The Trip to Atlanta


root - Posted on 21 November 2007

Read about POOR Magazine's first trip...to the ATL for the USSF by plane, van and greyhound bus to make revolutionary media justice.

by POOR MAgazine's Race, Poverty, Disability and Youth Scholars

Don't Forget the Four Little Girls and the Struggle

Queennandi Xsheba,

6/25 Birmingham, Alabama

We stopped at the 16th Street Baptist Church where the four young girls lost their lives in the church bombing. I took pictures—Dynamite Bob was convicted eventually at the courthouse about four blocks away from where the bombing took place.
Juan, a homeless, self-appointed tour guide, gave us a spirited tour of the first “Nigger Park” that is across the street from the Church (still under construction). This park, currently known as The Kelly Ingram Park, is where the 3000 children came to march and were attacked by vicious dogs. About 1800 kids as young as nine, were arrested until there was no more room in the jails. Firefighters turned the hose on the brave children with 600 pound water pressure (that does a lot of damage, indeed). Monuments of the children ducking and covering themselves from the water hoses can be seen. Statues of the big vicious dogs, that were trained to recognize black skin by using black dummies can also be seen.

I took a picture standing in the place where Martin Luther King Junior did one of his first speeches. The radio station down the street was also bombed several times. And if you make a right past the park, you could find the building for the Black Masons (Prince Hall).
This is the first time I have seen this struggle with my own eyes. You can see the children; you can hear the dogs barking, ready to attack. You can hear the bomb detonate, killing the four little girls. The essence is painful, and I wept.

2007—it has only gotten worse. Coming into the South, I still got the stares from racist folks who didn’t know a damn thing about me, however hate me, or rather my skin color.
Mr./Ms. Superior say that I am inferior, but it is their ignorance that feeds the deep-rooted cancer that will eventually spread and kill their wicked ways of thought.
I am Queennandi Xsheba, descendant of slaves in these American Hells. I know who I am. What is Mr. KKK’s reason to hate? Did I Queennandi, rob Mr. KKK of his birthright? Did I rob Mr. KKK of his name? Religion? His language? Culture? His land?
Did one of, or all of the precious four little girls burn Mr. KKK’s little girls on the stake alive? These facts of atrocity still haven’t planted a seed of hate within me. I am better than that. The proof is in “his story” books of a regal lineage that flows through my veins—I will never forget.

POOR TRAIL/ No More Tears

Ruyata A. McGlothin

Anticipation, venturing into the unknown yet sharing one goal for racial, economic, social, gender and class justice. These past three days already feel well worth it. Nine freedom fighters in a small van from San Francisco, CA to Atlanta, GA stepped into our roles to pay our parts in the formation of a new her/history.

Coming to the United States Social Forum in Atlanta from such a poor environment, a poor life and a poor history, in this short period it appears to be a much more all-around depressing state than that of my own. Last night as I explored downtown Atlanta, which reminded me of the San Francisco Tenderloin, I was very happy to be in a new place and see new faces. I waved hello to everyone, but most people driving turned away immediately and everyone on foot, EVERYONE except three people in the 18 hours that I have been here, asked for money. I’m POOR also, just from another area.

The few I was able to give change or a dollar to, let me know that it wasn’t enough. For example, there was a guy yesterday who asked for more donations after simply pointing out the direction of the homeless shelter that I was looking for. I found the shelter two block away.

And it hurts my heart deeply but to make change (of all kinds) is the reason we’re here.

Luis Esparza

Inmigrante and Youth Scholar

My reflection on this trip was some what strange because I saw some things in the south that I didn't even know still existed.

On the way to Atlanta Yaya, one of the drivers, said she saw a very homophobic sign, it said, Wine like California but with out the fruits. " I was shocked because I've never really seen anything so harsh. When the trip first began I was like Atlanta here we come! But the closer we got to the south the more I started feeling a bit scared. They started telling me that people get killed here by white people. At first I didn't believe it but it seemed that every where we went people stared at us like we had a visible disease or something.

There was this white woman in front of us in line at the store and the cashier woman was a smiling and real nice but as soon as she saw me and my mom her voice changed so deep and when she told us have a good day she rolled her eyes. I have never felt so scared and so unwelcome in my life. Before this trip I didn't believe that white people were racist. I thought it was just people making up stories to scare other people.

The worst part was the when we were about 1 hour from Atlanta and we wear staying at the Comfort Inn; me and my brother and Kim decided to go swimming. When we got to the pool some people wear already there. A mom and a little boy about 3 or 4 and a 14 year old girl. When my brother got in the pool he went towards the kid to play with him and as soon as the mom saw him she told her soon to get away because she didn't want him to get splashed. It didn't make a whole lot of sense because my brother wasn't splashing, but I thought maybe my brother is just too big to be playing with him so it didn't bother me.

Then I started to talk to the girl and the first thing she said to me was “Hey boy,” which later I found out was a bad thing. She kept talking about herself saying she was smart and i said i was too. She said her IQ was 96 then she asked me what mine was but I've never taken the test. When i told her she made a sound and rolled her eyes like she knew i was gonna say that she sort of started to make me feel dumb for a moment. But then i thought to my self I'm not dumb and i snapped out of it.

She told me her name was Forest and I told her mine was Luis. And then she said that she had been to Mexico and that the houses there were rundown and that the people there were poor because they were ignorant. She said people in Mexico married their cousins.

I was thinking in my mind that is so not true, so I told her that people in Mexico are lawyers and hard working people and that just because they don't get everything given to them on a silver plate doesn't mean they are ignorant. Thats when i started to think she was a bit racist but then she told me she thought all the people in Africa are ignorant and she didn't even have a reason she just said because they don't have resources and go out on the street running around naked and having sex and babies with aids.

I was mad but I didn't want to loose my cool. I felt not anger but pity; I felt sad for her because she is gonna miss out on so much because of the way she thinks. I didn't blame her. She told me she was home schooled all her life so i guess that's all she learned. I know that when you have some one telling you something at a young age thats what you usually end up believing, even if it's wrong.

After that Joe came in the pool and the mother went crazy. You could see her face it looked like it was gonna explode because she was so uncomfortable around us. After that I went back into the hotel and started to feel so sad and horrible. That was the first time ever in my life that I met a racist person and I hope it's the last.

The Greyhound- San Francisco to Atlanta

By Dharma, POOR Magazine, Poverty Scholar and Digital Resister

I am here at the first U.S. Social Forum, a long journey away from home seeking out a justice among all.

I am glad to be here among my peers at a time of much social change in the world. Unlike many people who are here in Atlanta for the forum, I traveled by bus for 2 and a half days straight. I got on the greyhound bus in San Francisco and traveled through the nights till the bus reached Atlanta. The trip was non-stop for sixty three hours to what feels like the other side of the world.

I felt like I was traveling through time. I traveled by bus to get a feeling for what my ancestors went through during the great Black exodus to the West. I thought back to a time when my ancestors, African descendants traveled the underground railroads out of the South to escape slavery. My mind drifted to what it must have been like to find paths through the trees and land beyond the highways to escape the south. I imagined what early black Americans went through to find a better life.

I traveled by myself. The trip was long and drawn out. I kept my mind off of the long hours by reading and starring out the window. I read about the conditions of prisons in California. I was reading letters from women in prison. from mothers who are locked up while their children live without a family.

I stared out the window for many hours. The land was desolate with dark rainy skies. Thunder and rain pounded us in all five states. At the border of each state we hit thunder storms. I felt like I was traveling on another universe. The lightning struck and reminded me of our country's bloody history. We passed through hot, muggy dust storms. We passed ghost towns, abandoned buildings, empty, boarded up and burned. Nothing but cactus plants, desert flowers, barbed wire, and heat for miles. Single oil pumps dotted the landscape in Texas. The moons I saw are like none I have ever seen before with light shining out all around us. The skies, the land everything was new and frightening. Big skies I thought would never end. But I knew eventually we would make it here to Atlanta.

I leaned my face against the cool window and stared out at the long stretch of dry barren land. I was surprised by the ghost towns between New Mexico and Dallas. I could see the broken down houses in the light of the storms. A dust bowl of memories of leftover life. You can rename poverty but all across America it looks and smells the same. Small houses, trailers, shacks and old towns. One town in Texas the sign read Population 3. We stopped in towns and all the major cities on our route. Some historical and everywhere I went the American flag was flying. I can't imagine living in these small towns with nothing around.

We passed hundreds of McDonald's, Burger King's and Wendy's. They cater to Greyhound. Fast food joints sit waiting for buses and hungry drivers trying to get back on their way. I will not eat a burger again for a long time. The only good thing about eating fast food was I knew I would not get left. I never walked far from the station. The bus would leave without you. In some places there was only restaurants. Some people on my bus were left in the rain in Alabama. Every seat was taken on the bus. Extra buses were ordered.

In Jacksonville we stopped for a moment. I stepped out into the shade. I saw a disabled man ordered off Greyhound property they said for loitering. It was the heat of the day. He was looking for bit of shade, but he was on greyhound property. He told me he lost his legs in the Vietnam war. He said he can barely get by on his veteran benefits. H told me he has nowhere to live he cannot afford a house. I met one young man who was returning to Oklahoma to his father's house. He left about two months ago to escape the beatings from his father. He was forced to return because the landlord threatened to raise the rent because of him. I met one woman traveling with her ninety year old mother. They were coming from Vegas returning home to Atlanta. They befriended me.

After we crossed the border from New Mexico into Texas the driver pulled over. I thought maybe it was a weigh station. I heard the men's boots before I saw them. They wore green suits, I immediately knew they were border patrol. They walked up and down the aisles, asking each person, "are you an American citizen. If not get out your papers." Fortunately we were allowed to keep driving without further problems.

This trip has taught me humility. This trip has taught me to be ever more understanding of the hard work and dedication of the early Black Americans who traveled to California in an effort to escape the unjust and brutal treatment of the South.

Reflection: Of my travel to ATL from SF

Vivian Hain/Digital Resistor/welfareQUEEN

Yesterday the POOR Magazine crew embarked on a our journey to the US Social Forum, traveling from San Francisco, California to Atlanta, Georgia. Though half of the POOR crew traveled via van and even on bus, a group of POOR Magazine folks, including myself, traveled by air. For me, this would be my first time traveling with POOR Magazine. The journey would be quite a harrowing and learning experience for me.

The night before my journey, I was up all night, packing and cleaning the house. I was feeling a lot of anxiety and anticipation, especially since it is the end of the month and for me, it is always a tough time financially. I am on welfare, so my food stamps and money usually runs out, so I was a little nervous about leaving my kids. I wanted to make sure that they had everything that they needed while I was away. By the middle of the night, I was still frantically packing my things and feeling very restless. I didn't get any sleep at all. I went into my children's bedroom and kissed each one of them on their little foreheads and quietly whispered goodbye, as their little bodies lay asleep in their peaceful bliss.

By 6:00 in the morning, I was feeling even more anxious and a little delirious, yet I continued to get myself ready for the travel. By 8:00 a.m., I was out of the door to meet Leroy Moore, POOR Magazine board member. Seeing Leroy made me feel better and more relaxed, as we made our way to the BART train station three blocks from where we both live. We took the BART train to S.F. from Berkeley, riding on a hot, packed and overcrowded train full of dull-faced 9-5 commuters. We arrived at the POOR office, met others and got on our way to SFO, where things went quite smooth. Even the security check was not so bad, but I didn't like the way they treated Leroy. The airport staff were pushy and rude toward him, rushing him through and not taking in consideration of his disability. This made me angry inside. I made sure that Leroy had whatever help he needed.

We got on to the plane and were packed in tightly in the mid rear seating area. The airline crew didn't seem too friendly. We managed ourselves well and got ourselves settled in on the plane. Though the plane ride started out smoothly, it got very rough during mid flight with turbulence. This put a lot of us on edge, feeling as if we would not make it! The plane bounced around in the big thick clouds. We were scared, yet I knew that we would get through it, just as we always manage to do in our lives of daily struggle. We had no food offered on the plane and were very thirsty. We had crappy snacks. We landed safely in Atlanta. The minute we got off of the plane, I felt the hot air hit me like a big punch, knocking the breath out of me. The air was hot and humid. I felt as if I was breathing inside of a hot metal drum that was left out in the middle of the desert.

Yet, for me, being here in Atlanta for what and why we are here is most important, as the issues that we deal with in CA are endemic throughout the US. As we drove through downtown Atlanta, I could see many lone silhouettes moving about the dark streets. I knew that no matter where I go in America, the same issues effect many like myself. Also on this trip, I am filming a lot of video footage. I want to catch the raw essence of our experience at the USSF and beyond it. I hope that we can bring forward and share the 'truth' to why this whole forum is what it is meant to be, not just a gathering for social justice groups. It is important to keep it real and get the message out of this reality.

I know that the same issues affect communities here in Atlanta just as they do in the S.F. Bay Area. As we drove in the hot van through the city center of Atlanta, I saw the same images despair that I see back home; the vacant streets of closed business as many roam the streets looking for a place to rest their bodies upon. I can only imagine how difficult this must be with this suffocatingly hot weather. I wonder where they go to get out of the heat, out from under the scorching sun, where can they go when all I can see is nothingness for them out there..

We drove in the hot van for another couple of hours, dropping people off, picking people up. I was sitting in the back of the van. Every time we stopped, it was very hot outside. It was still very hot after midnight. By the time we reached the hotel, my asthma had kicked up, making me feel very listless and exhausted. My chest felt like it was going to burst, my heart racing like a horse. I needed water. I felt very suffocated, but remained calm and quiet. When I got into the hotel, I immediately went to sleep. My body was beyond its capacity.

As I drifted off into a much needed deep sleep, I thought of all of those lone silhouettes I saw walking through downtown Atlanta in the night heat and how I was very privileged to be able to lay my head on this pillow in an air conditioned room. This is why I am here in Atlanta to give voice and send a message to the world that this type of social dynamic must change, for everyone should have a pillow to lay their head on in an air conditioned room here in Atlanta and everywhere throughout the US and the entire world. This is where eminent change must happen and we are here to be part of that.

Reflection on my journey to the US Social Forum in ATL

By Jewnbug

Hustling funds just to have access to a conversation where often times I am the subject and not the story teller required a lot of work.

Foundations and organizations provided limited money, and there are so many of us in economic limbo

Traveling to tell my story in hopes that I will make effective impact to stabilize equality.

The process at the airport felt like I had just entered Hitler's concentration camp

My shoes off and my bags wide open, the commotion over the lotion for hands and body almost taken away, but never will my mind and soul be taken away
riding in the third class economy on the plane I ate crackerjack snake boxes as if these crumbs would actually provide nourishment on a 5 hour flight.

In ATL, and the cost of living high, many people asking for fifty cents, I didn't feel I had left Frisco, still in the concrete jungle with bright lights, big buildings and still house-less.

We are staying 10 miles from the US Social Forum, where we are facilitating a process in which our message IS MEDIA.

We are working, and yet we are still marginalized.

Just to get here to the Social forum is a struggle and a story in its self, a story that speaks to PO' folks having accessibility to framing main stream media, to digital equipment, to policy making, to legislation and most importantly, making laws.

I feel like everyday we have to cross borders, and challenge criminalizing and dehumanizing mannerism.

We are running the Ida B. Wells Media Justice Center in a hallway. Everyone has to travel a hallway to get to a room, but when your room is the hallway, its sends a clear message , &quot There is no room for you &quot
However, I am blessed to be here to utilize this opportunity to move towards justice and freedom through various mediums. But the real question is, Are we all moving towards the same vision?�

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