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Saturday, January 23, 2021
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Culture Currents

Culture Currents

Cultural happenings in SF and beyond.

How and why I started the California poetry gold rush, leading up to this...

1995 was a very auspicious year. My “Entering Oakland” poem, which made fun of Oakland’s ominous border signs that actually read “Entering Oakland,” was a catalyst in getting the city’s signs changed to “Welcome to Oakland.” Now I’m attempting my biggest endeavor ever, a Cultural World’s Fair.

The African Diaspora Bazaar and Crafts Fair coming to Humanist Hall Nov. 29

In the centennial year of the Universal Negro Improvement Association-African Community League, we should think about making our communities economically self-sufficient, where our Black businesses could afford to hire every Black person in the Black community who wants to work. That will only happen if we spend most if not all of our money on a regular basis in our community with each other, as much as we can.

One on one wit’ Malik Yusef the Wordsmith

A lot of people who met Tupac Shakur say he was such a one-of-a-kind person that you walked away knowing that he was going to make history. I never met Pac, but I could say the same about Malik Yusef, the Wordsmith, from the Rollin' Hundreds in Chicago.

‘Welcome to the NeighborHOOD’

A glimpse is a short look, a glance. How do you take a glimpse of an entire neighborhood? It would be hard to take in the whole aspect of a community in a short look. In a glimpse we sometime miss the things that matter. People take glimpses of Bayview and form their own opinion of our community. Without looking at the real Bayview, our community is written off as just another low-income community of color taken over by gang violence and drugs.

Bring JR back to KPFA now!

For the second week in a row, one of the largest audiences for any show on KPFA was disappointed not to hear the People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey and his Block Report on the air Wednesday at 8 a.m. Instead we heard an announcement by interim general manager Andrew Phillips that JR has been suspended. Getting punished for doing “too well” happens to Black folks much too often. Sign the two petitions to end the suspension of JR Valrey from KPFA and attend the Town Hall Meeting, Thursday, April 11, 6 p.m. at Laney College. This story is constantly being updated with new signatures and comments.

Wanda’s Picks updated Jan. 13

The Coalition Against Police Execution (CAPE) will hold the Praying for Peace, Working for Justice March and Rally at Oakland's City Hall Wednesday, Jan. 14, at 4 p.m. as the Oakland community continues to demand justice in the senseless murder of Oscar Grant by BART police.

Straight outta Pittsburgh: an interview wit’ rapper Jasiri X

Jasiri X is one of the most famous up and coming conscious artists in the nation who has been making positive noise with his music. Straight out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jasiri X has been working with Paradise of the legendary rap group XClan in a community coalition called One Hood.

African herbalist teaches the ancient art of herbal healing

Opesanwo Ifakorede is a local herbalist that was originally taught about the world of herbs by his grandmother a generation ago. He recently did an “Urban Practical Herbalism Workshop” at Deep Roots Urban Refuge in East Oakland. For those that did not get a chance to make it, I really want to whet your appetite for the subject. Check out Opesanwo Ifakorede in his own words.

City attacks Black culture to erase Blacks from San Francisco

“My entire family enthusiastically applauds, supports and genuinely appreciates the Bayview Hunters Point community’s powerful expressions of appreciation for our mother, Ruth Williams’, hard fought struggles to insure that the neediest of the needy have access to that building, the Ruth Williams Memorial Theater Bayview Opera House, at a very nominal charge,” writes Kevin Williams. “All of my family has pledged, along with dozens of other families rooted deepest in BVHP, to simultaneously rise up in protest against Black culture being hijacked by local government controls.“

Passing of Capt. Josh Williams, founder of the ILWU Local 10 Drill Team

International Longshore and Warehouse Union members both active and retired are mourning the loss of Josh Williams, founder and captain emeritus of the legendary ILWU Local 10 Drill Team. Brother Williams, who became a member of the union in 1959, organized the Drill Team fifty years ago. The Drill Team participated in one of the first United Farm Workers marches led by Cesar Chavez in 1966. Josh has been retired approximately 20 years as a longshoreman.

Schwartz means black

It is one thing when there is racial ambiguity based on systemic commodification of one’s people; it’s another when the questions stem from an omission or purposeful lie, which is the case when little Lacey Schwartz was born. Lacey, who is accepted into the clan, notices as did others her darker skin and curly hair, yet says nothing. Perhaps upper class Woodstock, New York, is a town without many Black people.

‘Writing My Life,’ an interview wit’ musician Maya Songbird

I have known about the music of Maya Songbird for a number of years, so it is long overdue that I bring this very creative and eccentric Bay Area based artist into the pages of the SF Bay View newspaper. Her debut album, “Writing My Life,” has just been released, and she has a number of gigs locally where people can go check her out for themselves. Check out Maya Songbird in her own words.

The word master: an interview with master spoken word artist Talaam Acey

In my opinion, passionate writers are the best writers because of their ability to convey emotion from their mind to yours. They’re memorable because of the feelings that they stir up inside of you simply with their wordplay. Talaam Acey is a master spokenword artist and a national artistic treasure in Black communities around the nation.

Richmond youth debut annual theatrical production, ‘Richmond Renaissance,’ May 6-7

RYSE debuts its third annual production at El Cerrito High School Performing Arts Theater on May 6 and 7. “Richmond Renaissance” is an original play written and performed by Richmond youth. Set in AnnaBelle’s, a Black-owned juke joint in 1940s North Richmond, Richmond Renaissance counters the often negative Richmond narrative of poverty and violence by highlighting the community’s wealthy cultural past as an epicenter for blues, jazz and zydeco.

A Prince passes on

He was a star in so many ways that the word “star” seems too small. He was a singer, guitarist, band leader, writer – and, well, genius. Prince Rogers Nelson was known and adored by millions who knew him by one name: Prince. He was a superstar. And, he was a mystery – both major musical performer as well as a man of privacy. He entered the world of music like a stick of sexual dynamite. As he aged, a spiritual side seemed to emerge. Through it all, the genius of the man shined through. He was born named Prince, yes; but at 57 years young, he became a Prince – a Prince of the heart.

Review of ‘The Book of Night Women’

Under the system of lifelong forced servitude, Black people could be tortured to death at a moment's notice with impunity. White oppressors could sense that at some point the coin will flip. This mirrors today, where police continue to kill Black people with impunity.

Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant, reflects on reliving his murder in ‘Fruitvale Station’

Who could forget the murder of Oscar Grant by BART policeman Johannes Mehserle on a platform on Jan. 1, 2009. That murder, caught by other BART passengers on video that quickly went viral, sparked a movement for justice that led to the first conviction of a killer cop in California history. Because of the work of the Oscar Grant Foundation, an award-winning movie is telling Oscar’s story. It’s called “Fruitvale Station.”

Paul Robeson remembered with love on his 120th birthday

One of author Dr. Gerald Horne’s latest volumes is “Paul Robeson: The Artist as Revolutionary.” I recently walked into the Parkdale Library in Toronto and saw a huge poster celebrating the great Robeson. Robeson, actor, athlete, political activist and one of the greatest singers of all time, would have been 120 years old today, April 9. Thousands of words have been written about Robeson’s interpretation of Jerome Kern’s song, “Old Man River,” but little has been mentioned about his participation in a unique musical collaboration.

Wanda’s Picks for September 2013

On the 20th anniversary of the demise of my father, Fred Ali Batin Sr., the 18th anniversary of the Maafa Commemoration San Francisco Bay Area – the Ritual Sunday is Oct. 13, 2013; see http://maafasfbayarea.com/ – and approximately the 60th day of the hunger strike to end the inhuman conditions in California’s Security Housing Units or SHUs, I just want to pause and reflect.

Through the looking glass: ‘The Mountaintop,’ ‘Black Power, Flower Power’ and ‘The Black Woman...

The award winning play, “The Mountaintop,” looks at the everyday divinity of ordinary folks and places Martin King right there with them. His greatness is not a greatness which is inaccessible or isolated. In the Lorraine Motel that night, King listens and even agrees at some point with the young maid, Camae, a Malcolm X radical in an apron.