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.
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.