Occupy The Hood Daryl Lamont Jenkins is involved with Occupy Philadelphia, and is the founder of One People’s Project, an anti-racist organization. He’s also involved with Occupy the Hood. He spoke with the Columbus Free Press at Freedom Plaza, one of two Occupy DC sites. “This is our way of encouraging people in the Black and Hispanic communities and poorer communities to know--- straight up---‘this is about you.’ Matter of fact, we’ve been the 99 percent for a very long time.”

Jenkins said it’s not a case of being segregated. It’s a matter of connecting various occupations around the nation with people in the nearby communities who might not recognize their affinity with people protesting and camping out in their cities.

"There’s a part where we’re separated and we discuss things among ourselves, but it’s all in conjunction with all the occupy movements. We have our input in the movement and we have our output where we tell people ‘this is what’s going on down there, this is what they need, this is what you can do.’”

Jenkins said people are more likely to get involved in activism if we think other members of our communities will back us up.

“One of the things that helped with the Montgomery bus boycotts, for example, was that the cabs were charging a dime…That kind of assistance is what helps people build, grow, and participate.”

That applies to what’s going on now with the Occupy Movement.

“If people are wondering if anyone’s going to get their back, this (Occupy the Hood) is where they’re going to find that. If you’re in the neighborhood wondering if there’s anything going to come out of it (the Occupations) or thinking that nothing’s going to happen from all of this, well, that all depends on you,” Jenkins said.

A couple days ago, a young Black woman with advanced formal education dismissed the encampment at McPherson Square, one of two Occupy D.C. sites.

“That’s all about spoiled kids being upset because Daddy cut off their allowance,” she said. Some people, White and Black, have dismissed the occupations as a patchouli stink fest of ‘trustafarians.’

But Jenkins said some cynicism toward a White denominated Occupy movement is not surprising, given how White progressives and liberals have not always practiced what we profess when it comes to socio-economic justice.

Jenkins said some White progressives haven’t opposed racism as firmly as we should have, when pushed has come to shove. He said many White progressives may do that from fearing that if they go ‘too far’ in opposing racism it will expose class issues and challenge less obvious forms of White privilege.

But people of color not only have to get more involved in the movement to defeat corporate rule, but they should take the lead on some issues, said Jenkins.

“We’ve been the 99 percent. They (middle and working class whites) just got here. In many respects, they need to follow our lead. If we don’t take a good chunk of the lead, the movement might go in a direction we don’t want.”

That unwanted direction would be settling for using the Occupation movement to help with getting Obama and other Democrats elected.

“We have to do a lot more than that. I’m not out in the streets to cultivate the next Democratic whatever… We need to reverse course. We don’t reverse course when we put somebody in power that’s taking money from the same people we have issues with.”

Jenkins said he accepts that President Obama is part of a corrupt political process that makes it very likely, if not guaranteed, that officials will represent those who give them lots of money, not the general public.

“He’s going to make sure his money keeps coming in. Maybe 20 years ago he would have been out here, but that was then, and this is now,” Jenkins said.

Multiple people have told the Columbus Free Press--- when asked about how we can build a mass movement for justice--- that the Black struggle against racial oppression in the 19th and 20th Centuries energized a wide variety of other movements such as those for women’s rights, queer rights, consumer advocacy, and environmentalism.

Jenkins said building a mass movement to defeat corporate rule also requires White progressives to connect those living in poverty. The occupations here in D.C. and other cities involve the homeless community sharing stories, food, bottled water, and portable toilets. Jenkins said the many middle and working class occupiers here should keep in mind our privileged positions.

“These tents could just as well have been used by the folks that have been here (in Freedom Plaza) long before they (the activists) got here…Some folks would be lucky just to have a tent.”

Activists here have shared with nearby homeless and other poor people here the plentiful and often wholesome and tasty food churches, unions, and businesses have donated. But beyond the thrill and camaraderie in the arena where we fight for our causes, many people miss many meals and suffer in the cold, out of sight and out of mind.

We shouldn’t feel guilty about this. But we should make the most responsible use of our resources and consider the most vulnerable people in our communities as important partners in movement building.

Jenkins said though the activists here may face arrest if some of us choose to stay when officials order us to close this encampment, people living on the streets here have challenges when they face police that are ongoing and more severe.