By Queena Kim
But now there's an effort by Native American activists in Oakland to get rid of “Occupy” and replace it with “Decolonize”--as in “Decolonize Oakland.” They say the term “occupy” is offensive in light of the brutal history of occupation by early colonizers and the United States government. Native Americans in Seattle, Albuquerque, Portland and Sedona have launched similar campaigns.
The name change is proving contentious at Occupy Oakland, with some protesters accusing Native Americans of guilt tripping in the name of supporting the oppressed. But cut through the chatter, and the basic point seems to be this: Occupy doesn't want to give up the brand.
“That name change could ... alienate Oakland from the wider movement,” wrote John C. Osbourn, who has been reporting on the Occupy movement on his blog the Classist. “The brand recognition if you will.”
Now that the name is a worldwide phenomenon, I don't think you can change it. It's already complex enough to explain that the protesters want to Occupy Wall Street to force Wall Street to stop occupying America. Adding that the ultimate goal is reversing centuries of European hegemony and decolonizing America is too much.
The best the protesters can do is add "decolonize" messages in small print or on ancillary signs and materials. If that's not enough, Indians can start their own "Decolonize" movement.
For more on the Occupy movement, see Occupiers Aren't Decolonizers and Indians Say "Unoccupy America."
Below: "A group of protesters at the Occupy Oakland action to shut down the Port of Oakland on December 12, 2011." (Queena Kim)