Wanda’s Picks for November 2020

Civil rights attorney John Burris

by Wanda Sabir

Asé to the memory of those nearly 1,000 Jonestown victims – a majority of whom were children and elders – buried in a mass gravesite at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, Calif. “Never again” is not just a pledge, it is a call to action. Don’t forget to participate in the fourth annual “Tweet for African Ancestors of the Middle Passage” on Wednesday, Nov. 25, through Friday, Nov. 27. Wednesday and Thursday – the massacre of indigenous people called “Thanksgiving” – are tweet “warm-ups,” while Friday, Nov. 27 is the big push: Black Friday.

Congratulations to John Burris, Esq., on his induction into the California Lawyers Association’s Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame 2020 last month. It was so wonderful to see so many jurists, attorneys and judges tip their hats to a man who is really a servant of the people. 

Sometimes I get lucky and find myself on the right list. I met Mr. Burris when I was project director for the AIDS Volunteer Clearinghouse at the Volunteer Center for Alameda County. We were on the sixth floor and he had the entire fourth floor suite. I’d see him in the elevator and lobby sometimes. 

However, I saw him more often at Berkeley’s Black Repertory Theater at many plays. When I thought about a career in constitutional law, he was my role model. I used to want to be just like him – and then New College Law School closed and I decided not to attend Stanford University, instead pursuing a masters in writing at USF when my project ended.

Campaign for the fourth annual social media Black Friday blast

Beginning Wednesday, Nov. 25, through Friday, Nov. 27, we will begin sending tweets, texts and emails. This is a run-up to the big tweet day on Black Friday, Nov. 27. If you have international contacts, this text is a global effort. In year one, Tweets were made across the world. 

In Oakland, Calif., we built an altar at Lake Merritt, the site of the June Libations for African Ancestors. The public was invited to write down the names of their ancestors on the sidewalk – the result was a living altar. Visit www.facebook.com/maafabayarea to watch.

On Black Friday, Nov. 27, we will tweet and post on Facebook the hashtag #BLACKPower2AfricanAncestors, plus anything else you might want to tweet. Make sure the posts all include the words “Ancestor(s)” and “Black.” We are reclaiming the economics of blackness. We are no longer parcels to be spent at another’s will. On Nov. 22, 2017, Tweet for the Ancestors invited people to write down the names of their ancestors on the sidewalk – the result was a living altar.

This year people are encouraged to tweet:

  • #REMEMBERtheAncestors
  • #LIBATIONS4AfricanAncestors
  • #COMMEMORATEAfricanAncestors
  • #OurAncestorsLiveThroughUs

The image for Facebook, Twitter, text and email is our Adinkra logo: Nyame Dua – the altar for ritual. The Nyame Dua symbol depicts a cross-section of a palm tree, or the top of a tree stump. It represents God’s presence and protection. Nyame Dua is also the name of the place outside a dwelling or in a village where sacred rituals take place.

Nyame Dua, Adinkra symbol of God’s presence and protection

Also, please post the brochure on Facebook and attach it to emails. 

On Black Friday, Nov. 27, the message changes. We will tweet and post on Facebook the hashtag #BLACKPower2AfricanAncestors, plus anything else you might want to tweet. Make sure the posts all include the words “Ancestor(s)” and “Black.” We are reclaiming the economics of blackness. We are no longer parcels to be spent at another’s will.

On Friday, the Andinkra logo changes to “Fawohodie,” the symbol for independence, freedom and emancipation.

Exhibition of the work of 12 artists incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison

If there are local events to highlight, I would put them on the Facebook post, especially if they’re alternatives to spending with the capitalists. Do not forward: Start your own correspondence with your peoples. We want to have at least 10-12.5 million tweets for the numbers of our ancestors who made the journey – 12.5 million – and those who survived – 10 million. 

PUSH Dance Company Fundraiser and PUSHfest Global continues

Join Raissa Simpson, PUSH Dance Company founder, and company members Wednesday, Nov. 4, at 6 p.m. as they share memories of persistence and creative change during COVID-19. Tickets start at $10. Also debuting the company’s first film project, a few other works plus a discussion on Afrofuturism with scholar Halifu Osumare. To attend this event, please go to http://pushdance.org/festival. Watch the trailer at https://youtu.be/XbUhrQb9CnI.

PUSH Dance Company presents choreography by Antavius Ellison

The dancers are Annie Aguilar, JP Alejandro, Lydia Clinton, Ashley Gayle, Niara Hardister, Erik Lee, Kao Vey Saephanh and Patrick Seacrease.

Oct. 7 through Nov. 18, PUSHfest Global is hosting a wonderful series of virtual programs on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. PDT. The hosts have been great and the choreographers and dance performances outstanding. There are moderated pre- and post-show discussions, which include a lively audience. For more information, visit http://pushdance.org/festival.

Afrofuturism Virtual Series continued with Kim McMillon, Ph.D.

The Nov. 8 program will include Samuel Delany, winner of four Nebula awards and two Hugo Awards for his excellence in science fiction. Delany was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2002. The panel includes Hope Wabuke, Avotcja, Dr. Ayana Jamieson and Dr. Grace Gipson.

Kim McMillon, PhD

The three-part series will end with a curated Afrofuturistic poetry reading on Dec. 13 at 2 p.m. PST. Poets reading include Ayodele Nzinga, Devorah Major, Eugene Redmond, Darrell Stover, Michael Warr, Avotcja, Lenard Moore, Tureeda Mikell, Ishmael Reed, Staajabu, Glenn Parris and C. Liegh McInnis with Kim McMillon as moderator. To register, visit https://bit.ly/30fthgf.

MAAFA San Francisco Bay Area and the San Francisco Main Library at the African American Center’s free virtual discussion series on Saturday, Nov. 7, and Saturday, Dec. 5, 11-1 p.m. PT

On Saturday, Nov. 7, join QM Dòwòti Désir, author of “Redlining a Holocaust, Memorials and the People of the AfroAtlantic: Wòch kase wòch,” in conversation with Professor Wanda Sabir: https://sfpl.org/events/2020/11/07/author-qm-dowoti-desir-redlining-holocaust-memorials-and-people-afroatlantic-woch.

Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)’s first Virtual Art Series Collaboration continues through January 2020

Meet Us Quickly: Painting for Justice from Prison is a digital exhibition of the work of 12 artists incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison. The show is curated by Rahsaan “New York” Thomas, co-host and co-producer of Ear Hustle. It is online now at www.moadsf.org/meet-us-quickly.

Listen to two radio interviews with collaborators in the project: Demetri Broxton, senior education director and Jo Kreiter, director and founder of Flyaway Productions, Oct. 21 and Oct. 28. Visit www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks.

Rising from the Ashes: A Fundraiser for Asual Aswad and Michele Lee

Our Brother Asual Aswad, phenomenal photographer and artist, and Sister Michele Lee, educator, medicine woman and author, lost everything – including three of their four dogs – in the Bear Fire and North Complex Fire in Butte County. A friend created a GoFundMe to help Asual with photography equipment and both Michelle and Asual with other personal essentials so that he and his partner, an Oakland Unified School District teacher, can more easily start anew. 

I hadn’t known I knew anyone affected by the raging fires prior to this. Fires purify: However, in the purification, all that is left is ashes. I can’t imagine how it must feel to see your life’s work go up in blazes and fall to the earth dust. It’s a good thing Michelle is a medicine woman and both she and Asual understand cycles and rhythms and what it means to live on the land in synch with the rotating Earth, knowing that nothing lasts forever; that things can change in an instant without warning. 

In March this year, I invited Michele Elizabeth Lee to join me to talk about her book, “Working the Roots: Over 400 Years of African American Healing” (2017). Listen on Wanda’s Picks Radio Show http://tobtr.com/11687982

Bay View Arts and Culture 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.