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Wanda’s Picks for October 2012

October 5, 2012

by Wanda Sabir

Engaged and exuberant: TaSin Sabir and her fiancé, Shawn Lyles
September is a special month. It’s the birth month of my brother Mark, who was put up for adoption, so I don’t know him. However, my mother calls me each year to remind me of his presence (smile). I think this is good. It is also the birth month of my younger daughter who was born on the day my dad and mother married (smile). This birthday was special one; her boyfriend of almost a decade called me at work: “Wanda, this is Shawn, TaSin’s boyfriend. When you get a moment, please call me back. It has to do with TaSin’s birthday.”

“Hi Shawn, got your message. What’s up? Want to go in on a birthday bouquet for TaSin? I’d wanted to send her flowers or balloons, but didn’t know if she was in the office or in the field that Wednesday.”

“No, I wanted to ask your blessings. I plan to propose to TaSin tonight.”

It was a good thing I was seated (smile). I have nothing but praise for their relationship. They keep it alive by daily investing in special moments together, from all day excursions to TaSin leaving a note for each day we were gone to Madagascar and South Africa December 2011-January 2012. She also made a treasure hunt for Shawn for his birthday while she was away and spoke to him daily via Skype, except when we were in the rain forest (smile). South Africa had other technical challenges.

Anyway, I am now a mother-in-law to be (smile). My older daughter, Bilaliyah, is expecting again after 10 years, this time a son. Bree is excited about being a big sister.

Brother Willard Zarif makes his transition; Brother James Shakoor is making his transition. When I went to see Brother James, who looked really great, I asked him questions like, had he been visited by ancestors and could he describe what it felt like to be transitioning. For this he had no words, which made sense. Some experiences are beyond the realm of temporal speech. Wild turkeys were running about when we left the Veterans Hospital in Livermore.

Highpoints

Judith Jamison looked regal on stage with Farai Chideya last month in The Forum Conversations at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Her message seemed to be one of preparedness and presence – being, as our sister Ayana Vanzant says, in spirit. Muslims call this the sirata-l-mustaqim or the path of the rightly guided.

Judith Jamison, the world-renowned dancer, choreographer and former artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater came to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to speak at their quarterly “Conversations at YBCA.” – Photo: Wanda Sabir
I enjoyed her memories of Alvin Ailey and his big heart and how he pushed his company members beyond what they perceived they were capable of. She said he was a big man and one would not have expected the kind of movement he was capable of. Her memories of “Cry,” a dance he set on her and how hard it was for other dancers to do an aspect of the piece, let alone the entire work, was humorous.

There was a lot of laughter in the conversation with Chideya and later with the audience, who recalled special moments with Ms. Jamison. Bay Area luminaries were in the audience, Ailey Camp board members Neshormeh Lindo, a family friend of Ms. Jamison and one of the key people in getting her to San Francisco. Deborah Vaughn, LaTonya Tigner, Colette Elwai, a very pregnant Kendra Kimbrough and Laura Elaine Ellis were also in the house.

Afterward Laura and I went to the Wish You Were Here Coming Out Ball at YBCA. There we checked out the closing David Shirley Brain Activity exhibit which was really interesting – drawings and writing scribbled over an entire gallery with open spaces filled with thought provoking installations: a stuffed dog – “I used to be alive” (smile); a holely molar in front of a mirror – “This is what tooth decay looks like” (smile). Many of his videos questioned human consumption and its disruption of the natural balance.

Upstairs was the Occupy Bay Area exhibit which is open for another couple of weeks. What I really liked, besides the great posters and cinematic moments on film or paper, were the many listening stations – one which really caught my eye was the one with Oakland youth in a retreat with Oakland Police Officers. One of the facilitators was Greg Hodge. It was a great opportunity to watch the adults listening to the youth, Greg instructing the adults and kids how to listen to one another.

Farai Chideya, who hosted NPR’s only Black show until it was cancelled, was in conversation with Judith Jamison at YBCA Sept. 22. – Photo: Wanda Sabir
The youth for the most part knew how to listen; it was the police who had a hard time digesting the fact that these kids, who had had many experiences with the OPD, were all negative, several of the experiences inappropriate and uncalled for. I just want to commend Greg and the organizers of the sessions with the youth, which were pre-Oscar Grant Oakland, and to the curator(s) for having this as a part of the exhibit.

There was a roundtable connected to the exhibit the day before I missed, but I was able to get to the second, Self-Respect and Community Self-Defense: A People’s Forum sponsored by People’s Tribunal for Racial Justice. For information, email oaklandtribunal@gmail.com or call (415) 651-4642. There were workshops on racial profiling, police killings and a study Malcolm X Grassroots just completed. Policies like “stop and frisk” and community response models used in New York were also examined.

The closing plenary started with a wonderful performance by The Mutual Aid Project and then there was a closing circle where people shared experiences from the Bay Area and broke into smaller organizing groups. I was most interested in developing a neighborhood watch/intervention team we could call when there is an emergency situation. To read the report on police violence, visit http://mxgm.org/report-on-the-extrajudicial-killings-of-110-Black-people/.

Critiquing Obama

That weekend as a part of the San Francisco Main Library’s African American Advisory Group programming there was a panel discussion featuring scholars, politicians and JR Valrey, moderated by award winning journalist Barbara Rogers. The conversation looked at how Obama’s presidency affected each of the panelists personally and then Rogers proceeded to ask questions which involved a critique of Obama’s first term.

Professor Robert Smith, London Breed, Theo Ellington, Lynette Sweet and JR Valrey debated President Obama’s record and significance at the San Francisco Main Library Sept. 23. – Photo: Wanda Sabir
JR, who is recovering from an injury and is on crutches, came in a bit late; however, his entrance shook up the discourse, which up to that point, except for the political science scholar from San Francisco State University, Robert C. Smith, was rather tacit and conciliatory towards our chief executive officer. None of the others, from London Breed, director of the African American Arts and Culture Complex and candidate for San Francisco Supervisor in District 5, to Theo Ellington, president of the Black Young Democratic Club of San Francisco, had much to criticize about the Obama presidency.

Seated in front of Kevin Epps, I could think of much to query the president o,n like the American military presence not just in Iraq and Afghanistan but throughout the world, the bailout of first the banks and then the car industry, student loan debt, support for injured military, the release of political prisoners like Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Chip Fitzgerald, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, Lynne Stewart, the MOVE 9, the Cuban 5 for starters.

JR spoke of being in Libya before the U.S. air strikes and the support Obama had there prior to the military action. I loved it when JR spoke of the “selection” of a U.S. president rather than “election.” Barbara Rogers more often than the panelists responded to JR. She got him on a small technicality here, just as she did when JR said he’d like the president to speak out against police brutality. Of course the president has no jurisdiction over state or local policies; however, as JR stated, President Obama’s attention to this matter would make the rogue departments shape up.

What I liked most about JR’s comments was that in all of his contributions to the discourse, he brought in another more thought provoking angle to consider. He was cordial, yet firmly adamant in his position. I liked it that he studied and offered arguments that were intelligent and well thought out in advance. Everyone might not have agreed with him, but certainly everyone took pause to listen.

When Barbara Rogers asked the panelists to grade President Obama on his relationship with the Black press over the past four years – I almost choked when I heard such high marks. Those of us on staff at the San Francisco Bay View couldn’t even get press clearance to go to the inauguration, and I really wanted to go. I didn’t get a response from my congresswoman’s office either. One of my colleagues at work told me I should have spoken to Boxer’s office or Feinstein’s. Access? The First Lady comes to Bayview this year and San Francisco last year and we neither get a notice or an interview. We are not even invited to the events.

Panelists Lynette Sweet and JR Valrey at the forum on Obama Sept. 23 and the San Francisco
I don’t know what planet the panelists and moderator reside on – I certainly don’t live there. JR calmly defined the term Black press and then used the Obama administration’s treatment of the Amsterdam News, the largest Black newspaper in the country, as a case in point for the Obama administration – grade? F.

Youth Forum on Voting Oct. 3

This week at Eastside Arts Alliance, 2285 International Blvd., in Oakland, there will be a program, VOTE: Like Your Future Depends on It, on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 4-7 p.m. This is a forum for youth of color to find out who’s trying to keep them from voting and an opportunity to register while there is still time. The final date to register is an Oct. 22 postmark.

October on the mind

October is Black Panther History Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Maafa Commemoration Month. This year the 17th Annual Maafa Ritual is Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, predawn at Ocean Beach, Fulton at the Great Highway in San Francisco. Visit http://maafasfbayarea.com.

Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca

It is also Hajj Season; my friend Hamdiya Cooks is in Mecca completing her fifth pillar, the pilgrimage to Mecca, which all Muslims have to complete in their lifetime. At the end of the Hajj, we celebrate the big sacrifice or Eid-al Adha. What have we sacrificed individually and collectively on this sojourn?

I have noticed this semester at work that many students feel a sense of entitlement, and I haven’t figured out what if anything they’ve done to earn this preference (smile). My nephew, 14, has a similar attitude. Is it something that fatherless Black boys inherit? Is socialization in American society the culprit? I can’t figure it out. If anyone knows, enlighten me. It is not universal. My 13-year-old niece has the bug too, so it isn’t limited to boys. I just happen to have a lot of young Black men in my classes this semester who are being taken care of by their mothers and also by female classmates – some of these young women are working a fulltime job, taking a full load, being resourceful so they can have their materials, while these young men are content to wait and wait and get more and more behind.

This is why I was so pleased when Shawn asked for my blessing. Courtesy and respect go a long way with me. If these boys in my classes would come to class on time and act like they wanted to be in the class, perhaps come to my office hour to explain their situation to me, I might find a book for them (smile). More often than not, I am turning them away at the classroom door when they come to class 30 minutes late for a 50 minute class. It’s crazy. I think the 100 Black Men have the right idea with the charter school they just opened in Oakland. I am looking forward to seeing how these boys develop.

‘Hamlet’ at Cal Shakes extended through Oct. 21

Perhaps it is Liesl Tommy’s direction; everything this woman touches gets extended (smile). I’ve seen multiple plays here and elsewhere directed by her and they all have an urgency and a presence not easy to attain, certainly when one is looking at linguistic or intellectual access as in Shakespeare – an elitist concept for many unschooled in how much the bard’s language is a part of the our mutual or shared lexicon here in the West. Such is the challenge with Hamlet (actor LeRoy McClain), a troubled youth who is haunted by his dad’s wronged soul. Away at college when his father dies, he returns home to find his mother sleeping with his uncle, the new king. It’s like, “Good grief, mother, couldn’t you wait until dad’s corpse was at least cold before you got it on with dad’s brother?”

Zainab Jah as Ophelia, Dan Hiatt as Polonius, LeRoy McClain as Hamlet, Julie Eccles as Gertrude, Adrian Roberts as Claudius and Nick Gabriel as Horatio in Cal Shakes’ production of “Hamlet,” directed by Liesl Tommy – Photo: Kevin Berne
His son sickened with grief and such impropriety, I wonder why Hamlet’s dad didn’t leave well enough alone. Why did he burden his young son with avenging his death? The murdered king extracts a promise from Hamlet to kill his uncle but to spare his mother. Hamlet is set up to fail – it is no wonder he goes mad with grief compounded by bad decisions, one right after another.

The mummified King Hamlet (actor Adrian Roberts) is not easy to ignore, nor is the beautiful mother, Queen Gertrude (actress Julie Eccles), who is caught in the rapture of her new husband’s loins. The bedroom is quite lovely as is Prince Hamlet’s mother, who in this scene wears a lovely magenta dress. Elsewhere she is in black or white.

The story is told in a flashback; the doors to the other side – heaven or hell – lie just beyond reach as characters are carried away, enter and exit, never to return. I wonder if the disposed and murdered king thinks about what he is about to set in motion when he shows himself to Hamlet? The adults, these powerful men who hold the lives of a nation in their hands, don’t think. The uncle kills his brother out of jealousy, the widow is easily won over because she doesn’t think, and Hamlet, juxtaposed between his dead father and scandalous mother, casts away the love of the innocent Ophelia (actress Zainab Jah), who in turn catches Hamlet’s sick madness.

You didn’t know madness is contagious like a cough in a quiet theatre. Watch Leroy McClain’s “Prince”; he is very convincing.

Ophelia’s father and advisor to King Claudius, Polinius (actor Dan Hiatt), discourages her love for Hamlet and then recants. Ophelia, beautifully portrayed by Zainab Jah, is naïve and trusting that Hamlet will protect her heart. And he would have were he not tormented by such a huge responsibility – vengeance. Hamlet walks into a stacked deck – his fall inevitable.

At Shakespeare at San Quentin, the men performed “Hamlet” as well this season, produced by Lesley Currier of Marin Shakespeare Company. She cuts some of Hamlet mumblings – he takes forever to die (smile). However, the aspect of SSQ that is outstanding is the work the men produced inspired by “Hamlet,” “Parallel Play,” directed by Suraya Susana Keating, a couple of months later last month. Many themes considered were trust, abandonment, fear, anger, forgiveness, betrayal; however, the bond between son and father, mother and son, are key to Hamlet’s mental and emotional well being.

Cal Shakes staging is contemporary, the men wear suits and the party music is music I could dance to (smile). I love Ophelia’s song when she returns to Hamlet’s home from an insane asylum. Bound and then unbound in a straightjacket, she is watched and chased by her nurse. King Claudius (actor Adrian Roberts) seems truly disturbed, yet I wonder why no one has committed Hamlet. He is running around with knives threatening people, killing others. I guess madness is for poor girls, not rich and powerful heirs to a throne?

“Hamlet” is a great story to contemplate during Maafa Commemoration Month – the idea of loss unrequited and the madness that comes when one loses something precious and no one will listen or hear one’s sorrow. There is so much loss historically in the Black community – we can’t hold all the persons in our arms or minds. It’s just too big, yet the tattered bloody corpses haunt us. They want to be remembered to be avenged, not as Hamlet responded necessarily, not through more loss of life.

Hamlet could have lived a life his father and his people would have honored and loved. He didn’t have to descend into the lower recesses of the human soul. If he would have just taken a moment to meditate and think – all of his actions are rash. It is only in retrospect that any sense can come from the bloodshed.

Sobonfu Some said in a grief workshop last year that when we die we get smarter, not always, obviously – because the king, Hamlet’s father, was not thinking wisely. Maybe this is why his ascension was delayed. Who knows? Now Hamlet is probably walking with him.

The idea behind the Maafa Commemoration is to interrupt the cycle of violence – external and internal – to heal from the generational trauma. Much of the violence that happens to us is by people whom we know, like Hamlet’s uncle Claudius. The new king should have been arrested and sentenced. Hamlet’s father should have been honored and Hamlet allowed at least a year to grieve his passing.

The legal process with all its flaws should have been engaged. Picking up the sword healed nothing. In the end everything was undone: Hamlet is dead; his mother is dead; Ophelia is dead; her father is dead; Hamlet’s uncle, the king, is dead. Visit www.calshakes.org or call (510) 548-9666.

17th Annual Maafa Commemoration Ritual

The term “Maafa” is Kiswahili for “terrible occurrence” or “reoccurring disaster” and has been used to describe the European slave trade or the Middle Passage. The term “Maafa” also references the Black Holocaust historically and presently. In the San Francisco Bay Area, October is Maafa Awareness Month. It is a time to reflect on the legacy of slavery – victims and beneficiaries in the short and long term – and look at ways to mend, repair and heal the damage to Pan African descendants of the enslaved and their New Afrikan societies. The toll has been tremendous: psychological, economic, social, physical, emotional and spiritual.

The 17th Annual Maafa Commemoration Ritual begins before dawn on Oct. 7, 2012, and all Black people are invited. In this photo of the 2010 Maafa, Wanda is fourth from left. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
The Maafa ritual, Oct. 7, 2012, is an honoring of our past and a prayer for our future. All Black people are invited to come and share in this time of remembrance. We ask for this one event, those who support the well-being of Black people respect our desires about the commemoration ceremony and mourning ritual.

Attendees are encouraged to wear white, to dress warmly, and bring their children, flowers for the ceremony, vegan or vegetarian breakfast items to share afterwards, along with dishes to serve them on, hot beverages and cups, drums, chekeres, rattles and positive energy. Firewood is useful for the bonfires Sunday morning. The organizers will not be responsible for security if attendees decide to spend the night.

Bring copies (not originals) of photos of personal ancestors – family, mentors, other loved ones – you’d like to include on the community altar.

If anyone needs a ride or can pick someone up, please call (641) 715-3900, ext. 36800#. All donations can be made out to Wanda Sabir, co-founder and CEO. Mail to: P.O. Box 30756, Oakland, CA 94604. Check our blog and calendar, at www.maafasfbayarea.com.

Dimensions Dance Theatre

Dimensions Dance Theatre presents Premiere II of “Down The Congo Line: The flow of spirit and rhythm from Cuba to Congo,” Saturday, Oct. 13, 8 p.m., at the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St. in Oakland. Visit www.dimensionsdance.org or call (510) 465-3363.

Fania Davis, founder of RJOY Lectures at HNU

Holy Names University’s Sophia Center presents Fania Davis, Ph.D., and Bonnie Wills, M.A., on “A Cosmological Perspective on Race and Restorative Justice.” Visit www.hnu.edu/publicevents.

More at Holy Names

HNU’s Cushing Library Salon Series presents: Queen Kay (‘14) re: The Reconstruction and Transformation of QueenKay, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Visit www.hnu.edu/publicevents.

An Evening with Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, Founder of Homeboy Industries and author of Tattoos on the Heart at HNU, 3500 Mountain Blvd., Oakland. Visit www.hnu.edu/publicevents.

Sacred Space Support Group Meets in a New Location

This third Thursday, Oct. 18, 4-6 p.m. Sacred Space Support Group meets at 420 3rd St., Ste. 201 (off Broadway). For information email: Lola Hanif at isishanif@gmail.com.

Black Women’s Media Project’s Be Still Retreat Saturday, Oct. 13

The Black Self-Help and Self-Care Retreat is back at the Jack London Aquatic Center, 115 Embarcadero, between Fifth Avenue and Oak Street, Oakland10a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As always, the event is free of charge. An RSVP is required, so if you would like to attend, please call (510) 834-5990 or email bwmp2bestill@gmail.com at your earliest convenience. The registration list typically fills up quickly!

Eddie Gale and his Orchestra

Eddie Gale, Blue Note recording artist and San Jose Jazz Ambassador, will perform with his 16-piece orchestra at a Charity Jazz Concert at the Silicon Valley Athletic Club, 196 North Third St. in downtown San Jose. Visit http://www.erikarobertson.com/.

Friends of Negro Spirituals Honors International Musicians, Storyteller and Curator at Celebration of Negro Spirituals

The Bay Area community will gather in the San Francisco Main Library’s Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St., Saturday, Oct. 20, 1-3 p.m., to celebrate the Ninth Annual Negro Spirituals Heritage Day. “Blow Yo’ Trumpet Gabriel, Louder and Louder for Folk Spirituals” is the theme. Admission is free; donations are welcome.

Slaves were inclined toward musical expression of life experiences because spiritual consciousness and ancestor reverence were linked within the oral traditions of their homelands in Western and Central Africa. And expression in those traditions included drumming, dancing and singing as a part of everyday life. Under bondage in America, voice and hand clapping were the Africans’ primary instruments. They used them to transcend the gloom of their condition and connect to divine inspiration. Spirituals were a great part of the yield. Negro Spirituals are now part of world culture.

Calvin Earl
The program will include a screening of a DVD that gives a pictorial and song homage to the ancestors and to Africa and suggests the formative impact that American slavery, Christianity and European music had on the development of spirituals. A community sing will be part of the program as well. The audience will be guided in singing the old folk songs.

Curator and archivist Bill Doggett, award winning international storyteller Diane Ferlatte, Gold Medal winner and internationally recognized lyric baritone and educator Robert Sims, and educator and performer Calvin Earl will be honored. Visit http://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=1010057001.

Dia de los Muestros at SOMArts

“Calling on the Spirits to Face the Future: Día de los Muertos 2012” will be at SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan St. in San Francisco, (415) 863-1414 . Opening with a ticketed reception with live music and performances on Oct. 12th, the exhibition will be on view with extended gallery hours Oct. 13–Nov. 10. Visit http://www.somarts.org/exhibitions/day-of-the-dead/.

Fired Up! Fundraiser at The Clean Lounge in San Francisco

This September marks the one year anniversary of Fired Up! and it’s time to come together to celebrate our collective work and continue to nourish our grassroots so they grow strong in, through and beyond the jail walls. We need your energy as well as life-sustaining and movement building funds! Join us for a screening of the film “Still Time,” a discussion with the subject and director, a raffle of Assata Shakur posters, plus snacks and a report back from our first year.

“Still Time,” produced by Joanna Sokolowski in collaboration with California Coalition for Women Prisoners, follows the story of LaKeisha Burton, a member of the CCWP. Incarcerated at the age of 15 and released at 35, LaKeisha must start from scratch to rebuild her life, discovering that although being out of prison can be just as unpredictable as life inside, she can still find her way back home.

The event is Saturday, Oct. 20, 6-8 p.m. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. The Clean Lounge is located at 1641 LaSalle Ave., Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco. There is a $5-$20 donation; however, no one will be turned away. The Clean Lounge is ADA accessible.

Fired Up! is a network of people who have been or are currently behind the walls of San Francisco County Jail building community with others who are committed to breaking down the barriers those walls produce. For information, email firedupsf@gmail.com or visit http://firedupsf.wordpress.com/.

Celebrate Haiti Action Committee’s 20th Anniversary

The venerable Haiti Action Committee will celebrate its 20th anniversary Friday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m., at the Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland, with the Vukani Mawethu Choir, speakers, slideshow and refreshments. Donation is $10-$25; no one turned away.

Haiti Action Committee was founded in 1992 in opposition to the coup against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and in solidarity with Fanmi Lavalas, Haiti’s popular democratic movement. For 20 years, Haiti Action Committee has accompanied the Haitian people during some of the greatest and most challenging times – from advances in social and economic justice for Haiti’s poor majority under Fanmi Lavalas to the violent reversals of social progress perpetrated during two U.S.-backed coups, the U.N. military occupation and the forced exile of the democratically-elected President Aristide.

Even as Western powers used Haiti’s earthquake as a pretext to escalate foreign intervention and profiteering, her people rallied to secure the return of President Aristide and his family from forced exile in South Africa. This remarkable achievement by a people living in extreme deprivation, backed by an international campaign, succeeded despite vigorous opposition from the United States, positioning Haiti’s popular movement among the world’s most vibrant democratic struggles. Visit www.haitisolidarity.net.

African Film Festival

The Silicon Valley African Film Festival runs Oct. 12-14; visit http://www.svaff.org/. There will be a conversation this weekend about Diaspora citizenship and a report back from the South African conference held in May 2012. From what I read, a few countries from the Pan African Diaspora were represented there, such as Cuba and Suriname, but Brazil was absent. I also wondered why the conference didn’t take place in the Diaspora.

The resolution drafted looks good. Too bad nothing was made into a policy with immediate application, like dual citizenship for all African descendents, which would mean we could travel to Africa without the need for visas. From what I read in the article I have referenced in a link here, it seems that Africa is interested in Africans in the Diaspora for what we can bring to the table, not as a way to reconcile the psychological and spiritual and emotional breach and riff between us.

I read nothing of reparations to the Africans sold and stolen from the land. It was as if we were the lucky ones, when in reality Africa needs its progeny to return to truly prosper. Let’s not get it twisted. “The [African Union is interested in] how best to harness the skills and energies within the continent and abroad for socio-economic development of Africa and [to] boost synergies, as well as facilitate innovation and entrepreneurship through sustainable partnerships within the continent and the diaspora.

“To be held under the theme, ‘Towards the Realization of a United and Prosperous Africa and its Diaspora,’ the summit will also consider the possible inclusion of the diaspora as a sixth region of the AU and endorse an AU Diaspora Volunteer Program, which would associate the diaspora directly with the development efforts on the continent.

“The AU defines the diaspora as ‘peoples of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union’” (http://www.southafrica.info/news/diasporasummit-240512.htm#.UGfeeFK9aq0).

Feels like usury. It is being called a “white person” on a grander scale. I don’t see any benefit for those of us in the Diaspora except as a charitable contribution. Those of us in the Diaspora hold cultural relics no longer accessible to continental Africans due to colonialism and Western “progress.” We hold the royal flush, so our African leaders need to treat the Diaspora community as an equal partner and come correct.

At FESMAN and most of these lofty conferences, the attendees are so removed from the people, it is crazy insane. When I visited a friend afterward in Dakar, her friends said the conference wasn’t for the people; it was for visitors and officials. I agree that the paper presentations and plenary sessions, expensive dinners and other state programming were for us. These policies might trickle down, but then again, they might not.

I like the way we organize here in the San Francisco Bay Area – bottom up and top down. True political change agents are on the ground with the people and in their offices representing that same constituency with heads of state or in many cases city-states. The jury is still out on the Diaspora proposal(s). See http://www.southafrica.info/news/diasporasummit-240512.htm#.UGfeeFK9aq0, http://www.info.gov.za/events/2012/african_diaspora.html, http://www.africa-eu-partnership.org/news/global-african-diaspora-summit and http://www.wadupam.org/au-reps-advance-diaspora.

35th Annual Mill Valley Film Festival Oct. 4-14

For the full schedule and information, visit http://www.mvff.com/. I recommend these films:

• “Central Park Five” (Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon, U.S., 2012, 119 mins.), screening at the Rafael 1 Saturday, Oct. 6, 3:30 p.m., and Monday Oct. 8, 3:15 pm;

• “Long-Distance Revolutionary” (Stephen Vittoria, U.S., 2012, 119 mins.) at the Rafael 1 Saturday, Oct. 6, 12 p.m., and at Sequoia 1 Monday, Oct. 8, 4:45 p.m.;

• “Mondays at Racine” (Cynthia Wade, U.S., 2011, 39 mins.) at 142 Throckmorton Sunday, Oct. 7, 1:30 p.m., and at the Rafael 3 Wednesday, Oct. 10, 7 p.m.;

• “Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth” at the Sequoia Sunday, Oct. 7, 6:45 p.m., and at the Rafael Monday, Oct. 8, 8 p.m.;

• “Room to Breathe” (U.S., SF Bay Area) at the Rafael Wednesday, Oct. 10, 9:45 p.m., and Thursday, Oct. 11, 4:45 p.m.;

• “Asad,” which won the festival’s short film prize, at the Rafael Sunday, Oct. 7, 9:45 p.m., and Tuesday, Oct. 9, 5 p.m.;

• “Puzzlin’ Evidence” at the Sequoia Tuesday, Oct. 9, 4 p.m., and Wednesday, Oct. 10, 5 p.m.;

• “Bay of All Saints” at 142 Throckmorton Wednesday, Oct. 10, 9:15 p.m. and Friday, Oct. 12, 5 p.m.;

Rwandan women drummers in “Sweet Dreams”
• “Sweet Dreams” (Rwanda) at the Rafael1 Sunday, Oct. 7, 3:30 p.m., and at the Rafael 3 Tuesday, Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m.;

• “Tabu” (Brazil) at the Sequoia Saturday, Oct. 13, 4:30 p.m., and at the Rafael Sunday, Oct. 14, 8:30 p.m.;

• “Tey” (Senegal) at the Rafael Saturday, Oct. 6, 3:30 p.m., and at 145 Throckmorton Monday, Oct. 8, 6:45 p.m.;

• “War Witch” about a girl, 14, who is kidnapped and becomes a child soldier at the Rafael 2 Monday, Oct. 8, 6:15 p.m., and at the Sequoia 1 Friday, Oct. 12, 3 p.m.;

• “Without a Net” (Brazil) at 142 Throckmorton Saturday, Oct. 6, 1 p.m., and the Rafael Sunday, Oct. 7, 6 p.m.;

• “The Zen of Bennett” at 142 Throckmorton Wednesday, Oct. 10, 6:30 p.m.;

• “Caesar Must Die” at the Rafael Monday, Oct. 8, 6:30 p.m., with Leslie from Marin Shakes, and at the Sequoia Wednesday, Oct. 10, 5 p.m.;

• “Xingu” (Brazil) at the Seqoia 1 Friday, Oct. 12, 6:15 p.m., and at the Rafael 2 Saturday, Oct. 13, 3:45 p.m.

I previewed “Sweet Dreams” and love it! The film is about an all-women drumming ensemble, post-Rwandan genocide. The drumming helps the women, who are from different ethnic groups and different sides of the atrocity, leave the politics outside and drum and dance it out. Many women interviewed speak of the peace they feel while drumming even if, when they go home, there is no food.

Kiki, the entrepreneur and genius behind the group, brings another idea to the women, and that is to open the first ice cream shop in Rwanda. She is inspired by a shop and its owners she meets while in New York. The shop owners invest in the Rwandan cooperative, where only women in the drumming corps can participate.

Not only is this a wonderful market, most Rwandans have never tasted the cold sweet treat. We see the women learning English, taking business classes, purchasing a building, setting up the shop, advertising, solving employee issues together and of course, continuing to drum. South Africa sends them a refrigerator and they get other support, but most of the work and monetary wherewithal comes from the women. The president even hears about these drummers and invites them to perform. They even sponsor a drumming festival where for the first time, men and women drum together.

“Sweet Dreams” is the story of this journey. It is also serves as a bridge tale between the massacre 17 years ago and 2011 and where survivors are in their healing, where the country is in its rebuilding. It is a great film!

‘LA Rebellion’ at BAMPFA through Oct. 30

I have really enjoyed attending weekly, sometimes bi-weekly films by Black directors out of the LA Film Institute at UCLA. The thesis films are wonderful windows into the creative genius behind many of our favorite directors, like Charles Burnett, whose “My Brother’s Wedding” is a classic few have seen outside the academy.

I began to enjoy watching the credits roll to see which directors worked on which classmate’s films as the names overlapped, speaking to the synergy and comradery present in the film department among classmates at that time. I have to say, “Emma Mae,” directed by the late Jamaa Fanaka (U.S., 1976) with a new print, was memorable. Emma Mae arrives in Compton from the South and everyone, her cousins and their city-hip friends, think she is naïve and a pushover. Emma gets taken for a ride, which wakes up her peers to their potential as youthful organizers for change. Emma tackles police harassment and brutality all for a man, who in the end she realizes is not worth all the effort she put into robbing a bank to get the money to bail him out. I loved it – Emma Mae is both youthful humorous with a few important lessons thrown in for after the hangover wears off (smile).

The collection of shorts that same week – “Your Children Come Back to You,” “Rich,” “Shipley Street” and “Fragrance” – were all wonderful as well. I think this program featured all women directors too. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would work until 6 p.m. and then head for Berkeley to cool out after a long day – 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (smile). Oct. 2, 7 p.m. is another film by Alile Sharon Larkin, “A Different Image” and short films. All the screenings start at 7 p.m. and end by 9 p.m., and if one is running late and driving, there is a garage across the street from PFA (Pacific Film Archive), 2575 Bancroft Way at Bowditch, which charges $2 an hour.

I am looking forward to Billy Woodberry’s “Bless Their Little Hearts” (U.S., 1984) Thursday, Oct. 10. Charles Burnett collaborates with Woodberry on this film, which is set in Watts and focuses on a Black family in crisis. I am surprised that the theatre isn’t full each screening. “Compensation” (U.S., 1999), directed by Zeinabu Irene Davis looks interesting. The director will be present, which is a treat. The film depicts two love stories set in Chicago, one at the dawn of the 20th century and the other in contemporary times, featuring a deaf woman and a hearing man. There is sign language and title cards, which makes the film accessible to both hearing impaired and hearing audiences. The film is preceded by Iverson White’s “Dark Exodus.”

The series concludes Tuesday, Oct. 30, with an early Haile Gerima film, “Child of Resistance” (U.S., 1972). Visit www.bampfa.berkeley.edu or call (510) 642-1124 for information or (510) 642-5249 for tickets. There is a commemorative catalog from the LA Rebellion in Los Angeles. Flipping through the nice souvenir, one can see all the films not a part of the reprise (smile).

Lower Bottom Playaz’s present ‘The Piano Lesson’ by August Wilson

“The Piano Lesson,” up Oct. 5, 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14, is directed Ayodele Nzinga and performed at the Sister Thea Bowman Memorial Theater, 920 Peralta St., Rear Yard, Oakland. Tickets are $10 for seniors, $15 general admission and $25 for a VIP table. All curtains are at 7 p.m., except Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. The theater is wheelchair accessible and near the West Oakland BART Station. AC Transit stops in front of the theater. The box office number is (510) 332-1319. For more information, email wordslanger@gmail.com or visit http://www.lowerbottomplayaz.com/.

Black Panther History Month Events

One highpoint of this year’s Black Panther History Month commemoration is “The Point is …: Art Representing the Relevance of the Black Panther Party’s 10 Point program in the 21st century,” presented by the Oakland Maroons Art Collective. It’s at Refa 1’s new First Love Gallery, 2440 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, celebrating its grand opening on Oct. 5 for First Fridays in Oakland. Along with the exhibit, Tureeda Mikel and Phavia Kujichagulia will present music and poetry at 8 p.m.

Visit The exhibit, which will remain open for viewing by appointment for the month of October, is a showing of images in multiple media on the theme of the Black Panther Party’s community 10 point platform drafted by Huey P. Newton and Bobbie Seale in Oakland in October of 1966 as a set of demands and precepts addressed to the government of the United States. Each of these points has been interpreted by the artists of the Oakland Maroons Art Collective (OMAC) along with two of the original Black Panthers.

Among the artists represented in this show are Emory Douglass – the original minister of culture for the BPP – and Tarika Lewis – the first woman to join the Party. Both of these artists were responsible for developing some of the earliest imagery for the BPP via its newspaper. Emory Douglass’ presence in this show is particularly notable because of his seminal contributions to the West Coast Black Arts Movement via his theater set designs. The presence of his work in this show is significant for OMAC because the collective views itself as the continuation of the Black Arts Movement in the 21st century. OMAC artists represented in this show are Refa 1, Duane Deterville, Karen Seneferu, Malik Seneferu, Eesuu Orundide, Chris Herod and Tarika Lewis. For more information, contact: Refa Senay at refa1@hotmail.com.

For a list of all the many events – art exhibits, film screenings and gatherings – visit http://www.itsabouttimebpp.com/home/home.html or call (916) 455-0908.

Black Community Convention: Building a Movement to End Police Containment of the African Community

This convention is set for Sunday, Oct. 7, 10-5, at Uhuru House, 7911 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. Speakers include Omali Yeshitela, international chairperson of the Black is Back Coalition and African Peoples Socialist Party; Cephus Johnson, founder of the Oscar Grant Foundation; Denika Chatman, mother of Kenneth Harding Jr.; Race for the Times Media. For information, visit http://Blackisbackcoalition.org/ or email Oakland@Blackisbackcoalition.org.

Underground Jazz Cabaret presents ‘An Evening with The Pyramids’

“The Pyramids 40th Anniversary 1972-2012” is Nov. 1-3 at the Burial Clay Theatre, 762 Fulton St., San Francisco. The concert features Idris Akamoor, alto sax, percussion and tap dance; Kenneth Nash, congas, drums, percussion and vocals; Kimathi Asante, electric bass and percussion; Mark “Heshima” Williams, acoustic bass; Frederick Harris, piano, drums and percussion. Visit www.culturalodyssey.org/season or call (415) 292-1850.

Family Fun for Halloween at AAMLO

A Halloween Spooktacular at the African American Museum and Library, 659 14th St., Oakland, is Oct. 27, 1-5 p.m. This is a free event for the entire family. For information, call (510) 637-0200.

On the fly

Urban Film Summit is Oct. 5 in Sacramento at the Artisan with an after party at Carol’s Books; visit http://www.californiafilm.net/. Occupy Bay Area is at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts through Oct. 14, upstairs galleries; Voices of Strength, Oct. 19 and 20, YBCA Forum: two-evening mini festival of contemporary dance and theater by women from Africa reflecting the breadth and stylistic diversity across the African continent, http://www.ybca.org/upcoming/performing-arts; Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet’s 30th Anniversary Home Season, Oct. 19-28 in Lam Research Theater, http://www.ybca.org.

The African American Center of the San Francisco Public Library with AfroSolo present “Race: Art Before Answers” exhibit through Oct. 18, http://www.afrosolo.org/. Pomo Afro Homos’ “Fierce Love (Remix)” is at New Conservatory, 25 Van Ness Ave., in San Francisco, Oct. 17-28, (415) 861-8972, http://www.nctcsf.org/; San Francisco Jewish Community Center’s Art and Ideas series presents Taye Diggs Oct. 6 and “Stew and The Negro Problem” Oct. 13, https://www.jccsf.org/arts-ideas/performances/. Brava Theatre presents “Oleanna” by Teatro Vagon Thursday, Oct. 4, 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 7, 10 p.m., and Thursday, Oct. 11, http://www.brava.org. SFJAZZ continues, http://www.sfjazz.org/.

Don’t miss the Archie Shepp Quartet at Yoshi’s Jack London Square Oct. 11-12; Kenny Latimore Oct. 4-7; Ron Carter Oct. 25-26, Betty Levett Oct. 14 and Roscoe Mitchell Oct. 28. Visit http://www.yoshis.com/oakland/calendar?y=2012&m=10. At the Rrazz Room at Hotel Nikko, Denise Perrier Oct. 2, Martha Reeves Oct. 9-14, The Flamingos Oct. 7-8; visit http://www.therrazzroom.com/. The Delfaeyo Marsalis Octet present “Sweet Thunder,” Tuesday, Oct. 16, 8 p.m., in Zellerbach Hall; see http://calperformances.org/.

Marin Theatre Company’s “TopDog/UnderDog” by Susan Lori Parks directed by Timothy Douglas, in association with Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, featuring Biko Eisen-Martin and Bowman Wright continues through Oct. 21; visit http://marintheatre.org/productions/topdog-underdog/. For great music at an affordable price on Sunday afternoons in Oakland: http://www.sundaysintheredwoods.com/. Mission Latin Jazz Festival is Saturday, Oct. 13, 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 14, 2 p.m., at Brava Theater Center in San Francisco, 24th Street at York; visit http://www.brava.org.

‘Wanderings of Odysseus’

Stanford Summer Theater presents a revised version of “Wanderings of Odysseus,” which played in Athens, Greece, in September, sponsored by the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation, the European Union, the Greek Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and Stanford’s vice-provost for undergraduate education. Translated by Oliver Taplin and directed by Rush Rehm, “Wanderings of Odysseus” brings to life the first half of Homer’s great Greek epic, “The Odyssey.” Homer creates an extraordinary world filled with memorable characters, archetypal conflict, flights of the imagination, and gritty detail that never loses sight of the dream of home and the fact of human mortality.

The centerpiece of SST’s 2010 festival, “Around the Fire: Homer in Performance,” Stanford’s 2012 version of “Wanderings of Odysseus” features original cast members Courtney Walsh, Paul Baird, Ariel Mazel-Gee and Taylor Brady, joined by new company members Peter Ruocco, Jeffrey Bihr, Angela Farr Schiller and Jessica Waldman, with choreography by Katharine Hawthorne. Performances are Tuesday, Oct. 2, 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 3, 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 4, 8 p.m., and Friday, Oct. 5, 8 p.m. The performance is at Nitery Theater in the Old Union and is about two and a half hours. Visit http://www.stanford.edu/dept/drama/12_13-events/wanderings.html.

Harmony for Humanity: Daniel Pearl World Music Days Concert

Stanford Live and Music at Stanford co-present the 10th annual Daniel Pearl World Music Days Concert, a tribute honoring the life and memory of the slain Wall Street Journal reporter, musician, and Stanford graduate Daniel Pearl, featuring faculty and students from Stanford’s Music Department, on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 8 p.m., at the Memorial Church at Stanford University. This event is free.

This year the theme is “Four Seasons and Three Microclimates,” featuring the St. Lawrence String Quartet and Stanford Chamber Strings playing Vivaldi’s beloved “Four Seasons” with a non-string interlude separating each movement. Joining them will be other Stanford performers and composers to be announced. Visit http://live.stanford.edu/event.php?code=PEAR.

AIM West Film Festival

The AIM West Coast Third International Film Festival celebrates 520 years of Indigenous peoples’ resistance to colonization in the Americas on Friday, Oct. 12, with special films on Burma, “Into the Current” and “Lady of No Fear,” which includes Ms. Suu Kyalso, “Indian Summer in Geneva,” “Behind the Blue Veil,” “Guatemala Vive” and “Wild Horses and Renegades” and many more at Brava Theater, 2781 24th St., San Francisco, (415) 641-7657. Tickets are $10 in advance $15 at door. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

RePro Rights!

Brava Theater Center presents a choice evening of theater Monday, Oct. 22, 7:30 p.m., for a donation of $25; visit http://www.brava.org:

• “My Body” by Rachel Bublitz, directed by Brady Brophy-Hilton

• “Prisoner of Love” by Dana Sack, directed by Neil Higgins

• “Lunch at the Cafe Ova” by Margy Kahn, directed by Michaela Goldhaber

• “Snip Snip” by Ignacio Zulueta, directed by Brady Brophy-Hilton

• “A Cry in Ramah” by Jeremy Cole, directed by Michaela Goldhaber

• “Factory Farm: A Documentary” by Jennifer Lynne Roberts, directed by Brady Brophy-Hilton

• “It’s Good to Know” by Megan Cohen, directed by Neil Higgins

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 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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