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Congratulations to Brothers in Pen for a fantastic book party and reading Oct. 20 at San Quentin State Prison. The work, whether fiction or poetry, creative nonfiction, memoir or dramatic lit, is stellar and the huge panel afterward, where the writers shared their creative process and the importance of art in their lives, was equally valuable and enlightening. That such beauty is possible behind bars is testament to the power of art to light darkness.
As I complete this column, the situation in our continental African nation of Zimbabwe is growing evermore intense. Our Elder, Baba, Freedom Fighter and President Robert Mugabe has been forced to “resign” – and removed from his democratically-elected office by that nation’s military and the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) leaders – in an apparent coup.
On Friday, Nov. 24, the biggest retail shopping day of the year, also known as “Black Friday,” BlackOut for Human Rights will kick off its fourth annual #BlackOutBlackFriday campaign, urging people nationwide to take part in an economic boycott of major retailers and any corporations that violate human rights standards and/or profit off the pain and suffering of others. Launched in 2014, #BlackOutBlackFriday is a call-to-action encouraging individuals to refrain from shopping to protest social and economic injustice in the U.S. and instead engage in cultural activism.
It is amazing how time flies whether one is moving or standing still. One looks up and sees, suddenly it seems, friends celebrating 70 and 75 or 80 or even 90-plus milestones. Wow! What a blessing that is. And while we also see the fullness of time’s passage in the lives of those who have decided to move on, too often we are caught by surprise, our mouths hung open, the words we could have said … deeds left undone.
Earlier this week, the ENOUGH Project to, quote, “end genocide and crimes against humanity,” posted an appeal to consumers titled, “What if Black Friday were conflict-free?” ENOUGH is an NGO operating under the umbrella of the Center for American Progress, a neoliberal Washington D.C.-based Democratic Party think tank. They did not include an appeal to the nation’s weapons manufacturers who require minerals on the U.S. Strategic Minerals list.
This week tens of thousands of people in the United States flooded the streets to demand racial justice. It is one of many issues that have been building for years, reaching the tipping point and seeming to explode in a national awakening. We also saw that in the last two weeks with national protests for living wages. Four years ago we listed 15 crisis issues that the country needed to face; poverty wages and the injustice in criminal enforcement, including racially abusive police practices, were two of them.
As we move into the next solar return, there is much to look forward to despite the stasis that seems to infect this nation with the disease of white supremacy or racial domination. OK OK, perhaps the silver lining is a bit too buried to find Osumare’s twinkle beyond any pots of gold you’ve stumbled upon recently. The knowledge that no matter how it looks, the Creator is in charge and the bad guys just look like they are always winning is what sustains us.
On so-called Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year in the U.S., members of the Blackout Collective and their allies obstructed BART trains on both sides of the track from moving out of the West Oakland BART station in an economic protest to the systemic wanton killing of Black people in this country, most recently symbolized by the police murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner.
The call to action here is to, while outraged, spend some time and energy focusing on what we have, who stands for us, who needs our help. So YES to #BoycottBlackFriday and yes to #InvestInJustUs. Let’s acknowledge and support our justice-seeking institutions who labor to defend us 365 days a year.
In the Harriet Tubman Christmas story of 1854, “Go Tell It,” Harriet came and rescued her blood brothers from enslavement and drove them on the Underground Railroad to Canada. This true to life story is one of inspiration, loyalty, family and most of all resistance, eloquently captured by the brilliance of playwright and director Taiwo Kujichagulia-Seitu. Performances are Saturday, Dec. 21, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 22, at 3 p.m. at the Malonga Center, 1428 Alice St., Oakland.
Two days after the lockdown at Hancock State Prison was lifted, my father was placed in lockdown for making and leading congregational salaat (prayer). He was then told that he would never walk the compound again and they would assault and tear gas the Muslims if they continued to make congregational prayers.
This is the month we wear our Blackness with pride – so walk on, walk on. I want to thank Rhodessa Jones, Shaka Jamal, Pat Jamison, Elaine Lee, Walter Turner, Vera Nobles and Elouise Burrell for your leads and references for South Africa.
Sobonfu Somé, West African healer, says that when people die and become ancestors, they get smarter and often try to repair any damage they may have made while in this physical form. Ancestors want to be busy making our lives better. She said we can call on them to intercede on our behalf when we are troubled.
Please join our national and worldwide movement to support Black businesses and Black people financially by going out of your way on Wednesdays to spend your money in the Black community.
On Black Friday 2010, at 16th and Mission in San Francisco, Creative Housing Liberation held a “Housing Harvest” rally with songs and speeches followed by a tour of four vacant neighborhood properties. Creative Housing Liberation would like to invite “all kinds of folks, including families,” to be involved in future housing occupations and demonstrations.