Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, Wed., January 15, 2010

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. Rev. Daniel Buford, Sculpturer, Community Organizer, Human Rights Avocate, retired from Allen Temple Ministry

2. Chloe Hilliard, author, F*uck Your Diet and Other Things My Thighs Tell Me, plus catch her at Sketchfest (2020)

3. Zach Norris, Executive Director, Ella Baker Center, We Keep Us Safe: Building Secure, Just, and Inclusive Communities (2020). Norris also speaks to us about the initiative and project: Restore Oakland. 

4. Mildred Pitts Walter, author, Something Inside So Strong: Life in Pursuit of Choice, Courage and Change, will be at the Unitarian Universalist of San Mateo, Sun., Jan. 19, 11a.m.-12:30 p.m.
https://uusanmateo.org/events/mildreds-book-signing-something-inside-so-strong/

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, Wed., Jan. 22, 2020

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. Anne C. Bailey, author, "The Weeping Time, Memory and the Largest Slave Auction in American History" is an historian, and professor of History and Africana Studies at SUNY Binghamton (State University of New York). In her works of non- fiction, she combines elements of travel, adventure, history, and an understanding of contemporary issues with an accessible style. She is a US citizen who grew up in Jamaica, WI and in Brooklyn, New York. Bailey is committed to a concept of “living history” in which events of the past are connected to current and contemporary issues. She is also concerned with the reconciliation of communities after age old conflicts like slavery, war and genocide. Her non-fiction book, African Voices of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Beyond the Silence and the Shame (Beacon Press) and her current work, The Weeping Time: Memory and the Largest Slave Auction in American History, (just published, Cambridge University Press, 2017) reflect that commitment.

2. Joanna Haigood re: "Sailing Away" (2012)

3. Dara Kell, director, joins us to talk about a sneak preview of her film: "We Cried Power," here in the SF Bay tomorrow, Jan. 23, 2020 at the Red Stone Building, 2640 16th Street, in San Francisco, 6-8 p.m. It's free.

4. W. Kamau Bell re:Oakland Symphony Playlist


Link to show: http://tobtr.com/s/11662043

Monday, January 13, 2020

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, Friday, January 10, 2020

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. Minister Daniel Buford joins us to talk about Art and Spirituality and his show at Colorlines Restaurant Feb. 2020 (reception 2/13, 5 p.m.) at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.

2. Emily Dickinson  - In Her Own Words  - Exclusive Solo Performance by Chetana Karel-Michaan, America’s Leading Theatrical Interpreter of Emily at Berkeley City Club, 7 p.m., Jan. 11, 2020. Directed by Andrea Adler. Co-written by Andrea Adler and Chetana Karel-Michaan. Music by Dale Zola.

3. Living Jazz director, Stacey Hoffman, joins us to talk about "In the Name of Love: 18th Annual Musical Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jan. 19, 7 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland. Visit livingjazz.org

4. We conclude with a conversation with Maestro Michael Morgan, Oakland Symphony, about the Celebration of Bernard Tyson & His Playlist, Friday, Jan. 24, 8 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre. Visit OaklandSymphony.org


Wednesday, January 8, 2020: The 1811 German Coast uprising January 8-10

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!

In honor of The 1811 German Coast uprising January 8-10, 1811, we rebroadcast interviews and conversations with Dread Scott, artist, whose vision it was to restage a Reenactment of this historic event Nov. 8-9, 2019 along River Road into New Orleans.

This revolt of enslaved African men and women in parts of Orleans Territory on the east bank of the Mississippi River occurred in what is now St. John the Baptist, St. Charles and Jefferson Parishes, Louisiana.

https://ushistoryscene.com/article/german-coast-uprising/

NCR article by Jason Berry: Beneath the gentility, a harsh, hidden past

Reading (pp 48-55) taken from On to New Orleans: Louisiana's Heroic 1811 Slave Revolt by Albert Thrasher. Purchase at Hidden History Tour


https://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks/2020/01/08/wandas-picks-radio-show

Wanda's Picks Radio Show Special: The Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project

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!

The Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project opens at the Roxie Theatre Jan. 17 in San Francisco, Roger Macdonald, TV collections director at The Internet Archive in San Francisco, joins us with Tevor Von Stein, who was a volunteer initially on the Marion Stokes Project at the Archive. They join us to unravel the mystery and wonder that is Marion Stokes and this over 70,000 VHS tapes and also writings and other documents in the MSP. Roger will be speaking this weekend at the Roxie at select screenings.

Visit https://www.roxie.com/ai1ec_event/recorder-the-marion-stokes-project/?instance_id=38611

Marion Stokes (1929-2012) famously recorded TV news 24 hours a day for 35 years. When she passed away in 2012, she left behind over 70,000 VHS tapes containing hours and hours of footage. Filmmaker Matt Wolf set out to document this obsessive documenter in his new film, "Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project," which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival opens at the Roxie in SF Jan. 17-23.

2. MacKenzie Fegan interviews Matt Wolf on Bric TV https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cb00vGaWa6c

3. The Rescue List, dir. Alyssa Fedele, Zach Fink (2018). On PBS 3.23.2020.

Showlink: http://tobtr.com/s/11652107


Friday, December 27, 2019

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, Friday, December 27, 2019

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!

We rebroadcast a Kwanzaa Special Dec. 2012. We begin with a reflection on the Bay Area Kwanzaa Committee and Sister Makinya Kouate,


Radio show link:
https://wandasabir.blogspot.com/2012/12/wandas-picks-radio-show-habari-gani.html

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, Wednesday, December 25, 2019


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!

We open with an interview with Steeve Valcourt, Lokou Musik, from Haiti who are opening at the New Year's Eve concert at the Fillmore in San Francisco, 9 p.m., for The New Orleans Legends, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The two ensembles are serving textured gumbo, that is African Diaspora culture whether Hispaniola or Orleans Territory, Nawlins or Citi Soleil, Jacmel or Nord, Lagos or Kinshasa, Kingston or Mantanzas it's all the same story, the rhythms remain. HaitiaNola (2019) is the latest project on Cumbancha.

From the Archives: Taiwo Kugichagulia-Seitu joins us to talk about God Tell It, Dec. 21-22, 2012.

Show: http://tobtr.com/11626635


Friday, December 20, 2019

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, Friday, Dec. 20, 2019

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!


From the archives: Oakland Ballet presents: Graham Lustig's Nutcracker Dec. 21-22 at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland.

https://wandasabir.blogspot.com/2019/12/wandas-picks-radio-show-wednesday_11.html

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Robert Townsend's Living the Shuffle at The Marsh in Berkeley, 2021 Allston Way, through Sat., Dec. 14

Be the Change!
By Wanda Sabir


Friday evening was HHREC or the Health and Human Resources Education Center's Annual Holiday Party. Located on San Pablo and 19th Street in Oakland this organization celebrated another year of programs that promote African American wellness, especially that of Black women and Black youth (Downtown TAY). Wellness programs include the quarterly Be Still Retreat, Fitness Workshops, Black Women's Media Project, Sister Lola Hanif's Sacred Space, We Move for Health Run/Walk, and a magazine for Black Women, the current issue on "Depression."

While there one of the former participants in Downtown TAY, Venus Morris reminded me of Robert Townsend's Living the Shuffle at The Marsh in Berkeley, 2021 Allston Way, through Sat., Dec. 14, 8:30 p.m. I'd forgotten he was performing there, and certainly wanted to see his work before it closed. We learned that evening Townsend (b. Feb. 6, Bob Marley’s birthday) is coming back February 2020 for an extended month long run.

Robert Townsend, director, actor, producer, is epic and so congenial. The intimate theatre on Allston Way (formerly Anna's Jazz Island) was sold out, but for those folks who showed up, Marsh staff were able to get them in. And he was great!

Living the Shuffle is the story of a boy with talent, a man with dreams, faith and a vision. Themes covered are spousal abuse, single parenting, divorce, positive self-image-- all couched within the context of humor.

When one thinks of the term "shuffle," it is more than the walk of a tired elder. It is the way Black men were made to move to avoid condemnation, even death by white Americans. Stepping off sidewalks into the dirt roads, donning hats, bowing heads, lowering eyes -- humiliation is the shuffle Black Americans descendants of enslaved Africans have been cast since freedom rang.

For whom did that bell toll?

Shuffle, shuffling is an inherited act. It is a persistent-traumatic stressor complicated and normalized by 21st century totems like sagging pants. Stumbles follow easily when shuffling is what one does with one's feet, particularly if one’s clothing enables falls. Shuffling implies laziness and immorality. Fallen people shuffle, shoulders hunched -- shifty mortals who can't look a person in the eyes shuffle.

However, shuffling can also be an attitude. In Townsend’s Living the Shuffle it’s never showing one’s hand, keeping one’s thoughts private, and having multiple deals available at any given time.  It is improvisation, it is jazz, it is what African ancestors did so well in this new world— syncretism. Like his ancestors, African people, Townsend too is gifted at finding the mean(s).

Townsend channels spirit. He is kinetic energy, always thinking and always moving—shuffling his hand and returning and replacing cards which do not serve him or his people. A man with vision, always ready with a deck, Townsend doesn’t wait for a hand, he reshuffles the deck and stands where he chooses to stand a counter-narrative to presiding dominant cultural archetypes. We see this over an over again as photos are projected onto a screen as Townsend appears in his first film, the "popular urban classic: 'Cooley High (1975), co-stars with Denzel Washington in 'A Soldier's Story (1984), with 'Diane Lane in 'Streets of Fire' (1984) and 'American Flyers' (1985) with Kevin Costner.'" (Marsh program notes).
After Don Reed, whose popular work, E14th Street is up at the Marsh in Berkeley, Dec. 21 (8:30 p.m.) and Dec. 22 (5:30 p.m.) introduces his friend, who gave him his first job in Hollywood, we realize these two men, these brothers control this thermostat, so we can sit back and enjoy the excursion.

Townsend's life story illustrates that prays are answered almost immediately if one listens. We watch the youngster listen to his stepfather yelling and screaming at his mother. He worries and wonders what he can do and remembers what his mother told him about prayer.

Throughout Living the Shuffle, the combination of faith and a mother's courage and support, plus strong friendships are the foundation for this director, actor, producer, whose professional start was when he was about 14 years old at Chicago's Experimental Bag Theatre, an after school improvisational theatre program.


Townsend is encouraged in school by a teacher who sees the youngster's interest and talent. He’s had lots of practice. His mother tells him to come home after school to protect him and so her son knows all the TV shows by heart and if anyone misses an episode he can reenact all the characters almost verbatim.

When Townsend discovers Shakespeare, it’s love at first sight.  He goes to the library and steals as many recordings of performances he can fit beneath his shirt. Once home, he begins to study the language and stories performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company in England. It is this scholarship that impresses his teacher when Townsend reads a character in Sophocles's Oedipus Rex.

Later when his family moves to another neighborhood in Chicago where Townsend  says he had to walk a different way home from school each day to avoid the gangs and certain death, we also see the actor on the basketball court playing pick up games with local youth. It is a place where kids across turf affiliations could play.

Townsend's values sportsmanship. The court is a place where truce is called. It is also a place where this youth shows that one can choose other ways to resist than violence. Though he never says he is fearless, the younger Townsend's values did not allow him to consider fighting back with violence. He like Gordon Parks "chose a different weapon." Townsend's was wit, humor and skill-- all the improvisational tools he honed practicing his character roles from TV. These personas learned on his own and later polished in private study and in school or workshops gave him worlds he could tap into, alternative spaces he could examine extracting necessary tools needed in critical moments to defeat or slay innumerable mortal dragons.

His hero’s journey was protracted.

Living the Shuffle is physical theatre at it's best. Townsend is bouncing an imagined ball around the stage, running backward as he and a shorter teammate "kill it" every time to the chagrin of the other captain who has crooked teeth.

Themes of fairness and honesty follow Townsend to college where the young thespian looks to fine tune his craft and go to New York a star.  He shares this dream with the faculty chair of the department at the Illinois college who tells this young student who has had nothing but encouragement all his life that he would never be successful. This party line continues when Townsend transfers to another school in New Jersey. The student eventually dismisses their comments because "they don't know him or what he is capable of."

He and friend, Keenen Wayans Sr. decide to start their own production company, producing and writing their own material and they are successful. Townsend's independent film, Hollywood Shuffle (1987), a case study, is a film he financed with his own credit cards. He wrote, starred and produced it. Perhaps the reason why this film remains a classic is for the very reason Black imagery seems to be the property of anyone with a dollar 484 years after Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez first colonized Baja California in 1525 utilizing 300 enslaved Pan Africans; 400 years after the English colony in Virginia was established in 1619 through Black material merchandising-- Africans from Angola traded for provisions at Point Comfort, now Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton.

Even though Black people, the descendants of formerly enslaved Africans are technically free, the rights to our personas remains available in public domain. A copyright free zone, Black bodies and the capital such personas create remains opens season for those with big bucks, deep pockets or political agency.

Blackness is top on cultural exploitation lists -- national and global, so Robert Townsend's remarkable Living the Shuffle journey is unfortunately as relevant today as it was a brief 32 years ago.  When juxtaposed with Queen & Slim, a film that exploits Black vulnerability with white fear, we see Black prey and white hunters situated in gorgeous cinematography as cameras pan Circle Food Market in New Orleans, the site of an historic slave auction block. On the run, Angela and Ernest flee domestic armed forces (police) trying to get to safety. It is just 7 days, yet feel like a lifetime as the two characters captured on the police officer’s body camera are tracked like an elaborate modern Hunger Games. It is a United States against Blackness—they race tangentially against fugitive slave acts rescinded and lose.

This trope is the same refrain on repeat. It is in the recent film Harriet too, when the brute is cast “black” and brutality in “purity or whiteness.” There is seemingly no escaping the prescription, unless like Robert Townsend shows in Living the Shuffle one rolls out an alternative reality and lives his truth.

From classes at the Negro Ensemble Theatre to Pepsi Commercials to creating roles from nonspeaking "extras" to production of Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987) to his friendship with mentor Sidney Poitier, Living the Shuffle is ultimately about paying attention to the voice inside and never forgetting who you are. When he looked around, Townsend noticed a world which did not reflect what he was seeing in the mirror, so he stopped looking for Hollywood to validate a reality it could not see.

Jordan Peele says in his 2017 film, also starring Daniel Kaluuya (protagonist in Queen & Slim) to Get Out[!]  His appeal is to those Black folks to get moving and create a their own world. At the end of "Queen & Slim" why do the protagonists have to die? They unlike the criminals they are compared to -- Bonnie and Clyde, who rob banks, should get away. Why can't they get on the plane and fly off to Cuba where we see them hanging out with Assata Shakur? In a postscript, why can't we see the young family as parents living quietly in a forest with a baby running free?

A friend said, Black people can't dream.  In Living the Shuffle, “be the change” is not a just a campaign slogan, it is an imperative for life.


When we look at successful persons like Townsend, it is not often that the public knows the back story. Townsend literally climbed a mountain and that feat—his career, a career still unfolding, is something he reflects on as he takes us with him into his dreams or clouds as he talks us through the spaces where we cannot look down and then when the incline makes it difficult to continue up.

We catch our collective breath, then breathe deeply.


Standing at the apex of a journey he could imagine once he realized what he was good at and plus he enjoyed the most, Living the Shuffle shows Townsend a free man among a free people.  His friend, Don Reed, East 14th,[1] producer, Living the Shuffle, is a free man.  Brian Copeland[2] is also a free man. The Marsh seems to be a place that showcases free Black people. Might be a good idea to take out a subscription. Visit https://themarsh.org

What does Sam Cooke write in his classic song, "Change Is Gonna Come," covered by Aretha Franklin? The subject in the song says he is weary of standing alone. Townsend gets weary too, but is encouraged along the way by his mother and mentors and friends.

He speaks of all the auditions he goes with no call backs and meets another brother who is unable to pay his bills and is rethinking his career and passion. He offers to loan this actor, Denzel Washington some money, then when he is at a low point he calls his mother who asks him if he is praying and when is the last time he went to church. 


A Change Is Gonna Come
Sam Cooke

I was born by a river, oh man, in this little old tent, oh
Just like this river, I've been running ever since
It's been a long, long time coming
But I know, but I know, a change is gotta come
Ooo yes it is
Oh my, oh my, oh my, oh my

It's been too hard living, oh my
And I'm afraid to die
I don't know what's up there
Beyond the clouds

It's been a long, long time coming
But I know, but I know a change is gotta come
Oh yes it is
Oh my, oh my, oh my

There's a time I would go to my brother, oh my
I asked my brother, "Will you help me please?", oh my oh my
He turned me down and then I ask my dear mother, oh
I said "Mother!"
I said "Mother! I'm down on my knees"

It's been a time that I thought
Lord this couldn't last for very long, oh now
But somehow I thought I was still able to try to carry on
It's been a long, long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come
Oh, yes it is

Just like I said, I went to my little bitty brother, oh my little brother now
I asked my brother "Brother help me please?", oh now
He turned me down and then I go to my little mother, my dear mother, oh my
I said "Mother!"
I said "Mother! I'm down on my knees"

But there was a time that I thought
Lord this couldn't last for very long, oh my
Somehow I thought I was still able to try to carry on
It's been a long, long time coming
But I know, but I know a change is gotta come, ooo
It's been so long, it's been so long, a little too long
A change has gotta come
So tired, so tired of standing by myself
And standing up alone
A change has gotta come
You know and I know, and you know that I know
I know that you know, honey
That a change is gonna come oh yeah oh, I gotta

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Sam Cooke

A Change Is Gonna Come lyrics © Abkco Music, Inc


Here is Sam Cooke performing his song:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPr3yvkHYsE





[1] East 14th is at the March in Berkeley, Friday, Dec. 20 and Sat. Dec. 21

[2] The Waiting Room, Grandma and Me: Ode to Single Parents, Not and Authentic Black Man, The Jewelry Box . . . A Genuine Christmas Story.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019

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. Rozz Nash, People's Conservatory joins us to talk about KOLA: An Afro Diasporic Remix of the Nutcracker  https://www.thepeoplesconservatory.org/events

2 Cinderella @ African American Shakes guests: Funmi Lola who is playing Cinderella and Jan Hunter who is playing the Grandmother htps:/t/www.african-americanshakes.org/productions/cinderella/


3. Geronimo Whitaker joins his sons Joshua Bicaso Whitaker, SpirithausGallery owner and Justice Whitaker, filmmaker to talk about the closing reception, 12/15,  for Trauma Cycle: the Art of Geronimo Whitaker4. Soulful Christmas Dec. 13-22 at Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, 762 Fulton Street, San Francisco, with Yvonne Cobbs, musical director; Bertram Watson, Rhonda: https://www.lhtsf.org/

http://tobtr.com/s/11607529