My heart swells when I look over the crowds at Occupy Wall Street, then it skips a beat when I search for the faces of black women in the milieu of protesters. We are there, we are present, but are we being heard? When the mainstream media finally decided to pick up on the story, all of my favorite black female pundits (Melissa Harris Perry, Karen Finney, Tamron Hall, Keli Goff, Joy-Anne Reid, Karen Hunter, Goldie Taylor) were early supporters of the movement. But, I started to get a bit worried when most of the representatives they put in front of the camera where white men. Then, an auspicious interview the morning of the failed "let's clean up the park/clean out the protesters" attempt by Brookfield and Bloomberg. There stood a young black woman going toe to toe with a city/corporate representative telling the obvious truth that it was a badly veiled attempt to deny citizens their 1st amendment rights. And, she was glorious. Polite, but firm. Back straight, eyes to the camera shining with the light of being on the right side of history. For a moment I felt kinda bad for the city/corporate representative who looked like he just wanted to slink off camera after being out smarted by “a bunch of hippies in their drum circles". I did not catch that young sister's name, I was too busy pumping my fists in the air over the victory of the protestors, but the image of her representing the movement has forever been seared into my mind's eye. Yes, her interview was the only one of the at least 30-40 interviews with OWS representatives that I have seen, that featured a black woman. But, OWS has many voices and many hopes. Interwoven into those voices must be the demands of black women. With the obvious wage inequality for women and minorities, imagine the wage inequality for black women. With the levels of discrimination in the work place, imagine the discrimination black women face everyday at the work place. Imagine how the mothers, the sisters, the aunts, the grandmothers, the wives of the black men must feel when their sons, their brothers, their nephews, their grandsons, and their husbands leave the house for another day of stop and frisk. As the social safety net is continuously threatened, elderly women of color are in the most vulnerable position of falling through the holes with little personal wealth after years of institutionalized racism has left their saving well behind their contemporaries. And of course the demand closest to my heart, correcting the false cultural identities forced on black women. We must be there to add these demands, and many more that affect our daily lives, to the growing chorus coming from Liberty Park. So sisters, I implore you to go out and march at whatever protest is closest to you. Support the protestors in your city with your presence and your voice. Below is more information connected to the movement - add your voice to the chorus and let’s create a new paradigm that will allow a real reImagining of the lives of women of color.
twitter: @occpywallstnyc, @nycsep17, @occupywallst, #occupywallstreet, #occupytogether