Welcome to a work in progress. This will be properly formatted, edited, hyperlinked and illustrated shortly. Sorry for the delay. – ed.
by Wanda Sabir
Happy Father’s Day to all the men who show up and stay committed to their children whether the child is biologically theirs or not.
Congratulations to the graduates, with a special salute to my older daughter, Bilaliyah Aliyah Sabir, who has completed her bachelor’s degree at Cal State University East Bay in Psychology and Women’s Studies, my friend Elouise Burrell who just completed her degree in Accounting at Mills College, former students, Amani Ali, Sha’ Quea Pratt and Ocean Beverly. Much success!
Shout out to the June Geminis and to the May ones as well (smile) famous and not as famous or well known as Miles Davis and Sun Ra, Robert H. King and Andrea Lewis, Marvin X, Raymond Nat Turner, Nida Ali, and Rev. Donald Paul Miller, co-founder of the San Francisco Bay Area Maafa Ritual. We are a brilliant ensemble of celestial energy –there is nothing quite like a Gemini (ashay!) Some of us are on the cusp, so a Happy Birthday shout out to the Cancers who share this month too like my dear friends Karen Oyekanmi, Black Beauty Dolls and Artists, Alison Gates, and those no longer with us like Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael). I would have none of this if it weren’t for you Mama, so happy birthday to you!
The death of a community: Save Oakland libraries
The Oakland budget and projected cuts to services like libraries, parks and recreation, senior services, not to mention arts programming like the Oakland Film Office, which generates funds and the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts—remember Edsel Matthews organizing around this issue and how the City evicted him which literally broke his heart? All of these vital public services are on in the guillotine fiscal year 2011-2012. Budget reading dates are as follows: Tuesday, June 7, 5:30 PM and its passage Tuesday, June 21, 5:30 PM. There is a protest planned June 4, 2011, 1-3 PM, in front of City Hall to Save the Libraries especially The African American Museum and Library at Oakland.
At the budget hearing in City Council chambers Thursday, May 26, 2011, the room was packed in the central chambers and in the balcony—people lined up along the walls. Police were called into the room to facilitate the eviction of standing citizens—this same police presence was seen in the halls and on the street around City Hall—certainly a visual re: our tax dollars at work (?). Unions were there with signs, elders all decked out in bright red—I wasn’t certain why they were in red, as was the mayor.
This police presence was highlighted when several speakers addressed 64 percent of the budget slated for public safety, that is, police and fire services. Public safety’s supposed insulation from budgetary woes other City Departments have suffered like library services which has been taking unpaid work furloughs for two years. We really do live in a police state (of mind too). Oakland is representative of a government both locally and nationally predicated on violence prevention through enhanced militarization—locally that means “police.” Oakland public libraries (17 now) are two percent of the budget, yet are 85 percent of the proposed cuts. 85 percent means 400 employees out of the door. Police are the highest paid city employees. I think someone said they cost $220,250,000, yet, they have not missed a day of work since their civil servant peers have been taking all the hits from economic fallout.
I’d arrived too late to speak. Not a part of the organizing structure, no one put in a speaker card for me, so I gave my prepared comments to the clerk who hopefully passed them out to council. Only two, maybe three council persons were there when I arrived: Nancy Nadel, District 3, Ignacio de la Fuente, District 5, and Patricia Kernighan, District 2. Desley Woods, District 6, came in before I left. Perhaps others came in later—their absence at such an important meeting telling.
Many seated nearby spoke about the last budget hearing going until 1 AM. Kernighan asked those present to stick around until after all the speakers commented to hear from council recommendations.
Volunteers from Oakland’s Second Start Literacy program spoke, along with present students. The branch manager at Rockridge Branch Library spoke; however the most articulate testimonies came from young patrons like Jason Hamed, who spoke about the impact of libraries on their lives and that of their peers, whether that was help with college research or opening their eyes to other lives and worlds. One child spoke of the library as a safe haven, a fun place, a place where community-building develops. These words were echoed by many adults like an OUSD teacher who praised the Tool Lending Library at Temescal Branch Library. Creative solutions to the budget cuts were made. I knew voters had passed multiple measures over the years to safeguard our libraries, singularly one of Oakland’s treasure, but I hadn’t recalled the details of Measure Q which was to safeguard Oakland from library closures by “providing funding for library services by increasing the current parcel tax and extending the term of the1994 Parcel Tax on residential and non-residential parcels to 2024” (smartvoter.org).
With the Library Services Retention and Enhancement Act that Oakland (Measure O, Parcel Tax) passed in 1994 was amended by voters in the passage of Measure Q, May 2004, single family parcels went from $36.06 to $75.00; for multi-unit residential parcels from $24.63 to $47.82; and for non-residential parcels the increase was $18.47 to $35.85. Voters approved Measure Q in order to eliminate the projected revenue shortfall and to fund expanded operating hours, enhance book collections and materials, expand literacy programs; support joint programs with Oakland Public Schools and upgrade library technology and computer access. In a resolution the city promised that “all revenues received from the Act, as amended, will be expended exclusively for library services.”
Obviously, with the proposed 2011-12 fiscal budget, the City of Oakland has not upheld its end of that agreement. Measure Q which passed with overwhelming support was to extend the term of the 1994 Parcel Tax on residential and non-residential parcels to 2024. This effectively takes the library issue out off the table, releases it from the stocks where it lies bound and gagged with other valued social programs. AAMLO funding is mentioned specifically in the measure. (http://www.smartvoter.org/2004/03/02/ca/alm/meas/Q/) . To reach council visit: http://www2.oaklandnet.com/
A Sage Moves On
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised . . . Gil Scott Heron said, yet today, not only is it televised, it is TWITTED, FACEBOOKed, LINKED-in and DIGGed. Hum. We’ve come so far, yet not far enough apparently.
It is with great sadness that we remember Gil Scott Heron, whose demons finally caught up to him Friday, May 27, 2011. He was 62. I recall many conversations with him, when he managed his own group—He talked about Brian Jackson and how “Winter in America,” one of his classics was born at Brian’s mother’s house. A historian, Heron recalled the events at the historic Black institution, Lincoln University, his alma mater, juxtaposing what happened there to another student uprising –this time white students, at Kent State. He was a prodigy and I remember reading one of his novels, “The Vulture,” the only one I could find at the library, to prepare, though “Nigger Factory” sounded just as interesting. He was a brilliant writer with a masters degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University. Heron’s political analysis is reflected in his work—a discography and list of albums as much a part of popular parlance as fast food and recycled containers.
Heron never wallowed in self pity. He was witty and humor saved him I’m sure when nothing could mask his physical pain except perhaps the music and its capacity to embrace and hold one when stillness is the one thing one can’t face. I can imagine his joke to a reviewer about going into the hospital with one ailment and contracting another “pneumonia, the old wasn’t good enough.”
He talked about the composition: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and The Last Poets, their elliptical evolutions, and his unique style which was more musical than poetic, he felt, a distinction often contested (smile).
While playing the piano Heron would talk to his audience about what was going on locally and globally. On those days, I could skip the evening news. It was always the same story; perhaps this is why he felt more comfortable facing it through a cloud than sober? On both occasions during the last concerts I saw him perform, he spoke about his work with Stevie Wonder and others in having this nation recognize Martin King with a holiday, the subject of his final work which is as of yet, unpublished.
One never knows how tough the road another travels until he or she wears that person’s shoes and even then, used shoes often hurt—there are those form-memories that influence one’s movement even when one calls him or herself free. It is amazing given his perpetual intoxicated state how creative and gifted the man, the sage, and hero to many, was. We’ll miss his frequent trips to the Bay – his concerts were always an occasion that brought out many. Some of the people who were at his last concert in Oakland are no longer with us, like Owen, who played percussion with Heron. May they both rest in peace.
I remember how while talking Heron would stop and recite a poem or lyrics from a song. It was as natural as breathing—his life lyrical expression. His memory was sharp. His friend and band mate, Leon Williams, saxophonist, said that when someone goes quickly he assumes their journey is done, and with Heron; he wouldn’t want us standing around weeping for long. Leon said. “He liked to celebrate life. That’s what he sang about so we should take his cue and do just that.” Leon said he’d keep me posted on the West Coast party for Gil (smile).
On “Your Soul and Mine,” the title track of the 2010 release, Heron sings:
Standing in the ruins of another Black man’s life
or flying through the valley separating day and night,
‘I am death!’ cried the vulture,
‘For the people of the light.’
Charon brought his wrath from the sea that sails on souls
and saw the scavenger departing taking warm hearts to the cold.
He knew the ghetto was a haven
for the meanest creature ever known.
In a wilderness of heartbreak
and a desert of despair,
Evil’s clarion of justice shrieks a cry of naked terror.
Taking babies from their mamas
Leaving grief beyond compare.
So, if you see the vulture coming
flying circles in your mind;
Remember, there is no escaping
for he will follow close behind.
Only promise me a battle
for your soul
Libations for the Ancestors
The annual ritual pouring of libations for the ancestors is June 11, 2011, 9 AM PT. We’ll meet at Lake Merritt at the fountain, diagonal to Lake Merritt Bakery and the tennis courts. Bring flowers, water, and percussion instruments flowers if you like. We will pour exactly at 9 AM. If you are in another region pour with us at 9 AM PT, which in New York would be 12 noon. In Senegal it would be about 5 PM. In Jamaica it would be 11 AM, the same time in New Orleans. This ritual is for people of African descent. Again, if you can’t make it to Oakland, pour where you are. You can also invite family and friends. We are pouring specifically for those whom we lost to the Maafa or Black Holocaust which as the Kiswahili term implies, continues. Visit www.maafasfbayarea.com (check the blog there).
The Necessary Tour
“A Taste of Freedom with Mo’ Bites Halal Style Cuisine and The Necessary Tour: A Historical Legacy and Commemoration of Malcolm X” with special guest: Professor Griff of Public Enemy, is Saturday, June 4, 2011, 11 AM to 3 PM, at the Linen Life Gallery, 770 East-14th St., San Leandro, CA. Tickets for this 21 and over event are $30. (No tennis shoes). For information call: (510) 301-9872 and visit www.hujambo.net The Black History 101 Mobile Museum will also be on display. What a great way to commemorate United Nations designation of 2011 as “The Year for People of African Descent,” just in case you haven’t yet (smile).
The New Jim Crow
Michelle Alexander’s staggering work: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, challenges the judicial system’s efficacy, not to mention fairness. Alexander’s work is a modest 290 pages, 38 of that notes and indices. The recipient of the 2011 NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Literary Work of Nonfiction” opens with a story about a man “Javious Cotton who cannot vote. Like his father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather, he has been denied the right to participate in our electoral democracy” (1). Alexander then goes on to share the Cotton legacy: enslavement, insurrection and resulting brutality, and today imprisonment.
This stigma is not inherent. The Cottons are certainly worthy of full citizenship, yet the inherited stigma, this stigma based on shifting social and legal mores Alexander proves through the many studies cited, subjects profiled and interviewed, historic parallels drawn, and multiple statistics cited regarding mass imprisonment and civil society.
These claims are further substantiated in Alexander’s exhaustive review of laws over the past 100 years which undermine or eliminate human rights, especially those that safeguard a citizen’s civil right to dignity and due process. The New Jim Crow points to socially sanctioned and legislated, popularized and propagandized legislation which feeds a media enhanced propaganda machine intent on legitimizing the boogie man—his capture and ultimate destruction.
She says, “Cotton’s story illustrates, in many respects, the old adage ‘The more things change, the more they remain the same.’” Denying African Americans citizenship was deemed essential to the formation of the original union. Hundreds of years later, America is still not an egalitarian democracy. An extraordinary percentage of Black men in the United States are legally barred from voting today, just as it has been most of American history. This is the New Jim Crow, a system of exclusion legitimized by government, shaped by popular perception to justify a ‘redesigned racial caste system’” (2, 12).
Today, not only has the boogey man taken on a life of his own, like the straw man on life-support –a fallacious argument a la Wizard of Oz, this soul has no heart. Most Americans don’t question the stigma and isolation afforded certain members of our society, those who look like my father –Black. I remember when I told my father he could vote again. Disenfranchised and criminalized, he hadn’t known one can regain his citizenship rights. Just like the inference of consent when one doesn’t tell police they cannot search one’s property or one’s person without cause, how is one to know his rights?
People thought that the benefits of voter registration were limited to holding electoral office, when even more important was equal and fair representation on juries— Voter registration affects who shows up on juries of one’s peers. If this nation has incarcerated the majority of a particular population, how can such person receive a fair hearing when his peers are his cell mates who can’t vote?
Jim Crow refers to the time just after Reconstruction when the northerners returned home and left newly emancipated citizens to fend for themselves in a hostile territory, a place where tyranny was the rule and outright terrorism was practiced and supported by those in judicial authority. Jim Crow is the polite name for re-enslavement of Black people—”Felons,” the new N-word Alexander cites. After a person is dehumanized or objectified, his or her loss of citizenship is often ignored since prisoners at some point during their captivity cease to be fully human—this is how incarcerated persons get treated so harshly especially those who resist. When one weighs economic incentive respective to massive incarceration, a system uncannily similar to chattel slavery, one sees why slavery’s abolition was fought. It was free labor or legalized economic exploitation.
In the fifteenth century, Christian missionaries called Africans primitive; slavery was a way to civilize them. Today Africans are objectified as criminals from birth—the stigma, racially based, is now embraced by youth who have inherited not greatness, rather its opposite, scorn and degradation.
There are more African Americans under correctional control today –in prison than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began (Alexander).
Friday, May 27, 2011 at St. Paul AME Church in Berkeley, Sister Alexander was embraced by a standing room only audience of at least a 1000. Hosted by Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and All of Us or None, her audience was broad in spectrum, just as this mass incarceration is and who it affects. I had an interview with Sister Alexander mid-week and played the interview on my radio show Friday, May 27, 2011. Again it is available on the website and through iTunes free of charge.
One kid, Ronny, 16, says that his grandmother “keeps asking him when he is going to get arrested again. She thinks just ‘cause I went in before, I will go in again. . . . At my school my teachers talk about calling the cop[s] again to take me away. . . . [The] cop keeps checking up on me. He’s always at the park making sure I don’t get into trouble again. . . . My P.O. [probation officer] is always knocking on my door talking shit to me. . . . Even at the BYA [the local youth development organization] the staff treat me like I’m a fuck up. . . . Shit don’t change. It doesn’t matter where I go, I’m always seen as a criminal. I just say, if you’re going to treat me like a criminal then I’m going to treat you like I am one, you feel me? I gonna make you shake so that you can say that there is a reason for calling me a criminal. . . . I grew up knowing that I had to show these fools [adults who criminalize youth] that I wasn’t going to take their shit. I started to act like a thug even if I wasn’t one. . . . Part of it was me trying to be hard, the other part was them treating me like a criminal” (166).
I thought about the Maafa, and Post-traumatic Slave Syndrome 2011 (PTSD). There are so many parallels. Alexander writes of a “gangsta love” which if allowed to evolve and transcend the stigma could possibly complete the cycle bringing us back to ourselves pre-criminal, pre- felon, pre-slave. The Sankofa paradigm is a possibility when one hears of youth embracing the stigma as their own to defuse it, yet if the outcome is not Ayaresa or forgiveness then the cycle is one of self-degradation (167). Outsiders or social outcasts are not immune to stereotypes anymore than those supporters of the legal mechanisms which read palms and make false prophesies. Visit www.newjicrow.com
There’s a Bright Side Some Where – A Juneteeth Community Sing
When Union Army General Gordon Granger and his two thousand soldiers informed the slaves in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 that all slaves are free, the slaves had reactions ranging from “shock to immediate jubilation.” Among other things, the freed people of the community initiated Juneteeth, a cultural event celebrating the ending of nearly two hundred and fifty years of slavery. Observance of the occasion has been mostly increasing since it was started at that time.
The Friends of Negro Spirituals celebration: There’s A Bright Side Some Where – A Juneteeth Community Sing, is Saturday, June 18, 2011, 3 PM to 5 PM, at the West Oakland, Senior Center, 1724 Adeline, Oakland. Featured is Wendell Brooks, song leader; vocal music and history instructor at Berkeley High School, professional Baritone soloist; slave documents scholar, and a Negro Spirituals expert. Brooks will give an eye-opening talk on life experiences slaves portrayed and envisioned in their slavery songs and will sing slavery songs along with the audience as the community.
Other highlights will include Donna Vaughn’s sharing her great, great, great grandmother’s memories of Union Yankee soldiers who she saw close up in North Carolina; former community activist and actor Norman Brown’s reading the Emancipation Proclamation; and musician Dr. Martian Jones’ demonstrating a musical street cry of a New Orleans vendor of bygone days; selling blackberries and other goods from wagons, carts or on foot was a way of earning money in years following slavery.
Individual admission tickets for adults in advance are $15.00 and $20.00 at the door; $10.00 for youth over 13; and are free for children under 13. Check or money order for tickets should be made out and mailed to: Friends of Negro Spirituals, P. O. Box 71956, Oakland, CA 94612. Requests for tickets and information may be obtained by calling 510 869 4359 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free 8th Annual Berkeley World Music Festival
The long awaited and anticipated festival that marks the beginning of summer is upon us. Saturday, June 4, 12 noon to 9 PM on and around Telegraph Avenue there will be continuous music outdoors at People’s Park and in cafes. This year features artists from around the world, yet all in walking distance and free. What a great deal! Visit http://www.berkeleyworldmusic.org/
The line up includes on the People’s Park Concert Stage, 1-6 pm
Druid Sisters Tree Party, Riffat Sultana and Suhawat Ali Khan, Fito Reinoso y su Ritmo y Armonia
Telegraph Venues, Noon – 9 pm
Belly Dance Bazaar , The Beth Custer Ensemble, Eliyahu and The Qadim Ensemble, Forró Brazuca, The Helladelics, Jie Ma and Daniel Berkman, Mamadou and Vanessa, Rafael Manriquez and Ingrid Rubis, Pusaka Sunda, Sadza Marimba, San Francisco Balalaika Ensemble
Berkeley World Music Festival “After Party”
The Festival “After Party” with Baba Ken’s West African Highlife Band is @ Ashkenaz at 9:30 p.m. The cost is: $13 general / $10 students
Bay Area Jewish Voice for Peace presents Inshallah, Wednesday June 01, 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. After 12 months of production in the Gaza Strip and screenings in the UK and Ireland, this feature length project, produced by the Inshallah Media Project, a collaboration between American and Gazan independent filmmakers has made it to the United States. The timing is perfect for Bay Area audiences who are interested in cross genre dialogues as the San Francisco International Arts Festival closes this week with Nina Haft & Company’s T: Here which interrogates the notion of family, exile and resilience when one is neither here nor there. The work is inspired by NH&Co’s recent trip to Jordan, Palestine and Israel. The other company, Dance Elixir’s Thieves is collaboration between choreographer Leyya Mona Tawil and Iraqi choreographer/composer Muhanad Rasheed. The piece paints a raw, alternatively grotesque and tender picture of a shadowy humanity. Visit www.sfiaf.org
The film Inshallah chronicles life in Gaza, and features interwoven profiles of men and women living under siege. The project’s goal is to create a window of communications between the people “inside” Gaza and the “outside” world.
The phrase Inshallah translates as “God willing” and is an expression heard daily as the uncertainty of the future is never far away from people’s consciousness. Visit www.lapena.org
According to Maurice Jacobsen the project’s producer/director, “The goal of the documentary is to show Gaza as a society that is diverse, intelligent, hard working and creative. At the same time, a community that is deeply troubled, living under a complete political, economic and military blockade. I think,” he adds, “Gaza is completely misunderstood and a documentary such as Inshallah can hopefully help people in America to better understand conditions on the ground.”
June 2011 Yerba Buena Gardens Festival highlights
Faye Carol Quintet, Thursday, June 2, 12:30-1:30 PM, Venezuelan Music Project, Saturday, June 11, 1-3 PM, Native Contemporary Arts Festival, Saturday, June 18, Noon to 3 PM, June 18, 5 to 11 PM in conjunction with the Ethnic Dance Festival, Traditional California Big Time Gathering hosted by the Ohlone Tribe, Artist’s Guild on Sunday, June 19, 9 AM to 5 PM; Tuesday, June 28, Marc Bamuthi Joseph hosts Words and Voices: Youth Speaks, 12:30 to 1:30. Visit www.ybgf.org or call (415) 543-1718. All the outdoor events are free and patrons are encouraged to bring lunch. There is also a children’s garden series. Again, visit the website.
Healdsburg Jazz Festival, June 3-12, 2011
This year is more a retrospective with a remarkable list of guests who have graced Festival Stages in the past like George Cables, Bobby Hutcherson, Charles Lloyd Trio, Babatunde Lea, John Santos, some of those mentioned in an All-Star Jam Concert on June 11 at the Raven Theater. SJF also hosts a return of the lovely Sunday morning spiritual concert featuring: Ruth Naomi Floyd, Bennie Maupin, HJF All-Stars with conductor James Newton, Sunday morning, June 12, 2011.
Marc Cary, Geri Allen, and Babatunde Lea will be a part of a Motema Music set Thursday, June 9, 2011. There is a special evening of art, music and conversation with bassist Charlie Haden, who will also perform. The evening will open with a screening of dir. Reto Caduff’s, “Rambling Boy,” which looks at Haden’s life, on Sunday evening, June 12.
Congratulations to Jessica Felix, festival founder, who was able to restructure her board last year in time to secure this wonderful line-up. Visit http://www.healdsburgjazzfestival.org/wordpress/2011-festival/
Queer Women of Color Film Festival
Queer Women of Color Film Festival June 10-12 at Brava Theatre in San Francisco. All Screenings are free. What a bargain! Opening night screenings begin at 7:30 (doors at 6:30). The following day there is a panel discussion first at 1 PM with Jewelle Gomez, Ericka Huggins, Pratibha Parmar, Canyon Sam, Olga Talamante, queer women of color activists who have taught us what it means to stand at the intersections of gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, nationality and culture. Visit http://www.qwocmap.org/festival2011/sched_date.html
Romare Bearden: From Process to Print @MoAD continues
I had a great interview with the Museum Executive Director, Grace C. Stanislaus about the exhibit and her work as director and CEO at the Romare Bearden Foundation in New York. She was a guest on the Malcolm X Birthday Radio Show Special, May 19, 2011. She is such a fine scholar. It was a delightful conversation. Visit wandaspicks.asmnetwork.org or check me out on iTunes. Visit www.moadsf.org
Angela Davis Honored
La Peña Cultural Center honors Angela Davis as a part of its 36th Anniversary Series Honoring Angela Davis, Wednesday June 08, 2011, $15 adv. $17 dr. – 7:30 p.m. The long-time activist and community leader will be inducted into La Peña’s Hall of Fame and will speak to us about the role of radical social movements in the contemporary moment. There will be a special opening appearance by Tru Bloo, an Arab-Armenian hip hop MC who with skills and wisdom brings a message of self-realization and self-empowerment. Visit www.lapena.org
The 33rd Annual Ethnic Dance Festival June 3-July 3
This year, not only are there more events, the venues have changed. EDF is at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and kicks off Festival at San Francisco City Hall Rotunda, Friday, June 3, at 12 noon. There are performances in the East Bay at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall June 11 and 12, Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 3 PM. The African Heritage Ensemble is featured this weekend. June 19, 25, and 26 had three different programs at YBCA Forum and at YBCA Theatre there is an entirely different program running concurrently. Of Pan African interest are: EMESE: Messengers of the African Diaspora, Oreet (Egyptian), Nimely Pan African Dance Company, ABADA-Capoeira San Francisco Performance Troupe. Visit www.sfethnicdancefestival.org June 25 is a benefit for World Arts West in the Novellus Theatre at YBCA at 7 PM and Forum at 9:30 PM.
Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)
BAJI’s 5th Anniversary Dinner and Awards Ceremony is also Saturday, June 4, 2011, at 5:30 PM at the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California, 1433 Madison St., Oakland. Dinner starts at 7 PM with music by the Dynamic Miss Faye Carol, Visit www.blackalliance.org
Rev. Phillip Lawson and Rev. Kelvin Sauls will receive Founders Awards; Priority Africa Network will receive the Ally Award; Catherine Tacaquin, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights will receive the Community Activist Award, Pierre Laboissere, Co-founder of Haiti Action Committee will also receive the CAA; and the Young Leaders Award will go to Berkeley High School’s R.I.S.E. Immigration Research Team. Tickets are $60 at http://bit.ly/BAJI5year For information call (510) 663-2254.
Afro-Peruvian: Traditional Music meets DJ Culture in Novalima
Afro-Peruvian in the House! Oh my goodness, Novalima is so good! I am playing the Coba Coba (2009) nomination for the Latin Grammy, over and over again. However, I really like the Coba Coba Remixed, the best, but mixed or straight— Coba Coba is all I know and I am hooked. I am going to have to find earlier recordings. Drivers cut me off and I smile at them. Traffic moves incredibly slow when I am late for work, and I just sing a lyric. Yes, the band formed in Lima, Peru, in 2001, by four friends, is that hot and they are in San Francisco at this place I don’t know, June 25, at 9:30 PM, show at 10 PM, Brick and Mortar Music Hall, 1710 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94103. Tickets are $15 in advance / $20 at the door. Recently, the band’s music landed as the title cut in cult filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s hit Mexploitation movie Machete. Visit www.novalima.net
On the fly
Junius Courtney Big Band featuring Denise Perrier, at 8 and 10 PM, Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at Yoshi’s in Oakland. Visit www.juniouscourtneybigband.com and www.yoshis.com SFJAZZ Spring Season concludes this month with Rova Saxophone Quartet at Swedish Hall with DJ 33 1/3 with DJ Olive and DJ P-Love open June 4; A Night in Treme at Davies Symphony Hall, with Donald Harrison, Kermit Ruffins, Michael White, Rebirth Brass Band, Big Sam Williams, and more June 10; Youssou N’Dour with Angelique Kidjo, June 17 at the Paramount Theatre, Broadway @ 20th Street in Oakland; Roy Hargrove with Cedar Walton, June 19, at the Herbst Theatre, and Anna Moura from Portugal at the Herbst as well. Kidjo, N’Dour and with Vusi Mahlasela from South Africa will be at the Greek in LA the night before. Vusi Mahlasela is at The New Parish, 579 18th St., Oakland, June 17, 2011, the same night at Kidjo and N’Dour are at the Paramount. Visit http://www.songkick.com/artists/278757-vusi-mahlasela and www.sfjazz.org Baba Hugh Masekela is at Yoshi’s June 23-24, 2011. He’ll be in LA with Wynton Marsalis June 22 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. Sounds interesting. Visit www.yoshis.com. Stanford Jazz Festival opens June 24 with Allen Toussaint, New Orleans native and national treasure. “Allen Toussaint has lived more music history than most have even read about, and he coaxes more joy out of a piano than any of us can imagine” (http://stanfordjazz.org/jazz-festival/events/). 18th Annual Summer Solstice World Peace Celebration Sierra Nevada World Music Festival June 17-19, at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds, in Boonville, CA. Visit www.snwmf.com Free Music in the Parks @ Stern Grove kicks off its 74th Season Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 2 PM with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and Ben L’Oncle Soul; the following week, June 26, features Jazz Mafia Symphony featuring Chali 2Na Visit www.sterngrove.org/ for the entire festival listings through August. Frameline 35: San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival June 16-26, 2011. Visit www.frameline.org Great resource on events in the SF Bay. www.funcheapSF.com East Bay Open Studios June 4-5 and June 11-12. Visit http://www.proartsgallery.org/Pro Arts 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, (510) 763-4361. Closing Reception for ArtEsteem’s 13th Annual Exhibition phenomenal exhibition, its largest to date, “We Are the One’s We Are Waiting For,” at Studio One, 365 45th St., Oakland, CA, 5PM to 7PM, Friday, June 3. Visit www.ahc-oakland.org ; The Black Futurists: Black Progress Thought to Science Fiction at the Sargent Johnson Gallery at the African American Art and Culture Complex through Sept. 15, film series last Mondays of each month begins with dir. John Sayles’s “Brother from Another Planet,” and this month, dir. Lizzie Border’s “Born in Flames.” The series concludes with dir. John Corey and Sun Ra’s classic, “Space is the Place.” Art and Music in the Gardens at Lake Merritt, 666 Bellevue Ave., 10 AM to 6 PM, Saturday-Sunday, June 4-5. Visit www.gardenatlakemerritt.org The Seventh Annual Bay View Juneteenth Gospel Festival 2011 is Saturday-Sunday, June 4-5, 11 A to 6 PM at 1429 Mendell Plaza, in San Francisco. For information call (415) 871-6812. Reggae Gospel Benefit Show for First Congo Music and Children’s Ministries, at First Congregational Church of Oakland, Saturday, June 11, 2011, 6:30 doors open, 7 PM, show starts. Tickets are $12 adults and $10 students. For information call: (510) 712-2734 or visit www.firstoakland.org San Francisco Juneteenth kicks off with a Comedy Show June 17 at Burial Clay Theatre at the African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton St.. There is a parade on June 18 at 11 AM, and an official City of San Francisco Kick Off June 9 at 12 noon in the Rotunda. Visit http://www.sfjuneteenth.org/ San Francisco Black Film Festival celebrates its 13th Annivedrsary Friday-Sunday, June 17-19, 2011. This year the theme is fathers. Visit http://www.sfbff.org/ African American Community Service Agency in San Jose presents a Juneteenth Festival, June 18th and 19th, 2011 at the Caesar Chavez Park, Downtown San Jose (across from the Fairmont Hotel), Saturday – 12 noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday – 12 noon to 8 p.m. Contact: email@example.com and http://www.bayareajuneteenth.org/ Kim Nalley and Mark Curry perform at Rrazz Room this month. Kim is bringing back her highly acclaimed celebration of Nina Simone, “She Put a Spell on Me.” Mark is just being funny. Visit http://www.therrazzroom.com/ San Francisco Pride: In Pride We Trust. The Pride Celebration is held over the weekend of Saturday, June 25, 12 noon to 6 PM and Sunday, June 26, 11 to 6:30 PM in downtown San Francisco in Civic Center at the foot of San Francisco’s historic City Hall where Harvey Milk once stood and addressed Pride-goers more tha thirty years ago.With over 200 parade contingents, 300 exhibitors, and 19 stages and venues, the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration and Parade is the largest LGBT gathering in the nation. The San Francisco Pride Celebration is teaming with people and a wide variety of exhibitors, artists, music of all kinds, performers, dance stages and venues, and more. There really is something here for everyone.Visit http://sfpride.org/?ifr=parade/ Intersection for the Arts has moved to the San Francisco Chronicle Building, 5th and Mission, I think. Nope haven’t made it over there yet. There is a new play, just opened but I wasn’t invited. When I called and the publicist told me I could attend press night last Monday, May 23, 2011, it was last minute, but he said “not a problem,” so I was all set to attend and then he called and told me there was no space. Darn! I knew there would be no other opportunity to review the play before my Memorial Day weekend deadline, so I can’t tell you anything about it except it closes June 12 and some of my favorite folks are in Intersections resident theatre company, Campo Santo’s presentation of playwright Denis Johnson’s “Nobody Move”: Margo Hall, Daveed Diggs, Donald Lacy, Michael Torres, Tommy Shepherd. It looks like Wild West meets the SF Bay. Folks are sporting cloaks and daggers. Looks fun and mysterious. For a moment I thought I was past the step-child phrase and a full fledged member of the Intersection family. I guess not. I am the only Black writer covering theatre in the Bay for as long as I have—pushing 25 years now. It’s hard not to see me. But there are theatres that are fine without me. I am not courted or invited to attend beyond the anonymous email and then, when I am overlooked like at Intersection, there is no space for me at the table. What did Langston Hughes say about the awkwardness of meals eaten in kitchens when company came over and he was sent away? What happened to diversity? I guess some critical (as in discerning) perspectives and voices don’t matter. So what does that say about audiences? There is not much love out there in the arts and elsewhere for the lone Black journalist who has a revolutionary platform—so when the well runs dry I notice. My love for the art, the people and for the work is what keeps me writing when hour 12 rolls along and my butt is sore from sitting so long, my neck is stiff and I wonder why I am doing this every month for free. Visit http://www.theintersection.org/ Frameline 35: The San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival June 16-26 at the Castro, Roxie,Victoria in San Francisco and the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood. Visit www.frameline.org The festival open with Rashad Ernesto Green’s “Gun Hill Road.” Free 8th Annual Berkeley World Music Festival – Telegraph Avenue! Saturday, June 4th 2011 Noon – 9 pm – continuous music outdoors and in cafes
‘Risk This’ at Cutting Ball Theatre
I get a lot of love at Cutting Ball Theatre which is producing its Risk This series of free weekly staged readings. This weekend is from the Oz series, as in da Wizard and the chick Dorothy. Yes, there are more stories and Cutting Ball’s director, Rob Melrose has adapted the play and score from L. Frank Baum’s book. Electro rock band, Z.O.N.K., performs. Ozma of Oz is June 10-11, 2011, Friday and Saturday at 8pm at The Cutting Ball Theater in residence at EXIT at 277 Taylor, in San Francisco.
This is Cutting Ball’s first musical, a trip-hop fantasy that captures L. Frank Baum’s American breed of surrealism with a hint of the post-modern. In Ozma of Oz, Dorothy is transported to the land of Ev with a talking chicken named Billina. Together, they plot to overthrow the evil Nome King, but they cannot succeed with out the help of a mysterious princess. This reading will feature live musical performances by Z.O.N.K. and the cast.
All performances are FREE and open to the public. Seats are reserved by $20 donation; or donate $50 for a five-play reserved seating festival pass.
“Risk This” at Cutting Ball closes with TENDERLOIN, written and directed by Annie Elias, June 24 and 25, 2011,Friday and Saturday at 8pm at The Cutting Ball Theater in residence at EXIT on Taylor. Annie Elias brings her years of experience in documentary theater to the Tenderloin, creating an unforgettable piece about the people and places in Cutting Ball’s neighborhood. Visit http://cuttingball.com/ Great timing as Anna Devere Smith’s “Let Me Down Easy” is at Berkeley Rep through July 10. Visit www.berkeleyrep.org
My friend and music connoisseur Kamau Amen Ra told me that the 57th Street Gallery (5701 Telegraph Ave.) is the PLACE, so if one hasn’t been camping out there then you are completely out of the loop. He mentioned the Monday night jam session and the star-studded events Fridays-Sunday evenings, not to mention the art and art making classes and music lessons. It’s an all in one, if one includes the menu—yes they even serve food (smile). Kamau lives in North Oakland, so he could technically walk to the place. No, seriously it is great to have somewhere to present which is none commercial, independently owned and run that his serious about this aesthetic and ethic—Black creative music. Visit http://www.57thstreetgallery.com/
East Side Arts is another wonderful venue. Last month’s Abraham Burton, saxophonist duet with Nasheet Waits on drums, was slamming after a wonderful Malcolm X Jazz Arts performance the day before with bassist Eric Revis. The intimate setting is perfect for serious listening pleasure. Scholar Alden Kimbrough was in the Bay as well and gave me the personal tour of his latest show, this one celebrating the life and music of Thelonius Spear Monk. Eastside Cultural Center is located at 2277 International Blvd, Oakland. First Fridays is the Grassroots Composers Ensemble and last Fridays are usually a free screening of revolutionary cinema. Visit www.eastsideartsalliance.org or call (510) 533-6629.
Greg Bridges, yes the man with the melodious voice—if sound could heal, well actually it does, hosts a monthly “Grapes and Grooves” set and there is this brother who is a barber who has these killin’ house parties with live music. My girl, Elaine Lee usually hits me up with the 411 or 911, depending on one’s mood when a set is about to happen, so check me out later this month on-line for updates.
People keep asking me where I’ve been. Working. Yes, darn it, I have a JOB which keeps me from what I love most—hanging with artists levitating, transforming and realizing. School ended Friday, May 27, 2011. I am teaching this summer too. It was a hard semester; hard on multiple levels—service and delivery. I have a product students want to inhale—I haven’t learned to vaporize or liquidate knowledge yet. Don’t worry; once I have life will be too easy for all concerned. So instead of going to concerts or plays or art exhibits –I was grading papers, and when a sunny day poked its head and it was still light outside when I got home or off from work, whatever, worked best, I was walking Lake Merritt or riding my bike –I had to stay physically busy to alleviate the stress this semester, which is probably the worst I can recall to date.
Film: The First Grader (National Geographic Entertainment)
Marugu is a Mau Mau veteran, a hero who fought in the liberation of his country from the British who wants to learn to read. He sees literacy as the best defense against tyranny and oppression. He has a letter he wants to read for himself, so when he hears an announcement that education is free to all who want it, he shows up at the school gate. No one expects an 84 year old to want to learn to read as much as Marugu does, so much that he endures the school administrator’s ridicule and returns with a uniform complete with a bag, paper and a pencil. At night one sees him studying his letters, practicing in his journal. “The First Grader,” directed by Justin Chadwick, stars Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean films, Street Kings with Keanu Reeves and Forrest Whittaker) as Jane Obinchu and journalist turned actor Oliver Litonda as Maruge. First Grader is a film which shows the power of education to transform lives and society and the important role teachers play in the lives of all her students. It also shows how history is silenced and ignored, how heroes die alone, and how formally colonized Africans are suffering from Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome just like those of us in the Diaspora. Marugu’s journey, as is Teacher Jane, her husband, the children and those who join her learn that by honoring Marugu, they honor themselves. Naomi says that she doesn’t know this history prior to the film even though she is a British citizen. Just the way textbooks in American public schools rarely mention successful rebellions or resistance movements against enslavement of African people, African Brits learn little to nothing about their countries sordid past in Africa. So this project is one the actress, who has made several films on the continent. I believe her first film was shot there.
“The First Grader” is filmed in Kenya at an actual school with the kids and their families, none of them professional actors, except one. The film also features a star-studded cast for those who know their African cinema. Actors such as Vusi Kunene (Doctor Gulubane in the pilot episode of THE NO.1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY, A Reasonable Man, and series SOUL CITY) portrays the school administrator “Mr. Kipruto” who tries to get rid of the elderly student; Tony Kgoroge, (BLOOD DIAMOND; LORD OF WAR; HOTEL RWANDA; SKIN and INVICTUS), is “Charles Obinchu,” Teacher Jane’s husband; and Israel Makoe is “David Chege,” (whose film credits include: TSOTSI and The NO. 1 LADIES DECTECTIVE AGENCY).
The film opened in San Francisco May 20 at Landmark Embarcadero Center and in Berkeley May 27 at Shattuck Cinemas. Through flashbacks we learn of Marugu’s horrific experience at the hands of the British. Naomie whom I interviewed last month for a radio broadcast preview, said the torture was much worse than what’s shown on screen. His nightmares and flashbacks when asked to do something simple like sharpen a pencil become clear when one sees what that sharpened pencil represents. Filled with humor as well as horror, The First Grader, tells a remarkable true story about Africa, one where Black people triumph—Visit www.wandaspicks.asmnetwork.org (May 11, 2011). To find the film visit http://www.landmarktheatres.com
Selected Picks from Elaine Lee’s www.ugogurl.com
Pro Arts Spring open studios
Artists’ Reception: 7 – 9 PM @ Pro Arts, 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza at Oakland Art Gallery
Temescal Street fair June 4-5
Berkeley chocolate and chalk festival – June 4th
The San Francisco Black Film Festival (SFBFF) will celebrate its 13th anniversary June 17-19, 2011. http://sfbff.org
Oakland City Center Events
August 10 Noon to 1 p.m. Summer Sound Concerts
Free outdoor concerts every Wednesday afternoon. Performance by: Pa’l Bailador – Salsa
July 27 Noon to 1 p.m. Summer Sounds Concerts
Free outdoor concerts every Wednesday afternoon. Performance by: Anthony Blea – Latin/Salsa
Jack London square events: Dancing Under the Stars Schedule:
8:30 PM – 10:00 PM FREE
June 4th Salsa
June 11th Cha Cha
June 18th Rumba
June 25th Swing
July 2nd Hustle
July 9th Merengue
July 16th Waltz
July 23rd American Tango
July 30th Foxtrot
August 13th Samba
August 20 Argentine Tango
Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at www.wandaspicks.com throughout the month for updates to Wanda’s Picks, her blog, photos and Wanda’s Picks Radio. Her shows are streamed live Wednesdays at 6-7:30 or 8 a.m. and Fridays at 8-10 a.m., can be heard by phone at (347) 237-4610 and are archived on the Afrikan Sistahs’ Media Network.