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Current Picks
Wanda’s Picks September 2014
Written by Wanda Sabir   
Monday, 01 September 2014
Art for Change

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 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. Visit http://www.hatchfund.org/project/the_nelson_mandela_international_quilt


Ebola . . .
I find the irony of a medical epidemic in Liberia on the 100th anniversary of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) hard to believe is coincidental, especially considering the United States and some members of the European Union’s refusal to sign onto “The Decade for People of African Descent with the Durban Declaration and Program of Action: Overcoming Inequality and the Challenges Confronting African People in the 21st Century 2011-2022.  The AU has already begun commemorating the Pan African Decade—I saw signs everywhere in Addis Ababa (AU headquarters).  See http://mxgm.org/ for information on this stalemate.
 
Garvey’s ship line, The Black Star fleet was to transport Africans in the Diaspora to the Motherland.  The land in Liberia is still there, so for the Ebola virus to claim Africans in that region, Africans who share with those of us in America a genetic lineage, is suspicious. The predictions are alarming and the introduction of yet another vaccination is also alarming. We know this American medical system is not to be trusted. Look at Tuskegee and its infamous syphilis experiment on black men. More recently, look at the typhoid virus contamination of Haiti.

I am just saying. At a time when black people are financially well off to travel to Africa, disease is cutting that intimacy off. I find it strange that two white victims were able to take the experimental treatment and get well, yet an African victim (same treatment) dies. Is it the same story of AZT and its toxic effect on black HIV positive patients? The white body then did not prove a good model for black wellness. We needed a culturally competent response to the virus that took our unique physicality under consideration. Perhaps the same is true for the Ebola virus and prevention, education strategies. From what I have heard, some villages sound like graveyards and what is happening to the orphaned children who are feared because of the potential exposure? I learned Memorial Day weekend that the virus is now in Senegal?! So why are America and other nations which benefit from Africa’s exploitation sitting back watching the disease move from country to country uninhibited, like Pac Man?

We have the technologies to quarantine and stop the spread of disease, keep people safe—I don’t have such knowledge, but I am certainly in favor of this rich nation spending the kind of resources necessary to save lives, not predict more casualties. What is the point of that? I am thinking that the UNIA’s Black Cross needs to kick into gear. We have a sophisticated populace. I am sure with all the HBCU’s specifically those with medical schools, we can pull together a team of first responders to isolate the infectious areas and prevent the diseases continued spread. Chemical warfare is the worst kind of attack; complete annihilation of black people the world over seems the plan. We need to think defense, not offense, foe not friend.



Maafa Commemoration San Francisco Bay Area
Mental Health Events


Sept. 2014
DON’T CALL ME CRAZY is an evening of short plays and dialogue that features 5 short plays written by 5 Bay Area writers who give a glimpse into the world of those suffering with mental disability, hosted at the Joyce Gordon Gallery, 406 14th Street in Oakland, CA, on September 7th from 3PM-6PM. In addition to the performances, there will be a post-performance dialogue where guests will gain information on how to identify symptoms and signs of crisis, where to access behavioral health resources, knowledge on medications and their side effects, and busting myths and stereotypes. It will also serve as an opportunity for the public, behavioral health specialist and consumers to share experiences/recovery practices, discuss ways to create and maintain positive life conditions, and an opportunity to remember those individuals who have lost their lives to mental illness. Visit http://www.eachmindmatters.org/event/dont-call-crazy-glimpse-world-mental-illness/

Oct. 2014

2014 Northern California Mental Health and Spirituality Conference, October 9- 10, 2014, at the Allen Temple Family Life Center, 8501 International Blvd., in Oakland. The theme is: The Spirituality Factor “Weaving Behavioral Health and Spirituality, Using Evidence and Practice.” Co-sponsored by Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services, in coordination with CIMH for information and $25.00 registration email or call Gigi Crowder (510) (510) 292-8318, This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it This is a really great website” http://www.eachmindmatters.org/event/spirituality-factor-weaving-behavioral-health-spirituality-using-evidence-practice/  

I will be presenting at this conference. I submitted three potential paper topics: “The Construction of an African Self vs. the Construction of an American Self”; “August Wilson’s character Troy Maxon’s Casting and Being Haunted by Shadow (in Fences); “Where is Home for the Pan African as Exemplified through the Baseball metaphor, Jackie Robinson & Home plate?

This conference is designed for consumers, family members, spiritual communities and their leaders and mental health providers. The conference is part of a statewide effort to increase the awareness of spirituality as a potential resource in mental distress prevention, early intervention and recovery.  The conference is also a way to encourage collaboration among consumers, family members, spiritual communities and mental health service providers in combating stigma and reducing disparities in access to services for diverse populations.

The conference will share the culturally responsive practices put in place that highlight the advancements made in the last decade being implemented across the state to bridge gaps between Behavioral Health and Spirituality. It will also explore what is needed to include spiritual and faith practices to achieve the goal to, have an inclusive and integrated Behavioral Health system of care that honors all and embraces holistic approaches. In addition to our general sessions the workshops will provide helpful resources to support wellness and recovery and promote dialogue among spiritual communities and their leaders, consumers, family members, and mental health service providers.

The six themes are as follows: Social Justice Issues; Spirituality & Treatment Issues; Spirituality & Mental Health in the Family; Spirituality in Wellness & Recovery; Honoring Spirituality, Religion & Cultural Diversity; and Mental Health, Spirituality & Faith.  Hope to see you there.

Save the Date:
The Annual Maafa Commemoration Ritual is that weekend as well, Sunday, October 12. Visit http://maafasfbayarea.com If anyone is interested in the Diaspora Citizenship Appreciative Inquiry, either participating or hosting such, let me know: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it or P.O. Box 30756, Oakland, CA 94604


Retrospective Photography by David Johnson at Harvey Milk Photography Center in San Francisco, Sept. 6-Oct. 19


Don’t miss the wonderful exhibition or the recently released book, “A Dream So Long Ago: The Story of David Johnson, Ansel Adams First African American Student by Jacqueline Annette Sue (2012). Besides the lovely photographs of icons in the African Diaspora community: W.E.B Dubois, Langston Hughes, Jackie Robinson, we meet a pragmatic artist named David Johnson who takes a job at the postal service to support his family, while shooting photographs during his spare time. His memoir is a page turner. Johnson’s life from infancy is one of tragedy to triumph, his black and white journey a metaphor for his artistic and literal life.  Told with crisp language, as sharp as the edges of his subjects, “A Dream Begun So Long Ago” resonates a passion for life and love, and the artist’s recognition of the healing necessary to release the hurt suffered as a child so he could move on. He is given away at birth, learns at four his mother is not his mother. He loses both mother and father at the same time, not to death, rather to imprisonment. His last name, Johnson, is not the name on his birth certificate. It is his by choice. Chain gangs, exploited farm labor, black not brown (at that time) in Florida, point to an early history many seem to forget. Johnson’s life is an illustrated history lesson covering important epochs in black history— from being the only literate person at seven or eight in a household of two aunts, his mother and uncle to WW2 military draft interrupting his high school completion. Taking a leave of absence Johnson returns to the California School of Fine Arts days where he studies photography with Ansel Adams creating a body of work depicting San Francisco’s landscape and people, yet also giving Johnson space to explore visually an internal landscape which up to this point remained inarticulate or inaccessible.

“A Dream” continues with Johnson’s marriage to Lucy Mae Ellis and the establishment of his studio; a contract with the Sun Reporter during the Civil Rights Movement follows; Early Retirement an episode followed by “Travel” and his “Renaissance” where we see archival photos of black entertainers like Eartha Kitt, Nate King Cole, Ruth Brown and others. Perhaps what makes Johnson’s work sing is once again the black and white of it. His subjects are all stars whether they are children playing jump rope in Hunter’s Point or young people dancing in a studio or club. The intimacy his lens brings to the image, the way he paints the story with light and shadow, a thin stream of effervescence in darkness, gives each moment – hope.

See http://davidsjohnsonphotography.com/About_David_Johnson.html   Don’t miss the opening reception for his “Retrospective,” Sept. 6, 1-4 p.m., at the Harvey Milk Photography Center, 50 Scott St, San Francisco, (415) 554-9523.


Will Power’s “Fetch Clay, Make Man’s West Coast Premiere at MTC in Mill Valley ends Sept. 7


When one thinks about Steppin Fetchit, what probably comes to mind is the worse in the blaxploitation genre in that it proceeds the naming of the phenomena. The actor wasn’t Sambo or Superfly, the first a figment of Hollywood’s imagining, but then Step certainly wasn’t representative of true black genius either or was he?

Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry gave audiences what they wanted—benign blackness, but at what cost? A contemporary of Jack Johnson, the first African American heavyweight champion of the world, son of former enslaved Africans, what did this say about the legacy Lincoln Perry left, (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5245089) a man who was Johnson’s contemporary?

Will Power’s play, “Fetch Clay, Make Man where he writes in the subtitle: “One snuck in the back door, so the other could walk I the front,” is complicated as are all stories like this; however, the young Muhammad Ali about to fight Sonny Liston a second time wants to speak to Perry about Jack Johnson, whom he heard was Perry’s friend. Perry (actor Roscoe Orman) excited to meet Ali shows up and what unfolds is over the course of the story is a young man confident in his skills as a fighter, yet uncertain about his skills as a husband, a Muslim and a man.

The Ali (actor Eddie Ray Jackson) we meet here is young and naïve, but not so naïve to ignore the hovering vultures that are waiting for his fall. Just married his wife, Sonji Clay (actress Katherine Renee Turner) is not Muslim, but the two love each other. We meet Rashid (actor Jefferson A. Russell), who serves as doorman and body guard.

Everyone wants something from Ali; at one point he asks Perry if he can just be his friend. Ali has heard that Johnson had this magical knockout punch and he wants Perry to teach it to him. Perry denies knowing what Ali wants and refuses—the punch is not something one has to learn. It is a part of our African American legacy.  

In Will Power’s play which looks at the relationship Perry had with Ali, we learn that judgment belongs to the creator, not to creation. Fetch Clay is a libation to Step, the first black Hollywood actor whose career remains unrecognized by those who fail see the man behind the mask.

The play is up at the Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley, CA (415) 388-5208 or www.marintheatre.org , through Sept. 7, 2014. Listen to an interview with cast members: Katherine Renee Turner, Eddie Ray Jackson and Roscoe Orman  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks/2014/08/29/wandas-picks-radio-show


23nd Annual San Francisco Fringe Festival, Sept 5-20, Brings Stunning, Surprising Indie Theater, 150 performances…35 shows…14 days
 
Check out: “Blues for Charles,” “Dam/Aged: the Musical,” “Campo Maldito,” and “Assorted Domestic Emergencies.”  Tickets for the 14-day San Francisco Fringe Festival, Sept. 5-20, are $10 (or less) at the door (cash only) and $12.99 (or less) online.  The ten-show Frequent Fringer pass is $75, and a five-show pass is $45. The EXIT Theatreplex is within walking distance of Union Square and the Powell Street BART station.  For complete listings of venues, shows, and times, go to www.sffringe.org  (415) 673-3847.


Berkeley World Musicians Converge on Telegraph Avenue, Sat.-Sun., Sept. 20-21


A dazzling array of music - from Balkan harmonies, South American rhythms, Japanese flute, African marimba, Klezmer, and Zydeco - bring joyful sounds to Telegraph when Bay Area's international musicians return to Telegraph Avenue for the FREE Berkeley World Music Festival. Now in its 11th year, the Festival launches its first autumn celebration on both Saturday and Sunday, September 20th and 21st, starting at Noon.

Saturday features a wonderful mix of café music (Noon- 9 pm) as well as the acclaimed People’s Park Concert (1- 6 pm) sponsored by Amoeba Music. On Sunday, the Festival turns into a street fair carnival (Noon - 6 pm) between Dwight Way and Durant Ave. for the season finale of “Sundays on Telegraph” and features a main stage concert and gatherings of music, circus entertainment and a benefit beer garden. Pick up a program guide at the information booth on Telegraph at Haste Street, near UC Berkeley.

Berkeley World Music Festival showcases the Bay Area’s rich world music scene. People's Park Concert headliners begin with the exciting opening act La Misa Negra playing vintage Columbian dance hall music packed with a cabaret of horns, vocals & punk rock energy. Then West Coast favorite SambaDá arrives with their carnival of Brazilian Afro-Samba Funk dance music, capped by the acclaimed Marcus James & the Wassonrai offering hypnotic sounds in which Delta Blues meets West Africa. People's Park festivities (Noon - 6 pm) include a colorful Crafts Bazaar and exhibition performances by both UCA Capoeira and All Nations Singers and Dancers.

For Sunday’s featured street fair concert Sadza Marimba opens with joyful Zimbabwean dance music. Then, Moroccan singer Bouchaib Abdelhadi & Friends present Middle Eastern riffs accented by a performing troupe from DanceVersity. The Festival closes with Baraka Moon’s ecstatic Sufi Trance dance music, featuring charismatic singer Sukhawat Ali Khan and KPFA host Stephen Kent, premiere exponent of the didgeridoo.

Throughout the weekend visitors will also be treated to an intimate world music tour featuring renowned innovators in their respective fields. The Ulysses Trio with alluring chanteuse Melanie O’Reilly, sax player George Brooks and keyboardist/arranger Frank Martin blend Gaelic music with Jazz making their Northern California debut at BWMF. Virtuoso ambassador Karl Young playing Shakuhachi flute journeys through Japan’s folk and Buddhist traditions. Cultural Chicano icon Dr. Loco cuts loose with Tex-Mex. True Life Trio, who first met as members of Kitka, weaves vocal harmonies from the Balkans and beyond. Quijeremá, with award winning Chilean-born film score composer QuiQue Cruz, infuse their signature music with ancient roots (Latin American Folk & Jazz). Street artist treasure Michael Masley plays celestial music on his invented "Kalimbalom" & "Eggdawn Autoharp". With Back40 (Americana Roots), Cypress Grooves (Cajun & Zydeco), Keenan Webster Duo (West African Kora), Reinhardt Swing (Gypsy Jazz), Simcha(Klezmer), plus a Noon-6 pm crafts fair, KIDS Zone & visitor activities, there’s something for everyone. For more information visit www.berkeleyworldmusic.org  


Strong Girls Rule Film Series


Berkeley Public Library presents a free three-part film discussion series called “Strong Girls Rule” celebrating women in sport and highlighting some of our exceptional local athletes.  Each session will include a film screening followed by discussion and Q&A with a range of special guests, including local filmmaker Robert Bowden, members of the McClymonds High School Lady Warriors basketball team, and Stephanie Evans, Commodore of Berkeley’s Cal Sailing Club.  Teens are especially encouraged to attend.  
    
The second part of the series takes place on Saturday, September 6th at 3 p.m. at the South Branch, 1901 Russell Street with a screening of the short documentary, I Just Wanna Ball (30 min.) followed by conversation and Q&A with the film’s director, Robert Bowden and members of the McClymonds High School Lady Warriors basketball team.  Attendees will be moved and empowered by the determination and focus of these positive and powerful young women.

The series concludes on Saturday, September 13th  at 3 p.m. in the 3rd floor Community Meeting Room of the Central Library, 2090 Kittredge Street with a screening of the newly released documentary Derby Crazy Love (68 min.) directed by Canadian filmmakers, Maya Gallus and Justine Pimlott.  This exciting documentary provides an in-depth look at the history of women’s roller derby and a portrait of the Montréal derby team The New Skids on the Block.  Please note that this film contains strong language and adult themes which may not be suitable for children.  The screening will be followed by discussion and Q&A with representatives of Berkeley’s Cruz Skate Shop and the Bay Area Derby Girls (schedules permitting).

This free program is sponsored by the Friends of the Berkeley Public Library (www.berkeleylibraryfriends.org). For questions regarding this program, call 510-981-6241 or visit the library’s website:  www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org                           

DEAF LOUDER: The 2nd Bay Area Deaf Dance Festival proudly presents a festival that celebrates  deaf culture
A Review


Everyone was so excited. It’s not every day that deaf and hearing impaired are the majority both on and off stage, but August 8-10, they were. Appropriately entitled Deaf Louder—it really was louder. Speakers faced the audience and stage so the dancers could feel the vibrations and so could the audience. When a performer was exceptional people stomped their feet on the floor as they waved their hands in the air—Hum, I wonder if the hip hop gesture is a cultural blend between the hearing and deaf?

Lighting played a larger role in the performances as two rap artists, Silent Mob, performed "Rap with Thy Hands" and "Two Things." Fred Beam closed the program—his ensemble featured male dancers and a female interpreter who moved and signed.  There were films and dancers who performed in front of a filmed backdrop. I really liked the cinematography in each of these performances which were amazing. The cinematography, juxtaposed with the dancer (on and off the screen). There was a lot of signing mixed in with the dance. Films and directors included: Rolling in the Deep in ASL with Amber Zion & Call Me Maybe, dir. Jules Dameron; Sonnet 29, a Lucky Dragon Production. I don't remember the name of the one film I liked, but it was shot in the Mission and featured a young pretty deaf woman who liked a customer who was of questionable reputation; another film I liked, "Call Me Maybe" is a music video about a a girl at a skating rink who daydreams about a boy at the rink in skating sequences. Both are fun with great expressive acting (smile).

Half-n-Half (Sherry and Michael) who are hearing children born of deaf parents, CODA, performed a top ten hits as the audience signed along and sang too. They were great. Another dancer, from England (Billy Reed) performed Michael Jackson’s work—he had the moves down (smile). The dancer would alternately change his shirt or take it off; later returning with the other Def Motion member, Cassie Marrissa, sometimes immediately to perform a duet. Reed was really good in this form classical modern dance form as well.

Other highlights are Brandon Kazen Maddox's (CODA) performance in ASL of the song I won't give up as Jason Mrax dances. http://d-pan.com/videogallery/brandon-kazen-maddox-jason-mraz-i-wont-give-up-hd/ When Michele Banks gave an excerpt from her play, "Reflection of a Black Woman" using ASL without super-titles for the hearing audience, we who were basically clueless on what was going on, could in that moment, understand how deaf audiences feel most of the time. It would have been nice though had included us in the (lengthy) performance since obviously the hearing audience was an ally.  It was the same with choreographer Fred Beam, who introduced each of his performances like his first one, "When I Think of Grandma," before they began in ASL. I couldn’t understand a word.

At the end of the concert, I just left after speaking to Joy Elan, who was selling her book in the lobby. I was feeling disconnected, kind of unwelcome, yet I was happy to embrace Joy, who delivered two really powerful poems, one in ASL "Matey Institutional Freedom," Silently Outnumbered," and the poem which won third prize in Oakland’s Got Talent, "I Am a Survivor." She used both her voice and ASL. In both cases she acknowledged her audiences’ communication skills, and we never felt ignored or excluded. All presenters can take a leaf from Ms. Elan’s book. Antoine Hunter, the host and presenter of Deaf Louder, is also a great example of inclusion—no matter how hard he has had to work to participate in a hearing dominated society, he never takes it out on his audience. Rather he always leaves us with more tools, tools that draw the two communities: Deaf and hearing, together. “Deaf Louder” was such an experience, despite the periods of wandering lost in space—silent space (smile).  To help with next year’s performance, visit: http://antoinehunter.blogspot.com/ and http://urbanjazzdance.com/site/

The next day I was off to the county of New York (smile). Felt like Africa, muggy or humid weather, flash rain, lots of black people –in Harlem near Martin Luther King Blvd. and Malcolm X Avenue. It was a perfect choice to finally read Maya Angelou’s Heart of a Women. I remember when a friend told me about this book and that I should read it. I am really enjoying the history lesson. Angelou was a gutsy woman with a son and family that made existing on the edge both exciting and perilous— whether that was politics or art, Angelou certainly had a way of being in the right place at the right time, yet the wisdom to know when to move on.

I just wondered how she could remember all these conversations with Billie Holiday, John Oliver Killens, Martin King, Bayard Rustin . . .  If August Wilson’s ten play cycle is testament to African Americans in this formative century in this country’s history, certainly Angelou lived this history. Her stories or life cycle on the literary and social front page bring the characters Wilson created into our homes once again. Wilson’s more memorable characters men—the women more iconic and supportive than stars, while Angelou and her sisters certainly reign supreme in her multiple text saga.

Wilson once told a woman who critiqued him harshly for his portrayal of the female characters (specifically at that time, “Rena” in Jitney at a Lorraine Hansberry Theatre workshop production), to write those characters’ stories. His story was not hers, but that did not negate the importance of writing the breath of the African American experience.


Struggle for a New World: Fred Ho Memorial Tribute, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, 2:00-4:30 p.m. Oakland Asian Cultural Center, Oakland, CA. 2 p.m.


Fred Ho was a wonderful human being whose work as an artist changed lives. His work on Russell Maroon Shoats’s defense, the Scientific Soul Sessions, plus his numerous compositions—Ho awesome on baritone sax is legendary, as was his exit from this realm after a long bout with cancer.  This remarkable landmark gathering of Fred Ho's artistic collaborators, ranging from composers, musicians, poets, singers, storytellers and activists, have come together to pay homage to this great baritone saxophone-composer, cultural activist, teacher, author, pioneer and legend. The event is open and free to the public with a suggested donation of $10 or more to help defray the cost of the event.
                                                   

Mary Yuri Kochiyama (May 19, 1921-June 1, 2014)


I was thinking about my dear sister, Yuri Kochiyama when she made her ascension early Saturday, June 1 in the arms of her beloved daughter Audee. My friend Zakkiyah and I picked up a present for her and a card and went by the Berkeley convalescent home where Yuri spent her final years of her life.

I’d visited her before and found her asleep, and left before she awakened, but this time, she woke up and we enjoyed watching her enjoy her meal when Shukuru, another family friend came by. I think the glow from that morning lasted for weeks after. I was so sorry I missed getting by that last time, but I am happy that I do have the last memory, one of many of Yuri over the years.

At the wonderful conclusion of the Northern California on her birthday May 19 and spent a wonderful time with her daughter and family friend.

On a beautiful Sunday in Oakland family and friends of Yuri Kochiyama gathered to pay tribute to a life well lived. I knew when I woke up what I wanted to give to Audee, Yuri’s daughter whom I have met over the years and admired her wonderful loving care for her mother.  As Yuri’s body gave into the travails of time, Audee made reasonable adjustments to Yuri’s living arrangements, putting off the time when Mom might not be able to live independently.

Yuri’s last years were spent in Berkeley at a lovely nursing home, Chaparral which seemed to agree with Yuri, the staff loving, kind and attentive to her needs. Sunday afternoon Yuri pens flew off tables as we pinned the sepia tone buttons on jacket lapels. A little more than two hours, Yuri’s memorial brought together the old guard and the new, as Hank Jones and Richard Brown (SF 8), Emory Douglass and Arnold Perkins and Mrs. Perkins, Terry Collins, Melvin Dixon and Yuri’s lovely family: son, daughter, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

High School sophomore, Kai Kochiyama shared her impressions of grandmother, her super hero. She spoke of doing research on her grandmother and learning much the next time she saw her, she admitted being a bit nervous. I wonder if Yuri knew how high the bar was she was setting for the next generation.

Her younger cousins, Leilani, Mali and Kenji shared a reading from their grandmother’s “My Creed” written in 1939. In it Yuri speaks about codes of conduct, one of which to look inside first when there is something external troubling one’s soul. Some of the lessons reminded me of the Husnia or sayings from Kemet. Kemet the physical, moral and ethical code for mankind.

I knew what I wanted to give to Audee, Yuri’s daughter when I awoke Sunday morning from a strange tale. It was a book mark with Maat’s image along with a quote and list of some of the virtues, key ones: Truth, Justice, Righteousness, all qualities Yuri exemplified.

Just coming up for air after spending the weekend writing a paper for my Liberation Psychologies class on Brazilian educator and theoretician Paulo Freire in light of Yuri’s life and work, she really is a true revolutionary whose greatest gift to us is her clear-sightedness and love.  Angela Y. Davis it really succinctly when she said if Yuri were in the room she would be deflecting praise and accolades. The two women were invited to participate in a series of conversations. Davis chose Yuri, but Yuri waffled because she couldn’t understand why Davis would choose her. Davis said Yuri made the political personal. Yuri was known to jot down names and numbers and write prisoners daily. When I visited her on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, the last place she was able to live alone, I saw stacks of envelops and mail on the table and on the walls photos of Yuri with comrades throughout the world. Brother Hank Jones brought to the memorial a large painting of Yuri.

Not many of us can do what Yuri accomplished, reach out to those who have no one and hold on, but she did for many many comrades still behind Jericho walls. Even when she began to forget or loose site of the details—names, faces, context, Yuri would still maintain her solidarity with those behind bars.

The teach-ins this weekend were a perfect Yuri touch. Of course this is an opportunity to mobilize others to action, not a time to weep. So when family friend, Karl Jagbandhansingh placed a bit of a song Yuri liked then spoke, his was the voice of the revolutionary Yuri—without a doubt. The same is true of her friend, Nobuko Myamoto who spoke of visiting Yuri and mentioning that Dr. Mutulu Shakur was getting out soon, said the words gave Yuri’s voice clarity as she, in that moment had both a past and a future.  The New Yorkers were in the house –strong. Greg Morozumi, visual artist, said with Yuri’s passing he lost two of his best friends and heroes. Yuri was Greg’s mentor. I think she is responsible for his move from New York to California.

The New York contingent was present, family and friends, so we got to see Yuri’s breath and reach across the country and globe as stories via film showed how the plight of the oppressed people looked the same because the enemy looked the same. I heard Yuri’s grandchildren and children and friends speak of how her ability to connect the struggles of black Americans to Asian Americans and how Japanese and others, including gay, lesbian, and transgender people too were beneficiaries of the Civil Rights and subsequent movements left them with a debt that is ongoing. In the conversation in the film clip shared “Mountains That Take Wing, Angela Davis & Yuri Kochiyama” dir. C.A. Griffin & H.L.T. Quan, Yuri speaks of Chairman Mao shelter of Robert F. Williams when the United States was no longer safe for him; she also speaks about the laws against Japanese citizens and Ho Chi Man’s Vietnam.

Musicians Charlie Chin played Song for Aichi (by Chris Iijima); Arisika Razak performed a piece for the first time in a kimono for Yuri, whose photo prominent on stage—presente! Other musical tributes included “I Wish I Knew Hot It Would Feel to Be Free,” from the Nina Simone songbook, sung by Kim Nalley with Akira Tana (drums), Bob Kenmotsu (sax), Mark Isu (bass), Tammy Lynn Hall (keyboards). The ensemble performed a piece composed by Akira Tana –“Forever Yuri Blues,” with  Kenmotsu and Izu, Tana joined by Keny Endo on taiko. The dueling drums were a fitting way for the ceremony to end . . . for now as the tribute continues in Los Angeles later in August this month and in New York in September.

I hadn’t known Yuri and her husband Bill’s son, Billy (who died young), participated in Freedom Summer. In a clip from the film, “My America . . . or Honk If You Love Buddha,” dir. Renee Tajima-Pena, we see the Kochiyama’s visit the women whose home sheltered their son. The woman spoke of the ten youth from the north and how they would go to a local segregated restaurant daily and try to sit at the Yuri then shared a letter she wrote to James Cheney, the 19 year old black man who was killed with Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. It was raining that afternoon and as Yuri read the letter she wrote over Cheney’s grave, her husband held an umbrella over his wife so she wouldn’t get wet. There were many Yuri moments shared both on screen and off which made the day one which gave a picture of Yuri which showed her thoughtfulness, tenacity and love for the people, a love which never flagged, dipped or ever stopped –even when her memory worried her, I remember her asking me to write my name and address in her tablet so that she would remember I had visited her later on when I left. For a clip of the film which looks at the Kochiyama’s visit to Mississippi and the Davis’s home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApSa2_SW9rw

Eddie Kochiyama, son, said that when Malcolm X would visit their home, his mother sent the younger kids to the movies, so big sister Audee was the only one who got to meet him (smile). One never knows the impact her life will have on her children, but Yuri knew. She lived long enough to see this legacy of change and caring and hope across the generations that are her family—the notion of family larger than those who share her blood, yet this aspect of her legacy, the children she bore and those they bore is also one which made her proud, was evident in the hall and throughout the weekend which included various stops along the Black August Passin’ It On with stops in Oakland and San Jose, with Dhoruba bin Wahad, former Field Secretary of the NY Black Panther Party, Co-Founder Black Liberation Army, Former Political Prisoner and Prisoner of War, author of "Still Black, Still Strong" (1993), subject of the documentary film "Passin' It On" (2001) and the book "The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on the Edge" (2011) by T.J. English, and Ernesto Vigil, Former Vice Chairman of the Crusade for Justice under Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, author of "The Crusade For Justice: Chicano Militancy and the Government's War on Dissent" (1999), featured in the documentaries: "Chicano! The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement" (1996), "Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle" (2014).

Here is the memorial information for New York where Yuri honed her revolutionary skills (smile): September 27, 2014 (Saturday), 5:00 - 7:30 pm, First Corinthian Baptist Church, 1912 Adam C. Powell Boulevard, New York, NY 10026

On the Fly:
While I am thinking about zoos and how inhumane they are (smile), I am also remembering the Oakland Planetarium and how I need to visit there and look at the stars. If you haven't been in a while or looked up lately check out: http://www.chabotspace.org/events.htm There is a total lunar eclipse Oct. 8. Friday evenings in Sept. there are night hikes.

In October:

The Observatory Deck, located at the rear of the center, will open at Wed., Oct. 8, 2:00am for a special presentation about the eclipse. Stay after the presentation for the late night viewing festivities.

A Lunar Eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the shadow of the Earth. For this to happen the Sun, Earth, and Moon must be closely aligned with the Moon and the Moon located furthest from the Sun. Bring binoculars, blankets and warm clothes.  Please note: Eclipse is not guaranteed and weather permitting for outside viewing.



September at the Oakland Zoo


Grandparents Day at the Oakland Zoo, Sunday, September 7: 10:00am - 4:00pm

Come celebrate Grandparents Day at Oakland Zoo! All Grandparents will receive a free ride on the Outback Express Adventure Train (limit one ride per Grandparent). What better way to spend time with your grandchildren than strolling through the Zoo to see our amazing animals and learning at the same time? Have a picnic lunch, enjoy the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo, and ride the Conservation Carousel in Adventure Landing. Make the day a memorable one at Oakland Zoo. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA  94605. For more information go to www.oaklandzoo.org or call (510) 632-9525.

Teddy Bear Tea Party with Friends, September 14, 9:30am-12:00pm

It’s tea time at Oakland Zoo and families are invited. Bring an adult and child, bring a stuffie, and learn all about one of the Zoo’s sun bears. Program activities include snacks, activities, books, and play. Plus, participants will create and deliver an enrichment gift to the sun bears. When the fun is done, your child will receive a surprise-filled treat bag to take home Program fee is $23.00 for current Oakland Zoo members and $26.00 for non-members. Pre-registration is required. For more info contact Paula Booth at (510) 623-9525, ext. 220 or This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA  94605. Please park in the Lower Parking Lot and proceed up the ramp to Maddie’s Center for Science and Environmental Education, Classroom 4. For more information go to www.oaklandzoo.org or call (510) 632-9525.

5th Annual Oakland Senior Summer Free Day, Monday, September 15: 10:00am-4:00pm

Oakland residents 65+ receive free admission to the Oakland Zoo. Seniors must be 65+ with valid identification and must be residents of Oakland. Oakland Zoo’s Senior Summer Free Days are in partnership with the Oakland City Council member Larry Reid. Parking is free to Oakland Seniors (65+). All other guests must pay regular admission. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA  94605. For more information go to www.oaklandzoo.org or call (510) 632-9525.

Oakland Zoo’s Conservation Speaker Series Presents: A Future for Cheetahs, Thursday, September 18:  6:30pm – 9:00pm

Cheetah populations have plummeted from 100,000 to 10,000 in Africa in the last century, and the world’s fastest land mammal is facing extinction. Please join Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, and renowned photographer, Suzi Eszterhas, for a special evening at Oakland Zoo. Dr. Marker has spent the last 20 years working to save Cheetahs and has written “A Future for Cheetahs,” with striking photography by Ms. Eszterhas. This engaging presentation will present the problems facing the cheetah and the hope for its future. Come learn how humans and cheetahs can live in peace, and how we can all be part of saving the cheetah from extinction. Location: Oakland Zoo’s Clorox Wildlife Theater (outdoor venue), free parking in the Zoo’s lower parking lot. Program Fee: $12.00 – $20.00 sliding scale. Tickets may be purchased at the door. Please dress accordingly for outdoor amphitheater. Appetizers and wine will be served. For more info, contact: Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director at 510-632-9525, ext. 122 or This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA  94605 www.oaklandzoo.org.



Arroyo Viejo Creek Crew Work Day, Saturday, September 20: 9:00am-12:00pm

Spend the morning volunteering! Come to the Arroyo Viejo Creek and experience the local habitat, while helping it thrive. Grab your gardening gloves and help clean up the creek. The work happens in rain or shine, so please come prepared. Volunteers should bring water, snacks, and should wear close-toed shoes that can get dirty. Gloves and tools will be provided, but other gardening tools are appreciated. One adult chaperone is required for every 4 youth volunteers, 13 years of age and younger as well as one adult chaperone for every 8 youth volunteers between 14 - 18 years of age. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA  94605. The creek is located to the right of the main entrance. Meet at the Arroyo Viejo Creek sign. RSVPs are appreciated. Contact Katie Desmond at (510) 632-9525, ext. 207 or This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

ZooKids: Dens, Domiciles & Dwellings, Saturday, September 20, 9:30am – 12:00pm

Does your little one love animals? ZooKids classes are a great way for children age 4-5 to have a fun and educational adventure at the zoo. Class Description: Would you like to sleep in the trees? Maybe in a nice warm pond? Or how about in a hole underground? Explore all the different places that animals call home and help make a special enrichment item for some of the animals who make their homes at your zoo. Each program includes a mini zoo tour, craft, games, animal close-up, and snack. ZooKids classes are held on Saturdays from 9:30am - 12:00pm. Each ZooKids class is offered twice per month to accommodate more participants. Each month has a different theme and classes are designed so that children can come to multiple classes without repeating the same activities. Pre-registration is required. Program fee is $26.00. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA  94605. For more information go to www.oaklandzoo.org or call (510) 632-9525.

Zoovie Night at Oakland Zoo, Saturday, September 26: 6:30pm-9:30pm

Put on your jammies and enjoy an evening of Zoovie magic with the whole family. Bring your pillows, blankets, and chairs and snuggle up in our auditorium for “Turbo.” Meet some of our nocturnal Education animals brought to you by Roosevelt, Oakland Zoo's costumed alligator mascot. Hot chocolate (with marshmallows, of course) and popcorn will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own treats and traditional family movie fare. Let the show begin! $7 per adult and $7 per child to cover the costs of the Animal close-up program and snacks. If your group has 4 or more people, the price is $6 per adult and $6 per child. Note that the movies are a complimentary addition to the evening’s activities. Pre-registration is required. Email This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it or call (510) 632-9525, ext. 220. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA  94605. To learn more visit www.oaklandzoo.org or call (510) 632-9525.

ZooKids: Dens, Domiciles & Dwellings, Saturday, September 27, 9:30am – 12:00pm
Does your little one love animals? ZooKids classes are a great way for children age 4-5 to have a fun and educational adventure at the zoo. Class Description: Would you like to sleep in the trees? Maybe in a nice warm pond? Or how about in a hole underground? Explore all the different places that animals call home and help make a special enrichment item for some of the animals who make their homes at your zoo. Each program includes a mini zoo tour, craft, games, animal close-up, and snack. ZooKids classes are held on Saturdays from 9:30am - 12:00pm. Each ZooKids class is offered twice per month to accommodate more participants. Each month has a different theme and classes are designed so that children can come to multiple classes without repeating the same activities. Pre-registration is required. Program fee is $26.00. Oakland Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA  94605. For more information go to www.oaklandzoo.org or call (510) 632-9525.
 

 
Wanda's Picks August 2014
Written by Wanda Sabir   
Friday, 01 August 2014

Congratulations to Gerald Lenoir for carrying the torch and blazing the way for so many social justice issues from HIV/AIDS awareness in the Black Community to his recent work in just migration for Pan Africans. Much success on your new work! Farewell to Alona Clifton and much success in Atlanta. Congratulations also to Almaz Negash, founder and director of African Diaspora Network, in Silicon Valley, for her national recognition and award at the Continental African Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. http://africaevents.wordpress.com/ We hope the definition of African Diaspora will expand to include Pan Africans one day as well. It is one thing to have African Union designate a region and chair for the Diaspora, it is another to feel such inclusion as a part of the first Diaspora wave connected to the displaced millions in the Black Holocaust or Maafa.

I am launching a global Appreciative Inquiry on Diaspora Citizenship this November 2014-July 2015, and I am looking for individuals and organizations to get the questionnaire out to others in the Pan African Diaspora, those whose ancestors were enslaved. Send me an email or drop me a line: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it or P.O. Box 30756, Oakland, CA 94604. I am would like to include those brothers and sisters inside the prisons as well. The query will be up on the Maafa website this October: http://maafasfbayarea.com

That said, this is the 100th Anniversary year of the Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s UNIA-ACL with festivities continuing this month in Harlem, New York, August 14-17, 2014. Visit http://www.cbpm.org/unia-aclcentennial.html and https://www.facebook.com/uniacentennial


AfroSolo Concert Opens its 20th Anniversary Season

Catch the opening of AfroSolo as it celebrates Paul Robeson in a free concert with baritone, Anthony Brown accompanied by Dr. Carl Blake, 1 p.m. at Yerba Buena Gardens, 3rd and Mission Streets in San Francisco. Visit http://www.afrosolo.org/  To listen to an interview with Anthony Brown and Dr. Carl Blake: 

AfroSolo Free Health Fair

Saturday, August 9, 2014, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. is the United In Health free community Health Fair, at the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center, 1050 McAllister Street (at Webster), in San Francisco.

AfroSolo's Black Voices at The Marsh in San Francisco
A Review/Preview

AfroSolo’s 20th Season opened with a phenomenal sneak preview of Black Voices Series featuring the work of four African American solo performers: Lance Burton, Stephanie Johnson and Kurt (DJ) Lamont Young at the Marsh in San Francisco.  It was such fun; I can hardly wait to see the more polished work with props in September. The theatre was full and many were new to The Marsh—San Francisco.

Black Voices 2014 has a thematic range and style that kept the audience on the edges of its seats as we watched Kurt Young in Grandpa Fly, say goodbye to his grandfather while at the same time question whether or not he was going to share an important secret with him before it was too late. At the preview a man’s dress suit and shoes sits on stage creating an eerie presence the character eventually embodies.

Dr. Johnson (in Every Twenty Days: Cancer, Yoga and Me), known for her lighting design and mixed media artwork, steps before the light in this rare and wonderful story about survival and fitness using the metaphor of yoga as the vehicle. The story of this cancer survivor is funny and lighthearted as Johnson gives her audience the postures to carry the tale forward and perhaps even try yoga on for size. I hope at the evening length performance in September, the playwright gives us a few moves to take with us.

Brother Lance Burton in his The Irrelevance of Being Relevant, takes us back to a San Francisco many missed, especially if they just arrived. It is a black town the newly arrived migrants from the Little Rock, Arkansas, fit right into as the War Between the States rages back home. The Central High School transplant is so funny as he dons many hats or personas –men and women, most relatives and younger selves as he takes us on a journey into an American history lesson, civics classes should not miss. His is the kind of history lesson that is both relevant, thought provoking and timely as the black exodus from San Francisco creates not even a ripple. Missing in this preview performance was the music and multimedia back drop which will only enhance Burton’s marvelous work. I hope all the playwrights plan to publish their work. Perhaps after Thomas Simpson’s Legacy Project, letters from older black men to younger ones is completed, he can begin to create a body of AfroSolo performance scripts.

The Marsh con’t


Brian Copeland has a new piece, The Scion (Marsh SF, ages 14-up), Thursday-Fridays, 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 5 p.m. through August 23, 2014; Dan Hoyle’s Each and Every Thing, also (Marsh SF, ages 15-up) Thursday-Friday, 8 p.m., Sat. 8:30 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. through Aug. 24, 2014; Don Reed’s Semi-Famous: Hollywood Hell Tales from the Middle is at the Marsh in Berkeley (ages 17-up) and Jinho “The Piper” Ferreira’s Cops and Robbers is also at the Marsh in Berkeley.  This show interrupts and continues the narrative opened in Arielle Brown’s Lovebalm. Piper skillfully embodies 17 characters, victims, perpetrators, witnesses. . . . Visit themarsh.org

Jazz Jam Sessions

The Bay Area Jazz Society presents Sunday Jazz Jam with pianist Damy Sudi Alii and Special Guests with Paul Tillman Smith--drums, Carl Lockett --guitar, and Alex Smith--bass, every Sunday, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. beginning July 20, 2014 at Southern Cafe (Soul Food Buffet), 2000 MacArthuir Blvd., Oakland, CA 94602. Skilled musicians are welcome (smile).


Jazz Week at San Jose Jazz Summer Festival


Jazz Week Summit, August 7-8. 2014 in San Jose. Visit http://www.jazzweek.com/summit/ 25th Annual San Jose Jazz Summer Festival is Friday, Aug. 8 - Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014 with an exceptional line-up of talent featured on 11 stages throughout the weekend. Tickets are discounted through August 6, from $55 to $285). Visit http://summerfest.sanjosejazz.org /

Rodney Leon, architect—The Ark of Return

I had a wonderful interview with Haitian American architect whose design was selected for the United Nations monument honoring the formerly enslaved Africans. Entitled, the Ark of Return, the portions of the model along with others submitted last year are a part of an exhibit, which opened last month, on the 210th Anniversary of Haiti’s independence, Victory Over Slavery: Haiti and Beyond is at the United Nations Headquarters, Visitor Centre. It is up through Sept. 14, 2014. See http://unexhibitsny.org/on-view-at-the-un and https://www.facebook.com/media /set/?set=a.720635974663039.1073741847.458553937537912&type=3 (lots of great photos from the exhibit)

I’d learned of Mr. Leon’s winning design last year and contacted the designer; however, another event came up and I had to cancel our talk so I am happy we were able to speak on the occasion of this exhibition.

We spoke about the reception, which was attended by friends and family of Mr. Leon, along with other dignitaries, Ambassador Denis Régis of Haiti, with opening remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Also in attendance was Ambassador Courtney Rattray of Jamaica, Ambassador Téte António of the African Union, who mentioned the timeliness of the exhibit and the commissioned work, Ark of Return, to coincide with the AU’s International Decade for People of African Descent which will begin in the months ahead.  Also present was Emma Christopher, whose film was a part of the free Remember Slavery film festival.  They Are We is the story of the return of the Cuban descendants of an enslaved woman to her village of origin in Sierra Leone.  Christopher’s film screened in the Bronx, outdoors in a joint collaboration between the United Nations and the New York African Film Festival. (The AFF also collaborates and brings us the African Film Festival at UC Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archives each year (smile).

We also spoke about the thinking behind the winning design, the architect, no stranger to similarly themed work, as he also designed the exhibit commemorating the African Burial Ground on Wall Street in Manhattan in May 2007 (http://www.rodneyleon.com/ )

Wanda Sabir: Could you speak a bit about the Ark of Return. It was created around the themes of acknowledging the tragedy, considering the legacy, and lest we forget. Within the piece . . . an Ark, we think of vessels that float on water, travel, fluidity. What was your thinking around the piece, which is going to be completed next year for the 70th anniversary of the UN?

Rodney Leon: It is supposed to be completed in the Spring, and we are hoping [its completion] will coincide with commemorations that occur in March for the abolition of slavery, March 25, 2015. [On December 17, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly designated March 25 as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It was first observed in 2008.]

"In regard to the Ark of Return and what inspired its design. It was inspired by many things, the idea of a vessel. We felt that it was important due to a certain amount of research on the project, we were fascinated by the notion of the triangular slave trade and the Middle Passage in particular and the role that these slave ships played. In a lot of the research we saw how these maps of the slave trade routes themselves had such a widespread and significant impact on the transformation of the western hemisphere. These maps and these ships and even architecturally looking at the cross sections of a lot of these slave ships and how they were able to compress so many people into such a small tiny space and the people had to endure such extreme conditions over many weeks and many months, traveling across these vast distances, we felt that this whole idea of being torn and taken away from your homeland never to return essentially, and that being done with these ships, we felt it was important to come up with a way to acknowledge that, but at the same time, create an opportunity for a vessel which then perhaps, if not literally, but spiritually and conceptually allows one to go back to a place where one's ancestors were not necessarily physically, but maybe psychologically and emotionally kind of undo the tragedy of being taken away by those slave ships and creating an Ark or vessel that allows one when [he or she] passes through to acknowledge that history, to consider it and to participate in a kind of ritual that cleanses one and allows one to then be able to then heal to a certain extent, some of the wounds of that tragedy in an emotional and spiritual way.

"So the Ark of Return is undoing that [tragedy], [as it also] provides an opportunity to educate people about the experience, and give people an opportunity to be in a space where they can kind of reflect about how`it is that we are here today and the sacrifices of those that came before us that allowed us to be where we are and never to forget and that becoming important not only because of the past, but also because of the condition of a lot of people who are suffering today in contemporary forms of slavery.

"It is through memorialization and through our collective actions that I think that an education of young folks, children, that we're going to be able to continue to make progress in the future moving forward, so these tragedies don't continue to occur.  

"The Ark of Return really is meant to deal with the three themes of the competition and we took that theme, those three themes in a lot of ways and kind of repeated them and integrated them into the design. The triangle itself is a three-part figure. We used the triangle which is referenced from the triangular maps, and the triangular slave trade as the primary geometric form in the Ark, and that is how we create the vessel itself through the triangulation in the ship's form. The vessel (ship) is constructed in three elements that deal with the acknowledgement of the tragedy--the legacy, lest we forget. The acknowledged tragedy aspect of it is really reinforced through the implementation of a map that we have inside a chamber of the vessel that reflects the triangular slave trade route, and it informs people about that.

"The second element of considering a legacy integrates a body in state lying inside the chamber that is meant to harken back to the people who were in the bowels of these slave vessels, but more so reflecting the idea that soul being taken back to a place which is pointed eastward, the African coast and that idea kind of return is implied there and acknowledgement is implied there as well.

"The third element is the Lest We Forget aspect of it which deals with the future. It is an opportunity to participate with ritual of water, whether through libations or through some types of prayer or ablution --we created a water font – a reflecting pool where one can participate in kind of like a cleansing ritual which has many different spiritual precedence to it.

"Those three elements and those three actions, those three interactions interactions within the Ark of Return are meant to reinforce that element of three: the past, the present and the future, acknowledge the tragedy, lest we forget, the triangular slave trade route, etc. So we are constantly reinforcing that. ”

To listen to the interview in its entirety: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks/2014/08/15/wandas-picks-radio-show-victory-over-slavery-haiti-and-beyond


Yuri Koshiyama’s West Coast Memorial Celebration, August 2, 2014
https://www.facebook.com/events/466650750104189/

Saturday, August 2, 2014, at St. Paul's Methodist Church, 405 S. 10th, San Jose, CA 95112 , doors open at 4:30 p.m. The program is to 9 p.m. Donations $10 entrance/$5 dinner (no one turned away for lack of funds). Also there is a group rate, for those who wish to attend multiple events, such as the panels below.

Passin' It On Panel Discussions

There are two panel discussions scheduled to take place in honor of Yuri and in commemoration of Black August in Oakland and San Jose on August 1-3, 2014, featuring Dhoruba bin Wahad, Ernesto Vigil and Ilyasah Shabazz. Check Facebook for the details. For information call 408-791-7471 or 408-830-4186 or email This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

August 1: Passin' It On (Part One): Generation to Generation
The First in a Bay City Tour at Qilombo, 2313 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland, CA, 6-9 p.m. $12-15, no one turned away. Call (510) 338-7933 and This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

August 2: Passin’ It On (Part Two): Justice for All  
The Second in a Bay City Tour at African American Community Service Agency, 304 N 6th St, San Jose, CA 12-4 p.m. http://www.sjaacsa.org/  Admission $12 and $15, two for $25. Fundraiser for the Justice for Gregory Johnson, Jr. Campaign. Call (925) 699-7636 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

August 3: Passin’ It On (Part Three) at the International Answer Building, 2696 Mission Street, 4-7:30 p.m. http://www.answercoalition.org/sf/  (415) 821-6545 This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it   CANCELED

Film

Finding Fela,
A Review

“Finding Fela,” dir. Alex Gubney, opens August 15, in San Francisco at Landmark Embarcadero Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Center, 415-352-0835 and in Berkeley at Landmark Shattuck Cinema 2230 Shattuck Avenue, (510) 644-2992. The word “Finding” appears in colonial lexicons next to “discover,” bad choice of words; however, semantics aside, the film is classic. We get to see how Bill T. Jones choreographed his remarkable musical as we meet the artist turned activist Fela through his children—musicians Femi and Seun, band members, fans, lovers, mentors, and in archival footage. Fela is a man who challenged a political power structure with his music, his words, his lyrics –and he was met with brute force and violence.  Yet, Fela, never let up even when his mother (82) was thrown by police from a second story window to her death. The public funeral in her honor was remarkable considering what was at stake.

Between archival clips of the artist in concert and conversation transcontinentally and at home, between arrests (over 200) and protests and international uproar when Fela’s passport is revoked and the artist is imprisoned for a year and a half, the footage and conversation with the seminal drummer Tony Allen (b. Aug. 12, 1949) http://www.icrates.org/tony-allen-interview-on-afrobeat /  who is credited with the Afrobeat sound, plus the Africa 70 strike when the band protests not getting paid for months, we shift to the present and watch Bill T. Jones, choreographer, have an aha moment when he realizes that Fela’s music was the soundtrack for his life—so how does the director cut or shorten key elements of Fela’s artistic legacy without compromising the works integrity? Conversations on camera with drummer Ahmir Khalib Thompson or ?uestlove (Questlove) from the Roots, cranks the volume on the discourse.

This is an important and crucial task, since Jones wants to remain true to Fela’s artistic person and vision , but obviously the stage production cannot last for multiple or even a single entire day--the length of some of Fela's projects or musical workshops.

We watch as choreographer, cast and band piece the work together as those who were there when this history was made comment –not on the musical, but then again on the stage production indirectly, as we watch the work, which was magnificent come to life in front of our eyes as the cast on Broadway embody the passion of the man and the historic period in world history. Fela was fierce because the time demanded such from him and those who wanted to change Africa for the people. The influence of black America and specifically a black American woman, is not overlooked and to see the iconic Sandra Izsadore on screen speak about her meeting with Fela, her journey to the motherland and her protégée’s musical response to his awakening to the power of African art to liberate not just our minds but our souls, is well worth the ticket, yet there is so much more (smile).

Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s life (October 15, 1938- August 3,1997) was and still is an incredible story. Visit http://findingfela.com/ This film is up there artistically with James Baldwin:The Price of A Ticket,  prod. Karen Thornsen, William Miles; Jamie Fox in Ray (2004), dir. Taylor Hackford, and perhaps, from what I am hearing, the new film on James Brown with Chadwick Boseman (Jackie Robinson in “42”), dir. Tate Taylor. Jill Scott and other familiar names are in this work.


San Francisco Jewish Film Festival July 24-August 10
--
Reviews and Comments

I am vibing on the African Diaspora Citizen tip presently, so I was immediately drawn to "The Village of Peace" (60 min.), directed by Berkeley filmmakers Ben Schuder and Niko Philipides, which chronicles the sojourn of African Americans who leave their homes in Chicago in 1967 to travel to Negev desert by way of Liberia –the entire journey takes two years where upon reaching Israel the community has to hang tough as the Israeli government first opposes then embraces this community of Africans who returned to what they interpreted as Martin King Jr’s call to reside in the Promised Land. Approximately 300 people made the original migration, Today, over 5,000 African-Hebrew Israelites live in Dimona, Israel.

This film gives a great overview of the community, which is not Jewish, rather Hebrew Israelite descendants of the original inhabitants.  This is certainly a Diaspora Citizenship story. I love the attention and respect to nature given and the director’s focus on the education and arts that are part of what makes the community thrive.  In an earlier film, which introduced me to this community, Black Sister Wife (2000) dir. Timna Goldstein and Hadar Kleinman focuses more on the story of a family where the husband is bringing a younger woman into the home after 21 years of marriage.  Zipora Khazriel (senior wife) eventually gets with the program, but her submission and the potential alienation of the younger wife, leaves a bitter taste in my mouth  (http://tjctv.com/movies/sister-wife/). By the time directors Schuder and Philipides show up with cameras though, the community has had an opportunity to rehearse this controversial part of the script, so the women profiled in “Village” are all happy co-wives as are the men interviewed and children (smile).  

I like the interviews with the young woman who speaks of preparing for being a mother and wife as she laughingly recalls the response to her presence in her unit. The white Jews have never heard of the Hebrew Israelites and don’t know what to make of the English, Hebrew speaking fly black girl. They almost seem to be a nation within a nation, yet they are not off the Israeli radar. I was reminded of the Nation of Islam; in fact the kids dress like we did. They are certainly a part of the Do for Self movement that started with Marcus Garvey’s UNIA.

“The Village of Peace” beckons visitors to put down their weapons. The thriving utopian community bases itself on teachings from the Torah and practices polygamy, natural birth, veganism and a rigorous adherence to physical and emotional health. Residents speak in the film of the absence of violence in a world where violence is like salt, it is sprinkled everywhere. The village is almost otherworldly, except when the youth put on those military fatigues.  I thought I was watching the wrong film when it opens with this resident driving a military jeep.

As Israel bombs Palestine these philosophically “peaceful” residents comply with the military service expected of all residents after they complete high school. How could the directors put Martin King in a film like this? Did they read his speech on Vietnam? Malcolm X is also in the film, along with Muhammad Ali, as if they would co-sign a community that preaches peace and practices war. Ali refused to fight and went to prison, so did the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X did not support any wars supported by neocolonialists. All the men were for freedom, justice and equality.

I don’t see how directors based in the San Francisco Bay Area, could make a film about Israel and not ask the question—“Why are you serving?” Perhaps they did off camera, perhaps this is a propaganda piece –“Ra ra Israel, you let the black immigrants stay?” The irony is biting. These black immigrants left because the war in America on the streets and overseas was not something they supported and they believed they should return home, yet they support violence such in their new home. Why aren’t the Hebrew Israelites teaching their youth to be conscientious objectors? They do have a choice. Saturday, August 2, 2014 is a March on Washington to save Gaza http://www.answercoalition.org/

Other films of African American interest are: “Havana Curveball,” (World Premiere), doc., 60 min. Dir., Marcia Jarmel & Ken Schneide; “In the Image: Palestinian Women Capture the Occupation,” (World Premiere) , Doc., 57 min., Dir. Judith Montell & Emmy Scharlatt and “Soft Vengeance: Albie Saches and The New South Africa,” (West Coast Premiere), Doc. 84 min., Dir., Abby Ginzberg; Little White Lie, dir. Lacey Schartz and more. Visit http://www.sfjff.org/



Who Would Have Known? Schwartz means Black
A Review

 
It is one thing when there is racial ambiguity based on systemic commodification of one’s people, it’s another when the questions stem from an omission or purposeful lie, which is the case when little Lacey Schwartz was born. Lacey who is accepted into the clan notices, as did others, her darker skin and curly hair, yet said nothing.

Perhaps upper class Woodstock, New York, is a town without many black people, certainly the childhood photos in the her film, "Little White Lie" (2014) do not show any students in grammar school with Lacey who are unquestionably black, nor do we see Jews with African ancestry at her family synagogue. Hers was the tight, close-knit community which can be a blessing; in this case it was, because though different, no one seemed to stigmatize the young girl for her darker skin or complexion.

Yet, Lacey knew she was missing a part of the story. How come she didn’t look like both parents, cousins or aunts—the Sicilian grandfather explanation for her skipping generations of pigment, just didn’t feel right the older she got. The questioning glances didn’t help either, especially when her mom and dad divorced. Was she the cause?

When Georgetown University accepted her application for admission, then had the audacity to call her African American when she left the race identification box unchecked (yet included the requisite photo), suddenly, someone disconnected emotionally from the sigma or shame silently attached to Lacey’s birth, named the elephant sitting in the room all her life. 

Georgetown helped coach the elephant out of the house onto the field where it gave Lacey room to hose it down. The stench was pretty awful—lies are like that. Clearly Lacey was onto something she had to pursue and she immediately joined the Black Student Association.

The omissions –who was she . . . loomed like huge craters in her 18 year existence.  She stepped gingerly on the debris covered surface; careful not to fall as she led two lives – one at school and another in Woodstock.  If her parents noticed her changing, neither said anything to her about it. It was as if she had really come home once she got away. Her brown skin now had social and political context. Unable to claim all of herself for 18 years, Lacey had a lot of catching up to do then.

Now –post film, after academic life, after marriage –now that she is CEO of Truth Aide Media, and interested in helping others uncover their secrets or lies, one could say the split is less apparent.

Lacey now occupies both sides of the room—she has had feet in both worlds about equal time, so perhaps she has finally caught up with herself, however, when asked says the process of healing and forgiveness might take a lifetime.

One wonders in “Little White Lies” (the word “white” is highlighted in the color to emphasis the literal coloring or racializing of the word), was the notion of blackness ignored or omitted because whiteness was preferable to blackness?

That typically white people do not talk about race, certainly played a role in Lacey’s acceptance in Woodstock, but at Georgetown University, then later at Harvard where the director got a law degree, Lacey’s evolving discovery of self and other aspects of her personal history and culture continued to be challenged as she embraced all of herself even if the parts sometimes were at war.

In an interview, the director says that she was able to make the journey because she had such a good therapist whom we meet vicariously (invisible) in multiple sessions where a sometimes tearful Lacey on film shares what she is feeling as her carefully constructed world comes tumbling down.

James McBride’s (writer) mother tells him when he asks about his skin color and how his is different than his mother, that he is the color of water, God’s color. In“Skin,” directed by Anthony Fabian, a South African family whose daughter, Sandra Laing (b.1955) is clearly black, her father has her classified as "white" because both he and her mother are. However, the child learns painfully that judicial mandates do not always win out over appearances when she is kicked out of school and her father disowns her when she marries a black man. The young woman has to leave home and family when her brother, father and community turn against her. Unlike Lacey’s story, this black woman who was raised in Anti apartheid South Africa finds herself between the two poles, accepted by neither.

Limbo is a dangerous place to occupy.

Even though race, technically, is an artificial construct, so much of American life (including post-Apartheid South African), public policy is still based on pigment or melanin content. If Lacey had been able to pass for white, she would have never known she had another father and the “little white lie” would have remained under wraps until perhaps a stray gene like a free radical—the kind Woodstock was known for, peeked its head cross generations in recognition of the complexities of relationships –who we marry, who we love, who we decide is worthy and who we disregard or pass over and the consequences of all this a la Lacey.

Late in the film, Lacey in many conversations with her mother who tells the lie, learns that her mother would not have married her biological father even if she could have, because her Dad (who raised her) in her view was the better catch. Yet, we hear her mother's hesitation, that she couldn’t see herself marrying a black man then. It just wasn’t done. Lacey’s biological father’s wife knew about the affair and his child, yet neither Lacey nor her dad did.

I don’t know what Jews do to repent, but Lacey’s mother has a lot of repenting to do. Maybe these years of silence were the purgatory this film allows her to wash with truth?

The film has its world premiere this weekend at the Castro Theatre as a part of the SF Jewish Film Festival 2014, with screenings Sunday, August 3 (CAS. 7 p.m.), Aug. 4 (CAL 6:40 p.m.), Aug. 7 (PARK 7 p.m.), Aug. 8 (RAF 3 p.m.). Visit www.thelittlewhiteliethefilm.com sfjff.org and 415-621-0523


On the Fly
Motown, the Musical, directed by Charles Randolph Wright, book, Barry Gordy Jr. is opening this month, Aug. 15-Sept. 28, 2014, in San Francisco at the Orpheum Theatre Visit https://www.shnsf.com/online/motown  SFJAZZ has a great line-up for its Season 3 opening Sept. 11, 2014. Visit www.sfjazz.org     Art and Soul is this first weekend, Saturday-Sunday, 12 noon to 6 p.m., August 2-3, 2014. Visit http://www.artandsouloakland.com/

Catch the Train this weekend

Lower Bottom Playaz’s present August Wilson’s play, "Two Trains Running," which is about urban renewal or black removal in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, (yet feel so Oakland). “Two Trains Running” is at Flight Deck, 1540 Broadway in Oakland (at 15th Street) this weekend, August 1-2, 2014, 7 p.m. and Sunday, August 3, at 4 p.m. Tickets are $15-35. See http://sfbayview.com/2014/07/lower-bottom-playaz-present-august-wilsons-two-trains-running/

More August Wilson at Multi-Ethnic Theatre in San Francisco

Multi Ethnic Theater, in association with Custom Made Theatre, presents August Wilson’s “Jitney” August 7-31, at the Gough Street Playhouse, 1620 Gough Street in San Francisco.  Directed by Lewis Campbell, founder and artistic director of Multi Ethnic Theater, the play concerns a group of working class men who offer gypsy cab rides to and from African American communities where city cabs refuse to go.  This play follows chronologically after Two Trains Running (smile). Opening weekend, all seats ae $20. For tickets and information, visit www.wehavemet.org .
For a discounted ticket use code: "carservice." 

Listen at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks/2014/08/22/wandas-picks-multi-ethnic-theatre-presents-august-wilsons-jitney

Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca in San Francisco in Free Concert

Ricardo Lemvo is coming back for a free concert at Yerba Buena Center, 3rd and Mission in San Francisco’s Jesse Square, 6 p.m., August 21, 2014. Visit The Saturday evening gig will feature Lemvo’s Makina Loca’s recent CD, “La Rumba Soyo,” which is a three year effort with Lemvo traveling across multiple continents and countries (US, Canada, France, Angola) to tap into his Diaspora legacy which is what we call rumba music. It’s historic and eclectic heritage is once again represented classically with many of those musicians still alive to the music. La Rumba Soyo is both wonderful music, while at the same time an important document of this legacy unexplored until now. Lemvo is certainly a student of the form (smile). Bring your dancing shoes to San Francisco. Visit http://www.cumbancha.com/ricardolemvo

Second Annual Bay Area Deaf Dance Festival at Dance Mission, August 8-10, 2014


Antoine Hunter, the director of the Bay Area Deaf Dance Festival, August 8-10, 2014, at Dance Mission, in San Francisco in its second consecutive year says of his guest performers, “The list is too long to name here, but I will tell you this. We have deaf lyrical sign dances, we have deaf poets, we have deaf film artists, we have a deaf rapper, we have a deaf R&B singer, we have deaf and CODA or child of a deaf adult aerial dancing, deaf native American Hoop dance.” Hunter’s daughter (a child of a deaf parent) will perform as well. Dance Mission is across the street from the 24th Street BART, 3316 24th Street.  Shows are Friday-Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m.

Tickets are available at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/734871 You can also visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/Antoine-Hunter/55146453129


More Theatre

The Coup


Arriving back in town after performing in Denmark at a recent hip hop concert, The Coup presents Shadowbox, Saturday, August 16, 2014, 5 and 9 p.m. at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission Street.

The Coup: Shadowbox, a World Premiere, is a concert/art show/experience piece, a  collaboration between The Coup and street artist Jon-Paul Bail with production design by David Szlasa. Special guest appearances by Jazz Mafia Horns, Bhi Bhiman, Classical Revolution, Snow Angel, Emily Jayne from Fashion Slaves, and Damion Gallegos from Fungo Mungo (co-producer of Sorry To Bother You). This will be the full Coup funk/punk/dance party experience, plus much more, and brought to you differently than any other Coup show you've seen. For information call 415-978-2787 or www.ybca.org Admission prices vary.

The Bay Area Deaf Dance Festival is Friday-Sunday, August 8-10 at Dance Mission, 3316 24th Street, in San Francisco. Artists are coming in from London, Washington, D.C., Florida, Pennsylvania and New York.


City Council Meeting
Presented by Z Space, 450 Florida Street in San Francisco, in Association with Erika Chong Shuch Performance Project and Intersection for the Arts, August 1 - 3, 2014, 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sunday at 2 p.m.  http://zspace.org/new-work/city-council-meeting (Discount code for 1/2 off or $10 and free tickets)

Following productions in Tempe, Houston and New York, San Francisco becomes the latest setting for a night of live performance designed to find the poetry in bureaucracy, the architecture of power and the comedy of procedure. This evening of “performed participatory democracy” takes the seemingly mundane goings on of a city council meeting and invites you to be part of the show. At each performance, audience members have the option to participate as Councilors who conduct the meeting; Speakers who are called on to give testimony; Supporters who stand in support of others; or as Bystanders who observe the proceedings (so it’s OK to just come and watch, too).

The brainchild of playwright, actor and teacher Aaron Landsman, and Obie-award winners, director Mallory Catlett and director, designer and performer Jim Findlay, City Council Meeting ponders what draws participants to the process in the first place, and then teases apart the inherent drama and inadvertent comedy that occurs when individuals with conflicting goals congregate in a single room and attempt to get their way.
The San Francisco edition focuses in on the city’s rich history as a center for activism, and is created through collaboration with a diverse range of San Franciscans including students, politicians, activists and artists. One featured collaborator is local choreographer and director Erika Chong Shuch, and it comes to the stage with the continued and much valued support of Intersection for the Arts.

Learn more about City Council Meeting and its history at http://www.citycouncilmeeting.org /

52 Letters

The 52 Letters Fundraising Performance for Regina's Door is almost here! I hope that you will join me tomorrow for this social justice event: Sat., Aug 23, 730pm (box office opens at 630pm), at the Flight Deck, 1540 Broadway, Oakland, Ca.

52 Letters is an award winning play which brings awareness to the issue of sex trafficking and American youth. For more info and tix please go here: http://brownpapertickets.com/event/750369

Regina's Door, opening on September 20th, at 352 17th Street, Oakland, is a social enterprise vintage clothing boutique which will serve and support young sex trafficking survivors in the Bay Area. The store is honored to have the Bay Area Anti Trafficking Organization, Love Never Fails as it's official community partner. Please read these articles for further information:

http://oaklandlocal.com/2014/08/oaklands-own-reginas-door-fusing-passion-for-fashion-and-social-justice/

http://www.examiner.com/article/regina-s-door-boutique-will-empower-gorgeously-unique-trafficking-survivors


Love Balm for My Spirit Child,
A review


“We who believe in freedom cannot rest . . .” Bernice Reagan sings 51 years after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom at Brava Theatre as the curtain falls on Arielle Julia Brown’s Love Balm for My Spirit Child, an homage to the mothers who have lost children to violence here in the San Francisco Bay Area. As people wept uncontrollably around me, the tears a river perhaps connected to the one Moses parted or maybe Jesus walked or maybe Mama Yemanja stirred as these children joined the ancestors’ bones lining the African trail of tears along the Atlantic floor—I contemplated the loss, the Maafa, the genocide.

Directed by Edris Cooper Anifowose, the four women—Cat Brooks, Lisa Evans, Ana Maria Luera and Ayodele Nzinga, danced along the trail of bones, laughingly recalling stories of their boys and grandsons as shadows danced across the stage obscuring the dreams, camouflaging the rage, wetting the sorrow about to drench us—

We walked out wet. Using minimum props, a bed center stage on a riser where one mother lay unable to move when she heard of her son’s death—It was as if she was also in shrouds. To the left and right of the bed were stools where actors sat –as the stories overlapped and moved circuitously within the discourse—mothers talking about their boys.

Perhaps it was the dolls the mothers changed diapers on or raised up to the sky –as if the universe was their domain—“think big son,” each seemed to proclaim, that made the loss so palatable, so inconsolably sad.

We heard the boys’ speak—what were Oscar’s last words: “Cooperate with the police and we can go home.”

Dawon Davis’s body added fluidity to the work as he danced from the audience to the stage—as we saw him duplicated on screen. At times he was a gigantic presence as his shadow covered the theatre walls—joining us momentarily only to disappear.  These lives, though short lived have impact, many of the youth also fathers.

The shadows were also emblematic of the resonance these youth have still in these public spaces and places they once walked, sat, stood. I am still chilled by the hungry ghosts who wander with loaded guns trained on black boys, Indigenous boys, Latino boys.  

When Davis’s body was filled with bullets—it was traumatic indeed for the viewer—one wonders how the body accommodated such violence—so many shots, so many bullets . . . how the spirit weighs it now.

It was ceremonial—a public wake. My friends hadn’t known what to expect and so were caught unaware. The depth of this despair is a hole we keep adding too and one could ask, to what end? Why keep rehearsing, as Walter Mosely says in Black Betty, “one’s death”? When will we change the narrative? When will black lives have more currency? When will we change the institutions that train the killers (cops and civilians)? The lynch mob doesn’t always wear white hoods nor are the villains limited to one race—

To listen to an interview with the playwright and Ayodele Nzinga (cast), who also speaks earlier in the show about her theatre's production of August Wilson's Two Trains Running Aug. 1-3: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks/2014/06/27/wandas-picks-radio-show-love-balm-for-my-spirit-child

Last Updated ( Friday, 22 August 2014 )
 
UP YOU MIGHTY AFRICAN PEOPLE!!!
Written by Wanda Sabir   
Saturday, 16 August 2014

UP YOU MIGHTY AFRICAN PEOPLE!!!

Calling on All Community Members to join us on Sunday, 17 August, 1 pm, as WE:

Celebrate the wisdom, writings, work and sacred B’Earthday of Ancestor MARCUS GARVEY!

Commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the UNIA and ongoing Pan-African efforts!

Express our continuing Gratitude for MARCUS BOOKS* and the Richardson Family!

 

Community members read from the works of Garvey at Marcus Books' "Abundant Knowledge" mural in Oakland. 6253 KMT/2013

Sunday, 17 August, 1 pm

3900 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, in Oakland

(just 2 short blocks from MacArthur BART station)

*Participants will receive a special 10 percent discount on all purchases at Marcus Books on 17 August.

Initiated by Foundations for Our New Alkebulan/Afrikan Millennium (FONAMI), Members of the

National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA), Kuumba Kreativity and other supporters.

More information at This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it or facebook.com/we.reparations

Last Updated ( Saturday, 16 August 2014 )
 

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