Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
One event, two headlines.
From OWS News:
It’s Time to ‘Occupy the Dream:’ African-American Faith Community Joins Forces with Occupy Wall Street – First Day of Action on MLK Day, Jan 16 at Federal Reserve Bank.”
From Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report:
Occupy Wall Street Joins Occupy The Dream: Is It Cooptation, or Growing the Movement?
Can you share some goals, but differ on others, and cooperate on an event or action? Is the “Occupy the Dream” event an example of focusing on areas of agreement, sharing your strengths, and leaving disagreements for another day? Or, is this an example of “cooptation”?
From the OWS release:
Members of the African-American faith community have joined forces with Occupy Wall Street to launch a new campaign for economic justice inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Faithful to its philosophical origin, the ‘Occupy the Dream’ coalition has called for a National Day of Action on Martin Luther King Day – Monday, January 16, 2012 – when they will ‘Occupy the Federal Reserve,’ in multiple cities nationwide, focusing attention on the gross injustice visited upon the 99% by the financial elite. This will be the first of many actions leading up to a mass gathering in Washington D.C., to be held April 4 – 7, when millions will unite in celebration of the life and legacy of Dr King.
The Occupy the Dream coalition was launched by a contemporary of Dr. King – Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. – and Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant of the Empowerment Temple Church, in partnership with Occupy Wall Street organizers. …
The Occupy Wall Street movement is about people coming together to say ‘enough is enough.’ Our families have endured economic oppression for too long. The Occupy Wall Street movement draws its strength from people of all different walks of life, with opinions across the political spectrum, coming together to find common ground and unite against the global financial interests that have bought control of our government. …
We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the African-American Faith community in this campaign for economic fairness and justice. We are all in this fight together. We all want a healthy and secure future for our families. In the absence of a government that will defend and represent us, we are now taking it upon ourselves to stand up and defend our own families.
From Occupy the Dream, the call is to occupy the Federal Reserve Banks in thirteen cities: Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas City, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, San Francisco, and St. Louis.
The Democratic Party may have entered the Occupy Wall Street movement through the ‘Black door,’ in the form of Occupy The Dream, the Black ministers’ group led by former NAACP chief and Million Man March national director Dr. Benjamin Chavis and Baltimore mega-church pastor Rev. Jamal Bryant. Both are fervent supporters of President Obama.
Occupy The Dream’s National Steering Committee is made up entirely of clergy, as are its Members at Large, but its secular inspiration comes from media mogul … Russell Simmons, who was a frequent visitor to Manhattan’s occupied Zuccotti Park. …
Dr. Chavis said, ‘If Dr. King were alive today, he would be part of Occupy Wall Street,’ and Rev. Bryant, pastor of Baltimore’s 10,000-member Empowerment Temple AME Church, pledged that Occupy The Dream will work ‘in lock-step’ with OWS. …
The very next Sunday, Rev. Bryant was at his pulpit exhorting his congregation to get out the vote for the president. …
It appears that Occupy Wall Street’s new Black affiliate is also in ‘lock-step’ with the corporate Democrat in the White House, whose administration has funneled trillions of dollars to Wall Street and greatly expanded U.S. theaters of war. ..
Dr. Chavis is also an active Obama booster… .
Looking to the event itself, Ford continues:
It is highly unlikely … that Occupy The Dream will do anything that might embarrass this president. … Will the ministers pretend, next Monday, that the president is somehow removed from the Fed’s massive transfers of the people’s credit and cash to Wall Street over the past three years? …
Ford raises another possibility, and raises more questions:
… the OWS brand equips the ‘Dream’ ministers … to accomplish a special mission: to insulate the president from the Occupy movement and the national conversation on economic equality – or, better yet, to make him appear to be part of the solution. …
At this late stage, there is no antidote to the potential cooptation, except to rev up the movement’s confrontation with the oligarchic powers-that-be – including Wall Street’s guy in the White House. Let’s see what happens if OWS demonstrators join with Occupy The Dream at Federal Reserve sites on January 16 carrying placards unequivocally implicating Obama in the Fed’s bailouts of the banksters, as Occupy demonstrators have done so often in the past. Will the Dream’s leadership be in ‘lock-step’ with that? Maybe so – I’ve heard that miracles sometimes do happen.
Cooperation or co-optation? Just one of those alliances that occur in the world of activism, when everyone involved is aware of both agreements and disagreements, but believe that working together can be a good thing for everyone? Or maybe something else entirely. I don’t know. You?
(Occupy the Dream poster via Occupy the Dream)