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Use and Abuse of the Chronically Homeless in the Occupy Wall Street Movement

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Justin Samuels       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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While Occupy Wall Street has certainly done a lot of good in changing the national conversation, its treatment of some of its most marginalized members leaves a lot to be desired. Chronically homeless members were welcomed with open arms when they were warm bodies to occupy camps. Contrary to what some might claim, there were members of the chronic homeless who contributed a great deal of effort to the cause. They participated in marches and other events. They did actual work in the camps. Yet now that the camps have closed, the movement seems to be more than happy to be rid of the chronically homeless altogether.

I spoke to Razor, a female to male transgender occupier. He is a member of RAHKA, an OWS working group that occupies the occupation. RAKHA stands for Revolutionary Activist Homeless Kicking Ass.  The purpose of this group is to speak out and fight for the most marginalized members of the occupation. These members find themselves marginalize in the mainstream society and once again find themselves marginalized in a movement that they are fighting for. RAHKA specifically addresses marginalization based on class, race, and gender non conformity. Members of RAHKA speak out against what they call a caste system in OWS, where people from more educated and privileged backgrounds get more support for their initiatives. These members where the chronically homeless people who were living in NYC before the occupation, and who participated or otherwise worked in the occupation. Despite the fact that have more pressing needs, they tend to be pushed to the side as the movement secures housing for its members. Occupiers not from NYC but who are somewhat well off have already been placed in housing.  This is at the expense of the needier NYC Native homeless occupiers.   Some of this isn't intentional. Some members of this group are marginalized in part because they don't have modern communication devices. Without smart phones and laptops, their ability to keep up with other occupiers is diminished, and they cannot access the full spectrum of resources that their brothers and sisters can.

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While its true the 1% screw the rest of the country, its important to realize among the 99% we don't all share the same access to resources or have the same opportunities. Its important to tell the stories of people from the entire spectrum of society, from the richest to the poorest. In the end we are all people, not one of us is any more or less important than another.

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Screenwriter. Historian. BA in History and certificate in Latin American studies from Cornell University. MA in English Education from Columbia University. Very interested in public policy.

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