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The United States Has Stepped Up to the Plate

“I think we have a tendency to kid ourselves when we call the United States the land of the free and the home of the brave. Hiding behind a mask of opportunity and equality for all, our country is rampant with nepotism, racism, inequality, and injustice that can no longer be swept under the rug.”

 

 

The year started off with protests from a corner of the world whose people have been silenced for far too long.  The world watched awestruck as the people of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya took to the streets and demonstrated that they were fed up with the corruption of the governments that held them down. A man set himself on fire, and set a region ablaze. The people could not be silenced. A highly educated community, rich in cultural heritage and ripe for a revolution stepped to the forefront of global events and wowed us all. I could not believe it when I heard an entire people, mostly the youth of my own generation, revolted, took to the streets, and toppled a system that was set up to knock them down.

I also could not believe it had not happened here.

I recently read a BBC article covering the protests in the Middle East and London that went on to say that the United States has a statistically low occurrence of protests. It left me feeling indignant. What is it about our country that makes us reluctant to demonstrate against wrongdoings? This was before Occupy Wall Street took off, of course. I felt like if any time was ripe for protests, it was now.

Just like Egypt, our nation has an enormous youth population that is over-educated and underemployed. People with Master’s and PhDs can’t get jobs. People right out of college have no choice but to go get their master’s degrees or take a job at their local pizzeria. And forget about summer jobs for you high school kids; the baristas and waiters are all would-be retirees or office workers who are scraping by trying to put their own kids through college.

Enough is enough. This country has shown favoritism time and time again to the rich, the elite, and the power holders. After weeks of listening to the bickering amongst our supposed “leaders,” the rest of us are fed up. What happens when you’re too busy arguing with your spouse to notice what your kids are doing? They end up in the Streets.

I can’t tell you how heartened I am to see my people take to the streets, and that Occupy Wall Street has overflowed into our sister cities in Boston, D.C., San Francisco, and beyond. Thank you, all those who march every day, who post the videos of the conflict online, and who have told their story on blogs like We Are the 99% (see below).By standing up, telling your story, and refusing to be silenced, you speak for us all. Washington and Wall Street needs to hear the overwhelming cacophony of our voices as we protest the corrupt practices that got us all in this mess in the first place.

"All of my friends are jobless or homeless or swimming in debt or all of the above… I wonder how long it will be before I join their ranks… and the government DOESN’T CARE. We are the 99%. I want a government that puts PEOPLE before corporate BOTTOM LINES. HUMANITY BEFORE MONEY"

I think it’s important in times of crisis for artists and intellectuals to speak out in favor of the people, so I’m doing my part in writing this blog post. Normally I try not to say anything too inflammatory on my site in the hopes that a future employer won’t get turned off by my public declarations, but if I stay silent about injustice, I feel like I am only helping it flourish.

I’ve been a bit disappointed in the media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. They’ve been posting the viral videos of women getting pepper-sprayed and men getting dragged off to jail, which is great, but I think we need to hear more from people who have something ideas for change this country for the better, instead of just waiting idly by to see if this Occupation of Wall Street is going to blow over or not. Now is not a time for reporters to sit on the sidelines and speculate on what may or may not happen, now is a time for people who are tired of bullshit and hungry for change to choose a side. You’re either in favor of sweeping economic change or you’re not. Don’t sit idly by and tell us what is happening, join in and push for change.

For this reason, I really love Keith Harrington’s article “Six Demands the Wall Street Protestors Can Make.” Harrington is an environmental advocate and has outlined six very articulate guidelines for economical democracy. Thank you Keith for speaking your mind! Harrington put his ideas out there as a suggestion that the Wall Street Protestors adopt a doctrine, but I wish people like him, people who have a deep knowledge and understanding of economic reform, would go the extra step and help organize the masses. This movement needs such a sense of cohesion, and it would be great if people like Mr. Harrington would step forward to offer leadership, or at least direction to this sweeping movement.

The great thing about this movement is that it gives a voice and visible presence to the people who are suffering as a result of political gridlocks and the corruption in the banking system. People have complained about how bailing out banks and killing the nation’s credit rating has hurt the American people, but never before in this economic crisis have the American people demonstrated so tangibly how pissed off we are.   I think we have a tendency to kid ourselves when we call the United States the land of the free and the home of the brave. Hiding behind a mask of opportunity and equality for all, our country is rampant with nepotism, racism, inequality, and injustice that can no longer be swept under the rug. The rest of us who are not sitting on a mountain of money and privilege are speaking out against the policies in place that are only there for the convenience of 1% of our population. These policies are destroying the lifeblood of this country, the honest part that makes us really great, the 99%.

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