by Wanda Sabir
Habari Gani? What’s the word? Imani! Faith!
Faith is what sustained our ancestors’ belief in freedom and justice. Faith is the marrow of the African soul. It is what keeps us rooted when, all around us, “things,” as writer Chinua Achebe says, “fall apart.”
Remember our girls
I have been thinking a lot recently about restorative justice practices and violence – physical, psychological and emotional violence and the harm to persons, immediate and long term, as well as the harm to their associate families and communities. Not much attention is paid to the survivors of violence unless the violence is by the state, yet every day people are making choices which harm innocent people.
Why is the activist community silent when it comes to advocacy for these silenced survivors? Where is the outcry when someone is harmed by an attacker that looks like the attacked? Where are the annual vigils, cumulative lists for these persons? If prison is obsolete, then what replaces the jail or prison when harm is done and community is silent – the victims and their families allowed to suffer in silence?
Immediately when a situation occurs where someone is harmed, all the resources and sympathy often go to the person who harmed another, not to the person harmed. There are fundraising campaigns and protest rallies. People show up at the courthouse too.
The decision to commit the violent act, the conscious choice is taken out of the hands of the person who did the act. He or she is an unwilling marionette manipulated by social forces beyond his or her control. My argument here is everyone has a choice and the person who does harm should be held accountable. What that looks like is up for debate.
We are all affected by the value given to Black life. We know that in this society, Black life is not valued the same as others. Look at the adoption rolls and foster care homes to see how much our babies are worth. Nonetheless, we can and should begin to consciously change the narrative that lets everyone – state and citizen – get away with mistreating Black people, especially Black girls and Black women.
The injury suffered by this population is underreported and under scrutinized. If it were not, more adults would participate and, where absent, create systems that keep our girls and women safe. It is not enough to talk a good talk. Black women and girls are not safe in their homes, schools or neighborhoods. And this is not a Black American phenomenon – Black girls and Black women are abused internationally. Headmasters in rural schools are raping little girls. Uncles and Mamas’ boyfriends are raping little girls here and there.
Considering how hypersexualized our society has become, I don’t know how parents can keep their girls safe. Perhaps girls should always travel in twos and never be alone in a room with a man or boy, no matter the relationship. Even in medical settings, mothers and guardians cannot trust their girls to technicians or physicians – do not leave your girl child with a man or woman (for that matter) while getting x-rays or other tests. Girls have been molested by technicians, men in white coats.
Yes, it is that serious. There are too many examples and with so many examples and so many girls and women being abused and staying silent and self-medicating, acting out, threatening and committing suicide, we should be alarmed. This is why Ms. Tarana Burke started the #MeToo Movement in 1998, this is why Ms. Anita Hill, JD (in 1991) did not let now Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas get away with anything. However, remember how Dr. Hill was greeted by the state. Bill Cosby might be in prison, but Harvey Weinstein is not and indicted Catholic priests are still presiding over congregations. So what else is new? Different ethical standards preside.
Until Black women and girls are seen as a priority in our community, the way we are viewed and treated as a people will not change. I believe the Hon. Elijah Muhammad spoke about this; however, it is more than patriarchy and paternalism, power and privilege. Black women and girls are valued and should be protected because Black women and girls are equal to men and boys – who should also be protected and kept safe. One sex is not more valuable than another; one sex is not more powerful than another; one sex is not endowed with certain rights over the other.
We were both created whole.
It would be good if strategies are devised in community by representative of those most affected – women and girls. It is their call. Through such team building others can then support their work with education and leadership trainings, workshops, forums – effectiveness monitored across all levels of interaction.
Ms. Tarana Burke says in her TED Women Talk, “Trauma stops possibility, that healing is not rooted in ‘performative pain.’” She says she encourages survivors to “lean into joy. Movement activates possibility.”
But back to the role of socially conscious leadership – folks with an audience and a constituency, speak up and recognize that bad things happen to innocent people and our concern should be for the innocent one first as we look to help the community recover from harm. This includes the one who made this choice to hurt another person with his or her hands or words. Prisons and jails are full of broken people, people who have harmed another person almost by reflex. What can we do out here to interrupt that critical, sometimes irreversible choice while keeping the more vulnerable in our community safe?
29th Annual Celebration of African American Poets and Their Poetry
Calling all African Diaspora poets to contribute and participate in the annual celebration of African American Poets and Their Poetry at West Oakland Library, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, 1-4 p.m., in the West Auditorium, 1801 Adeline St., 510-238-7352. If anyone would like to be a part of the featured program, please send the poem(s) you would like considered and/or bring the work to the rehearsal Jan. 19, 10-12 a.m. at the WOBL. The theme this year is Black Migrations; however, all themes are welcome. Send work to email@example.com or mail to the WOBL.
Community Panel on Voter Rights
A special conversation on “How to Restore Our Rights” is Thursday, Jan. 17, 7-9 p.m., in Booth Auditorium, U.C. Berkeley School of Law, 2778 Bancroft Way, Berkeley. Featured panelists are Desmond Meade, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition; Taina Vargas-Edmond, Initiate Justice; Norris Henderson, Voice of the Experienced, New Orleans; and Dauras Cyprian, All of Us or None. For more info, contact AOUON Senior Organizer Dauras Cyprian at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-625-7051.
Forty-six thousand people are on parole in California – and can’t vote! There are millions throughout the United States who are similarly disenfranchised. Join us in the East Bay Area for a discussion and strategy session – building on recent victories in Florida and Louisiana – on felony disenfranchisement, jury service, running for political office and other rights we need restored in California.
Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert
In the Name of Love: The 17th Annual Musical Tribute honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. presents “Rhythm and Blues and the Civil Rights Movement” Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, 7 p.m., at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center. Tickets range from $25-$60 for advance purchases – $30-$65 at the door. Discounted tickets for children 12 & under. All seating is assigned. Doors open at 6 p.m. Limited wheelchair accessible seating on ground floor is available online or by calling 510-858-5313. Visit https://www.livingjazz.org/mlk-tix.
The tribute features vocalists Jeanie Tracy, Kev Choice, Ms. Faye Carol, Terrie Odabi and Alvon Johnson with Kev Choice, piano; Scott Thompson, bass; Daria Johnson, drums; and Alvon Johnson, guitar. The mistress of ceremonies is Konda Mason, co-founder and founding CEO of Impact Hub Oakland. The Oakland Citizen Humanitarian Award awardee this year is Tomika Perkins, Operation Dignity. All proceeds benefit the Living Jazz Children’s Project.
On the fly
Pickin on Hate benefit for Trans Lifeline at Ashkanez Music and Dance Center, 1317 San Pablo Ave., in Berkeley. Visit http://www.ashkenaz.com/. Trans Lifeline is a grassroots hotline and microgrants organization offering direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis – for the trans community, by the trans community. Also at Ashkanez: Dwight “Black Cat” Carrier and the Zydeco Ro Doggs plus Dance Lesson with Ted Sherrod, Tues., Jan. 8, 8-11 p.m.; Adama Bilorou Dembele, Friday, Jan. 11, 9-11:59 p.m., Fresh Festival. Oakland Symphony presents “To Belong Here: Notes from the African Diaspora,” Friday, Jan. 25, 8 p.m., at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland.
Auction of African-American artifacts
“The John Silverstein Collection of African American Social History,” according to Dr. Cheryl Finley, Cornell University, “is the most comprehensive and voluminous collection of photographs and related materials of its kind ever to be offered for sale at public auction in North America. Amassed over a 10-year period, beginning in 2008, the year that the charismatic Illinois senator, Barack Obama, was elected the first African American president of the United States, the Silverstein Collection is distinguished by its historical breadth – spanning the 19th century daguerreotype to the early 21st century digital print – and its attention to the trials and triumphs of Black life in America, through the lens of social and political activism, especially of the 1960s and 1970s.
A life-long collector and self-styled hunter-gatherer, Toronto-based John Silverstein paired his deep interest in history with his passion for social justice as he painstakingly assembled this collection over the internet, through auction and private sale, using extensive research and meticulous documentation. The result is a treasure trove ripe with rare and iconic photographs, albums, posters, books and documents that tell the story of why African American social and cultural history is so vital, especially today.”
To participate in the auction, which takes place Jan. 15, 2019, at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, visit the online catalog: https://historical.ha.com/c/search-results.zx?No=0&Ns=Lot+No%7C0&N=49+793+794+792+2088+4294948247.
The 23rd Art of Living Black at the Richmond Art Center Jan. 15-March 8
Co-founded by the late Jan Hart-Schuyers and the late Rae Louise Hayward, The Art of Living Black is a non-juried group exhibition featuring work by artists of African descent. The exhibition is held at the Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Ave., Richmond, 510-620-6772, and is accompanied by a self-guided open studios tour and satellite exhibitions. The 23rd Annual Art of Living Black is organized by TAOLB Steering Committee in partnership with the Richmond Art Center.
August Wilson’s Last Play Creates a Multi-City collaboration with Marin Theatre Company, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Ubuntu Theatre Company
From the late August Wilson, one of America’s greatest playwrights and creator of award-winning titles like “Fences” and “Jitney,” comes this autobiographical tour de force. In his one-man show, Wilson takes us on a journey through his days as a young poet: his first few jobs, a stint in jail, the support of his lifelong friends, and his encounters with racism, music and love as a struggling writer in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. Originally performed by Wilson himself, “How I Learned What I Learned” is a heartfelt theatrical memoir – charting one man’s journey of self-discovery through adversity, and what it means to be a Black artist in America.
- Marin Theatre Company: Jan. 10-Feb. 3; 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley, CA 94941, 415-388-5208
- Lorraine Hansberry Theatre: Feb. 14 – Feb. 24; 762 Fulton St., San Francisco, CA 94102, 415-474-8800
- Ubuntu Theater Project: March 2019; 2020 Fourth St., Berkeley, CA 94710; email@example.com
Alternativa presents Fresh Festival 2019
San Francisco’s 10th annual festival of experimental dance, music and performance is Friday, Jan. 4, at 8 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 11, at 8 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m.; and Friday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m. at Joe Goode Annex, 401 Alabama St., No. 150, San Francisco, CA 94110. PERFORMANCE tickets are available at http://joegoode.org/box-office/ or 415-561-6565. Learn more at www.freshfestival.org.
Celebration of Life for Raphael ‘Ray’ Taliaferro at the Commonwealth Club Jan. 12
The Commonwealth Club will host a celebration of the life of former San Francisco Arts Commission President and KGO Radio talk show host Ray Taliaferro, a long-time member of the Club’s Board and Advisory Board. It will be held on Jan. 12 at 11 a.m., at the Club’s headquarters at 110 The Embarcadero in San Francisco. The memorial is open to the public and does not require reservations.
Dr. Gloria Duffy, president and CEO of the Club, noted, “We look forward to a joyful celebration for the late radio host, Club Board member and community leader.”
The emcee will be former KGO radio news anchor Rosie Allen. Speakers will be friends and colleagues who knew the legendary broadcaster in his numerous capacities and from organizations with which he was affiliated during his 60-year career. Those invited or confirmed to speak include fellow KGO talk show host Ronn Owens, former Mayor Willie Brown, former Mayor Frank Jordan, former Supervisor Angela Alioto, former KPIX TV news anchor Barbara Rodgers and former KGO General Manager Mickey Luckoff. Taliaferro’s sons will also speak about their highly accomplished father.
Taliaferro’s nephew, Rev. Fred Settle, will offer the benediction, and a reception will be held upon the conclusion of the speakers’ remarks. The event is free and open to the public. The family is requesting donations in Ray’s memory to the Dementia Society of America: https://www.dementiasociety.org.
In addition to his decades as a talk show host, Taliaferro had a long and prominent role in community leadership and the civil rights movement. He was chair of the San Francisco Arts Commission for 16 years, president of the San Francisco NAACP, president of the Northern California Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, trustee of the San Francisco War Memorial, master of ceremonies of the Monterey Blues Festival and a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Taliaferro was the first Black talk show host on a major American radio station. He was hired by KGO Radio in 1977, where he worked in several posts, both as an anchor and talk show host. He became famous for “The Early Show,” which was launched in 1986 and continued until 2011. Prior to KGO Radio, Taliaferro was a news anchor at San Francisco’s KRON TV and hosted a television show in Los Angeles at KHJ TV, now known as KCAL. His first position was at San Francisco’s KNEW Radio.
Taliaferro received numerous accolades throughout his life. He was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame in 2011 and the association’s Ray Taliaferro NABJ Entrepreneurial Spirit Award recognizing journalistic entrepreneurship is named in his honor. In 1994 the San Francisco Black Chamber of Commerce presented him with the Black Chamber Life Award. He received the 2007 Keeping the Blues Alive award from the Monterey Blues Festival for his work supporting the festival over the years.
Taliaferro also became renowned for his public service and his support for a host of causes and nonprofits. From 1992 to 2000 he served as a Trustee of the City’s War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, appointed by Mayor Frank Jordan. He served as president of the San Francisco Arts Commission for 16 years. He was the board president of the Northern California Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America from 1995 until 2000, co-hosting the annual Cure-A-Thon fundraiser for the Society on KGO. He served as the president of the San Francisco chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) between 1968 and 1971, and was an early member of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Taliaferro was an accomplished musician and pianist, and an early San Francisco civil rights leader. While still in his teens, he was appointed music minister at San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church. He played the songs requested by Dr. Martin Luther King when King preached at Third Baptist, and Taliaferro led a mass choir performance for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at the Cow Palace Arena. He conducted the First Baptist Choir in a performance of Handel’s Messiah, with the San Francisco Symphony. As public relations chair for the San Francisco NAACP, Taliaferro was a leader of the successful effort to integrate jobs on Van Ness Avenue’s Auto Row.
Taliaferro was reported missing by his wife on Nov. 10, 2018, during a visit to Southern Illinois. He was found dead on Dec. 2, a mile from where he was last seen, at 5 p.m. on Nov. 10, when he stopped in to visit the West End Baptist Church, in Paducah, Kentucky, and then disappeared.
Permanent housing is the solution to the crisis
This report by Wanda first appeared on The Auset Movement.
As 2018 concludes, Oakland remains in a state of crisis around housing for its residents. There are too many people unhoused and underhoused in the Bay Area despite the promising skyline dotted with luxury apartments or condominiums and houses. Long time residents are being pushed out by city officials who are intent on clearing public spaces of people.
The forced removal of citizens occupying vacant lots doesn’t make sense when said land is not slated for development. When Councilmember Desley Brooks mentioned to her constituents over three years ago next month to allow sanctioned encampments on city owned land, she was not supported.
The sanctioned encampment experiment on Peralta and 35th Street was a success; 50 or so people were moved into transitional housing, perhaps permanent now, but the increasing development in that area and the growing population of underhoused persons is bigger now than before.
The housing crisis, which is larger than the Bay Area and the state, remains unaddressed in any real sustainable way, especially when local, state and federal agencies are not acting as a team with those affected at the same dinner table.
Oakland has a Tuff Shed solution – sounds like “tough love” – as well as more beds in its Winter Shelters, but what about people with pets. I meet many people who own pets who are working animals – dogs provide a level of protection for women alone and for men too. The pet also serves as a companion. The solution is not sheds or tents; it is permanent housing.
I met one man at the press conference who lost his job at AAA when it moved to Oklahoma 10 years ago. He did not want to relocate. I didn’t know that the California Automobile Association has been out of state for a decade. He applied for jobs and then after nothing came through, he lost his housing and has been on the street since.
The last time the Auset Movement was at the Wood Street Encampment was on Father’s Day. That day not that many people joined us for a meal. We like to stay in closer touch. This particular strip of land near 26th Street has been in the news recently. Purchased by a family to open a brewery quite a while back, it is just a matter of time before the folks living there will be forcibly removed, as folks have been told to leave. First, 48-72 hour signs go up and then the police come.
The Bay Area Landless People’s Alliance’s third goal includes an “end to evictions of informal settlements of poor people.” Other goals are:
- All criminalization of homelessness must end.
- To live in dignity, landless people in “safe havens” will be allowed to self-govern.
- All confiscation of landless people’s property will end, all property must be returned and the people need to be compensated.
- Resolve that all landless people have the human right to assert self-defense against prosecution for activities necessary for survival.
- All new housing shall prioritize housing for homeless and poor people.
Gaza is also in Oakland. Border walls and policing checkpoints. Instead of bulldozers, there are police who confiscate people’s belongings, smash their homes and scatter their lives into the street. Crushed underfoot. If people do not accept shelter referrals, they cannot return.
This happened recently to a clean and sober village in East Oakland, home to women and children. Housing and Dignity Village was a service hub at South Elmhurst Avenue and Edes Avenue. “Over 20 Oakland police officers led residents away in handcuffs, as Public Works employees worked overtime to destroy everything on site.”
West Oakland site on Wood Street
The Auset Movement wanted to pop through Wood Street before Martin King Day in January to greet our friends and let them know that we have not forgotten them.
There are lots of luxury homes going up within view of the encampment, plus the old 16th Street Train Station is used for programs, along with a playing field. The city has paved the street and it will not be long before development marches up to the doors of folks living in cars, trucks, campers and tents.
Bay Area Landless People’s Alliance and allies
I went to a press conference last week at the Alameda County Administrative Building, Oakland and 12th, for a meeting of a Bay Area-wide coalition: Bay Area Landless People’s Alliance. Just a week earlier, Free Brown’s Hope Task Force hosted a Multi-service Day, Dec. 15, for our under-housed and houseless community members at the West Oakland Youth Center.
Saturday, Dec. 22, Phyllis Magee, founder and CEO of Luxe Laundromat, hosted “A Wash Houze Christmas.” It was a fun day filled with music and door prizes at Poppy’s Bubble Wash in East Oakland, 7851 MacArthur Blvd. To support, visit https://www.facebook.com/Luxelaundromat/.
A week before that, Candice Elder’s East Oakland Collective hosted Feed Da Hood where hundreds of volunteers passed out thousands of lunches and socks and toiletry bags across multiple counties, Alameda and Contra Costa.
There are folks like those already mentioned along with The Auset Movement putting band-aids on this larger-than-any-one-municipality-can-address issue – housing, employment, mental health services, trauma informed care, education, family reunification, addiction, violence, in its many iterations.
Broadcast interviews with supporters
Listen to these two radio shows with allies who are standing with the under- and un-housed people who are demanding their human right to shelter, food, employment, education, safety.
1) Wanda’s Picks Radio Show, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks/2018/12/12/wandas-picks-radio-show: Candice Elder, East Oakland Collective, Free Brown and Chef Shelby (Experience FUEL Oak) discuss Homeless Black Women Multi-Service Day Dec. 15 at the West Oakland Youth Center. Visit https://hopetaskforce.org/.
2) Wanda’s Picks Radio Show, Wednesday, Dec. 19, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks/2018/12/19/wandas-picks-radio-show: Phyllis Magee, founder & CEO, Luxe Laundromat: A Wash Houze Christmas. Dec. 22, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Poppy’s Bubble Wash, 7851 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. Visit https://www.facebook.com/Luxelaundromat. To learn more about The Bay Area Landless People’s Alliance, contact Anita De Asis, Housing and Dignity Village organizer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-355-7010; Dayton Andrews, United Front Against Displacement organizer, email@example.com or 626-826-9426; and Yesica Prado, Berkeley Friends on Wheels organizer and UC Berkeley alum, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-751-9522.
Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at email@example.com. 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 7 a.m. and Fridays at 8 a.m., can be heard by phone at 347-237-4610 and are archived at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks.