During today’s WOW (Women Occupying Wall Street) meeting we reviewed our statement on Friday’s Spokes Council and made a few additional edits. We decided to share the statement during tonight’s General Assembly and tomorrow’s Spokes Council meeting. I agreed to attend the GA in order to read the statement.
I arrived at the GA to find one or two people in the crowd using mic check to interrupt the facilitator and question his legitimacy. I learned that the people who were disrupting had started their own General Assembly before the facilitation team arrived as a means of challenging and drawing attention to what they believe to be a flawed facilitation process. Other people in the GA were in turn shouting at the people who were doing the mic checks, asking them to respect the facilitator. As the facilitator stepped down to approach the people who were disrupting I asked him if I could read the WOW statement and he agreed.
I announced to the GA that I had a statement to read on behalf of WOW and that I thought it spoke to some of the problems we were currently experiencing. I told them I had been empowered by the facilitation team to share it and asked if that was okay with everyone. Someone asked for a temperature check and it was met by what appeared to be unanimous upsparkles/twinkling fingers. Everyone listened patiently while I read the statement. The one disruption came as I reached the word “community” near the end of the document, and one of the people who had been interrupting the facilitator yelled something to the effect of “the ENTIRE community!” After I was finished, I thanked everyone for listening so beautifully.
Statement from WOW*
At last Friday’s Spokes Council, the Women Occupying Wall Street (WOW) Spoke stepped up to the mic to present our application to the Spokes Council inclusion. Almost immediately, our Spoke was interrupted by a male member of the community who physically seized the microphone. Derailing process, he argued that facilitation team’s decision to go forward with the meeting violated the principle of “transparent participatory democracy” enshrined in our Principles of Solidarity.
Regardless of the contested validity of Friday’s Spokes Council, WOW’s right to speak was egregiously disrespected, violating an equally important Principle of solidarity: “mutual respect.”
Without mutual respect, our movement will be held hostage by those who violate process. Yielding to those that push the hardest and shout the loudest is the culture of the Wall Street trading floors we are purportedly united in fighting.
The silencing of WOW reflects a broader failure in our movement to recognize and meaningfully address privilege. Thus far, Spokes Council has failed utterly in “empowering one another against oppression.” It is imperative that we take “individual and collective responsibility” to devise concrete actions that address this failure. The Spokes Council was not a safe space on Friday night, and without safe space, we cannot fully and fairly participate in direct democratic process.
To ensure that marginalized voices can be heard, we must uphold the principles of solidarity that this community has agreed upon.
WOW calls on the OWS community to commit to one foundational practice: listening with mutual respect and without interruption to those who have been empowered by the community to speak.
Through active listening and respect for each other and our mutually agreed upon process f communication, we create a community in which all voices are truly equal.
*This is a living document that is currently being reviewed and collaboratively edited by the members of WOW.