As usual, I was taking a brief respite amidst doing endorsements yesterday (that’s insurance speak for “changes” to policies) by skimming the 40-some-odd sites I have listed in my Google Reader. My skimming stopped when I saw Bol’s post, saying that #OccupyWallStreet was officially a joke.
There are, however, many things that need to be fixed with all the corporations. Just read the WeAreThe99Percent.Tumblr.com. Not only is it heartbreaking, but it probably hips you to more problems than you had initially realized, and that makes it even more heartbreaking.
I have struggled with understanding one aspect of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and that is what people hope to achieve without specific solutions or goals. I’m not keen on protesting to protest, although it is a very real movement going on throughout the country. Offhandedly, I’ve wondered if Occupy Wall Street will be America’s version of the other worldwide protests in places like Tunisia and Libya. I don’t think so, but one never knows.
At one point in time, when I was a wee baby probably, Chuck D said that hiphop was the CNN of the streets. In other words, hiphop provided a commentary of the streets, much how CNN provided a commentary to national and international news.
Since the Wall Street protests started, it seems as if hiphop has been pretty quiet. I remember Wendy Day tweeting, wondering where hiphop was in the midst of not only the protesters, but the social injustices. In fact, she wrote a great little article about it at her blog.
I vaguely remember Lupe Fiasco being there at the beginning, and Talib Kweli performing one night. Bun B has been at the Houston protests, encouraging people to bring food and water. And then there were Russell Simmons and Kanye West.
Russell Simmons–I refuse to write “Uncle Rush” because it creeps me out, like he’s the creepy uncle you have–has always skeezed me out. According to the most reputable source out there, i.e. Wikipedia, he’s the third wealthiest man in hiphop, reportedly being worth a staggering $340 million as the co-pioneer behind Def Jam.
Basically, he amassed his vast fortune by making money off artists, and being an astute businessman, naturally moved into other ventures. There’s his website GlobalGrind.com, which repeatedly doesn’t pay its bloggers AND scrapes content from other blogs. Oh, and then, there’s his RushCard that been called out for the hidden fees, including a $19.95 activation fee, $1.00 transaction fee, and $1.95 inactive fee, among others.
In short, Russell Simmons is that 1% that the 99% are protesting against. It’s actually kind of insulting to me that he’s parading around out there. I remember watching some interview last week about how he was chomping at the bit to pay more taxes, saying that his secretary pays more taxes than him. As far as I know, the government wouldn’t turn down a monetary donation by way of extra taxes.
And then there’s Kanye West, who is reportedly worth a more modest $70 million. That video is bizarre beyond words. I actually felt at a loss for words, and that doesn’t happen that often. It’s just so weird, Kanye devoid of emotion, almost like he’s in a trance, while Russell is rambling that “[Kanye]‘s not concerned with the politics, he doesn’t want to make a statement, he doesn’t want to do any media at all, actually, but… he’s here.” I’m honestly weirded out by that, so weirded out, in fact, that I can’t think of anything witty to say.
I can’t take anything Russell Simmons does seriously, and for that matter, nor can I take a mute Kanye at a protest seriously. But the issues are serious, and at least their celebrity is lending some attention to the movement.