Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Take a Stand Against White on Black Violence in Oakland

Another weekend has passed and two more young African men have been shot and killed in Oakland. Out of the 127 people murdered last year and the 71 killed this year, the majority are young African and Mexican men. 27 year old Deshon Barker and 26 year old Jarvis Hodges were killed on Saturday evening, July 5th, while sitting in the 900 block of Adeline St. in West Oakland.  The media use these terrible violent deaths to further criminalize the African community, but we must have the courage to look at the reality behind the headlines and to reject the fact that this reality is maintained for our benefit.

The African community of East and West Oakland lives under deep poverty and oppression in the midst of the greatest wealth and affluence in the country and perhaps the world. It is hard to ignore that this reality has its legacy in the slavery and genocide that built the U.S. Conditions are so desperate that there is no future for young Africans growing up in West or East Oakland to look forward to except early death, prison or the pennyante drug trade. Here are some of the facts:
  • One out of five households in Oakland live on less than $15,000 a year
  • An African child in West Oakland can expect to die 15 years earlier than a white child in the Oakland hills
  • In Alameda County, Africans are sentenced to prison for drug offenses at a rate 34 times higher than that of whites even though they use drugs at about the same rate
  • In 1990 African people made up nearly 50% of the population of Oakland and now make up around 25% due to gentrification
Given these conditions, we should be able to see clearly that the notions of integration and diversity are myths and that this is a community under occupation. This is a colonial occupation much like the U.S. military occupation of Iraq. 

In a country whose wealth is built on the enslavement of African people and the genocide of the Indigenous people, African workers were brought to Oakland from the south in 1940s as reserve labor to build ships for Kaiser. This short-lived economy contributed to African community home ownership and the ability to build their own economic centers in West Oakland, along with the Filmore and Hunter's POint in San Francisco. Through the government's attack on the black movement of the 60s and decades of "urban renewal" and
gentrification jobs, homes and African community economic and cultural centers have long disappeared. 

The African community has been criminalized by the drug economy and has become fuel for a gargantuan prison economy.  As was proven by journalist Gary Webb more than a decade ago, drugs were first brought by the U.S. government into the African communities on the West Coast. Entire communities have been devastated by drugs and yet the African community has clearly not benefitted from the drug economy. Like the Iraqi people, the African community is being forced out of Oakland and other cities across the United States to make way for white development and investment.

We in the Uhuru Solidarity Movement support the movement of African people to challenge the deadly drug and prison economy and to struggle for a future where African people will benefit from their the land and resources of Africa, which now feeds the white and imperialist world. We invite other white people and all people who want to align themselves with justice to call on the city of Oakland to put $7.7 million into economic development, not police containment and military style raids of the African community. 

Join us for an Uhuru Solidarity Movement study and discussion on Monday, July 14th at 7pm at Espresso Roma at the corner of Ashby and College Avenues at the Oakland-Berkeley border. We will be holding an Uhuru Solidarity Movement rally on Monday, July 28th at 7pm at the Humanist Hall, 390 - 27th St. in Oakland.  Email oak_office@apscuhuru.org for more info. Participate in the work of Uhuru Foods this summer - www.uhurufoods.org

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