Community Ownership of Afrikatown


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The Afrikatown Community Garden is a project of Qilombo Community Center geared towards the radical, creative engagement and incitement of our neighbors within the McClymonds/ “Ghosttown” district and our supporting revolutionary activist communities. Our neighbors are largely low income and/or houseless Black & Brown people; specifically we want to acknowledge our neighbors who reside in West Oakland’s “tent-city” where houseless peoples pitch tents and community members who live in the motels or low-come housing projects close to the community garden. Afrikatown Collective has been thinking through our slow but steady advancements towards liberating land and our peoples: We have reclaimed and liberated a plot of land to create an Indigenous permaculture-centered community garden that anyone can come and eat from; We have made sincere alliances with local Ohlone Indigenous peoples to reclaim Ho-chien as not only their ancestral land but their current land; We have put up murals that bring pride to the district we have created and self-organized, called Afrikatown, which captures the strength and sense of community we share with our neighbors. We are a land-based movement that reconceptualizes community control: we are the frontline community, Black and Brown, who gather and learn together as we face ecological and social crises. The next phase of our community garden is the TRUE investment in our community: the ownership of our community garden!  Our goal is to ultimately create a culture where people not only include gardening in their daily lives and neighborhoods, but also feel equipped to live off of the land. Help of stop gentrification, help us inspire other cities to stop gentrification, donate today to help us make history and put power back in our hands.

Learn more about the history and vision of Afrikatown:

The scope of Qilombo’s work has been broad, and our accomplishments have been multifaceted. One recent campaign which has been highly successful is the launch of Afrikatown, a community revitalization project that combats gentrification through public art centering Afrikan culture and heritage. West Oakland has been a center of Black culture, commerce and revolutionary activity for generations. The Black Panther Party grew out of the streets of North and West Oakland, and the neighborhood has been a centerpiece of the Black Power movement since the 1960s. With the influx of tech corporations to the Bay Area there has been a massive wave of gentrification that has brought swarms of wealthy white people into the neighborhood. This has meant skyrocketing property values, rising rents and an epidemic of evictions that are displacing Black and Brown residents on a massive scale. 

Many neighborhoods have been rebranded to appeal to wealthier, whiter new residents. KONO, NOBE, Brooklyn, and Uptown are all new additions to Oakland’s landscape. In our neighborhood, a new organization called the Hoover District Resident Action Council has formed to rebrand our neighborhood (which most people call Ghost Town), in order to raise property values and appeal to gentrifying developers. They are advocating for increased policing and surveillance, the privatization of public space, and rebranding the neighborhood “Hoover District.” The type of “development” envisioned by this Council is not the kind that serves poor Black and Brown people. Like many other such councils that have sprung up around Oakland, their goal is to facilitate gentrification, feeding the epidemic of displacement that is pushing Black people out of Oakland at an astounding rate. Afrikatown is Qilombo’s response to these plans, and to the gentrification of West Oakland. It is an attempt to reclaim and hold space for Afrikan people, to celebrate Afrikan culture, heritage and legacies of resistance. By turning our block into Afrikatown we are responding to our community’s need for transformation that is not centered around the desires of rich white colonizers, and that resists the city’s plans for displacing Black and Brown people. 

The project was accomplished in partnership with Planting Justice, the Community Rejuvenation Project and students from Merritt College, Laney College and San Francisco State University. We planted a community garden in the vacant lot next door to our property, and painted a large mural highlighting Afrikan and Indigenous resistance. We hung banners on lamp posts declaring “Welcome to Afrika Town,” and painted the sidewalk and abandoned buildings on the block red, black and green, the colors of Afrikan liberation. We also created a revolutionary walk of fame, with stars on the sidewalk featuring the names of famous Afrikan freedom fighters like Assata Shakur, Malcolm X and George Jackson. Since Afrika Town was launched we have held daily barbeques, community feeds, free clothing distros, open mics and speak outs in the Afrika Town community garden. Black and Brown people from all over the neighborhood have seen our newly visible street presence and been brought into the garden, into Qilombo, and into our ceaseless conversation about liberation. 

Since the launch of Afrikatown, a real estate agent hired by the absentee landlord of the lot next door began to threaten to demolish our community garden. This landlord has done nothing on the lot for over a decade, yet the moment we began to utilize the space for the community he decided to try to evict us. The realtor has already showed up once with a bulldozer to demolish the garden, and a group of committed volunteers blocked its path and forced it to turn around. Volunteers organized a 24 hour vigil to defend the garden, with community members taking shifts to keep watch. The defense of the Afrikatown garden has brought support pouring in from the community. More people than ever have been joining us, donating supplies to help maintain our occupation of the land, and participating in our events and programs. Our first "win" was named "Liberation Day" and we proudly announced that our Community Garden was for the People and that we had liberated the land for us all (especially for all poor peoples, and for Afrikan and Indigenous peoples, and for Ohlone people). 

Across the political spectrum, the importance of Afrikatown of Oakland has become evident: 

The resistance to gentrification and capitalism that takes place in Oakland plays a HUGE role in inspiring and inciting others across the country to do the same. Qilombo and Afrikatown has not just gained supporters of our cause, but accomplices to the crime that is liberation. More and more people are willing to take action by liberating land, developing alternative economies, practicing mutual aid, learning from the inevitable conflicts that stem from our own felt dehumanization and internalized oppression. Afrikatown is a template for the ways we can transform our world and ourselves.

Although our fight is for our neighbors, for the traumas and beauty that makes Oakland, we also know that our fight is a universal one, a radical must: the first stone to be cast and one of many stones laid out for future generations to walk on. In the midst of rampant gentrification, Afrikatown has carved out a space for Afrikan people to come together, build community, hold space in the face of displacement and strategize for liberation.

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  • anon ymous 
    • $350 
    • 18 mos
  • Saeko Imai 
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    • 34 mos
  • Kanchan Hunter 
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    • 34 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $300 
    • 34 mos
  • Flora Mahaffy 
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    • 36 mos
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Van Dellz 
Oakland, CA
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