Letters for May 13 

Readers sound off on Burners and JR Valrey.

"Burners Torched Over Native Party," Music, 4/1

An Opportunity Missed

The intention of this letter is not to further fan the flames of the conflict that has arisen over Visionary Village's party theme "Go Native" but rather to express concern and disappointment in the East Bay Express for allowing such a slanted, inaccurate, dismissive, and historically ignorant article to be published in your paper, hidden in the April Fools issue. While the article thoroughly chronicled the "lecturing," "blasting," and "excoriation" of the young Visionary Village representatives, it does little to uncover the reason behind the anger expressed by Native American and allied non-native community members. This lack of understanding, and apparent lack of interest in understanding why fifty or more Native American people would take five hours out of their Saturday evenings to speak to a gathering like this, highlights the very ignorance that angered people in the first place.

The dispute is depicted as though some foolish youth made a simple mistake and were then forced to endure strict punishment that outweighed the original infraction. However the "go easy on them" sentiment expressed by the author seems to only extend one direction. It is not easily disputed that this country was founded on the genocide of Native American communities. And while Native Americans in this country continue to face the calculated cultural genocide of relocation, destruction of sacred lands, poverty and marginalization, they are expected to take lightly the further dismissal of their human rights by flattening their lives into party themes akin to aliens, cartoons, and fire dragons.

Regardless of the direction the party planners intended their party theme of "Go Native" to take, there must be some responsibility taken by the planners for its contribution to the pervading racist stereotypes of Native Americans common in this country. The article failed to recognize the tremendous restraint and compassion from the Bay Area Native community in generously taking time out to address this oversight with Visionary Village and instead depicted the "real Natives" as hyper-sensitive or over-reacting.

Where are the hordes of outraged people asking Peabody Coal Company or Newmont Mining Corp to "go easy on 'em" as they destroy the ancestral homelands of the remaining Native Americans who have survived over 500 years of genocide? In addition to the historical facts of small-pox blankets, massacres of men women and children, broken treaties, Indian Schools, and relocation, the current struggles Native Americans face were not researched and presented as essential background information for the outrage at being dismantled and romanticized into a "four directions" party theme. Without this information, the anger expressed at the event cannot be understood. It is irresponsible for East Bay Express to publish such an inflammatory, unprofessionally researched article.

The Visionary Village's party theme was a narrow-minded mistake. In all of the web wars that have resulted from this mistake being brought to Visionary Village's attention, little has been done to educate themselves to understand the Native American community's perspective, accept responsibility and apologize for the obvious ignorance, and move on to a place of greater understanding and true support for one another. This article did nothing more than provide a platform for further distortion of the facts by yet another unaccountable contributor to this growing conflict. East Bay Express reporters should accurately cover the history behind the anger, giving a balanced coverage of the tears and frustration on all sides, as well as offering solutions such as supporting the ongoing struggles of Native American communities like the Western Shoshone to defend their sacred places from Barrick Gold Corporation. How many Emeryville residents know they are living on sacred Ohlone ground where developers destroyed a shell mound and named a mall after it? The East Bay Express can spread awareness of the Shell Mound Walk that happens each year and provide links to for concerned people to get involved at websites like VallejoIntertribalCouncil.org, BSNorrell.blogspot.com, and BlackMesaIS.org. The article also failed to cover the greater awareness and responsibility that is now being held by courageous and humble non-native individuals who stopped defending their ignorance, and have benefited from this wake up call.

Conflict can serve to transform peoples' understanding dramatically. Though the article represents a missed opportunity for that possibility, further pieces that delve deeper and honor the wisdom and experience of Native voices might perhaps offer some remedy to the oversights and misrepresentation in the article that was printed.

A group of Native and non-native allies concerned with holding the community accountable for acts that perpetuate racism

"Agent Provocateur," Feature, 4/8

Valrey Is Responsible

This is the problem with Oakland: White cop shoots and kills black male, riots ensue. Black male kills four cops and is considered a hero by some. On the surface to the untrained soul, the five deaths appear to be about skin color but underneath it all there is a spiritual conflict between good vs. evil, compassion vs. aggression and love vs. hate.

Hate is merely energy, a vibration. It doesn't care what skin color you are and like a disease it seeks a host. It's apparent that hate has found a hospitable home in the heart of JR Valrey. If Oakland learned to love more there would be less space for hate. JR Valrey is adding fuel to the already burning fire and is just as responsible for the anger and hatred that thrives in Oakland. He's no better than the system he claims to hate.

[name withheld by request, Berkeley]

Living Up to the Title

As far as I'm concerned JR is indeed an agent provocateur and I can site several instances of his reactionary actions. Firstly, he was with me on 9/11 in New York, actually we were in Newark watching the twin towers fall from our hotel window. JR interviewed me with the twin towers in the background. He has refused to give me a copy of this footage. I asked community brothers to intervene but to no avail. I have wanted to give him a beat down, but how would that look — Marvin X beats down youth he's supposed to be saving. Anyway, we then go down to Broad and Market where an agent is awaiting us. As I interviewed people while JR filmed, the agent followed us inch for inch, toe to toe. When we moved up the street, he moved with us. When we crossed the street, he crossed with us. I think JR told this agent to meet him/us there. Again, JR has this footage and has refused to give me a copy of my and his work. Then when we return to the Bay a friend of mine was approached by some black Muslims who told him I had been saying some things about the Muslims and he should stay away from me. Now the only person I was talking with about Muslims was JR on the plane to New York. I don't know if he was bugged or not, but only JR could have told the Muslims what I said.

Also, JR has been recording important events for years but has not released the tapes, such as the Tupac Conferences, thus is guilty of withholding information, which is why I call him the Minister of Misinformation. He has also taken pictures of me at events with other radical brothers but when the pics appeared in the Bay View, he had cut me out of the picture. This I call the sin of omission or Misinformation.

He has tried to provoke me into kicking his ass on several occasions in the public but I have resisted because I know he is a sick puppy on a mission from the devil.

Most importantly, his calls to Bey IV on the morning of Chauncey's murder must be explained, otherwise we can only think he was involved. How can he say he was Chauncey's friend when he is on the phone talking with the murder suspects in front of Chauncey's house a few hours before the murder? If he were Chauncey's friend, why didn't he inform Chauncey about what was getting ready to go down?

Again, my main fear has been of his association with Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., that JR would set him up as the agent set up his father, Fred Hampton Sr.


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