On trying to balance a job and an occupation

October 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

I have to leave soon if I’m going to make it to the general assembly before the march today, but I’ve been trying to get this out for days now, so let’s see if this will take.

Jay said, “Also you’re not obligated to jump in every time white kids want to camp on things. Kay?”

And she’s so damn right. We’ve been in this situation before with Tent University Santa Cruz: a bunch of first-time organizers throw together something huge, and it improbably gets a ton of attention and police blowback. More experienced organizers who were not involved (though, in Occupy SB, unlike Tent U, I would probably want to be) are put in an uncomfortable position — for the sake of solidarity and the well-being of the radical community, feeling forced to assume a great deal of personal investment and risk to support something we believe in, yet feeling shut out from being able to contribute the organizing skills and knowledge we know can make it successful.

Here’s what I wrote about Tent U when it happened:

I have incredibly mixed feelings about Tent U. As a free speech issue and a medium for alternative education I support it entirely. As a coherent forum for activism, I think it’s, so far, a failure. It’s a catalyst, but not a movement. What really gets my ire (besides the fucking riot cops) is the negative reaction so many people have towards it and the people who were battered monday evening. …

I just wish Tent U was better organized, I wish other orgs were more involved in its inception. I wish it were better publicized. I wish it were somehow possible to know which workshops were going on at what time, and I wish it had better cooperation with the existing activism on campus — whose platforms they are incorporating into their own — in order to create a unified and powerful front not as a symbol or a statement for change, but for a movement to enact these changes.

Although, in most ways, Tent University Santa Cruz was way better organized. They had a media strategy, they had nonviolent tactics trainings, they had workshops, they had something resembling a plan or at least wanted to. OSB? Ouch.

Occupy SB feels like it has legs though, if for no other reason than Occupying is what people are doing and talking at the moment. If this is a movement, I want to be part. I need to be part. And if I have to attend rallies and bail my girlfriend out of jail on my lunch break, and drive a hundred miles at 8 PM on what should be a relaxing night with my girlfriend to do spur-of-the-moment legal observation for an action at which people are planning to get arrested with no media strategy, no tactics, no legal observation… it’s enough to make a grown organizer cry.

And as a result, nothing like this happened at Occupy SB:

Maybe that’s a good thing? Who knows. I’m leaving now to try and catch the general assembly before the march. Maybe, hopefully, I can work with these people in the future.

I will say this: Some of these folks are going to have to drop the “I’m a white dude and I have a lot to say so I’m going to say it all the fucking time” act. Seriously fucking annoying.


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