Black voices of Occupy Sacto

Surprise, Fox News: It’s not just white college kids

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Last weekend, the Occupy Wall Street movement grew in this city and throughout the United States, and globally, as hundreds of thousands protested rising income disparity between the rich and poor. Meanwhile, on cable TV networks such as Fox News, reporters claimed the movement was “99 percent white.” But at Occupy Sacramento in Cesar Chavez Plaza, SN&R spoke with multiple African-Americans about Occupy and race.

“I don’t believe that the O.S. movement has been exclusively white, nor indifferent to race,” argued Ciera McKissick, 24. “Although this isn’t a racially charged movement, it’s hard to ignore the fact that a majority of those in the lower class happen to be people of color.”

Blacks and Latinos disproportionately lack jobs and homes, said Faye Kennedy, 57, who wants to help minorities be heard. “My goal is to try and get more people of color out here,” she explained, “so that they can see that they do have a voice and they need to exercise it.” She plans to organize and do outreach in neighborhoods where people of color live to encourage them to come out to Occupy Sacramento. In Sacramento County, blacks and Latinos make up one-third of residents, according to the latest census.

According to Kennedy, part of that outreach effort involves dispelling the rumor that the police will arrest anyone who comes to Occupy Sacramento.

Kevin Carter, 51, who spoke at the October 15 state Capitol rally, faults the mainstream media for promoting a false view about police and protesters.

“When I talk to the black community, they tell me, ‘We don’t want to go to jail,’” Carter said. “I tell them, ‘O.S. is not designed for you to go to jail, and that the police arrest only the protesters who choose to make a movement statement and remain inside the [Cesar Chavez Plaza] encampment during the night.’”

Occupy signs and protesters’ speech also reflected the liberating legacy of the late Martin Luther King Jr., and the civil-rights movement of the 1960s.

“Most progressive movements in America have been inspired by black leaders and their community,” said Alicia Boulware, 22, a sociology major and senior at Sacramento State University.

“Blacks and Latinos need to be out here, because this is everybody’s movement,” Carter said.