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Pre-Occupied With My Change

Occupy Wall Street! Presently, is there a phrase more spoken in the world? Because of Steve Jobs and Steve Zuckerman it isn’t hard to believe that people who have reached the threshold of what they can endure would one day refuse to be oppressed anymore. More-so, that they would launch an international movement by occupying a high profile street to make a socio-political statement-is visionary at its best, and gangsta as a quest. I must admit that I myself have also been preoccupied.

Even prior to the occupation of Wall Street I had become preoccupied by Steve Jobs contribution to technology, not just from the uniqueness of the I-phone, but the user friendliness of most technology now-a-days within what now feels like a Jobless universe, making it so simple for the world to be connected. Zuckerman—who was no sucker man—figured out early what no one else had done up to that point; that people’s vanity and curiosity would be a potent two-some to recruit, cultivate, and somehow continue to associate with your product, especially if one wanted to define and capture a new market. Apple technology, FaceBook, Skype, are only some of the things that have contributed to the occupational hazards. Then inspired people would find their way into a unified struggle to dispel perhaps the one true universal, greed. How intriguing it is that greed unfed will leave many dead, but greed fed creates more hunger instead. Though what the hungry then want surprisingly is not to eat, but to just ensure that they won’t ever be hungry. It is this mentality that as a consequence, birthed the 99% Movement in response. The 1% Movement, The Wall Street Tyrants, the Wall Street Proprietors, the Manipulative Capitalists, the Inconsiderate Citizen, or any other name that could be given a group of individuals that have finally been caught without a yarn to spin. There are no rocks for them to crawl under, no shadow to hide in. The so-called Wall Street Tyrants exhibit a mentality that has no qualms standing on the chests of others too ignorant to question the lack of rent control. It is not a problem for these so-called Wall Street Proprietors to be the one out of a hundred to benefit so inequitably. It is a shame that everyone else relative to the duped citizenry (the other 99 individuals) should all be comfortable with the manipulative capitalist having a grossly disproportionate slice of a pie that, even when thinly sliced, may not consistently feed everyone expecting a slice as an adequate meal. Instead, with the disproportionately oversized slice there is no doubt that others will not receive a slice.

What I find myself also preoccupied with is how Occupy Wall Street so resonates with what will one day be the Obama legacy. Come on, you can’t disconnect the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon from Obama. Yes, critics will forever link him to it as the president of the U.S. when/where it started. But his legacy is greater than that, relative to that. Obama is the president that made much of this technology “cool,” and/or “hip” to use. He is the technology (FaceBook, I-Phone, Skype) president.. His swagger, intellect, and youthful vitality, especially in contrasts to Bush’s outgoing persona, and McCain’s as the other choice, made his election a no brainer, a non-issue. He said he was going to bring a change that they believed in, but people thought he was going to do that work himself. No, he is in the trenches, and while fighting conspiratorial efforts (Mitch McConnell) to deny him any type of political victories, battling overt classism (Joe Wilson) packaged inadequately as covert racism, while living as a bi-racial man who can only be seen as Black, just in case he actually did want to be seen as White, or Bi-racial, he still made it happen. Yes, don’t get it twisted, the Occupy Wall Street Movement is proof of the change he said he would bring.

Perhaps his Black presidency, his previous political inexperience, the Birther movement, something inspired McConnell to make his comment, Joe Wilson to blurt out to the President of our country, “you lie,” but I think it is sheer folly to believe that this cool catalyst, this cool cat, A-list Obama wasn’t invaluable in getting our youth interested in, if not passionate about politics. As a result, perhaps consistent with Obama’s posturing against the Republican resistance to his jobs plan, finally seeing that the quest for wealth has cost some in our country its soul while others have found their heart.

This is an interesting time in American history. The Republican party, so committed to correcting what DuBois years ago identified as “the problem,” is creating its own “Ruckus” (check out Boondocks, the animated series) by parading around Herman Cain, who might as well be John McCain, except McCain couldn’t Mac, and Cain is Black, or is he? The black experience is widely conceived in this country, but like a gendered experience, or hetero-sexist experience, there are some universals experienced within every collective that are undeniable. How it appears that Herman Cain can’t relate to that pain, or abstain from gloating over his gain will remain outside of my domain, of understanding. If Cain were a democrat he would be respected far less by the Republicans if he weren’t more than ready to shuck and grin up in the big house, a house he hasn’t fully entered and may be more likely to clean.

But Cain isn’t the only one I’m preoccupied with. I’m curious about how many of the so-called “occupants” are going to grow from this experience beyond the thought that they took into the protesting. There are so many agendas to be served in any given moment, but has someone taken to naming the common theme that they can all operate towards achieving. How about themes? Respect! Consideration! Awareness of Unearned Privileges! Call me an idealist, but if every one of Wall Street’s so-called inhabitants had been educated from their youth to consider how their privilege oppresses someone our country would not be leading the world in the overthrow of dysfunctional governmental behavior. It would have been eradicated long ago.

Lastly, Obama promised upon his arrival in the White House that there would be change. He promised it would be significant. Who knew that change would come as a result of some of his mistakes, some of the political games others played against him, after some Tea Parties that left no one sober, and a group of disenfranchised people that decided to stand in line for days on end, only this time to not receive tickets, but to instead hand out walking papers. If I were Boehner, Cantor, and others that have bet against Obama I would be seriously considering ways to make some things happen before the next election. I would find some way to support his support of people who now have a movement behind them that transcends political parties about nothing more than maintaining the status quo of politicians instead of starting quixotic revolutions for its people. Every one continues to wonder how this is all going to turn out once the Occupy Wall Street Movements wind down. Who knows, but it could end up that a group of angry American just may be cantankerous enough to grant a second term to a president that is slowly convincing a populace that at the very least he cares. Yes, I’m preoccupied! I think I’ll hold onto my change for a while longer…


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First, let me preface my comments by saying this will only be a partial response to your post. I was enjoying some of the connections you were making, and in the process formulating a challenging response. Then I hit the paragraph about Herman Cain.

I recall all the criticisms of the Republican party during the prior Presidential election. I remember how many statements were considered "racist" because of their tone and context. I remember how Obama was treated and what he had to endure to win.

Now a 2nd Black man has ascended to the (as of now) top of the Presidential challengers list. And how is he being treated? He's lauded by those who criticized Obama and is VILIFIED by those who supported Obama! I now see racist comments directed at Cain. I now hear a tone very similar to the tone of 3 years ago directed at Cain. I now witness what Cain has to endure just to become a top tier candidate.

The problem here isn't Obama or Cain or the difference in their political's individuals being swept up in group politics and picking apart anyone that disagrees with their point of view.

The Republican party does not have a stellar record relating to race issues. I will not defend them there. However, the Democrats THINK they do. It's my view that they are even more calculated and racist in their relationship with Black Americans. Isn't it funny how the only legitimate Black voices are those within the Democratic fold?

I was disappointed to hear you use the phrase "parading around Herman Cain". Did the Democrats parade Obama around? Do they still? Has Obama been a leading voice against oppression as a whole? Do you think Americans who are homosexual think Obama has supported them fully?

You mention Du Bois in the same paragraph as the words that bothered me so much. Du Bois proposed a group of Black leaders called the Talented Tenth. He thought these men (today, I assume he'd include women) would serve as models for the wider Black community. I doubt that Du Bois would have hand picked those talented tenth in his mold. I imagine that elite group would be of varying different perspectives...enriching the community with the true spirit of diversity. I would say that BOTH Obama and Cain would be in Du Bois' Talented Tenth. They are both admirable role models coming from different perspectives.

The implication you give from your portrayal of Cain is that he is not representative of what Black Americans SHOULD feel or SHOULD think. That kind of statement, to me, is certainly as racist as Joe Wilson's "you lie" or anything Mitch McConnell ever said.

*** Whaler, I like the fact that you are comfortable enough with me to somewhat accuse me of racism. Perhaps I was being racist. I'm not above it, believe me, since like you I was raised and socialized in the U.S., and it is our lack of discussions about race, or dysfunctional discussions that situate us for racism.

However, I disagree with you on multiple levels. Obama wasn't the favorite going into the election, Hillary Clinton was. Obama had little experience, but had some, and built a political machine that situated him for the success he achieved. Cain has ironically practically labeled himself the flavor of the week with his reference to himself as Black Walnut. While he should be able to poke fun at his race without others critiquing him for it, when he is consistently being taken to task by even the most blindly loyal Republican pundits for his remarks and 999 program, and seldom being celebrated for anything of substance except being the current leader of a widely viewed unattractive group of Republican candidates, how is it he isn't being paraded about?

I would have preferred to not have to read your not so veiled assertion of my racism towards Cain. I would think that you would have given me the benefit of the doubt in terms of being enough of a sophisticated thinker that instead of affixing that label to me you instead might have questioned me about my position without the insinuation. However, it appears you must have felt better equating my position as equivalent to McConnell's and Wilson's and insinuating that I'm a racist. More power to you. I won't specifically frame my thoughts about your inability to see my interpretation of Cain outside the somewhat predictable context you have seen it in, because what's the point, we've already done that dance and always end up in this space. Your statement however, that

"The problem here isn't Obama or Cain or the difference in their political's individuals being swept up in group politics and picking apart anyone that disagrees with their point of view"

is provocative because while you accuse me of doing it, you are doing it yourself. I would have no problem with Cain's political career if he was responsibly representing himself as a role model for Blacks. Instead, he is just contributing to the conversation what many Republicans want to hear him say to further justify/legitimate their perspective on why Black folks in large droves, do not find the Republican party attractive. Not to mention attempting himself to brainwash the one's he's accusing of brainwashing.

DuBois would adorn Cain about as much as he would have Garvey. In his article, "A Lunatic or a Traitor" he took Garvey to task for some of his socio-political positions, like encouraging the Black populace to leave America. Cain's position that Black folk who don't support him and the Republican party are brainwashed is the epitome of ridiculousness and does not make him an admirable role model, or even respected strategist. Cain doesn't even have the savvy to articulate his position in ways that allow him to advance certain points as philosophical instead of judgmental. For more evidence, consider his statement about Foreign policy and knowledge of other foreign leaders. Cain does not have a ground organization, can't articulate the issues, etc. It is more racists to sit comfortably and allow this Black man to be this years rendition of a female version of Sarah Palin.

Republican Colin Powell, a man who measured his remarks, knowing that he could be used as a pawn for a political party that is often seen as less egalitarian towards the underrepresented, would have been invited into the Talented Tenth, but just because Cain is Black and successful doesn't mean he automatically has access into an organization like DuBois' Talented Tenth. Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey would not have been members of DuBois' Talented Tenth. Cain not being savvy enough to articulate his accusation that Black's aren't independent thinkers (which would accurately frame some Black thinkers) without the universal application framing all Black folk as victims or perpetrators of this brainwashing is sad, and makes him come off extremely ignorant. Oh, and the Democratic party is not comprised of better people, less racist-sexist-homophobic. They just seem to support policies that are designed to be inclusive of marginalized voices. But Obama's reality within the party is one where I would imagine that he understands the different agendas people have relative to him and how to navigate his way through it. He recognizes, as did Powell, that to be successful in American politics a racially different person ultimately will have to present herself/himself as a credit to their race. As Palin single-handedly could have adversely affected women's political posture if people weren't more savvy and other dynamic women hadn't already put forward solid role models, Cain represents a stereotypical caricature of Blackness that is difficult for many Black folk to see celebrated. I'm sorry that we live in a world where you just can't see that... -- J.W. ***

Herman Cain will fail if he doesn't realize that he needs to act the role of a commander and chief rather than a circus clown. from his comments on recent interviews about pro-life stance where he flip flopped when being asked about what he believed with regards to abortion for a woman who was raped to his most recent commercial which garnered attention but showed him to be nothing more than a joke. If hes the number one candidate for the republican party they are out of luck. I think Mitt Romney is the most presentable of the bunch although he came across as a little too aggressive on the most recent debate.

Dr. Wiley, good morning. I wish to share with you the fact I enjoyed your post very much. It was nice to follow the thoughts of someone with a view point and polite about it.

Obama and change, no doubt. The gathering of new minds with a common agenda is overdo. Our president elect was cast headfirst into the vast wrongfulness of our socio-political greedfest. Greed is the spirit, investors toward greed the culprits. With the few tools available, and no, "how to" book, change did occur.

I believe the “Occupy Wall Street” movement was inevitable regardless of who was in the Whitehouse. At its core I think OWS is a reaction to greed, incompetence, and institutionalized wealth. It is NOT a reaction to wealth itself, but rather, the way that some on Wall Street make their money.
In our country’s past, the rich often got that way because they found lucrative ways to contribute to society. People “built a better mousetrap” as the saying goes. Now, one can make millions simply by moving money around, repackaging it, and moving it again. The dollars never really enter the economy. Someone just takes a little off the top as commission as the money is moved. Nothing is produced and there is no benefit to society beyond padding someone’s paycheck or end-of-year bonus. And of course, some even make money by betting against the very product’s they are selling to their clients. It sort of like if Derek Jeter were to bet against the Yankees and then try to convince his teammates that he was doing all he could to help the team succeed.
There has been an ethical seed change all over corporate American and it’s no more evident than in the financial industry. Companies exist to make money. Period. Corporations aren’t immoral. They are amoral; absent of any moral compass whatsoever. There is no good or evil, no right or wrong, only results ie-profits. Recently I was listening to a radio show during which a venture capitalist explained to the host that all this talk about it being the patriotic duty of corporations to create jobs is hogwash. Indeed, he explained, the idea is to hire as few people as possible to produce the most gain (profit) as possible. This investor explained that “head count” is one of the major factors for him in considering in which companies to invest. Too many employees make a company a bad risk. Creating jobs is NOT what companies are for and we should stop expecting corporations to act “for the greater good.” Instead we should fully expect businesses to act in their own self-interest and nothing else. To expect differently is naïve.
I suppose you could substitute some version of the word “politician” for “corporation” or “company” and you might see much of the same thing. If your political opponent is in favor of something, you have to be against it, even if you were in favor of it a few months ago (yesterday?). Politics has become a zero sum game; if you win, then I lose. Tactics employed by those of your party are “bold” but the same tactics employed by the other party are “mudslinging.” Hypocrisy is the norm and anything said to win an election is OK.
This wasn’t always the case. The best of our past leaders, in business and in politics, had a sense that what they were doing would benefit society. I’ve read biographies on George Washington, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln and Ted Kennedy. What these vastly different men had in common was what was referred to in Lincoln’s time as Manifest Destiny; the idea that their generation and they themselves were meant to do great things that would benefit the common good and that failing to benefit society was a personal failure. They were all very conscious of how future generations would judge them collectively and as individuals. Adams once admonished his son John Quincy Adams that to be “of use” to your fellow man was the greatest goal to which one could aspire. Without being “of use” an accomplishment was strictly personal, even selfish and certainly empty. Now virtually all accomplishment in business and in politics is strictly personal with little or no regard for the greater good. At its core, I believe the Occupy Wall Street movement is really about, whether its organizers know it or not.

I really enjoy Herman Cain. It is unfortunate that these women can come out of the woodwork and lob these accusations against him. No matter what party you are affilaited with no one deserves to be falsly accused. I don't know if he did it or not but it seems very strange.

It's been awhile! I'm glad I read this--I've been following OWS (heh, more than following, sometimes) for a while and I hadn't thought of it in terms of being part of the Obama legacy, but it will be of course. for better or worse, depending on how it all ends. being in the middle is exciting--the future is always unknown.

I don't know when we will see OWS wind down. Despite the winter, I suspect it will last, and the spring/summer will be...well, anyone's guess.

Occupy Everywhere.
Occupy together.
We are the 99%.

I love the fact that Wiley can't take any criticism, but has no trouble dishing it out by the shovelful. Go reflect on that, as you like to say.

*** Most people have problems Dan (if that is actually your name) taking criticism when it isn't given constructively. For example, without any context you assail my character. How do I learn/grow from your comment. I'm left with situating you as an ex-student who probably wrote papers with as much context as you provided here! And so, yes, go reflect on that... *** -- JW

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