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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?
The fifth of November marked the historic 50th anniversary of the election of the first African American woman to the U.S. Congress, Rep. Shirley Chisholm. This important milestone marks a watershed moment in American politics for Black women to emerge and take their rightful seats at the table of elected Democratic leadership. As the representative from the state of New York, Rep. Chisholm was a trailblazer, inspiring generations of women elected officials. Her career and those of many Black women in Congress are intrinsically connected. One of those women is California Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
Let me be the first to say it: Nia Wilson would be alive today if somebody else had been elected president in 2016! The man arrested for Nia’s murder was not alone. He had an accomplice. The president was not there in person Sunday night, July 22, at the MacArthur BART subway station when Nia Wilson was brutally stabbed to death and her sister viciously attacked, but his spirit was.
Celebrate Dr. Espanola Jackson Day on her birthday, Feb. 9, with the San Francisco Bayview Hunters Point community. We take this opportunity to honor the memory of Espanola as a community leader during Black History Month. For details of the event, which will be held in the Alex Pitcher Room at the Southeast Community Center, go to the Facebook and register your RSVP online with Eventbrite. All are welcome. Spread the word.
Nobody did London Breed any favors at Tuesday’s board meeting. Not the supervisors who swept her out of the mayor’s office that had been given to her by the city charter and not Ron Conway and the big money boys whose overly aggressive support was the screen the supervisors hid their racism behind. So London heads into the June election owing nothing to anybody, only the people of San Francisco, including the most needy. We can win it and we will! Join us soon at the London Breed for Mayor campaign headquarters. Endorse London on her website, www.londonformayor.com, and contact her campaign by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and phone at 415-LONDON1.
Currently, two historic events are being characterized in a manner that erases the significant contributions of Black women. The #MeToo Movement is being recast in the national narrative to fit into a more comfortable version of U.S. history. A seminal moment within this movement was when white celebrities began to use the hashtag to make people aware of the extent of sexual abuse suffered by women in this country. But this moment came 10 years after the movement was begun by a Black woman, Tarana Burke.
There is a powerful Black population in the U.K., which relishes the richness of their roots. Here, hairstyles, fashion, cuisine, music, celebrations and traditions are woven into an intricate tapestry of life and prosperity. Blackness is celebrated at cultural centers, exhibitions and events that bring communities together. Some of my favorite Black musicians hail from the U.K. And so, despite the persistence of white supremacy, Black Britons continue to thrive.
The incidence of breast cancer among African-American women, which has typically been lower than among white women, increased 0.4 percent in the past 10 years, according to a 2015 report by the American Cancer Society. The Bayview Imani Breast Cancer Support Group meets on the third Wednesday afternoon of the month. Their website describes these meetings as “a place where women can find comfort, feel safe, gather information and understand that they are not alone in the fight against breast cancer.”
On Friday, June 16, as soon as she heard that the cop who murdered Philando Castile was acquitted, 16-year-old Lucy Siale posted on Facebook a call for a Black Lives Matter protest the next day, less than 24 hours after the verdict, at Oscar Grant Plaza outside Oakland City Hall. About 400 people came out. We have to continue because saying “Black Lives Matter” isn’t enough. We have to act like it.
Rep. Maxine Waters delivered a mic-dropping speech at the Black Girls Rock! award show, taped Aug. 5 and broadcast Aug. 22, thanking her supporters and sternly reminding her critics that she is a strong Black woman who will not be intimidated. Waters, who was recognized as the honoree for the show’s social humanitarian award, began her speech by underscoring the importance of safe spaces like Black Girls Rock! and reiterated why representation matters.
Steve Bloom, a comrade and veteran activist, asked me several questions regarding my contribution to “Look for Me in the Whirlwind.” The questions delve into aspects of our political struggle against oppression back in the 1960s and ‘70s and are still pressing concerns. My story is closer to what untold numbers of highly motivated 1960s and 1970s “revolutionaries” usually don’t write about or discuss nowadays. I believe I have answered comrade Steve Bloom’s questions.
Maxine Waters stood before a crowd of young people Friday at Busboys and Poets, a Washington, D.C., restaurant that doubles as stomping ground for social movements. At the event, which she organized as a soulful open mic before the following day’s Tax March, the congresswoman doubled down on her call for the impeachment of President Donald Trump with a combined bluntness and realness one wouldn’t expect from a politician: “We’ve got to stop his ass!” After nearly 40 years in public service, Waters has become the Democratic face for the resistance against Trump.
We continue our celebration of the fairer sex this month with Amara Tabor-Smith and Ellen Sebastian Chang’s House/Full of Black Women Project: Episode: Black Women Dreaming, a Ritual Rest, March 26-April 7. In this 10th episode of House/Full, perhaps its largest and longest episode, Black women are invited to sleep, stop during the middle of the day or evening and rest, dream. Black women rest least of all people across race, gender and class.
When one thinks of Black women photographers, Carrie Mae Weems comes to mind and, regarding silhouettes, Kara Walker. Though certainly a historic revisioning of beauty and portraiture, a form reserved for the aristocracy, Erica Deeman’s first major solo exhibition at Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive celebrates the form – the Black female form. The large-scale portraits, created over the course of nine months in 2013, is up through June 11, at the BAMPFA, 2120 Oxford St., Berkeley.
Millions turned out on Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington and its sister marches around the world. I wasn’t one of them. I very much recognized the need for the united front against a new administration whose policies stand to infringe upon the rights of women, people of color, immigrants, the disabled and members of the LGBTQ community. And yet, I still had deeply complex feelings about how I, as a Black immigrant woman, fit into the equation.
They covered the streets like rain; women – in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions. Millions marched in almost 700 cities in the U.S. and in world capitals. Millions against Trump. Millions against Trumpism. Who knew that it would be this vast? To paraphrase Trump, “It was huuuuuge!” They demonstrated by their incredible numbers that women are a force to be reckoned with.
Scientists Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, profiled in “Hidden Figures” (2016), exemplify what writer Margot Lee Shetterly calls “everyday courage,” a kind of imaginative power that filled these women – Black women, white women, invisible women – with a sense of pride and purpose even when deserved recognition went unstated. Director Theodore Melfi’s film is all the buzz.
Beginning with thanks to people who inspire him, Jesse Williams launched into this riveting acceptance speech June 27 for BET’s Humanitarian Award: “Now, this award, this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country. The activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do. All right?"
The air has gotten worse, not better. So these are some of the things that are caused by the dust, the construction and the latent chemicals they have not cleaned up since World War II – plus the current concentration of light industry just outside our neighborhood that all blows into our neighborhood. Yet currently less than 1 percent of African Americans who live in Bayview work in that area and reap the economic benefits. All we get is the pollution and death.
When I first heard the statement that “The Black Woman Is God,” it wasn’t new or spooky to me, because I grew up in a family with over a hundred members and everyone knew that my grandmother’s say was the final one. She was the family’s guide or god. I talked with “The Black Woman Is God” exhibit’s cofounder Karen Seneferu about this year’s show and the concepts and history behind this very important annual art show in the Bay.