Black Literary Collective Launches at Youth Uprising

What is the Black Literary Collective? How did you come up with the concept?

The Black Literary Collective (BLC) is a group of extremely diverse and talented black authors who are passionate about serving the community through their literary and community work. The idea for the BLC came to me after doing a number of events in schools and community spaces for my book Black Boy Poems. Seeing young people respond with so much excitement to an author who comes from their same context and seeing literary works that feature their context, made me want to find ways to expand that impact. I’m a product of the colonial public school system and know the experience of not seeing any black literature or black authors. Also, not being engaged in the curriculum because my story was never told. I knew we could create a group of powerful brothers and sisters who could make sure that would not be the reality of students in schools today.

You have ten authors. How did you choose your writers? What do they represent in the collective?

We have ten authors as of now, and eventually will expand to include more. The six brothers and four sisters who are the founding members of the collective are tremendous people. Some of the best folks I could ever want to be connected to and work with. Many of them I was lucky to consider friends before starting the collective, and a few I met doing book events. They are all highly respected by the community. They also represent different lived experiences and genres of work. I wanted to create a cross section of the black experience so the community could really see the beauty of who we are in the work that is represented. I was trying to have an equal balance between men and women but I fell short on that for now. We have children’s books, memoirs, poets, fiction writers, emotional intelligence/self development and revolutionary literature represented in our collective. We have college graduates and folks who became victims of the prison industrial complex. We also have a member that fiercely represents our disabled community. It wouldn’t be a true representation of our African diaspora without featuring at least one member from the African continent, we are blessed to have an incredible author from East Africa on our roster. It is a must that our people can see powerful representations of the beautiful diversity that makes us who we are.

You have a launch event on September 15th at Youth Uprising. What do you want people to take away from the event?

The goal of the launch event is to introduce the collective to the community. We have been doing work in the schools and the communities but it is time to expand what we’re able to do for the community. We’ll be highlighting what we offer as a collective. Author’s talks, forums, workshops, collaborative programs, curriculum development, trainings and professional development. Folks in attendance will learn about the collective and we’ll start scheduling dates for the collective to begin working with various organizations. We will have some fun but also get to work.

If people cannot attend, how can they get in touch with you?If folks want to learn more about the collective, they can reach out here: blacklitcollective@gmail.com
We all can serve the people in our own ways. I believe the BLC is a great first step in interrupting curriculum that does not prioritize the black experience in classroom settings. We need the help and support of the community to make sure that our young folks receive a proper revolutionary educational foundation so they can be the agents of change our communities needs.

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Nia Wilson Vigil Unifies Oakland Activists to Confront White Supremacy and Media Perceptions

It has been over one week since the death of Nia Wilson, an 18-year-old young woman from Oakland who was going home on Bart and was stabbed “prison-style” while trying to transfer trains with her sister.

There was a lot to digest last week. The week before, a bar called Make Westing on Telegraph posted on their facebook page that the notorious right-wing men’s group Proud Boys had contacted the bar intending to do a meet up there the Monday night this vigil happened.

Proud Boys is a right-wing group that started out supporting the Alt-Right movement, but by June of last year quickly disavowed the Alt-Right once they saw the potential violence that was being planned for the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally that happened August 12, 2017, and did in the death of Heather Heyer and many others hurt at the hands of white supremacist groups.

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While Proud Boys boast a diverse roster of members that include Black, Brown, Asian, LGBTQ, etc., they are also known for rallying side by side with white nationalist groups like R.A.M. and Identity Europa. They are also known for going to rallies in what would be dubbed highly Liberal, anti-Trump leaning cities to agitate violence while documenting the fights so they can attract more eager fighters for their cause.

While Proud Boys, later on, denied contacting Make Westing bar, the damage on social media had been done by Monday night as it made its rounds all over social media throughout Oakland residents. A planned protest had already been set to take place in front of the bar to protect anyone who may be in the area.

Proud Boys did not make a comment about the bars posting and the planned protest until after Nia Wilson’s vigil happened which ended in front of Make Westing bar at the planned protest.

While Proud Boys claim they had nothing to do with the meetup, they are not reliable sources considering they also have spread rumors like the “Okay” hand sign being used to mean white power, as a joke.

While Make Westing’s bar post claims Proud Boys did indeed make plans for a meet-up, there is also not enough evidence to support they were planning the meetup other than their post.

The rumor of Proud Boys coming to host a meet up for their group in Oakland had already been circulated earlier in the week of Wilson’s death, which had heightened the communities conclusions even to assume the killer, who at the time had not been apprehended. A few accusations spread on social media that the killer was a Proud Boy or white supremacist.

The vigil march for Wilson was framed around the basis that black woman, and young black girls, need protection from threats reminiscent to the past when lynchings and Jim Crow were the rules of law.

Oaklander’s have plenty of reason to resonate with this threat. Over the last 3 months, there has been video after video of black people having the police called on them or harassed for doing normal everyday things in public spaces. From having police called on black men barbecuing at Lake Merritt while being harassedand told they don’t belong there to a homeless man’s being thrown in the lake at Lake Merritt by a white jogger, these instances have only unified Oakland while at the same time frustrated long-time residents who see gentrification as a constant threat to their ability to live peacefully in Oakland.

Last year there were numerous far right-wing rallies in neighboring Berkeley which many Oakland activists have been actively participating in to stop fascism from growing in the streets. Proud Boys have been active in all of the last years violent Berkeley rallies and have a significant part in organizing them while promoting them online.

During Wilson’s vigil as her friends and family started to talk on the bed of a pickup truck to the over 1000 attendees who marched down Telegraph Avenue from MacArthur Bart station, about 6 men walked across the street causing a disturbance. Many witnesses saw the men pointing at the truck shouting. One of the men allegedly pushed a man saying “Fuck Black Panthers” another allegedly tried to swing at him.

What followed was several of the white male agitators ran in two different directions while one was jumped by numerous people until he was rescued by police. The identity of the men is still unknown.

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Following the coverage of Wilson’s death, local news channel KTVU owned by Fox affiliate had angered the community and Wilson’s family by showing her on a news broadcast with what looked like a gun being held to her ear but was actually a phone case.

KTVU later apologized, but that was not enough as a protest was organized with a list of demands.

Among organizers with Wilson’s family was Alena Museum of West Oakland who posted on their instagram the details for a march from their location in West Oakland to the KTVU studios at Jack London square to negotiate the families list of demands to correct news media’s portrayal of black victims.

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Mainstream media’s continued dehumanization of Black Lives by criminalizing them is White Supremacy! —- OAKLAND ARTISTS SEEK JUSTICE FOR NIA WILSON #justiceforniawilson Calling All Artists, Drummers and concerned Community members. Rally & March Thursday, July 26th – 10am: Congregate at the Alice Street Mural across from the Malonga Center 1428 Alice Street, Oakland – 11am: March to KTVU – 12pm: Rally at KTVU, 2 Embarcadero, Oakland In light of the weak apology offered by Fox News for the racist, insensitive and dehumanizing use of a personal picture of Oakland teen, Nia Wilson who was murdered at the MacArthur BART station, members of the ARTS community have united with the family of Nia Wilson to seek answers and justice from local FOX affiliate KTVU Channel 2. . . We the community of Oakland, artists, viewers and consumers of KTVU news, are organizing to express our anger and outrage for KTVU's decision to air an image of Nia Wilson with a cell phone case that looked like a gun in the wake of her tragic death at the hands of John Lee Cowell. . . Alena Museum will have a altar installation outside of ktvu news station for all to come and pay respects to her life. Art work by @lady_luuz

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