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Wanda’s picks for December 2010

December 1, 2010

by Wanda Sabir

Last year’s Festival in the Desert in northern Mali – Photo: © Alice Mutasa
I hope everyone had a wonderful 2010 and that 2011 is even better! Happy New Year! and Happy Kwanzaa! I will be traveling in Africa over the holidays. Check my blog, Interchange, for regular updates and photos. I am covering the World Festival of Black Arts and Culture in Dakar, Senegal, and then on to Festival in the Desert in Timbuktu, Mali.

My radio show weekly broadcast on Wednesday and Friday mornings will be playing a “best of” series and perhaps a surprise live interview from Senegal or Mali if technology serves me well. From Dec. 8-Jan. 14, 2011, on Wanda’s Picks Radio, we will switch to vacation mode time: 7-9 a.m. PST. Visit www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks or click on the link on www.wandaspicks.com.

A New Way Forward

Susan L. Taylor, CEO and founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement, has launched an initiative to help heal our community. As one door or window closes this month, it is appropriate and timely that she has issued a call for African America to step up and commit to mentoring our youth. I found a great bio at http://www.answers.com/topic/susan-l-taylor.

The editor-in-chief emeritus of Essence Magazine, Mrs. Taylor started a column 20 years ago called In the Spirit. When one opened the magazine, it was just long enough and always thought-provoking and centered the conversation in the issue that month around key issues readers needed to focus their attention on.

Instead of basking in her laurels or taking a break, five years after putting out a call to Black America to respond to the crisis we are faced with daily, whether that is institutional apathy and negligence as witnessed in New Orleans after Katrina or the systematic way our children and youth find themselves framed in negative light, Sister Taylor has turned her energy to addressing what is ailing Black America in the A New Way Forward Movement. Visit www.caresmentoring.org.

Set to travel throughout the country, this movement is starting here in the San Francisco Bay Area, perhaps because per capita we are one of the most resource rich areas in the country, from The Institute for the Advanced Study for Black Family Life and Culture and their Hawk Federation to the Simba Mentoring Program, Leadership Excellence, our sister Dereca its poster child, DESTINY Arts with Sarah Crowell, Youth Uprising, East Oakland Youth Development Center with Sister Regina, Brother Jimi, Bay Area Boys and Girls Clubs, the many Oakland Park and Recreation Afterschool Programs, GURLS Rock, Terri Vaughn’s Take Wings Foundation, Donald Lacy’s Lovelife Foundation, The Mentoring Center with filmmaker and mentor trainer Bayaan Bakari, Urban Strategies Council and many others, along with adults like Leslie Carter who, with her African Queens, provides guidance to her youth, Mama Naomi and Dr. Zak Diouf whose Diamano Coura has raised generations here in the Bay, the late Malonga Casquelord’s Fua Dia Congo, and his daughter Musikongo’s Diata Diata, and we can’t forget Deborah Vaughn’s Dimensions Dance Company and its rites of passage program, Dimensions Extensions, directed by Latonya Tigner. Dr. Albirda Rose, retired professor at San Francisco State, African Disapora Dance, and her Saturday school for kids that uses art to build character, patterned after her mentor, Katherine Dunham’s philosophy. We can’t forget Mama Nonsizi Cayot’s Wajumbe Cultural Institute housed at the African American Art and Cultural Complex.

Susan Taylor speaks at a Congressional Black Caucus reception this fall.
Ah, and the Freedom Schools. I remember my kids when they were younger spending their summers at the neighborhood Freedom School, where they learned about African and African American history and culture. The books TaSin brought home were “The Destruction of Black Civilization” and “Black Boy.”

A New Way Forward is Black America’s response to “No Child Left Behind.” It’s the Sankofa principle – a “go back and fetch him or her” – in action.

Sometimes when children are young they can’t keep up with their parents or they get excited and run ahead. However, in both cases the parent or guardian has to make sure the child is safe and that he or she is equipped with the tools – values and self-confidence that comes from knowledge of self – to stay free in a world predicated on usury, consumption and elimination.

A New Way Forward means we take our kids with us. We make sure that we are there at every stage of their development. Not only are we physically present, we are present spiritually and emotionally, financially and academically. Whatever it takes we need to invest. The weather reflects the attitudes many of our children face: cold and uninterested.

Love is the greatest tool when an adult spends quality time with a child, especially one who feels as if no one cares or a child who defines love in unhealthy ways. A New Way Forward is an opportunity to interrupt such a pattern or system. Children are resilient and forgiving and full of trust. Too often they are abused. I was shocked at how many children are severely abused – what kind of sickness permeates this world that someone would subject infants and older children physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse? If we heal the youth, then perhaps we can also prevent this trauma from being normalized and then used on others.

Marc Bamuthi Joseph
This is what Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome looks like, not to mention the immediacy of the day-to-day post traumatic stress we live with in our neighborhoods where people are shot and killed regularly. Awake we can fight the enemy; asleep we just participate in our own destruction. Susan Taylor’s braintrust of individuals spread across the country is a place to start. It’s always good when we link up, because there is strength in the body politic once mobilized that is greater than the individuals.

Listen to the Nov. 24, 2010, show on Wanda’s Picks Radio Show at www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks to hear Shawn A. Ginwright, Ph.D., project director of A New Way Forward and associate professor of Africana Studies at San Francisco State University. He is the author of “Black Youth Rising: Radical Healing in Urban America.” He also founded and directed Leadership Excellence, a community-based nonprofit organization in Oakland.

The response was so tremendous the venue was changed so that more people could come, so don’t miss it. All of us have our baggage, but recognition of the trauma is the first step to the cure. A New Way Forward means taking the necessary steps in one’s own healing process so that one is available to help another, in this case a child. And one doesn’t have to have everything completely together – love really will see both the adult and the child he or she is mentoring through the rough spots. With all the experts assembled in the braintrust, I’m sure the training will be a marvelous initiation and baptism and then afterwards a well to draw from at will with any questions and for support.

A New Way Forward: Healing What’s Hurting Black America is Friday, Dec. 3, at the Marriott City Center, Oakland Convention Center, 1001 Broadway, Oakland. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the program begins at 6:00 p.m.

Cinderella (Khamara Pettus) finally meets her Prince Charming (Matt Jones) in African-American Shakespeare Company’s holiday production of “Cinderella.” – Photo: Lance Huntley
Mrs. Taylor writes: “Lou Gossett, Jr., Michael Eric Dyson, Dr. Wade Nobles, Dr. Na’im Akbar, asha bandele, Dr. Joyce King, George Fraser, Rev. Andriette Earl, Dr. Joel Martin, Dr. Shawn Ginwright, Dereca Blackmon and I will be there to greet you and speak about how Black people can heal in body, mind, spirit and community. Come if you want to know more about this new national initiative, debuting here in Oakland. Come if you want to de-stress and fortify your spirit. Come if you want to lead a healthy, peaceful and productive life. Come if you want to mentor and advance our struggling young who are longing for caring adults willing to volunteer just an hour a week to help encourage and guide them.

“A New Way Forward is a consciousness-changing initiative, created by an inter-generational braintrust of 60 phenomenal African American leaders, to help us recover from the burden of slavery we still carry and continued racism weighing heavily on us. It is to foster peace, prosperity, mutual love and healing within the Black community. All so we will become the protective shield our children are crying out for.

“All of us, linking arms and aims, will stir up our people’s passions and direct them toward serving and securing our vulnerable young. It’s a huge mandate! And the most important work of our time. Come if you are privileged to be able.

“See you Friday, Dec. 3, at 5:30 p.m. – Susan L. Taylor”

Left Coast Leaning at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Curated by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, creator of The Living Word Project, the resident theatre company at Youth Speaks, Left Coast Leaning, is a sampling from an array of wonderful young choreographers and artists who use hip hop culture as their aesthetic. This year Marc’s “Word Becomes Flesh” was performed by five men. Flesh tells the story of a young man becoming a father and reflecting on conception and legacy and what does it mean to be hip hop and if his way of defining himself is something he wants to pass on as a legacy to his yet unborn child.

Other artists performing opening night were Miwa Matreyek in “Myth and Infrastructure,” Jose Navarrette and Violete Luna in “Atlcualo: The Ceasing of Water,” Adia Tamar Whitaker in “Uncle Freddie” and “The 605 Collective.” Visit www.ybca.org. There are performances at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Third and Mission in San Francisco, at 8 p.m. in the Forum through Saturday, Dec. 4. On that final day, there will be a conversation on “Art and Activism” between Marc and the artistic director for YBCA from 2-4 p.m. It is free to the public.

African American Shakespeare Company presents ‘Cinderella’

Ravi Coltrane
The season favorite, “Cinderella,” directed by Verlina Brown, at African American Shakespeare Company in the resident Burial Clay Theatre, 762 Fulton St., San Francisco, opens Friday, Dec. 3, and runs through Sunday, Dec. 19. Evening performances Fridays and Saturdays are at 8 p.m. Sunday shows are at 3 p.m. For information, visit www.African-AmericanShakes.org.

Ravi Coltrane

Ravi Coltrane is in town for the weekend, Friday- Sunday, Dec. 3-5, at Yoshi’s in Oakland. Visit www.yoshis.com. I had a great conversation with Ravi on my radio show, Nov. 24. Visit www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks.

‘Shrek: The Musical’

Shrek, the fairytale about an ogre who finds love in the most unusual places as he goes on a quest to save important fairytale characters, opened at the Orpheum Wednesday, Dec. 1, and will be there through Jan. 2. I highly recommend attending with the entire family. Check for discounts – group and individual. It is a great story and the cast is over the top phenomenal. From the songs and performance to the costumes and special effects, it is such a feel good experience. You might want to attend twice, so do wait until the end of the run to attend. Visit www.shnsf.com or call (888) SHN-1799.

Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at wsab1@aol.com. Visit her website at www.wandaspicks.com throughout the month for updates to Wanda’s Picks, her blog, photos and Wanda’s Picks Radio. Her shows are streamed live Wednesdays at 6-7:30 or 8 a.m. and Fridays at 8-10 a.m., can be heard by phone at (347) 237-4610 and are archived on the Afrikan Sistahs’ Media Network

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