“This is what the youth said”
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. We all know that in every metropolitan city in Amerikkka, during the summer months, there is always an increase of lethal gang related gun violence. We lose Black and Brown youth (our future) every year at the same time that our streets get hot with needless gun violence. Each year we fail to mount a successful campaign to plant the idea of resolving conflicts with something other than violence. This art project is a small effort to do something different. The effort must be intergenerational. We must never lose faith that our young adults are intelligent, capable and desire to create a violence free environment in which our communities can thrive. These “Stop the Violence” posters were created by incarcerated San Francisco Bay Area youth – many of which were gang members. When given a chance to answer the question, “are peaceful Black and Brown communities possible?” this is what the youth said. They desired to stop all sorts of violence ranging from sexual assaults and bullying to gun violence, but they felt overwhelmed by how many people in their communities are apathetic about it. During this guided discussion and creative arts project they were taught how to
bring their words and images into an illustration that conveyed their desire to end the violence. All they needed was some leadership and access to the resources that would help them realize one step towards a solution. These posters are just one step towards a solution. But, more importantly they are concrete evidence of what changes our youth desire to see in our communities. And, this concrete evidence comes from voices who have experienced the pain and tragedy of inter-communal violence. We must instill the idea that peaceful Black and Brown communities are possible and as a start towards that vision these posters at the very least start a discussion about that possibility mainly because of who created them. These posters are the visual evidence of what the youth said definitively about the death and violence in their communities. These are only five of many posters – it must be said – that were created collaboratively. Often times with youth who were from different cultures and communities working on the ideas, design and execution of the final art images. We all know that the most trivial of things can “go viral” during these
summer months to distract us from the most important thing in our communities – our youth – our future. Please show them that we care about their efforts and share these images widely and repeatedly this summer. Please share them via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter (print old school flyers too!) and all social media that you have in order to make them a constant reminder of the peaceful summer that we’re striving for.
The Oakland Maroons Art Collective™ has an imperative to bring Black/Afrikan history and culture to our beloved Black youth at every opportunity. And, in keeping with our goals to do this today (February 16th, 2017) OMAC co-founders Refa 1 and Duane Deterville did a presentation on the history of the Black Panther Party, the origins of the BPP Ten Point Program and its relevance to our condition as Black/Afrikan people here in contemporary America. The Black Panther Party Ten Point Program Coloring Book that was produced as a companion piece to our BPP 50th Anniversary art show at the Joyce Gordon Gallery continues to be a potent teaching tool that served our children well today.
OMAC was invited to the African Children’s Advanced Learning Center in West Oakland. The location of the school in significant given the fact that it is walking distance from the location of the house that Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton created the BPP Ten Point Program and Platform. The OMAC presentation began by underlining a few facts about West Oakland and how its long history as a Black community helped to form the sociopolitical basis for Huey Newton and Bobby Seale to form the BPP. The largest chapter of legendary Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association west of the Mississippi river was located in West Oakland. What this means is that there was already a long history of Black Nationalism, Pan-Africanism and self-determination at work in West Oakland long before 1966 when Huey and Bobby sat down in a house walking distance from that very same UNIA headquarters where they founded one of the most influential and legendary grassroots political organizations of the 20th century.
The young students at African Children’s Advanced Learning Center were taught that in the same manner Huey and Bobby were standing on the shoulders of Marcus Garvey’s UNIA they too were standing on the shoulders of the BPP. And, because they have so much history and culture to draw upon in the very place that they are currently learning lessons - they too can be great catalysts for the self-determination of Black people.
The background on local history served as a proper introduction to the content of the BPP Ten Point Program. It was at this point that our BPP coloring book was used as a teaching tool. The young students commented on each point as we asked whether the point being discussed was still relevant to our conditions as Black people today. With each successive point the students answered in the affirmative, sometimes interjecting their own observations. The students were quite bright, attentive and visionary throughout the entire presentation. In keeping with our vision to create radical Black visual culture as learning materials for our youth, OMAC gave each young student a copy of the coloring book along with a set of markers in a gift bag. Much love was shown by OMAC teaching artists Duane Deterville and Refa 1 along with African Children’s Advanced Learning Center teacher Baba Woods and his young students. It was a very good day.
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
The savage spectacle of Mario Woods’ murder