And it still aint over yet.Although im in Cali right now-in the valley-jo(or right on its border) im going back to Nyc right way.So for those folks who can make it (in the bay) you must go to Galeria De La Raza on August 28th for the final show to wrap up the tour. Its promised by my comrades to be one of our most magnificent achievements yet!
So Arizona? Ok, ive been to Tucson before and Yuma when I went to visit my son's abuelito, tia's, and his cousin. But this was my first time in Flagstaff.Or "Flag" as they call it. We took hella long to get there because, well, Texas is HUGE! It took bout 16 or 18 hours to get there because we stopped to get yucky road food and everyone in the crew seemed to be bent on buying nick nacks or knives at spots along the way. We rolled up on the folks in what I found out was a city 7000 ft up! It was a nice cool break from the heat we had been in-100 degrees and higher! In this city it was the riny season, nice and breezy. We met some young people that were already working on a dope mural. Our contact Cy introduced us to the folks at Black Mesa Water Coalition 9a ntaive run NPO that you should che out to see the work they've done!) The young artists doing their thing and some community folks just chillin. We meeted and greeted-then headed to figure out where we could lay our heads to rest.
We ended up staying with the homies Brett and ELi-thx for the hospitality! We went out that night.Crazy! I wasnt even gonna go, but i thought, why not have a drink. Im a cheap drunk yawl, give me one drink and im on one. Yoshi bought me a white russian.
I started slangin zine like crazy in Flag dude.I must of sold about 10-15 zines in this city.Some folks were hell drunk, some were down to support, some i struck up a convo with.One things for sure, I still got it.I felt like a underground MC on telegraph (berkeley,ca) back in 95'. One thing tho POC(People of color)-i know you going thru it and you are just trying to keep youre head above water-i know this because if it wasnt for my mom, my stepdad,fam, and friends, i couldnt made it thru this tour.Bu damn, show a young brown brotha some love, please!!!! Anyway, when u sell any product whether its tapes or what have you-you always get a better response, face to face because you can actually explain to people shit, or you can relate. Slanging gives me the opportunity to give to people who really cant buy them-thats why Onierokrites is free to ALL youth 21 or younger.
Anyway, back to the tour. We started the next day earlier than we had gotten up in 3 weeks.9 am. We met with a group of native youth of full and mixed blood backgrounds.The majority of native folks in this town were from HOPI or DINE(Navajo) backgrounds. And we didnt even make it to the res (indian reservation) unfortunately. But we talked to some folks about what we did, and rapped about what they wanted to see. We went to work with their ideas and trust to come up w/ a sketch.
Some of the things the elders(young adults) told us was that there is a huge battle going on btwn the native community/+ other Flag residents to stop corporations from turning a Sacred mountain into a fucking ski-resort.Hughhhjjjkkkk! Yup, can you imagine having to explaint o white people, this land is fucking special, its sacred! Its not meant to be used as a tool to make u money! Anyway, it dont even snow that much in Flag either-they wanted to use treated water (in the middle of the desert) to make artifical snow! Wow."Goapele's "Change it All" comes to mind.
Not only that, but the area where we were at was literally on the wrong side of the tracks. This community had little black folks in it, mostly white, indian, and some latino. The area where we were was considered the south side, where all the POC were to be kept and couldnt cross the tracks to get to the other side of the city back in the day. I didnt feel any racism towards me while there-but the youth def spoke of it. Anyway, the young people came up with the idea that most folks were stuck, stagnant, or not moving. The place where the mural was to be done was in the middle of a community garden that folks worked hard to create from a field of dirt, broken glass, and trash.It was now a beautiful garden with corn, fruits, and veggies growing.And we were going to put a small mural there.
So we got an idea of people attempting to get out of a maze, and to pull themselves out using the corn stalks. It was an interesting process as we tried to work w/ the youth by helping them shape it, while giving pointers and advice.Some of the time that worked and some of the time it didnt.We a had to step back and let the folks run with it-which was another learning experience-even though we've all had teaching experience. Ok, so we keep ptg this and get offered the prospect of ptg another larger wall down the block.Everythig in the area was hella close-we would just walk from spot to spot. We started on a sketch for that and had our creativity and patience challenged because we had to rap w/ the folks.......especially Ms. Somana(Thank you!).We picked up a lot of game from Somana, and CY(A dope artist from the aea who helped organize this whole thing with our comrad Cece). We came up with sketches and ran em cross them and found out that som of the stuff was on the money and some was down right offensive.
You see, its not always cool for people who are not from a culture to go and paint something they've been told or have seen in a community.Thats why we asked and thats why every time we paint something we put some level of research into the idea before we paint. ARTISTS!! You must do this, or you could really offend some one.I dont mean censorship of you're art, i mean sacred things that are shared, not meant to be put up on a wall unless you're from that tribe. In this case were not even talking about white folks stealing brown folks' culture.Were a mixed group of artists (african amer, el salvadoran, mexican, japanese, european, phillipino, korean, and native) but none of us were from Navajo or Hopi tribes.
So we took some of the knowledge that was dropped and thought about how we could represent it in a creative and respectful matter. Go check www.trustyourstruggle.com blog to see what i mean.
Well, we def had a struggle in this town because an older white man who lived next door to the mural we painted with the young people didnt like what he saw-and changed the locks to the gate before we could finish it.Not only that, but he cursed out the homie brett( who helped organize these spots to paint) and cece. He threw huge stone into the garden, breaking corn stalks and fucking up the garden.Man, we were like "uh, lets go pay him a visit" but we all decided it would be better to chill and let him look like a fool-since he declared that he was going to destroy the mural and the community garden.It turns ou that he owned some part of the land where we painted this and was absolutely repulsed by the idea that we painted it using Aerosol.He said it was "graffiti shit, crap, not art".
As a result the dude who organized the spots to paint at was very cautious about us doing anything that looked too much like graffiti for fear of other residents' rage.Damn! Talk about resistance against art. It didnt matter though because we used cans and brushes and still collaborated with the community artists to make two dope murals that i personally recieved many compliments on while i was painting.
We even got offered to stay at and paint a Cafe in the area (after we slept on Black Mesa's floor twice!). The AppleSauce Tea House which is run By Derrick and his wife was dope.Another case of community folks taking us in.Derrick was hella cool. He not only gave us the key to his shop and gave us a nice place to crash, he also helped us get a discount on further repairs on our van "MONA". We chilled and started freestyle ptg on his walls at about 2 am!Were crazy! It turns out Derrick had heard about us and was following the tour online-he was an ex Graf Writer from the Bronx-transplanted to Flagstaff,Arizona!Wow, he told us some war stories about his train bombing, his struggle to keep open a venue that welcome the young, weid, vivrant, strange, punk, and hip hop heads in the area. Many neighbor's hated on his shope because he held live shows that brought plenty of young folks thru who didnt fit the 'normal' box. But we hooked up the theater (which is now a booming Spoken word spot) and we traded ideas with Derrick.Thank you!
Anyway, another homie Somana who gave us history lessons also cooked a dinner for us.Twice! With the entire native arts, and political movement in Flag eaing with us and doing a prayer-which i couldnt quite understand because it was in DINE(navajo language).But it was hella positive and we got to meet and kick it with many folks who brought all kinds of food for us. And you thought we were crazy for doing this art for free? The people showed us how much they appreciated our exhange and restored som of my faith in humanity! Peace to Somana's husband "Yaiva" -hes a native mc who has shared the stage w/ some prominent folks up there. Somonas told some great stories and had us laughing hella times as she talked bout the birthing process (which i remember vividly) and their visit to SF and "standing out" on Muni.
Then, another friend whos name escapes me at the moment, opened his home to us for a home made pizza party with him, his sons, alot of music playing/jamming, cookies, and cake.Whew.We ate better this week than we had in hella long! Thank you!!! Flagstaff.We wrapped up last paint touches, thx for the love francis!, made soem friends, and said our goodbyes.
No matter what happends after the tour, whether people know about it or not we got hugs, and personal thank you's from people.Face to face, hand to hand.And the fact that we could have an exchange like that is what matters most. Art is seriously needed yawl.So if you have to do some corporate shit to pay the bills-im def not mad at you.But do something for the people-they need it the most and will thank you for it.They'll even open their hearts and their homes to you if you give them that gift. I may be broke as fuck right now, but i became so much wealthier with friendship and experience.I know i could go back to any of those cities and theyd give me a place to stay-theyd share whatever they had-and theyre struggling too!
"The job of the revolutionary artist is to make the revolution irresistable".
Change comes the minute we exchange.
A proud member of the Trust Your Struggle Collective