This is the first blog post.
Are the constant call for demands frustrating?
People need to understand that there’s not going to be a cohesive set of demands like we’re accustomed to. There’s a deliberate effort to not be quickly part of an identifiable band of the political spectrum. The movement has demands—it has too many. But because there are no channels for the substance of the demands to get through, the number one demand has become to shape up the system. The movement has provided the energy for civil society groups to proactively have demands and endorse this moment by acting.
It’s not the movement’s job to have demands. If you think you’re part of the 99 percent, it’s your job; you should do your part to endorse this movement. You know what your demands are, so do it for your own constituency. Congress, legislate for the 99 percent. Congress, occupy your agenda with the right items and demands. Labor unions, do what you’re supposed to do for your members. Civil society groups, be more effective, and don’t just sleep and then collect your dues and raise money during Christmas. I’m not trivializing their effort, but they need to have their agendas help the 99 percent.
On a more personal level, what are the occupiers struggling with?
I can’t say this without crying: These people are hurt badly. They thought they were going to highlight a dysfunctional democracy and the social and economic injustice that’s in front of us, but they didn’t know they’d have to fight for their first amendment rights. Thousands of people are in jail, and many more have been beaten. And now they don’t have time to heal. It took me 10 years and the birth of my oldest daughter to allow myself to cry and get over the trauma of Tiananmen and really talk about it. So right now, the work that’s most needed here is healing—it’s not getting stuff done. It’s taking care of yourself, organizing yourself before organizing others. It’s putting the oxygen mask on yourself before putting it on your children.
Why now? What made us suddenly open our eyes to social and economic injustice?
I don’t know, but thank god it happened. It took 30 years, but thank goodness it happened.