Posted on October 26, 2011

Is Occupy Wall Street Too White?

Martha C. White, Time, October 20, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street movement that has spread beyond New York’s financial district to cities all over the country and even beyond the U.S. has one glaring shortcoming, according to some activists: It’s too white. According to the Village Voice, New Yorker Malik Rhasaan launched a Facebook page for Occupy The Hood after observing what he sees as a lack of racial diversity among OWS protesters. “I noticed there isn’t a strong black and Latino presence. … People don’t know why Wall Street affects them. It affects us the most when we’re not knowledgeable about it,” he told the newspaper. {snip}

While it’s impossible to precisely measure the racial makeup of the deliberately leaderless Occupy movement, most of the images and video clips that have garnered media attention do indeed seem to feature mostly whites. Occupy The Hood leaders say their role is necessary because the more established protest movements don’t do enough to address racism in financial industry misdeeds. “They’re gonna have a problem with people of color [getting involved] if they don’t connect the effects of capitalism to racism,” Uhuru told the San Francisco Bay View newspaper.


In 2009, a former Wells Fargo employee-turned-whistleblower accused the bank of targeting minorities for subprime lending. “Wells Fargo mortgage had an emerging-markets unit that specifically targeted black churches, because it figured church leaders had a lot of influence and could convince congregants to take out subprime loans,” she told the New York Times.


Even if minorities do have a distinct set of grievances against the financial sector, however, it’s unclear that launching a splinter movement will prove an effective way to see them addressed. {snip}