Friday, August 01, 2008

Association of Black Psychologists; Chicago 10 at OM

I'd been trying to get to the Association of Black Psychologists conference at the Convention Center in Oakland, since Wednesday, July 30 and showed up this evening August 1 for the Mbongi, or evening talk. This one was about Media, Art and Accountability. Dr. Naim Akbar was one of the respondents, as was the sister who starred in Caroline or Change. I hated her character--she was a whiner and the story was about a Jewish boy who learned that his maid, Caroline, was not an extension of himself, rather she had her own life and worries. I enjoyed her comments this evening though. I am not interested in white boy coming of age stories, even those with black leads. The sister did have a pretty singing voice, but then so did Anika Noni Rose. I enjoyed her in Angels in America, another Tony Kushner play.

I wish I'd seen the Theatre Works version Caroline this year with C. Kelly Wright. It would have been interesting to see if I liked it any better. Probably not, I don't know how one can play "mammy" with dignity.

Okay, so the panelists are responding to questions about image and responsibility, audience and how art and scholarship are connected like fingers on the same hand. I had to leave before it was all over, but the comments were interesting.

I wondered who the audience was for this conference; certainly the community--Oakland wasn't in the house. At $25 for students and seniors for this two hour talk, I wondered which of my students could afford to come? One panelist spoke about relevance and how the scholars were basically alienated from those they served.

Not all of course, but why have all these smart people in the house from across the country and not have it open, at least in the evenings to everyone? The topics are so varied and interesting too: media, hip hop, traditional African healers and western trained healers.

Okay, so I leave and head over to the Oakland Museum...I see Marlene Hurd circuling the block looking for parking. She was hit by a bus on her bicycle. I think her leg and ankle are broken. AC Transit buses have hit and hurt too many of my friends: Tomye, Jane, and now Marlene.

I'd planned to see the Birth of Cool exhibit, but I saw BJ and we caught up on Black Panther news, A3, and Gail's travels. We then went down to the theatre where we ran into Emory Douglas and the actresses who were to portray Angela Davis Saturday, August 2 in a reenactment of a speech Davis gave in support of the Chicago 8.

The film, Chicago 10, followed by a panel discussion was fantastic. BJ said this was the year he joined the Panther Party, 1968. He said the year King was killed, was the same year that the white activists -- Yippies, felt what black activist knew all along--if you go against the system, you're going to get your butt kicked, and they did. Police brutality and excessive force was used on white protesters in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention. Soon after this, SDS --Students for a Democratice Society gave way to the more radical Weather Underground according to BJ.

Under Mayor Daley Sr. (his son is mayor now of Chicago), the police response to peaceful protestors was brutal. It was unbelievable--the armed response. Reminds one of Palestine. It's no wonder what's happening there and in Iraq and elsewhere in the world, receives little response from this government.

America's history has the same bloodshed.

The film, which uses cartoon drawings, as well as documentary footage, captured accurately, people said afterwards the situation on all sides. During the Q&A, quite a few people in the audience said they had been there in Chicago, and remembered the TV coverage. Others were here and remembered Angela Davis' speech at Lil' Bobby Hutton Park. It was so cool to be in the presence of such living history.

We mingled and chatted afterwards and then I went back upstairs to the cafe for the Blues concert. People were dancing and the lead singer was working the crowd. He said he was looking for his baby.

I couldn't help him, as I was looking for mine too (just kidding). I wanted to walk the Lake and contented myself with driving around it after my friend texted me back that he was at a meeting and couldn't walk. It's times like this that I wish I had a dog. He or she would protect me. Anyway, I'm home now writing this, listening to Perry Mason on the TV and thinking about the sunrise ceremony early in the morning at the conference. I plan to walk after that.

The Port Huron Project 5: The Liberation of Our People event begins tomorrow, August 2, in the park at 5 p.m. with DJ and music courtesy of Youth Radio and Youth Uprising. The speech begins at 6 p.m. Everything happens at the historic park, deFremery then, now Lil' Bobby Hutton, 1651 Adeline Street, Oakland (between 16 and 17th Street). Rain date, Sunday, August 3. The event will be taped and uploaded to Youtube. This is the fifth speech, the final speech will be one given by Kwame Ture's at the UN in Washington, DC. Visit

It's good to look at the events of the past. Looking back is often informative and encouraging.

39-40 years ago America was engaged. People had had enough, perhaps we'll get to that point again soon? One psychologist said this evening, and this was repeated by an actress on the panel, people in the house are not interested in burning it down. This is in direct opposition to the folks in the streets...homeless and down on their luck who are ready to send the entire block...neighborhood, country up in flames.

This is the trick...the situation is desperate only to those who have nothing to loose because they have already lost everything. Those of us who can afford to travel to Africa, who can go to conferences...sit and talk to other scholars in language of the dominate cultural discourse, we can afford to wait. We can try to make change slowly over time...doing little damage, nothing disruptive...but when you're children are hungry or dying or being killed daily, now can't wait until tomorrow.

The photos are all from the Oakland Museum. The top one is of a mother and child, I met in the audience. The others are of the actresses, Emory who was on the panel, panelists, the directors of the projects--film and speech, Rene, curator at the Oakland Museum, BJ from Its About Time BPP, Michael and Roy, filmmakers (Hip Hop colony), oh and the brother, James, who 17 then, was at the Angela Davis speech. It's too bad Chairman Bobby Seale wasn't there. He was the star of the documentary film. They gagged and bound him on court and when that didn't stop his demands to represent himself. The judge ordered him silenced and the guards beat him in the court room.

The film will be screened at the OM again Sept. 24, before screening on ITVS (channel 9 locally). Visit


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