Black 'Occupy' Protesters Start 'Occupy The Hood'
Supporting Occupy Wall Street, Occupy The Hood seeks to recruit, educate blacks and Latinos
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, 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,” Rhassan 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 black 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.
In the meantime, Occupy The Hood says it need 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 forsees, "using this as an springboard to address other things, whether it be crime or health issues in our communities. But we in the inner-city doesn'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 e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.