Monday, April 21, 2008

Detroiters Reclaim Foreclosed Home

Detroit Campaign Against Foreclosures and Evictions Escalates

Community volunteers move foreclosure victim back into home

by Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire

Activist speaking at eviction reversal on April 17, 2008
http://www. flickr. com/photos/53911892@N00/2431643976/

Photo of people moving eviction victim back into home
http://www. flickr. com/photos/53911892@N00/2431630924/

DETROIT, April 21, 2008--A delegation of Detroit activists traveled to
Washington, DC on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 to participate in the
national demonstration called by the Ad Hoc Network to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions.

The action took place outside the Mortgage Bankers
Association Annual Policy Summit held in a hotel just two blocks away from
Capital Hill.

Many of the people who were outside the Washington Court Hotel on April
16 provided firsthand accounts of how their households and communities
have been devastated by the mortgage banking crisis that has rendered
at least 2 million dwellings vacant throughout the country.

Sandra Hines of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War &
Injustice (MECAWI) told the security personnel and bankers standing outside the
hotel where the summit was being held, that "you may think this is
funny but this crisis impacts people everyday in the city of Detroit.


Hines, who is a former Detroit Public School Social Worker, ran a
grassroots campaign for a district seat on the local school board and was
subsequently evicted from her childhood home as a result of predatory

As soon as the MECAWI delegation returned to Detroit on Thursday, April
17, a call went out about a young woman being evicted in the heavily
depressed Linwood Corridor area on the city's west side.

The homeowner
has three children and a 84-year-old mother, whose wheelchair was thrown
out of the home by thugs acting on behalf of the Wayne County baliffs
who enforce the mortgage banker's evictions against hundreds of
families through the region everyday.

It is estimated that approximately
72,000 homes are in foreclosure in southeastern Michigan alone.

Around 50 activists went to the young woman's home and took the
furniture, appliances, clothes, family photos and documents and moved them back into the house. These household items had been drug out of the home and thrown violently into a dumpster parked outside the property.

Furniture and appliances were broken in the eviction process.

bought for the children living at the home was thrown out.

Telephone lines
were ripped out and a bathroom sink was knocked from the wall and
thrown outside in the yard by the agents hired to carry out the bidding of
the mortgage bankers, who incidently are represented by a Wall
Street-based security's firm.

Community meeting to build broad coalition

As a result of the national demonstration in Washington, DC and the
announcement by Michigan State Senator Hasen Clarke that he would
introduce legislation that would impose a two-year moratorium on foreclosures in the state, MECAWI called for a meeting to press for the formation of a broader coalition to push for the passage of the bill.

The meeting was attended by State Senator Hasen Clarke and members of
his staff along with other community activists in the areas of housing,
religion, education and labor. Rev.

Edward Rowe, Pastor of the Central
United Methodist Church, where the meeting was held in downtown
Detroit, pledged office space to house the new coalition which constituted
itself as the Moratorium Now Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions.

Coalition committees were established in the areas of eviction
reversals, legal strategies, publicity, outreach and office staffing.

Data is
being accumulated on city councils, county commissions, community
organizations and other institutions throughout the Detroit metropolitan area
and the state.

This data will be utilized in a massive mobilization
campaign to win the moratorium.


Jerome Goldberg, who along with another lawyer Vanessa Fluker,
discussed the persistent efforts on the part of the mortgage bankers to
drive thousands from their homes in the region.

"This moratorium will not be won through traditional lobbying but will
be achieved through putting people in the streets throughout the state
and at the capital in Lansing," said David Sole, President of UAW Local

Sole, who commited himself to work on the outreach committee for
the new coalition, said that seven homes were vacant as a result of
foreclosure on his block alone on the east side of the city.

A follow-up meeting of the Moratorium Now Coalition to Stop
Foreclosures and Evictions will be held on Saturday, May 3 at 3:00pm at Central United Methodist Church. By this time the activist are aiming to have set up the office at the Church with a phone and donated equipment.

office will be staffed by a team of volunteers.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Nana in the Garden: Taking Care of Ourselves

Joyce McKenzie, my Nana, can make anything grow. Look at me. First grandchild with the flowering hair, the undisciplinable body, granddaughter of a once undocumented immigrant (my Nana) with a migrant spirit, nomad hands and a disdain for passports. Some people know how to make anything grow. Even the most difficult, unpredictable shoots of hope we have.

This is for Nana. Nana who snuck into my room to end my cough by rubbing white rum on my chest. Nana who made me drink all kinds of things I was afraid of. "Drink it down! While it's hot!" Nana of the lemon and honey. Nana of the best soup EVER. Nana of the cornmeal porridge. Nana of the the cod-liver oil. Nana of the seven seas. Nana who reminds me every month to get a British Passport. Nana who knows why one citizenship is not enough. Nana of the golden seal. Nana who finds sweaters and wool pants in South Florida to mail North "for my little professor". Nana of the box of oranges mailed from Florida to the New York City dorm room twice a winter. Nana of the Valentine's Day cards, the Easter Cards, the it's Wednesday and I love my granddaughter cards. Nana who sent me the microwave and the rice cooker, anything to get that skinny child to eat. Some people know how to nurture even the most threatened and least cooperative green young things.

Nana is from Jamaica. Which means we are from Jamaica. None of us will never get used to frost. And since Nana lives in central Florida she rarely has to. Just last month she called incredulous about a freeze that cut short the life of her hibiscus flowers. Today she told me that she will be planting roses again. I love my hibiscus, but roses are hardy, she said. They know how to survive the winter. Everything Nana says is advice, whether she knows it or not. I need to embroider that somewhere. "They know how to survive the winter." But even though I have a sewing machine in my old school living room, near the mantle that features a picture of me as a little kid between my two grandmothers. Even though my Grandma Lydia Gumbs went to Pratt, sewed the prize winning graduation dress, and made me the most elaborate halloween costumes, my own black raggedy-ann dolls, I haven't learned how to sew yet.

And even though Nana has grown mangoes, oranges, bananas, hibiscus, roses and more in backyards from Miami to Lakeland, I haven't learned to garden yet either. If it wasn't for my partner even my bamboo would probably have withered long ago. But now...along with the womyn in the SPEAK collective and the remnants of UBUNTU the unruly, ungrounded shake in my hands is meeting the earth. It is time to take care of ourselves. My backyard (or our yard behind the house I rent) is about to become our community garden. Basil, tomatoes, lettuce, goldfish, marigolds, rainbarrels, compost, corn, cucumbers. I know nothing about any of this, but some people know how to make anything grow. Even me.

This morning Nana had surgery. A lumpectomy and for five days she will be having radiation. Yesterday Nana made her famous soup..with the dumplings in it...I'm hungry even thinking about it. My mother is in Florida with Nana doing a raw fruit and vegetable fast (which means she couldn't eat the soup either!). She is confident telling me that she will be okay. And I believe and intend that she will recover quickly. She has already promised to come boss us around here in the garden in Durham. And next month my mother is fulfilling her lifelong goal to become a doula by participating in a doula training specifically for women of color co-sponsored by SisterSong. And Mama Nayo said she'd come back to us as babies or corn. And we are alive and growing. We are taking care of ourselves.

Blessed are the gardeners. We know how to make each other grow. Hold my Nana in your thoughts.


p.s. this is also for Sanesha Stewart's grandmother who I was blessed to hear speak at the beautiful vigil in her honor at the Bronx Community Pride Center this weekend. Outliving our grandmothers is hard. We cannot afford to outlive our granddaughters. Hold in your thoughts a beautiful loving woman who is outliving her granddaughter now because of transphobic violence.