By Dave “Corvid” McCallum
For all the strugglers and sufferers of whatever origin, this film is an inspirational kick in the ass to rise up and unify in the face of oppression. This is the story of the Latin Kings – who in 1994 made the transformation from NYC’s largest street gang, into the Latin King and Queen Nation – a revolutionary socialist organization dedicated to uplifting community and influenced by the Black Panthers and the Young Lords.
Through interviews with members and spokespeople like King Tone and Puerto Rican revolutionary Richie Perez, the word is made flesh – the story of the marginalized Latin community in the US and the government approved program of self -destruction through gang violence and internal conflict. Most surprising is the local priest who, embracing the King and Queen Nation and casting it in a Biblical perspective references Jesus – “who lived in the ghetto just as you all do for thirty years, and when he took his Nation downtown…they killed him in three weeks!”.When minority people are engaged in a lethal struggle for survival that keeps them from manifesting their own destiny, Uncle Sam is A-OK, but when the same community rallies around socialist principles and restructures for autonomy, you know he’s bringing in the big guns – and thus the Nation was subjected to one of the biggest round-ups in American “history” – over ninety Latin Kings were arrested on various trumped up charges, with founder King Blood given one of the most outrageous sentences ever – life with no parole, with a minimum of 45 years solitary confinement !What is truly inspiring to me is that the Nation is one of the most visibly multi-racial communities I’ve seen, with Kings and Queens ranging from black to white to Hispanic to Asian looking (by American visual race categorization standards anyway), with the common bond of language, community and culture that bonds them as family and separates them from Anglo America’s self-righteous insanity.If you want to hear inspired and inspiring words from youth and elders in a community that has more to say and more depth of feeling than can be put in the dirty language of the English overlords, then watch Black and Gold, and watch it again. Ultimately it’s all about Amor del Rei – King’s Love, the meaning of which is obvious in the eyes of all the King’s – men who have faced death, oppression, and destruction both internal and external, and have used it to become something so much greater.