My play sister asked if I could visit Occupy Wall Street Chicago with her the other day.
I was not thrilled about the trip to be honest. En route we joked about the weather changing soon and how long the protesters would “occupy” in November and December. We concluded that maybe Mayor Emmanuel was merely waiting it out knowing that frigid Chicago weather may trump a 24/7 protest.
We arrived around 9 pm. There were 20 or so “occupiers” walking around with signs. They weren’t the most well kept looking individuals but considering the protest, it was understandable. I wondered if they would be friendly or cliquish. Would we meet someone able to articulate the reason why they were protesting. What changes did they want to see happen locally or was it a protest in solidarity with NY and nothing more?
As a post grad and without the privilege of getting hired for a job (without merit) due to my ethnicity (one demerit), sex (two) or because I’m someone’s freaking relative with only a high school diploma (three), I had to wonder if I should feel bad or merely blessed that somehow I managed to survive thus far? I’ve been more than thankful the past few years after hearing horror stories from friends or friends of friends regarding cut backs and departmental lay offs, cut class schedules and unaffordable health insurance.
Should I be in the same crowd in solidarity with Occupy Chicago? Maybe I share their concerns and don’t know it? Hell, my play sister got off work just to see what they were doing and all I had plans for that night was a date with my DVR in hopes that The Good Wife recorded correctly this time, arggh.
I wondered if I was simply forgetting the financial troubles happening all around me. With only faint news (outside of lawsuits) nowadays regarding collateralized debt obligations, mortgage back securities, Government Sachs, the poor ill informed investor, another ponzi scheme or failed hedge fund, did I really forget?
I commend the Occupy Chicago protestors for more than anything, being there 24 hours day in and day out. However, I can’t help but identify and remember in the back of my mind that high unemployment and inequity has always been an issue in my own community for a multitude of reasons.
If we follow Herman Cain’s way of thinking, we should blame ourselves! lol.
I might have been fortunate enough to go to school and rack up a good amount of student debt parallel to the average college student while secretly wondering if I will pay the loans off BEFORE my AARP card arrives or AFTER, but my school debt hardly carries the serious weight that countless Americans feel every single day. Not only people in my community or of color, but all over. They carry the real weight of the world.
Occupy Chicago is the mini protest that I have in my mind 24/7. It is the obvious reminder that things are not equitable, remotely fair or that nepotism definitely exists! I can’t forget the experience of driving my (MBA toting) best friend to glorious Cook County Hospital because she couldn’t afford health insurance but she had bronchitis along with the flu! Or the sobering reminder that crime continues to escalate while much needed public services diminish.
Those thoughts and concerns and ultimately sadness regarding what will happen next for the many that DON'T have, OCCUPY my mind every single day without fail. It is only different now because for the first time in this country, for countless Americans, (privileged) college aged students and as always the non-privileged, things just aren’t working out.
The dream and hope for our future has diminished.
I wonder what else will change.....
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