Thus far my research on Occupy Wall Street demographics has supported the claim that this movement fails to accurately represent the 99%. I have been unable to formulate a concrete argument to this that claims that the movement is actually a diverse movement, representing the entire 99% of Americans. However, I have developed a counterargument to the claim that has been brought up stating that the movement is racist. In this post I’d like to present a counterargument of sorts. One of my previous posts was titled, “Is OWS Racist?” I explored this concept and came to the conclusion that I will not call the movement racist, although it is not racially diverse. I’d like to take that idea now and claim that the movement has made steps to reach out to the racial minorities of America, that even though they may not be racially diverse, they are not racially exclusive.
I have provided the hyperlink for a video to coordinate with this post. It is a CNN newscast of a conversation between a reporter and James Peterson director of Africana Studies at Lee High University. The conversation begins with a discussion of the lack of diversity in the OWS movement. Peterson agrees that race has been an issue in the movement. He also makes a statement that people of color tend to be hesitant to join these types of protests because of their past history of police violence in the Civil Rights movement of the 60s. While I cannot take Peterson’s explanation for the lack of racial minority support of the movement as fact, his point could be taken as a plausible one. He then follows this up with saying that the OWS movements understands this reluctance and is attempting to work with and reach out to more people of color. Peterson references one particular movement that shows an attempt on the part of OWS to include more minorities in their cause called Occupy Wall Street. This movement was founded by two African Americans Malik Rhasaan and Johari Uhuru, both of whom wished to bring more diversity to OWS. Now Occupy the Hood has expanded to 17 different United States Cities and has begun to gain support from the rest of OWS. Malik claims that there are, “white kids out there holding signs saying ‘Occupy the Hood”…it’s a family thing.”
The official homepage of Occupy the Hood contains a mission statement that is very similar to many of the demands we have discussed OWS making, the only exception being that a lot of these demands are more directed toward people of color specifically.
In the CNN newscast video, Peterson and the reporter discuss the idea that in order for OWS to succeed it must embrace people of color. I would have to agree with this and I think that with organizations sprouting up such as Occupy the Hood, that is exactly what OWS is attempting to do. Although the research still indicates a strong disproportion of white to non-white OWS supporters, movements such as Occupy the Hood show that while it may not be there quite yet, OWS is attempting to make steps toward becoming a more diverse movement.
Here is the link to the video: http://am.blogs.cnn.com/2011/11/01/is-the-ows-movement-diverse-enough-to-represent-99-of-americans/