Sunday, May 31, 2020

Occupy Wall Street, Why Black Folks Should Help Out…

October 5, 2011 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( This week, I plan to head to New York City to join scores of American citizens who’ve decided that Wall Street should be confronted for the financial crimes that have been committed against the American people.  It is an awkward reunion for me as a Finance Professor, since I have hundreds of former students who’ve gone on to make millions as Wall Street employees.  So, perhaps it is because of my intimate understanding of the gospel of Finance that I can also see the dangers of creating a society that has come to believe that making money is the trump card that justifies nearly all sins against humanity…..almost like the doctor who can tell when the patient has become addicted to the drug that was originally designed to heal  him.

There are a long list of reasons that all of us should be concerned, disappointed and even angry about what Wall Street has done to our country.  The real wage of the average American worker has remained stagnant, while the gap between the rich and the poor has risen to levels that are unsustainable in nearly any civilized society.  We live under the illogical reality that those who caused the financial crisis by taking unnecessary risks were the first ones to be bailed out by politicians who are enslaved by campaign contributions and lobbying groups.  Labor unions have been undermined throughout the nation, and while the joblessness problems persists, corporations are sitting on trillions in capital that could be used to hire American workers.
I am honored to be an American when I see that thousands of us have simply taken our country back from those who’ve denied their responsibility to properly regulate the power of capitalism in our society.  Free enterprise can be a wonderful thing, but when capitalism is not properly controlled, it can become as deadly as an economic forest fire.
The African American community has every reason to be on the front lines in this battle for our nation’s economic soul.  Black unemployment has skyrocketed to levels that haven’t been seen since Michael Jackson released Thriller.  Nearly half (40%) of all black children are living below the poverty line.   Black wealth has continued to shrink as the burst of the real estate bubble left manyAfrican Americans either homeless or upside down in their mortgages.  Black families have been destroyed by the prison industrial complex, where Wall Street firms earn billions each year from slave labor.  Also, several Wall Street banks deliberately targeted black and brown communities for predatory loans that put grandma out of the house she’d lived in since Malcolm X was alive.
Yes, we have reason to be very, very upset.  It is in part because my grandmother was one of the people who lost her home due to predatory lending that I plan to join my brothers and sisters (of all races) in their decision to occupy Wall Street.  This is our chance to confront the economic bullies who’ve worked to politically castrate nearly every politician in Washington, and also those unpatriotic enough to allow the country to sink into the financial abyss.
I wish I could say that major civil rights organizations would join us in this fight.  But I am reminded of the decision by the NAACP to take millions of dollars from Wells Fargo, a bank accused of predatory lending.  This is not to say that they won’t join the battle, but it does say that biting the hand that feeds you isn’t exactly the key to economic prosperity.   This might be a lesson to all of us that in spite of the fact that we all need money to survive, we must be careful about making ourselves dependent upon a resource that is controlled by the descendants of our historical oppressors.
No matter how you slice it, the Occupy Wall Street movement belongs to the people.   By seizing the moment and putting it all on the line, we have an opportunity to help fulfill the long lost dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  If Dr. King were alive today, he wouldn’t be asking Washington bureaucrats to give him a multi-million dollar, monument built by corporate America.  Instead, he’d be right down on Wall Street with the protesters.  In fact, Dr. King’s spirit is down on Wall Street right now.
Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. For more information, please visit


3 Responses to “Occupy Wall Street, Why Black Folks Should Help Out…”
  1. hoodgirl says:

    @Richard Martin…my sentiments exactly…even Malcom X knew that a Man that stands for NOTHING will fall for anything!

  2. richard martin says:

    These folks have been at it for over a week. Hello! What right thinking person thinks he’ll go far by allying himself with.people who have time to protest greed? Why not protest stupidity?

  3. The movement is gaining momentum in its THIRD week now and Occupations are popping up all over the country! Stand up together and use your voice to give to those without through peace and solidarity. Tax the rich and feed the poor- you are the 99%! See my Occupy Wall Street painting and Anonymous homage on my artist’s blog at where you can also see videos of the protests and police brutality as well as get other sources for coverage of the movement.

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