Tag: James Baldwin
Our support of X-Raided shows support for the power of redemption in validating his decision to convey a meaningful message over those catchy repetitive rhymes that promote death and idiotic behavior. Today many artists aren’t communicating ideas purposefully. The ideas that they’re spreading, some not even written by themselves, aren’t intentional and have no goal beyond the beats and rhymes. X-Raided’s first concert, The Execution of X-Raided, will be Jan. 18, 2019, at the Fillmore Heritage Center.
October 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the historic and remarkable organizing initiative to boycott the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Dr. Harry Edwards led the boycott efforts, as well as the creation of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, in which he involved countless Black activists from throughout the country, including H. Rap Brown. On Oct. 21, 2018, I was fortunate to interview Dr. Edwards about his 1968 organizing efforts and his affiliation with H. Rap Brown (now Jamil Al-Amin) who also played a leading and inspirational role in this historic 1968 event.
When, in October 2016, I wrote, “Death row inmates in Alabama are human guinea pigs” because the state’s capital punishment regime – specifically its barbaric, often bungled lethal injection protocol – is already so dark, so depraved, so outrageously cloaked in lies and officious secrecy, I never could have predicted the situation could get worse. But it has. Plans are now underway for Alabama to develop a protocol to execute death row prisoners with nitrogen gas.
When Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Bryan Collier, Correctional Institutions Division Director Lorie Davis and Office of the Inspector General Joint Terrorism Task Force member Nick Vaughn contrived the plot to kidnap me from Ramsey 1 Unit on June 22, 2018, at 4:30 a.m., they figured that no one would notice, no one would care and, if questioned about the strange occurrence, they would claim plausible deniability.
As the snowbirds arrived in Florida along with the mild January breezes, a small uprising of laborers who work under lock and key stopped production and made demands. This coordinated struggle was carried out by members of one of the most violently exploited groups in America: incarcerated workers. Inmates at 17 Florida prisons launched the labor strike, calling themselves “Operation PUSH,” to demand higher wages and the reintroduction of parole incentives for specific groups of inmates.
UC Berkeley’s New Media might be new, but the racism is old. “Our-Race Bias” (ORB) happens thousands of times a day in America, but it is not podcast or uploaded to digital media. The Starbucks coffee house racism incident is the tip of the iceberg in universities across the country. But as one passes through the classrooms in UC Berkeley’s New Media and Media Studies, he rarely sees any African American students in the classrooms, to say nothing of Black faculty.
I have always said that if you want to understand the nature of a thing, you must research its origin. I would venture to say that the iconic freedom fighter and servant of the people Malcolm X was the first “Prison Panther,” although he was not known officially as such. However, when Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in 1966 at Merritt College in Oakland, California, the legacy of their hero, OUR HERO, Malcolm X was on their mind.
The most revolutionary aspect of the film “Black Panther” is the mere fact that it showcases the beauty, history, relevance and capability of being simply Black and proud. I relate this strongly with the stigma many Black Americans have towards Africa, mainly visible in the lack of interest in visiting the vast continent of 54 countries. Moreover, the plague of insecurity that rests in Black people with their appearance and desire to look more European.
For the last couple of years in San Francisco, the beginning of December has been marked by a bloody tradition: the murder of Black men by San Francisco police. On Dec. 1, just one day before we were set to gather around the family of Mario Woods to remember his life on the two-year anniversary of his killing, the SFPD shot and killed another of Bayview Hunters Point’s own sons, Keita O’Neil aka Icky. The result of letting Icky’s murder go without response is that another one of us gets killed. They didn’t kill Icky because he was a hustler. They killed Icky because in San Francisco our Black and Brown lives are considered expendable.
Journalist and poet Frank Marshall Davis is an important voice who channeled his social convictions through the power of the pen, and proved to be an unsung hero in the struggle for human rights. "Frank Marshall Davis established his reputation as a socially minded poet employing free-verse forms.” His work has been recognized by the National Poetry Foundation, stating on their website: “Davis concerned himself with portraying Black life, protesting racial inequalities, and promoting Black pride.”
Folks have probably heard by now that the African American Museum and Library, Oakland (AAMLO), is without a permanent director. While the search is being articulated and mounted, Susan D. Anderson, Bay Area author and founder of Memory House, will act as interim director and chief curator for the next six to nine months as the Oakland Public Library (OPL) mounts a national search to find the right person for the job.
We are here together to make a more humane, just, compassionate society. To do so we must first dispel the myth about America. Then confront the self-deception and lies we have come to believe as truths. Move from the illusion into the heartbreaking reality that it is. We will be disoriented. “The very time I thought I was lost, my dungeon shook and my chains fell off,” wrote James Baldwin.
I love Donald Trump! Yes, of course, I disagree with most everything he says, and his sensibilities remind me of every racist I have ever met; but I love that he is arrogant enough to believe that telling the truth about how and what he feels is somehow a smart thing to do. In his book, “The Prince,” Niccolo Machiavelli suggested that those who wield power should ‘‘be evil but pretend to be good, sincerely believe in the value of sincerity, but never be frank.’’ Apparently Trump didn’t get the memo.
Saturday, June 10, The Father’s Day Celebration, a free event for Black fathers and Black male father figures and their families, will give space for a joyous Father’s Day event for the whole community. The Father’s Day Celebration will begin with family portraits, activities for the kids (Barbers, Books and Bridges), a live DJ spinning tunes perfect for the occasion and a keynote speaker, Adimu Madyun. Dining will be available.
I left CDCr wondering how PBSP could remain in shambles after 22 years of court oversight. As I started educating myself about prison reform, I stumbled upon Keramet Reiter’s 2016 book, “23/7: Pelican Bay Prison and the Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement.” Within those pages, I found validation and some disturbing answers. I wish this book had been available to me before I started working in CDCr.
Finally, a filmmaker has come to the forefront to confront the identity question in the post-Obama Trump era. Filmmaker Mtume Gant beautifully asks pertinent questions about what it means to be Black in today’s times in his 20-minute short, an official SF Black Film Festival selection called “White Face.” This political satire, an artsy, comedic drama, is a must see for all the politically minded readers out there. Check out the genius of filmmaker Mtume Gant in this exclusive Q&A.
Shola Adisa-Farrar is coming home to debut her new CD, “Lost Myself,” on Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 15-16, in Oakland and San Francisco. Perhaps you remember her from The Ultimate Hustler reality television show she starred in Oct. 4-Dec. 13, 2005, while she was in New York? Maybe you recall how much fun you had with Shola as guide in the Walking in the Spirit: Black Paris and Beyond tours while there? No?
Happy Black History Month. Knowledge is power, something Black people from Frederick Douglass to Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks to Kamala Harris have never taken for granted. If white people would kill a Black person for teaching someone to read, not to mention knowing how to read – enough said! The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s organization, has chosen the theme: “Crisis in Education” for 2017.
I went to San Francisco’s 2017 Dr. King Day celebration riding the same wave that hounded every other participant. As I suspected, a tragic election caused crowd levels to swell significantly compared to a year ago. I’d say at least three times the number of 2016 attendees walked in this year’s march. One ugly cloud loomed: the transfer of federal powers – which finally did arrive four days later – had crept oh so dreadfully near.
I ain’t gonna front – I shed tears when Trump and his minions were elected. The impending doom that is a Trump presidency is the result of a white America unable to swallow the conspicuousness of Black perfection, and a corollary of white rage. Black people have been shot, burned and lynched, but we did not die. Our hearts and minds have been subject to unspeakable trauma, and still we got back up. Persistence and lightenin’ spits from our fingers and truth is our ammunition. This is all too much for white America. Our perfection is our savior and it should not be feared.