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It’s all about the ancestors, believe it or not. The invisible realm controls the outer. Those who believe in magic are in touch with reality – a truth, the initiated, those beings open to a creation story they participate in. Life is a collection of unedited stories; the end of a chapter does not mean the end of the book. With that said, the MAAFA Commemoration is upon us once again, celebrating its 23rd anniversary.
2017 marks the centennial of the nation’s bloodiest race riot in the 20th century in East St. Louis, Illinois. Migrant Black people were hired to work as miners to replace striking white workers at the Aluminum Ore Co. The white workers stormed City Hall demanding redress from the mayor. Shortly thereafter, news of an attempted robbery of a white man by an armed Black man set off the reign of terror in downtown East St. Louis in which unarmed Black men, women and children were pulled from trollies and street cars and beaten and shot down in the street.
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.
It’s International Women’s History Month and in director Abderrahmane Sissako’s film “Timbuktu” (2014) we meet fierce African women who stand their ground when faced with lashings, stonings and bullets. The setting is Timbuktu, Africa’s Mecca, a sacred historic seat of knowledge and wisdom, which has been ravaged recently by warfare and plunder. Peoples’ lives, antiquities, books, Quranic texts, landmarks and buildings have been destroyed.
Given the trajectory of 2014 regarding Black lives, perhaps February would be a great time to reflect on what bell hooks calls “the love ethic,” a principle Dr. King embodied and preached. Langston Hughes would have been 116 on Feb. 1 (his mother, Carrie Langston, was born Jan. 22, 1873). Albert Woodfox will be 68 on Feb. 19. Hopefully he will be eating cake under some sunny sky, a freed man by then.
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.
“Traveling While Black” is epic. It is a story that has audiences laughing while at the same time catching their breath as Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe takes us with her into situations only a well-written narrative can then retrieve us from unscathed. The journey is fraught with peril. Cooper-Anifowoshe transports us from a Muni bus ride in San Francisco to a slave ship off the coast of West Africa without a blink of an eye.
Wanda’s reviews for April include: the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument, the “Transformative Visions” exhibition at Studio One, Spirit Silence Retreat, “The Dream Never Dies,” “The Resurrection of SHE,” “Journey of the Shadow,” the 9th Annual CubaCaribe Festival of Dance Music, “The Whipping Man,” “Mental” and many more …
Back when Mumia was a member of the Black Panther Party, he traveled west to work with the Oakland chapter – an important time in his evolution as a radical journalist. Now the story of his life and revolutionary times comes to The New Parkway Theater. Read about it and all of Wanda's Picks for March 2013.
Sometimes one gets tired of living in a place that doesn’t want you there, Zaccho Artistic Director, Joanna Haigood, states at the reception Thursday at the California Historical Society. The only problem is 154 years later, Black people are still unwelcome in San Francisco, which is what “Sailing Away” addresses so eloquently without words.
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.
Happy Mother’s Day to Yuri Kochiyama! I’d like to also wish the women who haven’t seen their children in a long time, some since birth, a special Happy Mother’s Day. Our prayers are with you even if you feel alone at a time when in America prisons systematically separate mothers from their children, often permanently.
I highly recommend “Jar the Floor.” It illustrates the Sankofa concept that permeates African Diaspora culture. Shows are 8 p.m. tonight and 3 p.m. tomorrow, March 5 and 6, at the Mexican Heritage Plaza Pavilion, 1700 Alum Rock Ave., San Jose.
Quentin Easter was certainly a man whom too many of us will miss, miss for his warm compassionate smile, unruffled presence and positive outlook in the face of tremendous stress and obstacles.
Multi-layered with healing at its center, the large cast of "Dancing with the Clown of Love," some infected, everyone affected, shared stories written over the past two years at the Women’s HIV Program at the University of California San Francisco - documented in a short film that opens the show. Hurry! The run closes this weekend.
Rhodessa, dressed in an orange prison jumper from South Africa (orange the universal prison attire, like a brand), appears with a whip. All the sensations: cold, hard, eerie darkness, unfamiliar sounds, smells, give the audience plenty to contemplate, especially those in the first two rows where the whip spinning in Rhodessa’s hand over our heads, which she then flicks, we feel, too close to our faces as its breeze and the sting of its impact hits the ground again too close for comfort. But this theme – the Black holocaust – is it supposed to be an idea that brings ease?