This piece commemorates the life of a young man who lived a double life inside and outside academia. As a modest king in the inside, he found safety within his community of friends, teachers, and staff at school. As a noble warrior on the outside, he found caution within walking a fine line between the streets and home. Both worlds came with their own set of expectations and at times negotiations around what mattered more. What makes him a valiant king of Oakland is where he stood in between both worlds. He did his best to hold his ground of resiliency, courage, humor, wit, and leadership. And he did it in mad style!
Like many other black and brown people, their lives move fast while navigating through the pros and cons within their communities. The pros being a strong sense of family, acceptance and support which unites them. The cons being a fierce race to attain power and status through violence which divides them. The other obstacle is figuring out which side will protect you when tension arises. The pain that runs deep within gangs unfortunately is rooted in generations of oppression within black and brown communities struggling to get their piece of the pie to success when society has told them time and time again that they can't have any. In addition to the lack of resources and financial support the path to opportunities are slime and difficult to attain, creating tension between the realists and idealists. The realists believe that they will never win society's game so they'll dodge it to make their own game with their own rules to gain success; which they know is a risky and dangerous journey but necessary for survival. The idealists believe that they will learn society's game and find a way to gain success and earn their place in the world, which they also know will be difficult but worth it. Regardless neither of these sides can guarantee protection from the violence that occurs within these communities. What needs to happen to create positive change is to bridge the gap between the realists and idealists. Envisioning and building a society where black and brown people are accepted, supported, nurtured, educated and empowered.
To this fallen king whose journey ended too soon, may your spirit live on in the many people you have touched in both worlds. Rest in peace, forever in mad style. And to the hope that other kings and queens succeed in their journeys.
For every poster purchased 100% of the proceeds will be donated to this empowering education organization that serves and collaboratively run by youth in the black/brown community Kingmakers of Oakland.
If you'd like to educate yourself about gun violence in black and brown communities here are a few resources I referenced to create this piece:
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By: Bill Jersey
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By: Andy To
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Purchase "Nights Full of Red and Black" here!