Funktown, which is near Lake Merritt, is rapidly being gentrified. You can still find “Funktown” scribbled on sidewalks here and there when the concrete was fresh. But economic cleansing has taken its toll on the hood. It’s just not the same any more. As the renters of Oakland are being terrorized by skyrocketing rents and greedy landlords evicting them by the thousands, city officials have mostly turned a blind eye to the economic cleansing taking place on their watch.
Anita Woodley is a very talented and self-taught North Carolina-based thespian and playwright who was brought up in Oakland, California, and is returning to perform her two award winning plays, “Mama Juggs” and “The Men in Me,” at the New Parish on Sunday, Aug. 17. Since becoming a full-time artist, this family woman has learned a lot about herself and her craft, and that is exactly why I wanted to expose SF Bay View readers to the talent of Anita Woodley.
Drama has been a valuable art form to the Black experience in Amerikkka since before slavery. It was one of the ways that we maintained our history, although huge segments of the population couldn’t read or aren’t reading. I have only been to a few theatrical plays, but I love cinema, with some of the best dramatized movies to me being “dead presidents,” “Brown Sugar” and “Juice.”