by Wanda Sabir
I remember when I first met Jayne Cortez, I was with Elsie Washington, the late fiction writer who wrote the first Black romance novel, which I owned. A subscriber to the Harlequin series, I recall when my then husband surprised me with the book – the first with a Black couple on the cover. I was smitten. Little did I know that Elsie would fall in love with Kamau Seitu and move to Oakland. A good friend of Kamau, I became a great friend of Elsie’s, and she would let me tag along to events where she knew everyone, like our sister Jayne Cortez, whose work I knew.
I was awestruck – still am. The awe just shifts into other dimensions when the borders open and we disappear from view. I was just thinking about Jimmy McCracklin’s passing earlier in December and then I hear on NPR about Cortez. I’d planned to see her at the Vision Festival my 49th year. The SF8 were just coming to trial and my stand-by passage was not honored. I was to stay with Billy Bang and his partner. They even bought a sofa for me to sleep on.
Ms. Cortez was to perform. I hadn’t known she was the mother of Denardo Coleman, Ornette Coleman’s ex-wife, nor did I know her present partner, who did most of the wonderful cover art on her books. I just remember thinking how cool to hear her perform. I know when to be still and that was such a moment, just as it was once again when I trailed Elsie and she introduced me to the editor of the Black Literary Review and another time to Walter Mosley. My students were so lucky when she substitute taught for me one day at the College of Alameda.
Sister Jayne Cortez, Arizona native, activist in the Civil Rights Movement and a Diaspora citizen. This year, on the 150 anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, we all need to heed the words of Sister Cortez and rededicate ourselves to the battle for justice and righteousness … because:
And if we don’t fight
if we don’t resist
if we don’t organize and unify and
get the power to control our own lives
Then we will wear
the exaggerated look of captivity
the stylized look of submission
the bizarre look of suicide
the dehumanized look of fear
and the decomposed look of repression
forever and ever and ever
And there it is
Cortez was 76; I believe McCracklin was 90. Fontella Bass, singer of “Rescue Me,” died as well at 72 last week. My condolences to their families and friends. We will miss them, but at least we have their work.
Frank Fisher and the Junius Courtney Big Band
I had a great talk with Mr. Frank Fisher, musician, composer, 86 years old and an original member of the San Francisco All-Stars Big Band, directed by David Hardiman Sr., and the Junius Courtney Big Band, which has a concert Jan. 19 celebrating the re-opening of the California Theatre. We talked about three hours about his hometown, Huntsville, Texas.
He laughed when I asked if that was the town where they execute people. Not only do they execute folks, this town is where Sam Houston was born, so the university, lots public of schools and other institutions carry his name, including the high school principal’s father, Samuel Walter Houston. Josh Houston was his slave.
Mr. Fisher couldn’t go to the university – it was segregated – but his grandson did. He told me about his mother, who ran a boarding house, nursing home and had a beauty parlor when he was a child. The town doctor, the teacher and dentist lived with his family when they first arrived in town. Later the doctor took young Frank Fisher on a road trip to Alabama, and they stopped at Tuskegee University, where he got to meet George Washington Carver. He said Dr. Carver was a slight man, not much taller or bigger than he was at 11 or 12. When Fisher returned to school and shared this with his classmates, who’d just been studying Carver’s work, at first they didn’t believe him.
The Air Force Base in Alameda brought Fisher to California where he worked on anti-submarine warfare aircraft that had sensors which could detect submarines below the water. One of the helicopters he worked on with the other men was used in an attempt to rescue the Olympian hostages held by Iran. Highly specialized work, he juggled this (1955-81) and professional performances with Duke Ellington, Nancy Wilson, Billy Eckstine, Bill Cosby and Sarah Vaughn, Lou Rawls, Joe Turner, plus playing for several years in the Raider and 49er bands, which featured Marvin Gaye. He recalled how Gaye wrote the lyrics on his arm and as he sang, he’d have to move his coat sleeve (smile).
He also played for the Ms. Bronze Contest. He also met General Benjamin O. Davis Jr., the first African American general in the U.S. Army. There are not many five-star generals, Mr. Fisher said as he named them. Davis Jr. was a four-star general. The story of his time at West Point is amazing in that he excelled in his four years there despite the silent treatment his classmates gave him his entire time there. I could go on and on; Mr. Fisher’s stories were so amazing!
Featured in the book, “Harlem of the West,” Mr. Fisher was honored at City College in a concert tribute which featured his music in 2009. Denise Perrier and Mary Stallings performed as well. A bright child, he completed high school at 16 and attended Prairie View A&M University until he was drafted. He made 20 in Germany.
The story of how he came to play the trumpet is funny. There was a call out to the students who wanted to play music to show up in the music room by a certain time. Fisher was late, so he had to take what was left – he sat behind Wendell Baker, who had to leave early on a number of occasions, which left Fisher with an empty chair to fill – so he moved up and began to play the trumpet, which he plays to date.
We talked about chops and endurance and memory and what happens to the body and mind over a period of 50 or so years, the length of time Fisher has been playing. He said he liked writing for and playing in the larger orchestra because the size of the ensemble allowed him as a composer to create subtitles and nuances not available in the smaller size ensemble.
The gala the Junius Courtney Big Band, featuring Frank Fisher among others, is headlining is called “The Curtain Rises,” at 351 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg, California, on Saturday, Jan. 19, from 5:30 to 10 p.m., with entertainment starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $150 per person for the gala fundraiser and can be purchased at the Railroad Book Depot, Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce, the Art Shack and online through the Pittsburg Arts and Community Foundation’s website, www.pittsburgfoundation.org. For information, call (925) 252-6930. If you have a memory of spending time at the California Theatre back in the day, contact Jill Hecht of the city manager’s office at (925) 252-4877 or email@example.com.
Martin Luther King Day Celebrations
In the Name of Love, the 11th Annual Musical Tribute Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is Saturday, Jan. 19, 7 p.m., at the Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway, Oakland. Arrive early to visit the more than 30 organizations featured in the Oakland Community Exhibition in the lobby at 6 p.m. Featured this year are Jennifer Holliday, Tuck & Patti, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, the Oakland Children’s Community Choir with Oaktown Jazz Workshop, hosted by Nikki Thomas, KBLX. Visit www.mlktribute.com. Tickets are $15-$45 for adults, $8 for children 12 and under. Call (510) 287-8880.
Rock the House for Dr. King at Angelina’s Bar and Grill (formerly Tradewinds Bar and Restaurant), 400 South Main St., Fort Bragg, Saturday, Jan. 19. The dance party starts at 8 p.m. and features exciting music mixed by DJ Aline and DJ Sister Yasmin, playing Hip Hop, Funk, Latin, Reggae, Soul, R&B, World Music, music of the Civil Rights Movement, and other grooving rhythms.
Angelina’s Bar serves Navarro Wines and has organic beers on tap, and the Grill next door serves food until 9 p.m. Plan to arrive early for a delicious meal before the show. Angelina’s Grill is open daily from 7a.m. until 9 p.m. This is a 21 and over event and there is no cover charge. For information, call (707) 964-1700 or (707) 884-4703.
Make the Dream Real, Attitudinal Healing Connection’s 15th annual Martin Luther King Jr. community event, encourages volunteerism, honors community members who are doing exemplary service in the Bay Area, showcases young artists and provides inspiring speeches by various notable keynote speakers. The theme for this year’s MLK Holiday is “Elders Make the Dream Real for Educating Youth.” The keynote is delivered by Wade Nobles, Ph.D. The event will be held at McClymonds High School, 2607 Myrtle St., Oakland, on Monday, Jan. 21, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. This is a free event, child friendly with a community luncheon afterward – or at least when I last attended, there was lunch (smile). Visit http://ahc-oakland.org/mlk-celebration/ or call (510) 652-5530.
Habitat Restoration at the Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline, Oakland, is Monday, Jan. 21, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Plant and tend native plants, weed and pick up trash along the shoreline at sites adjacent to Arrowhead Marsh in East Oakland. Arrowhead Marsh is a one-of-a-kind area to work where waterbirds and shorebirds feed and Brown Pelicans dive and you may hear a Clapper Rail call from the marsh. Meet at Pardee Drive and Swan Way in the Observation Platform parking lot area of the MLK Jr. Shoreline Park in Oakland. For information, call (510) 843-2222 or visit http://www.goldengateaudubon.org.
“The Dream and 50 Years,” the 2013 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration, is Monday, Jan. 21, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Third and Mission Streets in San Francisco. Thousands of celebrants will again come together for a full day of free and exciting programs, festivals and activities in honor of Dr. King and the 50th anniversary year of his famed “I Have a Dream” address and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The 2013 celebration will host events for all ages. For information, call (415) 857-0595. This is a free event.
Ride the 2013 Freedom Train Monday, Jan. 21, leaving the Rod Diridon Train Station in San Jose at 9 a.m. with four stops on its way to San Francisco. The train ride used to culminate in a program at the Bill Graham Auditorium. This year the 2013 MLK March and Parade kicks off at 11a.m. at San Francisco’s Caltrain Station and journeys on to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Gardens. See http://sf.funcheap.com/mlk-day-march-parade-soma/. The one and a half mile march crosses over Lefty O’Doul Bridge and stops at Willie Mays Plaza at AT&T Park to commemorate the Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, marches, which crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a symbol of violence and victory in the civil rights era. At the conclusion of the march, an interfaith commemoration will bring together the region’s faith leaders to commemorate the vision of Dr. King and to lead participants in a spiritual reflection of Dr. King’s message. Rain may cancel some events. Visit norcalmlkfoundation.org for updates.
Youth Speaks presents The 16th Annual Bringing the Noise for Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Jan. 21, 7 p.m., at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness at McAllister, San Francisco. Tickets are $16 general admission, $6 for youth under 24. Every year, Youth Speaks gathers the community to celebrate the ongoing life and legacy of Dr. King. Bringing the Noise for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is not a reenactment of speeches, a slideshow, or a polite revue of well-honed platitudes. It is a showcase of young people from throughout the Bay Area who have written, in their own voices, original works that grapple with the thoughts and work of King. The young poets tackle Martin King’s legacy, crafting in their own voices a commitment to these same ideals and beliefs, that love is the strongest weapon. Youth Speaks has created a safe space – a beloved community – where our young people can, in the presence of many, give voice to realities that must be understood, embraced, and integrated into our common lives if we are to survive. Purchase tickets at www.cityboxoffice.com. This event can and usually does sell out.
Congratulations to Avotcja on the publishing on her new book, “With Every Step I Take.” She has a few readings coming up this month and promises to make an appearance at the 23rd Annual African American Celebration through Poetry, Feb. 2, 1-4 p.m., at the West Oakland Branch Library, 1801 Adeline St. The rehearsal is Friday, Jan. 25, 3-5 p.m., and perhaps Saturday, Jan. 26, 10-12 noon. Call (510) 238-7352 to get on the list for featured poets or just show up on Feb. 2 for the open mic.
Sunday, Jan. 6, Avotcja and artist Eliza Shefler with guest poet Q.R. Hand Jr. at the beautiful Bird and Beckett Books, 653 Chenery at Diamond, San Francisco, one block north of Glen Park BART, 2-3:30 p.m., no cover and all ages welcome. For more information, call (415) 586-3733 or visit www.bird-beckett.com. Later that evening, poetry, jazz and the fire of WordSong with members of Avotcja and Modupue will perform as well from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
The Music of the Word (La Palabra Musical), still in English, Spanish, Spanglish y lo que seais, is on Sundays, Jan. 13 and 27 – second and fourth Sunday of every month – 3:30-5:30 p.m., no cover, hosted by Avotcja. Donations accepted. And don’t forget to bring your congas, guiros, maracas, panderetas etc. Always the word festival to remember at Casa Latina Taqueria, Bakery and Café, 1805 San Pablo Ave. at Delaware, three blocks north of University, Berkeley, (510)558-7177. Visit www.Avotcja.org or email LaVerdadMusical@yahoo.com.
‘Red Hook Summer’
Spike Lee’s “Red Hook Summer” is not up to his usual stellar film quality, but I forgive him the slow pacing, amateur acting and holes in the plot, for the message he brings to our attention. More and more I am noticing as the old year ends and the new one begins that many public figures are calling our attention to the children and our need to protect them. Such is the message of “Red Hook,” that and other fixtures – not kitchen sinks, rather lead based paint, blown street lights and environmental toxins which cost Black kids their health and make many vulnerable to asthma, which one of the characters has.
A collaboration with James McBride, author of “The Color of Water” and “Miracle at St. Anna,” which Lee directed, this film is what Lee calls his Brooklyn series. He rents an apartment in the Red Hook projects; the church where much of the action takes place is one founded by McBride’s mother and father, the crosses the cast wear are Lee’s personal property and the kids who play lead roles attend the performing arts high school he graduated from. That said – Lee footed the bill for the film and used a new camera to film it as well. Incorporating iPad technology into the cinematography courtesy of the kid from Atlanta, the film is not one of Lee’s more memorable artistically – perhaps it is the film between films and one can do this when one is an established director.
Lee appears in the film as Mookie –from “Do the Right Thing.” We hope he owns Sal’s at this point. It would be sad if he didn’t.
A preacher’s daughter drops her son off with her father for the summer, where the bishop is trying to save a sinking ship with prayer and faith, when what it needs is a financial plan or that’s what we think. There are gang members and pedophiles in this story, which looks at the Black church in a way that might make one squeamish. “Red Hook Summer” is also the story of a friendship and that of a secret and why honesty really is the best policy and why some acts really are unforgivable. Maybe God can forgive sinners for their most egregious deeds, but I never proclaimed to be God and I have no forgiveness or mercy or tolerance for pedophiles.
Out on DVD, I like the extras, especially the director’s comments, almost better than the film (smile). Not quite though; I really like the music too, though Spike is quite articulate.
“Lincoln” is a good story, and the scenes that show how the president gets votes for his 13th Amendment January 1865, just three months before he is killed, are intriguing as many politicians express their distaste for equality with Black people. Thaddeus Stevens’ (Tommy Lee Jones’) debates on the Congressional floor are witty, juxtaposed with scenes of Lincoln with his younger son, whose questions about slavery’s effect on the moral fabric of our nation as represented through his dad’s office are some of the highlights of the film.
That and Daniel Day-Lewis’ Lincoln’s many stories and the way the actor allows his audience in on the character’s internal dialogue also make the film compelling. Sally Field’s Mary Todd, Lincoln’s wife, is annoying – I would have committed her to an institution myself (smile). Overall, for those who like a good story, where the 16th president remains chaste and untarnished, well, this is the film. The rumor of Lincoln’s ancestry is hinted at early on in the film when Lincoln is speaking to the Black soldiers about his hair. One of these men is portrayed by former Bay Area resident, actor Coleman Domingo. Domingo is also in “Red Hook Summer,” Lee’s film.
The carnage and lost life of the Civil War is vividly portrayed here, not to mention the shots of maimed soldiers who survive. That war is brutal – nothing romantic about it – comes through clearly. It is also clear that presidents send other boys into battle yet try to keep their sons safely at home.
‘Django Unchained’ and the myth of freedom
“Django Unchained” is the story of a hired killer and the cost to one’s soul such a vocation takes as ransom. First one has to die to one’s humanity – when Django kills a child’s father, he kills a part of his soul, but who said when one goes into hell he can remain unscathed? The fiery pit burns its fodder and roasts the fire starter too. Django to a certain extent makes a pact with Satan and, like Robert Johnson learned, the pound of flesh is a painful excavation.
The story is an exploration of character(s) and chattel slavery. As Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel said in his master-slave dialectic from the “Phenomenology of Spirit,” where he analyzes the two relationships and finds them toxic: Its fumes are even more poisonous to its beneficiaries, like Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), than to his sidekick, Stephen, a faithful servant (Samuel Jackson). The only saving grace is resistance, and to the extent that Hildy (Kerry Washington) fights for freedom and Django (Jamie Foxx) walks through fire to rescue her, the story has integrity.
Dr. Schultz (Christoph Waltz) is also redeemed when he feels morally compelled to join Django, a man he purchased and freed. One wonders if the director, Quentin Tarantino, is saying here that Doc created a killer or, as he says of the sharpshooter, his new partner, “You’re a natural.” But isn’t resistance to inhumanity natural? Isn’t freedom natural? Isn’t love between a husband and a wife natural? Then why shouldn’t Django put it all on the line to rescue Hildy, his wife Broomhilda, and why should we be surprised that Hildy keeps trying to escape to meet Django halfway?
I didn’t know what to expect, as I’d passed on all Quentin Tarantino’s films: “Pulp Fiction” and “Kill Bill Vol. 1.” I tend to avoid violent and horror films, but with Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington and Samuel Jackson and a theme like slavery, even I could not avoid testing Tarantino waters, which were red.
The story starts in an interesting way – chained African men walking across Texas plains in the winter when a German man with a tooth bobbing on top of his wagon surprises the owners. After a bit of conversation, the doctor questions Django, who happens to be able to recognize three men the doctor is looking for, and so begins the journey. Django becomes a partner in the bounty hunting business, where white men are wanted dead or alive.
The irony is not without its implications as the two systems are juxtaposed. Reminded me of the U.S. military drone system where “enemy combatants” are killed from the air – no self-defense possible as the assailants sit on mountaintops, as is the case of Django and Doc, and kill criminals.
Nope, this is not a place where forgiveness is considered – restorative justice or rehabilitation. If you are “wanted,” you are fair game for bounty hunters, especially men like the Doc and Django, who wants to free his enslaved wife, Broomhilda.
What I liked most about the film was the level of physical violence and the character studies of its two protagonists – the way they changed and the distastefulness of that change. Slavery was horrible for those who were enslaved and for those who enslaved others. No matter how close the relationship between master and slave, there was no equality or true love from the white owner to his slave.
The acting is really great. As I closed my eyes through all of the blood baths, my friend told me that many of the actors were Tarantino regulars. I remember Samuel Jackson from “Pulp Fiction.”
It’s like the wild, wild West meets the South – Jamie Foxx’s Django is so regal in his carriage and commanding in his presence. I like the way he and the doctor prepare or rehearse. I like the mutual respect the two have and Django’s knowledge of the slave system and how this both torments and helps him.
The rescue is not without its victims and there is a personal cost for both of the two men. African men are not shown as ignorant fools here. Foxx’s character gets an opportunity and granted he is sharp, but the sparkle in the eyes of the men freed as a result of his and the Doc’s passage show that subservience is a coping strategy, not a vocation or something one is born to. This explains his wife’s refusal to stay a slave, even if that means beating, branding or other brutal punishment.
If nothing else, the level of brutality, which is pretty high, gives us a sense, just a taste though – considering the 300-400 years of chattel slavery – of the brutality that our ancestors endured. Multiply the two hours and 20-40 or so minutes times all those years. Just two years before the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, the end was just as brutal as the beginning.
Sometimes the cinematography takes one’s breath away, and at other times it is too shocking for words. “Django” is not “Burn” or “Quilombo,” but there are elements of both in this film. The use of the n-word is frequent, but what else did white people call us? Black people called each other that word too. It is never an endearment or respectful. All those who have tried to clean the word up should certainly watch this film and then dare use the word again.
As we move into the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, I think this film, “Django Unchained,” gives American audiences a lot to think about. The star is Black, but the audience is white America. “Look at the country’s legacy of brutality and inhumanity to others,” this film seems to say. It also says to Black audiences that Black men during this period loved their wives and marriage was a serious contract, even if society didn’t respect it and there was no such a thing as a Black hero, a man who would scale mountains, slay dragons and walk through fire to rescue his woman.
How many stories do we see on the big screen that depict such a man? Not all white people were bad back then, but in this story we don’t see many people escaping successfully. Django happened to have something the doc wanted – information – and that information or knowledge changed his life forever. Perhaps a better way to put it is that this information gave him back his life.
I like the way Foxx played Django. He didn’t speak much and when he didn’t know something, he asked questions. The doc was a great friend and along the way he grew in his respect for Django, even as he knew turning him into a professional killer in some way was preparing him philosophically for the ultimate scene at Candieland.
No on submits to bondage – even when one loses control of one’s body. Willie Lynch is a myth as is the plantation, Candieland, and the circumstances Django and Doc ride into. It’s not hyperbole, however, historic fiction at best with vibrant and colorful violence unimaginable in its horror, which is why Willie Lynch and now Tarrantino seek legitimacy.
It is not an accident that we meet Django in Texas, a big state known for its excesses and cowboys, oil wells and refusal to tell its African citizens they were free until six months after the fact. We in the Western states know our cowboys and like a great Western such that “Django” delivers – as Jamie Foxx does, commanding in his role as former slave turned strategist whose intensity grows in direct proportion to the stakes.
I cannot get over the sunglasses. The setting could be now.
Freedom is not free and Django shows how persons who make their business trading in souls for money always fall short. In Walter Mosley’s “Tempest Tales,” he looks at the dichotomy between the Christian heaven and its hell and the uneven position certain souls are cast into by the gatekeepers.
It’s not clean and if one’s intentions are not brought to bear on one’s case at judgment and there is no redemption or grace, then a lot of worthy souls, honorable men and women will go to hell while bigger criminals walk free. We see this all the time when we look at cases like Geronimo ji jaga, Leonard Peltier, Phil Africa, Albert Woodfox, Russell “Maroon” Shoalz, Lynne Stewart. If our president can cheer over shooting a man with renal failure, then throw his body into the ocean – if it was his body – praise generals for shooting or blowing up vehicles supposedly carrying enemy combatants, what separates us from the bounty hunters of old like Django and Doc who chase down criminals, convicted without a trial, wanted dead or alive?
Mr. Candie is not on that list, but his employees are hiding as he is behind white skin privilege. Django has to save himself. The message for Black people is clear here. Save yourself; there are no good slavemasters. No one connected to the system can be trusted, so save yourself or suffer the consequences.
America is a sinking ship. If President Obama does not use his second term to act presidential, then we might have to leave this place; however, in the meantime, stock up on provisions – learn how to defend yourself, cultivate alliances and have your passport up to date and located near the escape plan. Keep gas in your car and cash.
I am just saying.
Django is a myth. His story is set within a larger story – in the German myth, the hero climbs a mountain, slays a dragon and walks through fire to save Broomhilda. What mountains do we face as individuals and collectively on the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation? What dreams are left unfulfilled on the 50th anniversary of Martin King’s “I have a Dream” speech? What fire do we need to extinguish and what is that dragon or serpent or Damballa telling us to do? How do we get out of the tower – why are we in exile? How do we repair the rift – reparations for the soul?
Django is an American story told from a Eurocentric perspective. That Tarantino allows his character his integrity, that is, Django does not fall for a white woman, but why would he when he has Kerry Washington – I mean Hildy (smile) – is to be commended. Foxx’ almost immortal Django suffers, but he doesn’t die. The film is long, so long I was ready to leave the theatre – I was so sickened by the blood and torture – and then an entirely different chapter unfolds.
References are made to mining and the fate of enslaved men sentenced or sold into such servitude. Recall Douglas Blackmon’s “Slavery by Another Name.”
This year the theme is Umoja, and that starts with African Liberation. The film “Django Unchained” lets us know what we are up against, and it ain’t pretty – it’s messy and stinky and horrifying, yet real (not really). One has to remember, this is Hollywood. These are actors. As Doc says to Django: “We have to stay in character. Do not break character.” To a certain extent, Django walks into a macabre game similar to what Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, tributes, face in Panem. One has to feed the beast and he likes blood, doesn’t he?
By the same token, do not take children to this film. It doesn’t matter how mature the child is. Spare the children this carnage – it is over the top in all senses: cruelty and human brutality. Even war stories pale in contrast, and this is precisely why I like the film.
Jamie Foxx is a true hero! He is bold and fearless and powerful. He always keeps his head and he is so smart – no one can out-think him, because he knows the system as a former enslaved man. He is ever mindful and, on his horse, the man has no match. Whenever Foxx is in the frame, one wants to take it home and mount it on the wall, the colors and choice of visual elements is stunning whether it is Django chained to other men walking across the icy road or drinking his first beer – later dressed as a dandy riding through a plantation with Doc as both Africans and their masters look on at this Black man’s audacity to not just ride a horse, but to look at these beasts in their eyes, not as their equals, rather their superiors.
Finally, Foxx’s Django tempers his fingers as they itch to blow Candie away. Foxx’s Django is a study in restraint as he remembers not to break form. He is after all an actor – and this is the biggest role he will ever play. What did Shakespeare say about “all the world a stage”?
If audiences find the violence unsettling, that’s great. Slavery was worse.
Jan. 1 is the Jubilee
Jan. 1 is the Jubilee, a day enslaved Africans celebrated their freedom. It is an older celebration than Juneteenth and varied from state to state. In San Francisco as a part of the Village Project’s Seventh Annual Kwanzaa Celebrations 2012-2013, Dec. 26-Jan. 1, Imani (faith) – to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle – is being honored at the Bayview Opera House, 4705 Third St. at Oakdale in a “Celebration of The Emancipation Proclamation,” with an exhibit and performances beginning at 2 p.m. There is a concert – “A Night of Gospel” – that evening at 6 p.m. presented by the Union of Black Episcopalians at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, 2097 Turk at Lyons, with performances by Emmit Powell and The Gospel Elite, along with Kevan Peabody and the First Friendship Institutional Church’s Praise Team.
Save Nubia Project
The classical civilizations of ancient Kush and Nubia are under threat. The Sudanese government has recently secured construction contracts for several dams, and the work on these hydroelectric projects will start soon, without any announcement because of the major protests from local Nubians. They do not believe these hydroelectric projects will benefit them, due to their past experience with the construction of the Aswan High Dam in 1970, creating a 340-mile long lake that flooded 39 Nubian villages and submerged innumerable priceless artifacts.
Thus, the Nubians are convinced that the current hydroelectric projects are simply part of an ongoing scheme to erase their culture. Nubian environmental scientist Dr. Arif Gamal notes, “By flooding the last of the remaining Nubian lands … the Nubians are reduced to a group of people with no sense of memory, no past and no future to look for.”
The mission of the Save Nubia Project (SNP) is to help raise national and international awareness about the pending flooding of the central areas of the ancient Kushite and Nubian civilizations in the Sudan that would destroy countless ancient archaeological sites and displace well over 100,000 local Sudanese people. Thus, the Save Nubia Project’s task is to document that the dam construction areas in northern and central Sudan are valuable World Heritage Sites that are in danger of being destroyed and should be preserved.
A seminar to support urgent field research in Sudan is Saturday, Jan. 26, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., at Merritt College in the Huey Newton-Bobby Seale Conference Room, 12500 Campus Dr., Oakland, sponsored by the African American Studies Department. Doors open at 10 a.m.. Admission is $10, free for students with ID.
Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website atwww.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.