On Thursday, November 10th, I and nearly a hundred others witnessed the violent murder of Kayode Ola Foster in broad daylight near the Occupy Oakland site. After the murder, I and another brother I’d met at the camp weeks earlier, also a witness to the murder, sat down on the steps of Oscar Grant Plaza for nearly two hours without saying so much as a word. Just watching as medics attempted to revive the victim, the swarming vulture-like media frenzy, and police sweeping the crime scene. This is not a post about that murder, or about Occupy Oakland. I knew the brother and I were thinking the same things, and there was no real need for dialogue. As I got up to leave, though, I told him simply “We have a big problem… you have my email, hit me up.”
Yesterday, he finally emailed me. This is an email correspondence of the conversation we never had that night.
It’s all good ___________. You know, sitting there on the steps after the brother, Kayode Ola Foster was murdered, I kind of think we had the same things going on in our minds. Here we have this movement, Occupy, which, if 100% successful, could overturn whole systems. But that wasn’t what was occupying my mind as much as the bigger issue we have, and must address. It doesn’t get easier, no matter how many times we’ve personally witnessed it, no matter how many of our friends died just like the brother did that night… it’s the same, over and over again. Us killing us. We have a real problem, not just here in Oakland, but everywhere. As a kid I can remember Chicago’s South Side, and East St. Louis. It was always the same thing.
I was heartbroken that night. The commodifying of the brother as he was coming to terms with his own demise… cameras all around, jousting for the money shot. The desensitization of our people to violence, as most of them walked around, looking on as though there goes another one. All this while we have real, actual enemies. All this time we look at each other as enemies, fighting wars that don’t even really exist, for territories that don’t belong to us, spaces we do not reap the benefits of. It’s all a cartoon.
I sat there thinking, how do we convince our people who the real enemies are. How do we infuse them with a truer knowledge of self? What do we look like as a united, proud people? Who could stop us from claiming what is rightfully our own? Our bodies, our spaces, our pride…
We have a real problem. No movement will succeed until we address it. Any movement that goes on without the unification of us, the unification of the people will only stand to create another marginalized class of people; and again it will be us. As I sat there heartbroken, I thought, if I only had a bigger platform, a larger voice, a larger team. I thought about then that Huey and Bobby probably sat back one day and thought the same thing.
And then, as I dealt with all the heartbreak, I thought to myself, just before my boy came up and I prepared to leave… it is so possible. We just gotta get to it. The following Friday I consulted with an imam from East Oakland I have come to like and trust a lot. I told him I felt I could really have some sort of effect on remedying our situation. Not as a hero, but as a soldier.
I kind of feel you have the same ideas. I don’t mean to sound all dramatic. I’ve just got a lot of this in me right now. Sorry for the long email too. I’ve been getting with some other people with similar concerns and ideas. I think we need a collaborated effort, a team – from the street “thug” / lumpen to the PhD – and everyone in between. But it’s possible, brother.