Monday, December 5, 2011

Social Justice Event: The Occupy Movement (Occupy Providence and Occupy RIC)

For my Social Justice Event I choose to attend two separate Occupy movement events.  One event was the general assembly for the Rhode Island College Occupy.  I also spent several hours at the Occupy Providence encampment during their Occupy the Night event (Saturday, December 3, 2011). 
The RIC Occupy General assembly lasted roughly two hours and the emphasis of the meeting was to determine the possible future of the movement.  Discussed were several issues pertaining to the occupy movement as it relates to RIC Students.  One of the issues brought up was the question of why certain departments seemed to be getting favoritism in relation to the allocation of funds.  Why do certain building/departments get so much more funding than others?  Why is there so much red tape when trying to figure out where the money is going and why?  Another issue that was raised is that (in other Occupy movements) the voices of women and some other groups where not being heard nearly as loudly as they should.  For this reason there was a concern about the voices of all the attending individuals.  It seemed that everyone wanted to do more of a community movement rather than a small individual movement that did not adhere to the concerns of others.  In general, one of the largest concerns was about if Occupy RIC was going to go anywhere.  People brainstormed possible future actions such as private individual shows of support and actions as a group
Occupy Providence was a much larger and somewhat more organized movement than Occupy RIC.  Occupy Providence centered on Burnside Park in Providence next to the Kennedy Plaza.  This is an actual encampment where people are sleeping overnight consistently whereas Occupy RIC is more or less in the drafting stage.  During my visit I was fortunate enough to attend a feminist event called Occupy the Night that dealt with female and queer individuals as related to the Occupy Providence movement as well as in the society as a whole.  This event was to bring to attention the concerns and plight of the women and queer populations of Occupy and society as a whole.  It was felt by Occupy that these voices were not really heard as loudly and that their concerns were not brought to the table as much as should and could have been in the past.  The event included music, free food, public speaking and a march.  The main part (from the time that I was at Occupy Prov.) of the event that I attended was the public speakers.  People where allowed to come up and speak for several minutes at a time.  Several social justice organizations came up and spoke to the audience.  These included people for reproductive rights, actions against rape culture (especially related to college campuses) and domestic violence.  Domestic violence issues seemed to be the issue that was brought up the most in regard to speakers.  It seemed that this, like the other issues, were very important contemporary concerns with women, children and men all over the board. 
            One important thing that I observed is that feminist issues are no doubt an absolutely real concern with so many people today.  It was obvious that there were a number of people who have been hurt by these issues that have not really been fully addressed.  One such person is a very good friend of mine who is still currently living under the roof of an abusive parent.  It was also made obvious that not only physical, but verbal abuse also has a major impact on individuals.  A second interesting observation is that at both events feminist issues seemed to be a real concern of the attending individuals.  It seemed that in both instances it was a concern that certain issues were not being addressed as much as other issues and that there was a desire to change this.  Another important fact that I learned and that was mentioned during one of the speeches was the these issues of violence, rape culture, economic issues and women/human right issues are not individual issues that can just simply be tackled one by one, but they are intertwined issues that must be looked at holistically.  Situations such as economic concerns and rights of women can be interlocked with issues of domestic violence.  For example, if someone doesn’t have the ability to leave an abusive relationship due to an economic disadvantage then they can continue to suffer.  To use an analogy from class, we must not look at only one of the bars of the bird cage, but look at the cage in its entirety.  If all the bars support one another than it is not sufficient to only take one down, but to take down several at once in order to make any real progress forward in social justice.  Like in Contemporary Anthropology, we must try to look at things much more holistically.  We have to tackle not only the symptoms (violence, inequality), but we much try to fight the problem at the source so we do not just mask the problem, but we try to stop what is causing it. 

Link for Occupy the Night:

I will attempt to upload photos/videos from Occupy the Night to compliment this blog.

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