Occupy Cal

Thank you to Cal students and residents across the Bay Area.  Thank you for inspiring, thank you for staying peaceful, and thank you for turning out in the multiple thousands yesterday.

Mr. K and I are both Cal alumni. We met in the bowels of Barrows Hall, working in the KALX music department, but we attended the university at different times. I graduated 8 years ago, when undergraduate, in-state tuition and fees were $4300, including the mandated health insurance offered through the UC. I was lucky, in a sense. Coming from a low income family, I was able to pay much of my load with grants and scholarships, taking on a small, but manageable amount of debt. For Mr. K, who graduated 8 years before me, tuition and fees had nearly doubled in his years there, but held steady at $3800. Since our time at Cal, those fees have skyrocketed to $14460 per year for residents, with discussion of another 9% hike on the table for next fall. The health insurance for undergrads? From $243 per semester in 2003 to $813 per semester in 2011. Non-residents? Tack on another 18K per semester.  

No big deal right? Its all just more debt. You'll start amassing so much of it the number will become so absurd as to become meaningless, especially in the context of that low wage job you were able to score after graduation.

As of 2009, UC tuition rates were increasing in near parallel to the state of California's budget for corrections. Ask students to pay more and more for their education, then incarcerate more and more youth who've struggled at the margins of a crumbling society.  This is a crisis of priorities, and it is a moral outrage.

So thank you, Berkeley, for standing up and saying something about it...
Occupy Cal

And then, for sitting down en masse to listen to others speak.
Occupy Cal

Even if your perch was in a nearby maple sycamore tree.
Occupy Cal

Thank you for crowding around the fountain with me. I know it was wet, and cramped and uncomfortable, but it felt so powerful to be squeezed in amongst a sea of people, and thankfully, the cold weather kept our body odor in check.  
Occupy Cal
(Oakland general strike on the last 80 degree day of the year? Sorry, you were beautiful too, but pretty rank by the end of it.)

Thank you to Lynne Hollander Savio, thank you for your activism and for continuing the legacy of your late spouse and the Free Speech Movement.
Lynne Hollander Savio

Thank you to Robert Reich, for your widsom, intelligence and years of public service.
Robert Reich

Thank you to the young activists honored last evening and thank you to all who turned the wee hours into a joyous celebration on the steps of Sproul Hall. I'm brimming with pride for my Alma Mater.
Occupy Cal Dance Party

A lot of attention on Robert Reich's speech last night, and rightfully so. But I wanted to share some footage deserving equal attention: the words of Josh Healey--poet, community organizer and recipient of the Mario Savio Young Activists Award.  He spoke just before Reich and read his poem for the 99%. Congratulations on your award Josh, and yes, we are all fucking beautiful.  

When Hope Comes Back
(A Poem for the 99%)

when Hope comes back
he will be more than a campaign slogan
and a face on a poster faded red, white, and blue
he will not come from a presidential palace
bought and paid for like a Citibank stock option villa
he will put not forget to put on his walking shoes
and join the picket lines in New York
the bread lines in Baltimore
to shake the calloused hands
of everyone walking by

when Hope comes back
he might be named Barack
but he won’t be named Obama

when Hope comes back
he will be a Black Panther baby
who speaks Spanglish
and cooks Korean tacos
and does 180 sun salutations
to the soundtrack of Zion I
- yes, Hope is hella Bay

when Hope comes back
he will be a UFW farmworker
who loves his fields and his flag
more than he hates his foreman
he will be a runaway foster child
who forgives his parents
he will be an Iraq war veteran
who returns to protest in Oakland again
without tear gas canisters to his head

when Hope comes back
he will come back from the future
in a DeLorean like Michael J. Fox
and show us all the things we’d won
like people swimming across the Rio Grande
for fun rather than survival
and the only student debt being to our livers
rather than to our banks
and then Michael J would take us
for a ride back to the past
and show us this is not our first occupation
Flint, sit-down strikers in ’36
Alcatraz, American Indian Movement in ’69
Sproul Plaza, Free Speech Movement in ’64
and every semester since then that was worth a damn
and reminded Berkeley what it means
to be called Berkeley

when Hope comes back
he will be one of my students
East Asia meets East Oakland
brilliantly cross-continental
even though he hates the ocean
speaks with the wisdom of Buddha and Mac Dre
really, he is my teacher
and I think he knows it
and we’re both ok with that

when Hope comes back
he will actually be a she
because hey, that’s who actually gets shit done
she will be a librarian by day, a DJ by night,
an Occupy activist in between
she will be thick hair and thick hips
and if you try to touch either one
you’ll get a thick hand to the face
when Hope comes back
she’ll show us to burn down the banks in our
hearts and love without lust or profit or restraining orders

when Hope comes back
she will be an OPD cop,
then NYPD, then UCPD,
refusing to follow orders
putting down their riot gear
and picking up a picket sign
cuz when the cops join the 99% they actually belong to
that’s when the banks will have nowhere to hide

when Hope comes back
she will be a midwife
in tune with the moon and the womb
an ancient healer who knows every herb in the redwoods
ready to help us birth a new world
one without bombs or borders or Michelle Bachman
a planet of peoples free to honor the earth
and each other like the God
in whose image we’re still trying to evolve into

when Hope comes back
she will be here
right here, right now
on the streets and plazas and parks
of New York and DC
Milwaukee and Austin
Portland and Nashville
London and Manila and Cairo
San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, CA
with the people and the hashtags
setting up her tent in the morning
paintings banners in the afternoon
attending ridicously long meetings in the evening
shutting down the port of Oakland
and reminding us all that yes,
Hope still lives here in America
she has always lived here with us

and now she is back before our eyes
marching head high, fist higher
and whispering to the millions amongst her,
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.

Thank you.

This movement is not going anywhere.  You can beat us, gas us, evict us and steal our property.  It will only make us stronger.  To the mayors and police departments across the country, you are playing a game of Whac-a-mole and losing.  

To the media, we're on to you.  We've seen you under report our numbers.  We've read your accounts of events reproduced only from news wires or official police press releases. You ignored this for weeks, and now that you've shown up late to the party, you have a narrative to build. We get that. We know that you only like to report on occupations when those reports center on conflict and violence. But we have cameras, we have social networks, and we have platforms like this one to tell our version of the story.  

And the world is watching.

A key takeaway from Reich's speech last night:

I urge you to be patient with yourselves, because with regard to every major social movement of the last half century or more, it started with a sense of moral outrage. Things were wrong. And the actual coalescence of that outrage into specific demands or for specific changes came later. The moral outrage was the beginning.

So thank you, beautiful people of Berkeley, Oakland, New York, Cairo, Portland, Boston, Seattle, Madrid, Raleigh, DC, Athens, Denver, Los Angeles, and too many other cities to name.  The moral outrage is the beginning.

The People Have Awakened and We're Not Going Back To Sleep
The People Have Awakened And We're Not Going Back to Sleep

7:34 PM PT: Rec List!

Thanks, everyone.  I'm new around these parts as an official user, but I've been reading Daily Kos for years.  It is truly an honor.

Thu Nov 17, 2011 at 7:16 AM PT: By request, updated with Occupy Cal meets Occupy Oakland dance party.
Occupy Cal meets Occupy Oakland

Also, RvgAqs, are you in here somewhere?
Occupy Cal

Originally posted to Jill Kay on Wed Nov 16, 2011 at 05:36 PM PST.

Also republished by SFKossacks, Occupy Wall Street, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Progressive Hippie.

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