(Written en route from NYC to Shanghai 10/26/11 – continued from Can You Tell Me How To Get To Occupy Wall Street? (Part 1/3) )
When I went down to Zucotti Park a few weeks ago late on a Friday night, it felt like an anarchist music festival, a Burning Man gone urban, tarps thrown over all the equipment, a long line at the food table where people came with fully stacked paper plates, convo’s all around about re-visioning the power structure within this country in little clusters.
To me the crowd of folks (although it was dark and late, but from what I could see) seemed mostly 20′s, 30′s, intellectual in that it seemed like most folks have had space, resource, time, and access to bat around ideas about social issues, from what I saw – mostly white, the style sense of anti-materialistic anarchist folks that I’ve known…a friend of mine was running the poetry assembly…so I spit a poem with the people’s mic: you pretty much say a line and everyone else repeats what you just said – so the poem is much longer than usual, lol (this b/c they’re not allowed to have blowhorns in the park).
Then I hung around a general assembly meeting – where a young woman of color urged the general assembly to be mindful of putting forward people of color and women when the media showed up…Although there was only one other person of color beside her, myself, and my boyfriend that I could discern from the crowd of people at that moment.
What made me most excited about being down there was seeing all of these folks put their heads together and dialogue about how DO we address police brutality, economic inequality, war. It made me inspired to think about not necessarily what this particular action will do, but what will this mean for folks 10 years and 20 years down the line based on the relationships they make, the conversations they have, what they find, much as my perspective and life and political lens is deeply influenced in my involvement in anti-war actions over the last 10 years.
I also found the act of listening by repeating what someone has just said to be really moving – because as a spoken word artist – I get that in call and response people are not only an equal partner to what’s happening in the room, but also are physically changed by that action of letting the words live inside of them, on their tongues, inside their mouths, inside of their breaths.
If we can radically change how we listen in a more active way (ESPECIALLY in activist circles) how amazing would that be? Although in my brief stop by the meeting, unfortunately and strangely, the people’s mic was not always equally followed for everyone who spoke. I know that OWS folks have been working hard to be non-hierarchical — but inevitably (from an outsider’s p.o.v. – mine) a hierarchy emerged of those who had influence over the GA meeting and those who did not.
More in another two days…