Wanda’s Picks for January 2020

The Slave Rebellion Reenactment directed by Dread Scott was performed by a volunteer army Nov. 8-9, 2019, on the outskirts of New Orleans. – Photo: Soul Brother

by Wanda Sabir

Happy New Year, everyone! I am certainly happy to be in 2020. It promises to be such a fabulous year. For one, we get an extra day in February; two, it’s the 30th anniversary year for the Celebration of African Americans and Their Poetry, Saturday, Feb. 1, and the 25th anniversary of MAAFA San Francisco Bay Area Ritual, Sunday, Oct. 11. 

June 20 at the Capitol will be the Poor People’s March on Washington, D.C., a continuation of Dr. King’s legendary campaign led by Rev. Dr. William Barber. It is also a call to all of us to practice what bell hooks calls a “love ethic,” a necessary ingredient in what King called “the beloved community.” 

Call for submissions

If you have participated in the African American Celebration through Poetry in the past 29 years or would like to participate this 30th anniversary, we are publishing an anthology. Send poems (five or five pages), plus a bio and photo to racewoman@gmail.com or Poetry Anthology, P.O. Box 30756, Oakland, CA 94604. Deadline Feb. 1. No profanity, which includes the n-word. No overt sexual themes or content.

If you would like to participate in the Celebration of African American Poets and Their Poetry this 30th anniversary year, Saturday, Feb. 1, 1-4 p.m., at the West Oakland Library, send submissions to the branch to my attention: W. Sabir, Poetry Celebration, 1801 Adeline St., Oakland, CA 94607, 510-238-7352. We have a rehearsal on Saturday, Jan. 25, 10 a.m. to 12 noon. The theme this year is “400 Years of California African American History” (1535-1872, slave state to now). We are also looking at Association for African American History and Life’s (ASALAH) theme: “African Americans and the Vote.” All themes are welcome. The event is family friendly. 

New Year’s Eve reflection at the Fillmore

Though I was disappointed that I didn’t get a Mardi Gras umbrella at 12 a.m., I was not disappointed to be at the Fillmore for the marvelous New Year’s Eve concert featuring Lakou Mizik from Ayiti and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans. Whenever I am at the Fillmore, I am transported back to Mosque 26 and Muhammad University of Islam [which was located there when Wanda was a student and a teacher – ed.]. It is an easy trek into the past where I see Sister Isola and Captain May Helen and Sister Verta B. It’s funny how the place where security checks purses and wands men is the same place where security stood back then. Upstairs where the bathrooms are and the bar were checkrooms where women and men were more thoroughly checked and extra clothes were available for people who were not dressed appropriately for the meeting. 

When I look up at backstage, I see the Minister’s Office from Minister Majied to John Muhammad and Usman Mekki. The VIP area where we had classes was blocked off. 

Upstairs in the dining area we’d have meals after each service with a big meal on Sundays with Sister Izola cooking up something yummy. Not one artifact from that time remains except memories I hold and others might hold. 

Given the look of the audience, not many people of African descent attend gatherings here. The promoters, Another Planet Entertainment (APE), are not friendly to Black press. I was there that evening because the publicist for Cumbuncha reached out to me, introduced me to the band manager, who arranged an interview with Steeve Valcourt, one of the lead singers and guitarist, and put me on the guest list. A $70 ticket was a bit steep for me. I was really happy to get tickets, because I usually don’t through the venue. When First Lady Michelle Obama was on a book tour and came to San Jose last year, by the time APE said no, the tickets were in the hundreds of dollars. Bill Graham Presents, now APE, has no love for this independent Black media outlet. As Paradise says so eloquently in his poem, “They love everything about us (Black people), but us (Black people).”

Even though Africans were not the majority of the Fillmore crowd Dec. 31-Jan. 1, those of us there enjoyed the ensembles. We knew Lakou Mizik were invoking Black gods and that New Orleans Preservation Hall stood for a tradition that was Africa. PHJB is integrated, yet still majority African American. Walter Harris, drummer, Kyle Roussel, pianist, Ronell Johnson, trombonist and Branden Lewis, trumpeter are African, Clint Maedgen, tenor saxophonist, Ben Jaffe on tuba and bass are not. I believe Jaffe’s father incorporated the PHJB as a nonprofit and Ben, now PHJB creative director, created the New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund to help artists displaced after the Great Flood to return home. 

Nonetheless, it would have been nice to see all African men cover the stage playing our sacred music. Similar to the Lucumi and Santeria traditions out of Cuba, New Orleans and Ayiti are of this same caldron filled with sacred rituals and traditions that have sustained New Africans in this hemisphere for hundreds of years. There is a reason why when Lakou Mizik played NOLA Heritage Festival in 2017 and walked the streets of the French Quarter they saw not just colonial markers, they also felt Gen. Henri Christophe’s resistance at the Citadel in Cap-Haïtien, Nord, where Napoleon’s army was toppled. When I visited this city and others in Haiti, I saw colonial and African New Orleans. If NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) is the most African city in this nation, certainly Ayiti is the Caribbean’s most African nation. 

It’s a shame that for African Diaspora artists to make money and to have international recognition, it takes a nouveau-Columbus to plant its flag and in this case pick up an instrument before said artists can get out of town gigs. What is wrong with Blackness? We see evidence of its opposite all the time cross genres – music, film, stage, politics, education. 

We also see the perils of integration in activist circles too – white people, many times white women, Asians – others othering, saving Black people. The colonizer might not see itself in such a light, but if a person does not look like the object of his or her or their concern, there is something wrong with this picture and it wreaks havoc on the objects’ psyche. How is self-love possible when one does not see oneself? How is power activated when one is powerless? 

Even if the trend continues, be aware of its consequences and think before allowing others into one’s intimate circles. Whiteness is like a viral infection; it never goes away. This is why when Black people are present, there is usually a “leak” (read snitch) in the building. 

This is the foundation of the Jesus Complex and why in the World Community of Islam, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed focused on looking at the legacy of images that illustrate the divine and how this imaging undermines African Diaspora notions of self. We worship whiteness because our deities look just like these aliens in the majority institutions across Western culture. Slavery might have ended, but the systems on which slavery is based and founded did not cease. 

This is why Black death is acceptable. White shooters are treated as people, similar to the way captured Nazi soldiers, who were the enemy, rode in front of African American soldiers. Even white killers get better treatment than innocent African Americans, whether this is shorter sentences for the same crime or permission to live to tell their story in court. Black people are killed before they can testify. What happens to the protagonists in the film “Queen and Slim”? Shot down in cold blood, for what? 

When the white boy killed all the parishioners at the historic Black church in Charleston, S.C., the arresting officers stopped by a fast food restaurant and bought him take out. He lived. Flip the scenario and let the shooter have been African and the church members white, he’d be killed on the scene. I am just saying, on the eve of the largest slave revolt in US history along the German Coast of Louisiana, Jan. 8-12, 1811, where over 500 Africans were set on taking Orleans Territory to end slavery, starting with New Orleans, African America needs to reevaluate its priorities. “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it’s won.” 

As members of the Slave Rebellion Reenactment Army, we are standing outside the old mint, which was once the armory where the Africans were headed to get arms to continue their march into New Orleans. When they arrived, there were no weapons. I was marching with this group of people who were composing a new soundtrack for liberation sung in Creole and English. Look for us record soon (smile). The singers and musicians were indigenous NOLA, transplants from elsewhere or visitors from the US African Diaspora. I am in the photo, second row with cane knife. It was the second day and I was tired of walking and ready with my comrades to take over New Orleans for African ancestors! – Photo: Wanda Sabir

As members of the Slave Rebellion Reenactment Army Nov. 8-9, 2019, we marched in ancestral footsteps along the River Road towards New Orleans, shouting “On to New Orleans! Freedom or Death!” Brandishing cane knifes, pitch forks and other farm instruments, most of the 300+ on foot and quite a few on horseback, though our feet were tired and our bodies cold and weary at the end of the first day, most of us felt honored to be able to participate in Dread Scott’s artistic staged reenactment of the largest slave rebellion in US history. 

These brave Africans who didn’t make it into NOLA as we did Nov. 9 nonetheless fought bravely and died on the battlefield. Their audacity so terrorized white slave owners that Claiborne, the eventual governor of Louisiana, ordered this history buried and the leaders’ reputations maligned as their bodies were left to rot along River Road, their heads lining the path we walked. The SRR Army was an opportunity to honor the veterans of an historic resistance movement that continues into 2020 and beyond. 

“The photo of me,” writes Wanda, “is in Congo Square after the victory celebration.” – Photo: Wanda Sabir 

Many traveled from outside NOLA to participate in the Slave Rebellion Reenactment. It was living theatre – we were not acting – and the compensation was a welcome surprise, but I would have paid to participate. This attitude was not understood by those who were working the “gig,” the support staff in costuming, logistics, the film crew, even the intrusive massive news media.

There were too many white people, especially white men yelling and moving masses of Black people. Yep, the historic similarity was not lost on quite a few of us, but once the army was in its ranks, white people had to keep their distance because they were not a part of the army. Plantation owners were shot and killed and in the one battle between the Americans and the Africans where we lost, it felt minor in light of the larger aim of the rebellion. 

January 1811 was an assertion of our humanity, something this battlefield where we are outnumbered could not erase. Sometimes victory is not present in a body count. Those 100 heads along the road infuriated Africans. It didn’t make them afraid. Those mutilated Africans’ bodies just reinforced the barbarism of plantation owners, white people who would do something like this to another human being. 

‘Heaven and Earth’ 

David Bruce Graves invites you to see his “Heaven and Earth” exhibit at Joyce Gordon Gallery through Feb. 28. – Photo: Wanda Sabir

David Bruce Graves’ “Heaven and Earth” at Joyce Gordon Gallery has been extended through Feb. 28. His artist talk is Friday, Jan. 17, 7-9 p.m., 406 14th St., Oakland. Visit joycegordongallery.com.  

Kiley Reid’s ‘Such a Fun Age’

The recently published book, “Such a Fun Age,” by Kiley Reid is a conversation about all the nuanced racialized aggression Black youth now find normal. Hostilities are in the open and guns pointed and ready to fire. Black people are guilty until their white people vouch they are safe. Sometimes this happens too late in the story or there is no “good white person” available. Even the more well-meaning white people participate in behaviors that pathologize Blackness. 

If Claudia Rankin’s “Citizen: An American Lyric” had a sequel, Reid’s “Such a Fun Age,” would be it. There is even an updated soundtrack. 

In “Fun Age,” Reid could be speaking of how fun it is to be single and young and free like Emira Tucker, 25. Emira’s a Temple University graduate, living frugally on her babysitting salary combined with her part time job at the Green Party Office in Philadelphia. Emira is trying to figure out what she wants to do with the rest of her life as her parental health benefits clock ticks away. She loves two-year-old Briar Chamberlain and enjoys her work at the Green Party. She also has girlfriends she parties with who are all in grad school getting ready to start their adult lives. 

One evening Emira and Briar are at a neighborhood store where a white security guard accuses the adult of kidnapping Briar as he points his gun at her. This incident, which Emira sees as just another Black rite of passage, sets in motion a series of scenarios so imaginative once unraveled the reader just wants to sit down and catch her breath or toast the author. It is such a whirlwind. 

“‘Okay, ma’am?’ The security guard widened his stance to match hers. ‘You are being held and questioned because the safety of a child is at risk. Please put the child on the ground – ’

“‘Alright, you know what?’ Emira’s left ankle shook as she retrieved the cell phone from her tiny purse. ‘I’ll call her father and he can come down here. He’s an old white guy so I’m sure everyone will feel better.’ …

“Emira typed the first four letters of ‘Peter Chamberlain’ and clicked on his bright blue phone number. Against Briar’s hand, she felt her heart bounce underneath her skin.

“‘How many are you, honey?’ The woman [who alerted the guard to the potential kidnapping] asked. ‘Two? Three?’ To the guard she said, ‘She looks about two.’

“‘Ohmygod, she’s almost three,’ Emira muttered.”

“’Ma’am?’ The security guard pointed a finger at her face. ‘I am speaking to the child.’

“’Oh right, okay. ‘Cause she’s the one to ask. BB, look at me.’ Emira forced a gleeful expression onto her lips and bounced the toddler twice. ‘How many are you?’ …

“Emira looked back at the security guard and said, ‘You good?’ In her cell phone, the ringing stopped. ‘Mr. Chamberlain?’ Something clicked in the earpiece but she didn’t hear a voice. ‘It’s Emira, hello? Can you hear me?’

“‘I’d like to speak to her father.’ The security guard reached for her phone. …

“’Don’t touch me!’ Emira turned her body. At this motion, Briar gasped. She held Emira’s black synthetic hair against her chest like rosary beads. …

“’You are not even a real cop, so you back up, son!’ And then she watched his face shift. His eyes said, ‘I see you now. I know exactly who you are.’ Emira held her breath as he began to call for backup.

“‘Mr. Chamberlain? Can you please come to Market Depot?’ In the same controlled panic that started her night, she said, ‘Because they think I stole Briar. Can you please hurry?’ He said something between ‘What’ and ‘Oh God,’ and then he said, ‘I’m coming right now.’

“Mr. Chamberlain’s arrival interrupted the silence that followed the call: ‘That’s Dada.’ Briar pointed with one finger.’” (14-15). 

This book packs quite a punch, both in writing and in character development. You have to love Emira and her girls, especially Zara and little Briar. 

There are white folks and then there are the Chamberlains, Emira’s white folks – Peter and Alix, the husband a TV anchor and his younger wife, mother of two, an entrepreneur. They are all too original to be simply a figment of Reid’s imagination. Perhaps at best this family and the world they have created absent Emira are a functional composite – these characters can and do exist because they can. However, Emira and friends interrupt the flow, if only for a moment. 

I suggest white people run, don’t walk and get a copy of this novel especially white men who date Black women and families that employ nannies and anyone who wants to take a peek into a world you might not be able to visit outside this fictional account. Othering is a phenomenon whiteness fosters. 

Catch the author at A Great Place for Books, Jan. 16, 7 p.m.

The Art of the African Diaspora, Jan. 14 – March 13, at the Richmond Art Center

Art of the African Diaspora (formerly The Art of Living Black) is a non-juried group exhibition featuring work by over 150 artists of African descent. The exhibition will be held at the Richmond Art Center and satellite locations around the Bay Area. Recently the steering committee announced the event name changed to the Art of the African Diaspora. Opening reception is Saturday, Jan. 25, 2-5 p.m. More Art of the African Diaspora 2020 exhibition information is available at http://richmondartcenter.org/exhibitions/art-of-the-african-diaspora-2020/.

‘Just Mercy’ free screening and fundraiser for California Coalition for Women Prisoners

AAPI Women Lead, Asian Prisoner Support Committee, and New Breath Foundation host a free community film screening of “Just Mercy” on Jan. 17; registration starts at 6:30, screening at 7 p.m. The film features Michael B. Jordan as Bryan Stevenson, civil rights attorney and founder of the Equal Justice Institute in Montgomery. He also, with RJI, developed the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum, From Slavery to Mass Incarceration. A panel discussion follows the screening. Visit womenprisoners.org for more information about CCWP. The location is the Grand Lake Theatre at 3200 Grand Ave., Oakland.

‘Soul of a Nation’ exhibit at the DeYoung Museum’s Koret Auditorium 

The “Soul of a Nation” exhibit at the DeYoung Museum’s Koret Auditorium presents “In Conversation: Dr. Robert King + Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3 with Artist, Rigo 23” on Tuesday, Jan. 11, at 2-3:30 p.m.

Dr. Robert King, Albert Woodfox and Rigo – Photo: Frank Jackson

How can art be used to advocate for human rights? Hear Robert King and Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3 in conversation with artist and activist Rigo 23 about the unique ability of art to bring awareness to social injustice. This program is part of the Free Saturdays celebration of the exhibition, “Soul of a Nation.”

Dr. Robert King is a prison reform activist and the first of the Angola 3 to win his freedom after serving 29 years in solitary confinement in Louisiana. He was a member of the Black Panther Party in Angola, the former plantation now called the Louisiana State Penitentiary. They were the only official prison chapter of the BPP in the country. In the 17 years since his release in 2001, King’s focus has been to campaign against abuses in the criminal justice system, the cruel and unusual use of solitary confinement, and for the freedom of the remaining imprisoned Angola 2.

Albert Woodfox is the last of the Angola 3 to be released. He was released in 2016 after his conviction had been overturned three times, spanning the years between 1992 and 2015. Woodfox continues his activism and advocacy on behalf of all those wrongfully imprisoned due to the multiple abuses of the criminal justice system: prosecutorial misconduct, missing or false evidence, bad science and racism. As a former member of the Black Panther Party, he hopes to be a voice for the voiceless, suffering under brutal prison conditions. Learn more at https://deyoung.famsf.org/calendar/ee-saturdays-rigo23-conversation-angola-3.

General admission is free on Saturdays at the de Young and Legion of Honor for all residents of the nine Bay Area counties. Tickets do not guarantee entry to the screening. Seating for this program is limited and first-come, first-served. Seating tickets will be distributed an hour before the event begins in front of the Koret Theater. Admission to “Soul of a Nation” is free on the second Saturday of each month from November through February.

‘The Prison Within’

“The Prison Within,” directed by Katherin Hervey, debuts at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Fiesta Theatre, 916 State St., Jan. 16, PST, 10:30 a.m. The film looks at victim and harmer dynamics through a program that unites the two at San Quentin State Prison. Untreated trauma is devastating on the harmed and harmer, who often acts out of this void. After the screening, the director will be joined by the cast, who include Sonya Shah of The Ahimsa Collective, sujatha baliga of The Restorative Justice Project at Impact Justice, and Troy Williams, a formerly incarcerated prisoner at San Quentin who is the co-founder of the San Quentin Prison Report (SQPR) and a current Soros Justice Fellow. There is a second screening Jan. 18 at 5:00 p.m. PST at Metro Theatre, 618 State St., Santa Barbara.

MoAD picks for January

Picks for January at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), Third and Mission in SF: Jan. 14, 6-8 p.m. Opening Reception for “Black is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite,” “Don’t Shoot: An Opus of the Opulence of Blackness” and “Baye Fall: Roots in Spirituality, Fashion & […].” The entire calendar is at https://www.moadsf.org/calendar/. For MoAD events on MLK Day, visit MOAD Free Family Day on Dr. King’s National Holiday, Jan. 20, 11-5.

James Gayles’ ‘Reflections 2’

James Gayles’s “Reflections 2: The Creative Process, An Exhibition,” through Feb. 7 at OakStop, 1721 Broadway, Oakland. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The exhibit is of water colors inspired by cultural figures. The book is a collaboration with 24 professionals writing about their approaches to creativity. James Gayles designed the logo for Maafa San Francisco Bay Area (maafasfbayarea.com). We are so happy he recovered from the terrible accident last year when he was hit by a car. The closing reception is Feb. 7, 6-9 p.m.

On the fly

Tape Music Festival in San Francisco, Friday-Sunday, Jan. 10 at 8:30 p.m. and Jan. 11 and 12 at 7 p.m., at the Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., San Francisco. Visit http://sfsound.org/tape/. Chris Tucker at the Paramount Theatre, 20th and Broadway in Oakland, Jan. 11, 8 p.m. 

Oakland Symphony ‘Bernard Tyson’s Playlist’

The Oakland Symphony, under the direction of Maestro Michael Morgan, presents “Bernard Tyson’s Playlist” at the Paramount Theatre, Friday, Jan. 24, 8 p.m. Morgan says this concert is “a community-wide tribute to this visionary, who left us far too soon.”

Bernard J. Tyson

The Bay Area community was shocked and dismayed when Bernard J. Tyson, CEO of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Hospitals, known as Kaiser Permanente, died suddenly late last year. He and Michael Morgan discussed his playlist, a tradition begun a few years ago with W. Kamau Bell followed by Dolores Huerta. Guest curators sit on stage and share with the audience the inspiration for the selection. If I remember correctly, Mrs. Huerta danced (smile). 

This concert will be an opportunity to get to know Mr. Tyson (Jan. 20, 1959-Nov. 10, 2019) and to honor his legacy with the largest or one of the largest HMOs in the country, perhaps world. Without giving away the entire playlist, the selections include Sly and The Family Stone’s “Family Affair” and Moses Horton’s “I’m Gonna Sing Til the Spirit Moves My Heart,” to Janet Jackson’s “That’s the Way Love Goes” and BB King and Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Let the Good Times Roll” performed by the Oakland Symphony and Oakland Symphony Choir, under the direction of Dr. Lynn Morrow, with special guests, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, Jazz Mafia and others to be named. 

Mr. Morgan chose selections for this occasion to highlight the esteem in which Tyson’s community held him. This musical celebration will include readings of Tyson’s own words that inspired so many. I’d looked forward to speaking to Mr. Tyson about his playlist in an interview, so when I heard of his death, I thought I’d been mistaken. I wasn’t. When I went for an appointment last month, I spoke to a nurse there and she shared Kaiser is building a large teaching hospital in Southern California that will bear Tyson’s name. I will be giving away free tickets to the concert Jan. 24, on Wanda’s Picks, Friday, Jan. 10, 8-10 a.m. PT. Go to the website blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks to listen and blog. If you aren’t near a computer or smart phone and want to listen, call 347-237-4610. Send a message to 510-255-5579 after you listen in. Maestro Morgan will be on at 9:30 a.m. PT. 

Roxie picks for January 

Don’t miss “Our Song,” Jan. 13, 7 p.m., and “16 Bars,” directed by Sam Bathrick (2018, 94 minutes), on Jan. 25. “16 Bars” is a feature length music documentary that offers a rare glimpse at the human stories – and songs – that are locked away in our nation’s jails and prisons. The film follows a unique rehabilitation effort in the Richmond City Justice Center that invites inmates to write and record original music. In the jail’s makeshift recording studio, four men collaborate on an album with a Grammy-winning recording artist, Todd “Speech” Thomas, from the iconic activist hip-hop group Arrested Development. As the creative process unfurls, each of these men must unearth painful memories from the past, which hold a key to a new chapter in their lives. Watch the trailer at https://vimeo.com/339907823.

‘Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project’: Meet Roger Macdonald of The Internet Archive IN PERSON on Jan. 17 and 18!

For 30 years, Marion Stokes, the left-wing activist and archivist, secretly recorded television 24 hours a day. Her project began with the Iran Hostage Crisis and ended upon her death some 70,000 tapes later. Capturing revolutions, wars, triumphs, catastrophes, bloopers, talk shows and commercials that show us how television shaped the world of today, the Philadelphia-based Stokes’s stated intention was to protect the truth while the television networks were carelessly throwing away their own archives. Packed with unexpected twists and unbelievable footage, director Matt Wolf’s film is a sensitive portrait of a woman who was both a prickly, obsessive eccentric and a tireless media watchdog, one eye always opened for mediated falsehoods.

Watch the trailer and learn all about it, at https://recorderfilm.com/.

SF Comedy Festival

The 19th Annual SF Comedy Festival or Sketch Fest Jan. 9-26 features Chloe Hilliard Jan. 18 at Live at the Alamo, Draft House, Cinema (18+). Visit https://sfsketchfest2020.sched.com/artist/chloe_hilliard.20b61990?iframe=no. Chloé Hilliard, https://twitter.com/chloe_hilliard, is a larger than life stand up comedian. Well, that’s because she’s 6-foot-1 and rocks a killer afro. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and raised in a large Hasidic Jewish neighborhood, Chloé has spun her unique experiences into side splitting laughs. Once you know how to tell a story, you’re set for life. As a journalist-turned-comedian, Chloé Hilliard is entertaining the masses with her wit and ability to find the humor in everything. For over 10 years, Chloé was a culture and entertainment journalist, writing for The Village Voice, Essence, Vibe, King and The Source. For her expertise on Hip Hop culture she’s appeared on CNN Headline News, ABC News, Our World with Black Enterprise and C-Span.

Her work has been featured in “Best African American Essays: 2009.” She made her national TV debut on NBC’s smash hit “Last Comic Standing” and has since appeared on AXSTV, Comedy Central, Tru TV, MTV and most recently The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

Rashaad Newsome’s ‘To Be Real’

The Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture (FMCAC) and the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) announce the West Coast debut of Rashaad Newsome‘s “To Be Real,” an exhibition environment of collage, sculpture and the interactive A.I. Being. The exhibition presents a series of neo-Cubist portraits in expressive frames, threading an ornamental glamour through figures reflecting on human agency, Blackness and the radical futurity of emerging identities. Paired with new sculpture, A.I. and installation elements, “To Be Real” invites the viewer to imagine a richer and mutually shared way of being in the world. “To Be Real” will be on view at SFAI’s Main Gallery within FMCAC’s Pier 2 from Jan. 10 through Feb. 23, 2020. Admission is free and open to the public. Visit https://fortmason.org/event/newsome/.

Open concurrently with “To Be Real,” the Museum of the African Diaspora’s (MoAD) presentation of Rashaad Newsome’s “STOP PLAYING IN MY FACE!” and “ICON” continues through March 1, 2020. The exhibition focuses on video works inspired by the origins and continued dynamism of Vogue, a dance phenomenon that emerged from Harlem’s queer ballroom scene. For more information, visit MoAD.

Parallel programming

In conjunction with the opening week of “To Be Real” and of the FOG and Untitled art fairs, FMCAC and SFAI will present Newsome’s immersive performance “Running.” In this abstract portrait of soul, composed for light and voice, three singers explore the “vocal run”: a musicology term for a rapid series of ascending or descending musical notes, usually improvised and sung in quick succession. With the vocalists Kyron El, Aaron Marcellus, and Devin Michael from its New York City premiere, “Running” features an original score composed by the artist, incorporating samples of vocal runs by Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, Marvin Gaye, B.B. King, James Brown and Kelly Price, among others.

Running” will be presented Jan. 17 and 18 at 7 p.m. in Gallery 308. Tickets are $20 general admission and $15 for seniors, students and members and are now available for sale.

Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at wanda@wandaspicks.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 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.