Beating Wall Street Means Fighting the Extraction of Wealth From Communities of Color

Saqib Bhatti protests outside the Hyatt Recency in Chicago in June 2011. (Photo: Courtesy of Saqib Bhatti)Saqib Bhatti protests outside the Hyatt Recency in Chicago in June 2011. (Photo: Courtesy of Saqib Bhatti)

Since election night 2016, the streets of the US have rung with resistance. People all over the country have woken up with the conviction that they must do something to fight inequality in all its forms. But many are wondering what it is they can do. In this ongoing “Interviews for Resistance” series, experienced organizers, troublemakers and thinkers share their insights on what works, what doesn’t, what has changed and what is still the same. Today’s interview is the 35th in the series. Click here for the most recent interview before this one.

Today we bring you a conversation with the co-executive directors of the Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE): Maurice BP-Weeks, who is based in Detroit, and Saqib Bhatti, who is based in Chicago.

Sarah Jaffe: Your organization is just getting off the ground. Tell us about the idea behind it and why you’re launching now?

Maurice BP-Weeks: The idea behind the Action Center on Race and the Economy is that there is lots of really great economic justice work being done looking at the role that Wall Street plays in everyday people’s lives. What we do here at the Action Center on Race and the Economy is do that work that goes after Wall Street and corporations (who we all know are extracting wealth from communities) with an explicitly racial justice lens.

Basically, the way that we have talked about economic justice work in the past on the left has been, when we bring race into the conversation, it is often through the lens of disparate impact. We say, “Bad guys do stuff at the top and it disproportionately affects people at the bottom.” What we do here at the Action Center on Race and the Economy is look at campaigns with a slightly different lens, saying that the actual function of how these companies operate is built on the extraction of wealth from people of color. It is not an afterthought; it is actually core to…

Read more