Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Wanda's Picks Special Broadcast

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 forbearers. 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. Andrew Wood, San Francisco International Arts Festival
founded the Festival in 2002. Prior to that he had over 10 years experience as a presenter and an artist manager working at places such as ODC Theater, Life on the Water, the Ethnic Dance Festival and the San Francisco Mime Troupe.

2. Eugene Redmond, Da-Dum-Dun: Annual Tribute to Miles Davis, Henry Dumas, and Katherine Dunham. Three artistic giants who greatly impacted this city and the world will be honored Friday, May 19, 2017, at 6:30 pm in the Multipurpose Room of Building “D” on the Higher Education Campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), 601 J.R. Thompson Dr., East St. Louis (62201).Three artistic giants who greatly impacted this city and the world will be honored Friday, May 19, 2017, at 6:30 pm in the Multipurpose Room of Building “D” on the Higher Education Campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), 601 J.R. Thompson Dr., East St. Louis (62201).

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Wanda's Picks, Wednesday, May 10, 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 forbearers. 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!


Ayori Selassie




















1. Ayori Selassie
Selfpreneur and Salesforce
https://www.techplayground.in/

Ayori Selassie joins us to talk about "A Taste of Oakland" and the Tech Playground featured there, this weekend, May 13, 12-6 p.m.

Ms. Selassie is the creator of Life Model Design, a methodology used to solve complex life problems using design thinking. As the inventor of Life Model Canvas® (a framework to design your life), Selassie is a globally recognized thought leader, entrepreneur, philanthropist and innovator. Selassie currently works as a Product Marketing Manager on Einstein at Salesforce delivering artificial intelligence for everyone. Selassie leverages over eighteen years of software engineering, technology and consulting experience serving as a trusted adviser for startups and medium sized businesses.


Alo Billingslea, director.
Photo: Paul Kuroda


















2. Aldo Billingslea, director, of 
Samm-Art Williams's Home, at Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Friday, May 12, 7 p.m. in the Burial Clay Theatre, 762 Fulton Street in San Francisco. Home, at Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Friday, May 12, 7 p.m. in the Burial Clay Theatre, 762 Fulton Street in San Francisco. Aldo Billingslea, “HOME” Director, has mounted full productions of Lorraine Hansberry Theatre’s, A Raisin in the Sun for Pear Avenue Theatre and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Goodwill Shakespeare Company in Summerland, British Columbia. At Santa Clara he has directed Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, Love’s Labours Lost, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream along with the Shadowbox, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, The Odd Couple, The Good Doctor and Pentecost and Brian Thorstenson’s Welcome to Claradise. As an actor Aldo has performed at TheatreWorks, Marin Theatre Company, the Aurora Theatre, the Magic Theatre, A.C.T., and with Shakespeare Festivals of: Arabia, California, Dallas, Marin, Oregon, Santa Cruz, and Utah




Akubundu Amazu-Lott
For tickets and information.























3. Akubundu Amazu-Lott, All African Peoples Revolutionary Party, joins us to speak about African Liberation Day, May 27, 2017, 11-5 at Tassaferonga Park. Theme: "African Youth Organizing Against All Settler and Neo-Colonial Regimes: From DRC (Congo), to Standing Rock and Palestine!"


As a youth living in Los Angeles, CA, Akubundu Amazu-Lott experienced first hand being profiled by the police. On at least a half dozen occasions he was pulled over at gun-point by the LAPD. This experience contributed to his understanding that African people in America were treated as second-class citizens.  He made his way out of Los Angeles to San Jose State University. There he participated in sports (football) and received his B.S. in Business Administration and his Master of Urban Planning.

As an undergraduate student athlete he experienced racism on the field and in the classroom.  His resolve to change the situation of African People in particular and humanity in general lead him to join several progressive organizations including the Black Student Union (SJSU) and the Pan African Student Collective. He was introduced to and joined the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (AAPRP) in 1979 and is currently a member of the Central Committee. It is through his extensive study of Pan-Africanism and the struggles of oppressed people globally that he remains motivated to work for positive change. 

He was formerly an adjunct professor at San Jose State University in the African-American Studies Department. He taught classes on The African/Black Family, Economic Issues in the African-American Community, MLK and the Civil Rights Movement, Urban Policy and Inner City Residents, and more. Additionally, he has been a guest speaker on numerous university campuses throughout California. He has lead  groups of students to Haiti, Belize and most recently Cuba to meet with grass-root organizations. This life changing experience has lead to continued work to change U.S. policy in Haiti, as well as an ongoing working relationship with groups in Haiti. 

Friday, May 05, 2017

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, Friday, May 5, 2017

1. Safiya Fredericks, a Richmond native, director, join us to talk about a new play opening this weekend, May 6-7, 6-8 p.m., Richmond Renaissance at El Cerrito High School.

2. Shifting Movement:Art Inspired by the Life &Work of Yuri Kochiyama (1921-2014) artists: Susan Almazol, Jocelyn Jackson, Lenore Chinn. The exhibit is up at SOMarts Gallery through May 25. Special programs are May 20 and closing night.

3. Dorsey Nunn, Executive Director, LSPWC, joins us to speak about Quest for Democracy Advocacy Day at the state capital,  Monday May 8.

4. George Spencer, Musician, Composer, is being featured at City College of San Francisco Advanced Band Workshop, Tuesday, May 9, 8 p.m.-10 p.m. with Professor David Hardiman Jr. at Diego Rivera Auditorium, City College Ocean Campus, 50 Phelan Avenue, SF.

George is an educator, musician, composer and producer. He has been the music director for the Whispers, music director/road manager for the late Esther Phillips and toured nationally and internationally with John Handy, Johnny Otis, Oscar Brown Jr., and the Johnny Nocturne Band. A musician of great demand, George has performed with Don Shirley, Dakota Staton, Nina Simone, Mc Coy Tyner, Charlie Hayden, Marshall Royal, The Dells, The Manhattans, The Four Tops, Jerry Butler, Tammi Terrell, Martha Reeves, Lennie Williams, Brook Benton, Rufus Thomas, and Charles Brown. He has recorded with Johnny Otis, Barbara Morrison, John Handy, Bill Summers, Paul Jackson, James Levi, Spider Web, Sugar Pie De Santo, Bill Bell, Carolyn Ayana, Mike Vax Jazz Orchestra, San Francisco Allstar Big Band, Fillmore Preservation Jazz Orchestra, Junius Courtney Jazz Orchestra, Rev Dr. Isaiah Jones, and the Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church Choir George “Jazbeau” has performed at many festivals including Switzerland’s Bern International Jazz, Italy’s Umbria International Jazz, Japan’s UMK Jazz, Monterey Jazz, Monterey Blues, Houston International Jazz, Vancouver Jazz, and the New Orleans By-the- Bay Festival, to name a few.

He has taught at San Francisco State University, University of Santa Clara, UC Berkeley Summer Music Program, Laney College, Merritt College, Peralta College, San Francisco City College, Oakland Technical High School and Emery High School.
George is a prolific writer, arranger, producer and publisher and has cataloged his music through his publishing companies: Kenkuyu Music and Beau’s Original Music.
He continues to perform with the Johnny Otis Tribute Band, the San Francisco All Star Big Band, the Mike Vax Jazz Orchestra, and is Music Director for the Junius Courtney Big Band and Music Director at Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church.


George is committed to bridging the digital divide between private industry, urban schools, and under privileged communities through music, publishing, performance and education.                                                

Friday, April 28, 2017

Wanda's Picks Friday, April 28, 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!

This is the 25th Anniversary of the Verdict in the Rodney King Trial where in Simi Valley the guilty police officers were not charged. This travesty of justice set off a simmering explosive throughout Los Angeles county. In this 25th anniversary reflective conversation, Grace Lee convenes a space for discourse. The perspectives are both archival, controversial and reflective from people who were there then and now.

Uncensored, K-Town'92 looks at the interaction between the black community, Korean community and Latino communities within the context of the diseased container--racism and white supremacy. Scholars, journalists, children, citizens . . . all get there say.
1. Grace Lee, Korean American director, joins us to talk about her interactive media project and film, K-Town'92: Who Gets to Tell the Story.

Interactive Website

On Saturday, April 29th at 1P ET/10A PT, WORLD Channel will be Facebook Live streaming K-Town '92 Reporters. WORLD Channel’s Executive Producer Chris Hastings will be joined by director Grace Lee, and a special guest, to discuss the anniversary of the 1992 L.A. riots and the K-Town project, including the short film and newly launched interactive website ktown92.com. Use the comments section to ask questions after the stream. Join in at facebook.com/WORLDChannel.

2. Roger Guenveur Smith, joins us to talk about Rodney King, the film, directed by Spike Lee which airs on Netflix today, the 25th Anniversary of the LA Rebellion (4/30). 
3. Peoples Climate Movement -- Bay Area, April 29, 11-5 p.m. at Lake Merritt Ampitheatre. Joining us are: Susan Schacher and Carroll Fife.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wanda's Picks Wednesday, April 26, 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. Deborah Vaughn, Artistic Director, principal choreographer, co-founder of Dimensions Dance Theatre, joins us to speak about The Village Project, Sunday, May 7, 4 p.m. at Phillip Reeder Auditorium at Castlemont High School in Oakland. Visit DDT for tickets and info.
                                                        
2. People's Climate Movement Bay Area event, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Lake Merritt Ampitheater in Oakland, Sat., April 29, 2017. 

3. Rodney King, written and produced by Roger Guenveur Smith. Now a film, directed by Spike Lee (Netflix 4/28/17)

Link to show: 
http://tobtr.com/s/9983997

Bios:
Deborah Vaughan is the artistic director, principal choreographer, and co‑founder of Dimensions Dance Theater, a contemporary dance company that was founded in Oakland, California in December 1972 to promote public awareness of the central role that African Americans have played in defining American art, culture and social change. Vaughan is strongly committed to artistic collaboration, and has worked with an eclectic mix of internationally recognized artists including jazz singer and bandleader Cab Calloway, South African jazz artists Hugh Masekela and Thamasanqa Hiatywayo, vocalist Linda Tilllery, a capella gospel and blues group Street Sounds, jazz artist Idris Ackamoor, Chinese-American dance-maker Lily Cai, composer Anthony Brown, and the late composer and recording artist Khalil Shaheed. After attending the 50th anniversary of Brazzaville, Congo in 2010, Vaughan was inspired to create a monumental work representing the legacy of traditional Congolese dance forms, a work for which she has collaborated with longtime colleague Latanya Tigner, as well as Hervé Makaya, Isaura Oliveira, Jose “Cheo” Rojas, Kiazi Malonga, and MJ’s Brass Boppers.

Vaughan is the recipient of numerous grants, fellowships, and awards. Among them are the City of Oakland Artists Among Us Award (1997); Today’s Women Community Service Award (1998); two Isadora Duncan Awards for choreography including Common Ground (1996, which also won in the category of best performance) and People of the Zozos (1991). Additional honors include a KQED Black History Month Award, a San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival Award for Outstanding Performance, the Jerash Festival Award for Culture and Arts (Aman, Jordan), and the Jefferson Award for Community Leadership. In 2006 Vaughan was inducted into Alameda County’s Women's Hall of Fame as Outstanding Woman of the Year in the category of Culture and Art; that same year she also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from In Dance magazine; and in 2007 she earned a Certificate of Special Recognition from Congresswoman Barbara Lee.



Carroll Fife is an activist, educator and mother who has lived and worked in Oakland for the past 18 years. As co-chair of the Oakland Alliance, the parent organization to the Oakland Justice Coalition, Carroll works to increase access to quality jobs, housing, and education for marginalized Oakland residents. Carroll's deep commitment to coalition organizing has led to the following victories: Oakland's Department of Race and Equity, an eviction moratorium, the Cannabis Equity Permit Program.

Susan Schacher has been an activist in Oakland for 40 years -- working on education, community, labor, and climate issues. She is retired from teaching at Laney College; before that she was an elementary and high school teacher.  She works with No Coal in Oakland, and is on the Coordinating Committee of the Peoples Climate Day Bay Area -- this Sat, April 29.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Eugenics & California History

Dear Students:

Tuesday morning, I was listening to Upfront on KPFA and the topic caught my attention. The host and her guest were speaking about eugenics and medical ethics.  With Henrietta Lacks on my mind, you know I had to be at the event at UC Berkeley, Boalt Hall this evening, for the discussion, even if I knew I was going to be late-- (I had a writing deadline to complete).

I hadn't known California was at the forefront of a government program between 1909 and 1972 when more than 20,000 state-sponsored sterilizations were performed. I was floored.

What was cool was the other panelist who was skyped in from Detroit. Alexandra Minna Stern wrote the definitive book on this topic, Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America (2005). Talk about experts on the topic! In addition to Stern’s presence were other scholars who knew the breath of the issue and related it to current US policies.

The California numbers represented one-third of the 60,000 total in the United States. Children were taken from parents and forcibly sterilized. Others had to be sterilized in order to be released from state hospitals, prisons and other government facilities.

There are 831 survivors alive today. In California they are around 88 years old, but in North Carolina where the film is shot, the people are a bit younger. Targeted for sterilization were the poor, people with disabilities, especially cognitive (IQ 60 and below), Latinos, black people -- "people deemed 'unfit' for reproduction."  This does not even take into consideration what was happening on the reservations where such practices also occurred with regularity.

In 1970, USC hospital sterilized Mexicans. The story is documented in the film: "No Mas Bebes." The program would round up the entire family and sterilize the children too. Under President Nixon and then Johnson's War on Poverty, 100s of 1000s of women were sterilized. Nixon's program was called federal family planning. It was similar to what civil rights activist Ella Baker called the Mississippi Appendectomy. Women went into the hospital (in the 1940s and ‘50s) for one surgery and come out sterilized.

I went to the screening, arrived late and missed the film, but it is screening free online presently, so I am going to show it to you Wednesday morning. Donna, the director was at the screening at Boalt Hall. She said her husband bought the Skloot book for her when she was beginning her research for her film: "The State of Eugenics" in 2010.

What advocates are looking for are preparations for the survivors. In 2013, North Carolina paid $50,000 per survivor, while two years later Virginia paid, $25,000, in the meantime, California has done nothing. More recently, as in 2011, sterilizations of women prisoners in California were stopped. Women were targeted who were recidivism risks. Here is an article about new policies.

What I appreciated about discussion, especially Stern's, was the connection of Eugenics to an unparalleled global system of white supremacy and racism. These government officials were playing god, deciding who was worthy of being here and bringing others into the world like themselves, and who was not.  The director cited an article she read today where Harvard scientists were questioning the ethical application of research involving fetuses and new technologies which allow them to grow tissue, body parts, etc.

Here is a review of the book in Stern's book in the New England Journal of Medicine.

From the website:

REEL SOUTH: THE STATE OF EUGENICS, dir. Donna Sinclair-Shapiro

Video duration: 56:46 Aired: 01/26/17 Expires: 03/23/17 Rating: NR Video has closed captioning.
Between 1933 and 1974, the state of North Carolina ran one of the most aggressive eugenics programs, sterilizing more than 7,600 men, women and children. This film follows the journey of survivors, legislators and journalists who insist the state confront its role in the tragic, forced sterilization of thousands of Americans thought to have “undesirable” genetics.

I spoke to the director, Donna last night and she sent me a link to her film on pbs.org "Reel South." She also tells me that she will call into my class to speak to students about her film. I am more than jazzed. We watch the film, which is excellent. What is moving are the personal stories of the victims she follows who tell their stories of being robbed of an opportunity to have a family. One man says that the nurse tells him to sing and when he awakens, he is sterilized. Another person, says that the doctor told her the procedure is reversible.

The director traces the history of the program and its national application. What is shocking is the deliberate use of sterilization to for genocide. A bureaucrat with no connection to the youth who is recommended for the surgery, makes inquires until the suggestion become his legacy. In one country over 400 people were sterilized.

Though the film focuses on the two starts where reparations are being paid, the work certainly speaks to the larger work still waiting to be completed.  

Sunday, February 05, 2017

27th Annual Celebration of African American Poets and Their Poetry

A little rain never stopped this show in the 27 years it has been happening at the West Oakland Branch Library across the street from Lil Bobby Hutton Park at 18th and Adeline Street. This year, we didn't have any youth or children on the program, but Randolph Bell brought his daughter and the two enjoyed a bit of the program before they headed to their next stop.

A lot happens in the shortest month of the year, which highlights the historic legacy of black Americans. For the other 11 months, the megaphone is all but silent. Nonetheless, we know without black people, America would not be the America it is today -- from the traffic light and light bulb, to blood plasma and the ball point pen, refrigerator transport systems and home security system, ice cream and ice cream scooper (with spring) ironing board, swiveling sprinkler system, dry cleaning process, automatic elevator shaft closing, computer, clock, watch, folding chair. It goes on and on, especially when we include the theft of Henrietta Lacks's immortal cells renamed HeLa, were used to develop the vaccine for Polio, travel in outer space and used to research for: "herpes, leukemia, influenza, hemophilia, Parkinson's disease, certain types of genetic diagnoses, cancer, AIDS, cloning, the effects of radiation and toxic substances, and in vitro fertilization."

It is said, Mrs. Lacks is the most important woman in medical history. Unfortunately, everyone made money from her cells, except her young children and husband in dire poverty when she died.
Avenging the Ancestors Coalition is an organization in Philadelphia which has a list of inventions invented by black men and women. ATAC says: We did it. They hid it.  Grounded in the Akan concept of Sankofa, ATAC explains that genius is political and if the person with the idea was owned by another or the competitor was more powerful, then theft would go without prosecution. In the case of Lacks, the doctor(s) just hid his research from the family and ignored Mr. Lacks refusal to cooperate by stealing Mrs.Lacks's cells.
This 27th year, we had a full audience—lots of volunteers and a nice mix of both new and old faces. People stayed until the end, because the poetry was so good—I mean outstanding. 

Rahim Sabir opened with a nice live drum interlude. Later on, Rahim also accompanied me with my poem. That say we had duets and sole performances; however a highlight of this year was the tribute to Lee Williams, Sr. a longtime supporter of the Celebration.  Tique, eldest daughter, shared a few Lee Williams standards and Lee II and his wife performed songs from an upcoming recording. It was fun listening to Lee and his wife perform, especially the song: “Mo Grown” where the singer laments his errors and “Hard,” where the singer says life is hard because “he forgot about God.”

Gene Howell, Jr. and Halifu Oṣumare performed a duet—their poetry full of loving metaphors—Gene’s “Le live da la femme noire or Black Woman Book,” Halifu’s answering “Where did you come from” felt unrehearsed. It was as if poetry were their livelihood, their breath, all else unnatural or pretense.

Steve McCutchen shared stories about NASA and the black mathematicians and scientists he knew as a child, in his poem “A Lever and a Place to Stand.” His tribute, “Conversation,” to his friend Lee Williams was also lovely. At times his voice sounded like Lee’s.

Darlene Roberts shared a meditation on the N- word. However, it was a poem she wrote for Lee which he never heard, which took us back to Victor’s Café in Oakland and to the Western Addition Cultural Center in San Francisco where Darlene, as President of the International Black Writers in San Francisco would host monthly Saturday meetings.

Reginald Wilkins led us in a meditation on black life and black love and resilience and resistance with his tow pieces, “I Can Breathe” and “It’s Supposed to Be Easy.”

Andre La Mont Wilson’s work is biographical and this year his selections, centered on his parents, Mom and Dad: “Heartache”; “Note in a Pot”; “Sankofa.” Both parents were poets and left him lots of poems when they passed. Andre said that his dad, a ceramicists would send him pots for presents. He says, he would have enjoyed a visit from Dad more until he found the note in the pot. 

Douglas “Katabatzi” Coleman’s work is always excellent; however, this year, his choices: A New Song; Blood Run; and Emancipation” were stunning artistically. He spoke about education in “A New Song.” The pedagogy in the new song youth will sing would “model peace and contentment. . . . Let’s teach the youth a new song, with rhymes and verses that they belong.”

In “Blood Run”, the poet challenges us to value black lives while acknowledging that this world’s values should be rejected. He writes: “Abandon notions of racial superiority/Embrace the common humanity/that we may explore our destiny/Let’s practice reciprocity.”

Karla Brundage’s work was self-reflective. What is public education and who does it serve and fail to serve and who cares when the neediest needs remain unaddressed. Her closing poem – Maafa Crossing was really great! She said she wished she had a rapper for the poem and a brother from the audience volunteered. He was really good too.

Jasmin Strange arrived just in time. Her stories about the poetry were almost as interesting as the work. The second poem had a refrain, “I see you,” which reminded me of something important. When we fail to acknowledge each other it contributes to the eerie displacement we see often in allies, doorways, street corners.

Tyrice Deane’s poems interrogated the notion of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in relationship to black people’s transport to this nation.