(Comprehensive)Notes From Eight Poverty Skolarz on the Road to Atlanta

root - Posted on 05 December 2007

The Long Hot Journey to Make Media Justice

by Dee Allen, Joseph Bolden, Queennandi Xsheba, Jewnbug, Luis, Vivian Hain, Dharma, Ruyata

The trip to Atlanta by Greyhound

By Dharma

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.


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