We Are The 99 Percent

What started out as a small movement has grown into a revolution, and college students are a sizable fraction of the protestors. I followed a Tumblr blog for a while called “We Are The 99 Percent,” where people would write their stories in a notebook, snap a picture of it and then post it online. So many of these people were college students or post-grad students who had done everything they were told to do in order to secure their future. They went to school, got their degree and had so much potential, only to graduate into a world that has shut them off from almost every opportunity. The method of achieving the American dream has turned out to be nothing but a lie for an entire generation. We were taught that hard work will get us anywhere, but what so many people are discovering is that even though they’re putting in the effort and not expecting anyone to hand them what they want, the system has still failed them. Ezra Klein nicely sums up the issue in his Washington Post article “Who are the 99 percent?”

“College debt shows up a lot in these stories, actually. It’s more insistently present than housing debt, or even unemployment. That might speak to the fact that the protests tilt towards the young. But it also speaks, I think, to the fact that college debt represents a special sort of betrayal. We told you that the way to get ahead in America was to get educated. You did it. And now you find yourself in the same place, but buried under debt. You were lied to.”

We’ve also been taught to speak up if we think something is wrong because we have the First Amendment on our side, but now that we are–now that people are peacefully taking their causes to the streets, they’re discounted as lazy and violent hippies. The most infuriating part of this whole mess is the unnecessary police violence. I cannot for the life of me understand the justification behind macing people point blank in the face, which is precisely what happened to a group of young women in New York a few weeks ago. I’ve watched the video on YouTube several times and the police action is utterly pointless. Those girls were not resisting despite the fact that they were barricaded for no reason, and yet they were still sprayed like criminals.

I was under the impression that our police force is there to protect us, and that other government systems are there to help the nation improve. Instead, what I see is an all too familiar distinction between those in power and those who are not. When you’re the 1 percent–when you’re the one with a six figure salary–it’s so easy to sit on your money and brush away the young people who will eventually replace you when you die. It’s so easy to label the protestors as violent, trouble-making youngsters. But what has really happened is that you’ve failed in raising up and affirming an entire generation.





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