Pillars of the Community: Seekers of Unity in a Climate of White Supremacy

by on August 23, 2017 · 0 comments

in From the Soul, San Diego

Group of people gathered in front of mural

Pillars of the Community

I heard talk on TV about people being “stunned” that the president would say that both sides were at fault when he had “rebuked” (if you really want to call it that) the white nationalists’ stunningly violent and reckless behavior in Virginia just the day before.

Stunned about what? I would have been stunned if he hadn’t taken his words back. What happened was the dude desperately had to get back to his true self, back to speaking from the dark places in his mind.

And the way his mind works, he can see some unreasonably angry anarchists in military uniforms, armed and armored to the teeth, chanting racist slogans, wielding clubs and torches on one side of a line and see, on the other side, a contingency from “Black Lives Matter” and Cornel West and black clergy folks and White activists for peace and justice and a White woman, Heather Heyer, being run down by a car driven by someone from the other side – and then conclude both groups were equally to blame for the horrors of that day.

This joker is dangerous, and he’s given the despicable yahoo homo sapiens who worship him the keys to the nation, free to “Make America Great Again,” like it was in the “Good Old Jim Crow Days” when you could call a spade a spade and a man “Boy” and just take the wind out of a second-class citizen’s sails on a whim …

Well, all I can say, looking at all of this, and knowing what I know from just being 79 years old, is: the well-being of my Black sisters and brothers and my Brown sisters and brothers and all people ofx color and our White allies is very much on the line at this point in time. Vernacularly: “We best git to doing some unifying!”

And as I ponder how we can do that, I can’t help but think of some friends of mine who have done great things in Southeast San Diego when it comes to unifying people around common causes.

They go by the name: Pillars of the Community.

We’d do well to join forces with them. They do it all — deal with the police; march for freedom and for reclaiming streets; promote community gardens; register voters and give them a ride to the polls.

They’ve given voice to local Black artists and rappers and singers and conducted book drives to build a library for the community that highlights the histories of peoples’ struggles for dignity — books that expose one to arts and culture and the importance of labor movements and ideas of social action and change …

They’ve played a role in the dynamic conferences that have been held the past three years on Social Justice and Education at San Diego City College, conferences that have brought together people of all colors and creeds.

Recently they convened a DocumentMe Conference at ECC (Educational Cultural Complex) that shed light on a problem in our state and in our city wherein young folks have been documented as gang members simply because of where they lived, what they wore, the lingo they spoke, the music they appreciated, who they knew …

Once they were documented they could be charged with any crime the gang was suspected of committing, whether they had knowledge of said crime or even knew that they were in a gang database.

I know two young Black men, Brandon “Tiny Doo” Duncan and Aaron Harvey, who landed in that database and faced 56 years to life for crimes they had no knowledge of. They spent seven months in a county jail.

San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has been a big proponent of such wrongdoing.

But Mr. Duncan and Mr. Harvey, in response to their mistreatment, began working with Pillars and Assemblymember Shirley Weber to advocate for legislation to end such miscarriages of justice.

From that AB2298 was born and now it’s easier for a person to contest being on a gang list and no longer can someone be designated a gang member without their knowledge.

The DocumentMe Conference stressed how important it is for Black and Brown people and their White allies to stand together against the systemic abuses of people’s rights – abuses that can easily rise in today’s social and political climate

Pillars will have none of that. They’re just what we need in the fight against white supremacy. Check them out on their website here.

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