For Our Ancestors Who were Removed, Displaced & Evicted: POOR Magazine's First Annual TAKING BACK THE LAND CEREMONY


POOR correspondent - Posted on 25 June 2010

Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia, poverty scholar, welfareQUEEN and Daughter of Dee and co-editor of POOR Magazine/PoorNEwsNetwork
Thursday, August 14, 2008

Be bop bebop..bop..bop

A slow mist rose from the ground co-mingling with candlewax, sage, and car exhaust. Bop..bop..be-bop..bop.. Warm breath weaving through the rhythm of a congo drum entwining with words of resistance from African Peoples, Raza Peoples, Celtic peoples, Pilipino peoples, Native peoples, indigenous peoples all.."One.... we are the people..Two....indigenous people...Three .. and we are taking back the land and ONE....We are the Scholars...Two... indigenous scholars and Three... we are taking back OUR land!..."

Citing the articles from the United Nations(UN)Declaration on Indigenous Peoples adopted one year ago by the UN General Assembly, displaced, evicted and removed children, mamaz, daddys, tias and tios, aunties and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers, elders, ancestors, and spirits from all across Turtle Island; Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, New Orleans and DQ University gathered to pray, testify and resist on Market street at sunrise in a spiritual, political and revolutionary ceremony of resistance to out of control development, eviction, displacement and criminalization locally and globally.

"My whole family was displaced out of San Francisco," Xicana mama of three girls, welfareQUEEN and POOR Magazine teacher and staff writer Vivien Hain called into the crowd, her powerful voice joining the layers of sounds as she re-told her family's deep poverty scholarship of houselessness, welfare de-form, struggle and displacement. Vivien cited article 10 of the declaration as she described how her uncle, a life-long Mission district resident, was gentrified out of his home with his disabled wife and now is houseless on the streets of San Francisco. Vivien concluded her powerful speech: "Gentricide, that's our new classification for the murderous act of gentrification."

Since 1996, while on welfare and still dealing with the effects of over 15 years of homelessness as a child and mother, eviction and deep poverty in LA, Oakland and San Francisco, my mama, African- Irish- Puerta Rican, and indigenous Taino very poor single mother, and me launched POOR Magazine as an indigenous organizing project that actively practices eldership, ancestor worship and interdependence. We launched it as a direct resistance to the non-profit industrial complex, criminal UNjustice system, welfare systems, and the school to prison pipeline; that all work to separate, divide and destroy our indigenous systems of caring and community. As a poor people/indigenous people led organization the personal and organizational lives, dramas, concerns and struggles of the hundreds of co-leaders; poverty, youth, disability and migrant scholars at POOR Magazine are intertwined with the running, survival and thrival of ourselves, our families, our communities and our organization. Like many other poor people/indigenous people led organizations, there is no intention to untwine that real and honest core of truth, that is the indigenous organizational model.

In July of this year POOR Magazine (as well as many of the non-profits and small businesses in our building who we stand in solidarity with) received a notice that our lease would not be renewed by the new owners of the building. POOR Magazine's tenuous hold on stability was severed. As an organization we weren't planning to move until we had raised enough money to purchase a building so we could launch the revolutionary housing, arts and education project that acts as a long-term solution to homelessness: HOMEFULNESS; a sweat-equity co-housing and sustainable community that would house and give equity, support, arts education and economic development opportunities to homeless and formerly homeless families as well as house the offices and classrooms of the Race, Poverty and Media Justice Institute and Uncle Al's Justice Cafe.

In San Francisco's Bay-view District there have been over 150 evictions reported in this month alone. In Oakland, 72 elder and disabled tenants face homelessness at the California Hotel due to mismanagement by a housing corporation given millions of dollars to "manage" their resident hotel. In New Orleans over 4, 500 people were evicted from public housing targeted for redevelopment. It was time, we thought, to employ another model for systemic change. It was time, we realized, to implement the very powerful UN Declaration on indigenous peoples.

Bop.. be-bop..bop..bop.. the drum beat wove through the voices, la tierra, our land- speaking for all the people who aren't here - who were already displaced, removed and destroyed, people like Jose Morales, a migrant elder removed from his land, his home of 40 years, by unjust laws put in place to protect property not people....

"Indigenous people shall not be forceably removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous people concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and where possible with the option of return," POOR Magazine co-editor, indigenous Pilipino, African, Irish and Native descendent poverty and worker scholar, Tony Robles, read from Article 10-28 of the UN declaration on indigenous peoples throughout the ceremony

"Our land is under attack, we are working under a deadline, the General Services Administration (GSA) is threatening to take back 1/3 of our land but we will not go," Steve Jerome Wyatt, Native Scholar and president of the DQ University coalition testified at the ceremony. The ceremony was opened with a prayer led by indigenous scholars from DQ University and United Native Americans who are currently fighting for their rights to keep the only off-reservation tribal college, DQ University, alive and strong. Steve concluded, "our spirit is with all of you, with the people always! DQ will never die!

"We cannot allow POOR Magazine to leave this land, POOR Magazine represents our collective resistance to exploitation, deportation, incarceration, eviction," Renee Saucedo, Xicana scholar and resistance fighter in the war on migrant peoples, representing one of the events co-sponsors, La Raza Centro Legal, testified, "Who is POOR Magazine?, it is poor people of color, particularly young people, who are fighting criminalizing legislations like the gang injunction, people fighting everyday for justice, for our communities" Renee concluded.

We poor will wear our courage, sorrow and innocence vividly as our burning rage, until Private Property bombs on the stage where for much too long it's been pissing on the people, and then at last human space truly will belong to all. Excerpt from the poem, EVICTION, by San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman.

The Taking Back the Land Ceremony was about resistance to displacement, it was also about cross-organizational, cross generational, and cross-cultural movement building. Over 20 organizations, from San Jose to New Orleans represented, including Delores Street Community Services, SOMCAN, Just Cause Oakland, DQ University, United Native Americans, Coalition on Homelessness, HOMEY, POWER, Justice Matters, League of Revolutionaries for a New America, Faithful Fools Street Ministry, The SF Bayview, P.O.C.C. BLOCK REPORT, First Voice Apprenticeship Program, Lumpia Project, San Francisco Living Wage, CHP, Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition, CHAM, Axis of Love, All African Peoples Unification Party, Homeless Action Center and many more. Our lives, our communities, our organizations, our futures, are connected, shared and lived.

Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired.(Article 26 of the UN declaration on Indigenous Peoples)

Two SF Board of Supervisors candidates, Eric Quesada and David Campos, were on hand to testify. Each one is vying for district 9 (the Mission) which is ground zero of out of control displacement and gentrification of communities of color. "We have been fighting this fight for 500 years," Eric Quesada galvanized the crowd by calling out the roots of the land theft, the original theft of indigenous peoples land on Turtle Island that happened over 500 years ago when the colonizers "discovered" our land and launched an onslaught of terrorism on indigenous peoples in the name of "ownership" that has continued through today making the connections between historical and current displacement in the Mission, the tenderloin, the Bayview, DQ University, New Orleans and beyond.

Eviction Victim
Eviction Resistance
23 times and counting
"cause without equity we all at-risk"
Born from three generations of poor women of color and countless generations
of
colonized others
Mama Dee..an act of resistance- by tiny

"My mothers mothers mother was a slave - she worked in tobacco and cotton plantations, my mothers mother cleaned the houses and mansions in San Francisco, our blood is spilled in the name of others peoples profit, we will not be moved - we should own these buildings " all of this is ours," Citing Article 28 of the UN declaration which states, "indigenous people have the right to re-dress", Laure McElroy, POOR Magazine board member, welfareQUEEN and poverty, race and disability scholar in residence at POOR's Race, Poverty and Media Justice Institute waved her hands to the land beneath and above our heads as she stated our collective right to reparations.

Bop.. be-bop..bop..bop..
"Any magazine named POOR, that's a magazine where Jesus would be".. proclaimed Sandy Perry street minister from event co-sponsor, CHAM in San Jose. Sandy began his solidarity message to the circle with prayer and a welcome from poor folks in San Jose who are struggling with displacement, eviction and poverty: "When Jesus said all of us can be rich, he didn't mean rich like these developers do, he meant rich with community, with love and with caring for one another", Sandy concluded.

Indigenous peoples have the right to establish their own media in their own languages and to have access to all forms of non-indigenous media without discrimination. (Article 16 of the UN declaration on Indigenous Peoples)

"Hoy es un dia historico"(today is a historical day) because as of today we will no longer accept displacement, Gloria Esteva, migrant and poverty scholar and staff writer with Voce De Inmigrantes en Resistencia at POOR Magazine (the revolutionary bi-lingual media access and education project for migrant raza workers in the Bay Area) who along with POOR Magazine reporteras y reporteros Teresa Molina and Guillermo Gonzalez, connected displacement with the exploitation of migrant peoples locally and globally, Gloria concluded, "This is our land, we built it from scratch, we will be exploited no longer!"

Prensa POBRE reportera Teresa Molina added, "The reason we don't own land is because they don't let us own land so they can exploit us for cheap labor! That is why we will continue to fight until our voices are heard!"

Be bop..bop..bop..bebop
"Please stand up and fight..I am from New Orleans, I know about removal and displacement from the government, thousands of people were removed and displaced and much of that displacement came from the government," August Foreman, Katrina survivor here to speak on Katrina for events in the Bay honoring Katrina's tragedy on August 29, spoke to our circle, with his words creating a national lens to the Take Back the Land Ceremony.

Be bop..bop..bop..bop..the spirits of our displaced ancestors rose up with the drum beat.

Midway through the ceremony, I asked for a silence to be called for all the people who aren't here - who have already been displaced and following that powerful moment, on the wings of the very spirits we called out to for strength our allies and fellow poverty scholars from The California Hotel in Oakland whose 72 elder, disabled tenants have faced eviction due to gross mismanagement by private housing developers OCHI, and allies, Just Cause Oakland arrived at the ceremony.

"We didn't want to become homeless, we didn't want to be put on the street," Mickey Martin, poverty scholar, tenant and now co-manager of the California Hotel described their fight to stay housed even in the face of police raids, city and private funding cuts and mis-management of their housing, "So now our attorney is suing the City for 53 million dollars to keep our hotel open for the rest of our lives - we are going to run our hotel til we become old and gray!"

He was followed by the powerful voice of Robbie from Just Cause Oakland,"We are working now to prevent the eviction of over 215 families from public housing and along with the California Hotel evictions are hitting hundreds of tenants of other residential hotels as well as over 600 public housing units"

One"WE ARE THE PEOPLE and Two..INDIGENOUS PEOPLE!Three! And we are taking back OUR LAND!

Chris Durazo, from displacement fighters and allies at SOMCAN, spoke to the crowd " This "Take Back the Land Ceremony" is very meaningful for us at SOMCAN because they are re-zoning the eastern neighborhoods (in San Francisco) where our families and elders live and we are responding by demanding that they ( the SF Board supervisors) stop building unaffordable condominiums and give it back to our families, our diverse families."

Article 14 Indigenous People have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages and in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning

"I work with the children every Tuesday and Thursday in FAMILY project", Youth Scholar and POOR press author Jasmine Hain spoke to our circle about FAMILY, an on-site classroom which is a joint education project of POOR Magazine and ART and faces eviction from their classroom at POOR. FAMILY is cooridinated by co-madre, poverty scholar and welfareQUEEN Jewnbug, who is also a skilled early childhood arts educator. FAMILY provides intergenerational programming, arts, music , dance and social justice to children ages 2-14 and parents in the Tenderloin struggling with poverty. "I work in FAMILY so that the poor families and elders, mamaz and daddys, can learn to write their stories and become media producers and make change for their families and communities" Jasmine concluded.

If people really wanted to "solve" homelessness they would start giving poor people access to equity! Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia

"I stand here, the descendent of a stolen people in San Francisco, Mexico", The next testifier was welfareQUEEN and poverty scholar in residence at POOR Magazine, Queennandi, who wrote a poem in honor of the ceremony, "My house is not my home, technically I'm houseless and don't own nothing .serial land robberies.the landlord whipped me with an eviction notice cuz I resisted being whipped"

"Under article 22 of the UN declaration, I accuse the federal government of benign neglect of disabled people, women and children locally and globally", founding member of POOR Magazine and poverty scholar in residence Joseph Bolden cited the declaration.

"I want to take you on a journey, in the U.S. we have the fair housing act, it came down under the Reagan administration" locally we have proposition K and L put into affect by Willie Brown, ostensibly to create more offices for non-profits- under these laws we have right to the right to be housed, not temporarily but permanently. Illin and chillin columnist for POOR and founder of KRIP HOP also cited UN declaration 22 and the recent laws that were passed to protect housing but seem to mean nothing to our communities.

Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired. (Article 26 of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples)

Byron Gafford,Bayview resident of Alice Griffith who's family is facing pending eviction along with 150 others recently served with eviction notices in the Bayview thanks to government and corporate developers Lennar displacement efforts, testified with a poetic tribute to long-time girlfriend and recent victim of negligence at the hands of PG&E in the Bayview. "to rob, steal, and kill the good like shirley weston in order to claim the neighborhood of death for his own With the help from PG&Evil.."

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Aldo Arturro Della Maggiorra called on our spirits and ancestors with the conga drum, Joe Smooke from Bernal Heights Community Center spoke on media mis-representations of poverty, RAM from POOR Magazine led the power-giving chants, San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman spit his beautiful tribute poem, Eviction, allies from Homeless Action Center in Oakland testified on their collaborative work with POOR, Bruce Allison at POOR spoke a tribute poem to elder eviction resistor Jose Morales, Mrs Booy from the Bayview, Quanah Brightman from DQ university, Leroy Moore/Illin n chillin, Jewnbug repping FAMILY project and many others spoke, represented and testified. So many powerful voices rose up and honored the silenced voices of indigenous peoples who struggled before us, who struggle with us today and will struggle and resist this in the future.

"To all of the Newsoms, Guiliani's and Schwarzeneggers, we will never give up." Revolutionary legal advocate, poverty and race scholar in residence at POOR and staff writer Marlon Crump authored a poem for the event which began, "This is OUR land you seize from OUR hand,

be..bop..bop..bopbebop..bop..

Postscript: After the ceremony the new owners of 1095 Market street met with POOR Magazine staff and committed to helping POOR Magazine and the other tenants who face eviction make a smooth and safe and transition to another space that will stabilize your urgently needed youth and adult programming for the long-term.

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