East Oakland Earth Day celebration for Yo Mama

Marching for Environmental Justice at Love Yo Mama Earth Day in East Oakland
Weaving health and environmental justice, Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) held the second annual ‘Love Yo Mama’ Earth Day in East Oakland on April 24.

“Green is Good for the Hood,” was this years theme. The unique, distinctly Black and Brown celebration pushes young people and their families to organize to address environmental issues and make healthier food choices.

Photo: Reginald James/TheBlackHour.com

Myrtle Washington wants "Green Jobs for the Hood" at Love Yo Mama Earth Day on April 24.
The program began at Tassafaronga Recreation Center with a rally focusing on the environmental conditions of East Oakland, especially the Hegenberger Corridor. Two years ago, CBE, along with Merritt College students, studied the corridor and found high levels of airborne toxins due to a high level of diesel truck factories and heavy-industry sites. About 125 people gathered in a large circle in front of the park’s playground.

At high noon, a parade through the streets of Deep East Oakland began. Led by African drummers on the back of a flatbed truck and elementary students from Acorn Woodland on foot, followed students from Castlemont High School and Youth Uprising, the people marched through the streets chanting, “Green is Good for the Hood.” As part of the Black and Brown solidarity, people also chanted, "Salud primero/No importante el dinero," which means, "Health first, Money is not important."

A few people from the neighborhood joined in the parade, including one woman who heard the drums and came outside with her own tambourine. The Scraper Bikes held up the rear of the parade, with Michael Jackson’s, “Earth Song,” blasting out of the speaker box of Tyrone “Baby Champ” Stevenson’s three-wheeler.

The parade ended at Acorn Woodland elementary a half-mile away. After a group photo, there were youth performances and a health fair with a variety of vendors and organizations shared information about different environmental programs.

Vendors included OutdoorAfro.com, Kijiji Grows, Aquaponics; Transform, Communities for a Better Environment, Rising Sun Energy Center, Assembly Member Sandre Swanson’s Office and East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC).

The performances at the amphitheater began with Xiuhcoati (Fire Serpent), a group of Aztec dancers payinghomage to the ancestors and this land’s original inhabitants. Other performances included a drill team from EmCompasse Academy, Praise Dancers from Master Seals Baptist Church, the Scraper Bike King and Guaribo, a Puerto Rican Bomba dance group. All of the performances encouraged crowd participation, through singing, clapping and dance.

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