October 14, 2016
Perhaps the reason why Nat Turner is almost completely buried within documented and oral histories is connected to the fear his rebellion caused in the Southampton and by extension the Southern antebellum community. Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation” visits this story as Donald Trump draws a white male constituency very much in keeping philosophically with the angry mob who tear the flesh from the iconic Prophet Nat Turner’s body.
October 10, 2016
This Maafa Commemoration Month we continue to lift “A Love Supreme” as we organize a defense against state violence. Congratulations to Professor Aaliyah Dunn-Salahuddin, whose community vigil and program honored the lives of the Bayview Hunters Point revolutionaries killed 50 years ago when the community rose up after SFPD killed Matthew “Peanut” Johnson and more recently when the community turned out after SFPD killed Mario Woods.
January 29, 2015
As the nation celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.’s 86th birthday, we are immersed in an intensive, often divisive conversation about race in America. Sixty years after King marched through the streets, as he did in Selma and cities throughout the South, we find ourselves still on the streets battling many of these same issues. My concern is that we are too narrowly focused. We need to make sure we battle this issue of race on all fronts.
January 12, 2015
I’ve finally seen “Selma” and can report it is a proper civil rights movie. By that I mean it takes few chances either thematically or aesthetically. The icons remain intact and the movement free from revisionist recriminations. This cautious strategy is understandable in a risk-averse Hollywood. Although boxed in by those kinds of commercial expectations, “Selma” delivers even more than it should.
May 26, 2014
The SF Black Film Festival is one of the film festivals that I most look forward to in the Bay Area every year. This year it is from June 12-15 at various theaters in San Francisco. It was founded by the late Ave’ Montague, and now it’s under the direction of her son, Kali O’Ray. Every year I’ve seen great films that don’t have the promotional budgets to reach a wider audience without the help of a festival like SFBFF.
March 14, 2014
“12 Years a Slave,” the story of a free Black man kidnapped by slave traders, has won an Oscar for Best Picture of the Year and a slew of other awards. But in one important respect, the movie comes up short. Missing from the film is the slave rebellion and revolt that Solomon Northup portrayed so vividly in his book.
March 3, 2014
Russell Maroon Shoatz is out of solitary confinement! Hugo Pinnell had his first contact visit in 40 years last weekend. Kiilu Nyasha announced this wonderful news at a reception following the second public hearing on solitary confinement called by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Feb. 11.
December 4, 2013
“12 Years a Slave” affected me differently than Quentin Tarantino’s “Django,” which in its caricature style held me spellbound or suspended in a place of imaginative wonder – the Black man was going to win and get the girl too in the end. “Twelve Years” moved slowly and by the time Northup’s ordeal ends we are thankful yet exhausted. I saw the film alone. I think it’s the kind of journey one should invite a companion on.
November 29, 2013
I’m not sure which knife-point of ancestral trauma in the new movie “12 Years a Slave,” based on Solomon Northup’s autobiography, caused me to crumple into a paralyzed ball on the floor. I am not sure when I became unable to breathe or even see straight while watching the continuous acts of graphic genocide, racist hate, hegemony, brutality and oppression filter across the movie screen.