Rodeo Round-Up: General Strikes, Population Myths, & Poems, OH MY!

This has been a pretty big news week, y’all!

The Oklahoma Gazette had a great article about how the OKC gay scene gained visibility and organized around the AIDS epidemic.  It’s amazing how the actions of a few individuals can help shape an entire culture!  And boy are we ever thankful to them.

Senator Daniel K. Akaka of Hawaii, the U. S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman has introduced a bill that would “provide Indian Country with jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes on Indian lands, improve the Native programs under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and improve data gathering programs to better understand and respond to sex trafficking of Native women.” The Stand Against Violence and Empower Native Women Act could probably have a less paternalistic acronym (its referred to as the SAVE Native Women Act), but if it goes through Congress, it could make a huge impact on Native Women’s lives and tribal sovereignty, so we’re definitely rooting for it!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you may have heard that we hit the 7 billion mark this week.  Before you panic, let the wise ladies at Crunkfeminist Collective assuage any racialized fears you may have about the end of the world coming because of too many brown babies.  No, seriously, let them!  And while you’re at, read this population myth-debunker from our good friends at the Population & Development Program at Hampshire College (who bring us the awesome and amazing CLPP conference every year and served as the inspiration for OK4RJ!).  The world may or may not be ending, but it’s not because of population.  Obviously, it’ll be when the aliens come in 2012, right?

Well… that’s my pet theory, anyway.

Some of us at OK4RJ have mixed feelings about the Occupy movements, but I know quite a few of us were giddy with excitement about Oakland’s General Strike!  The last general strike in US was in 1946 in Oakland (its quite the happening place!) and it was actually sparked by female workers who were striking for fairer wages.  Remember y’all, economic justice is reproductive justice!

A little closer to home, early Wednesday morning police raided Occupy Tulsa’s encampment, arresting 10 protesters who were engaging peacefully in civil disobedience and pepper-spraying at least 5.  Thirteen additional protesters were arrested late Wednesday night, while 10 more were arrested Thursday night.  Whatever your opinions may be about the Occupy movement, I think we can all agree that freedom of speech is necessary to a functioning, transparent democracy and that police brutality is unacceptable.  Pepper spraying people who are breaking a park curfew hardly falls under “protect and serve.”

Trust Women, the badass organization that is opening a new clinic in Wichita (my Cleveland, y’all), is holding the Trust Women Summit in Tulsa on Saturday for people interested in reproductive justice organizing to make Oklahoma a better place for all of us to live.  Yeah, its pretty much right up our alley, not to mention the fact that Trust Women is run by Julie Burkhardt, a colleague and close friend of our hero, Dr. George Tiller.  I can’t think of a better organization to work with Oklahoma!  If you haven’t noticed, this round-up has been sadly fart joke free because I’m filling in for Molly, who’s interning for Trust Women and a huge part of the Summit!  I work with pretty much the best people ever.

Last but certainly not least, Oklahoma’s own Lauren Zuniga was featured in a very moving and funny piece in The Abortioneers this week!  It’s so great to read about how Lauren has touched someone’s life, because I know she’s touched many of ours with her words.
We’ll leave you with an oldie but a goodie from Ms. Zuniga, a poem that I’ve been lucky enough to see her perform a couple of times!

Sandra is covering for Molly, who is stuck in the terlet and will be returning for Round-Up Duty/Doody next week.  You can follow @sandraholla for more information about the 2012 apocalypse and @MollyJolene for hourly BM updates.


On the Occupy Movement

As you may have noticed, the Occupy movement has reached us here in the Bible Belt. If you are not aware of the Occupy Movement or the details surrounding it, let me break it down for you:

OccupyWallStreet is a sustained protest against corporate greed in America. Fueled by a deteriorating standard of living for the average American and news of economic statistics like 1% of Americans controlling about 40% of the country”s wealth, the Occupy movement strives to stop capitalistic corporations and their grossly overpaid CEOs from taking advantage of the everyday working (or non-working) American.

I was very intrigued by this new and rapidly growing movement, so I attended an OccupyNorman meeting. Some things said there (“We should get into contact with the other Occupy movements because the 13 colonies maintained contact with each other” and “Federal Reserve is the one at fault”) and discussions I have had with others outside the meeting brought up reservations that I would like to address.

1. The problems we currently face are not a simple economic matter. To me, this is an overwhelmingly apparent fact, but few in the movement seem to take into it account. Yes, capitalism is obviously an economic system, but capitalism in America manifests as a politically-controlled, racial and gender biased economic system that currently seems to focus on making the most bang for your buck as fast as possible with no thought to future consequences or how it might affect fellow Americans.

For example, a bunch of white men gained economic power back when they did not have to obtain it through hard work, or any actual work. They seized wealth through colonization, the enslavement and slaughter of minority groups, and oppression of any person not male and white. THESE men then used that economic capital gained through oppression to achieve political power. They dictated how our country should be structured, structured it, and created a Republic based on freedom and oppression. They set a “norm” for how American society should function.

All oppression is interconnected. We can no longer afford to simply focus on one type of oppression in this country. We are not made up of only one gender, one race, or one class. We need to acknowledge the multiple forms of oppression that still permeate this country before we can even hope for true equality for every member of our society.

2. As a person of color, I am a bit bitter and discomfited that there is just now this huge push for change, that it only happened after life got remarkably difficult for a certain demographic (coughwhitepeoplecough). Abject poverty and lack of liveable wages have been issues in this country for many a decade. Now white, blue collar workers are up in arms because the “elite” of America are taking ridiculous advantage of the economic system, their wages and their rights as workers? Welcome to the regular, everyday lives of blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, etc for the last 200 years.

Also, I should acknowledge that minorities have not typically tried a protest like this because A) poor minorities usually have to work obscene amounts to pay basic bills while raising families and B) just a few decades ago the economy was stable and booming for the white, middle class, so there was no reason for discontent on their part. Protests and revolutions do not really happen until the disadvantaged outnumber the advantaged.


3. My last big grievance is the use of the word “Occupy”. I hear “occupy” and I think imperialism and oppression. Particularly, I think of the removal of my tribe, Chippewa, and many other tribes to reservations that members are still living on in not-so-great conditions. I am not the only one who thinks this. OccupyBurque (Albuquerque, New Mexico) changed to (Un)OccupyBurque after an international member said that the name reminded him of nations which had been subjugated to imperialistic control “across the pond,” so to speak. When leaders of OccupyBurque questioned other members further, many Native American members agreed that the word made them uncomfortable. So, leaders of the Occupy movement, maybe use some discretion in the future?

4. Occupy Movement, you are not a revolution (Though there is definite potential, of course). You are a protest. Until actual, SWEEPING change happens or people starting breaking things or fighting people, you will be a protest. Let”s take it one step at a time, shall we?

I want to be clear that I do not wish to denounce the Occupy Movement. In fact, I fully support it, and am a participant when not working, doing homework, or working with other activist groups (which is unfortunately almost never). I am a particular fan of the movement”s push for change from a grassroots position and showing politicians that we do not rely on them for change. This is a great movement with great potential. We DO know our system is NOT working. However, I worry that if we do not delve into the inner cogs of our society and find out how oppression functions, we risk perpetuating the same forms of oppression found in our current system. A problem cannot be completely fixed without a full understanding of why it exists in the first place. Once that is done, THEN solutions can be implemented. For many of us, we still do not fully comprehend how oppression functions. Once we as a whole can recognize and understand this, we can begin creating a new system that actually works in the long run for everyone involved.

editor”s note: Arielle never writes bios because she is too busy dancing. You can follow her on Twitter here.