On the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, Wednesday, April 4, we need to stop and reflect on the many landmark movements which began 50 years ago … like hip-hop. For the Oakland Museum of California to showcase this culture in an exhibit entitled “RESPECT: Hip Hop Style and Wisdom” now through August 2018 is to elevate this conversation and its creators to a level unprecedented.
There is a powerful Black population in the U.K., which relishes the richness of their roots. Here, hairstyles, fashion, cuisine, music, celebrations and traditions are woven into an intricate tapestry of life and prosperity. Blackness is celebrated at cultural centers, exhibitions and events that bring communities together. Some of my favorite Black musicians hail from the U.K. And so, despite the persistence of white supremacy, Black Britons continue to thrive.
Finally, a filmmaker has come to the forefront to confront the identity question in the post-Obama Trump era. Filmmaker Mtume Gant beautifully asks pertinent questions about what it means to be Black in today’s times in his 20-minute short, an official SF Black Film Festival selection called “White Face.” This political satire, an artsy, comedic drama, is a must see for all the politically minded readers out there. Check out the genius of filmmaker Mtume Gant in this exclusive Q&A.
On April 19, 2015, Freddie Gray of Baltimore, Maryland, was murdered by officers of the Baltimore Police Department while in their custody. An article published in The Atlantic three days after Gray’s death pointed out the historical precedent for this particular kind of state violence. The author wrote, “Black men dying at the hands of the police is of course nothing new.” The “peculiar institution” of this violent and racist system can be better understood by tracing the lineage of the police back in time.
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/.
It is amazing to me to hear the cries and complaints from Euro-Amerikans about so-called racism by New Afrikans or Blacks, racism against white people, reverse racism and all of the other nonsense they were spreading while at the same time attending Donald Trump rallies by tens of thousands and then voting for him as he spews some of the most reactionary, racist, xenophobic bigotry coming from the mainstream. Why is it that white folks in large numbers feel threatened by Black pride?
So this poem is for everybody on planet earth, even though I start it out by saying: When I was younger ... I used to wonder ... why my elders would be talking holes in my clothes about Blackness? I just thought it was to make me feel better about my situation: being a Black man in America. But a funny thing happened to me while I was searching for my blackness: I found God!
I was armed when I entered the darkened studio room on Yosemite in San Francisco’s Bayview District where Zaccho Dance Theatre resides. When I opened the black curtain and stepped into the darkened room, I stood still for a moment to let my eyes adjust and noticed chairs where a few patrons sat. I decided to wander through the huge open space.
First of all, let’s not get it twisted: You can be a born-again African and a born-again Christian at the same time! Being a born-again African has nothing to do with religion, other than religiously going out of your way to support Black people and Black businesses. Being a born again African means you realize that you and your people have been stripped of your land, language, culture, heritage and spirituality and you know it is your responsibility and delight to reclaim it for yourself and your kin.