Are Well-Off Progressives Standing in the Way of a Real Movement for Economic Justice?


This Alternet article..Are Well-Off Progressives Standing in the Way of a Real Movement for Economic Justice? is a very interesting article that addresses a topic that with each passing day is causing more and more tension in left leaning enclaves.

To be honest this problem as outlined in the article has long existed but it often manifested itself in the form of tensions between communities of color and white progressives. The initial contention from various communities of color was that white progressives were reluctant to share power, resources or seats at the table.

It was cool to have a Black or Brown face here or there to validate an issue, organization or an agenda, but the convo and outreach wasn’t gonna go too far. Many POC have often complained that many amongst white progressive allies rarely wanted to dig deep and help fundamentally resolve key problems.  You might see this manifest itself  in discussion around an important issue where POC call for justice and major overhaul of an institution while their white counterparts might take a softer stance and call for ‘Reform’. The biggest complaint from POC has been a willingness among white progressives to follow the leadership of POC.. This is not a new discussion, Malcolm X addressed this in several speeches.

Fast forward to 2011…Today the landscape has shifted a bit where we now have a lot of well to do Black and Brown folks who sit comfortably in many of these progressive enclaves. Some refer to them as a new punditry/buffer class whose presence and visibility has created the illusion that they are on the case and smashing on key issues important to the masses in their respective communities. They’ve created the illusion of being on the same page with on the ground grassroots folks who are doing the heavy lifting of organizing, but sadly many of these Black and Brown pundits are accused of being disconnected and all about protecting the status quo.

Complicating this dilemna is the long running joke/ whispers about how some of these popular leaders who assert that they speak for the  ‘down trodden’ wanting to come to those same poor communities and charge outrageous fees amounting to tens of thousands of dollars including first class airfare and 5 star hotels. Many have been accused of NOT touching on key issues at all..This was evident when we saw many, avoid addressing glaring police brutality cases like the murder of  Oscar Grant and the beating of Jordan Miles in lieu of safer more marketable issues like Lebron James‘ choice of basketball team or actor Mel Gibson‘s racist outburst.  The talk has been many within the new punditry class approach and speak to issues with the goal of getting a speaking gig moreso than shedding light to

Bottom line there’s a class battle of sorts brewing… and while its easy to identify and attack when its along political fault lines, its bit more painful and not as obvious when its amongst those who are supposed to be your allies.   This recent Alternet article begins the conversation…

-Davey D-

Are Well-Off Progressives Standing in the Way of a Real Movement for Economic Justice?

Many progressives are affluent and well-educated. Does their elite status stand in the way of a movement to fight attacks on the working class?
May 22, 2011 |

Over the past few years, it’s become an article of faith among progressives that we’re living through a second Gilded Age — you know, an era in which great fortunes accrue to powerful business leaders and institutions and the nation’s wealth is concentrated at the very top. In the past few months, as Republicans have proposed budgets that would cut taxes still further on the backs of the middle and working class, progressives havehammered away at the statistics — like that the top 1 percent of Americans hold 34.6 percent of the nation’s wealth; the bottom 90 percent, just 26.9 percent.

But the growth in inequality and decline of the middle and working class, though exacerbated by Bush administration economic policies, isn’t a recent phenomenon — it’s been in progress for decades. Which begs the question: why on earth did it take so long for the Left to take notice? How did we end up with inequality reaching levels not seen since before the Depression without waging anything approximating a real fight against it? Surely the trends of decreasing social mobility and increasing social stratification in the supposed “land of opportunity” call for serious resistance — where has it been? As thoroughly reprehensible as the Right’s slavishness to wealth and power is, the fact that it took a financial meltdown for economic justice to even begin to replace welfare reform on the political agenda suggests progressives need to do a bit of navel-gazing.

continue reading this article on Alternet

4 comments on “Are Well-Off Progressives Standing in the Way of a Real Movement for Economic Justice?

  1. Sadly, i believe that elitism is deeply entrenched and as the most well off become worried that their place in the sun is threatened by desperate masses, they are more rigid than ever in defending their foothold in the realm of privilege. I have not joined any organizations over the years once i saw the horrid limitations of non profits and how much worse it became after 9/11. I have lived a marginalized life as a woman from Irish/Catholic working class background who rejected the racist, dogmatic way i was raised. As i began having children out of wedlock, i endured hardship beyond anything i ever imagined. With my mixed race children, i struggled to survive in a increasingly compassionless society. I think if i had had it easier, i would not be so deeply involved in grass roots struggles for authentic justice. My position on the margins gave me an education that is priceless. But i look towards of future that is as bleak as it is for billions on the bottom of globalization’s greed driven violence. I am disgusted with the elitist Greens of the west coast, with so called peace organizations that continue to be white male dominated or run by those women or POC replicating the behaviors of the white men who still run the show.

    Now i operate alone in many ways as the activists where i live are more concerned about maintaining a way of life than how serious it has become for ALL OF LIFE! I work doing hard labor. When i can, i venture into Seattle to talk to the people most impacted by police brutality and poverty. Spent 24 hours vigilant at the site where the Native wood carver was shot 4 times by ex Seattle cop Ian Birk. The family of the wood carver, whose name and image have been laid to rest for a year, are working on carving totems on Seattle’s water front to be completed on the anniversary of his murder. It is there among those doing the carving that i hear the stories of ongoing police harassment and daily hardship.

    How will people really ever come together? I have struggled with the anarchist black bloc who took over a march in Feb. for the wood carver driving away most of the Indians and many other people of color. I see white males taking over again and again at the cost of those they claim to be helping. It is such an old outdated approach. So i remain connected with those who voices continue being blotted out by those much better off.

    It is a time of much worry, confusion and i witness the ongoing blindness of those who do have privilege beyond reality. We all stand to lose in these times. Every one of us.

  2. If progressives are in the way of anything then simply walk around them to get what you want – just like any other “group” that’s in your way.

    It’s been my experience that the business class and republicans are the first groups to point out how much opportunity truly exist in the U.S. .They also couple it with contempt for the lack of constructive action on the part of the public.

    If you want action, be an entrepreneur of some sort … not an “activist”.

    In the U.S. nobody gives a shit about “resistance”, they care about what’s going to feed them.

  3. The same people engaging in the whisper campaigns and hit pieces want us to believe that we couldn’t do better than Larry Summers and Rahm Emanuel. So, who’s really in the way? How much money will the community organizer from Hawaii collect in speaking fees once out of office? Both sides call themselves progressives and both sides are well-off. It’s just that one side has power, wants to maintain power, and will do any immoral thing to anyone that threatens that power- including other well-off progressives.

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