, "White folk need to get their own people organized and out on the frontlines." Well alrighty then! No danger of anybody being the next Crispus Attucks here. Not unless you wanna step to the front of the line that is.
3. THE IT AIN'T CALLED SHIV GANK STOMP OR ROB WALL STREET THEORY This rather romantic and lumpen proletarian conceit is worthy of the studio gangsta Thug-Life era. Especially since, as we all know, real thugs don't do demos or entertain police assault for abstract carnivalesque goals. Death Row Tupac's target audience is, as we speak, in fact more likely to be joining that 40 percent in G-Pop after putting in work on "Black Wall Street."
2. THE 'WHAT WOULD JORDAN OR JAY-Z DO?' THEORY Sleeping when not shouting in Zuccotti Park with scruffy haired, fair-faced young hippies is one way to register one's sudden disquiet that hyper-capitalism just ain't working for ya. American black folk, though, have had more than 400 years to neurologically process the whole profits before people thing as The Game that Federal Reserve apparatchiks are most ready to die for here. From this hard-knock-won life-wisdom evolved the kulcha's own 1 percent-ersrappers, ballers, and George Clinton's 3 P's: preachers, pimps, and politicians. These free-booting outliers' drive and commitment to Being On That Grind, Getting One's Hustle On, and Putting In Work also acknowledges we best gaffle three times harder (and take 100 times more risk) than any Wall Street schmuck. Fervently lounging along said schmucks daily footpath expecting a fair shake is simply beneath the hustler's code, Zip Coon dignity, kool trickster-genius, and ride-or-die bootstraps. The racism and disenfranchisement others see as massive obstacles, these sly devils seize upon as photo pops for personal gain. Minds like these were plotting exit schemes and expropriations before they hit the auction block. Such types haven't been preoccupied with getting a hand on Wall Street since they docked slave ships down there.
1. THE ISM SCHISM THEORY Simply put, capitalism is not the "ism" whose evils tends to motivate most American Negroes to radical action, per se. Experience shows that racism can trump even greed in Amerikkkaespecially in the workplace. White dudes with prison records get hired over more qualified bloods with not even jaywalking citations. You don't have to be as high up the food chain as banker-scum to benefit from white supremacy or profit sideways from the mass povertization of the Negro. Cornel West identified 9/11 as the event which affected the "Niggerization" of all Americans. OWS's lack of melanin demonstrates that the n word's first despondents have yet to experience all this widespread mutual sharing of sufferation and American Niggerdom. Possibly because all the non-black folk we see slumming about our gentrified neighborhoods with dogs, strollers, and condos are soooo not the 99 percent.
REASONS WHY WE SHOULD BE MORE DOWN ANYWAY If Zionism can equal racism, then why can't capitalism equal racism, too?