“To say that Occupy Wall Street is the first time that anyone has critiqued the economic system or emerged out of nowhere is ahistorical…it’s also a little bit racist.”-Maria Poblet of Causa Justa:: Just Cause. Communities of color have been questioning systemic economic injustice for decades before Occupy Wall Street came along and have continued to since Occupy was at its prime. It’s incredible to see this history erased away as a white, middle class population experiences these struggles for the first time and decides to push back. It’s also incredible to see that the pushback has created ripples in both civic engagement and mainstream media. If anything, the fact that these movements have been around way longer than Occupy has should be comforting to the Occupy crowd because this just means more people willing to support this admirably global movement. Yet, there is evident exclusion happening in Occupy that bears unpacking.
Social media has created an entirely new logic of networking that has helped bolster social movements ten-fold, even a hundred-fold. But, even the act of inviting your friends to join you in something that you’re passionate about creates a homogenous structure, where people of the same backgrounds, ethnicities, and stories come together to fight one cause. There is so much strength that has not yet been tapped into in the subset of the 99% who are as angry as the next because the pain rests on the backs of communities of color that have been marginalized for the years upon years. They have known they’re the 99% far before the financial crisis and this knowledge brings with it action plans for reform that have been brushed off because these communities are in the minority. Trying to actually diversify a social movement can be a real win-win, because one community gets the platform it deserves to share its voice while another collects more stories, wisdom, and plans for reform. But the question here is: how do we make our social networks more inclusive so that social movements have the potential to diversify and accumulate?