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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.

Wanda Sabir and the Bay View save lives

I’m thankful to Wanda and the Bay View. We all are. I love the world that Wanda takes me to, because it exists outside of the typical realm of negativity that swamps the prison environment. The Bay View is a necessary tool for prisoners, and I urge anybody who has a subscription to get subscriptions for others who may not be able to get it for themselves. Because who knows, you just may be in a position to save a life too.

Wanda’s Picks for March 2013

Back when Mumia was a member of the Black Panther Party, he traveled west to work with the Oakland chapter – an important time in his evolution as a radical journalist. Now the story of his life and revolutionary times comes to The New Parkway Theater. Read about it and all of Wanda's Picks for March 2013.

Wanda’s Picks for February 2013

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.

Wanda’s Picks for October 2012

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.

‘Placas: The Most Dangerous Tattoo’ by Paul S. Flores at the...

Paul S. Flores’ new play, “Placas: The Most Dangerous Tattoo,” is riveting. I was sitting on the edge of my seat all through intermission; the drama was that intense and unsettling. Fausto, Edgar’s father, spends nine years in prison and upon release decides to have his tattoos removed for his son, whom he doesn’t want to follow in his footsteps.

Wanda’s Picks for September 2012

With the storm approaching New Orleans, I spoke to Dwight Henry, co-star in the film, “Beasts of a Southern Wild,” currently in Bay Area theaters. I spoke to three men who are riding the storm out: Parnell Herbert, Angola 3 activist and playwright, Mwalimu Johnson, community organizer and prison abolitionist, and Malik Rahim, former Black Panther.

Esperanza Spalding sings of freedom and survival

I didn’t know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised when Esperanza Spalding, the singer-musician, treated her audiences to a socially conscious tour of America with stops at the doors of the prison industrial complex and Mother Nature. The evening moved fluidly from a fireside chat on relationships and love to the concluding number, which spoke to Spalding’s philosophy.

If they say it and I don’t believe it, is it...

Dr. V. Diane Woods is the architect of the California Reducing Disparities Project’s African American Strategic Workgroup report, “We Ain’t Crazy! Just Coping with a Crazy System,” which looks qualitatively and quantitatively at Black mental health in California and its blatant racialized disparities.

‘The Scottsboro Boys,’ a review

The parody currently on stage at American Conservatory Theater, “The Scottsboro Boys,” staged by director-choreographer Susan Stroman (“The Producers”), through July 22, 2012, takes a historic tragedy in American history and recasts it as buffoonery. Black America should not be surprised. Classic guilt is always re-envisioned in this paradigm. The boogeyman is always Black and male.

Wanda’s Picks for June 2012

I would like to wish all the fathers a blessed and happy Fathers’ Day 2012. It is a hard time to be a parent of a youngster, not to mention an adolescent or youth. The challenges are great, in direct proportion to the rewards. I’d like to congratulate the young fathers who are stepping up and participating in their children’s lives, especially when society equates parenting with one’s largess or paycheck.

Wanda’s Picks for April 2012

The Oakland International Film Festival is Friday-Sunday, April 6-8, at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Street, Oakland. Visit http://www.oiff.org/2012schedule.pdf. This year’s headliner is one of the most controversial independent films ever made, “The Spook Who Sat by the Door.” Watch it again here.

Wanda’s Picks for March 2012

When the Occupy San Quentin rally ended, San Rafael police followed us to the Richmond Bridge. I don’t know if it was Jabari Shaw’s orange CDCR jumpsuit that kept them wondering – Is he an escapee, one of ours? – or if it was the sheer magnitude of fearlessness represented by women like Kelly, a former prisoner who would not let her traumatic experience silence her. One brother got so full looking at the guards on the other side of the gate watching that he looked like he was going to leap the gate and hurt someone as he recalled the violations of his person over and over again. Members of All of Us or None dropped everything to embrace him when he left the stage.

Wanda’s Picks for January 2012

Life isn’t fair: Too many kids and not enough food, fat cats bringing in all the money and government services like free hospitals and free education is not free for those who need it because, like everywhere, bureaucracy breeds corruption, whether we are in Madagascar or the United States.

Wanda’s Picks for December 2011

Sobonfu Somé, West African healer, says that when people die and become ancestors, they get smarter and often try to repair any damage they may have made while in this physical form. Ancestors want to be busy making our lives better. She said we can call on them to intercede on our behalf when we are troubled.

Wanda’s Picks for October 2011

October is Maafa Commemoration Month. The term Maafa refers to the Black Holocaust, that period when African people were stolen and traded in the greatest, most widespread cooperative economic venture to date, which resulted in the displacement of human beings as commodities. The Kiswahili term Maafa extends that definition of loss and trauma, that is, PTSD or post-traumatic slave syndrome – the flashbacks, both conscious and unconscious, reoccurring instances of the atrocities 150 years after the end of slavery which have direct association to the brutality of chattel slavery.

‘Seven Guitars,’ a review

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.

Wanda’s Picks for August 2011

How well indeed the creator saw fit to have the Muslim population worldwide join the hunger strike started by brothers in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay July 1, which continues in other California prisons, including I heard at the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF).

Wanda’s Picks for April 2011

When Martin Luther King was killed in Memphis, he was about to join the sanitation workers in their protest for a union and more decent wages. The movement for civil rights was taking hold in the North and America didn’t like it – so off with King’s head.

Lynn Nottage’s ‘Ruined,’ directed by Liesl Tommy, at Berkeley Rep through...

It is not often one sees a play written and directed by Black women, the director, Liesl Tommy, from Cape Town, South Africa. Only a fine writer like Lynn Nottage could take such tragedy and make us smile and laugh between the tears.

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A tribute to San Francisco’s first Black surgeon, Dr. Oscar Jackson

The most amazing person I ever met was Dr. Oscar Jackson, an eminent Black San Francisco surgeon, businessman, military officer, world traveler, explorer, philanthropist, fraternity brother, husband, father and remarkable storyteller.

The struggle to build housing when you are homeless

POOR and Homefulness have launched an effort to work with conscious legislators to exempt poor and homeless people from exorbitant building permit fees and requirements which make it impossible for homeless and poor people to manifest our own solutions and stay in our neighborhoods and communities.

The shocking death of Rwandan gospel singer and dissident Kizito Mihigo

“Kizito Mihigo had been persecuted for advocating compassion for all the victims of the genocide, Hutu, Tutsi and Twa, refusing to blame all Hutu people for the Rwandan Genocide. Kagame has become fiercely vengeful with dissident Tutsis because they are breaking up his constituency.” – Professor Joseph Bukeye

Bloomberg’s bigoted remarks: Black voters will decide 3/3 whether his apologies...

“We put all the cops in minority neighborhoods,” said Michael Bloomberg. “Why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is. … The way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them against the wall and frisk them.”

Unheard Voices calls for Alabama Corrections Commissioner Dunn to meet with...

“Months and years of retaliation (have been) endured … by countless (prisoners) who have … made sacrifices that those of us who have never been incarcerated cannot truly understand – all in order to seek accountability, to end prison slavery, and to stop the construction of new prisons that will take from us our children and grandchildren.” – Unheard Voices