A Poor People-Led Revolution: The POOR Magazine Story.

PNNscholar1 - Posted on 08 August 2010


A Poor People-Led Revolution

The POOR Magazine story




“P-O-O-R, scholars till we die! The revolution begins with I!”

Slogan chant of all POOR Magazine/PNN Scholars in residence


“POOR’s rule from the beginning was to break down the myth of objectivity and the implicit “other” stance of journalism. We accomplished this through the integration of self, the use of “I” in every story.” Explains “Tiny” Lisa Gray-Garcia in her book, Criminal of Poverty: Growing up Homeless in America.

Tiny eloquently adds, “No Dickensian positivism here. We were the subjects: The incarcerated, the welfare moms, the working poor, the disabled, the homeless, the low income youth of color, the evicted tenants. We were the “insiders” seizing media and creating resistance with every article, statement, story, and photograph.”

For most, if not all of us, we are either advised or warned not to “believe everything we read” and “don’t believe everything we hear.”

Corporate mainstream media, and broadcast journalism: The endless progressive network of parallel proportions, channeled on local and global levels equipped with its arsenals: Facts distortion, false notions, stereotypical viewpoints, exaggerated external exposures, innuendo, counter-production, non-partisan, fear implementation, and lives designation. Every category coerced to capture the eye and mind for control.

 POOR Magazine/PNN ALL THE NEWS THAT DOESN’T FIT                                                   

The seeds are planted by “media” to root within our minds, to incarcerate and rob our rationale of reasonable thought. The end result is that poverty, racism, oppression, gentrification, race and class segregation, po-lice brutality, incarceration, etc, etc is expanded on by corrupt politicians, extended by public ignorance, then favored by proponents.

Overall, us people in poverty are halted from being heard. Even worse, being allowed to talk but are never truly listened to. This reality alone exposes the “myth of objectivity” within media.

 "POOR Magazine is very dedicated to supporting the efforts of grassroots social justice organizing.” Says Emily Lee from the Chinese Progressive Association. “Working class Chinese youth are fighting to save St. Luke's Hospital from being downsized, and POOR was the first media outlet to give our leaders an opportunity to speak out about our campaign. We need organizations like POOR Magazine to give the marginalized communities of San Francisco a voice!"

 POOR Magazine/POOR News Network, based here in San Francisco, CA is a non-profit, community grass roots multi-generational, indigenous led grass roots arts organization. Re-porting the news and sup porting people in poverty, locally and globally.

Every signature by government officials targeting poor communities brings POOR to the forefront to confront them. An unlawful eviction from a landlord (slumlord) or “poverty pimp” to the vulnerable is immediate intervention, sometimes resulting in prevention. Publishing the awful truth, misguided and concealed by written lies of houseless\landless people child displacement, marginalized communities, po-lice repression, youth violence, “immigration laws”, unrecognized work, etc, etc.

Unlike any community I have ever (or will ever) witnessed, POOR is deliverance to unlimited, unheard voices, while operating on fuel funding deficiencies.

Providing media access to people in poverty and low income, endless possibilities, programs, resources, and hope to resist systematic oppression. POOR Magazine/PNN is featured only monthly online. However, its not even just media access that POOR provides to low-income folks and penetrating corporate mainstream media with “digital resistance.”

Writing workshops and facilitation, Po’ Poets Project, (poetry), POOR Press Authors (book class), Court Watch, Revolutionary Legal Advocacy Project (me), Family Project, (Childcare) Spanish classes Voces de Inmigrantes for migrant scholars to become media producers and writers, Welfare Queens, Hotel Voices, (theater), etc, etc, and media education. Recently, People Skool/ Escuela de la Gente was launched to challenge what is really learned and researched within academia.

“POOR’s greatest impact is that it has always respected the genius that exists in all of us.” Says Paul Boden, activist for the homeless, director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project. (WRAP) “Each one is a teacher and student. POOR has always respected the genius that exists in all of us. Each one is a teacher and student, POOR has always promoted the intellect that people have regardless of their income.”

 “POOR is the most effective and essential organization I know.” Says Mary Ratcliff, editor of San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper and comrade. “As government and big business make the rich richer and the poor poorer, POOR reminds us that the poor are the vast majority. By learning journalism the way POOR teaches it and speaking truth to power, poor people can combine forces to seek and win justice and determine our own destiny.”

 The writers are poor people. The artists are poor people. The experts are poor people.

“Throughout time our ancestors have passed on the history, the struggle, through the medium of art. Egyptians, the Mayans, and the Aztecs use art to speak about their past and present.” Muteado Silencio, Migrant Scholar and artist explains as to what art means to him in struggle. “The way I use art is to organize.”

Inside the office of POOR exists an indigenous land, welcomed to all poverty scholars, (and everyone) scholars of all struggles, uncompromised by corporate media and politics. A separate room for the children of moms struggling with childcare, called Family Project. It was co-founded by June Hall, a.k.a Jewnbug in 2001.

This project is also for children to participate in arts, education, and become youth scholars. Revolutionary Youth Scholar, six year-old Tiburcio, son of Tiny softly said to me why he loves POOR. “Because they write articles that support poor people.”

On every wall are artworks, poster and pictures relating to struggle. The “Uncle Al Library” is dedicated in honor and memory of the late great, Al Robles, a legendary community organizer who fought for the rights of seniors. On a sturdy table is a huge urn bearing the ashes of the late great poverty hero, “Mama” Dee Gray-Garcia, co-founder of POOR. It is chalk signed by everyone who knew, heard, and loved her. A collage of past revolutionaries rests on the wall beside Mama Dee.

A wall of resistance of those who’ve passed while in struggle: The Poverty Hero. The practice of ancestor, elder worship is very sacred to and reminded by us each day, on this indigenous land when we are target practice by the system.

For those who don’t know about POOR Magazine/POOR News Network it was created by a woman of a unique vision, name “Tiny” Lisa Gray Garcia for the poor to be heard. This vision was also shared with her mom.

A mother and daughter team with only a car to call their sanctuary, survived on “underground economic strategies” (such as street vending) defiance to “crimes of poverty”, endless court fines, caretaking her mom, having only a six-grade education, but equipped with self-education while speaking and writing equivalent to a professor.

 22 evictions..........One Court Date Away From Homelessness……… On the day the story (POOR Magazine) appeared in print, she cried.

Surviving these lifetime struggles, Tiny gave birth to POOR Magazine/PNN in 1996, after she applied and received a small grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission. Using this opportunity, she immediately set her sights on society to educate and deconstruct the institutionalized ignorance surrounding poverty.

The knowledge often shared by her to others is the consciousness of Western Eurocentric, cultural colonization and its abominate domination of poor communities, everywhere. The need and continuation for consciousness of what is really written 24/7 about our lives, before our eyes is the scholarship she shares.

What Tiny also shares and teaches is where does academia and formal educations of institutions for learning stand when its highest education is shared primarily to the privileged?

 Taking Back the Land, Resisting Criminalization, One Story at a Time

“I was told I was stupid, retarded, and would not amount to anything.” Explains Bruce Allison, staff reporter and Elder Scholar. Even as an elder in the year 2000, Bruce’s own father ridiculed him, disregarding the fact that he was able to negotiate a union contract for 12,000 workers. “In 2005, they (POOR) gave me dignity, hope, and the chance to write a book. I was able to get on the radio and find the skill that I thought I never had.”

Since joining POOR, Bruce never ceased his gratefulness. He tenaciously reports on decisions made by city officials, on city and state levels. “I have the option to do the easiest duty reporting on S.F. City Hall.” Bruce jokes. He continues to advocates for the rights of seniors.

No more stolen lives!

In Honor of ALL fallen Victims of Po'Lice Terror" by Tiny


Oscar Grant, Nadra Foster, Idriss Stelley,

Ahmed Mohammed, Sean Bell,

Amadou Diallo, Lucerno Rodriguez,

Marlon Crump ,Mama Dee Gray-Garcia and me,

Some of these folks you know-

some you never will see………

For us poor people in struggling daily off the crumbs we are fed by tyrants, and education impacted by “budget cuts”; so are the struggles for justice against an unjust and prejudice “just-us” system. Our blood runs cold to the dark reality of po-lice terrorism in AmeriKKKa every time the lives of young people of color are stolen.

Taken away,

silenced, destroyed

and killed by Po-lice,

racism and povertee

……..…….cause people say we have nothing else-

“When my only child, Idriss Stelley 23 yr old AfriKan American student was gunned down at the SF Sony Metreon in 2001, POOR Magazine immediately published poems and articles about Idriss.” mesha Monge-Irizarry, director of the Idriss Stelley Action Resource Center (ISARC) recently explained to me. (Idriss was killed by multiple police units as he experienced a psychological breakdown.) “And within the same year, gave Idriss a posthume Resistance Award.”

A very powerful ally, mesha Monge-Irizarry’s monumental support, to POOR and myself over the years exemplifies importance of community. Her support far beyond words led to my resistance against the San Francisco Police Department, five year ago. Twelve guns, twelve badges, armed with a lie illegally intruded into my life, at twelve midnight.

Tiny’s astonishment of my own act of resistance, as I took direct civil action against them, as my own lawyer led to the foundation of the Revolutionary Legal Advocacy Project of POOR, in 2007. Since then, we’re both proud of the lives we were able to change, and intervene against injustices of within the unjust legal system.

The ink from governments, and corporation mainstream media never dries in writing away our lives. Neither will the ink by the hand, the “I” voice of all scholars struggling locally, globally……………and in residence of POOR Magazine/PNN.

For Joseph Bolden, Leroy Moore, Laure McElroy, Jewnbug, Bruce Allison, Muteado Silencio, Ruyata Akio McClothin, Carina Lomeli, Charles Pitts, Thornton Kimes, Ingrid de Leon, Vivian Hain, Queennandi, Dee Allen, Tony Robles, “Tiny” Lisa  Gray-Garcia, “Mama” Dee Gray-Garcia, and yours truly, Marlon Crump, our scholarships are collective with these words:


"P-O-O-R Scholars till we die!"

"The revolution begins with I!"


Click Here to watch the testimonies of the scholars in struggle, the importance of POOR Magazine/PNN and PeopleSkool/ Escuela de la Gente featured on PNN TV

"We have used what little resources we have to reach out and help other people like ourselves. Some say that just "surviving" is a form of resistance, but while it is occurring it does not feel like resistance inside. The Western culture in which we have been raised and it's Euro-centric values, in our opinion do not translate well for poor people."-------- Dee "Mama" Gray


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