Revolution #252, December 11, 2011
A Thanksgiving Dinner—with Revolution in the Mix
We received this correspondence from a reader, a 25-year-old Black man who occupied Zuccotti Park from the beginning and has been a part of a crew spreading revolution and BA:
Last night several occupiers were staying at my house and ate dinner with my family. We had a great big dinner, ate really good food such as turkey, ham, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, potato salad, and of course lots of dessert. This was great being that many occupiers have not had a real home cooked meal in a long time, some even came back for seconds and thirds.
We sat together around the dining room table, eight occupiers with my parents. Everyone's mood was pretty much calm and ripe for conversation. My parents were asking questions of the occupiers and vice versa. They wanted to know where everyone came from, and why they were there. They were engaging in discussion about the economy and the way things are in this society, such as police brutality, stop and frisk, how we envision a better world and that's the reason why we are down there at Occupy Wall Street.
They were also asking about the eviction of the occupation from the park and people spoke about their friends that they had shared tents with. People were reminiscing about the community that we had, and we were also talking about where we can take this in the future, to keep it moving and going further. For my parents to hear these first-hand stories from the occupiers themselves, was an eye-opening experience and they were intrigued.
A little later on that evening, my uncle and outspoken aunt came over and also engaged in discussion. They were full of questions about the occupation in Zuccotti Park, the police attacks they'd heard about and what we were going to do next. My aunt has a degree in psychology, and likes to pick people's brains. She was around in the sixties and is in favor of people fighting for their rights. Sitting around the dining room table for dessert and piña coladas, there was a back-and-forth with her about capitalism, and how people are supposed to earn a living in this society. She said that for all the youth in the inner cities, if there weren't jobs there for them, then that's when you have to be creative and find one, that you can start your own business, that you had to be "self-made." We pulled the lens back and said that actually that wasn't realistic because of how society is set up and we showed her the quote from BAsics about how when people say they are a "self-made man" in reality other people have made all their clothes and material possessions. She liked this and wanted to learn more.
We also during that night brought revolution into the mix. The revolutionary communist among us had passed around the current issue of Revolution newspaper about Occupy Wall Street and my aunt and mother opened it up and looked through it. They asked about BAsics, Bob Avakian, and how another society would be organized. My father asked about past communist countries, he said "this didn't work in the Soviet Union, China, or Cuba." They asked what Avakian was saying about how this could be done. The revolutionary talked about how we have been lied to about the real history of actual socialist countries like the Soviet Union and China, and that Avakian has studied this past history, the accomplishments and the mistakes, to go forward today. They were curious and asked all kinds of questions about this and so we said that the best way to get what this was about is to check out this book BAsics and that we could watch the video we brought with some of his speeches and a trailer for a film of the April 11 celebration of revolution in Harlem. My Mom and aunt were especially interested in watching the trailer for a documentary of a cultural event that took place in Harlem. People were unsure, but curious, about the newspaper, and inspired by the video of BA that we showed, which my father said had reminded him of the Malcolm X speeches that he had heard.
A couple of us the night before had spoken to my father while he was preparing a whole heap of collard greens. He spoke to us about his heritage. How it was growing up in his home, a tiny island in the West Indies, and moving here when he was 17 years old, and his vision of the American dream. He opened up about the stories he had heard growing up about the slave trade in the West Indies, and the history of the oppression of Black people in this society, so this video was very powerful to him. My parents were intrigued by the things we had shown them about revolution.
I'll be honest. I've had a lot of back-and-forth about the importance of the occupy movement and why I am a part of it. After seeing the occupiers and that they're not the stereotypes and slanders that are depicted on the news, but that they're all adults that just want something different, then my mother's attitude changed. They went from telling me that I was living like a bum to actually agreeing to a lot of what people were saying. They shared Thanksgiving with the occupiers, and Mom went to bed that night with her copy of Revolution newspaper! I didn't think I'd ever see that.
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