April 25, 2017
“Oakland in Blue” is a short movie that was made by locally grown, Los Angeles-based filmmaker Robbin Rae and selected to be in both the Oakland International Film Festival, which just passed, and the upcoming San Francisco Black Film Festival. The cinematography, the lighting, the script, the acting and the message were all on point. Robbin Rae is a name we will hear more of, mark my words.
April 19, 2017
On the second weekend of June this year, the San Francisco Black Film Festival will be celebrating its 19th year by screening over 100 independent Black films in this annual four-day cinema marathon. San Francisco Black Film Festival director Kali O’Ray, son of founder Ave Montague, sits down to discuss how it feels for the festival to celebrate its 19th birthday, the importance of indie films, remaining in a city that was once a lot more chocolate but has been gentrified to 3 percent Black – and more.
April 15, 2017
Back during the Black Power Era, if you were down for the cause, people called you “aware.” In the Hip Hop Era, the term for being politically up to date was “conscious.” Now, with the Millennials, if you are in tune with what’s going on in the world, you are referred to as “woke.” For the past few years, since the murder of Trayvon Martin, there has been a steady rise in cultural awareness within the Black community. The Black truth now gets as much traction as the white mainstream news on Facebook. So why is the church, arguably the spiritual center of the Black community, still running two steps behind?
April 14, 2017
Poet-composer-playwright-critic Mari Evans Phemster was funeralized March 21, 2017, at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. Like her friend, Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000), Mari’s output preceded the Black Arts Movement, though many of her titles and themes – like “I Am a Black Woman” – became anthems of BAM.
April 14, 2017
“Jitney,” August Wilson’s first play, set in 1977, takes place in the Hill District in Philadelphia, a place Wilson called home. “Jitney,” a part of Wilson’s 10-play canon that chronicles Black life from Jim Crow South to illusive Northern freedoms, speaks to the absence of permanent change for Black people despite legislative acts 1865 to now. It runs through April 16; visit www.african-americanshakes.org.
April 5, 2017
The Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar collective is releasing its 17th calendar this coming fall. The theme for 2018 is “Awakening Resistance,” reflecting on organizing in the current political climate. We are looking for 12 works of art and 12 short articles to feature in the calendar, which hangs in more than 2,500 homes, workplaces, prison cells and community spaces around the world. We encourage contributors to submit both new and existing work. We also seek submissions from prisoners – please forward to any prison-based artists and writers.
April 5, 2017
March 26, 2017, marked the 40th anniversary of the homegoing of our mother, Gloria Mae Pierce. It’s so hard for us to believe that 40 years have actually passed. To us, her entire life is still so very vivid in our minds. Our mother Gloria left a legacy of love, respect and distinction that will remain with us forever. She would have always wanted us to love and respect each other as family. We love and miss you, mom, with all our hearts. Rest forever in peace!
April 3, 2017
The Oakland International Film Festival is an opportunity for Oakland to shine – its artists the polish and vehicle. From its inception 15 years ago, when the City of Oakland was one of the only cities in the nation with a film office, sadly eliminated an administration ago, this festival has maintained its focus – on Oakland and its diversity of talent: directors, writers, actors, technicians – famous and up and coming. The festival is on April 4-8. To learn more and get tickets, visit http://www.oiff.org and https://oaklandroots40th.info/.
April 3, 2017
We continue our celebration of the fairer sex this month with Amara Tabor-Smith and Ellen Sebastian Chang’s House/Full of Black Women Project: Episode: Black Women Dreaming, a Ritual Rest, March 26-April 7. In this 10th episode of House/Full, perhaps its largest and longest episode, Black women are invited to sleep, stop during the middle of the day or evening and rest, dream. Black women rest least of all people across race, gender and class.
March 29, 2017
For too many years, men have been making babies and often taking no responsibility for the resulting beautiful product, unless forced to do so by the court system. I acknowledge there are many reasons that a man may deny being the father of a child. He may be “creeping” around and “messing” with one or more women “on the side.” Or he may just be “playing the field.” It does happen that even good men – although immature – are sometimes overwhelmed at the thought of “all that responsibility.”
March 28, 2017
With President Agent Orange sitting in the White House surrounded by his harem of small-handed Klansmen, we must understand that this homogenous group of fascists is intent on wreaking havoc on intellectual strength. We cannot sink into the depths of mental despair and spiritual neglect. This is exactly what they want. The tyranny of a totalitarian regime and the suffering and oppression that ensues is nothing new to the Black psyche.
March 24, 2017
Donald Trump is bragging about his ability to keep Colin Kaepernick unemployed. But Trump isn’t hurting Kaepernick. If anything, Trump may have done Kaepernick one hell of a favor. By boasting about his ability to strike fear into the hearts of NFL owners he may have revealed evidence of “collusion” or what is known as “tortious interference,” or “the intentional interference with contractual relations.” Trump could have inadvertently handed Colin Kaepernick a lawsuit on a silver platter – or put tremendous pressure on the NFL to find one owner willing to bring Kaepernick into training camp.
March 22, 2017
When one thinks of Black women photographers, Carrie Mae Weems comes to mind and, regarding silhouettes, Kara Walker. Though certainly a historic revisioning of beauty and portraiture, a form reserved for the aristocracy, Erica Deeman’s first major solo exhibition at Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive celebrates the form – the Black female form. The large-scale portraits, created over the course of nine months in 2013, is up through June 11, at the BAMPFA, 2120 Oxford St., Berkeley.
March 22, 2017
When a person dies, the living find it hard sometimes to carry on. The loss of a loved one is something one never gets over, and when the death is violent and the victim young, the bitterness is that much harder to swallow. In Patricia Milton’s new play, “Without Mercy,” closing this weekend, Thursday-Saturday, March 23 and 25, 8 p.m., at the Off Broadway West Theatre Company, we meet a grieving mother and daughter, Joanna Parks and Bethany Matthews.
March 18, 2017
In “Eclipsed,” playwright Danai Gurira holds the politics of rape and war up to the light and finds it is gone, hidden behind a cloud or the orbit of a larger constellation. How are the politics of the Black female body somehow trivialized or ignored when sexual slavery or rape and war fill mouths, the atrocities dripping from chins; however, no one wipes away the stain? Currently up through Sunday, March 19, at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, the play asks audiences to consider the violence of war and what people do when cornered to survive.
March 15, 2017
Chatting with producer and playwright Dennis Rowe, he says that everyone in LA wants to be an actor, but this does not mean that they have talent. Rowe learned that his expertise was in production, not performance, early enough in his career to identify and perfect his knack for writing. Twenty-one years later, Rowe has a number of successful stage productions to brag about – but he doesn’t: This weekend, the successful NAACP Image Award nominee is in town with his “Port Chicago 50” at Black Rep, 3201 Adeline St., Berkeley, Friday, March 17, 8 p.m., Saturday, March 18, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday, March 19, 4 p.m. For information, call 800-838-3006.
March 10, 2017
Lynne Stewart, after 78 winters in America, has died, after battling for years against breast cancer. But those were just some of her battles and, like most of us, she won some and lost some. But she never stopped fighting! For decades, she and her husband, Ralph Poynter, fought for New York’s political activists and revolutionaries, like Black Panthers and Young Lords, a Puerto Rican socialist collective. But mostly, they fought for the freedom of the poor and dispossessed of New York’s Black and Brown ghettoes. Lynne Stewart was an officer of her clients, a People’s Lawyer, beloved and respected. May she ever be so.
March 9, 2017
Though pioneering journalist Richard Durham (1917-1984) made Chicago his home, Professor Sonja D. Williams’s “Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio and Freedom” (2015) offers a portrait of a man who was not contained by geography – spatial or otherwise. Williams will be in town this weekend to share the Durham story at the African American Museum and Library, 659 14th St., Oakland, Saturday, March 11, 2-4 p.m.
March 3, 2017
At the Women’s March on Washington, Sen. Kamala Harris told constituents, she “had our backs,” and since she has been in office Sen. Harris has certainly been a vocal and active participant in standing up for the constitutional rights for her constituents in California against presidential legislation which undermines core human rights and values. Her track record in providing a safety net for the most vulnerable in our community is unparalleled.
March 2, 2017
The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), a nonprofit consortium of organizations dedicated to research, community collaboration and public engagement, is working to stop the preventable deaths of African Americans due to the consumption of menthol-flavored cigarettes engineered by the tobacco companies to addict Black people and others including Asian, Latino and LGBTQ populations.