Multi-American

How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

More on 'Occupy,' immigration and race


A short post Friday explored last week's flirtation by some "Occupy" protesters with immigration issues, first after the arrest and deportation hold of a Mexican-born protester in Oakland (since released pending a hearing) then an "Occupy ICE" march in San Diego.

The latter protest was organized by the local janitors' union there, though here's what one of the protesters told KPBS' Fronteras Desk:

“So much of the discussion about the 99 percent has gone on without discussion of a true background of that 99 percent, and that’s the immigrant workforce,” said Lorena Gonzalez, secretary-treasurer of the San Diego Labor Council.

So where is it all going? Since the arrest last week of Francisco "Pancho" Ramos-Stierle in Oakland, some "Occupy Wall Street" protesters reaching out to Latinos have been reportedly providing training for any undocumented participants who may want to avoid the same fate, though chances are there aren't many of those.

And among the items on the agenda today for a rally organized by "Occupy UCLA" in Westwood was a "race and admissions" teach-out, with race in the admissions process having become a controversial issue again in recent months. Affirmative action was banned on California campuses via state initiative in 1996, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill last month that would have considered race and ethnicity in college admissions once more.

All that said, the "Occupy" movement continues to be criticized as lacking sufficient racial and ethnic diversity, and therefore critical points of view on the economic crisis that has hit communities of color harder than anyone else. Today Multi-American's sister blog DCentric at WAMU in Washington, D.C. reprinted an essay from the Racialicious blog, in which Bridget Todd wrote about the "racial obliviousness" of white protesters linking, for example, student loan debt to slavery in their picket signs:

This is the kind of racial obliviousness that will alienate black and brown folks who might otherwise be sympathetic to the overall message of the protests.

That being said, some Occupy movements are more racially inclusive than others. Many seem to have openly embraced the sometimes-thorny intersections of race and class that tend to pop up during discussions of economic injustice. In Albuquerque, occupiers renamed their movement “UnOccupy Albuquerque” out of respect to the Native American community’s distaste for the word “occupy.” In LA, protesters reached out to black and Latino homeowners who were facing foreclosure. In Atlanta, Occupiers renamed their occupation site Troy Davis Park.


The movement still "needs to take deliberate steps to be racially inclusive," she writes.
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