An Asian American’s Thoughts On Occupy Wall Street

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you may have heard about the tremendous buzz that is surrounding Occupy Wall Street and other cities across the United States that are taking part in the Occupation protest. There are those who support and actively participate in this and there are those who dismiss the protesters as “jobless hipsters.” Those people insist that it’s not that hard to get a job if only you apply the right skill sets and pressure. Nevertheless, the protest is growing by the day and where this will all turn out in the end, only time will tell.

I want to start this off by stating that I stand with the Occupy Wall Street protesters. I am truly excited that there is a movement that is spreading throughout this country and the world. I am excited that people are now breaking the silence and putting themselves on the line to fight for this cause. The baffling part for many is that there is no distinctive leader and no hard concrete demands asking to be met. Because of that, it may be hard for many to support the Occupy movement, which is completely understandable. But know that this protest is simply a knee-jerk reaction that has grown into something so much more.

There are two observations that I wish to address, especially when it comes to Asian Americans and Los Angeles. For one, there is a distinctive lack of Asian/Asian American presence in these protests. (And when I say Asians, I mean ALL Asians, whether they be East, South, Southeast, and West.)

There are theories floating inside my head that Asians don’t like to protest/stand out or that they don’t like to sleep in tents. This may be especially true for those in immigrant/first generation groups as there may be wariness to get right in the face of the system. Do we as Asians not like to rock the boat? Do we just have jobs that make ourselves too busy to participate and care about the protests? Are we unaware that this is something beyond working hard and reaping the benefits? These are questions to mull over.

The second thing I noticed is is that Occupy Los Angeles has been incredibly peaceful compared to the cities with numerous reports of police brutality. I know it was a priority for the LA organizers to get the full cooperation of LAPD and the city council. From what I’ve heard and witnessed myself, it’s been a success. So that makes me wonder: are the other cities doing it wrong or is this just a unique situation? Are the police in other cities just complete dicks or are the protesters being unruly and violent?

The Occupation protests have been met with a lot of resistance, especially from the law enforcement side. There are numerous reports of police brutality in New York City and on October 25th, reports have come in that police were firing tear gas at the protesters in Occupy Oakland, resulting in several critical injuries from the protesters’ side. A lot of anger has been placed on Mayor Jean Quan for allowing this to happen, which is a lot of heat for the city’s first Asian American mayor to take. Check out the video below on a police officer who throws a tear gas in the middle of a crowd who is trying to help out an injured protester.

Where will this all go? How does one battle against a leviathan of a financial and government system and hope to change it without resorting to anarchy? These are troubling questions that I ask myself, even though I support the Occupation protests. There is clearly a long road ahead for the Occupy protesters and as Grace Lee Boggs says in her amazing message, the fight won’t be easy. Just like the protest, there is no clean button to finish this article with an easy swoop. There are only questions and discussions to be had, which will hopefully result in action. So I leave the floor to all of you, our dear 8Asians readers. Where do you stand in all of this? Do you support the protests? Are you against it? If so, why?

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About Edward

Edward Hong is an actor and spoken poet. Passion to make a change in this world through the performing arts and activism defines his ongoing life and it is the struggle against all things unjust that gives him this passion to be one heck of a talkative, stubborn man. It, however, does not mean he strives to be a champion or role model of any community but to be the man who will be honest and say the things nobody will have the balls to say. He is the jester who is outspoken in what he believes in most passionately and therefore cannot be pinpointed that he will do what you expect him to do.
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