Dedicated to Melvin Burley, Ernesto Xe and Kiante Campbell and all of our lost fathers, sons, uncles, nephews, brothers, neighbors, teachers, mentors, friends and warriors
“They were shooting up the neighborhood like it was a shooting range. Gunshots flying hitting walls and buildings, we had to duck down in our own little room, my blind wife was almost shot.” Donald, Deep East Oakland poverty skola and neighborhood elder speaking at Street Newsroom on Deep East-TV
Donald’s words whispered into the wind as I sat there holding a picture of Ernesto Xe, a 22 yr young peace-bringing brother and son who never had a bad word or angry voice for anyone or anything. Shot dead by a “stray” bullet in the post-gentrified streets of the Fillmore district of San Francisco. In my other hand I held a picture of Jose Antulio Matias Aguilon, a young hard worker, uncle and smile-bringer who crossed three plantation walls (borders) to come here and work to support his family in Guatemala, shot dead by two youngsters in the post-gentrified streets of the Mission for his phone. And at my feet were two pictures, one of Melvin Burley, an uncle, a father and positivity carrier, shot dead by stray bullets in the pre-gentrified streets of East Oakland and Kiante Campbell, a son, a student, a young man, shot in currently-being-gentrified downtown Oakland. All dead. All taken on their spirit journey when we still needed them here. To father, to brother, to neighbor, to cook, to dream, to teach, to pray, to make music, to heal, to care-give, to smile, to love.
“The chickens have come home to roost..” William C, former Black Panther, Oakland resident on the killing of Kiante Campbell
The reasons are none. None of them “did anything” not that that would be a reason to end someones life. They just lived and worked, and shopped, and walked home in the killing fields of Amerikkka.
“When a pig kills 1 of us i think its easy to see an us and them. Its easy to point the finger and see the enemy clearly. And the injustice and hypocracy of a peace officer who supposed 2protect and serve and uphold the law is so blatant. When 1 of us kills 1 of us i think the lines get blurry. The hypocracy is absent. And i think trauma, being overwelmed, and helplessness sets in. I think our apparant self destruction is too much to deal wid. And we dont even kno where to start to solve us killing us,” said sista-mama-revolutionary artist/chef Needa Bee when promoting an Oakland 1st Friday’s Peace celebration in honor of Kiante Campbell.
As I was holding all of them in my heart, in my mind and now in my memory, already cluttered with so much loss from my own hard life of too much struggle, I started to hear the shots from the deepest recesses of my ancestral memory, the shots of another time, a time of settler-colonizers killing each other and themselves. I started to hear the genocide and smell the blood of my indigenous brothers and sisters, lives taken too early to their spirit journeys because the settler had perfected this man-made killing machine known as a gun.
“I didn’t like the way he looked at me, so I shot him,” Wild Bill Cody – kkkowboy from the 1800’s
And as I tripped on the present day similarities of all these shootings to 18th century gratuitous shooting from the Amerikkkan kkkowboy times, my mind wandered to the incessant killing in present day Syria, Mali, Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine, where paid murderers known as “soldiers” routinely kill children and fathers and mothers and aunties and grandmothers and grandfathers for false reasons crafted by empires and colonizers and “rebels” and landlords and banks…
“15 innocent children killed in “border violence” in Palestine… kkkorporate NewsNetwork(CNN) report”
And then I remembered the ongoing Po’Lice killing of our young warriors like Kenneth Harding Jr, killed because he didn’t happen to have a $2.00 Muni bus token with him or Alan Blueford and Derrik Gaines killed because they “ran” or Ernesto Duenez because he got out of his van or Mario Romero because he got out of his car, and so many more, all of them by occupying armies called Police.
Like so many of our young folks today, I have lived through multiple forms of seen and unseen violence my whole life. I have been houseless, gentrified and evicted so many times I can’t count. My poor Black/Indian mama lived through violent foster homes and orphanages, her poor body of color was abused over 200 times by the time she was 2 years young, which continued throughout her childhood and then again later as an adult when she was abused by my father and my stepfather. I was almost killed by my stepfather and later by someone I depended on for support for many years of my adult life.. Violence is and was an outgrowth of our lives in this abusive and brutal system of kkkapitalism. And saying it isn’t ok or calling CPS or the occupying armies known as po’lice on us wasn’t going to end the violence of our poor single mother and child poverty in Amerikkka.
How do we heal our young folks and ourselves from this violence together. Perhaps it begins with us realizing we are all violent. We are all engaged, even if unintentionally, in the violence of capitalist separation and individualism. That it is us together, old and young, single and parent, child and elder who are involved and therefore complicit. And all of us have a role in healing and activating. And not just in come idealistic anti-war protest, not in some futile, terrified search for occupying armies (Po’Lice) or government saviors (CPS) but in the daily and very difficult acts of deconstructing the system of violence that has built us all.
We could start with the violence of gentriFUkation, displacement and poverty that happens due to many peoples with race and class privilege’s casual/capitalistic desire to “have a new life” or “find a more interesting neighborhood” or live in a more “convenient” location. I have witnessed (and fought for and cried for) entire working-class families of color who were struggling, but still holding it together, who had the rooted strength and eldership and connected-ness of their neighborhoods of origins be gentriFUked out of their neighborhoods of origin only to be dwelling in places where they have no access to jobs, elders watching or friends caring. And similarily the peoples they left were now out their grandmothers, their compaz, their friends, their support networks.
The nuances of survival and thrival are many and are rarely understood. They are never discussed by the politricksters, the real estate spekkkulators, bank gangsters and the profit-gainers who steal our lives and communities away from us. The multiple families I have witnessed who have suffered the violence of displacement, including my own, never recovered from this loss and in many of the cases, they have lost their young folks to this gratuitous violence I speak of now.
And then there is the violence of “independence” which we are all pitched so hard in the US and how it ensures that we all leave our homes and our elders and our communities in pursuit of college and a “job” and a career and a new car and more and more blud-stained dollars, until we are miles and miles away from the peoples who would teach us and care for us and help us learn what it means to be human, and then when we are there, we are dependent on strangers to love us and care about us and most of the time all they do is abuse us and leave us and hurt us and then we are left alone and isolated, seeking corporate poisons or more dangerous people to soothe our deep pain even if it causes more pain.
And in pursuit of these dollars which leaves us with no time for each other we send our children away to factory schools or to sit in front of corporate TV’s and computers to be alone with other alone and away children and one or two un-related, underpaid adults. And in these factory skkkools or in front of these technologies they only learn more about independence and alone-ness and technologically crafted answers and violence and racism and colonizers histories and propaganda and empire crafted notions of success and above all to not respect or care or listen to elders or even to their own parents. And many times the only thing they learn is to alternately fear or hate un-related authority.
Not to mention the violence of racist school policies, environmental racism, poor peoples hellthcare and poor peoples poison food choices leaving us sick and bloated to die in our separated, isolated housing.
There are so many parts of capitalism and colonization to dis-connect from, and thousands to un-learn. If you are reading this article you have begun to try to think through some of them. In our family at POOR Magazine/Prensa POBRE we have begun this lifelong un-learning, healing project with PEopleSkool, PNN & Homefulness. As indigenous, landless, poor peoples we are working to liberate mother earth from the real estate lie of property ownership. We are working to grow our own food and teach our children back their lost indigenous herstories and languages, re-define work as taking care of Mother Earth, our families and our communities and write and tell our own stories about our oppression and our self-determined liberation.
We will be starting a Grandmothers/ Mamaz/Grandfathers/Uncles council to bring eldership back to our communities in real time. In the summer as part of our Healing the Hood series we will be launching a free karate and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training for youth and adults with elders from POOR Magazine in collaboration with power-FUL young leaders the Black Riders Liberation Party. We are bringing spirit and inter-tribal prayer ceremonies to heal us all from these corporate poisons (drugs and alcohol) in our own indigenous traditions, we are fund-raising now to build housing for landless families not tied to how much money each of us have access to, and in the future we are hoping to create a gentriFUkation/Po’Lice free corner in this small slice of East Oakland and eventually completely move off the lie of blood-stained dollars.
A few other examples of this kind of decolonizing work is RBG street skolar and Ujaama Villages, Community Medics in Oakland, 5050 Collective in San Jose, as well as the many forms of Danza Azteca, Afro-Taino, Afro-Caribe and other forms of prayer and spirit and culture from our many different and beautiful indigenous peoples traditions being practiced and launched locally and globally-(Calpulli Coatlicue, Pueblo de Guatu Ma-cu to name a few) and the indigenous resistance movement, IdleNoMore. And big ups to the Urban Peace Movement, Silence the Violence marches and movements like the United Playaz and even pastors and preachers and healers who speak and teach and work on this violence everyday.
In the mean-time these multiple forms of violence continue, our separation from each other and the accountability to each other widens, the po’lice perpetration increases and the 21st century world of lies and blood-stained ekkkonomies is held up as the only way to live.
Right now I am praying for all of our lost brothers, uncles, fathers, friends, mentors, and neighbors to stand with us as well as to Creator, Great Spirit and all the Orisas so that we can affect change before all of us chickens kill all of us other chickens while we are all trying to collectively dismantle the roost.