May 29, 2018
Word has it that the first 20 enslaved Africans were brought to Jamestown, Virginia, sometime during the month of August in 1619. Wow! That means next year, August 2019 will extend that legacy to exactly 400 years. Look out, Jamestown, here we come to commemorate, commiserate and consummate 400 years of MAAFA! Below is an excerpt from my poem, “The Art of Living Black,” which summarizes those 400 years, opening with an addition of recent local occurrences and indignities that have become a part of the Black Experience.
August 23, 2017
Marcus Gardley’s “black odyssey,” currently on stage at Cal Shakes in Orinda, translates the Black Holocaust into modern language. Gardley takes an oral history, Homer’s Grecian hero’s tale, then ruptures and reinterprets it so the folks submerged in the waters of confusion gain clarity. Those ancestors at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean are resurrected in “Ulysses Lincoln” – a hero and a warrior.
May 30, 2017
Last week I noted that there had been a rash of police shootings all over the Bay Area and some of y’all thought I was literally seeing or making up things. Well over the Memorial Day weekend we had three people shot by Bay Area police in two days. Three police shootings in two days is a lot. Ten police shootings in six months by two police departments is a lot. One doesn’t have to look to places like Texas, St. Louis or Louisiana or other Trump-loving states to see questionable police shootings. A lot is happening right here in the Bay Area.
July 15, 2016
We lost many loved ones this past month, from photographer extraordinaire Kamau Amen Ra to community organizer, prolific writer and longshoreman Brother Cleophus Williams to my dear Sister Monica Pree, not to mention Muhammad Ali. We reflect on Independence Day, a day marked by the blood of African Ancestors of the Middle Passage – the first to die a Black man, Crispus Attucks, on March 3, 1770, in what became known as the Boston Massacre.
December 29, 2015
Funktown, which is near Lake Merritt, is rapidly being gentrified. You can still find “Funktown” scribbled on sidewalks here and there when the concrete was fresh. But economic cleansing has taken its toll on the hood. It’s just not the same any more. As the renters of Oakland are being terrorized by skyrocketing rents and greedy landlords evicting them by the thousands, city officials have mostly turned a blind eye to the economic cleansing taking place on their watch.
December 27, 2015
All of the ills which have aggravated possibilities for economic growth and development in urban centers throughout the nation are present in Oakland, the focus of our study. As in other core American cities, important demographic changes have ushered in significant alterations in Oakland’s stance concerning housing, employment, health, welfare and business environments of its inhabitants and the dependent populations in the Bay Area.
July 2, 2015
HOW SWEET IT IS, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS 2015 NBA CHAMPIONS! NOW, THE BATTLE IS ON TO KEEP the team in Oakland and owners from moving WARRIORS TO SAN FRANCISCO Mission Bay and proposed new arena to be built at Third and 16th Street. While talking sports, CANDLESTICK STADIUM IS DOWN! GONE! Nothing left but the TOWER in the parking lot!
June 2, 2015
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, especially those dads who stayed the course, when walking away would have been so much easier, even expected. Happy Father’s Day to the OGs who have grown more responsible with age. It is never too late to do better, even if you missed a generation – grace is that second chance. Congrats to all the May-June graduates, especially my niece and nephew Wilda Batin and Wilfred Batin.
December 20, 2014
On Dec. 15 in Oakland, a protest was planned, held and led by students on the issue of police brutality. It was held at the Fruitvale BART Station where Oscar Grant had unfortunately lost his life at the hands of BART police officers. Over 200 students gathered to have their voices heard – and they would not take no for an answer. Youths who are angry with what is happening made hardcore and inspiring speeches.
December 11, 2014
A Berkeley-Oakland march protesting police violence following the murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner ended abruptly late Wednesday night, Dec. 10, after an undercover police officer pulled a gun on protesters and arrested and assaulted the Black man who blew their cover. From the Frantz Fanon quote on several banners to the faces in the protest crowd, the march Wednesday night was largely Black and other people of color and was Black-led.
November 2, 2014
Maafa 2014 – The waves were as tall as mountains or perhaps redwood trees –their gigantic footprints in the sand left many pilgrims flat on their backs wet from head to toe. In 19 years, I’d never seen waves as tall as those that Sunday morning. Many thanks to all who came and made the commemoration a huge success. It was great to have co-founder, Minister Donald Paul Miller, back in the circle.
March 27, 2013
“Oakville” is a look at the interactions between an Oakland-based Black couple and a white couple as Barack Obama is selected to be the first acknowledged Black U.S. president in the history of the country. Check out “Oakville” filmmaker Lisbon Okafor in his own words. You can see “Oakville” at the Oakland International Film Fest on Saturday, April 6, 1 p.m., at the New Parkway Theater, 474 24th St. in Oakland.
June 27, 2012
Parents, young students, teachers, families and community members have seized Lakeview Elementary School in Oakland in response to the Oakland Unified School District’s decision to proceed with closure. Lakeview was recognized for having low suspension rates of Black boys. In theory, OUSD has shown interest in interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline, but in practice, the school closures push our youth out of the schools and into the streets. Visit the People’s School and protest to Supt. Tony Smith!
June 3, 2012
I would like to wish all the fathers a blessed and happy Fathers’ Day 2012. It is a hard time to be a parent of a youngster, not to mention an adolescent or youth. The challenges are great, in direct proportion to the rewards. I’d like to congratulate the young fathers who are stepping up and participating in their children’s lives, especially when society equates parenting with one’s largess or paycheck.
June 29, 2011
A recent evening at the African American Museum and Library in Oakland was special. The line wrapped around the corner of 14th Street at Martin Luther King Jr. Way as people lined up to hear Isabel Wilkerson talk about her book, “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.”
July 22, 2010
Bikes 4 Life is on the cutting edge of the earth conscious movement that has to take place in this country if the human race is to survive. From the naked eye, it is a used bike shop that repairs and sells used bikes. In reality, it is one of the community anchors in West Oakland where people go to socialize and congregate and discuss community issues, including bikes.
January 10, 2009
In the early hours of this year of ostensible hope, the reality of the persistence of racism in Oakland became devastatingly clear, sparking a powerful response the likes of which this city hasn’t seen in years.