….wild is the wind…creative freedom is the seed….
I am fb friend with Yusef Shakur. We met via another activist/author who is the partner of a lovely Californian jewellery designer friend of mine in Nappa Valley. I loved her studio amongst the vineyards, it reminded me of the Barossa Valley in Australia!
At first I was a bit scared by the content of Yusef’s amazing work. It was not him, it was me because to me his world was very far away from the world I grew up with in Australia. I am insular that way, I had to tell Yusef that I was really frightened by listening to Immortal Technique’s song “Dance with the Devil”. Yusef was very receptive in his response and we started an on-line strategic dialogue over the last year where slowly I learnt about the work that he did in Detroit. I appreciated how open-minded he was.
Still, I do not pretend to understand the difficulties of his work. I respect it because he works closely with his community to encourage education, empowerment and individual responsibility. I also found myself commenting on his work in this way over the last 6 months: “I think it takes a very strong man to overcome the tremendous difficulties in his upbringing. I think it takes a lot of faith & strength to choose the path of non-violence when a person has grown up in a world that he describes as “hell on earth” because of the level of atrocities, abuse & violence people inflict on one another. I trust that Yusef will help those who need it the most in his own community because he has been there, he made all those mistakes and he paid the price for his mistakes. That he decided to choose something MORE & BETTER than to continue the life of violence, while in prison and to educate himself, shows that he is a good role model for his community now in 2011. It takes a strong, strong man to admit to the error of a life of violence and then to turn away from a destructive Life pattern.”
As I look at the way, the current Tory government turns to the methods of the USA to deal with youth gangs during the Riots of the last 10 days all over the UK, I think the best way forward is for the government to Consult individuals like Yusef. There is an old chinese saying, “If you want a cure for a particular poison; it is best to find it from those who cured themselves of it!”
I support whole-heartedly what Yusef is doing in his world and this is my way of saying, “Keep up the good work, Mr Shakur, the world is watching you. You have chosen the path of “dignity”. Be the Protector in your world. We wish you well.”
This is how Yusef described his own journey and how he addressed his community to “Heal Detroit”:
Info about Yusef:
Self-acclaimed, and nationally recognized, author and activist Yusef Shakur is the embodiment of transformation and a revolutionary at heart. Growing up in a single-parent household plagued by alcohol and physical abuse, Yusef would look for greater meaning in his life. At a young age, he started soldiering as a thug in his neighborhood, and when he turned thirteen, co-founded one of Detroit’s most notorious street gangs: Zone 8. Yusef struggled as a misguided youth. Despite a nine year sentence in prison, Yusef used this experience as an opportunity for personal growth. While incarcerated, Yusef met the father he never knew, who helped him begin his transformation from a Zone 8 thug to a father & freedom evolutionary!
Since his release, Yusef has returned to Detroit and, especially, the Zone 8 neighborhood, as a father, community organizer/activist, former Head Start teacher, youth mentor, business owner, author, motivational speaker, and college graduate. His self-published political memoir The Window 2 My Soul (compared to the Autobiography of Malcolm X) was one of many steps Yusef has taken to reach out and begin recreating society and our communities anew. In the wake of the publication, he opened Urban Network Bookstore and Urban Guerrilla Entertainment in January 2009, a Social Enterprise designed to help empower individuals to consider and acheive their dreams as entrepreneurs and creative artists in the face of corporate and circumstantial challenges as well as provide a community forum to engage in education and entertainment.
For those interested in Yusef’s work, please visit: www.yusefshakur.org
Cecilia is a Hong Kong Chinese-Australian Social Entreprneur, Artist, Directors of NGO in Africa, South Ameria, Asia and California who really really likes to "tell it how it is", having travelled to over 40 countries around the world & seen some interesting things every so often.
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