A Walk of Resistance Through Poverty, Homelessness and Homicide

root - Posted on 09 October 2006

Low-income Youth and adults from five Bay Area neighborhoods write and produce their own film focusing on the violence, poverty and racism affecting their communities

by Byron Gafford and Tiny

When the side

Of the road is

Marked by death.

With pictures, balloons,

Teddy bears, alcohol bottles,

And Candles.

Where drive by shootings

Occur leaving bodies

Where they drop.

An excerpt from WHEN THE SIDE OF THE ROAD IS MARKED BY DEATH by Byron Gafford, poet,author and co-director of A Walk of Resistance through Poverty, Homelessness and Homicide a POOR Press PRoduckshun ©2005

"Another death occurred on the block in my neighborhood…that's Bertha Lane"
Poet, author and poverty scholar, Byron Gafford and I were meeting to discuss a showing of our new film at a workshop we were going to run at Unity High School in Oakland next week when he unveiled his newest group of poetryjournalism based on a drive-by shooting of a young African Descendent male in his Bayview neighborhood. The disturbing thing is, this shooting and Byrons' new poetry were the very issues that we had focused on in our short narrative documentary film; A Walk of Resistance through Poverty Homelessness and Homicide.

"It was a year ago when another young man was gunned down on the same street not far from this recent shooting" Byron continued on to relate the fact that since this most recent shooting another shrine appeared which included the remnants of this young mans' short life; Pictures, Balloons, Teddy Bears, Alcohol Bottles and candles for the spirit that remains.

Homicide (murder) is the leading cause of death for Black youth;14-24 years of age and the second leading cause of death for Latino youth in the US. "

The saddest thing of all is Byron and I weren't surprised. In the process of making the collaborative film which was co-written, co-directed and co-filmed by the youth and adult poverty scholars in POOR Magazine's Digital Resistance Program we all brought our personal experience as residents of the Bayview, the Mission, The Tenderloin and across the bay in Oakland to the planning process, which included the experience of having friends and family shot down in their youth. We also explored related issues such as the root causes of poverty, racism, gentrification, media stereotyping, substance abuse redlining, police harassment and homelessness and how these issues have a direct impact on the youth and their families trying to survive in these communities.

After discussing all of these issues we did research on the actual numbers of families in poverty, facing homelessness, and being killed by a firearm in Amerikka. Our findings were truly frightening.

In 2003 the number of Americans living in poverty rose by 1.3 million"

Our research made us more determined to try to affect change in our respective communities through education, awareness and grassroots media production. So after all the poverty skolars/ filmmakers were schooled in the basics of how to operate a camera, direct , edit and write a film they set about producing POOR's recent form of media resistance. A Walk of Resistance, that is.

The film is told in 8 multi-generational, cross cultural voices, walking through five neighborhoods opening with Byrons' journey through Double Rock (Housing Projects), progressing to a bi-lingual tour of East Oakland's youth violence told from the poetic perspective of immigrant youth skolar Muteado and proceeding back to the tenderloin with the voices of houseless African Descendent elders and houseless and at-risk families, and back to liquor stores on Third street in the Bayview ending with a visual and meditative tour through Sundial Park and an ironic voice from POOR's grandmama. A walk of Resistance is truly educational, speaking the truths of poverty and oppression, struggle and survival from the folks who experience it firsthand

Don’t be afraid those
Are the spots where
A mothers child lost
There life…..BY GUN FIRE.

A walk of Resistance Through Poverty, Homelessness and Homicide is in DVD format /running time 15 min. To book a showing or purchase a copy please call POOR Magazine at (415) 863-6306 or email us. As well as a piece of literary and media art in film we also view it as an educational tool for low-income youth and adults, so the Filmmakers are also interested in conducting live presentations/panels and workshops on these issues at schools, community organizations , film festivals or other venues.


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