Friday, November 18, 2011

Tonight instead of meeting in our "Asian American Experience" classroom, my four students and I joined OccupyMac (a busload of college students, and two profs, including me) to downtown Minneapolis for a "program" of occupying a bridge then walking in the streets to the People's Plaza (Government Plaza). It was a chilly 35 degrees or so (if you stopped moving, your fingers and toes froze) and we had daylight for only the first hour and a half. The civil disobedience was very carefully staged and symbolic--10 actual arrests, but the police were very rehearsed and so were the protestors. (Much to discuss here about the importance and effectiveness of symbolism, versus plain old bloody beatings, as has happened elsewhere. Apparently it is part of a compromise struck with the poor, black communities in North Mpls who are being represented by church-based leaders who want a very organized and peaceful disobedience activity). Meanwhile about 200 hundred of us watched from the sidewalk, shouting and chanting in a disciplined way: "The whole world is watching!" and "You are the 99%!" (to the cops).

My favorite chants were: "End the War/Tax the Rich" and We are the 99%/We Occupy/We Represent." Chanting "We Shall Not Be Moved" was strange. "The People United Will Never Be Defeated" definitely has a new ring when paired with the 99% slogan.

People outside the US should know--but perhaps you cannot know from the outside--what a huge culture shift this is for all of us. Every day, every hour I see and feel the impact of new questions and new possibilities showing through the cracks of empire. At least on my campus, it's like all the lights are turned on. If this lasts for another semester, it could upgrade and expand the consciousness of an entire generation! Yay.

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