Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Get Up, Stand Up

June means Juneteenth (the 19th of June) which is the day African Americans celebrate the freeing of slaves back in 1863 --tho it didn't reach the folks in Texas until June 19, 1865 (which kind of sounds suspicious, perhaps there was a Bush in power way back then?). We in Pomona don't have to go far to teach our children about freedom and diversity, since our very own Ganesha Park in Pomona is host to the Pomona Valley Family Juneteenth Celebration and Job Fair on Saturday, June 17 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. That's at 1575 White Avenue. Info at 621-9707. It's free and there's entertainment, food and activities for the entire family. This is one of the largest Juneteenth events in California.

Before I lived here, I was under the impression that Pomona was a predominantly African American city, like Oakland or Detroit. I was suprised by how few Black folks I've seen around town since moving here in 2003. From what I understand (and correct me if I am wrong), Pomona used to have a much larger population of African Americans starting in the late 1960's when a General Dynamics plant closed here and opened up lots of affordable housing, at the same time that the Watts Riot in Los Angeles caused many Black folks to move out of Los Angeles. By the year 2000, however, the population of African Americans here had dwindled to 9 percent. My friends Charmaine and Jennifer, both Pomona natives, tell me most Black people moved from Pomona because they bought brand new homes in Rialto and parts east. A native Pomonian that my husband plays basketball with had a more ominous explanation. He claims that the Mexican Mafia declared open season on Black people found on the streets of Pomona. According to him, after a Black person was actually killed to make good on the threat, there was a mass exodus. Fact or folklore?

One thing is for sure, the underground railway's Harriet Tubman was an awesome individual. I found an adorable internet site created by children all about her at http://www2.lhric.org/poCantico/tubman/tubman.html If you can't get to Juneteenth with your toddler, they'd probably enjoy the timeline, complete with computer generated children's pictures.

Mr. Big is one quarter African American. He does not look the part (his other nickname is Undercover Brother), nor does he see his Black relatives, since they all live in Connecticut. I therefore welcome the opportunity to expose him to his heritage. See you Juneteenth.


Anonymous said...

As to why the African American population of Pomona has diminished so much over the past couple of decades...I think both of your reasons are correct. When I moved here from Miami in the late 70's, Pomona was a frightening place. There were many more African Americans,Black people, if you prefer,the gang activity was atrocious, and the stores and businesses were fleeing P-town. Second Street, now struggling to remain an antique, or at least, a collector's area of town, was just beginning. Western University had not yet moved into the east end of the street. Brown on Black violence was, as I vividly remember, out in the open and commonplace. The reputation of Holt and Mission as street-walking hot spots was well established. Now? Black Americans are very few in number, the town is very largely Latino/a, predominantly Mexican American, and the city is substantially safer, in better condition, and moving in a positive direction. I think. The school system is a well-known disaster and more than likely will remain so for years to come, the new mayor is bright, likeable, and in my view, capable of making some positive changes.
I'm active on a few city projects - just a volunteer trying to help - and am disappointed that several people continue to think that they can get something by gaining a little power in this town. That attitude obviously slows things down.
You've spent a lot of time and energy on this blog; lots of good links. I'll continue to check back. Lincoln Park district is lovely. It would be lovelier if neighbors didn't feel like they had to turn each other in to the code enforcement for every little thing. C'mon, it's Pomona.

Goddess of Pomona said...

Thanks for the informative post. I'm heartened to hear the new mayor described as bright and capable of making changes. I figured the later when I read she had been aggravating the rest of the city council over certain issues. Even needed change will be resisted by many. Come to think of it, I do see the code enforcement truck prowling around here nearly every weekend. Please do continue to check in here, and if you want, make up a name, so that we know it's you. do you think the antique district will survive?

ShaSha Hodnett said...

Well, all I can say about the African American (I prefer Black) community in Pomona is that in the 1970's there was a large Black community in Pomona. Yes, many Blacks came to Pomona during the 1960's and a lot of them did come from L.A. However, many more came from places, like Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, just to name few. Some are deeply rooted in Pomona, because their families have been in Pomona for 50+ years. Keep your eyes open. They're coming back. Many did leave because of the Mexican Mafia and the gang wars. An entire generation of young people lost their lives because of the fights over turf and drug territory. Many left family and property behind, and now........they're coming back with others, who are not Black, to help clean up the mess that our politicians have allowed to fester for so long in our fair city. Stay tuned. You're going to be surprised at the activity that takes place at the grassroots level of activism in Pomona. People are sick and tired of the wholesale MURDERS that take place regularly in our hometown, and they're mobilizing to put a stop to it.

ShaSha Hodnett said...

Just a note regarding the response from the person who moved to Pomona from Florida, and chooses to remain anonymous. I understood his/her comments to mean that since the Black community has diminished in Pomona, the crime has gone down? Ha!! I think not. There are MURDERS every weekend in Pomona!! The Mexcian Mafia has basically taken over Pomona. What is perceived as relative peace is a farce. If you mind your own business and turn a blind-eye to what's going on, then of course Pomona seems like a quaint little town with just a few problems. Lift up the covers my friends and you'll see the real Pomona. This attitude of thinking that everything is fine, because it hasn't touched you yet is amazing, and it's a fallacy. Many hardworking Black parents left Pomona and their property, because they simply got tired of their children being KILLED OFF, and the Pomona Police Department and city officials across the board, ignoring what was (and still) going on. A change is coming though, because many of the children of those families who left Pomona are coming back to their hometown, property, friends and family that were left behind. If what's been going on thusfar in Pomona is considered peaceful, then I feel sorry for the deluded who still live in Pomona. Everyone knows that the city officials turned a blind eye and colluded with the Mexican Mafia to chase Blacks out of Pomona!! Even people who have never lived in Pomona are aware of this. That dog that they unleashed on the Black community is going to turn on them one day, if something isn't done. Now stick that in your pipe and smoke it!! The only reason that Lincoln Park is somewhat safe is because of the agreement that the city has with the Mexican Mafia not to touch that area. I am amazed at the complete and utter ignorance of those who think that their little world is safe. Like I said in my previous post....there's a grassroots movement coming and those of us who have watched our city turned into the "arm-pit" of Los Angeles County are coming back in droves. Guess what?!! We're not all Black!! We're Brown, White, Black, Red, Yellow, etc. We want Pomona back the way it was intended to be, a small quaint little town with a rich history, and a place where people can walk their dogs, ride a bike, or sit on a bus stop, without fear of possibly having to dodge bullets!