By Vivian Hain

root - Posted on 19 December 2007

Trip to ATL by plane

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

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.


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