July 9, 2014
The Glide Memorial Church family worked wonders at the celebration of San Francisco native Maya Angelou’s life that she requested before she died. They juxtaposed carefully chosen visual moments with prerecorded Maya moments, which made her presence so palatable that the sanctuary lights came under the control of Spirit Maya and played with our collective vision – the room almost dark and the lights flickering off and on.
February 5, 2014
I am recovering from a huge blow – my computer was taken along with other personal irreplaceable items. We stopped by Loon Point to visit the shore before driving back to the San Francisco Bay Area Jan. 30. It was early, we’d just finished our first session of the Winter Quarter. We left our luggage in view in our cohort’s car. In Oakland, we’d not have done that, but somehow the seashore, mountains and quiet terrain deceptively seduced us.
December 6, 2013
The house was packed for the San Francisco NAACP Freedom Fund Gala, “We Shall Not Be Moved Until Justice Rolls Down Like a Mighty Stream,” at the Union Square Hilton on Saturday, Nov. 9, when Tavis Smiley, named one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People” by TIME magazine, broadcaster, author of 16 books, publisher, advocate and philanthropist, took the mic. Beginning with excerpts from his introduction by San Francisco NAACP President Dr. Amos C. Brown, here is Tavis’ provocative and profoundly moving address:
September 2, 2013
On the 20th anniversary of the demise of my father, Fred Ali Batin Sr., the 18th anniversary of the Maafa Commemoration San Francisco Bay Area – the Ritual Sunday is Oct. 13, 2013; see http://maafasfbayarea.com/ – and approximately the 60th day of the hunger strike to end the inhuman conditions in California’s Security Housing Units or SHUs, I just want to pause and reflect.
June 25, 2013
Sam Pollard is one of the unsung heroes of Black films in Amerikkka. He has been in the cinema industry for over 40 years and is one of the editors of some of Spike Lee’s greatest work, including “Malcolm X,” “Bamboozled,” “4 Little Girls” and “When the Levees Broke.” He will be coming to the Bay Area to do a series of talks on his work at the Pacific Film Archives in Berkeley on June 27 and 29.
January 8, 2013
This week, PBS will air “The Abolitionists,” a movie about people who during the 19th century spoke out against the evils of chattel slavery. The Abolitionist Movement has been subject to historical revisionism and an attempt by white America to pick our heroes. African Americans must become experts in the field of their own history, as no other racial group would dare trust the interpretation of their culture to others.
September 7, 2012
With the storm approaching New Orleans, I spoke to Dwight Henry, co-star in the film, “Beasts of a Southern Wild,” currently in Bay Area theaters. I spoke to three men who are riding the storm out: Parnell Herbert, Angola 3 activist and playwright, Mwalimu Johnson, community organizer and prison abolitionist, and Malik Rahim, former Black Panther.
July 14, 2012
The prison industrial complex (PIC) is a “corporation” whose objective is to profit. In California alone they pay up to $20,000 more per solitary confinement unit than for a general population unit. This keeps officers working, which is why they become willing pawns who have an interest in oppressing prisoners.
May 8, 2012
“The purpose of the … control unit is to control revolutionary attitudes in the prison system and in the society at large,” said former Marion Supermax Prison Warden Ralph Aron. What is shocking to many is how can some not only resist such systematic psychological torture, but actually improve themselves under such conditions of extreme duress.
May 6, 2012
DeBray “Fly Benzo” Carpenter. He was busted on Oct. 18, 2011, by two of SFPD’s finest, John Norment and Joshua Fry, for (gasp!) participating in a community organized rally while playing a boom box in Mendell Plaza in the heart of Bayview Hunters Point. For speaking out against police brutality, especially the SFPD murder of Kenneth Harding last July, he was brutally arrested, tried and now is barred from Mendell Plaza by order of Judge Jerome T. Benson.
February 4, 2012
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.
October 4, 2011
October is Maafa Commemoration Month. The term Maafa refers to the Black Holocaust, that period when African people were stolen and traded in the greatest, most widespread cooperative economic venture to date, which resulted in the displacement of human beings as commodities. The Kiswahili term Maafa extends that definition of loss and trauma, that is, PTSD or post-traumatic slave syndrome – the flashbacks, both conscious and unconscious, reoccurring instances of the atrocities 150 years after the end of slavery which have direct association to the brutality of chattel slavery.
June 23, 2011
Paramedic Sean Gillis, an instructor and supervisor at the Oakland Fire Department, filed suit on Friday against the OFD, alleging that the OFD mistreated Oscar Grant in its response to Grant’s 911 calls on Jan. 1, 2009, destroyed all evidence of the mistreatment, ordered Gillis to stop his investigation and are retaliating against him.
June 20, 2011
Within the U.S. immigration movement, leaders often do not clearly understand racism as it impacts upon immigration legislation on local and national levels, nor do they seem to clearly understand why, generally speaking, African Americans tend to be their most reliable allies.
April 4, 2011
On March 31, a federal judge sentenced two former New Orleans police officers for killing Henry Glover and incinerating his body during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. One got 25 years for shooting Glover with an assault rifle and the other got 17 years for torching the man’s corpse.
September 4, 2009
As the contretemps surrounding Dr. Henry Louis Gates and the Cambridge Police Department recedes into the roiling news flood to become fodder for the late night comedians, we learn, if anything, that even a president has limits when it comes to a “teachable moment.” For, as any schoolteacher could have taught him, learning is a two-way street. When the student is closed to the lesson, ain’t nothing getting in. (And America ain’t trying to hear nothing about its racist present!)