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Organizing Community; The Love Movement

February 27, 2009


by Sable Verity

If you’ve been reading the SV regularly then you know all about the life and death of Seattle’s own Tyrone Love; gunned down weeks ago in yet another unsolved murder of a young Black man.

You also know that a sect of Seattle et al’s Black community stepped up in ways we have never seen the likes of in the Pacific NW.  Young adults, mostly in their early to mid twenties, pulled together and raised an astounding $17,000 dollars to lay Tyrone to rest with dignity, with funding left over to support the family (which Tyrone did faithfully when he was alive).  Through Facebook, Myspace, text messaging and word of mouth, the money poured in from as far away as Japan, mostly in small contributions- my son fave $5; I gave $40 in all, and $17k was raised in less than one week.

Through the tragedy of losing someone so well loved and so valuable to our community, we saw what Seattle’s Black young adults were capable of…and more important, they saw what they were capable of doing all on their own with no help (not that there’s anything wrong with getting it when you need it!).

The day after the Tyrone Love Benefit Concert, the networking sites were buzzing with positive energy.  Folks that had helped organize, those who had performed or volunteered, and those who attended the event were all asking the same questions.

What else can I do?

What are we going to do next?

How can we make a stronger impact in our communities?

The Mayor attended Tyrone’s funeral, and so, in sitting and listening to all of those who spoke, he is keenly aware (if he was awake and paying close attention), of the strength these young adults are realising they have.  He saw the love.  He saw the concern.  He saw the action.

We here at the SV have been very hard on the Mayor in shootings past, because he hasn’t done much (except hold press conferences where he touts token-unproven-new-and-innovative programs), and neither has the city council.  In fact, it’s not as if the Mayor saw the news about Tyrone and felt compelled through his own heart to come out and do what he could to honor him.  No one of his cronies, his “community outreach coordinator” (who loves to toot her own horn, so we won’t bother to do it here), got on her knees and begged her boss to step up- so he made an appearance and said a few words and the rally and attended the funeral.  We thank our lucky stars he wasn’t getting hyphie at the concert, but we digress.  Point is, Hizzoner heard speaker after speaker get up and explain how one group of people made an awesome difference in how the Tyrone Love story was told (and hopefully will be told, because it isn’t over).

So let’s get back to those critical questions; what next?  What else can be done?  How else can these young people bring about positive change in their communities?

I certainly do not hold all the answers, but is seems to me, this is a prime opportunity, with hungry leadership just looking for a way to get this whole thing moving in the right direction.

Granted, when the status quo thinks about community organizing, they probably don’t think of local rappers or event coordinators.  In this case however, they are the strongest partners.  I followed Tyrone’s story from the beginning.  I went to the events (and yes the clubs) and I watched this new leaders call their communities to action- and I watched the people respond.  They used their collective strength, they used what they had, they employed what they knew how to do really well to get the job done, and that’s just what happened- they got the job done.

At Tyrone’s funeral, one young speaker commented that babies, elders, friends and enemies, had all come together in the name of one man- Tyrone.

So we know it can be done.  Are we willing to commit to doing it again, and again?  Our communities are suffering and we all need to pitch in to right the ship’s direction.

We should be supporting these young men who stepped up without hesitation, who have so much love and respect in the community.  We should be figuring out how to reach the under 21 crowd; teaching them community involvement and providing safe opportunities for them to “kick it” when their work is done.

What could we do with 1 weekend a month?  What kinds of change could we make in our communities?  We could clean up blocks, do service work for elders, spiffy up community centers and parks, tutor our younger children- really, the possibilities are endless.

And while the Mayor recently came out with his latest token initiative (who needs to get paid when you can VOLUNTEER!), let’s be real; money talks and bullsh*t walks.  Members of disadvantaged communities can’t always afford to do that.  We’re certain the city could find a way to pay stipends to participants, whether in cash or gift cards.  Market the initiative properly and sponsors will step up as well.

I know what many of you are thinking; times are just too hard, we there isn’t any money.  If the city can use $3.5 million dollars on snow storms (because it should have  been salt, not sand you moron), then we can find funding to make our communities safer by engaging and empowering its youth and young adults to take charge and make a difference.  It’s as simple as that.

We shake a stern finger at Seattle’s City Council for falling down on this one.  How insulting that special meetings across the city can be hastily scheduled to investigate the great snow removal debacle, but they have never, NEVER done such a thing to address the DOZENS of unsolved murders in the inner-city neighborhoods.  How pathetic.

The good news is, there is still time.  After all, those murders, including Tyrone’s are all unsolved.  There is still time for the city to step up and support the community in its efforts to make swift and positive change.

Yesterday at the funeral one of Tyrone’s closest friends described T as “an experience”…such an appropriate choice of words.

As one who has sat in observation for the past two weeks, I can testify to the fact that a movement is on the horizon- will we usher it in, or let it fade away?

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 1, 2009 10:05 am

    Gives me chills how Seattle came together over this. A true life is gone and his family and friends are left with memories.

    I hope people follow through so the next generation grabs the baton, runs hard and with a flourish.

    This same stuff is happening in Philly as I type. When does it end?

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