I used to sell CD’s on the street and I was never killed. This goes out to all my fellow light-skinned POC's and poor white people
“$5-10.00 per Disc- Hip Hop , Salsa, You name it, we got it,” At the corner of Vine and Melrose, Hollywood and Vine and Pico and Wilshire in LA, I would scream out my best CD deal of the day. I was 11 years old when i started selling CD’s. My best location was in front of the 7-11 downtown, until the poLice came and arrested me for soliciting without a license. For years me and my mama sold CD’s, art and all kinds of other things considered “illegal” on the street. We never had a permit or license to vend, sell or solicit. We were harassed, cited and several times i was arrested for it. And yet i lived to tell, write and teach about it. Alton was murdered.
Broad daylight. Downtown Oakland. Flashes of shiny black and white metal shimmer in the sunlight. My heart stops, blood pools in my stomach. I have no ID, and my mama and me were driving one of many hoopties we had with a broken tail-light. This moment of terror followed by so many more DrivingWhilePoor moments of terror caused me to have PTSD to this day. My mixed race, light-skinned mama and my wite-looking self were constantly stopped because we were driving an old car and/or were parked in neighborhoods sleeping in an old car. We were often harassed, a couple of times thrown against our hood, and three times I was arrested, had our car towed and my disabled traumatized mama was left on the street. And yet we lived to tell, write and teach about it Philando was murdered.
My houseless, disabled, mixed race mama and I were unhoused sleeping on the street on and off for years, we were arrested, cited, harassed multiple times, which was terrifying and traumatizing but we lived to tell, teach and write about it. Jessica Nelson Williams was murdered.
This goes out to my fellow light-skinned People of Color and poor white people.
In so many ways my life of poverty and houselessness, system abuse and hellfare was terrifying and left me scarred beyond words. But i am still here. My big loud mouth is still alive. My big loud, light-skinned mouth is still alive.
The point of my story is not to rank oppression, to dismantle or disrespect your trauma, fellow light-skinned, working class and poor white people, Poverty, abuse, state- sponsored and personal violence is hella real and kills, If you have lived a life like me and my mama it is blessing you are still alive. And many of us don’t make it, killing ourselves with the mans poison, with each others fists, with our own minds. Our struggles are very real and devastating and completely legitimate. Our collective trauma-knowledge as poor and unhoused people is why we established the concept of Poverty Scholarship at POOR Magazine And has nothing to do with the necessity to understand the depth of danger faced by all Black peoples walking, living, working and driving in this stolen indigenous land
The point of this story is to help you understand that the fight for Black life, isn’t a fight for who is worse off, who had more trauma, terror or abuse. the point is to understand that the impact and reality of white supremacy is not just trauma, its a deep and real situation of danger. for Black bodies. Due to a terrifyingly real, historically rooted and extremely dangerous system, Black bodies are in a specific state of danger, a clear and present danger of murder everyday in Amerikkka due to intentional, institutional and multi-generational white supremacy that all light-skinned people of color’s(POC) and poor white people aren’t. And the moment for us to get extremely clear about this and name it constantly is now.
This means some serious compartmentalization of our own “stuff” and the clear-headed recognition of this danger to our Black family members, friends, comrades, neighbors, lovers and community.
And once we have gotten over our own personal shit about this danger, to begin to act, educate and activate constantly. To bring up in spaces where our fellow unconscious family members, friends, comrades, neighbors, co-workers and communities dwell. To stand with, walk with, act with Black bodies in the ways that matter and are hard. To always kkkopwatch, to never walk by, drive by or stay uninvolved. At POOR Magazine, a poor and indigenous people-led movement, this means supporting fellow unhoused, poor, disabled, elder and youth of color to get new cars, to get current registration, insurance, housing, healthcare, paid for by folks with race, class and formal education privilege, something we teach them in a poor people-led community school we call PeopleSkool. Something we are activating with the Homefulness Project.
And in this narrative I am in no way saying that light-skinned POC’s, poor and unhoused white people, Trans and disabled peoples are “safe”. We are not. Period. Point blank. It is merely to clearly articulate the difference and terror we need to see and recognize and name.
For unhoused, working class and light-skinned POC’s culture, race, age and gender matters in more subtle ways. For years as a child i had to navigate my “white skin” so that my mixed race single mama and i could rent an apartment when we were unhoused and later when myself and fellow Black welfareQUEEN’s and POOR Magazine launched Mamahouse in the Mission I had to do it again, because racism and classism is alive and well everywhere. To acquire housing I was constantly lying about credit histories and wages and landlords were always believing it because white supremacy is alive and well in the land-stealing industry. Indigenous, POC, immigrant, trans, youth, elders and unhoused people are constantly under attack by the subtle and not so subtle forces of racism, white supremacy and amerikkklan colonial domination.
Ultimately the Po’Lice are killing all of us. the fact that they used a robot to kill the alleged poLice murderer in Dallas is telling of a terrifying future to come, more proof that our collective liberation is linked. It is why we have practiced a No PoLice Calls Ever policy at POOR Magazine for the last 20 years and launched it and lived it at Homefulness. But before we can be truly linked it is urgent that we see the ways we are clearly different. It is why we have a motto at POOR Magazine, The Revolution will NOT be Melted in a Pot, which just means we need to respect each person’s journey through spirit and consciousness, we need to be clear about who we are and how we are different to truly value, support and overstand each of our individual struggles so we can work toward our collective liberation.
POOR Magazine's Free Revolutionary Journalism program for Po' Folks is beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, July 12th at 6:30pm. email firstname.lastname@example.org to register. The next PeopleSkool for folks with Race, Class and/or Formal Education Privilege is in Black august 27th & 28th - go to www.racepovertymediajustice.org to enroll. If you are interested in attending our Not Calling the kkkops EVER workshops which begin in September please email email@example.com