A California Lynching: Notes on the Murder of Nia Wilson

 

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Nia Wilson was murdered just last night at the very same BART station that I’ve gone to with my daughter several times. Macarthur BART station is a transfer station so you can get anywhere in the bay from its platforms. And it is right around the corner from Marcus Book Store which is the oldest black owned book store west of the Mississippi. It is within walking distance, for me at least, of Fenton’s Creamery—my absolute favorite place to assuage my very serious sweet tooth. And now it is the place where an 18-year-old black girl got her throat sliced open. At this point the only justification for the crime is that she is black…I mean was black. And that’s where the rage sets in for me.

We should never have to speak of an 18-year-old girl in the past tense. A woman who slowed down on her exit from the train to help a lady with a stroller. Shortly after that she was murdered and her sister was stabbed. Her aunt sad Nia was “100 pounds soaking wet” yet she was killed so brutally. And in such a public place. And all media outlets are saying that it is random but all black bay area natives know better. Her killer is a terrorist who viewed her as a soft target. Had she been white or male I’m certain that he would have looked elsewhere but she was a black woman, the least protected human being on Earth so he went for it.

Nia’s life was precious. She couldn’t help the fact that she was born in a place that would rather sell an image of peaceful hippies and hipsters than deal with its overt racism. An area that acts like Oscar Grant wasn’t killed on BART, and like the Black Panthers didn’t start here because of how oppressive and hateful it is. BBQ Becky, Permit Patti, and Jogger Joe are not anomalies. Neither is the killer of Nia Wilson. Nia will forever be a black an 18-year-old black girl killed by a home-grown terrorist in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is nothing more than a 2018 California lynching.

-YB

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Episode 8: Ooh Child (Things are going to get Easier)

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http://www.kgpc969.org/the-ghetto-sun-times/2018/6/19/ep-8-ooh-child-things-are-going-to-get-easier

On this episode my good friend Prentiss Mayo shares his testimony of being homeless and addicted on the streets of Oakland. We also talk about internet trolling, charging juveniles as adults and other hot button topics. All you have to do is hit the link below and press play.

http://www.kgpc969.org/the-ghetto-sun-times/2018/6/19/ep-8-ooh-child-things-are-going-to-get-easier

 

 

Battleground Lake Merritt: Notes on Henry Sintay and White Supremacy

I can’t imagine what being white must feel like. It’s baffling when I think about all of the ways in which white skin distorts the mind. Let us make a brief foray into the brain of one Henry Sintay. Henry Sintay is a white man who was born in Idaho (it doesn’t get any whiter than that). Apparently, he got into some trouble in Lake County, CA and was busted for cultivating marijuana with intent to distribute. He did over two years in prison for that offense and got out November 27th of 2017. Mr. Sintay is currently in the process of going viral for throwing a homeless man’s items—the homeless man is black—into Lake Merritt and in a nearby trash can while said homeless person was not even there. Some people, including the people who videotaped the incident and tried to intervene, are upset with Sintay while others are applauding him for restoring the beauty of the Lake. I am of the opinion that not only was Mr. Sintay wrong but he definitely needs his ass beat.

 

The homeless situation in Oakland is far beyond a crisis. There are encampments on major thoroughfares, under freeway overpasses, in parks, in residential districts and all around Lake Merritt. One cannot go anywhere in the city of Oakland without seeing our unsheltered brothers and sisters. It is extremely disheartening. It has inspired me to host a panel discussion. I have participated in several “Feed the Hood” events put on by the East Oakland Collective. I try to give back to the homeless whenever I can. I’ve had multiple conversations with people both online and in person about what is causing this problem. It is clear to everyone who is actually from Oakland that homelessness now is worse than it has ever been before. At no point in all of my interactions with those who live on the streets have I ever had the urge to pick up a homeless person’s belongings and throw them in the trash. At no point, have I ever held animosity towards those who live on the streets in deplorable conditions and have to beg for food.

 

Everyone knows that the skyrocketing homeless population in Oakland is directly related to the skyrocketing rent. It’s also very clear that while most of the homeless population is black, most of the newer Oakland residents are white. It wouldn’t be a leap for one to come to the conclusion that these new white residents shoulder at least some of the blame for so many people living on the streets. This truth is what makes the acts committed by Henry Sintay absolutely repugnant.

 

He’s upset at a situation that he helped to create. He is in effect raging at a man who cannot be doing any worse. A man who is sleeping on the concrete and must endure the daily trauma of living in squalor and uncertainty. And even worse he did this at a time when the man was not even there to defend himself. I will never understand how delusional one must be to do two years in prison, live in a town for six months, point to the homeless and say to himself “These people are the problem. I’m going to do something about this.” This is the very same Wyatt Earp, George Zimmerman, self-deputized, colonizer-cowboy mentality that America is built on. This is the aggressive form of outward racism that Californians like to pretend only exists in places like Mississippi and South Carolina. A lot of “good natured, liberal minded” people won’t see hatred in Henry Sintay because he isn’t an Oklahoma trucker with a Make America Great Again hat on his head. But he is a manifestation of the devil and we all need to internalize this fact. Even as an outsider and an ex-convict he knows that his white skin gives him the power to pillage and plunder. He is reclaiming the lake for his people, but unlike BBQ Becky he took things into his own hands.

I can’t fathom what it would be like to possess the blinding privilege of whiteness. I also have no clue as to what it takes to combat such idiocy. It would be nice to beat Henry Sintay’s ass though. To land a few straight rights to his nose. A left uppercut to the solar plexus. Maybe if someone made him bleed then he would realize that he is only human and not the great white god that he’s been conditioned by society to believe that he is. Perhaps the sight of his own blood on his fingertips after he wiped it from his broken nose would cause him to be humble. Probably not, albeit the fantasy is a gorgeous one.  Picture a colonizer with blood on his hands, but not the blood of the natives, this time it is his own blood. Because this time there are repercussions. This time his sense of dominance is questioned. This time he losses. Can you imagine that? Can you envision the downfall of white supremacy?

-YB

To be black and homeless in Oakland

“To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.”

-WEB Dubois

I find it fascinating that a tent city has popped up in a city where just last year Uber paid over $24 Billion to purchase a building that will serve as a major corporate headquarter for them. In 2013 Oakland was voted the most exciting city to move to (http://www.movoto.com/blog/top-ten/10-most-exciting-cities/). There are new restaurants opening up all over the place, billion dollar housing developments are being constructed (China Basin), there seems to be money coming in from every direction, and in the midst of this enormous economic boom there are whole families living on the streets.

This particular homeless encampment really struck me because it exists directly across the street from the very church where I was baptized. In Oakland I have seen groups of homeless people live under bridges and alongside freeways but never on International Boulevard, which is a major thoroughfare in both Oakland and San Leandro. This leads me to believe that the homeless situation is getting worse. It also leads me to believe that as long as techies are moving here from around the country and billion dollar startups are investing large sums of money in the Uptown area that no one cares about homeless black people living out of tents in Deep East Oakland. I’m not sure what exactly needs to be done but I’m not going to act like this isn’t happening in the city that shaped the man that I’ve become. So I guess the question is; what are we going to do?

Soulful V: “Only the Strong go Crazy” is 12/7/13

If you are anywhere near the San Francisco Bay Area then you need to get to this event this Saturday Night…Thank me later.

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“Soulful V: Only the Strong go Crazy” is going to shine the artistic flashlight on mental illness in our community. It was the great revolutionary Assata Shakur who once wrote “Only the strong go crazy, the weak just go along” so on Saturday, December 7th at 8:00pm at the Grand Lake Coffee House six of the best independent artists in Oakland (Amol Ray, Demetrius Raiford, Luisa Lejia, Taijhet Nyobi, Victoria Michelle, and Do DAT) will refuse to just go along. We will read dynamic poems, perform passionate prose, and sing beautiful songs to create awareness for mental health.

It’s $5 at the door and a portion of the proceeds will go towards “Beats, Rhymes, & Life” a community based non profit in Oakland that is dedicated to promoting positive mental health outcomes among marginalized youth through hip-hop.

Also please support the closing act DO D.A.T. who will be selling his critically acclaimed album “Skinny 2: Bare Bones” for only $5.

Check the line up!

Luisa Leija’s work arrives in the form of dances, prayers, and invocations of a universal spirit. Her words call us to recognize ourselves within the world we inhabit; a world that equally inhabits us. Drawing from the indigenous traditions of the Americas, Xican@ and Mexican culture, Luisa unifies themes of community, family, history, and ceremony into a seamless journey through the mystery of human existence. A search for transformation, for truth, for connection, is ever-present throughout Luisa’s work, an endeavor that is both timely and inspiring for our present world.

Demetrius Raiford is a writer, poet, hip-hop artist and current student at Laney College. He is originally from San Francisco, CA but now currently resides in Oakland.

Taijhet Nyobi teaches poetry and performance art to youth in the Bay Area. Her poetry has been published by Saul Williams and various literary magazines. Currently, she performs with local Bay Area theater productions and independent film projects, and is the 2013 recipient for Astraea’s Global Arts Fund. She is currently starring in the Oakland based web series “Dyke Central.”

Somewhere between a fond love for the double helix, a youth spent making music in various forms, and an attempt at anthropology, you have Victoria Michelle. Frequently noted as a “wordsmith”, Victoria is currently a graduate student in Anthropology at UC Berkeley who has been making her way through the Bay Area open mic scene since April 2012. Her style employs philosophy to a flow in hopes of building a bridge between academic and public discourse. But at the end of the day, her primary goal is to excavate emotion from the depths to provoke the possibility of genuine feeling and thinking. She is currently working on her first chapbook of poetry titled “She” as a reflection her journey as a young woman coming-of-age in her own skin.

Davin A. Thompson, professionally known as Do D.A.T, is an emcee, arts educator and event host, born and raised in Oakland, CA. Throughout his career, Do D.A.T has released four albums, as a member of “The Attik” crew,
as a solo artist, and most recently collaborating with DJ/Producer Malicious.
Listen to his music @bandcamp.dodat1.com

Amol Ray is the son of Indian immigrants and was raised in Saint Louis, Missouri. He has a writing style that is just as unique as his upbringing and he possesses a natural ability to poke fun at the cultural practices that most young Americans view as being normal. He is an alum of the highly prestigious VONA workshop and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College in Oakland, CA. He’s a also a very proud father.

Upstairs at The Ritzy

 

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I must confess that London and I got off to a very bad start. I was initially very excited to finally leave America and experience the world outside of East Oakland, CA USA. After the heinous murder of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine, the kidnapping of another 21 month old girl, and the unrest after the travesty of justice that led to George Zimmerman being found innocent of murdering Trayvon Martin, I needed to get as far away from my ghetto as I possibly could.

I came to the United Kingdom for respite, but what I got was reality. Before I could officially set foot on foreign soil for the first time in my life this racist over zealous security agent spotted me; “Black man alert! Black man Alert” she must have thought. “You looked confused,” is what she actually told me.

“I’m searching for the exit,” I said while thinking oh shit, here we go again. My instinct was right. This chick started interrogating me like she was training to be in the CIA. She asked to see my passport, what do I do for a living, where was I coming from, and “Oh you’re going to Paris? Paris is expensive” then she looked at me with great consternation.

I didn’t say anything but eventually I asked her why this was happening. I mean I had already been questioned at the UK border and they approved me. I had the stamp on my passport to prove this but obviously my stamp wasn’t enough for her. Right after I asked her this question another agent positioned himself about 15 feet behind her. He was on the ready just in case I should get out of control. But I was cool, externally at least. She told me that she was with security and she could ask as many questions as she pleased. After a little more verbal sparring she finally let me go. As I walked to the underground I couldn’t help but to think about how ironic it was for me to be heading to the birthplace of modern racism for some kind of escape. I literally laughed out loud at the notion. The words fuck her resonated through my brain. I wasn’t going to let her take my joy away and I proved that by having an absolute blast in Brixton last night.

I went to an open mic event at a venue called Upstairs at The Ritzy. Brixton is like the hood area of London therefore I, being the lifelong ghetto dweller that I am, felt perfectly at home. The Ritzy is Brixton’s local movie theater and they reserve a room upstairs for artists to share their work. Now when I heard that there was going to be an open mic naturally I thought spoken word poetry—boy was I wrong. Everyone that got on the stage was a musician. The first five acts where all guitarist, damned good ones at that. One of them had a Bob Dylan contraption in the front of his face and played his harmonica while he strummed away on his guitar. There was a trio as well. The lead singer sang and played the guitar, there was a heavily tattooed sista with an afro singing back up, and a violinist in the group. They played a beautiful mixture of folk music and hip-hop. Needless to say I was enthralled the whole evening. I was also quite a bit puzzled. I wondered why does the open mic scene in the San Francisco Bay Area continue to be dominated by people who seem to be auditioning for a role in the movie Love Jones. I’m not saying Love Jones was a bad movie I’m only pointing to the fact that it came out over 15 years ago. Get over it people! We have way more to share.

At any rate, the open mic event in Brixton was amazing.  It was precisely what I needed after that lame ass woman tried to hold me up at the airport. I’ve come to far to let racial profiling dictate my mood. My European adventure is officially underway. Stay tuned for more stories.

CHEERS! 😉

 

-YB

 

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