How to Separate Good Ideas from Bad Ones: Occupy LA

occupy laNow I’m not trying to hate on Occupy LA, but after looking at news photos of the recent goings on, I couldn’t help but think of the National Organization for Women—and we all know that NOW was never about the liberation and equal rights of Black women.

All that’s to say, if the center of corporate greed for activists involved in Occupy LA is a closed City Hall on the weekend—then we’re obviously battling two different types of corporate greed and collusion.

As a Black person, in my world, corporate greed isn’t found in the one part of town that’s vacant over the weekend. It’s found in the parking lots and doorways of the banks that are maneuvering around the system and finding new ways of extracting even more money from their customers. It’s found outside the homes and offices of the members of Congress who continue to ride in their taxpayer-funded vehicles, driven by their taxpayer-funded chauffeurs, to their taxpayer-funded jobs, all while ignoring the economic crisis that their taxpayer constituents are in. Corporate greed radiates out of the Korean-owned swap meets, beauty supplies, and liquor stores that operate in mass in South Los Angeles. And don’t get me started on the check cashing-centers that like the banks find motivation and revenue in preying on the poor.

If this protest is really about battling corporate greed and corruption let’s take it to the streets—not the neatly taxpayer-funded manicured lawns of City Hall.

Start with demanding that the grocery stores in South Los Angeles look like and offer the same services and selection as those on the west side of town. Which I know may or may not be an issue for Occupy LA activists considering that many of its members live on the Westside, but one for all and…

Be bold! Camp out at a foreclosed home in Watts handcuffed to the foundation and dare the sheriffs to lock a poor family of out their home.

On Friday—payday for the few still working—occupy some space in front of a Bank of America, Chase, or Wells Fargo bank in mass and protest the new debit card fees.

Find out where members of Congress are going to be when they’re in town over the weekend and protest them. Demand a change! Demand jobs! Harass them to the point of compliance.

If this is really about Wall Street verses Main Street—go to Main Street, literally. I mean, how many of the Occupy LA folks have ever really seen what Main Street in L.A. looks like these days?

For those Occupy LA folks claiming comprehensive immigration rights as a part of the overall efforts of the activists, it’s all good. But I’m going to need you to be a little more specific. Is it Latino immigration rights you’re concerned with, or immigration rights for all, including the thousands of African and West Indian immigrants who call Los Angeles home? If it’s the latter, you haven’t done a good job of communicating that message to your darker-skinned immigrant sisters and brothers who might have been willing to join you.

jasmyne cannickUntil Occupy LA demonstrates some real efforts at changing the economic situation for all Angelinos and not just the few who can afford to take off from work or college to participate in a camp out in front of City Hall—they can expect little or no involvement at all from Blacks in Los Angeles.

You know our history and we’re about it. Either come hard or don’t come at all.

Jasmyne A. Cannick

A former press secretary in California State Assembly and U.S. House of Representatives, Jasmyne A. Cannick writes about the intersection race, sex, politics, and pop culture from an unapologetically Black point of view. Follow her on Twitter @jasmyne and on Facebook at /jasmyne.

Published by the LA Progressive on October 5, 2011
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About Jasmyne Cannick

Jasmyne is a critic and commentator based in Los Angeles who writes about the intersection of pop culture, race, class, and politics as played out in the African-American community. An award-winning journalist who previously worked in the U.S. House of Representatives as a press secretary, Jasmyne was selected as one of ESSENCE Magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World and is a regular contributor to National Public Radio’s “News and Notes.” She is currently working as a political consultant in California on local and state campaigns.