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“Jazz,” adapted by Nambi E. Kelley from Toni Morrison’s novel, is a tragic composition. Performed across a series of lyrically connected (woven) tapestries: colors, sounds, fractured memories … missing people, guns (bullets) falling tears, treetops, wild woods, sharecropped promises, fire terror, unclaimed bodies … too many bodies to count … love.
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?
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.
2017 marks the centennial of the nation’s bloodiest race riot in the 20th century in East St. Louis, Illinois. Migrant Black people were hired to work as miners to replace striking white workers at the Aluminum Ore Co. The white workers stormed City Hall demanding redress from the mayor. Shortly thereafter, news of an attempted robbery of a white man by an armed Black man set off the reign of terror in downtown East St. Louis in which unarmed Black men, women and children were pulled from trollies and street cars and beaten and shot down in the street.
Dr. Frances Cress Welsing (“Isis Papers”) made her transition Jan. 2, 2016. She was 80. The psychiatrist who challenged white supremacists on what she called “The Cress Theory of Color Confrontation and Racism (White Supremacy)” to look at their own melanin deficiency for what it is, “envy,” stirred and continues to stir the waters. She always stated theoretically that “Black lives matter,” way before the #blm movement.
August Wilson is considered one of America’s greatest playwrights, and the work that comprises The American Century Cycle, one of the outstanding achievements of the modern theater, is performed across the globe. But only Oakland’s premiere North American African theater company has performed the entire Cycle in chronological order. The Lower Bottom Playaz close the cycle with the timely production of the only play in the cycle that is told from the lens of developers. Wilson’s Hill District in Pittsburgh, Penn., and Oakland, Calif., 2015 hold a lot of common ground. “Radio Golf” continues through Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, 2 p.m., at the Flight Deck, 1540 Broadway, Oakland.
Over a 25 year period, 200 women in South LA went missing. Of these missing women, 100 were found dead. All of the women are Black and most were prostitutes. The refusal to let these women’s lives go unacknowledged is due to the work of Black Coalition Fighting Back Against Serial Murders. HBO will broadcast “Tales of the Grim Sleeper” on April 27.
It’s International Women’s History Month and in director Abderrahmane Sissako’s film “Timbuktu” (2014) we meet fierce African women who stand their ground when faced with lashings, stonings and bullets. The setting is Timbuktu, Africa’s Mecca, a sacred historic seat of knowledge and wisdom, which has been ravaged recently by warfare and plunder. Peoples’ lives, antiquities, books, Quranic texts, landmarks and buildings have been destroyed.
Given the trajectory of 2014 regarding Black lives, perhaps February would be a great time to reflect on what bell hooks calls “the love ethic,” a principle Dr. King embodied and preached. Langston Hughes would have been 116 on Feb. 1 (his mother, Carrie Langston, was born Jan. 22, 1873). Albert Woodfox will be 68 on Feb. 19. Hopefully he will be eating cake under some sunny sky, a freed man by then.
Congratulations to William Rhodes on a successful trip to South Africa, where he took a quilt created by his students at Dr. Charles Drew Elementary School in San Francisco to honor the legacy of an international hero, President Nelson Mandela, and returned with art panels from workshops conducted with youth in various townships and regions from Cape Town to Johannesburg.
Gina M. Paige explained that the organization, African Ancestry, started with Dr. Rick Kittles, genetic researcher at Howard University who was interested in isolating the gene that caused prostate cancer, one of the leading causes of death in our community. He found this research methodology applicable in other genetic detective research and so in 2003 African Ancestry was founded with Ms. Paige.
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.
Wanda’s reviews for April include: the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument, the “Transformative Visions” exhibition at Studio One, Spirit Silence Retreat, “The Dream Never Dies,” “The Resurrection of SHE,” “Journey of the Shadow,” the 9th Annual CubaCaribe Festival of Dance Music, “The Whipping Man,” “Mental” and many more …
The 23rd African American Celebration through Poetry is Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, 1-4 p.m. at the West Oakland Branch Library, 1801 Adeline St., in Oakland, (510) 238-7352. All are welcome and if anyone didn’t hear of the event in time to be a part of the featured program, we do have an open mic at the end of the program.
Monday, Nov. 26, at the Bay Area Black Media Awards event hosted by Greg Bridges and sponsored by the San Francisco Bay View and Block Report Radio, it was so wonderful to see all the media friends and family for an evening of celebration. KPOO, KPFA, New California Media/Pacific News Service, Wanda’s Picks Radio, Oakland Post, Globe, Poor News Network, Oakland International Film Festival, Black Panther newspaper alumni and others were in the house as “Best” this and “Best” that were saluted.
Judith Jamison looked regal on stage with Farai Chideya last month in The Forum Conversations at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Her message seemed to be one of preparedness and presence – being, as our sister Ayana Vanzant says, in spirit. Muslims call this the sirata-l-mustaqim or the path of the rightly guided.
Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011, was the opening of August Wilson’s play, “Seven Guitars,” directed by Kent Gash, at the Marin Theatre Company. I hadn’t seen the play in about 15 years. Wilson was alive then and he was work-shopping his latest – play five in the eventual 10-play cycle – at ACT-SF with the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in a co-production.