"Transformation is not five minutes from now; it's a present activity. In this moment you can make a different choice, and it's these small choices and successes that build up over time to help cultivate a healthy self-image and self esteem.”
I have cited this amazing quote by fitness instructor Jillian Michaels to reflect the experiences I had on May 4 at the candlelight vigil for Police Brutality Victims and on May 5 at the March for Black Justice in Oakland, California.
Both experiences transformed me in ways that are both incredible and beautiful.
Friday, May 4, was the beginning of the Weekend of Resistance. The International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement held a candlelight vigil for all of the victims of colonial police violence from the African and Mexican communities.
The vigil was held at 74th Street and MacArthur Boulevard, the site of the murder of Lovelle Mixon.
Personally, I felt that the ceremony had a strong presence, even though it was not a very large group of us.
Moreover, Friday was a night to honor fallen victims of police brutality as well as a night to promote awareness about the Oakland Police Department’s crimes of genocide against the African community.
I will not forget the courageous individuals who expressed their thoughts and emotions that night, especially one African young man named Askari Olugbala.
He spoke at least three times and those three times were very powerful.
He made several good points and he quoted Malcolm X, which was beautiful.
Olugbala reminded everyone in the crowd that Africans have a responsibility and that responsibility is to take action and build revolutionary organization, as well as to defend our communities.
He helped me see that we must continue to push organizationally and politically.
Consequently, the vigil was brilliant and I applaud those who spoke up.
On Saturday afternoon, May 5, the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement held the March for Black Justice.
The March began outside the Eastmont Police Station and ended at the front door of the Uhuru House.
The March for Black Justice was amazing. Lyrically, we painted colors for everyone who sees none and we made rhythms for everyone who only knows the Blues.
Although only a handful of people participated, it was still powerful and beautiful.
Each and every last one of us marched down MacArthur Boulevard and we all were chanting "OPD killed a thousand Trayvons!", “Justice for Oscar Grant!", "Justice for Gary King!", "Jail the Killer Cops, Now!", "Long Live Lovelle Mixon!" and "OPD you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!"
Some of us also held posters that said, "The real criminals are in City Hall" and "Justice for Oscar Grant.”
We were loud and strong and because of that many bystanders, as well as people in their cars, were clapping for us or throwing up that powerful black fist while others were blowing their car horns.
I felt the spirit of the crowd, and I felt like we empowered them to participate and/or to have a critical awareness about the issues in our community.
Moreover, the experiences I gained were very influential. In fact, that was my first time marching in the streets, chanting and yelling.
From my perspective, the march influenced me to speak out more, but more specifically to speak out or express my thoughts or emotions lyrically.
I am a poet and I believe my lyrical voice can make a powerful statement.
Both events were incredible. I believe our strength is in our unity and once we have organization we can begin to change things.
In closing, I am reminded of what Frederick Douglass said "Without a struggle, there can be no progress,” and I strongly believe when we struggle, we will win!