Wednesday, October 11, 2017

22nd Annual MAAFA Reflections

Maafa Commemoration 22
By Wanda Sabir

What I loved this year was all the celebratory dancing from just before our ancestors crossed into the unknown territory to landing on these shores and celebrating life and the possibility of freedom which remained physically just beyond reach for centuries.

In small steps as we regained agency over ourselves, even if our bodies then and now continue to be exploited, liberation was a bit sweeter. 

Dancers leaped into the air as if to fly home to the ancestors along the West Coast of Africa where so many were detained in conditions too horrible to imagine, yet we must imagine and remember to heal from a trauma—the MAAFA which continues to haunt our gene pools. At the beach that morning Brother Clint, Sister Lola, Brother Kwalin and Lady Sunrise led the primal cry, a sound pulled from within, from the depths – the moan where we felt multiple aches, bruises bandaged were uncovered, the sores aired, the blood allowed to drip into the sand.

Even our sorrow is beautiful.

For the first time in the 22 year commemoration the people danced the Wolosodon as drummers evoked the energies of those gone before. It was beautiful watching both adults and children, young and old, prepare for the journey as our ancestors did.  Jazz began at the dungeon site and the improvisational dance that is black life continues to shape the landscapes we terry on briefly before legislated elsewhere.

It is difficult to be black in America, perhaps elsewhere too, but we have our ancestors— black deities and angels who not only have a say but control what is unseen. This is where true power lies, so we danced for those spirits whose lives cycle or course through our veins born and yet to be born, present that morning, present always—no further away than a libation or call.

We danced the wolosodon along the path leading to the Doors of No Return and Dundunba – the Ritual of Forgiveness where we released those burdens we no longer felt necessary to carry any further. With each rose petal we filled a hole and dropped the items inside and then covered the hole so that none would escape to re-infect our aura.
“Dance of the Warriors” when we made it through the horrific sea journey to shore. Later that morning we learned how to channel our energies into fearlessness – Mu-I –a martial arts form based in Maat led by Zochi.  Mu-I followed the

Fleet Week ended that day, a day honoring war.  We honored peace. Those people on the beach who were not invited respected our ceremony, inquiring afterward of Brother Clint, how it went. (Last year someone called the police who told us the use of amplification on the beach was not permitted. This year we were finished before the park ranger trucks came through.)

There were many obstacles in the way this year most of them on the road to the beach where the waves were mighty.  Both sun and moon were in the sky together Sunday morning witness to the four heart shaped Mylar balloons guests released from the circle – I just hope no bird choked on the remains of the offering.

Theo had a flat tire on the Bay Bridge while Brotha Clint ran into a horrific car accident en route from Vallejo.  Sister Taliba whom I met at the world premiere of Donald Lacy’s film, Hidden Treasure earlier that week, lost all her keys and had to leave her car in Oakland and hire a locksmith to get into her home. 

I was still at the beach at 2 p.m. when she called and I went back to look for red rose petals where she might have buried her keys during the Ritual of Forgiveness. I kept finding blue items—a blue sliver of wood, a bottle cap with a bare foot on it, a piece of a label wrapper for bottled water, but no rose petals anywhere.

For the second year in a row, the Black Women’s Media Project, Sacred Space and the Health and Human Resources Center chartered a bus for East Bay pilgrims and this year they numbered about 40-50. Once again there were many first timers. Big ups to Colette Winlock, Lola Haneef, Lady Sunrise, Brenda Byes and their team members.

During the talk back, ritual attendees spoke of how they measured their year from October to October. We will have to get them to join us for the June Libations for the Ancestors in Oakland too. The Second Saturday in June at 9 a.m. (PST) is the International Libation for the Ancestors. It is a global libation: remembertheancestors.com lists all the places where libations take place.
Facebook.com/remembertheancestors

Brother Neter Aa Meri erected his ancestor altar, a masterpiece as usual; however, this year I also made a community altar which grew as one brother placed a candle from Ethiopia, sisters put candy and other items for Yemanja. I had candy and bubbles for Esu Legba. I liked the idea Dhameera Ahmad’s family introduced at her funeral to blow bubbles for the ancestors.

I haven’t figured where to put the bubbles as a group activity.

We remembered the three Iyas or community mothers who made their transitions this year: Queen Mother Makinya Sibeko Kouate, Hajja Dhameera Ahmad, Iya Jacquelyn Hadiah McLeod.  Another person the community mourns is Baba Dick Gregory.  That morning as I drove behind the slow 5 McAllister bus, I was thinking about Hubert Collins (d. Dec. 2016), my dear friend who would always show us when called with his camera and then make me these lovely albums. 

My first cousin Kevin Clark (58) died that week in New Orleans. He was my Uncle Arthur’s son. New Orleans was spared Hurricane Nate’s fury, but Gulfport was not.  Mobile and Biloxi were Nate
touched down suffered major flooding. I have people these places too.

I was also thinking about Great Aunt Olivia Samaiyah Beyah Bailey (d. Jan. 2017), who at 98 was not about to live in a world with Trump as its leader. She literally “dropped the mic.”

We poured libations for those impacted by the California wildfires and those in Mexico who died in the earthquakes and for the many affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose . . . then Marie, especially those in Puerto Rico and Dominica and the Virgin Islands.   Just up to Sept. 30 there were over 15 tropical storms that turned into hurricanes.  September 30, 13 named storms, eight hurricanes, and five major (Category 3 or stronger) hurricanes had formed in the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. This is an historic hurricane season.

Presently Bay Area air quality is impacted by the raging fires burning in Napa, Sonoma, San Rafael, Yuba City, Ukiah. 100,000 acres burn, 1000s are displaced, there are deaths.  Here is a link to updated news coverage at SFGate.com and LATimes.  We had people at the commemoration from Redwood City, Sacramento, Antioch, Vallejo, Richmond, San Francisco, Oakland.  There were many who were planning to come and sent poems instead like Sister Makeda who sent Sterling Brown’s Strong Men read by Karla Brundage.


There were many people present for the first time like Thomas Simpson, AfroSolo founder. Don’t miss his program, Oct. 19-20. Visit afrosolo.org  I was so happy to see Dr. Gail Myers, Freedom Farmers Market, a sister who is lifting up black agarian culture, the literal Roots Culture colonized in city states.  She is hosting a program at AAMLO, Friday, Oct. 13, honoring the legacy of Dr. George Washington Carver called Circling Back. The free program beginning at 6 p.m.-8 p.m. will feature films about black farmers, a panel, and poetry.

We forget black people are the original migrant farmworkers, they called us sharecroppers then, but there was nothing shared. Exploited black folks swindled out of land and livelihood ended up in barren cities where they grew Victory Gardens when the war made such shows of patriotism fashionable. But even before this black folk were growing food so they could eat, they were growing food so the kids could stay well, families could stay well, ‘cause there were no medical plans, just burial policies.

Black people’s labor didn’t just build this country, we also fed it and made it fat.

Dr. Myers brought along her friend, Alice Walker. I was so happy to see Ms. Walker. I remembered the semester she was the topic of my freshman comp class. We read the biography, hot off the presses: Alice Walker, A Life.  We also read The Color Purple and went on a field trip to see the musical starring Oakland born and raised, Latoya London. We also went to see the stage adaptation of Toni Morrison’s Bluest Eye at Lorraine Hansberry Theatre. It was directed by Stanley F. Williams.  Both are stories about black girls.  Morrison’s story is a bit more tragic. The lesson is the same: black girls are at risk and we have to pay attention and keep our girls safe.

A student who also loved her work and I followed Alice Walker to Whole Earth Expo from our Alameda classroom to San Francisco where she spoke and signed books.  I wanted my protégé to meet her.  I remember when I saw Ms. Walker at the Howard Zinn event where famous writers, historians and activists read from his Voices of a People’s History of the US.  Alice Walker, his former student, was one of the participants. After she read, I was seated with a couple of VIPs, Marina Drummer and Robert H. King, so I went to the reception with them. (The event was at King Middle School, the school my daughter TaSin graduated from). 

In any case, Ms. Walker was excited and asked me if I had a copy of her latest book, We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For. When I told her no, she then took a copy from the basket her assistant was carrying and gave me one.  I made that book my textbook for the next couple of years. I kept following her to La Peña when she was a part of an event for the Cuban 5 at a book release: Letters of Love & Hope: The Story of the Cuban Five Paperback by author, Nancy Morejon, editor, Alice Walker.

I also saw her again at a wonderful film screening about the literacy campaign President Fidel Castro, her friend launched.  This was before Kennedy attacked the island during a battle called, The Bay of Pigs. I saw her at the Museum of the African Disapora (MoAD) when she was in conversation with the author of Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route by Saidiya Hartman. I would have an entirely different view of the book after leaving Elmina City with Imahkus Njinga Okofu, One Africa. According to her, the book is a distortion of the legacy of African American who live in Ghana. She shared a letter she who outlining the inaccuracies.

I saw Ms. Walker again at Laney College in the audience at a Playback Theatre event. One of my students at that time who was a part of the professional troupe, invited me to attend.

I have a photo of Ms. Walker in my bedroom – yep. Can’t make this stuff up (smile). I am a super groupie – from Temple of My Familiar onward, but she would never notice. I hope.  Her partner would recognize me and smile after I introduced myself to him the first time at MoAD.

I am fine admiring her legacy from a distance.  Seeing her Sunday, October 8, is an opportunity to write all these things down that I have been holding (smile). 

Perhaps the most special time I was able to see her was at the African American Art and Culture Complex when there was a program for the Californian Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) when Hamdiya Cooks was the director. Hamdiya said that Ms. Walker had her over to tea when she was released from prison.  I think Hamdiya shared that story when she introduced Ms. Walker.

All her life Alice Walker has been showing up.  She showed up at Dr. King’s funeral and a week later lost the baby she was carrying along with her will to live. However, she soon shook herself from the apathy and continued the work King had inspired her to start.

A few years ago, her friend Jacquelyn Hairston composed a libretto to her poem, “Why Peace is Always a Good Idea.”  It was performed at AfroSolo and Alice Walker read the poem at a concert preview at the Burial Clay theatre. The AfroSolo event August 2011 was prelude to the Carnegie Hall performance in Feb. 19, 2012—Hairston’s conductor debut with a 300 voice choir. She returned again in 2016.

Maafa 2017-2020

Back at the beach, the waves were high and when I finally went to offer prayers to the ancestors, I was caught unaware by a waves which soaked my shoes, not once but twice. Hassaun who’d walked with me there, said, “the ancestors want your attention.”  Well they certainly got it. I am still focused on the ancestors and have begun to think about next year. 

We are inching towards 2019 which marks the 400th anniversary of the first Africans to set foot on English American soil in indentured servitude.  While white people also served as indentured servants, their servitude had a terminus, black people would be held indefinitely.

There is a bill: H.R.1242 - 400 Years of African-American History Commission Act which passed the House in May 2016, but did not pass the Senate to date.  Everyone should lobby the Senate to adopt and pass the bill so the resources become available to those of us doing the ancestor commemoration work.

(Sec. 3) This bill establishes the 400 Years of African-American History Commission to develop and carry out activities throughout the United States to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the English colonies at Point Comfort, Virginia, in 1619.
The commission must:
·         plan programs to acknowledge the impact that slavery and laws that enforced racial discrimination had on the United States;
·         encourage civic, patriotic, historical, educational, artistic, religious, and economic organizations to organize and participate in anniversary activities;
·         assist states, localities, and nonprofit organizations to further the commemoration; and
·         coordinate for the public scholarly research on the arrival of Africans in the United States and their contributions to this country.
(Sec. 5) The commission may provide: (1) grants to communities and nonprofit organizations for the development of programs; (2) grants to research and scholarly organizations to research, publish, or distribute information relating to the arrival of Africans in the United States; and (3) technical assistance to states, localities, and nonprofit organizations to further the commemoration.
(Sec. 7) The commission must prepare a strategic plan and submit a final report to Congress that contains a summary of its activities, an accounting of its received and expended funds, and its recommendations.
(Sec. 8) The commission shall terminate on July 1, 2020.
(Sec. 9) All expenditures of the commission shall be made solely from donated funds.


Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Wanda's Picks Radio: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

This is a black arts and culture site. We will be exploring the African Diaspora via the writing, performance, both musical and theatrical (film and stage), as well as the visual arts of Africans in the Diaspora and those influenced by these aesthetic forms of expression. I am interested in the political and social ramifications of art on society, specifically movements supported by these artists and their forebearers. It is my claim that the artists are the true revolutionaries, their work honest and filled with raw unedited passion. They are our true heroes. Ashay!


Today's Show:


1. Dr. Gail Myers, dir., Farms to Grow, Inc., and Missionary, Anna Marie Carter, "the Seed Lady of Watts," join us to talk about: Circling Back: Honoring Dr. George Washington Carver, Friday, October 13, 6-8 at AAMLO. 

2. Donald Lacy, dir., "Hidden Treasure." debuts tonight at Grand Lake Theatre (World Premiere, 10.4, 7 p.m.)

3. Actors Tara Pacheco (Sally Hemings), William Hodgson (James Hemings) in Thomas and Sally (through Oct.27) by Thomas Bradshaw at Marin Theatre Company, marintheatre.org 

4. Lewis Jordan, composer, musician, joins us to talk about, this is where i came in. . . .his new work which is creatively autobiographical. He is joined by poet, artivist and SFSU Mazza Writer-in-Residence, Tongo Eisen-Martin, whose latest work is Heaven Is All Goodbyes Pocket Books (2017). Tongo is collaborating with Jordan on his EastSide Arts CD Release event, Oct. 20. Visit lewisjordan.com

A link to the show is: http://tobtr.com/10312079 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

John Coltrane Day 2017

We partied John Coltrane into Saturday, September 23, what would have been the great composer, musician, human being's 91st birthday.  Friday night, his friend and band mate, Ferrell "Pharoah" Sanders brought his quartet to SFJAZZ, part of a week long series of concerts curated by Coltrane's son, Ravi Coltrane, who by the way, joined Sanders during the second half of the program for a duet. 
There are two more concerts in the series, tonight at 7 and 9:30 p.m. featuring: 2016 Grammy nominee, Ravi Coltrane, Nicholas Payton, trailblazing guitarist Adam Rogers, bass star Matthew Garrison (son of John Coltrane Quartet bassist Jimmy Garrison), and the acclaimed drummer Marcus Gilmore, grandson of jazz legend and John Coltrane collaborator Roy Haynes. The ensemble will perform the 1964 masterpiece, A Love Supreme







Tomorrow night the show is a nod to the 2016 ECM release In Movement for which Ravi Coltrane recieved the Grammy nomination for Best Improvised Jazz Solo. He is joined by Legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette who performed with John Coltrane early in his career and Matthew Garrison, the son of John Coltrane Quartet bassist Jimmy Garrison. The show is at 7 p.m. Sept. 24.

Always gracious, even when people project his father onto him, Ravi is a consummate artist whose expansive body of work continues a legacy or inheritance from both mom and dad, Alice and John Coltrane. The last concert she played with Ravi, Charlie Haden, and Roy Haynes was one of those special moments, I was happy to be present. I remember looking down on the floor where she sat at the organ.

I felt the same kind of energy, that is, I was happy to be in the room, when Dewey Redman was in concert with his son, Joshua Redman. It was the senior Redman's birthday too and I recall going back stage to meet him and being invited to the party. Sweet man.  I met his widow again when I was in New York at a concert series featuring the many musical faces of Wadada Leo Smith.

But back to Friday night. Everyone was in the house. I immediately spotted Arch Bishop Fanzo in the lobby with his wife. He had his soprano saxophone in a music case for Ravi to borrow. Since the concert was sold out, they were waiting to be seated. I hope they got in.  Sunday at Saint John Will I Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church-Jurisdiction West, 2097 Turk Street, San Francisco will be the 
Annual Manifestation Day Celebration from 12-4 p.m. Everyone is welcome to the free event

Back stage later on were Pharoah's daughters and granddaughter; former wife and friend, Shukuru Sanders; other friends, among them, Kash Killion and Gary Bartz and a wonderful artist who presented the giant with a collage she'd made of his image.

The set opened and closed with the original, "The Creator Has a Master Plan," followed by other classics I knew but couldn't name. I will have to get back to you on the set list (smile). Always participatory the audience was encouraged to clap as Pharoah danced. He looked great that evening dressed in blues, the color both illuminating and effervescent -- radiant.
Playing tenor with perhaps one of the most celebrated tenor saxophonists alive, Ravi Coltrane held his own as Sanders soloed and then left center stage to Coltrane who bent sound, repackaging his dad, John Coltrane's "Ole," in a way that was both familiar and startling new. 









Friday, September 15, 2017

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017

This is a black arts and culture site. We will be exploring the African Diaspora via the writing, performance, both musical and theatrical (film and stage), as well as the visual arts of Africans in the Diaspora and those influenced by these aesthetic forms of expression. I am interested in the political and social ramifications of art on society, specifically movements supported by these artists and their forebearers. It is my claim that the artists are the true revolutionaries, their work honest and filled with raw unedited passion. They are our true heroes. Ashay!
Dr. Lynn Morrow, Heritage Keeper




8:00 AM – 
We are joined by 2017 Heritage Keepers Honorees: Dr. Bisola Marignay, Educator, Writer, and Leader, Self-Healing with Negro Spirituals Workshops and Dr. Lynne Morrow, Educator and Choral Director, The Pacific Edge Voices and Oakland Symphony Chorus and Friends of the Negro Spirituals co-founder, Ms. Lyvonne Chrisman. The award ceremony (a free event) is Sat., Sept. 16,1-4 p.m. at the San Francisco Main Library (Koret Auditorium), 100 Larkin Street.

Professor Stephen Best, Ph.D.

8:30 AM --  Professor Stephen Best of UC Berkeley's EnglishDepartment, who was instrumental in developing the James Baldwin film series at BAMPFA wich started Sept. 14 and continues through Nov. 16.
Stephen Best is an Associate Professor of English at UC-Berkeley. Professor Best is an alumni of Williams College (B.A., 1989) and the University of Pennsylvania (M.A., 1992; Ph.D., 1997). He is the author ofThe Fugitive's Properties: Law and the Poetics of Possession (University of Chicago, 2004), a study of property, poetics, and legal hermeneutics in nineteenth-century American literary and legal culture. Currently, he is working on a new project on rumor, promiscuous speech, and slavery's archive.


Professor Best is a member of the editorial board of the journal Representations. Recently, he co-convened a research group with Saidiya Hartman at the University of California's Humanities Research Institute on "Redress in Law, Literature, and Social Thought" (funded through the Mellon Foundation). His work has been supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Hellman Foundation, the Humanities Research Institute (University of California), and the Ford Foundation.


Pete Nicks, dir., The Force

9:00 AM -- Peter Nicks, 
The Force, his new film which goes deep inside an embattled urban police department struggling to rebuild trust in one of America's most violent cities at a power-keg moment in American policing. The Force opens today, Sept. 15, at a variety of Bay Area venues. The big Oakland opening is tonight at the Grand Lake theatre. Other locations the film is screening are: Landmark Embarcadero in SF, Landmark CA in Berkeley and the Smith-San Rafael in San Rafael. Visit The Force on Facebook at the website: theforcefilm.org
The Force Official Trailer

Dr. Shakti Butler, dir., Healing Justice






9:30 AM --  
Shakti Butler is a multiracial African-American woman (African, Arawak Indian, and Russian-Jewish) whose work as a creative and visionary bridge builder has challenged and inspired learning for over two decades. She is the producer and director of groundbreaking documentaries including The Way Home, Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible, and Light in the ShadowsCracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity uses story, theater and music to illuminate the larger frame of structural/systemic racial inequity. She joins us to talk about her latest film: Healing Justice with a world premiere Sat., Sept. 16, at the First Congregational Church of Christ, 2501 Harrison Street in Oakland. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, Wed., Sept. 13

This is a black arts and culture site. We will be exploring the African Diaspora via the writing, performance, both musical and theatrical (film and stage), as well as the visual arts of Africans in the Diaspora and those influenced by these aesthetic forms of expression. I am interested in the political and social ramifications of art on society, specifically movements supported by these artists and their forebearers. It is my claim that the artists are the true revolutionaries, their work honest and filled with raw unedited passion. They are our true heroes. Ashay!

1. Patricia Nunley, Ph.D.—ABPsi, joins us to talk about "the Political Climate and How it is Effecting Our World." The onversation which is centered in the concept of Nommo from the Dogon in Mali, is at the West Oakalnd Boys and Girls Club, 3233 Market Street, Oakland. It is a free event. 

2. Kheven La Grone, playwright, AeJay Mitchell, director of The Legend of Pink, which opens the 2017-18 Season for Theatre Rhinocerous, previews 9/13-9/16 matinee at 3 p.m. Opening night is this Sat., evening at 8 p.m.  Learn more at www.TheRhino.org.

3. Johanna Brown & Ms. Billie Cooper join the playwright to talk about the historic period referenced in the work. 

4. Shakti Butler, director, World-Trust: Social Impact through Film and Dialogue, joins us to talk about her latest film, Healing Justice. It debuts this weekend, Sept. 16.

Music: Sweet Honey in the Rock (Hope), The Pyramids (Otherworldly, Memory Ritual), Ruth Foster (Stone Love), Thao and the Get Down Stay Down (Human Heart), Kim Nalley (I Wish I Knew What It It Would Feel to Be Free).

Link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks/2017/09/13/wandas-picks-radio-show-the-legend-of-pink

Monday, September 11, 2017

SF Fringe Opening Weekend

Cat Brooks © W. Sabir photographer
I went to two shows Sunday evening at the SF Fringe Festival at EXIT on Eddy.  The first play, Tasha, by Cat Brooks, directed by Ayodele Nzinga is the story of a young black woman society sees as crazy. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, she grew to be the object of discrimination in the small Southern town she was born and raised.

The multimedia performance features footage from the cell where Tasha was being tased. It is a compelling story of the social stigma of mental illnesses and questions the normative wellness practices which target those persons who are different as if difference is suspect and needs to be eliminated.

Tasha also shows how little support there is for parents with children (later adults) who do not want to be medicated to fit into this pseudo normative. What if, Cat Brooks asks, what is seen as normal is really aberrant? Who in their right mind would want to adjust to that? Another question the work Tasha asks the audience to contemplate is why violence is the first response to the unknown? Tasha's response to state violence is self-defense, yet she is outnumbered and is no match for the armed intolerance whether this is guns or drugs.
Tasha tells her captors multiple times from the cell floor where they have her restrained and prostrate that she wants to go home. She tells this to the nurse, a character whose haunting observations clarify perhaps what the audience as witness refuses or is unable believe. Tasha is one of many women abused by this American judicial system. The police chief says to the press (in another video clip), Tasha should not have been in their custody. She should have been somewhere else, that her department's job was to enforce "law and order" not protect the vulnerable.  

Law and order for Tasha meant silence. When the men dressed in protective gear, pulled Tasha from her cell, force her to her knees and then prone, as she moves under the weight of 4-6 men, the playwright externalizes their thoughts so we can hear what they are thinking. None of the thoughts convey sympathy for Tasha, just annoyance at her resistance.

Other shows are: 9/12 and 9/13.  
Listen to an interview with Cat Brooks at wandaspicks.com/radio

Homeful

Amy Mihyang Ginther's Homeful is sweet work. It is a coming of age story and a travel log of a transracial adoptee who doesn't seem to fit into the definition of American. As we travel with Amy to Senegal and walk into the slave dungeon in Goree Island, get stranded in Argentina or fall in love with the protagonist in England then escape to Dublin all the while staying in touch with Mom in New York via email, a delightful story emerges of love and home across multiple landscapes where the feisty Amy armed with verve and ashay, wins almost all showdowns.

Unlike Cat Brooks's Tasha and her mother, Amy can traverse landscapes unavailable to the Tashas in this world. Amy never seems stuck, her life fluid -- home, something she can count on because her mother's love is there, her father, siblings and an array of friends (she introduces her audience too) are also present for guidance and support.

This show continues the personal saga for Amy who tells the story of meeting her adoptive family in another show. I am quite amazed at her fluency in multiple languages. Visit wandaspicks.com/radio to listen to an interview with Amy at wandaspicks.com/radio.


KPFA Posse: Kirsten Thomas, Cat Brooks & Mitch Jeserich
(UpFront Hosts) 
 © W. Sabir photographer
Amy Mihyang Ginther (Homeful) © W. Sabir photographer


SF Fringe 2017 Artists: Irma Herrera (Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name
 with Amy Mihyang Ginther (Homeful) 
 © W. Sabir photographer

Friday, September 08, 2017

Dispatches from Beaumont, Texas



New Light Volunteers
I had a conversation Sept. 5 with Sheryl Ball. A cousin of Sister Afua Holt, journalist, I caught her in the middle of preparing disaster packages for the community in Beaumont.  One of the coastal cities, I'd heard a lot about Beaumont, Port Arthur and other areas nearby. Ms. Ball said she'd had people staying with her. When one family left for home, another stepped into his or her shoes.

Though hit hard, everywhere was not flooded. However, there are areas of Beaumont still underwater and without electricity and water.  
I had an opportunity to speak to Sheryl Ball in Beaumont, a small town near the Gulf of Mexico, I heard the entire city was under water – but Mrs. Ball said she didn’t experience flooding. However her brother who lives on the outskirts of Beaumont in a trailer park, experienced water up to the cars. He had to leave once the rain started in earnest Sunday, August 27. It got up to 47 inches she said; however, they went back.

It was flooding on the highways headed to Rose City and along Hwy. 105, Hwy. 90 toward Liberty and Dayton as well.  The north end of Beaumont is still flooded.  Many elders in that area refused to leave. They said they would tough it out, but today, someone called and reported the 30 people stranded there without water and electricity. They didn’t leave, Mrs. Ball said, because they didn’t have anywhere to go. They also didn’t leave because they felt their apartments would be burglarized.

Her houseguest went back to pack a few belongings because the state was not going to let anyone return. While they toughed out the storm, someone ran a generator for the elder residents. The owner knew they were stranded yet did not report this to authorities. Speculation is he was too busy taking care of his personal property.  Luckily, everyone is okay.

The couple who were staying with her went home Sunday, and the women who was at the apartment complex arrived Sunday. Major Drive was under water and where Mrs. Ball's brother lives, a big hole where the city is building a megastore flooded his home. Without mail delivery people are dependent on support from their neighbors. One of Ball’s friends “couldn’t get food stamps because she lost her identification card.  She had to wait for the mail man for its replacement. Mail didn’t start back up until the end of last week.

All the evacuees were sent different places, and family members have not been able to keep up with their transport. “One of my cousins is in a shelter. I don’t know where he is.” Mrs. Ball said.  Her son who lives off 11th and Fannett Road, told his mother the water stopped just below the wall sockets in his house, while another relative said the water stopped at the foot of his driveway.”

When asked about a curfew, she said there is none there.

Since she was at her church, New Light, when I called, I was able to speak to Pastor Tina Egans, who with her husband serve the 
New Light Christian Center Beaumont congregation. Text to give:71441NewLight   Facebook.com/NewLight   There are four (4) churches in Houston and one (1) in Beaumont.

Pastors Tina and Terry Egans, live in the Northern area in Houston—Spring area. They didn't have any flooding there; however, the couple are familar with disaster relief: Ike, Katrina and now Harvey. One of the churches in Houston was used as a shelter for initially 60 people, eventually 400. The fire department broke into the structure in their rescue efforts. It is a large building, the Old Lakewood building. People were stuck there for three days. The Red Cross could not get to them. Metro buses couldn't get to them. The pastors were calling Congresswoman Sheila Jackson that Sunday, August 27 when the storm hit.

On the road, the pastors have been going back and forth between Houston and Beaumont. She said the longest it took to get back to Houston was three hours. When Cyprus Creek started flooding they couldn't pass. On August 30, they were about to get on the road again.

The church has a Credit Union in Houston which will be a tremendous help to their 20,000+ members, including those people in the community who also lost everything.  They have four distribution sites, and New Light plans to have a FEMA representative on campus. Lot of people might not have access to technology, so at the One Stop centers, people will be able to handle all their business under one roof.


Wanda's Picks Friday, Sept. 8, 2017

This is a black arts and culture site. We will be exploring the African Diaspora via the writing, performance, both musical and theatrical (film and stage), as well as the visual arts of Africans in the Diaspora and those influenced by these aesthetic forms of expression. I am interested in the political and social ramifications of art on society, specifically movements supported by these artists and their forebearers. It is my claim that the artists are the true revolutionaries, their work honest and filled with raw unedited passion. They are our true heroes. Ashay!


1. Wanda Ravenell and Wanda Blake join us to talk about the free 4th Annual Black Eyed Pea Festival, Sat., Sept. 16, 11 t 6 p.m., at Oakland Tech on Braodway between 42nd and 45th Street. 


2. Amy Mihyang Ginther's Solo Performance, Homeful, in SF Fringe Festival at EXIT Stage Left, 156 Eddy St, SF, 90 Minutes: 9/10, 8:30 p.m., 9/15, 8:30 p.m., 9/16, 4 p.m., 9/20, 8:30 p.m.

3. Michaela Harrison joins us to talk about The Healing Room, LIVE with Joy Clark and Monica McIntyre at Brava Theatre, in San Francisco, Thursday, September 14 – 8-9:30 p.m.


Link to show: http://tobtr.com/10240985