Thursday, July 17, 2008

Plato Negro Gives Dollars to Oakland Poor

Plato arrived at his 14th and Broadway open air classroom and was soon inundated with people in need of one dollar or two at most. He didn't hesitate to reach into his pocket and hand them a dollar. Plato, who is poor himself, wondered why people think he has money to give out, since he is hustling himself, although he probably gives away more books than he sells, and his motto is, "Don't hustle the hustler." But when the people continued to come in need of a dollar, he didn't refuse them. Some wanted a dollar to buy a hamburger from Burger King, some wanted money for bus fare.

Plato thought about what his elder, John Douimbia, told him about people during the depression of the 1930s. He said people would tell him they needed money, so he told them to meet him on a certain corner. When they met, John said fear would overcome them so rather than go hustle with John, they would ask for thirty cents to buy a bowl of chili beans and go their way, afraid to hustle in a big way. John noted that not every one was poor and without during the depression, the hustlers drove new cars and wore new suits because they were fearless.

Paul Cobb, publisher of the Oakland Post came by while Plato was talking with attorney Walter Riley, father of rapper Boots Riley of Boots and the Coup. When Paul was informed the San Francisco Bayview Newspaper was going out of print, Paul said he had a plan if the publishers would contact him. Riley called the editors but they were adamant about doing the paper online. Riley came back by from his law office and Plato told him he had been giving out dollars. Riley handed him a twenty to give out.

Author Timothy Reed stopped by with her man friend, Alex. Timothy, who suffers manic depression, is the daughter of Ishmael Reed. Plato is empathetic since his son committed suicide as a result of manic depression. Fanon and Dr. Nathan Hare say manic depression is a situational disorder caused by oppression. Timothy is a fighter who is working on her second book.

A man came to Plato’s table saying he had just broken up with his wife of 18 years. He said she has been stealing from him all these years but he finally caught her hands in his pocket. She is a Crack head and he was too for a time, but he has had enough. He stood around the table because he didn’t want to go home, but couldn’t figure out what else to do. He mentioned getting with another woman but felt she would be the same just have a different name. He said he needed a drink, then maybe he could go home to face “the music.” Plato gave him a DVD of his recovery drama One Day In the Life, and told him to show it to his wife.

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