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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.
Tomorrow, Thursday, Jan. 11, in Room 400 of City Hall, the SF Planning Commission will be voting on whether to approve an application for the condo conversion of the Fillmore District apartment building from which Iris Canada, a 100-year-old African American woman, was evicted last February. Ms. Canada died in the hospital in March, shortly after that eviction. The item is No. 16 on the agenda. The commission meeting begins at 1 p.m.
“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.
The owners are pressing forward with their eviction of Iris Canada, the 99-year-old African American woman in the Fillmore who just turned 100, by asking Superior Court at 400 McAllister on Wednesday, Aug. 10, to grant them an order to throw her out of her home of over 50 years. Come to the courthouse at 400 McAllister at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 10, to applaud Iris as she arrives and wish her luck
In three days, Iris Canada turns 100. Did you expect to live this long? Did you imagine bearing witness to the Black community’s dwindling to 3 percent of the population of San Francisco? In your dreams, did you think that your building would be sold and that you would have to endure an Ellis Act eviction whose sole aim was to extricate you from your home? Iris, with a voice so soft – tell me.
Carved into the skin of San Francisco’s Black community is a desecration, a lack of recognition of the sacred. This desecration is being levied upon Iris Canada, a 99-year-old elder who has lived most of her life on Page Street – an elder who is in the fight of her life. She lived a life on Page Street long before condos, con-men and the poison cloud legacy they leave behind from places like New Hampshire – “home” of her landlord, Peter Owens.
Inspired by the stamina of the “Frisco 5” hunger strikers, hundreds of chanting supporters occupied the rotunda and grand staircase inside City Hall for seven hours on May 6. Their demand: “We won’t leave City Hall until the mayor fires Greg Suhr,” the top cop complicit in a string of police murders of Black and Brown people in the city. The movement to fire Chief Suhr, stubbornly resisted by the city’s political establishment, is nevertheless gaining momentum.
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.
Thousands of families, elders and babies across the state are under attack by the concerted forces of gentrification and removal by the white-supremacist nation that would like to remove us all. From police terror to the acts of elder and child abuse caused by eviction to the endless building of prisons and militarizing of these colonizer created borders leaves us all asking who is this shiny state being built for?
Homefulness is a poor people-led revolution that has taken root in Oakland. Homefulness can also be called humbleness. It is a sweat-equity model of housing that honors the land that was stolen from our ancestors. As history has shown us with poor people-led revolutions and movements of the past, there are those who will try to undermine a humble revolution. This manipulation is rooted in envy. It has no place in our humble revolution known as Homefulness. We will continue to live the revolution by any means necessary.
Ma’am, I have to admit, I was watching you. You probably didn’t notice me sitting across from you on the AC Transit bus leaving the Oakland Coliseum. It was a warm day and I was sweating, glad to have gotten a seat. I’d just come from SF, where I’d taken part in a rally for housing rights. So many evictions across the Bay in San Francisco. You’re probably aware of the situation but one can’t assume.
From the moment the doors opened on the evening of Sept. 13, it was apparent that the honoring of our global African media would begin its night of empowerment with the tradition of honoring one of the community’s foremost elders. We celebrated the 82 years of life and struggle of Dr. Willie Ratcliff and Dr. Ratcliff’s 22 years of Black media ownership of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper. Black Media Appreciation Night 2014 was filled with wisdom, communication and the exchange of knowledge, as well as people receiving awards for life changing, revolutionary work.
Dear San Francisco, I have walked the length of your streets, have felt your fog breath in my face, have stood shoulder to shoulder on your buses with the generation that came before and the one before that. I have seen the poetry written in the walls and on the floors of those who gave the city life and nourishment. I have seen you dance and I have seen your streets swallow whole the dreams born on the tongues of poets.
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 undisputed flagship of Black history and literature, Marcus Books, is currently fighting to stay alive in San Francisco, which might now be known as the undisputed pinnacle of wealth-hoarding and displacement. The Johnson family is planning a series of actions to fight this unjust removal, but for now readers can call Royal Cab and tell the Sweis family to sell Marcus Books back to the Johnson family.
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.
“People are evading their fares. We are only here because the mayor wants to cut down on all the crime,” Officer Carrasco barked at me, while issuing a citation for alleged fare evasion to a young African-descendent student on his way to school. This young brother was one of over 25 people caught in a “sweep” – read invasion – of a Muni bus, who were pulled off the bus so citations could be issued.
As the corporate domination of our food, land, air and water continues and the resistance heats up to the monster known as Monsanto, it must be said that in the U.S. it’s us po’ folks of all cultures and ages that are getting the worst of it. Some obvious, most not. And no one is really speaking for us. “The poor people’s plate is rooted in capitalist hate for the three job working mamaz caught in the welfare state.”
“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.
The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) is at the forefront of the resistance to the foreclosures and illegal taking of homes by the banks. ACCE, the Center for Popular Democracy and the Home Defenders League released a report March 12 entitled “California in Crisis: How Wells Fargo’s Foreclosure Pipeline is Damaging Local Communities.”