If you’ve followed the Occupy Wall Street protests on every conceivable media platform lately, you’ve seen that Black faces were noticeably absent at first. Fortunately, this has begun to change over the past few days. If Black liberals keep their voices silent, they may miss an enormous opportunity to make their political and moral influence felt.
Although it’s still too early to know whether this seemingly scattered string of protests will have staying power, we need only to remember the Tea Party’s early stirrings to find reasons why Occupy Wall Street should be on our radar.
Like Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party started out without a discernable nucleus or an easily identifiable leader. They were brash and passionate, and ultimately made it hard for Republicans to ignore them. Before long, they were pushing a cohesive conservative agenda, putting their own candidates in office and solidifying their place as a formidable political force.
I have no political crystal ball so it’s difficult to know whether Occupy Wall Street will actually have legs. But I do know that the group’s protests against inequalities in the American economy should resonate with the Black community. Who among the Black liberal set would object to protesting the favoritism shown to the super-wealthy and corporate interests at a time when average Americans struggle to make ends meet?
The ideological overlap between these protests and Black liberals is clear and a number of Black notables are slowly starting to acknowledge that a potential movement may be underway.
“Occupy Wall Street is saying, ‘We will not take it anymore,’" Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon, said in a statement. “When the people have taken all they can take, they have to use their marching feet to say to corporate American and to those in power we must humanize corporate and government policy.”
Rapper Talib Kweli joined a group of picketers in Manhattan’s Financial District Thursday and performed a new song about the media’s habit of distracting people from real problems at hand.
Perhaps more African-Americans will follow suit in the coming weeks, knowing that their influence in a burgeoning movement is at stake.
Lewis encapsulated the sentiment best when he said, “It reminds me of another period, during the 1960’s when people decided they would not take it anymore. And change did come.”
(Photo: Raymond Haddod / BET)