Papa Bear Report November 2013

Phillip Standin... - Posted on 19 November 2013

Leontyne Smith/PNN

Newsroom is packed this month, filled with stories.  Papa Bear comes late— says he had gotten a ticket on the bus trying to get to our sacred monthly circle.  As he sits down next to me, I can feel his anguish. And I feel my own deep sadness, because when he speaks I hear what he’s really saying: that he wants to go home, that he is tired of living a hard life, that he wants to rest. 


Papa Bear speaks with his head down, reporting on the deaths of those in the community, his own friends. A friend of his was stabbed in front of his eyes.  He’s seen two shootings on the same day, one on Ellis and Larkin and the other between Polk and Ellis. And now, another friend of his has died; her memorial is later this evening.


It is clearly difficult for Papa Bear to put this all into words.  Soon he tells us more about living on the streets, about the changing laws and regulations making his life more difficult; that he doesn’t make any money pan handling any more because the police are getting worse.  He notices that there are highway police in the Tenderloin, in addition to the regular police patrol, safe inside their vehicles, those black & whites and Benzes.


Just as it’s hard for Papa Bear to speak, it’s hard for me to write this news report.  I have to listen to some Tupac to get it done. Tupac’s a genius, he came and lived on the streets himself.  And so his music helps me, inspires me to write about another important person living these hardships, Papa Bear. 


Papa Bear leaves Newsroom a little early this November, so that he can make it to the memorial of our friend, Linda, found dead in her home.  When he begins to speak of Linda I become upset, because I know her too.  She was a librarian in Hunters Point, living in the ghetto with us, and was widely recognized as a social worker.  A lot of people went to the library to talk with Linda, and at-risk youth loved her.  She would find a book for anyone.  In fact, she hired me herself to work at the Library.  When she hired me she told me she wants to hire a lot of African American people, and that she planned to order more African American books. 


So I know Linda is special, and she will be missed.  And I know Linda is special because Papa Bear knows her, and she knew Papa Bear.  It’s people like Papa Bear who are our heroes, not the fake non-profit organization that establish themselves in the hood and take all the money.  Our heroes are people like Papa Bear.  Praise God.


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