by Wanda Sabir
October is Maafa Commemoration Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Black Panther History Month, Democratic Republic of the Congo Awareness Month, and the month to commemorate Dia de Los Muertos and Nigerian Independence, won Oct. 1, 1960.
We want to have a moment of silence for the wonderful man Eddie Marshall, drummer, flautist, composer, who died suddenly last month, too soon for most of us who loved his work and appreciated his graceful presence in the world. This is the month we remember our ancestors.
Maafa Season is upon us. The term Maafa refers to the Black Holocaust, that period when African people were stolen and traded in the greatest, most widespread cooperative economic venture to date, which resulted in the displacement of human beings as commodities. The Maafa became so normalized internationally to traders in human flesh as to create a new people. Africans no longer recognized themselves as Africans, as they lost connection to their heritages: land, language, customs and, in many instances, spiritual traditions.
The Kiswahili term Maafa extends that definition of loss and trauma, that is, PTSD or post-traumatic slave syndrome – the flashbacks, both conscious and unconscious, reoccurring instances of the atrocities 150 years after the end of slavery which have direct association to the brutality of chattel slavery.
By this we mean the prison industrial complex as well as daily manifestations of post-traumatic slave disorder in Black communities throughout the United States, the Americas and the Pan African Diaspora. Look at the gun violence and criminalization of public education through state sanctioned miseducation and police terror. Much of our community, especially the youth, have internalized the Maafa and, while no longer chained, many are enslaved as their ancestors were. The difference is while our ancestors resisted and so remained free, we don’t.
The Maafa also references the benefits to some and the harm to others connected to this trade in human beings 500 years later. Everyone is affected by the Maafa, everyone needs to address the role of the Maafa in their community and in their personal lives, both as descendants of the perpetrators and descendants of the victims, and how these legacies are confining and perhaps barring each of us from personal greatness, and by greatness I am speaking of greatness as human beings, which is not necessarily a given.
We have to claim and work to keep our humanity. Just like so many great men and women, past and present, we can lose it, give it away or have it stolen. Even those newly immigrated to this country benefit from the enslavement of Africans and the rich marketplace that continues to exclude its major stockholders, African people who are descendants of the European slave traders’ commoditization of our ancestors.
The Maafa Commemoration addresses this imbalance of wealth, the poverty that affects disproportionally Black communities here and abroad. The repair or reparations movement is both an internal and external one.
The month of October is Maafa Awareness Month in the city of Oakland, the county of Alameda, the state of California, and the 9th Congressional District. This year the ritual is Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011, predawn at Ocean Beach, Fulton at the Great Highway. Visit http://ramadanridesrides4everybody.blogspot.com/.
Getting healthy: a reflection
I am a woman over 50 who lives in an area of Oakland where it is unsafe to ride one’s bike. I decided to start this club to get folks out into areas of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, especially south of High Street on bikes. I am not necessarily encouraging people to ride down International Boulevard alone, though I have on many occasions.
Oakland is not a bicycle friendly town. Just look at the recent repaving of San Leandro Street. It would have been a great time to shift the two lane traffic to one and add bike lanes. No one can ride down International; it is too narrow. Bancroft Avenue is the only street with bike lanes and it is too far north. We won’t even mention MacArthur Boulevard. International or E-14th Street, is the location of many drive-by shootings; however, there are lovely Bay Trails seconds away – one that’s easy to reach is at 66th Avenue and Zone Way, just past the Coliseum BART.
Getting to Zone Way from 66th Avenue is treacherous, to say the least. One can get hit by a vehicle while waiting for the light to change. I have been. Lucky for me it was my bike that was hit and the driver, making a right turn on a red light didn’t even stop after he hit my bike – he just looked at me and kept rolling.
Hegenberger isn’t any better as a street to ride up to get to the Bay Trail. Cars speed up as they pass me and then at the freeway entrances, one cannot see the cars approaching from below so technically one could get run over in the crosswalks, the way they are situated. I always cross diagonally so the drivers can see me.
This is as one is riding to enter the Bay Trail which is just before Doolittle. Once on the Bay Trail one doesn’t have to worry about car emissions or traffic, and the Bay Trail connects one to Alameda and San Leandro. Many folks who live in the ‘hood don’t even know about this treasure.
Just the other day, I learned of a new entrance to the Bay Trail connecting Alameda and Oakland to San Leandro by way of (for me) Bay Farm Island. I usually cross the Blue Bridge. This time I went across the pedestrian bridge and voila, what a pleasant surprise! There are miles and miles of trail along the San Francisco Bay. Across the liquid tapestry I could see South Shore Shopping Center.
Ramadan Rides is an effort, a movement to take back our public spaces. After all, despite the crashing economy and higher taxes for those of us who bought into the American Dream and own property, which, in my case, depreciated, $300,000, one can’t bask in despair – life does go on. We should look at the weed as a prime example of dogged determination. Can’t kill ‘em, can’t uproot ‘em, can’t even cover ‘em. They just keep pushing through the most enormous and gargantuan challenges (smile).
I ride for sanity, I ride to stay calm, but riding alone is not safe. I have been harassed. I have fallen badly on ill maintained streets. So I said to myself, why not start a club for women, for Muslims, for riders 30-80 years old. Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, is a time for reflection and introspection. It has been a fun journey so far.
The first ride, when the club was in its brainstorm form, was Aug. 7, 2011. It was the weekend The Brotherhood of Cyclists was in town for a large conference. I felt left out of their loop completely, so I drove to Union City to ride with a friend. The two of us rode the trails, kind of rocky, dusty, not necessarily the kind of terrain I prefer. Afterwards I rode the Bay Trail by the house. I still had a bit of energy left to burn. It is my hope that the club can grow from two on two women riders to at least 10 people in the next two weeks. I’d like at least half to be women 50 and over.
Since writing this, I fell down the stairs and haven’t been able to walk, let alone ride for a month. PTSD. It was the day before Katrina and I am a New Orleans native. But I hope to be back on the road before winter, at least by Spring 2012. Visit us at http://ramadanridesrides4everybody.blogspot.com//.
‘Still Here,’ a 3.9 Collective Group Exhibition
The curator says he will be transforming The Sirron Norris Gallery, 1406B Valencia St., San Francisco, for the group show “Still Here.” The word “black” recently has become all too synonymous with the act of vanishing, especially in San Francisco where the 2010 census revealed that the African American population has dropped to 3.9 percent.
What does that mean for a city that prides itself on its cultural diversity when members of its population are no longer represented? The loss of a culture, the absence of differentiation, even the lack of a visual presence can be devastating to a community. With the exhibition entitled “Still Here,” San Francisco artists Nancy Cato, Rodney Ewing, Sirron Norris, William Rhodes and Ron Moultrie Saunders have adopted this statistic and created a banner of support and defiance.
The work they will be creating confronts this anomaly of absence by representing how at least one segment of the Black community is alive and an integral part of San Francisco culture. The work may not stem the tide of the exodus, but to paraphrase the poet Dylan Thomas, “We will not go quietly into that good night.” Opening is Oct. 8, 7-9 p.m. We are very excited to have a live performance by Kippy Marks, 7-9 p.m., http://kippymarks.us/, and also Rocky Yazzie’s amazing frybread! Visit http://www.sirronnorris.com/or call (415) 648-4191.
Black Panther History Month 45 years later! Film Festival and Art Exhibit
The Black Panther Party 45th anniversary photo exhibit is open Oct. 3-Nov. 3. A reception and panel are Oct. 6, 4:30 to 6 p.m., in the Student Center, Fourth Floor, Laney College, 900 Fallon St., Oakland.
The Black Panther History Month Film Festival is at the Main Library in the Bradley Walters Community Room, 125 14th St., Oakland, Saturday, Oct. 8, 12-4:30 p.m. Featured films are “In the Land of the Free: The Story of Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert H. King,” collectively known as the Angola 3, who have been in solitary confinement for more than 39 years. The second feature is “COINTELPRO 101,” interviews with activists victimized by illegal surveillance and witnesses to murders committed by the FBI and other police agencies. Rare historical footage provides a provocative introduction to a period of intense repression. For information, call (510) 238-3138 or visit http://www.oakland.org/. For the entire month-long series of events, visit http://www.itsabouttimebpp.com/.
‘Trolley Dances’ features Antoine Hunter’s Urban Jazz Dance Company
Epiphany Production’s eighth annual San Francisco “Trolley Dances” features ODC/Dance, Sweet Can Circus, Salsamania, Capacitor, Urban Jazz Dance Company, Epiphany Productions Sonic Dance Theater and Tat Wong Kung Fu Lion Dancers Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 15 and 16. Tours leave from the San Francisco Main Library, at 100 Larkin St. between Fulton and Grove, every 45 minutes at 11:00 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. Performances are FREE with regular Muni fare of $2 – youth and seniors $.75. For information, call (415) 226-1139 and visit epiphanydance.org.
Mill Valley Film Festival
The Mill Valley Film Festival runs Oct. 6-16; visit http://www.mvff.com/. On Oct. 9, 4:30 p.m., at the Smith Rafael Film Center, there will be a tribute to Gaston Kabore, director of “Wend Kuni” and “Buud Yam.” The historian turned filmmaker made the third film in his country, Burkina Faso. “Wend Kuni” is about a child who is mute, the child symbolic of a colonized people. How will this child regain his voice? How will he move past the trauma into healing light, a place where he can trust his words again? Kabore’s lovely film takes us to a place not long ago, but too long ago for easy recall. The director, who opened a film academy in Burkina, Imagine, in 2003, received the first FESPACO award for his second film, “Buud Yam,” also screening at the MVFF.
There are films from Morocco, FESPACO 2011 awardee director Mohamed Mouftakir’s “Pegasus” and another film, “The Mosque,” directed by Daoud Aoulad-Syad. My favorite of the African films so far is “Sarabah,” US/Senegal. It’s a sad yet triumphant story of a DJ, Sister Fa. Another film I enjoyed of African American interest is that of 85-year-old Mr. James Armstrong, “Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement.” “A Brush with the Tenderloin,” featuring muralist Mona Caron, and “Hip Hop Maestro,” directed by Christine Lee, which profiles Geoff “Double G” Gallegos and the daKAH Orchestra, is pretty good as well.
The orchestra is raising funds through KickStart to come to MVFF for a closing concert, Valley of the Docs, Oct. 15 and 16. “Play Like a Lion: The Legacy of Maestro Ali Akbar Khan,” directed by Joshua Dylan Mellars, and “Deaf Jam” are outstanding! “Deaf Jam” is about deaf slam poets – pretty awesome.
More film festivals
The Silicon Valley African Film Festival is Oct. 14-16, http://www.svaff.org/.
The 10th Annual Documentary Film Festival is Oct. 14-27, http://www.sfindie.com/. Of African Diaspora interest are “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey,” “The Furious Force of Rhymes,” “Scenes of a Crime,” “How to Start a Revolution,” “Yoga Woman,” “Left by the Ship,” “The Creators.” Films screen at Shattuck Cinemas Oct. 14-20 and the Roxie Oct. 14-27.
“American Teacher,” directed by Vanessa Roth, profiles four teachers: Erik Benner, Jamie Fidler, Rhena Jasey and Jonathan Dearman, a former San Francisco teacher at its first charter school, Leadership High, who joined me on the air on Wanda’s Picks, www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks, Sept. 22 to talk about the film and his decision to leave the classroom. Dearman, perhaps the filmmaker and certainly Leadership High students, faculty and friends will attend opening night, if not opening weekend screenings Oct. 7 at the Roxie.
Other films opening are “Finding Joe,” an exploration of the famed mythologist Joseph Campbell, which opens at Landmark in San Francisco and Berkeley. “All She Can,” directed by Amy Wendel and Daniel Meisel, which opened Sept. 16 is certainly worth looking for. It is the story of Luz Garcia who wants to go to college, but the only way to get there when there is no scholarship money for children of color in Beavides, Texas, is to literally flex her muscles and train in weightlifting. Sometimes all one can do is still not enough.
‘She Who Laughs Lasts’
Rape is not a laughing matter. But humor becomes a powerful tool in fighting sexual assault at “She Who Laughs Lasts,” a night of comedy, on Friday, Oct. 21, at the Brava Theatre, featuring comedians Nina G, the world’s funniest comedian who stutters; Karinda Dobbins, an aggressively laid-back comedian hailing from the Motor City; Tamil Sri Lankan-American performer-comedian D’Lo of D’FaQTo Life and returning for her third “She Who Laughs Lasts”; and Micia Mosely of “Where My Girls At?” There will also be a special video screening of “Labels are Forever” by Jenesha de Riveira. Don’t miss the silent auction and comedian meet-‘n-greet pre-show. Light appetizers and other refreshments will be served; doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-$50 and can be purchased on www.sfwar.org; no one turned away for lack of funds. The event is wheelchair accessible. San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR) is a grassroots, political rape crisis center established in 1973 committed to anti-oppression and providing support to survivors of sexual assault and their friends and families, using education and community organizing as tools of prevention.
‘Women, War and Peace’ on PBS
“Women, War and Peace,” a bold new five-part PBS mini-series, is the most comprehensive global media initiative ever mounted on the roles of women in peace and conflict. “Women, War and Peace” will broadcast on five consecutive Tuesday evenings: Oct. 11, 18, and 25 and Nov. 1 and 8. Check local listings. Visit http://www.itvs.org/films/women-war-and-peace.
On the fly
Did you know? I didn’t. UpSurge! Jazz Poetry Ensemble is at Freight and Salvage Oct. 1 in Berkeley. Should be a great show! Visit http://www.upsurgejazz.com/upsurgehome.html. This Sunday, Oct. 2, 11 a.m., at Lakeside Park Bandstand is the Centennial Suffrage Parade: 100 years of women gaining the right to vote! Visit http://www.waterfrontaction.org/parade/parade_details.htm. The West Coast premiere of Faustin Linyekula/Studios Kabako’s “more more more … future” is Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 29- Oct. 1, 8 p.m., at the Novellus Theater at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, http://www.ybca.org/faustin-linyekula. “Night School: Faustin Linyekula” is Oct. 1, 6-10 p.m., in the Theater Terrace Lobby, $35-$40 regular admission, $30-$35 for members, students and seniors; call (415) 978-ARTS (2787). “The Kipling Hotel: True Misadventures of the Electric Pink ‘80s” is Don Reed’s latest installation on his life, following the “E-14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player” at The Marsh San Francisco, Oct. 8 through Nov. 13. The Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, hosts its Sixth Annual MoAD Gala, Saturday, Oct. 15, Palace Hotel, San Francisco. Visit http://www.moadsf.org/visit/.
Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s “red, black and GREEN: a blues” (rbGb) is having its world premiere at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 13-15 and 20-22, at 7:30 p.m. Visit ybca.org or call (415) 978-2787. Lorraine Hansberry Theatre’s back on the block this 31st season with two one-act plays, “Almost Nothing,” a mysterious and unnerving yarn by Brazilian playwright, Marcos Barbosa, and Douglas Turner Ward’s clever satire, “Day of Absence,” Oct. 11-Nov. 20, at 450 Post St., San Francisco. Call (415) 474-8800 or visit http://www.lhtsf.org/. On Sunday, Oct. 16, after the 2 p.m. show, there will be a post-performance discussion with director Steven Anthony Jones and the playwright, Douglas Turner Ward.
The 29th Annual SFJAZZ Fall Season presents R&B goddess India.Arie with Israeli keyboardist and composer Idan Raichel on Oct. 15 at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. Visit http://www.sfjazz.org/. Berkeley-raised pianist Benny Green celebrates Thelonious Monk’s birthday, re-creating “Monk’s Dream” on the album’s 50th anniversary on Oct. 10. Tenor player Javon Jackson heads a John Coltrane salute with a dream quartet of Mulgrew Miller, Jimmy Cobb and Peter Washington Oct. 28. Master pianist McCoy Tyner pays tribute to his legendary collaborator with “The Gentle Side of John Coltrane,” joined by Chris Potter and José James Oct. 16. The Cuban timba celebration of Tiempo Libre is Oct. 9, and Malian ngoni master Bassekou Kouyate with his band Ngoni Ba perform Oct. 30.
Urban Music presents Al Son del Tunduki Quijeremá with Classical Revolution’s Musical Art Quintet featuring guest poets Michael Warr and Avotcja, Monday, Oct. 3, at 8 p.m. at Yoshi’s San Francisco, 1330 Fillmore St., San Francisco. Listen to an interview with Maria, one of the founders of Quijeremá, and Michael Warr, poet, on Wanda’s Picks Radio Show, Sept. 30, 8 a.m. Clairdee is at the Rrazz Room in Hotel Nikko Tuesday, Oct. 4, 8 p.m., in San Francisco. One long set. Listen to an interview with Clairdee Oct. 4 on Wanda’s Picks Radio, 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. PT live or archived.
Visit http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picksfor continued Picks like the Stone Soul II concert preview with Sheila E.
‘Limyè pou Ayiti, Lavi Kontinye! An Evening Celebrating Haitian Culture’
“Limyè pou Ayiti, Lavi Kontinye!” (“Light for Haiti, Life Continues!”) is Rara Tou Limen’s choreo-prayer and artistic offering to Haiti, featuring music, dance and song. The performance is on Saturday, Oct. 8, 8-10 p.m., at Laney College, 900 Fallon St., Oakland. Nineteen months after the earthquake, the media’s attention has shifted to other topics, while Haiti remains deeply wounded. Life has moved on for some, but for Haitian people, life will never be the same. We must continue to shed light on Haiti and remind our audiences through artistic expression that Haiti still needs us!
The motivation behind this project stems from Rara Tou Limen’s artistic and musical director’s personal and professional relationships with Haiti’s artistic community, who were severely affected by the earthquake. Amidst the dust, destruction, and devastation on Jan. 12, 2010, was celebrated drummer, cultural ambassador and musical director of Rara Tou Limen, Daniel Brevil.
Jeanguy Saintus will collaborate with RTL for “Limyè pou Ayiti, Lavi Kontinye!” Mr. Saintus is the artistic director of Ayikodans, the premiere professional dance company of Haiti since being established in 1987. To further enhance the collaboration, Ayikodans’ awe-inspiring principle dancer, Linda Isabelle Francois, will also accompany Mr. Saintus from Haiti to the Bay Area. As earthquake survivors, this proposed collaboration is critical! Their personal accounts, testimonies and post-earthquake experiences need to be revealed to a wide audience. “Limyè pou Ayiti, Lavi Kontinye!” will serve as group therapy for cast members, while reminding audiences of Haiti’s strength and courage.
Tickets, available at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/196319,, are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. 25 Advance tickets are also available at RTL’s weekly class locations: on Sundays at the Malonga Center, Oakland, 2-3:30, and on Saturdays at the Dance Mission Theater, San Francisco, 1:30-3 p.m.
Cal Performances presents the U.S. premiere of ‘Desdemona’
The visionary director Peter Sellars brings the U.S. premiere of “Desdemona,” a collaboration with Nobel Prize-winning writer Toni Morrison and Malian singer-composer Rokia Traoré, to Cal Performances’ Zellerbach Playhouse, UC Berkeley Campus, Bancroft Way at Dana Court, Berkeley, on Wednesday, Oct. 26, through Saturday, Oct. 29, at 8 p.m. “Desdemona” explores issues of gender, race, love and destiny as the title character and her African maid Barbary reach beyond the grave to give voice to the mysterious forces behind Othello.
A free two-part symposium on the creation of “Desdemona” and the cultural forces in Shakespeare will be held Oct. 27, 5-6:30 p.m., and Oct. 28, 12-3:00 p.m., at Zellerbach Playhouse, featuring Toni Morrison (via Skype), Peter Sellars, Rokia Traoré and UC Berkeley scholars. Sightlines, pre-performance talks with director Peter Sellars, is Oct. 28 and 29, 7:00-7:30 p.m., in Zellebach Playhouse. Tickets are available through the Cal Performances Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall and at the door. Call (510) 642-9988 to charge by phone or visit http://www.calperformances.org/.
Director Peter Sellars will discuss giving voice to the unheard characters in Shakespeare’s Othello. On Oct. 28, three conversations will be held: the first between writer Toni Morrison (via Skype), composer Rokia Traoré and Sellars; the second between UC Berkeley scholars Abdul Jan Mohamed (English Department), Tamara Roberts (Music Department) and Darieck Scott (African American Studies); and the final, titled “Africa Speaks,” between Traoré and Sellars. These events are free and open to the public. To learn more, go to calperformances.org.
‘Feast of Words: A Literary Potluck’
SOMArts Cultural Center presents “Feast of Words: A Literary Potluck,” Oct. 18, 6:30-9 p.m., a monthly dinner party where writers and foodies come together to eat, write and share. Join co-hosts Lex Leifheit and Irina Zadov the third Tuesday of each month to discover local chefs and writers, bring a dish on the monthly theme, and share your work to be entered in a drawing for edibles, books and other prizes. Composer, vocalist, and writer Ron Ragin is October’s literary guest. Ragin will read from his upcoming memoir, which traces the history of his family’s ancestral home. Oakland-based performer, choreographer and chef Amara Tabor-Smith, whose performance “Our Daily Bread” celebrates what we eat and illuminates the cultures which underlie our eating practices, will contribute as October’s culinary guest.
The event will also include a short, on-the-spot writing exercise inspired by the theme. The house opens at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 18, and space is limited. Tickets are $10 in advance, $5 with a potluck dish, or $12 at the door, cash bar. Purchase tickets online at feastofwords.eventbrite.com.
‘Illuminations: Dia De Los Muertos 2011,’ 12th Annual Day of the Dead exhibit
El Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, exhibition and programming curated by René and Rio Yañez provides a way for people to embrace the beauty of life and to honor the spirits of the dead. Intricate, traditional altars and complex art installations are on display in “Illuminations: Dia de los Muertos 2011” at SOMArts Cultural Center. Visitors are invited to attend the opening reception on Friday, Oct. 7, 6-9 p.m., to enjoy music, interactive performance and the unveiling of over 30 altars and installations. The exhibition is open from Saturday, Oct. 8, through Saturday, Nov. 5, at SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan St., San Francisco.
“Illuminations” also features a collaboration with actor and visual artist Herbert Siguenza of Culture Clash fame. Siguenza has been touring the U.S. in a one-person show called “A Weekend with Pablo Picasso.” In addition to contributing an altar, Siguenza will perform and paint as Picasso during the opening reception on Friday. Oct. 7. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday, 12-7p.m., Saturday, 12-5p.m. The opening reception is Friday, Oct. 7, 6-9 p.m., $5-$10 sliding scale, dayofthedead.eventbrite.com. The closing reception is Saturday, Nov. 5, 6-9 p.m., $5-$10 sliding scale, muertos.eventbrite.com.
Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at email@example.com. Visit her website at http://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 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.