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Poor, homeless and disabled scholars are releasing a book sharing their truly innovative solutions to homelessness and poverty and launch a national theatre production on poverty, homelessness and criminalization of poor people. This book and curriculum release will be accompanied by a series of theatre and poetry workshops in community centers, schools and jails with other homeless and formerly homeless communities.
All of these acts of violence against Mama Earth and her earth peoples are happening because the hard workers, the migrante indigenous labor that the multi-billion dollar farm industry relies on to pick, tend and distribute its products are being deported across the hate-filled colonizer borders. Borders created, enabled and enacted by the forefathers of the farm industry families themselves. To this violent paradox, I propose an emergency form of Ag-Reparations and Farm Sanctuaries.
“Prison abolition is different from penal abolition. We don’t just want to get rid of the structures; we want to get rid of the whole system that functions to destroy people,” said Ashanti Alston, Black Panther and penal abolitionist. POOR Magazine had the blessing of listening to Ashanti and many more freedom fighters at the 17th International Conference on Penal Abolition held in New Bedford, Mass.
It’s 2016, 40 years since Muhammad al-Kareem founded the New Bayview, now renamed the San Francisco Bay View, in 1976. Inspired by Malcolm X, he wanted to bring a newspaper like Muhammad Speaks to Bayview Hunters Point. He’ll tell the story of those early years, and I’ll pick it up now at the point when my wife Mary and I took over in 1992. Watching our first paper roll through the huge two-story tall lumbering old press at Tom Berkley’s Post Newspaper Building on Feb. 3, 1992, was a feel-like-flying thrill we’ll never forget.
“I was born in 1916,” Iris whispered into the camera in her last hours of life. “Peter, I can’t believe you did me like this.” Her eyes were pools of sacred time. Sacred, like a prayer. Sacred like things you hold lightly to protect and dream about and kneel to. Not evict and harass and drag to court and intrude and disrespect and eventually kill. Iris Canada joined the ancestors on Monday, March 27, one month after being evicted. Iris was murdered by the people and the systems that rule this stolen land. Iris was killed by landlord Peter Owens, the sheriff, the DA, the mayor, the judge and everyone who protects them.
Poor, unhoused, barely housed, indigenous, Black, Brown and Red people don’t have presidents. We have prison wardens, police, sheriffs, anti-social workers, landlords, judges, bailiffs, poverty pimps, case manglers, ICE agents, CPS workers and debt collectors. Under Clinton, we lost welfare and the criminalization and incarceration of young people was institutionalized. Poor people don’t have presidents or governors or mayors. We have ourselves.
Today and every day throughout this struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, I prayed in thanks to the spirit of my orphaned Taino-Boriken mama, the Ohlone relatives of this (Oak)land and so many of our ancestors from all four corners who I pray to every day, as word from Obama came through that he has finally listened to us all and suggested the halting of this corporate desecration called the Dakota Access Pipeline.
There are so many untold stories of how and why people become un-housed. Loss of a job, a partner, the onset of an illness or a crisis, but most of the time, in the Bay Area, it’s because of a greed-inspired landlord raising rent, evicting for profit so he or she can house the droves of 20-30-something wealthy, mostly white people streaming into town for the tech industry.
The light from their eyes was missing; in its place was the color of fear. This was the scene at City Hall last week as the people stood up to behemoth developer Forest City, about to build multiple luxury condominium towers and office buildings that will span almost an entire city block in San Francisco’s long-time Filipino community, effectively wiping out the last shred of this working class community of color.
The broken windows model of policing uses code words like “disorder” and the metaphor of “broken windows,” focusing on the importance of “fixing,” aka policing, getting rid of, cleaning out broken windows as a way of “preventing” more “serious crime.” The poor, disabled and houseless scholars from POOR Magazine who have experienced the violence of this private policing launched the WeSearch Policy Group in 2013.
For the last few months, myself and other POOR Magazine family of poverty and indigenous skolaz have been traveling to Missions across CalifAztlan alongside First Nations elders and revolutionaries to address the 21st century violence of granting sainthood to Junipero Serra by Pope Francis. Using indigenous bodies for brutal slave labor, Junipero Serra “founded” nine of 21 Franciscan missions along the Pacific coast.
I thought of my son who was at the Homefulness Revolutionary Youth Summer Camp and the soon to open DEECOLONIZE Academy school launching in September and felt so much gratitude for conscious programs and revolutionary schools like this. They exist so that our children can grow up aware with a revolutionary state of mind. The world needs what Homefulness is so graciously and unapologetically offering.
Maya Angelou had to be the name of a poet. It is too perfect, too lyrical to fit any other personality. She blazed an incandescent streak across the heavens as the voice of memory – as poet, actress, author and activist. She taught generations of students as an honored professor of literature. As a young woman, she struck the boards as an African dancer. And she was a close friend and colleague of Malcolm X.
The plan to privatize and sell our public housing projects in San Francisco and across the nation is harmful to the poor, elderly and disabled, including the thousands of union workers who have spent years maintaining our public housing units. Thousands of union workers are presently facing job losses due to public housing privatization schemes.
The standing-room-only town hall was yelling above the police as they spoke about the murder on March 21 of young Raza organizer, City College of San Francisco student and beloved son de la mision (of the Mission), Alejandro Nieto, 28, by police in Bernal Heights Park. Join the march on Saturday, March 29, for Alex Nieto at 2 p.m. from Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission St., to Bernal Heights Park, San Francisco.
On Wednesday, Feb. 5, citing California Penal Code Section 368, we, the evicted, gentrified, policed, elderly and disabled, walked into the Hall of Justice in San Francisco to bring criminal charges of elder abuse against landlords for the perpetration of the crime of Ellis Act evictions against frail, elder, disabled and traumatized residents of San Francisco.
I’m not sure which knife-point of ancestral trauma in the new movie “12 Years a Slave,” based on Solomon Northup’s autobiography, caused me to crumple into a paralyzed ball on the floor. I am not sure when I became unable to breathe or even see straight while watching the continuous acts of graphic genocide, racist hate, hegemony, brutality and oppression filter across the movie screen.
“Whose college? Our College!” The wave of thousands of people’s voices at City Hall rang in our collective ears. If we ever needed to put our bodies in the forefront of this fight, it is now. The fight to save City College comes to Bayview Hunters Point Wednesday, April 3, 6 p.m., Southeast Campus, 1800 Oakdale at Phelps, San Francisco – come learn and get involved.
From our perspective at POOR Magazine, we believe that as poor, indigenous, landless peoples, we need to create our own self-determined futures. With our meager resources – ‘cause POOR is in fact po’ – we held this event to make sure that this silenced community is really truly listened to by whomever wins this District 5 election.
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