Blog #7: The 99 vs 1
It’s been 6 years since the #Occupy movement.
I’m sure all of us can recall seeing a rendition of the #Occupy hashtag to a location near us back in 2011. It only took a couple cities (Boston, San Diego, Denver) to follow suit after the original #occupyWallSt hashtag emerged, for this movement to go viral across 1,500 cities in the United States and across the world.
The motive? People had seen enough of bank bailouts and marginalization of the needs of the other 99%, and cited the role of Wall Street in fueling the economic recession in 2008. No doubt, the “1% phrase” is one of the greatest lasting effects of this movement. This rhetoric drew unavoidable attention to the concentration of wealth to those in the top 1% income bracket. “We are the 99%,” people would chant passionately, inciting public conversations about minimum wage, corporations and greed, and student debt. Problems that had been previously ignored by administration and businesses, were now plainly in sight: on picket signs at rallies, sure, but more increasingly as floods of tweets and Facebook posts. Mainstream media portrayed the faces of working minorities spearheading the conversation of inequality.
It’s critical to note that these issues will always continue to subsist as long as capitalism serves at the helm of this nation. For example, Washington D.C. in 1968 was the onsite of the Poor People’s Campaign. Martin Luther King, Jr. organized this event, and publicly highlighted the statement below:
We are coming to ask America to be true to the huge promissory note that is signed years ago. And we are coming to engage in dramatic non-violent action, to call attention to the gulf between promise and fulfillment; to make the invisible visible.
Without knowing the context of this quote, one might even believe this was a statement from the OWS movement. Forty-nine years ago to now, has nothing fundamentally changed in capitalistic America? Many congratulate the Occupy movement for bringing agency to non-Whites, but the Poor People’s Campaign achieved gathering over fifty multiracial organizations together to share their narratives publicly. If anything’s changed, it’s that policy reforms have actually been galvanized — likely due to the simplicity and straightforwardness that social media offers in terms of sharing such ideas.
The platform for those rallying in 1968 is as follows:
- $30 billion annual appropriation for real war on poverty
- Congressional passage of full employment and guaranteed income legislation (guaranteed wages)
- Construction of 500,000 low-cost housing units per year (until slums were destroyed)
Though none of these were lawfully recognized, today’s protests have achieved reformation of labor laws, and have inspired wage hikes in various parts of the nation. Legislators like Elizabeth Warren introduced bills like the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act and the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act to combat both investment banking loopholes and student college loan issues. It’s resurfaced critical issues that eat away at the health of our population, the same way every political rally aims to do. If anything, elected officials and grassroots organizers continue to demand change. In conjunction with the voice of the public, keeping such elected representatives accountable has become more fluid than ever before — thanks to mainstream media.
It’s ironic that in 2017, the exact antithetical leadership currently governs the nation. Maybe it’s time for another hashtag to kickoff a new revolution.
No one owns a (Twitter) hashtag, it has no leadership, it has no organization, it has no creed but it’s quite appropriate to the architecture of the net. This is a distributed revolt. — Jeff Jarvis, author of BuzzMachine
Costanza-Chock, Sasha. “Mic Check! Media Cultures and the Occupy Movement.” Social Movement Studies 11, no. 3–4 (August 1, 2012): 375–85. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14742837.2012.710746
Elliott, Justin. “The Origins of Occupy Wall Street Explained.” Salon. October 4, 2011. http://www.salon.com/2011/10/04/adbusters_occupy_wall_st/
Juris, Jeffrey S. “Reflections on #Occupy Everywhere: Social Media, Public Space, and Emerging Logics of Aggregation.” American Ethnologist 39, no. 2 (May 1, 2012): 259–79. https://jeffjuris.squarespace.com/s/reflections-on-occupy-everywhere.pdf
Levitin, Michael. “The Triumph of Occupy Wall Street.” The Atlantic, June 10, 2015. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/the-triumph-of-occupy-wall-street/395408
Zlutnick, David, Rinku Sen, Yvonne Yen Liu. “Where’s the Color in the Occupy Movement? Wherever We Put It.” Colorlines, May 1, 2012. http://www.colorlines.com/articles/wheres-color-occupy-movement-wherever-we-put-it