To Occupy And Unoccupy
- Rev. Pedro Pietri
With the ongoing Occupation movement on Wall Street and the growing occupation movements going on around the US, this is just a reminder that some of us have been dealing with occupation for centuries now. Although we support the ideas behind Occupy Wall Street and the other Occupation movements we want those who have chosen to use the terminology of “Occupation” to be aware of the hidden and unrecognized history behind that word when it comes to non-white peoples.
Those of us who are not white have had to deal with this “occupation” in one form or another since 1492 when Columbus “discovered” America, for himself. That discovery opened the door for other European nations hell-bent, fighting and tripping over themselves to colonize, rape, plunder and enrich themselves at the expense of indigenous peoples. From the genocide of the native populations in the Caribbean, North, Central and South America that this “occupation” brought to us over 500 years ago to the holocaust of the trans-Atlantic African slave trade and subsequent rampant colonization of Africa. The story of the occupation of indigenous lands doesn’t just end with wholesale murder but continues today in new forms of violence. The eradication of native peoples language, culture and history is the new “occupation”. With the success of the forced occupation of native peoples land, the only thing left to occupy is the minds of those who managed to survive…
The greatest misconception that white people have is that only non-whites have to deal with racism. What whites have failed to realize is that racism is only the frosting on the cake of class warfare. What is done to non-whites under the guise of racism is a test run for what they will eventually do to you. The irony of the situation is that we non-whites who have been dealing with this “occupation” for over five centuries were the canary in the coal mine. But you refused to see the graffiti on the wall. Now that you have lost your homes to banks and your livelihoods to unemployment and your once bright white futures have been painted black, (pun intended) and you are beginning to feel what we have lived with for more than half an eon.
If you ever wonder why more people of color haven’t yet swelled your “occupation” ranks it may be because historically, once you have what you want, you’ll go back to occupying the comfortable role of white privilege that led you to believe that racism was different from classism. What you are experiencing is old hat for us, the forced removal from your homes, the inability to find work that pays a living wage, the police brutality, frivolous arrests, and your adventures with the justice shitstem, even your homeless encampment are just a few of the things we have lived with for longer than you would care to imagine. We have lived with a knowledge of things that you are now, only beginning to realize.
This is a warning to you that your “Occupy…” movement will fail unless you reach out to those who have a lot more experience with “occupation” than you ever will have. Let me reiterate that people of color support your ideas in striking back at this ongoing class warfare but this movement will fail if it doesn’t realize that this didn’t begin with the collapse of the financial shitstem in 2008… it began long, long, long, before then. Unless you begin to deal with the roots of this occupation that began 500 years ago you’re current occupation will fail.
This is also an invitation for you to open up your dialogue to non-whites who have been at the frontlines of this “occupation” and have suffered the most casualties because of it. If you want to succeed in creating a more egalitarian society then it would behoove you to reach out to the ones who have suffered the most inequality. Otherwise you risk becoming the very same occupation that we have come to hate, and that you are only beginning to feel, and you risk changing nothing.