So I went down to visit the site of the Occupy Providence movement today. It was very interesting as well as eye opening. I just want to mention a few things before I get started here. First of all, the closest parking I could find was all the way down to the other side of Washington street, that being said, I had to walk the hole length of Washington street. Let me say I forgot how nice it is to have a car. Walking in the windy chill was almost unbearable. Being freezing in the park talking to all of these dedicated strangers was insane. This is when I realized how nice it is to have a warm home to go to at night. I am sure most of these people have a home of some sort too, but to camp out in this cold is really aggressive! Props to them big time! .
As I introduced myself to 27 year old Chris of Providence, Rhode Island, he seemed to be more interested in me than I was in him. He seemed very concerned about where I go to school and what I was doing as an assignment. I proceeded to tell him that I am working towards my Radiology Degree and he then told me “Ehh, you should drop out”. WHAT?! I am thinking to myself, umm NO! lol your crazy! I remembered Andrew had just finished telling me that he also had this same comment said to him when he observed Occupy. So weird.. anyway I moved on to speak to Kayla, a young girl who has been sleeping out in the cold for almost three weeks now, protesting for what she thinks is right. The first thing I asked her is “What is Occupy Providence?” She replied, “It is basically standing up for equality and the injustices the big time companies have been getting involved with. The people we are protesting against the most are the politicians who are making all this money and are not helping out any local businesses”. When I asked her why do you occupy? She replied “Well I’ve always received SSI for my disability. When I was 19 I found out that the government dunked their hands into the money that my SSI check came from.” She started talking about other reasons for her to occupy but she seemed most angry over this reason of all.
As Kayla went on talking about the protest its self she said something to me about my schooling and how it is very important that I go through with it because “Without knowledge, there is no power”. Considering if you want a good paying job in this economy, you need your degree. But then Kayla starting going on about a point that I really don’t like to talk about. Finishing college, being in student loan debt, and not being able to find a job, “Doctors are going bankrupt”. This topic makes me so sick because us student work so hard and dedicate years of our lives to be what we want to be as a person and then we may not even be able to pursue it in the long run. Yuk! I HATE this topic.
I talked to an older man as I was on my way out of the park. He caught me taking a snap shot of one of their signs. He was looking at me a little funny so I asked, is it okay if I take a picture of this? And he replied, “Sure, do whatever you want with that sign, it’s a part of the first amendment that says you can do whatever you want with that sign.” So I started to giggle a little bit but decided it would probably be a good idea to ask this man why he occupies providence. “I did what I wanted to do every day of my life up until a few months ago. I’ve been arrested more times over here than I ever have in my life. It’s stupid. They tell you, you have the right to freedom of speech, but then they arrest you when you tell them to fuck off”. On that note I didn’t really know what to say, I asked him to explain himself but I couldn’t really understand him.
Needless to say my visit could have been a little better. But I got to talk to a few people who really opened up my eyes. Experiencing this movement made me feel powerful, because these people are just like me and they are hopefully making a huge difference.
The two texts we’ve read that I would like to connect Occupy Providence to are “Privilege, Power, and Difference” by Johnson, and “Teaching the Conflicts: (Re)Engaging Students with Feminism in a Postfeminist World” by Love and Helmbrecht. I think the Occupy Providence movement connects to Johnsons piece because of the amount of privilege these people have. Some of them have more privilege than others, but it didn’t seem to matter to them. First of all I feel like the more of them that come together as one, privilege eventually fades away. In the end it doesn’t matter who has privilege and who doesn’t, there’s a bunch of people in a damn park, protesting in the freezing cold for what they believe in. I did notice that privilege would matter the most in this situation maybe to get them further quicker, but they are definitely making moves towards their goal.
The way I see this connecting to Love and Helmbrecht’s piece is the whole role model in the media situation. Love and Helmbrecht say that lots of famous people today are role models to many young women. I feel like the people who Occupy Providence are a little like role models themselves. They are all over the media and are becoming well known for what they are doing in their community. This over time has pulled more people into the movement and I am sure it has made many people aware of this movement and changed their idea on the topic.