OccupyTO

RACISM AT OCCUPYTO

So I went to the activist assembly put on by Occupy Toronto this past weekend (jan 20-22) at OISE.  As a member of the People Of Colour at Occupy Toronto (@POCoccupyto) I was concerned about the lack of race analysis being shown at this conference and this whole Occupy Toronto movement.  47% of Toronto’s population is made up of racialized people.  The fact that OccupyTo is refusing to make an intersectional analysis of classism and racism shows how faulty this movement is.  How can this movement claim to speak on behalf of the 99%, yet they are unable to centralize the struggles of racialized people who bear the brunt of the fuckery of this system.

The fact that our POC group wasn’t even included in the assembly just goes to show that the framework from which this movement is standing on is weak.  After we had sent emails to the assembly organizers about wanting to participate and not getting any response back I had to repost the email on their facebook page so it could acknowledged. The fact that Occupyto’s facebook page is able to “like” Daft Punk’s page but can’t even “like” our page pretty much sums up the lack of awareness on their part.  I’m not sure what white person told them that our group was no longer in existence but I’m pretty sure they probably should have asked one of our members before they came to that conclusion.  That was the excuse we were given as to why we weren’t included in the assembly… BULLSHIT

Members of the POC group attended fridays opening panel where I was able to address the audience and panel with a statement about how this movement is fraudulent.  Addressing the fact that no time was being spent on racial analysis in this conference and how fucked up that was.  Talking about how this is a privileged white movement that is not addressing the needs of those who are economically screwed the most because of this capitalist system which is deeply entwined with systemic racism.

Well needless to say after that speech one of the organizers Katie was pretty quick to find me afterwards to see if the POC’s would be willing to take a spot.  Now we had already addressed how since it  was so last minute we weren’t able to take a Saturday spot but we would have to meet up and discuss if Sunday would work.  Lucky enough for them our group was available to have a workshop on the Sunday.

And in the meantime I had been asked to be one of the Dj’s for the after party on Saturday from Demian who isn’t an official OccupyTo representative but someone from another organization that wanted to help with the planning of the party.  I figured it would be a good opportunity to educate people thru music.  I was told there was gonna be a mic so I could rhyme and bring other people if I wanted to do a live performance.  Well there was a mic but it belonged to some dude who wasn’t interested in sharing.  So not interested in sharing but fully wanted to babble on about shit over my set and when I said know he unplugged the mic and took his shit and left… clearly one of the greatest examples of OccupyTo spirit I’ve seen thus far.  So with no mic I was content to dj my vinyl for this mostly white crown up until a point.  That point being where I had to cut the music and let loose what was on my mind.  

http://youtu.be/Twokttb7zD0

Come Sunday and unbeknownst to the POC group OccupyTo decided that they would put Women, Rainbow Coalition and POC’s all in one room and call it an Anti-Oppression Diversity session.  Gotta love how white people just wanna take control of everything without asking if that would be ok.  The workshop went well.  We all aired out why we were in attendance and how fucked up it was the Occupy would take it upon themselves to put all the marginalized groups in one room while the decision making process was going on down the hall.  Well without getting into specifics the people in our room came up with some good strategies of how we could move forward.

Now that ending would have been great had that been the end… but it wasn’t.  In true OccupyTo fashion some fuckery had to go on.  Carla who’s one of the organizers wanted to talk to me about how there had been a lack of communication and reasons why we weren’t contacted yadda yadda ya.  Apologies and all that shit but I’m not sure she or the rest of OccupyTo got the point.  

The Point being the foundation OccupyTo is on is faulty and isn’t working. Lots of people can see that and it wasn’t just POC’s.  Allies were also telling her that the system was fucked and as someone who just came in to the movement towards the end you really can’t tell us how things were when we were there and you weren’t.  

Shit got a little heated and I had to tell this white person who likes to appropriate indigenious culture aka yoddle like he’s doing a ceremonial song and not feel anyways that he’s being untrue to self.  So I called him out on his shit.  I also had to tell people that just having these types of conversations are draining and people of colour are tired of us having to teach white people when you have the tools to do the work yourselves.  

I had somewhere else to be so I was leaving…BUT HERE’S THE CLINCHER. One of the organizers felt the need to follow me and my friend to the elevator because the dude I cussed out was being talked to by someone by the elevators. YOU DID NOT NEED TO FOLLOW ME. WHAT YOU DID WAS RACIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RACIST 

because I did not need to be escorted out I was not being violent in anyway.  I am an adult and I don’t need supervision by some pretentious what person who thinks that they are KEEPING THE PEACE…..

GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE WITH THAT BULLSHIT.

I needed to get this off my chest because if I choose to continue working with you eediyats you must do some serious work on your racist practices because what I was a witness to this weekend was absolutely unacceptable.

kalmplex

youtube

OccupyTO

What's it got to do with it?

It is very easy to tell Canadian public sector workers that they’re privileged for their benefits, and that they’re making fat wages meanwhile there are hundreds of homeless people on the streets and children dying of hunger in Somalia. It’s easy to put it this way and ignore the fact that they or their predecessors fought for the rights they enjoy; that their privileges were not handed them on a silver plate. But regardless though. How does ruining their pension plans, cutting their wages (see their jobs) or the benefits of the newly hired after them, how does that help the homless and the hungry? Why should they surrender their rights to those taking advantage and trying to take even more advantage of them and their labour?

And that’s just as true for freedoms and human rights: just because North Korea, Syria, and Saudi Arabia have a shit record, doesn’t mean that we should be grateful for what we have and settle for mediocrity, or tolerate occasional - comparatively soft- abuses.

Occupy Toronto goes high style with $20,000 yurts

They’re circular, adorned with esoteric symbols and often spotted on the windswept steppes or high-mountain pastures of Central Asia.

But yurts — insulated felt huts favoured by Turkic nomads in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan — are now also installed in St. James Park, where Occupy Toronto protesters have camped out since mid October.

The huts weren’t cheap either. The unions, including the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, picked up the $20,000 tab.

With winter fast approaching, the three yurts, erected over the weekend, are meant to provide warmth, shelter and a communal space for the ever-growing tent city in downtown Toronto. Despite their humble nomadic roots, the stylish yurts are a far cry from the chilly tents where most protesters sleep.

Read more here

Video: Occupy Toronto, one month in | #OccupyTO #TOpoli #cdnpoli

November 15, 2011. Occupy Toronto wins a round in court after the city’s move to evict the camp is put on hold. That evening, Occupiers and supporters gather in solidarity and celebration …

So it’s not that easy to get good visuals at night with an inexpensive camera. Who could have known? 

Either way, I wanted to get this online as soon as I could, because injunction or no, who knows how much longer things will last. No soundtrack, minimal editing, just throwing a few shots together and posting. Whatever it lacks in polish will be outweighed, I hope, by whatever immediacy and authenticity it conveys.

Later on today I’ll try to clean up what I got from the prayer vigil. The video isn’t great but the audio’s worth posting, even though it goes on at some length, if only because Jerry Agar, writing in the Sun (surprise!), apparently thinks the Occupiers are an “evil presence.”

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Looking for some Tumblr people to work on two blogs with me!

Hey Tumblr, @bcbiv here. 

I am in need of some tumblr users who live in or around Toronto that want to work with me to spread the message of Occupy Toronto through the Tumblrverse. We’d be focusing mostly on visual media, announcing events and official announcements from the movement and some good writing about the movement. It isn’t a place for us to spout our personal beliefs, we have to be the voice of the movement, not our own. We keep the personal stuff to our own blogs. Who is in? We’d Be working on Occupy Toronto Market Exchange, and We Are The 99% In Canada.