The African Independence Workforce in Oakland and the struggle against colonialism

 
OAKLAND, CA.–In the next 18 months, the African People’s Education & Defense Fund (APEDF) and Black Star Industries (BSI) are creating the African Independence Workforce Program (AIWP) as part of our vision of economic self-sufficiency and self-reliance for our people.
 
AIWP under the slogan “Our Labor! Our Future!” is designed to reverse the negative economic impact of prison on our entire community.
 
We are creating opportunities for formerly incarcerated African men and women to receive training, gain employment and become stakeholders in a prosperous economy.
 
Prisons have always been used as a colonial tool against the African community. African people are 13 percent of the U.S. population but more than 40 percent of the prison population.
 
One in three black men and one in 18 black women will go to prison in our life time

4,378 of every 100,000 black men are incarcerated in California compared to 488 of every 100,000 white men, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.
 
The incarceration rate of African women in the U.S. in the late 1990s increased by 828 percent, in five years!
 
Today, an African woman is eight times more likely than a white woman to be imprisoned, mostly for nonviolent drug or property related offenses.
 
Our communities are already plagued by poverty and economic powerlessness due to our colonial domination.
 
Prisons are more devastating to our community than the disproportionate rates of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure we face.
 
This reality touches every African man, woman and child.
 
The African Independence Workforce
 
The AIWP, in coordination with Uhuru Foods & Pies (UFP) will offer training in baking and cooking, management and planning, and skills in resume writing and successful interviewing.
 
The first step to launching this program is opening an Uhuru Jiko Community Commercial Kitchen in Oakland California in the next few months. We opened our first Uhuru Jiko in the St. Petersburg, Florida Uhuru House in 2013.
 
Uhuru Foods & Pies is one of BSI’s dynamic institutions. It has more than 30 years experience in food production, outdoor concessions, catering and farmers markets.
 
Each year, UFP bakes and sells thousands of pies through community networking during the fall holiday season. This work has been done primarily by volunteers.
 
UFP has trained volunteers to lead the positions of Baker, Assistant Baker, Production Manager, Volunteer Coordinator, Sales Representative and Operations.
 
Vision of Uhuru Foods and Pies
 
Now, the vision for Uhuru Foods & Pies is to grow into a massive food production and distribution company that employs hundreds of African people.
 
Our program is designed to create economic development for our entire community unlike other “workforce development programs,” which at best focus on individual success. 
 
Graduates of the AIWP will not need to leave our communities to find meaningful employment and a career. Uhuru Foods & Pies will employ them, or find them employment in our other institutions:  Uhuru Furniture, Uhuru News and Radio, the One Africa! One Nation! Marketplaces etc.
 
We will also partner with other organizations and businesses to create employment opportunities in our own communities.
 
The African Independence Workforce Program is the first phase of a four part strategy. Ultimately, Black Star Industries and the African People’s Education and Defense Fund are about African people coming together to meet the needs of all our people everywhere for prosperity, decent housing, health and the ability to follow our aspirations to contribute to the development and well-being of our people and our society.
 
We are about overturning the legacy of colonialism that has taken our resources, skills, culture and humanity for the benefit of white society and returning those resources to ourselve
 
Our economic development plan include:
 
A Housing Initiative. We understand that providing housing is critical to sustaining individuals progressing back into the workplace. We will offer housing to our participants.
 
Community Gardens. We will continue our tradition of building community through backyard gardens and barter/trade within the community. We will grow food needed in the kitchen, relearn African farming skills and save money on produce.
 
Childcare Collectives.  African women, as sole childcare givers, are locked into a severe economic dilemma, not having the economic means for individual childcare. We will build a free childcare collective to help African mothers earn a livable wage to become self-reliant and independent.
 
We can replicate these programs in every African community
 
We are currently working to secure the site of the Uhuru Jiko Community Commercial Kitchen. We have much of the larger cooking appliances and are involved in raising the necessary funds for the move in.
 
We are also busy launching the 2015 Uhuru Pies holiday sale.
Participate in this effort by contributing online at www.uhurujiko.org, or by sending a check to “Uhuru Jiko” at 7911 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA 94605 or sponsoring a house event for your friends, coworkers and neighbors and invite to contribute.
 
You can also join this Fall’s holiday pie sale that raises money for these programs, in the St. Petersburg, Florida or the Oakland, California Bay Areas.
 
Set up a pie tasting at your school, place of worship, job, organization or home and take pie orders. Volunteer to bake and sell Uhuru Pies. Help with promotion and website development.
 
Learn more at www.uhurupies.org. Call 888-519-4022 in Florida or 800-578-5157 in Oakland.
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