(Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar)
“If any other community needs a bailout, it’s the African-American community,” says hip hop artist Jasiri X, who has joined the protesters in Lower Manhattan. “Not only do we have a foreclosure crisis, but we have abandoned homes, we have poverty problems, we have young Black male unemployment.”
Jasiri X traveled from Pittsburgh, which was recently named the poorest Black community in the country, to Occupy Wall Street, the movement that is demanding that the government support education, infrastructure and jobs, get rid of corporate tax loopholes, and strengthen democracy. He says that he’s in New York to make sure that the voices of the Black communities are heard.
“I think that as African-Americans, the economic bailout on Wall Street and the foreclosure crisis has hit our community the worst. We’re like the 99 [percent] below the 99 in our communities, so I think that it’s important for us to be here and be counted and make sure that as we are holding Wall Street accountable,” he says.
Jasiri X has previously composed and performed political hip hop, with songs about the Jena 6 and the Tea Party. But his new track “We the 99” has been live-streamed for the past few weeks on numerous sites covering the downtown protests. In it he speaks of the majority being deceived, of the economy collapsing and how it’s time for citizens to stand for what they believe is fair.
He declares that African-Americans are the last to be helped and the most frequently overlooked, and he wants them to be more aware and more involved.
“I think a lot of us are disconnected to what’s happening on a worldwide level because a lot of time in our communities we are working two to three jobs, taking care of our communities, just to make ends meet,” he says.
Like Jasiri X, Caren Daley also wishes more Blacks would support. Daley, a mother, college graduate and breast cancer survivor, has been homeless for two years.
“My children are asking me constantly, ‘Why are we living like this, mommy?' And I have to tell them America is suffering. The government is helping everybody else but is not helping the poor,” she says.
Both Daley and Jasiri X say they’re there representing their communities, and they both hope that America listens to the cry of the people.
“We need help. We need change,” Daley says.
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