“I’ve never felt so human in my life than coming out here. Watching the homeless get fed every day, watching people who would not normally have dialogue with each other talk every day.
You don’t have to die physically. We dying emotionally. We dying financially. You know what I’m saying?”
Malik Rhassan was a protester at Occupy Wall Street and is the founder of Occupy The Hood. As a construction worker and father of three who grew up and still lives in Queens, Rhassan understands the ramifications of poverty and the difficulties his neighborhood faces, namely that of having the highest foreclosure rate in New York City. Though he has always supported local community organizations, he also had ideas of his own as to how things could be done.
Upon first visiting OWS at Liberty Square, Rhassan immediately noticed that few people of color were participating and he decided to do something about it. Using social media, he created a sub-movement called Occupy the Hood to raise awareness and bring minorities into the protest.
He brought in his friend and longtime community activist Ife Johari Uhuru from Detroit to run Occupy The Hood with him. They began by reaching out to community organizers who could benefit and lend a hand, and calls rapidly came streaming in. The grassroots effort has grown into a national community organizing movement that includes locations in 21 cities across the United States. Occupy The Hood has received support from everyone from “professors down to cats who just got out of prison,” says Rhassan. A recent “Feed the Hood” effort in Atlanta provided food for 500 homeless people.
Rhassan co-hosts a weekly radio show called Occupy The Hood on Progressive Radio Network. What drives his ongoing work is his passion and ability to organize efforts towards empowering communities.
Occupy The Hood radio podcast:
Malik Rhassan on The State of Occupy (4 min)
Malik Rhassan on Occupy The Hood (8 min)