Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Pendulum Swing of Life

Yesterday was all about community, celebration, healing, transition. And the pendulum swing between life and death, sadness and joy.

We first went to the memorial services and wake/reception for Dru aka DJ Domino, our young friend who was tragically killed last week in the Mission. What a beautiful outpouring of love and tears. Dru clearly had a strong, loving familia of many many people, blood-related or not. I left feeling uplifted and hopeful that community still exists in many pockets of this world, and that people are truly struggling to love each other the best they can. Siara sang two songs for Dru at the memorial, and many folks got up on the open mic at both the service and the reception to talk about their love for Dru, his obsession with DJ'ing, his irrepressible sense of humor. I think my favorite snippet was when one of his homeboys talked about having a friend in his car who was having a bad day, and then running into Dru on the street. The homeboy's friend didn't want to come out of the car, that's the kind of shit day he was having. Dru said to get him out here, then yelled, 'Pan dulce!' across the street, making the friend laugh and come out the car to chop it up. That was classic Dru.

And before the service the crowds from the funeral home drove through the city, stopping at every spot that was precious to Dru--Coleman Advocates, his families' homes, the clubs he loved DJ'ing at. We didn't drive with the procession but we saw the tail end of it at Embarcadero One, where the reception was being held. Throngs of young brown folks gettin' hyphee in the street, blasting reggaeton (Dru's music) through their car stereos, hangin' out they car windows, dancing, bumpin' and shoutin' for all of Frisco to see.

The community vibe kept on strong at a Lester House party last night, the first I'd been to in many moons, as W. was quick to remind me. 'You never come by anymore,' he chastised, which is his right to do. I been going to the Lester House for parties for 12 years now. It's nice to know there are places I can go and be considered family, to the point that I get called out when I don't come by enough. And I got to meet B.'s mom, who had cooked up a feast with W., complete with red rice, Guamanian-style adobo, beans, etc.

My baby DJ Hen10 got busy on the 1's and 2's, warming up the crowd with some classic hip hop (think late '80s early '90s), funk and soul. J. spun some salsa that H. and I got to groove to. Later, DJ Moreno tore it up with a sick Brazilian batucada set, driving the crowd (including me) into a frenzy. So much shakin' goin' on; whole house was moving. He even got on the mic and sang and chanted, pushing the crowd to go higher, higher. And then he played not just one, but TWO, long-ass merengue songs right after the Brazilian, back to back. I tried to hold out through both, but had to stop dancing after the second song started. I ain't as young as I used to be.

Jumoke and Greg Hodge were at the party, too, it's always good to see them. And I barely recognized their daughter Chinaka Hodge, whom I haven't seen in years. She somehow still recognized me, and is all grown up now (finished colllege, go girl!).

Speaking of pendulum swing, though, Greg told me about the recent, sudden passing of Akiyu Hatano, long-time Oakland schools activist, who had been struggling with a mysterious illness for month. I was shocked and saddened to hear the news, having met Akiyu less than a year ago; she was radiant and healthy. She was our program officer at the Walter and Elise Haas, Sr. Fund, and shared many of our values and visions for public schools. I couldn't believe that another one of our movement warriors had been taken from us so suddenly, and so young. She was only 39 years old.

But, as Greg said last night, "That's why we have to pray, and dance." To which I replied, "Or do both at the same time." Which is what some of my own dancing felt like last night.

I also got to meet some VONA folks, who'd just finished up their first week of workshops. My girl E. came through; it was good to hang out with her for a minute, and soak up their creative energy.

I'm sore and a little tired today (but not hung over, I realized a long time ago that alcohol makes me too tired to really enjoy the dancing), but in a good way. Much love and thanks to all the people that made yesterday happen, and who are spreading the love and good vibes far and wide.

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