April 8, 2014
Beverly Henry died. I just got the email today. The state of California owes women prisoners their lives back – imagine going into prison healthy and leaving with a terminal illness. This is the case for many of the women there. Beverly Henry told me to tell her story and I plan to begin right now. A warrior to the end, it was her voice that told women to stand up for their rights even perhaps especially behind bars.
March 28, 2014
TheatreWorks’ production of “Once on This Island” is a beautifully choreographed story about love and loss, faith and selflessness. A musical based on the Caribbean writer and Black arts movement pioneer Rosa Guy’s adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s “Little Mermaid” set in a mysterious tropical island, when Napoleon appears defeated, we know it is Ayiti (Haiti).
March 3, 2014
Russell Maroon Shoatz is out of solitary confinement! Hugo Pinnell had his first contact visit in 40 years last weekend. Kiilu Nyasha announced this wonderful news at a reception following the second public hearing on solitary confinement called by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Feb. 11.
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.
January 1, 2014
I don’t know if it is a will of iron, Ogun or foolishness, but I caught something viral, which I refused to keep, on the plane Monday, Dec. 23, when I flew to San Salvador, El Salvador, by mistake – yes, the booking agent booked me for San Salvador when I clearly said Salvador, BAHIA, Brazil (smile). I kept seeing San Salvador and thought, well, perhaps this is another way of referencing Salvador, Bahia.
December 18, 2013
African American Shakespeare Company in San Francisco is our community’s premiere showcase for classical theatre through the lens of the African American experience. Their holiday show is an anticipated family event that did not disappoint this season in its current incarnation as a musical. How often does one see “Cinderella” in splendid technicolor?
December 9, 2013
Baba Mandela passed today after a lengthy illness. Though he was not without faults, he was a great man and a decent human being who loved his people so much he literally gave his liberty for their freedom. He sacrificed his life and his life with his family for the liberation of South Africans through the African National Congress, an organization he, as a young attorney, helped found.
December 4, 2013
“12 Years a Slave” affected me differently than Quentin Tarantino’s “Django,” which in its caricature style held me spellbound or suspended in a place of imaginative wonder – the Black man was going to win and get the girl too in the end. “Twelve Years” moved slowly and by the time Northup’s ordeal ends we are thankful yet exhausted. I saw the film alone. I think it’s the kind of journey one should invite a companion on.
December 3, 2013
Over the decades, KPFA has been known to cast out non-white broadcasters who don’t tow the white left line. Since his banning from KPFA, Minister of Information JR has been working on transforming the Block Report Radio show into the Block Report Internet Radio Station. We can’t wait to hear JR back on the radio – generating the energy that keeps good movements moving! Please contribute as generously as you can to radio that is Black-owned, operated and controlled – just what Malcolm X preached.
December 2, 2013
This season we have lost two pillars of our San Francisco Bay Area community, Samuel Fredericks and Upesi Mtambuzi. Cedar Walton, pianist, also made his transition this year, along with Donald Duck Bailey, drummer, both men beautiful human beings. Upesi, Samuel, Cedar and Donald all brightened our world. Their unique hues and shapes and sounds will be missed … that last live jam.
December 2, 2013
On Monday, Nov. 25, President Barack Obama visited the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco to talk about his Common Sense Immigration Bill slowly making its way through the United States Congress. Immigration is always topical in a country where most of us are immigrants even in the visible absence of its First Peoples.
December 1, 2013
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.
November 6, 2013
At Legal Services for Prisoners with Children’s 35th Anniversary Celebration on Oct. 19, headlined by Dr. Angela Y. Davis and Michelle Alexander, I noticed immediately the “logo,” a phoenix rising from the ashes, the theme for California Coalition for Women Prisoners’ 15th Anniversary celebration of the Fire Inside two years ago. All of Us or None is 10 years old now, and LSPC at 35 is the parent of CCWP.
October 31, 2013
Gina M. Paige explained that the organization, African Ancestry, started with Dr. Rick Kittles, genetic researcher at Howard University who was interested in isolating the gene that caused prostate cancer, one of the leading causes of death in our community. He found this research methodology applicable in other genetic detective research and so in 2003 African Ancestry was founded with Ms. Paige.
October 29, 2013
I found out Sept. 30, 2013, that she was in San Francisco General Hospital with lung cancer. She’d been going into emergency for chest pain and problems breathing, but they treated the symptoms and didn’t notice the spots until recently when they kept her. I didn’t know it was as serious as it was, so imagine my surprise when I get a text, two texts that she is gone. Genevieve Bayan, my big sister – gone. I hope she wasn’t alone.
October 3, 2013
The 18th Annual Maafa Commemoration Ritual is Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, predawn. We meet at Ocean Beach, Fulton at the Great Highway. The ritual is for people of African Descent (Black people from throughout the globe). There are so many great events this month, but not enough space to list them all.
September 29, 2013
Herman Wallace, stalwart revolutionary for the cause of justice, lies with advanced liver cancer in hospice in a Louisiana state prison. Amazing that even in his final hours, minutes, seconds, days, the Louisiana judicial system which has already conceded to bail will not set it and let the man at least have a taste of freedom. Fill out the petition for Herman Wallace’s immediate release. We also need to rally behind Albert Woodfox and secure his freedom. Send prayers and positive energy to Herman’s friends and family, especially Robert H. King and Albert Woodfox, his brothers.
September 18, 2013
Who is this terrorist, this big bad JR Valrey who poses some sort of threat to the whole Pacifica network of five major radio stations around the country? First, he’s my friend and comrade at the Bay View, where we’ve worked together for over a dozen years, all his adult life. JR is our associate editor. During the same period, he’s also volunteered at KPFA radio, where his hard and highly acclaimed work finally won him a prime time show – Wednesdays at 8-9 a.m. – starting in May 2011. Immediately, listeners flocked to KPFA to hear this exciting new show.
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.
July 31, 2013
David Livingston, the English explorer, is given a lot of credit for halting or ending the slave trade here. My guide said Livingston’s maps made it easier for the Arabs to penetrate the “interior” and that after the British abolished slavery, the Arabs continued at the Mangapwani Caves located about “20km north of Zanzibar Town along the coast” (Lonely Planet 144).