In our final update (or epilogue, if you will) on the trials and tribulations of Your Black Muslim Bakery, we take a look at the broken dreams of the bakery’s founder, the late Yusuf Bey (note: not pictured). Some thirty-odd years ago, Bey founded YBMB in the dreariness of the pre-gentrified Bay Area, but with the bakery’s longstanding crime problems finally reaching a tipping point this month, it finally looks like any well-intentioned dreams will have to wither:
Yusuf Bey believed fish sandwiches and bean pies would lift up marginalized black people in Oakland.For more than three decades, his bakery was both pulpit and profit center, providing the money to start other nearby businesses, such as a hair salon and school, to bear witness to black self-empowerment.But the block of stores on San Pablo Avenue has withered since Bey’s death four years ago. The final blow came this month, when police raided Your Black Muslim Bakery, smashing its windows and putting its leaders in jail.Even its food – once touted as “pure” and sold in places such as Whole Foods, Rainbow Grocery, the Oakland Coliseum and the Oakland International Airport – was labeled unsanitary. And last week, a judge ordered all bakery assets to be liquidated as part of its bankruptcy.
It’s always sad to see the complete failure of a seemingly well-intentioned goal (the rise of a marginalized people) of the most visible Black Muslim institution in the Bay Area, but when you consider the panoply of crimes–from sexual assault to murder–that YBMB has been accused of over the past 30 years, it becomes difficult to defend the dream for what it wasn’t.