COLUMBIA — Tyree Byndom wants everyone to know that while the "Occupy the Hood" gathering that will take place Saturday at his downtown home is about solidarity, it is even more so about action.
"It's a little different from Occupy Wall Street," said Byndom, a longtime Columbia resident and, increasingly, community activist. He said his three central questions for those who come to the open meeting will be: "What do you want to do? What do you need? And how do you want to get it done?"
Nationally, Occupy the Hood is an off-shoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement that has gone global in the two-plus months since it took root in New York. Generally speaking, Occupy the Hood's aim is to integrate the burgeoning social movement with the faces and concerns of people of color, co-organizer Malik Rahsaan, a New York-based substance abuse counselor, told the Huffington Post.
To Byndom, "it means the empowerment of po' folk." He said he wants to help people escape their lethargy, entropy and disenfranchisement to become active participants in the community. He learned of the movement from Philip Jackson, executive director of the Black Star Project out of Chicago.
"Black people are used to suffering. So now that (other) people are stepping up to say, 'We're suffering,' it's a little different," Byndom said.
He has once visited the Occupy COMO protest that has been ongoing at Liberty Plaza in front of Columbia City Hall since late September, and has invited its organizers onto his community radio program Kore Issues, which airs Saturdays on 89.5 KOPN. But, he suggested, Occupy COMO is not a forum that fits everyone who might otherwise like to join the movement.
"One of the things I've seen is that culturally, that's not something black people are going to do a lot," Byndom said, referring to his observation that Columbia's black population has not gotten involved in the protest.
Byndom plans to cook "a big old pot of spaghetti," and invites others to bring their own culinary specialties and non-alcoholic drinks. He also plans to carve out a 30-minute block of time for meditation, prayer and poetry.
He said he expects 30-40 people will show up, but that his house can hold 100.
Anyone who cannot attend in person is invited to visit Byndom's Facebook page, where he has listed information about the gathering. It will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 501 N. Providence Road, across the corner from Douglass Park.