A Youth Poverty Skolar on "Occupy"

Tiny - Posted on 20 November 2011

Jasmine Hain/PNN Youth Skolar

Image by Carina Lomeli/PNN- From Left: welfareQUEEN's Queenandi and Vivian Thorp marching in the Poor Peoples Decolonization/Occupation.

On Tuesday, I attended the march through Berkeley protesting the campus police’s brutal beating of peaceful protesters on the U.C. Berkeley campus. The march, energized and empowered, was no different than any other occupy protest or rally I had attended. There was a general feeling of unity in the crowd, almost a mutual acknowledgement that everyone there was part of the 99% (go figure). And, as I chanted “WE ARE THE 99%!”, I couldn't help but think that I, as a youth of poverty and as someone who has always felt the need to advocate for myself, have been trying to tell people about the economic imbalances in our economy for years.


I have been active in political activism and social change since the age of seven, or should I say since I first became homeless, which was in the area of downtown Oakland currently being occupied. I remember standing out in the sun in front of Oakland City Hall at age 10 with fliers in my hand advocating for Welfare funding in the California Budget. I handed out fliers saying that “1% of the population owns almost all of the wealth “and that “funds need to be re-distributed” and “the rich must be taxed”. I also remember being turned down by almost every person walking past. As a homeless child, and as a child of a powerful single mother on Welfare, I have always been aware of this economic imbalance. Yet, hardly anyone listened to what a Welfare kid like me had to say. The fact of the matter is that the movement to create economic inequality only became appealing when the middle and middle upper class were threatened.


It is true that what the police on the U.C. Berkeley campus did to the peaceful occupiers was a complete atrocity. And as an up-and-coming college student in California myself, I am quite literally shaking in my boots about tuition increases. Everything that we marched for that Tuesday deserved a march and general assembly, but as a Youth Scholar and a youth of poverty I have to point out to everyone that these threats have been in existence for years, and only when peoples jobs are threatened and expensive degrees are compromised do people take the necessary measures to protest the illusive 1%.


I wholeheartedly support the cause, and I am in support of everyone that I marched with that day. Still, the root of the change that needs to happen is the universal realization that the 1% are not the only ones to blame for their existence. Everyone surrenders their power to the 1% in different ways. On that day when I passed out fliers almost a decade ago, and everyone passed by me, the evidence of this was clearly displayed to me. The cold, hard truth is that everyone has been too wrapped up in their own lives, too concerned with getting their share to help anyone else or to care until the shit was on their from porch, and the stink was unavoidable. Out of all of the lessons that the Occupy movement can teach us as a Nation and a World is that a lack of compassion for others will eventually lead to the demise of us all. The Occupy movement began with the poor, and no one wanted to listen. Now, as a result, the occupy movement applies to everyone, poor and middle class.


I feel that since my first day of homelessness about ten blocks away from where the Oakland Occupy resides, I have Occupied Oakland. The other night, while watching the news footage of the Berkeley march to U.C.B., my mother  Vivian Thorp (Superbabymama and Welfare Queen) who marched with POOR Magazine family just last week in " A poor peoples decolonization/occupation" to highlight the issues poor peoples have been facing for years, said to me, “It is too late for us. We already felt this struggle and feel the repercussions. Now all we can hope is that no one else will feel that.”

thank you...


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