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Black ‘Occupy’ protesters start ‘Occupy the Hood’

October 11, 2011

Supporting Occupy Wall Street, Occupy the Hood seeks to recruit, educate Blacks and Latinos

by Darren Sands

Occupy Oakland’s first order of business on its opening day, Monday, Oct. 10, was to rename the plaza at City Hall for Oscar Grant, a salute to the young Black man whose murder by police raised consciousness around the world of police brutality, thanks to Black-led organizing in Oakland. – Photo: Sharon Peterson
The racial makeup of the Occupy Wall Street protests has been a curious, if not ironic fact of the movement; on the whole, ‘Occupy’ encourages openness and inclusion – but has been almost exclusively white.

If it’s up to a growing number volunteers calling themselves Occupy the Hood, that won’t be the case for much longer.

Founded by Malik Rhasaan, 39, of Queens, N.Y., and Ife Johari Uhuru, 35, based in Detroit, @OccupyTheHood has close to 3,500 followers on Twitter, the growing support of notable figures and a cadre of volunteers devoted to getting the word out about the cause of the protests to African Americans and Latinos.

Rhasaan told Loop 21 that Occupy the Hood has six core volunteers, but he’s already seen “Occupy the Hood” carried by people he’s never met.

Like many others, he was initially just curious about the protests.

“It was a news story and I’ve always been interested in what’s going on in our country,” Rhasaan said via phone from the protests, where a police officer had asked him to move along. “I was just going down and really just being nosy to see how honest it was. I realized there was a solid movement but that there weren’t enough Blacks and Latinos.”

He got on Facebook to ask his friends why they weren’t out getting involved.

“This really was about me and my friends starting a dialogue about what was going on,” he said. “I really never thought this would happen.”

Then, having never used Twitter, he created @OccupyTheHood.

The buzz caught the attention of Ife Johari Uhuru, who was browsing the internet at 2 a.m. from her home in Detroit. She reached out to Rhasaan on Twitter and they spoke on the phone minutes later. She offered her crack social media and internet skills to complement Rhassan’s aggressive street organizing. A partnership was born.

Ife Johari Uhuru said the onus of awareness to new communities does not fall solely on the shoulders of Occupy the Hood. “They’re gonna have a problem with people of color [getting involved] if they don’t connect effects of capitalism to racism,” she said.

“They’re gonna have a problem with people of color [getting involved] if they don’t connect effects of capitalism to racism,” said Ife Johari Uhuru.

In the meantime, Occupy the Hood says it needs volunteers. It is also working on a website.

Rhasaan has spoken with Cornel West, who gave him some insight and lauded their efforts. Occupy the Hood also received a phone call from Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Ife Johari Uhuru said.

Though he does not want to take away from the core efforts of Occupy Wall Street, Rhasaan foresees “using this as a springboard to address other things, whether it be crime or health issues in our communities. But we in the inner-city don’t know how this pertains to us. We don’t tie our issues to Wall Street.

“Maybe if we did, we’d have less time to be beefing with each other.”

To volunteer or learn more about Occupy the Hood, email them at

Darren Sands is a writer for Loop 21, where this story first appeared.

Call out to people of color

by Occupy Wall Street People of Color Working Group

Black and Brown Oaklanders, though not the majority, were a major presence on the first day of Occupy Oakland, despite the rain. – Photo: David Bacon
To those who want to support the occupation of Wall Street, who want to struggle for a more just and equitable society, but who feel excluded from the campaign, this is a message for you.

To those who do not feel as though their voices are being heard, who have felt unable or uncomfortable participating in the campaign, or who feel as though they have been silenced, this is a message for you.

To those who haven’t thought about #OccupyWallStreet but know that radical social change is needed, and to those who have thought about joining the protest but do not know where or how to begin, this is a message for you.

You are not alone. The individuals who make up the People of Color Working Group have come together because we share precisely these feelings and believe that the opportunity for consciousness-raising presented by #OccupyWallStreet is one that cannot be missed. It is time to push for the expansion and diversification of #OccupyWallStreet. If this is truly to be a movement of the 99 percent, it will need the rest of the city and the rest of the country.

Let’s be real. The economic crisis did not begin with the collapse of the Lehman Brothers in 2008. Indeed, people of color and poor people have been in a state of crisis since the founding of this country and, for indigenous communities, since before the founding of the nation. We have long known that capitalism serves only the interests of a tiny, mostly white, minority.

Black and Brown folks have long known that whenever economic troubles “necessitate” austerity measures and the people are asked to tighten their belts, we are the first to lose our jobs, our children’s schools are the first to lose funding, and our bodies are the first to be brutalized and caged. Only we can speak this truth to power. We must not miss the chance to put the needs of people of color — upon whose backs this country was built — at the forefront of this struggle.

Black and Brown folks have long known that whenever economic troubles “necessitate” austerity measures and the people are asked to tighten their belts, we are the first to lose our jobs, our children’s schools are the first to lose funding, and our bodies are the first to be brutalized and caged. Only we can speak this truth to power.

The People of Color Working Group was formed to build a racially conscious and inclusive movement. We are reaching out to communities of color, including immigrant, undocumented and low-wage workers, prisoners, LGTBQ people of color, marginalized religious communities such as Muslims, and indigenous peoples, for whom this occupation ironically comes on top of another one and therefore must be decolonized.

We know that many individuals have responsibilities that do not allow them to participate in the occupation and that the heavy police presence at Liberty Park undoubtedly deters many. We know because we are some of these individuals. But this movement is not confined to Liberty Park: With your help, the movement will be made accessible to all.

If it is not made so, it will not succeed. By ignoring the dynamics of power and privilege, this monumental social movement risks replicating the very structures of injustice it seeks to eliminate. And so we are actively working to unite the diverse voices of all communities in order to understand exactly what is at stake, and to demand that a movement to end economic injustice must have at its core an honest struggle to end racism.

The People of Color Working Group is not meant to divide but to unite all peoples. Our hope is that we, the 99 percent, can move forward together, with a critical understanding of how the greed, corruption and inequality inherent to capitalism threatens the lives of all peoples and the Earth.

The People of Color working group was launched on Oct. 1, 2011. We can be reached by email at We can also be found online at We meet Sundays at 3 p.m. and Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. under the large red structure in Liberty Square.

@OccupyTheHood, Occupy Wall Street from adele pham on Vimeo.


21 thoughts on “Black ‘Occupy’ protesters start ‘Occupy the Hood’

  1. Anita Wills

    The young people in our communities are suffering due to the effects of Capitalism and the Police State imposed on them. It is gratifying to see a young man step up and bring this movement to the African American Community. We are with you in the struggle!

  2. Rocket

    People of Color need to support the Occupy Wall Street Movement with all of their energy. OWS is a nascent movement and while the message has not fully developed , I believe the basic issue of economic justice should speak to all of us. It's no secret that as people of color our suffering is deeper. Our household incomes are at least 20% less than the national average. Our children our five times more likely to grow up in poverty. This movement has the potential to put millions of protesters on the streets which may be the only chance we have to change the current political dynamic. We must put politicians of both parties on notice that we demand economic fairness and we will vote them out of office if they fail to respond.

    1. Evolutionary

      Our voices will not be heard unless we use them. It doesn't have to be a rainbow. We can fight alongside the white kids. If we don't even show up , we have no voice at all. Cut the Aunt Jemima shit, quit the 'white people suck' attitude for two seconds and see that you have a chance to actually BE HEARD!! Do you think "Anonymous" is all just WHITE people? If so you are wrong. We are being represented already. Go to OWS and grab a microphone (or human mic) and speak up about injustice. Or you can go back to stewing in hatred and doing NOTHING AT ALL. Chicken-$hit niggas.

      1. Lahela

        So is this suppose to be like an ABC After School Special? Are African Americans suppose give in to your immature name calling and supposed peer preasure?
        I'm at work man and I can't afford to take off. But I was and will be at the polls to vote the president and his support team in for a second term.

  3. Ann_Garrison

    "But we in the inner-city don’t know how this pertains to us. We don’t tie our issues to Wall Street.

    'Maybe if we did, we’d have less time to be beefing with each other.'"

    I second that.

  4. Mike

    How come everytime black and hispanic try to do something for ourselves,because no one is going to do it for us,you sell out house niggas want to include white people.It seems we cant do nothing on our own because you niggas who love your oppressor want to inlclude your massa.Black,hispanic and native indians are the people who suffer the most and are the majority in jail.Forget about those crakkkers there are the reasons why this country is falling.And it is going to fall,there is no saving america.What our people have to do is prepare are self so we could be saved when white people and this country fall.We have to seperate from white people not join them.There kingdom is falling let make sure we dont go down with them

      1. Evolutionary

        Agreed. "Don't let the whites join us" is just as racist as the klan. Those young white kids are fighting for us. We are letting them take care of us AGAIN. We can take care of ourselves, and we CAN join them. The bigger the number of people, the more that will be accomplished. All we have to do is SHOW UP, and speak up. You gonna hang your head and shuffle around looking victimized now that you have a chance to change the world. That really is dumb. OWS is calling out to you. Are you listening, or are you so proud of your nigga-hood status that you want to keep it that way????
        Tomorrow is the day, October 15th. Get outside in the sunlight and make your voices heard, loud and CLEAR.

    1. Lahela

      Mike you got white people blood coursing through your veins baby. That's what so called white people don't get…after centuries of living and intermingling with each other I'm afraid that were all Americans. Just darker and lighter versions of the same.
      Save the hate speech luv, it waste to much time and allows the GOP to get away with all the murderous behavior they've been getting away with.

  5. TINA


    1. Mike

      @tina i feel you,But you know what sad?That the majority of our people think the opposite.The ignorant,wicked,sell out, and unrighteous of our people out number the righteous, and the ones who genuinely want to help our people come together and wake up to whats going on because times are real right now and our people are struggling the most.These crackas aint neva done shit 4 us but oppress us and our people still think coming together in a big rain bow is still possible.We got to do our own thang and unite.And trust me they dont want to see that.This is all in the bible to.We are god chosen people.They the u know who

  6. ac

    Children of Yisrael stand up! If we unite and come back to the God if Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…nothing can stop us! Wake up! They know who we are but most of us don’t that’s why we want to include everyone but the most high says

    Deuteronomy 7:6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

    1. Evolutionary

      So the solution is to sit around and watch it happen? We are American Citizens whether they like it or not. Let's act like it. You got game nigga? BRING IT TO OWS. Want to have a better life, bring your voice to OWS. Want to end oppression? Bring it to OWS.
      Or stay home and be the kind of person that has to hide behind their gack because they don't have the balls to go outside without it to speak up. Don't be a f&&&&-'n coward. We got bad – a$$ gangs, but still to scared of lookin like the house nigga to speak up. You ARE the house nigga now.
      Come outside and speak up with the rest of America or sit there in a pool of your own scared piss. You disgust me. I'm going. I will speak up for me. You gonna be afraid now? I'm far more bad-A$$ than hiding at home while the pitiful white kids do it for me.

  7. Evolutionary

    These young people are fighting for all Americans. This is not a black, latino, white, asian or any other color issue. When 50% of black people are hurting the most, why would they not join the protest against what has become painfully clear. Wall Street doesn't like black people. Get off your asses and join the millions that are fighting for you. Funny, it isn't just white kids at this thing, rather pretty much every race is represented, from all over the world. If only black youth decide to sit it out, and not have their voices heard with the rest, then the rest will have no pity for them. Hating on whites is keeping us from fighting the corrupt system that keeps us down in the first place. Don't let the rich, privileged whites divide the young poor people of America. You, my young American Citizens are just as welcome as all others. Tomorrow is the day! Come outside and make your voices HEARD. Let our government and corporations know that you are not happy with the way things are? Would MLK sit around behind his PC complaining that it's a "white revolution" if he were alive today? NO HE WOULDN'T. HE WOULD BE REPRESENTING US. SWARM THE STREETS. Let THERE BE FEAR FROM THE PRIVILIGED!!!!

  8. Selina

    Seeing the photo with the bannister marked "Oscar Grant Square" and reading the articles about his death and how many commented with pleaser on how the police were justified in the killing of; Grant, Harding,Herisse, Duggan and Brown and that's a very short list

    Now at this very hour on the news and on the various social internet media people are getting together to "Occupay" some well known financial firm because their out of a job. They can't pay their student loans.

    And it's our (people of African descent) responsiblity to get involved?????
    If and only IF there's any rewarding accomplishment like a JOB from this "Occupying", WHO stands to benefit if so many African people were to get involved do they stand benefit other getting arrest and being physically humiliated by police for joining in the protest

    We [ Africans] have been protesting too long and its got us no where….. just like the majority of you felt it was a waste of our time to protest against Police Brutality it be a waste of our time to join in with the beast and help support their Whining Campaign"

    1. thesportinlife

      I think the reason most black men don't go to occupy is because of the police presence. We know we are going to be the first ones arrested or harmed. And nobody wants to feel uncomfortable around white folks basically begging and complaining for a job when blacks are already seen as lazy, unemployed and uneducated. Black people have specific issues that need to be addressed, Our unemployment and incarceration rate is a lot higher and it's seen as normal by a lot of those "other" protesters.

      If there is going to be real change in this country, we will have to fight for it, with force. Nonviolence has gotten us as a people nowhere. Our leaders have been violently assassinated. The cops are NOT non violent. They are very violent and it works for them. Peaceful protests will accomplish nothing.

  9. guest

    how long must we shuffle our feet before things change,,,,,both older generations need to let go of pain and hardships, blaming the "white man, for it all when we are the ones who stand opposed to helpimg each other out because one is too lite or one is way too dark……who cares about that…any more we re all looked down upon, degraded or lef to jang dry……………..

  10. guest

    such issues wont change what we go through today……with all of us arguing and never agreeing feeds on the superior goal (majority) : DIVIDE AND CONQUER……………..well its time for us all to unite and invade the poor mentalities of those who dont think pst the scope of money,,,,,,


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