Guest Blogger, Pop Culture, Race & Politics

VSB Guest Post: #OccupyWallStreet?

[***Admin Note: Today we’re going to have a guest poster in longtime VSB reader and commenter, Tunde aka MadScientist7, grace these hallowed halls of VSBU. Kick off your shoes and relax your feet. Read ninja.***] 

First I want to thank Panama for allowing me to grace VerySmartBrothas. When he asked me if I wanted to do a guest post I fretted over what to write about. On my blog I write about randomness so I figured that this would be no different. A couple of weeks ago while I was on twitter I noticed Talib Kweli was tweeting a lot about something called #OccupyWallStreet. I assumed that was the name of a new song or mixtape until I clicked the hashtag and I found out that it was something completely different.

Occupy Wall Street is an ongoing demonstration that opposes corrupt corporate influence in US politics. The aim of the demonstration is to protest corporate greed and social inequality. Personally I don’t know if I agree with the direction of the protests because it seems a little unorganized. They are trying to fight too many fronts at once. Personally I think they should stick to one point and focus on that. Occupy Wall Street has recently come into the media spotlight, not because of their political message, but because members of the NYPD pepper sprayed, punched and stepped on peaceful marchers. 

 Outside of the hoopla made over mistreatment of protesters the aim of the demonstrations actually got me to think which I’m sure was the original intention. I would see pictures like these scattered about the internet.

As Americans we are sold a dream from the time we can remember that to make it in this country the first step is get an education. After you receive an education you’ll be able to find a good job and make enough money to support yourself and family.

The American dream.

My parents moved to this country in order to provide a better life for my siblings and myself. So as you can imagine the American dream was beat into our heads double because of the sacrifices my parents made. That being said I made education my priority. I hold a PhD in Biomedical Research with a concentration in Biochemistry and Cancer Biology. I am currently at my first job and even though I grew up lower middle class it’s been a long time since I felt any of the hardships that the “99%” have felt. I’m torn between two very different and distinct emotions concerning education.

I empathize with a lot of the “99%”. As much education as I’ve received in my lifetime (and the more that I plan on getting) sometimes I wonder if I made the right decisions. I know education isn’t for everyone and the most valuable lessons learned in life aren’t found in classrooms. More importantly the fact that it’s not what you know but whom you know just isn’t fair. A person can spend upwards of $100K on getting “educated” and someone who barely graduated high school can get the job that was “promised” to them because the less qualified person is related to someone important.

You decided the path to walk. Growing up my favorite subjects in high school were history and math. I was good at other subjects but those were the two I got the most joy from. Naturally some people would major in one of the two when they went off to college. Not me. Why? What’s the projected average salary for a history major? I’ll pass on struggling to barely make in a year what I paid for a year of school. I picked a major that was more financially stable yet I still enjoyed. I got my history fix by watching the History Channel. I don’t understand why people get Master’s degrees in subjects like fashion merchandising then are surprised when they are in debt and can’t find a job after graduation.

While I find #OccupyWallStreet (and similar occupations that are taking place around the country) interesting I doubt any amount of protests are going to change corporations from paying minimal taxes while the working class carries the load as far as stimulating this country’s economy. I hate to be a wet blanket but in this capitalistic society the rich get richer and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Have you heard of the #OccupyWallStreet? Do you think NYPD is wrong in the way they are handling the protesters? How do you feel about the American Dream? How important is a formal education to you?

Here are two great websites where you can find information on #OccupyWallStreet and see stories of those affected:


A little about Tunde: I’m an ordinary guy. Sometimes I do extraordinary things. If you want to read more of my randomness I can be found at and at!/BrazenlyVirile


Filed Under:
Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future.

  • Mr. Wee Thomas

    I need to break out the credit card and order pizza for protesters!

  • Wave Cap Willis

    Thanks for a great post. Going from the Cold War to the War on Terror, the general populace has been distracted from the War on the Middle Class.

  • Ms. Smart

    I live in the DC area. Often, I’ve felt that we (in and around the beltway) are isolated from the reality of what is going on in the rest of the country and world. This seems to be especially true of Black people (New Negros, shout out to Panama). I think protests bring light to very ugly truths. Any logical person can’t help but re-think the narrative about who is unemployed, employable, etc. It causes a logical person to give thought to just how much power we have given corporations–through lack of actions or voting against our own interests. The unfortunate thing is that without some large scale civil unrest, little will change. I’m not calling for people to move from ‘peaceful’ protests to rioting in the streets, but…

  • Mo-VSS

    The American Dream is sh*t and people still buying into it are delusional. Sure, in this country you have more of a chance than most other places of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” However, it’s so far gone that most of us don’t have any boots making it impossible to progress in such a way as other generations have.

    I’m grassroots so I love the protests. Also, I liked the movie Fight Club, but I have never thought too much about that type of “justice.” With the current crap banks are pulling, with Wall Street being what it is, with corporations shipping jobs overseas while turning a blind eye to creating/sustaining jobs in this country, I have to say that I definitely understand why Fight Club resonated so deeply with some people.

    While I do think people should pay their dues and choose work that will pay the bills and not just satisfy passions, the whole part of the “American Dream” is that we’re supposed to be able to do both. We’re not supposed to have to choose.

    Land of opportunity…

  • Mr. Wee Thomas

    I’m getting a PhD. I’m not doing it for the potential earning potential, I already had plenty of that 4 years ago when I began, and will likely start out making less than if I’d stayed in the job market. I’m doing it because it’s what I always wanted to do, and I grew up with the belief and idea that one should work and do what they love, that the American land of opportunity was such that if the typical job available to a graduate with a degree in “history” or “art” didn’t pay as well as one for an engineering grad, you could still make a decent life for yourself.

    I think it is easy to get caught up in the “they should have made better choices” or should have focused more on an avenue that would make them more money, but that’s not the reason people are protesting and occupying wall street. Pay for history majors, english majors, or art majors have always not been that great. Yet we didn’t have similar uprisings ten years ago or twenty years ago. What has changed is the shift of wealth in this country where those with economic power appear to be seizing even more for themselves regardless of the effect that it has on those whose blood, sweat, and tears make it all possible.

    There was an implied social contract. I do this no so great paying job, service, whatever that I like and those with the economic power treat me fairly and don’t take advantage of the disparity in our status. That has not been the case for a long time. And I think some of it may stem from those with business, marketing, or economic degrees feeling both a sense of entitlement where they’ve worked and chosen a field that rewards them well and a sense that others barely deserve the scraps they are getting due to their own choices.

    When we completely lay the current financial outcomes of the 99% at their feet as a result of solely their own decisions to not pursue higher paying degrees or move to a cheaper city or have less kids or any other situation that they’re in which manifests itself by (now in this economic crises times) being a detriment to their financial well-being and forget to recognize the part that forces completely outside their control but well within the control of others in society, we’ll just further reinforce what seems to be a growing disparity between the current haves and have nots.

  • Crystal Marie

    While I agree that you “decide the path you walk”, I think it makes it a little more black and white than it seems. Many didn’t decide to graduate into a recession, or decide to have a natural gift for something that doesn’t pay well. While I believe you should be realistic and take projected earnings into consideration, I think it’s safe to say the recession has taught us there’s no such thing as a sure thing. So if there’s no such thing as a sure thing… why not study what you really enjoy?

    I guess you’re saying people can study what they want, they should just be mindful of the consequences. Again, this makes sense, but you have to consider that these consequences aren’t always cut and dry or plain as day. Plus, while it’s admirable that you were a responsible, practical thinker going into your college experience, what about the thousands of folks who have no idea what they wanna do… even at 30? Are they just SOL?

    Great post, I enjoyed!

  • Malik

    Good drop Tunde

    I’ll reign myself on this topic. I don’t take any of this 99% garbage seriously. I can’t. They have absolutely zero leadership. The have no plan. They can’t even articulate why being outside of Wall Street is going to change anything. If they really wanted to do something they’d have voter registration organization and try to inform the public of people that already hold their tenants and help kick out those that oppose their beliefs. Or they could take it one step further and actually have members part of their ‘movement’ actually run for office.

    Symbolic portions of protests are important. Substance, plans, and vision are far more important to actual movements though. It’s why actually knowing history is so important. When people look at any revolution or social upheavals they just see clips and footnotes of what really happened. They never see the hundreds of thousands of man hours that people lose relationships over in order for these to work. They don’t show the arguments that people have about the message. They don’t show that there are ALWAYS multiple groups aiming at the same thing in 15 different ways.

    The crux of the issue is that we have small minded people trying to tackle large issues instead of people that actually have a grasp on the enormity of the situation that are willing to deconstruct and construct brick by brick the actual problems -> solutions.

  • Bus

    Great questions to ponder. I think this movement is very difficult to keep up, mainly because 1) no clear objectives have been outlined, and 2) no leaders have emerged to organize the masses. There has been a lot of comparison to the Arab Spring in its inception, but it differs in that both of the above-mentioned criteria were fulfilled and allowed the protesters to create change through making one thing happen: ousting authoritarian governments supported by neo-colonial powers. I’m not there to see how the crowds are responding to law enforcement, but pepper spraying people who are penned in just doesn’t fly.

    Some professions may not be lucrative, but those individuals do deserve a livable wage. Still, anyone planning on being a multi-millionaire on the back of a history degree better start to rethink their strategy.

    As for the American Dream, I never bought into it, even as a child. I believe that people should have access to resources and a chance at upward mobility. In addition, the recent generations are reaping the benefits of a handful of individuals and gaining confidence in national accomplishment only by birthright, not by any individual efforts. Combined with the overtaking of the most important national industries by mega-corporations with no national borders (e.g. Walmart, GE, McDonalds), we’ll find ourselves in a downward spiral into oligarchy until someone intervenes. Hopefully, this will kick that up.

  • Asiyah

    I doubt these protesters truly believe that they will automatically change things. They know that won’t happen. I think what they want is to get the American people thinking…and I like that! We live in a time when people do not want to think at all. They want to live in a bubble of fun times and no problems whatsoever. Well, that’s not life. Wake up to the ish that’s going on, people.

    I once saw Ralph Nader speak at Cooper Union here in NYC and he mentioned that he continues running for President not because he wants to win but because he firmly believes that we should have more than just your regular two-party candidates for elections. He was more concerned with making a point and telling the American public that we are entitled to more choices. Occupy Wall Street, as disorganized as it may be, aims to spread the message that corporations are running ish and we need to take back our country.

  • Rewind

    In regards to the post, I think the editor is forgetting something.

    The issue with the American Dream, especially for young people, is that we were all told we had a fighting chance if we got to college. College provides choices, Plenty of them. The problem is many adults never fully explained how the society of jobs work. We’ve had to learn on our own that a degree is almost as precious as toilet paper if you don’t follow the highs and lows of capitalism, yet they pumped our heads of dreams of doing WHATEVER WE WANTED TO DO. You can’t spend 18 years being told you could be president, or a lawyer, or a philosophist, and then find out..actually there’s no way in hell you can do any of those things once the market tanks. That’s a hard spell to reverse.

    Secondly, I’d like to be part of those protests. But I’m of the 89% of NYers that work, and I can’t afford to be adventurous while being a broke government employee. That’s another dilemma we all face. We all should be protesting and having our voices heard, and yet our jobs are held over our heads like nooses, with the idea that there’s always someone else gunning for what we have. Those people getting beaten senseless by cops are actually our heroes, because they say what we can’t, and they need the support. Organized…maybe not. But good intentions are the first step to a change right?

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