Sunday, December 6, 2015

Song #49: Occupy (2015 52-song Project)

This song feels like a complicated one to me.

I had a lot of mixed feelings about the Occupy movement. I felt there were some parts of it that some parts of me really agreed with and also some parts that other parts of me really didn't agree with.

I think the Occupy movement stirred up a lot for me in terms of my own privilege as a university-educated white woman who has some strong feelings both for and against capitalism.

To break the song down a bit, the first verse, about getting beaten up by a police officer, is my expression of my understanding of the callousness and cruelty that was meted out against the Occupy movement and other anti-capitalism protestors, and in particular, the experiences of a number of friends and acquaintances who were involved in the G20 protests in Toronto. Many of the protesters there had their rights severely violated and I felt the response from the majority of people was a big "who cares".

Which is often what I felt myself about the Occupy movement – who cares. Sorry the middle class dream is evaporating, kids. Suck it up. I'm not sure how much of this sentiment was a product of me being manipulated by the media, which certainly showed a lot of petulant and obnoxious behaviour from Occupy protesters and how much of it was just me being a little too old and entrenched in the status quo. This is the thinking that comes out in verse 2.

And yet, I still had some ideals and protested stuff around the time of the Occupy movement. Verse 3 is inspired by an experience I had where I went to join a protest with some friends, and when the secret location of the protest was revealed, I realized I couldn't participate because it was my workplace. This is when I realized that I was in a deep conflict between the part of me that thinks capitalism is a lousy system and the part of me that makes my living within that system. I am one of the bloody tourists who gets called out in this verse.

Verses 4 and 5 make the point that there are terrible injustices that have been going on in Canada for generations and are still going on. Attiwaspiskat and similar aboriginal communities that struggle for clean water and acceptable housing seem to me like a more valid situation to protest than a lack of good-paying jobs for middle class college graduates. I've often been interested by the lack of a civil rights movement in Canada and a general disinterest in aboriginal issues and confronting racism and racist government policies.

Hopefully, with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission findings and a new government that says it is interested in nation-to-nation relationships and eliminating racist, paternalistic policies, Canada and Canadians are going to enter a new era.

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