Reports from Occupations, Part 2: Chicago

The following is a speech given at the General Assembly at Occupy Chicago, by a member of BtR-Chicago.


Speech on Jubilee

My name is B.

I am as excited as everyone else here about the Occupy Wall Street mobilizations.

I come before you tonight because I have two concerns and a proposal.

First, due to this country’s history of slavery, the racial oppression of black people for profit and the genocide of Native peoples we must fight against left colorblindness.

Institutional and structural racism are central to the ways this society functions in order to oppress and divide working class people. We must work to destroy white supremacy if we want to unite the working class. I do not have a proposal here, but fighting the fabric of society must be done in this country through a racial lens if we want to grow by thousands.
Second, and I do have a proposal for this.

We need a concrete political demand. Yesterday I spoke to people on the streets about the idea of canceling all debt. People in debt seemed to like the idea.

Who here is in debt? Who here has student loans? Medical bills? Credit-card debt? Who here has ever been evicted from their apartment or home?

My proposal is that Occupy Chicago take on a clear political demand. I propose that everything we do from now on is moves toward the political goal of canceling ALL debt, including mortgages, medical bills, credit-card debts, car notes and student loans. Any activity that advances abolishing debt we will support.

In ancient times there existed a tradition of periodically canceling all debts. It was known as Jubilee. In the face of the deepest crisis the country has faced in close to a century, we call for the renewal of that tradition. I have a leaflet here on Jubilee if anyone is interested in having further discussions after this please come talk to me. I propose that Jubilee or simply the letter, “J” be the symbol of our movement. We don’t just occupy, we demand the impossible.