Remember the time when the Berkeley Flea Market was the chief market place of North American Africans and Africans from the Diaspora? Remember when it was the crossroads of Pan African culture in the Bay?
Well, if vendors and shoppers don't rush to keep it alive, it is in serious danger of closing down. The non-profit corporation which operates the Flea Market at the ASHBY BART Station are threatening to close the market on Sundays because they cannot afford the expense of Sundays due to the low turnout of vendors and customers. A petition was circulated demanded it remain open on Sundays but it is a business and no business can remain operating in the red! This is an economic reality.
Of course we know gentrification or ethnic cleansing has decimated the North American population in Berkeley, the Bay Area and throughout the US. Thus it is not surprising the ASHBY Flea Market is in dire straights. But we think it can be resuscitated with Pan African Unity, otherwise it will join the dustbin of history of other cultural/economic districts such as West Oakland and the Fillmore in San Francisco.
ASHBY Flea Market organizers have called upon Oakland poet/playwright/organizer/planner Marvin X and the Black Arts Movement Cultural and Business District (BAMBD) planners to assist in a revival of the Berkeley Flea Market. The BAMBD planners have agreed to help in the resuscitation of the market so vital to Berkeley's Pan African identity, even though BAMBD planners realize the ASHBY Flea Market may suffer a fate similar to the BAMBD unless there are investment partnership agreements with Berkeley developers who eye the flea market space as ideal for expanding the long planned Berkeley corridor from downtown Berkeley through the Lorin District to downtown Oakland which will erase the traditional North American African presence in South Berkeley. Alas, this is why the cause is lost unless North American Africans and those of the Diaspora unite in Pan African unity to push back those reactionary pseudo liberal whites who have no qualms about further displacement of North American Africans in Berkeley. For a clearer perspective on how North American Africans view their situation, we suggest they check in with Berkeley NAACP president Al Mansour who has described the fight for space and place as ethnic cleansing, to the utter dismay of Berkeley's pseudo liberal whites. Alas, shall we quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, "I'd rather deal with the KKK than pseudo white liberals.!"
The BAMB will do all we can to keep the ASHBY Flea Market alive as a symbol and reality of North American African cultural and economic identity and independence. But your help is needed as vendors, cultural workers, artists and customers. We are begging you to vend at the ASHBY Flea Market; we are begging you to shop at the market in the name of self-determination and cooperative economics. Let's bring this cultural and economic entity back to it's former glory as the cross-roads of Bay Area cultural livelihood!
At present, other ethnic groups benefit from our consumerism as per spending with other than our own kind, even at the ASHBY Flea Market. There are a plethora of ethnic groups who sell to us but will never buy from us. This has got to stop. I talk about this in my Parable of the Donkey. North American Africans are the donkey of the world: any ethnic group can set up shop in our community and prosper, send money back to their home countries while we go down down down.
I was elated this morning at the ASHBY Flea Market when I purchased coffee and peace cobbler from a sister and she gave me change with bills marked with red, black and green, the colors of the Pan African nation. She said her mother had told her to mark bills in this manner. I informed her I shall mark all my bills the same way.