Monday, July 5, 2010
Parable of the San Francisco Negro
Parable of the San Francisco Negro
photos by Khalifa Does
Plato Negro spent the afternoon of July 4, 2010, at the San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Festival. Now we know San Francisco is Plato's favorite city, known as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and Plato loves beauty and truth. But if truth be told, the San Francisco Jazz Festival is a classic example of ethnic cleansing or gentrification. Those with a distaste for the term Negro, need to do a memory check as the old men did who sat and stood in the back of Plato as he vended his books and gave out posters of Oscar Grant, the young man murdered in cold blood on New Year's Day a year ago by a BART police officer, now charged with murder.
Plato arrived in the late afternoon of the last day of the two day festival. The crowd was whiter than snow, a sea of whites passing up and down Fillmore. Plato could hear the old men at his back talking about the old days in Fillmore, when there would be hardly any whites on Fillmore, and instead of the streets filled with whites, it would be filled with blacks full of joy and happiness in their world, despite their negrocities. On almost any night, there could be heard jazz up and down Fillmore Street, the main drag in the San Francisco Black community. We were called Negroes then, yet we had culture and community, a thriving community.
Today you hate the term Negro, you want to be Black, African, African American, North American African, yet you have nothing on Fillmore. Not a pot to piss in. You've been castrated, lynched, crucified, mortified, pasteurized and homogenized.
You've been invaded by aliens from another planet, some ET motherfuckers. Plato was set up near a stage for Swing dancers. He didn't see many blacks swing dancing. Actually, he didn't hear any jazz where he was posted. There was a stage behind him but it was vacant. People were seated in the audience area but there was no music. A New Orleans brass band came through doing Second Line music, but it weak, like a West Coast imitation. You know when you hear that Second Line music you got to get up and cut a step. Plato didn't move as the band passed.
Blacks and Whites gave a donation for his Oscar Grant poster. One white man asked Plato what are "they" going to do when the verdict is announced. Plato replied, they're going to pray to Jesus! The white man didn't seem satisfied with the answer. He seemed seriously troubled, as though he had been put on and had by a smart Negro, which he had! Don't let Plato go to his arrogant mood.
Paul Smith, a trumpet player from Plato's Black Arts West Theatre, 1966, came by. Paul got hooked on heroin and stopped playing his trumpet years ago, but he kept up with Plato and his writings. Plato told Paul his latest book was a thirty hitter, knowing Paul understood dope fiend language. Yeah, Paul, you read my book you going into an epileptic seizure, you gonna call the paramedics, you will run out into the middle of Fillmore Street butt naked! Paul understood.
Earl Davis, another trumpet player from Black Arts West, came through with his Sun Ra painted shoes and cap. Earl is an angry old man in his 70s. He dares white people show him how they have a right to sing the blues. Were you in the cotton field with me, were you on the lynching tree with me, were you in the slave hut when massa came to fuck me and my woman? Don't tell me bout no blues white ofay motherfucker. That's Earl!
Not too many original Fillmore Negroes still around. You can spot them like the old men standing in my backfield. dressed cleaner that an Philadelphia Negro, and you know that's hard to do cause that Philly Negro is trying to outdo that New York Negro, although I've noticed nobody
can out peacock that Louisiana, New Orleans, Lake Charles Negro! He struts like a peacock straight outta Africa.
Let truth be told, Black Fillmore is dead, there shall be no revival. A Japanese asked Plato where is Japan town? Plato said, you're in it! Ok, go up a block past Geary. Now the whites always had Upper Fillmore, the Negroes had lower. But not these days, the whites have it all, hook, line and sinker. They all up in yo face with their white supremacy bullshit. Walkin round like they own the place--and they do! You couldn't go to your homosexual banker to get a real estate loan, but they could. Other than subsidized rental housing, your ass in out the Fillmore, and San Francisco for that matter. Even the HUD rules have changed to allow middle class whites to qualify for the housing projects that have been renovated into nice townhouses. There is a zero tolerance crime policy--fuck up once and your ass is out, granny too.
Let it be known former Mayor Alioto apologized for destroying the economic and cultural vitality of the Fillmore with "Negro Removal" but the nigguhs on the Redevelopment Agency never apologized. Does the white man have a right to sing the blues--if he tells the truth?
As per Oscar Grant, Plato told the people why are you praying when God has already answered.
Louvelle Mixon granted Oscar justice, and the brother in Washington State co-signed. So Oscar Grant is justified. The first time Plato met Black Panther Huey P. Newton at Richard Thorne's room, Huey asked Plato, "What is your program?" To the students in the BSU at a Laney College, in the name of Huey Newton, I ask, "What is your program?" To the people of Oakland, I ask, in the name of Huey, what is your program? Burning down small businesses ain't no program. Burning down people's cars ain't no program. Voting for the wicked Jerry Brown for governor ain't no program either. What is your program? What is your agenda? What is your plan for the next fifty to one hundred years? Can you think that far ahead. If you can't, you ain't a Negro, ain't Black, ain't African, ain't nothing. We think, therefore we is, therefore we plan!