Joey Villarreal survived the SHU, Pelican Bay’s “torture cell”, finally came home to his community and has been building a life which nurtures his talents and inspires his community. Unjustly arrested and incarcerated again, his community rallied, raised exorbitant bail and succeeded in bringing their beloved son, father, brother, grandfather and friend home, again.
This election has led to a crossroads and COVID-19 has highlighted that our choices can lead to suffering or liberation. By reflecting on the journeys of some of those who have gone before like Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin and Coretta King, Elijah and Clara Muhammad and recently, Colin Kaepernick, we can take our own journey and vote because it matters.
Oakland in the ‘80s and ‘90s blessed us with the likes of Tony, Toni, Tone, young MC Hammer, Digital Underground, Too Short and Dawn Robinson of En Vogue, just to name a few, at a time when there were only a few home studios. Joe Capers, aka Blind Joe, a blind musician and producer, was one of the creators of the sounds of the Oakland music scene in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The silver lining is always part of a disaster or tragedy – even the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have experienced this phenomenon with the emergence of innovation, new Black businesses, and new business leaders popping up as the silver lining of the 2020 shelter in place.
I was startled momentarily while driving down International and 87th Ave as I noticed a mural being drawn on the opposite side of the block from the East Bay Dragons Motorcycle Clubhouse. The faces of Marcus Garvey, Huey P. Newton, Malcolm X and others were being painted back to life.
Homeless rights activist Nino Brown lives in a homeless encampment at Lake Merritt. He worries about a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic brewing in Oakland. Most scientists would agree that Brown describes a perfect condition for incubating a pandemic.
“Thanks to you guys, I got to eat today. I didn’t know where I was going to sleep tonight. The park is comfortable and quiet, and we don’t have no drama. It’s peaceful. This community right here, we’re great. I feel real safe.”