March 5, 2015
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.
February 6, 2015
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.
January 1, 2015
Happy New Year! Happy Birthday to my granddaughter Brianna, niece Wilda and friend Fred T. I am still smiling about America’s new relationship with Cuba and the freed Cuban 5. If you are in New Orleans (NOLA), don’t miss “Prospect 3: Notes for Now,” the biennial there being celebrated throughout the city through Jan. 25.
December 3, 2014
As we move into the next solar return, there is much to look forward to despite the stasis that seems to infect this nation with the disease of white supremacy or racial domination. OK OK, perhaps the silver lining is a bit too buried to find Osumare’s twinkle beyond any pots of gold you’ve stumbled upon recently. The knowledge that no matter how it looks, the Creator is in charge and the bad guys just look like they are always winning is what sustains us.
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.
October 30, 2014
Lifelong freedom fighter and field secretary and founding member of the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party Ronald Elder Freeman made his transition on Oct. 8, 2014, after a long and valiant battle with cancer. Ironically, Elder Freeman’s brother, Roland Freeman – the two were born only a year apart and were, they say, as close as twins – died exactly a week after Elder as he was preparing to bring Elder’s ashes back to California.
October 19, 2014
“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.
October 7, 2014
Sunday, Oct. 12, marks our 19th Annual Maafa Commemoration. This is a time when we gather to remember our African ancestors, especially those who endured the transatlantic slave trade or the Middle Passage, the Black Holocaust. It is a time for Pan Africans to gather and celebrate life and recommit ourselves to the work of liberation: spiritual, psychological, economic and political.
September 8, 2014
I spent a week in Harlem for the Centennial Celebration of the Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association-African Communities League (UNIA-ACL), an organization that looked at Africans separated through the institutions of slavery and colonialism, both global systems of exploitation of people, goods and environments.
September 7, 2014
“Motown the Musical” is a wonderful story of a man’s ability to take a dream and, with the support of first his family and secondly his community – in this case, artists in Detroit, Michigan – see the vision through to its fruition. Berry Gordy Jr. decided to open his own music company, Motown, a company that put Black music on the map and provided the bridge between mainstream white America and the parallel nation Black people occupied, but not for long.
September 5, 2014
Congratulations to William Rhodes on a successful trip to South Africa, where he took a quilt created by his students at Dr. Charles Drew Elementary School in San Francisco to honor the legacy of an international hero, President Nelson Mandela, and returned with art panels from workshops conducted with youth in various townships and regions from Cape Town to Johannesburg.
August 10, 2014
When I got an email about a recent assault on a Black female sociology instructor at Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, North Carolina, Professor Kimberly C. Williams, whose student brought a noose to her class, I thought her case was an isolated event. Little did I know that assault on Black women professors is cause for alarm, given the fact that two instances happened in the same month in the same year.
August 5, 2014
It is one thing when there is racial ambiguity based on systemic commodification of one’s people; it’s another when the questions stem from an omission or purposeful lie, which is the case when little Lacey Schwartz was born. Lacey, who is accepted into the clan, notices as did others her darker skin and curly hair, yet says nothing. Perhaps upper class Woodstock, New York, is a town without many Black people.
August 2, 2014
Congratulations to Gerald Lenoir for carrying the torch and blazing the way for so many social justice issues from HIV/AIDS awareness in the Black community to his recent work in just migration for Pan Africans. Much success on your new work! Farewell to Alona Clifton and much success in Atlanta. Congratulations also to Almaz Negash, founder and director of African Diaspora Network in Silicon Valley for her national recognition and award at the Continental African Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.
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.
June 25, 2014
TaSin Sabir is one of the best photographers I know. This woman of many talents just added another notch to her belt by becoming an author. Her debut literary work is called “Madagascar Made,” which is a multi-media memoir of her soul-searching 2011 quest for identity on the African island of Madagascar. The book party is on Sunday, June 29, 2 p.m., at the Joyce Gordon Gallery, 406 145th St. in downtown Oakland.
June 5, 2014
This year at the SF Indiefest’s 13th Anual Docfest, June 5-19, at multiple venues on both sides of the Bay, quite a number of films look at sexual exploitation of youth, crimes of poverty and profiles of superheroes – ordinary citizens with tenacity and inner fortitude and great love for their community, like the Honorable Michael Tubbs, central character in Kevin Gordon’s “True Son.”
May 6, 2014
On July 8, 2013, 30,000 prisoners of the California prison system – and hundreds more across the United States – refused meals to take a stand about the conditions of prisoners in the various forms of solitary isolation – approximately 14,000 human beings in California alone. It was the third hunger strike in California in two years. Dozens of prisoners deprived themselves of solid food for 60 days. One prisoner died.
April 21, 2014
Bill Siegel’s “Trials of Muhammad Ali” shows an evolution of consciousness rarely if ever seen when looking at an iconic figure, in this case the greatest boxer of the 20th century, Muhammad Ali. In this story of Ali, Siegel crafts a tale that without preconception allows his audience an opportunity to enter the Nation of Islam as Cassius Clay did.
April 18, 2014
The play “Every Five Minutes” by Scottish writer Linda McLean is an unique look into the effects of solitary confinement on a man named Mo – recently released after 13 years behind bars. Captured by insurgents, he was tortured, denied contact with family or others outside of his captors. The effects of this deprivation are one disorientated man whom we meet at his coming out dinner.