To Occupy And Unoccupy


“This is a war that’s been going on since the invasion of North America.”
– Rev. Pedro Pietri 

With the ongoing Occupation movement on Wall Street and the growing occupation movements going on around the US, this is just a reminder that some of us have been dealing with occupation for centuries now. Although we support the ideas behind Occupy Wall Street and the other Occupation movements we want those who have chosen to use the terminology of “Occupation” to be aware of the hidden and unrecognized history behind that word when it comes to non-white peoples.

Those of us who are not white have had to deal with this “occupation” in one form or another since 1492 when Columbus “discovered” America, for himself. That discovery opened the door for other European nations hell-bent, fighting and tripping over themselves to colonize, rape, plunder and enrich themselves at the expense of indigenous peoples. From the genocide of the native populations in the Caribbean, North, Central and South America that this “occupation” brought to us over 500 years ago to the holocaust of the trans-Atlantic African slave trade and subsequent rampant colonization of Africa. The story of the occupation of indigenous lands doesn’t just end with wholesale murder but continues today in new forms of violence. The eradication of native peoples language, culture and history is the new “occupation”. With the success of the forced occupation of native peoples land, the only thing left to occupy is the minds of those who managed to survive…


The greatest misconception that white people have is that only non-whites have to deal with racism. What whites have failed to realize is that racism is only the frosting on the cake of class warfare. What is done to non-whites under the guise of racism is a test run for what they will eventually do to you. The irony of the situation is that we non-whites who have been dealing with this “occupation” for over five centuries were the canary in the coal mine. But you refused to see the graffiti on the wall. Now that you have lost your homes to banks and your livelihoods to unemployment and your once bright white futures have been painted black, (pun intended) and you are beginning to feel what we have lived with for more than half an eon.

UNOCCUPY HAWAII by vagabond ©
UNOCCUPY HAWAII by vagabond ©

If you ever wonder why more people of color haven’t yet swelled your “occupation” ranks it may be because historically, once you have what you want, you’ll go back to occupying the comfortable role of white privilege that led you to believe that racism was different from classism. What you are experiencing is old hat for us, the forced removal from your homes, the inability to find work that pays a living wage, the police brutality, frivolous arrests, and your adventures with the justice shitstem, even your homeless encampment are just a few of the things we have lived with for longer than you would care to imagine. We have lived with a knowledge of things that you are now, only beginning to realize.

This is a warning to you that your “Occupy…” movement will fail unless you reach out to those who have a lot more experience with “occupation” than you ever will have. Let me reiterate that people of color support your ideas in striking back at this ongoing class warfare but this movement will fail if it doesn’t realize that this didn’t begin with the collapse of the financial shitstem in 2008… it began long, long, long, before then. Unless you begin to deal with the roots of this occupation that began 500 years ago you’re current occupation will fail.

This is also an invitation for you to open up your dialogue to non-whites who have been at the frontlines of this “occupation” and have suffered the most casualties because of it. If you want to succeed in creating a more egalitarian society then it would behoove you to reach out to the ones who have suffered the most inequality. Otherwise you risk becoming the very same occupation that we have come to hate, and that you are only beginning to feel, and you risk changing nothing.


As a side note: RICANSTRUCTED is a design company dedicated to the unoccupation of Puerto Rico from US colonial rule. If you like the UNOCCUPY PUERTO RICO design you can get it on a T-shirt  or a Hoodie. 

41 thoughts on “To Occupy And Unoccupy”

  1. In all countries, including the USA, Greece, and Spain, there are considerable portion of the population of each generation that might be labeled as the “Half-wayers”. These are the unsuccessful but still they are grateful and defendant of the socio-economic system in place. They are mostly of older ages, but still you can find them in less ambitious youth.

    The Half-wayers are middle-classers who feel indebted to the unjust and corrupt system because deep in their hearts and minds they believe that they have achieved and acquired more than what they fairly and normally deserve. This kind of people might not be corrupt; but they assume that without such system they would have been ruined and abject losers. This is the only reason why they defend the system meekly and brutally; or at least fear and reject any movement that might bring possible change.

  2. My única crítica: Se deber usar la abreviación “USA”. Es más clara y no se confunde con el pronombre “US”, y también es esta la abreviación que usa el pueblo de los EE.UU. para vitorear su país cuando quieren celebrarlo en los afanes de guerra, competencias de deporte internacional, y otro destacamientos que los hacen unirse como manada fanática.

    Además de esto, debemos ser ejemplo en recobrar el gentilicio “Americans” para toda la América. América es un CONTINENTE; no una sóla nación.

  3. The problem is that most of those Puerto Ricans, especially on the island archipelago, see themselves neither as “occupied” nor as “nonwhite”….

    1. This is somewhat true and somewhat untrue… i feel that with most PR’s they would like to think they have autonomy and seeing how non-whites are treated in this world they want to be white too… But this is a facade to hide the shame of being colonized… Once that shame is revealed in a way that allows them to understand that they were duped into such thinking by colonialism you find PR’s are ready to accept their true nature and will easily walk away from the paradigm and you’ll find them ready willing and able to fight to for what was always theirs…

  4. I understand what your saying, but i dont see the need to critize the word occupy. AIM ‘occupied alcatraz’, their words. Occupying space is ‘taking it back’, in my opinion. Maybe ‘re-occupy’ would be better name. But maybe we should look past the name and come together to change the world.

    1. The criticism is not to the word “occupy” so much as it is to those who use it… i understand their desire and the intent in using it… My point is to a historical perspective on the word as we non-white understand it…

      As for Alcatraz… AIM re-occupied Alcatraz… The state and it’s prison occupied Alcatraz… AIM re-occupied it… they took it back…

  5. I find the Left’s romanticized fetishization of “indigenous” peoples rather perverse. Just about everyone is the descendent of people who historically displaced other people.

    One of the most glaring problems with the supporters of Occupy Wall Street and its copycat successors is that they suffer from a woefully inadequate understanding of the capitalist social formation — its dynamics, its (spatial) globality, its (temporal) modernity. They equate anti-capitalism with simple anti-Americanism, and ignore the international basis of the capitalist world economy. To some extent, they have even reified its spatial metonym in the NYSE on Wall Street. Capitalism is an inherently global phenomenon; it does not admit of localization to any single nation, city, or financial district.

    Moreover, many of the more moderate protestors hold on to the erroneous belief that capitalism can be “controlled” or “corrected” through Keynesian-administrative measures: steeper taxes on the rich, more bureaucratic regulation and oversight of business practices, broader government social programs (welfare, Social Security), and projects of rebuilding infrastructure to create jobs. Moderate “progressives” dream of a return to the Clinton boom years, or better yet, a Rooseveltian new “New Deal.” All this amounts to petty reformism, which only serves to perpetuate the global capitalist order rather than to overcome it. They fail to see the same thing that the libertarians in the Tea Party are blind to: laissez-faire economics is not essential to capitalism. State-interventionist capitalism is just as capitalist as free-market capitalism.

    Nevertheless, though Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy [insert location here] in general still contains many problematic aspects, it nevertheless presents an opportunity for the Left to engage with some of the nascent anti-capitalist sentiment taking shape there. So far it has been successful in enlisting the support of a number of leftish celebrities, prominent unions, and young activists, and has received a lot of media coverage. Hopefully, the demonstrations will lead to a general radicalization of the participants’ politics, and a commitment to the longer-term project of social emancipation.

    To this end, I have written up a rather pointed Marxist analysis of the OWS movement so far that you might find interesting:

    “Reflections on Occupy Wall Street: What It Represents, Its Prospects, and Its Deficiencies”


    1. i’m not against people not knowing exactly what they want out of Occupy Wall Street… i think there is a desire to do something about the shit-uation… having discussions on it as they try and do something (the occupying of Wall St) is not bad… i think that there is at least a potential to push a more radical agenda then reform… which i agree with you is not going to do much to change anything…

      i totally agree with you on the left protest, cliches of bad drumming circles and twirling around in circles and sorry as chants shouted without any real passion… That stuff is sad and it seems like it’s more about “the protest” than it is about what they’re protesting…

      But even with all that i think there is still a chance to influence the Occupy Wall Street protests into a more radical consciousness…

      1. This is probably going to be an unpopular viewpoint, but I find some of the calls by indigenous activists to “decolonize” or “disoccupy” the Americas to be rather regressive.

        As I hinted at, in some sense I do not even believe that such a category as the “indigenous” exists or is even legitimate. In one way, it’s a concept that fetishizes and romanticizes the native societies that existed prior to their contact with European explorers. At its worst, I would say that the idea of the “indigenous” even amounts to the worst kind of nativism. Just about everyone is the descendent of people who historically displaced other people, who might be said to have been more indigenous than those who replaced them. One might almost liken indigenous activists to the ultra-Zionist settlers on the borders in Israel, who believe that they have an historical precedent and a Biblical mandate to reconstitute the old kingdom — even though they were dispersed into diaspora some two thousand years ago.

        By saying this, I am not at all trying to write an apologium for the numerous (and needless) atrocities that Europeans perpetrated against native populations. Anyone who has even the most cursory historical knowledge of the European settlement of the Americas cannot deny the magnitude of their proto-genocidal campaign against the tribes and societies they encountered.

        In fact, I am surprised that some of members of native peoples are not insulted by some of the rhetoric of “indigenous” activists, who treat Native Americans as some sort of homogeneous population that existed in this harmonious state before the arrival of the Europeans. The Native American tribes and societies that existed in prior to the European encounter were incredibly diverse in terms of their rituals, systems of governance, and social relationships — and often were bitter enemies of one another. Part of the reason that Hernán Cortés’ tiny contingent of conquistadors was able to defeat the huge Aztec Empire was that most of the native populations that the Aztecs had enslaved hated the Aztecs’ fucking guts, and enthusiastically joined the Spanish against their brutal overlords.

      2. The indigenous are those who live, love, work and die in a given area. What give one the right to say that a given area is theirs? Their living, loving, working and dying in a place. The idea of moving into an area is fine if you are going to live, love, work and die alongside everyone else. The problem with the idea that there is no such thing as being “indigenous” is that it leads to a might makes right mentality. The indigenous populations here in the Americas and the Caribbean were more than willing to share what they had… The Europeans didn’t know how to share… they only knew how to take… In that respect where is the moral ground for people who were more than willing to share and were greeted by theft and violence instead?

        Were there problems between indigenous peoples? Sure but it wasn’t to the extent of what the wholesale genocide post-Columbus… No is treating indigenous peoples like a homogenous group, especially indigenous folks… What all indigenous peoples in the Americas and the Caribbean share however is the common genocide, colonization and continued occupation… i know you don’t like the concept of indigenous peoples but let’s make it personal…

        i come to your home, you invite me to stay with you and i come in and rape your wife, kill your grandparents, enslave your children and take your home from you? As a person who was living, loving and working in your home you are indigenous to that home. My occupation of your space, my colonization, my genocide of your family and all who live in your house is morally reprehensible…

        If we don’t define ourselves as indigenous then how do we describe the atrocities commonly done to us?

      3. The presence of foreigners in any country and in any continent is very acceptable, most welcome and naturally helpful. Any individual regardless of any of his/her attributes or origin might become a citizen once he/she integrates his/her heart; mind and interest with any indigenous/native group. This applies only to individuals and not to groups who try to create foreign ghettos. If an individual is unwilling to integrate sincerely it is very OK; but he/she will remain a refugee; a contract worker; or a residing alien indefinitely. This is the very problem of the USA; Canada; Australia; North Africa; and all other old colonies.

  6. This is good but I think the critique needs to go even further. Long before Columbus, Europeans were slaughtering and occupying each other. Just look at Ireland. And I would argue that European prisoners of war, indentured servants, and kidnapped slaves were among the first populations of unfree labor in North America. Also, part of creating the white identity was doing away with ethnic Euro language, history and culture. How many whites in the U.S. know much about their Irish, Italian, Polish or German heritage? To equate white with middle class is also a problem. There are million of uneducated whites on welfare, in prison, making minimum wage, getting maimed at work and joining the military for economic reasons. White society has always had it’s “trash”. This is not meant to dismiss claims of white privilage. Instead I just hope the discussion about power and privilage will someday go beyond the simplicity of “black and white”. The success of any movement for positive social change depends on it.

    1. i couldn’t agree more with you… The country is all about eradicating the past in terms of immigration… It’s an Americanizing of the people into the hype of America… A hype that everyone is beginning to see through… The point you make about white people who don’t know where they’re from and have no attachment to their roots has created a shallow society because it has no deep roots when it comes to where people come from… That is something that is Americanized out of you…

      On you black & white point… i think that if people do the right thing and are willing to hear from voices who have been historically silenced then we will be fine… we will be able to dodge that black & white bullet… We will be able to scrape off the frosting of racism and get down to the cake of class war which is the real reason racism exists in the first place…

  7. Thank you for this thought-provoking piece. I agree that everyone in the movement needs to be aware of these issues. But while we cannot know your experience first-hand, please do not assume that all white people are unaware of this history and the inequalities that people of color face. Perhaps the majority of white people are not aware (or prefer not to think about it), but I for one do know about and think about these issues. I am ashamed and outraged by history, but I can’t change it. Honestly, I think people mean to be inclusive but don’t know to reach out or aren’t sure how to. It feels taboo to mention race because we are so afraid of offending someone or being considered racist or patronizing. So, if you ask me, the dialogue is open. I figure if this is the spark that gets the complacent people to start waking up, let’s take advantage of it. What can we, as average people in a so-far leaderless movement, do to be more inclusive?

    1. i’m not saying that all white people don’t know the history of oppressed people but a vast majority of them do not… i know this because a vast majority of people of color don’t know the history of oppressed people… That history isn’t kept hidden from people of color and those who know have had to seek it… And since that history affects people of color first, then it behooves us to seek it out…

      The history taught in schools makes white people feel good about themselves… The parts of history that are shameful and hurtful to white people are left out and it takes a courage that most whites don’t have because to face the shameful and hurtful aspects of that history a white person needs to question their privilege in society…. That’s not an easy thing to do…. i don’t envy white folks on that count… The divestment of white privilege by white folks is a painful process and one that takes a lifetime of vigilance to stand by… The world is difficult enough to live in and to give up that privilege is not an easy thing to do…

      What we can do in a leaderless movement (and it must remain leaderless in my opinion) is start to look at where this all started… Then work our way forwards to a solution that creates a true egalitarian society… One where there is no discussion of where black folks are at in relation to white folks or where latinos are in relation to white folks or where asians are in relation to white folks or where native folks are in relation to white folks… When we can move with greater speed toward making white folks the yard stick by which everyone is measured then we can truly have a egalitarian society…

      What white people don’t realize is that racism is a divide and conquer methodology designed to pick all our pockets… It’s just that while white peoples pockets were being picked people of color were being taken for all they had… So the first step to being more inclusive is trying to figure out ways in which white people and people of color can have a united front to stop the theft from all of us…

  8. “Unless you begin to deal with the roots of this occupation that began 500 years ago you’re current occupation will fail.”

    Ok, how do we do this?

    1. You asked the question 🙂 That is a great start if I have ever seen one. I am not sure anyone asks or even thinks to ask which is the problem.

      I do not know the answer since I am not an organizer (so if anyone has any thoughts about my comments I am open 🙂 )

      But I think if folks really wanted to create a inclusive social change movement (in America) they would call together people from every group represented in the US and start by asking how to adress everyone’s needs and then move forward.

      Any shot at social change needs to be inclusive, equally shared and equally beneficial. Otherwise, folks just give you the side-eye when you ask them why they aren’t participating.

      1. Much thanx for the kind words… And if we can just start to think about things differently then we can come up with some new and novel ways of approaching the problem… The last thing that everyone wants is to not make some sort of radical change… A few reforms right now would be the worst thing we can do… What we need is a complete upheaval of old thinking… What we need now is a revolution…

  9. vagabond,
    I think you will find the following articles interesting:
    Religions Against Faith

    The Swadeshi Movement

    Nationalism – How It Works & Why the Corporate Elite Want to Kill It?

    A brief comment will be appreciated.

      i’m the writer who wrote To Unoccupy And Occupy and i think that you are taking much of what i said out of context… What i was tailing about in my piece was that here is a history to the word “Occupation” for non-whites that must be recognized before people start going around using it without understanding the implications of the word…

      In my opening paragraph i clearly stated that non-whites were in agreement with the Occupation movement but we understand occupation a whole hell of a lot more than whites do because we have been under occupation in form or another of over 500 years…

      What i was asking whites to do is recognize that…

      As for using the terminology of whites and white people i stand behind that because people who see themselves as white have a lot of soul searching to do… If you describe yourself as a white person then you have some issues that you need to deal with… Whiteness is a problem in the world, i know, i’m an expert at the affects of whiteness, which is racism…

      White people who think of themselves as German or English or Spanish, or Italian or Swedish or French, or Dutch are not thinking of themselves as white people… They are thinking of themselves as people from a particular culture… But people who think of themselves as white? That only means that you identify with white culture, white privilege aka whiteness… If white people are working on giving up their whiteness then they should be open to criticism of whiteness, if white people have divested themselves of whiteness then they have nothing to fear from the term whiteness… Whiteness, white culture is the perpetuation of racism…

      Let me be clear… Whiteness is different from national or regional culture… Whiteness is the perpetuation of racial superiority…

      On your next point about having Native Blood what does that have to do with anything? That’s like saying ‘I’m not a racist or prejudiced, because my best friend is black.’ (Not saying you are a racist – just a saying that’s an old line of protectionism of white privilege.)

      Your description of yourself as having family that has Native blood is not a pass to think or do what you want… If there are people who are Native Americans in your family that doesn’t give you a “get out of being a benefactor of white culture pass”… It takes a whole lot more to divest your self of whiteness than just to have someone in your family be Native American…

      i’m sorry if in your personal life you have experienced rape, pillage and plunder but i’m not writing about single incidents of rape, pillage and plunder. i’m sorry that you have been victimized and there is no easy way to say this (i am trying to not sound cruel or belittling of your situation) but the rape, pillage and plunder of Native Americans and the African slave trade that followed it have nothing to with your personal history. i’m writing about genocide, enslavement, brutality, racism and prejudice.

      ON UNITY
      The issues of Occupy Wall Street are not separate from the issues of colonialism and racism… Capitalism is the engine for colonialism (occupation) and racism… Take away capitalism and you go a long way to taking away colonialism and racism… The white left has a long history of wanting the support of non-whites but not wanting their voices heard… The white left has a race problem… they want non-white bodies to swell their ranks and their heads… They want to use non-whites to legitimize their causes but aren’t really interested in non-white problems or critiques… The white left is always asking non-white to put racism aside for the bigger picture… But the left has to realize that without dealing with these issues within the white left, the white left is doomed to failure…

      My writing was a warning a call for unity… read it again… Not a call for dis-unity… This is directly from the post…

      “This is a warning to you that your “Occupy…” movement will fail unless you reach out to those who have a lot more experience with “occupation” than you ever will have. Let me reiterate that people of color support your ideas in striking back at this ongoing class warfare but this movement will fail if it doesn’t realize that this didn’t begin with the collapse of the financial shitstem in 2008… it began long, long, long, before then. Unless you begin to deal with the roots of this occupation that began 500 years ago you’re current occupation will fail.

      This is also an invitation for you to open up your dialogue to non-whites who have been at the frontlines of this “occupation” and have suffered the most casualties because of it. If you want to succeed in creating a more egalitarian society then it would behoove you to reach out to the ones who have suffered the most inequality. Otherwise you risk becoming the very same occupation that we have come to hate, and that you are only beginning to feel, and you risk changing nothing.”

  10. I have just finished creating a new wordpress blog for reporting bad public service its title is: Report Bad Public Service. (
    Dear valued citizen;

    Here is how to use that blog:
    1- Then select your continent from the Pages.
    2- Then write your Report As a Reply.
    3- Follow up the responses of other citizens for sometime.
    4- Check for comments and responses stating issues similar to your case.
    5- Feed back on your problem if it is solved or getting worse.

    The goals of this blog are to let everybody will know each others problems with Public Services and Public Servants; advise from personal knowledge and past experiences in similar troubles; mobilize and organize local groups and civil societies to address these problems and assist citizens to get their rights with Public Services managements.
    Together we can do it.
    This is Citizens Solidarity. It is More Powerful Than Bureaucracies and Corporations.

    Slash Public Service but not the Services!!
    Hello valued citizens everywhere;
    You must know that you are queens and kings in your own countries. Employees in the Public Service tend to ignore that. This blog is about very important service to everyone who received bad service from any public servant, low or high-ranked (they called themselves government officials!).
    Try to explain in your report few details about the problem or the complaint you or someone else faced with government employee/s.
    Users of this blog who have some knowledge of their government system are kindly requested to post comments and advises to other fellow citizens in trouble.

    Citizens media are empowering us to fight back the abuses and corruption of bureaucracies everywhere. This is your blog and you are free to express your grievances, anger, disgust, or any constructive proposals and ideas.

    Citizens all over the World demand the following:
    1- Wide and good quality public services and servants for our taxes;
    2- Lean, optimally sized and effective public service;
    3- No overtaxing for overpaying public servants;
    4- People must have regular and uninterrupted access to monitor what are going on in any government office, low or high, including the judiciary, the police, the security, and the military.
    5- Ethical corporatism and control the wealthy influences on politics.

    I invite you to visit, comment, and use Report Bad Public Service blog.

  11. Hello are using WordPress for your blog platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own.

    Do you require any html coding knowledge to make your own blog?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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