At a time historically when conversation is for the most part a lost art, I am amazed that the only people talking are those trapped next to each other on flights or in prison cells on lockdown, or on sinking ships once the last lifeboat is filled. Conversation is not the penalty for isolation, but often it feels such.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
John Hope Franklin
Saturday, March 28, 2009
These photos were taken March 23 in the evening outside Lovelle Mixon's family's apartment where he was killed as he hid in a closet, and three other OPD shot, two killed. His 16 year old sister, wounded by a grenade tossed inside the apartment, as she ran out of the apartment was handcuffed and then later taken to Children's Hospital for cuts on her legs. There are also photos of the memorial across the street on the corner where the first two policemen were killed.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Lovelle Mixon Reflections
War has been declared...we need to close ranks and be careful. It's always tragic when life is taken or lost to violence, but is what Lovelle Mixon was doing what one would call living?
March 23 at 4:59pm
Is Oaktown the new Thebes?
Remember in the Greek story, Seven Against Thebes? In it two brothers killed each other over turf and the king said the dead brother could not be buried. This was the ultimate insult to his soul memory. His sister decided to defy this order on the threat of death. Will Power and Robert Henry Johnson produced a great hip hop version of the classic at Thick Description several years ago.
I wrote this before I knew that the police still had Lovelle's body. They still have it.
11:04am March 24
I went by the places where the police men and Lovelle lost their lives, 74th and MacArthur tonight (Monday, March 23). The people I met were saddened by the tragedy for all concerned. I think the media is trying to create a Frankenstein's monster out of Lovelle, by slandering his name, accusing him of crimes where there was no evidence... and the case tossed out of court (reminds me of SF8). All we know for sure is that he shot five police and 4 police are dead. This criminalizing him and dehumanizing him is one of the reasons why he is dead now, why he killed those police officers, themselves innocent bystanders in a scenario that predates their direct involvement and continues after their death. If we don't want this event to be one where life was lost in vain, then like Wilson Riles Jr. and others on the Morning Show (KPFA.org) stated we need to look at root causes, the systemic circumstances that produce a Lovelle--what a lovely name.
He was an innocent, like "the monster" in Mary Shelley's novel. He was loving and capable and willing to do whatever his guardians told him to do. It was Dr. Frankenstein who is the true monster in Shelley's scenario and in this one too. We need to keep our children out of these laboratories where they are not loved and supported, taught and guided in a way that helps them make the right choices. Where was the support network a parolee needs when he gets out and can't seem to find his footing? From everything I have read, Lovelle was in the water trying to stay affloat after only one swimming lesson. He needed a life jacket and in this way I think we are failing our youth. If most black men are connected to the New Plantation system, then we need to set up a system to grab them so Lovelle is not the norm, rather the exception. The BPP was started to police our communities, it worked both ways.
We need to take back our communities literally and offer a restorative justice model where everyone is accountable for their actions, and there are real consequences connected to breaking the law, but the consequences are correct and remedy the situation. I love this about SF Community Courts which we don't have in Alameda County. Richard Brown (SF8) is a justice in this court and he gives out sentences which teach and correct and keep those persons who end up in his court out of prison, and keeps the streets safer. I love the concept I learned at the Deep Insight Retreat with Dr.Fu-Kiau, that there is no good and no bad, just alternative perceptions. We need to close ranks, call the community together and have discussions about what ails us and come up with solutions applicable right now. If Lovelle needed a job, why couldn't he find the resources to help him? His parole officer is such a resource, but he is not the only resource and if Lovelle didn't like him, then what?
Written on March 24, 2009, the day the UN declared a Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, at the Uhuru sponsored Vigil for Lovelle Mixon
"Lovelle Mixon didn’t die in vain."
"Unity is what we have to do; get organized."
A lot of what people were saying was rhetoric, but perhaps this is what is needed—a new language to supplant the destructive messages of old? The Honorable Elijah Muhammad spoke of those who are blind to the knowledge of self—he called said they were deaf, dumb and blind. If this is true, then we’ve gone from a little red on the stick to completely white. Those of us who can still see a little need to guide those who slipping further into darkness.
"I am not a US citizen."
"All life is important. There is no superior life—people with a badge are not superior."
"Lovelle’s family doesn’t have his body yet."
"It’s hard to embrace someone who is abrasive to you, a young woman stated and then recalled an incendent where 30-40 police killed someone in cold blood in front of her house and then after the person was dead, high-fived each other and laughed."
"All life is essential. I’m prolife," she said.
"Rape?! I’ll never believe that. This is is not the Lovelle I knew. I’ll never believe it." A friend of Lovelle said.
"We don’t advocate violence." Uhuru organizers said repeatedly.
"I speak for the mothers, one woman said. I have grown sons. My husband has been in prison 30 years."
"Let our people go," another person at the Vigil for Lovelle stated as she recited from the bible. "I have a neighbor who got out of prison March 14 and is afraid to come outside."
"I’m 19, I didn’t graduate from high school, one young man stated. He spoke about rap music and the glorification of material things which if people believe will lead them further into bondage." A young man stated.
"Where is CNN? In 2-3 months I might be gone. Genocide between black people is real. The love is lost—material….Surviving is the (new) movement. We’ve got to love ourselves, the woman next to me said. It starts with self and then others."
"We have to show each other love. Treat each other better—I can’t love you if you don’t love yourself."
A white Uhuru movement member spoke. She always gets a lot of attention because she is an eloquent reminder of an oppressive system which is cyclical and repetitive.
She said, "This system is founded on slavery and injustice—it makes a profit off black and poor people’s suffering."
Casper Banjo’s name was called and that of other victims of police violence. The police review commission found that the officer who shot Casper in 2008 did not use excessive force.
"We need to explore other avenues. We have philosophies. We built this place and need to use a new strategy to (prevent this type of tragedy from happening over and over again.) There is nothing the Lord can’t handle," another person said.
There was a lot I could have done this evening, but I wanted to go by the Uhuru sponsored vigil for Lovelle Mixon. Held outside the Eastmont Police Station along 73rd Avenue in East Oakland. The rally was an opportunity for the dissenters to voice their feelings of loss, anger, frustration and sorrow. Everyone had a few minutes on the mic and as the sun set and the comments wrapped, organizers read a statement, shared information about their weekly organizing meetings and then passed out lit candles for those assembled to march around the corner and put the candles on the altar outside the apartment where Mixon was killed, after shooting and killing two more policemen.
As I crossed the street and rounded the corner, I looked into the barbershop where the proprietor had tried to save one of the police on Saturday afternoon, to no avail. Cars passing by the vigil/rally and those stopped so we could cross the busy thoroughfare honked in solidarity.
The overall message this evening was love from a woman with grown sons and a husband behind bars, to the nineteen year old Laney college student and an older man who tried to share a little wisdom, but the hecklers weren’t hearing it. He was one of the only people interrupted; even an inebriated woman was allowed to have her say. Parents had their children out and friends of the slain man, Mixon, spoke of his character which was being maligned further with accusations of rape and murder.
I hadn’t known his body was still in police custody. I wonder why? I hadn’t attended an Uhuru event in a long time. Their meeting hall is an old art studio. I didn’t make it by the Oakland Museum for the community cinema screening. I’d wanted to support my friend Nunu Kidane who was on a panel to talk about African women, sustainable development, and a green economy. I’d also played with the idea of going to Palo Alto to see Ain’t Nothing but the Blues. I got lost Sunday and missed it.
I walked the Lake instead. I needed to shake off the death and sadness. I don’t know if I am going to the memorial on Friday. It is going to be pageantry and in contract to what is happening with Lovelle Mixon—the contrast is striking. But I think I’ll go as a witness.
I was supposed to be on KPFA last night and I fell asleep.
I have been writing about this young man all week. I started the day he was killed and have continued the conversation for the past week. The injustice surrounding the entire event and the lack of sympathy for his family is palatable. The healing needs to be inclusive and embracing for a true healing to take place…as long as life is so clearly seen as having different cuts or value—steak vs. shank, then the war will not end and people will still lose their lives and take others along with them to hell.
Lovelle left a hell behind, one he didn't create, yet still burns fiercely, fueled with those who are in similar situations as Lovelle and the police who are hired to keep the peace. Peace is relative...its definition a moving target.
For those at the bottom of the heap, getting up is really hard when one is standing on an oily surface or worse a bar of wet soap. Soap might get things cleaned up, but all soap doesn't cut grease, so when the tub is rinsed –the 500 year old stain remains.
Wanda Sabir at 6:06pm March 26 to Uhuru
The candlelight vigil was lovely last night. Great work! I hope the Uhuru organizing efforts prevents another tragedy like this one for all concerned: Lovelle Mixon and the 5 police, 4 killed, and this tragedy's residual effects on the black community.
The planning has started and we need to plan too, because we are not going to like the results ... which might address the symptoms, but not the root causes of such violence--otherwise more folks who have such easy access to guns are going to go off with dire results once again.
Police don't need an excuse to shoot a black man or black child. Black people don't need an excuse to shoot a police man. It's a war, and we need to draw up a peace treaty and get the American government to sign it, one city, one county, one state at a time. And invest some money in programs and people who have proven track records.
I am a homeowner and I want my tax dollars to support and affirm life, not death. I pay the mayor, police, fire fighters...salaries.
Uhuru Event Sunday, March 28
African People's Education and Defense Fund Informational Meeting, Sunday, March 29, 2009, 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. at Uhuru House, 7911 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA, (510)569-9620 and email@example.com
I don't know how much the display of public support for the grieving families cost, from the rally on Tuesday in East Oakland, to the huge memorial yesterday at the Oakland Arena, but it wasn't inexpensive. When I think about the city employees who have to take unpaid leave each month to keep the city from going broke, I wonder where this money comes from. The state covered police services for the City of Oakland yesterday also, while all the OPD attended and participated in the funeral services. Again, where did that money come from?
Are we printing money on an old press in some back room? If there is money to pay for such ostentatious displays of public grief, including today's public healing circles at the many Oakland Park and Rec Centers, then why was Lovelle Mixon unemployed? Why are most young black men in Oakland unemployed? Why are people on lists for treatment facilities, why are clinic underfunded and schools closing?
It's sad that these men lost their lives, but they are dead. The living need the resources and I don't appreciate the mayor using my tax dollars so frivolously without my permission.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Wanda's Picks Radio March 18, 2009, plus a review and commentary
I thought we were featuring Terrence Brewer in the morning on the radio show, but he's probably still going strong at Yoshi's in Oakland tonight where he had a very successful first set. As we left, the line for the second show was forming outside.
He was hugging babies and signing autographs inside the club as his drummer and organist mingled. Besides his great trio he invited three guests up to party with the group beginning with guitarists: Eric Swinderman followed by one of my all time favorite artists Calvin Keyes.
Mr Keys was as elegantly dressed as usual and his playing as well. Tenor saxophonist Dave Ellis, whom we don't see enough of, considering he lives in Berkeley, joined the trio on two songs from Brewer's The Calling Vol. 2: Don't Let Me Off the Hook and Sunrise/Sunset. The latter song really showed off the creative improvisational talents of Ellis.
All night Brewer was the consummate host and if I'd hadn't trekked to UC Davis yesterday for Ladysmith Black Mambazo, I might have tried to stay for the second set.
I certainly hope we don't have to go to New York to see Brewer again soon, but for most Bay Area artists the out of town gigs which includes the international ones also, is where the money is. Visit terrencebrewer.com.
Eric Reed's Stand!
I say all this to say, in the morning--well, technically, it's morning now, and our first guest is Eric Reed. Yes the marvelous pianist and person. I haven't seen Eric in quite a while, so it gives me great pleasure to ask him about his lovely new work, Stand! based on a biblical text: Ephesians 6:13. He'll be in town with his trio on March 23.
Stand features all original music with Eric's trio: himself on piano, Willie Jones III on drums and Rodney Whitaker on bass: www.EricReed.net and MySpace.com/EricReedJazz
Congo is a concern of mine so I invited Jean Damu, who is politically savvy and knows how to connect the political and social/economic dots for us. We might be joined by his friend Rob Prince from the University of Denver's School of International Studies on the international warfare in the Congo and the 6th Anniversary of the War in Afghanistan (3/19). He'll be at the airport early. We hope he'll call in. We also invited another political savvy writer/activist We are also going to feature our first commentary by Death Row Journalist Mumia Abu Jamal.
Lesbian vocalist Pippa Fleming lays her hands on her audience by putting their spirits at ease and conveying humanities truths. She says she is "Ear witness to the diverse sounds of a multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-generational collective of amazing musicians who are putting independent music back on the map! She has a show Friday, March 20 at The Rocket Room, 406 Clement Street, San Francisco, 94118, 8:30 p.m. $4 if you reserve your tickets at www.basecampmusic.com. Visit www.myspace.com/deemeddefective
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Wanda's Picks Radio March 10 & 11 for Week of March 11-17
March 10, 2009
We will speak to Kiilu Nyasha, former Black Panther Party member, activist, TV show host and artist. She is featured in an exhibit this Saturday, March 15, at the West Oakland Branch Library along with two other artists, Charolotte O'Neal and Tarika Lewis. This show will also feature Rev. Liza Rankow, OneLife Institute which is presenting “Transformative Visions,” a multimedia art show and spoken word/jazz concert with a message of peace and possibility, from 2:00 - 5:00 PM on Saturday, March 14, 2009, at Studio One, 365 - 45th St., in Oakland. Artists, TheArthur Wright and Destiny Muhammad are a part of this program which is free and open to the public. Scheduled to coincide with the annual observance of A Season for Nonviolence and the anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, “Transformative Visions” is intended to both challenge and inspire by offering spiritually-rooted responses to the critical concerns of the present day. This show will be rebroadcast Friday, March 13, 6-8 AM.
We're featuring selections from Wild Poppies: A Poetry Jam Across Prison Walls, Poets and Musicians Honor Poet and Prisoner. Visit www.freedomarchives.org
March 11, 2009
We will speak to artist, Fan Lee Warren whose work is a part of an exhibit honoring women artists at the Joyce Gordon Gallery in Oakland. She is followed by Albert Mazibuki, Ladysmith Black Manbazo, Grammy winners for their 2008, "Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu." Ladysmith is at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Auditorium 3/12 and at UC Davis, 3/16. Visit their website for the complete itinerary. Kamal Al Mansour, whose exhibit, "Truth and Consequences" is up at Nonesuch Space through March 28, Wednesdays-Fridays, 1-6 p.m. and by appointment. The address is 2865 Broadway Street, in Oakland, on auto row, across from the Grocery Store Outlet. Visit paragon-media,org/nonesuchspace
We might have Tarika Lewis on for the closing segment, but it hasn't been confirmed. Her work is a part of an exhibit at the West Oakland Branch of the Oakland Public Library. There is an artist reception this Sat. March 14, 1-3 p.m. at 1801 Adeline Street, in Oakland, (510) 238-7352. We will be featuring the music of Terrence Brewer, who will have a CD release party at Yoshi's Jack London Square, Tuesday, March 17, 8 and 10 p.m. He will be in the studio, Wednesday, March 18, 7:30 a.m.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Cinquest: Lou Gossett Jr.
Cinquest 2009 honors Lou Gossett Jr. with its Marverick Spirit Award. Pictured with Mr. Gossett is a cast member and film director of, "The Least Among You." L-R: Rev. Dr. Charles Marks (upon whose life the story is based), Cedric Sanders (protagonist, Richard Kelly based on Dr.Marks' life), director, Mark Young, who said he heard the story of the man who lived in the seminary basement while at a church in , the gardener/grounds keeper, Mr. Samuel Benton, who Gossett portrays, almost ten years ago and couldn't find a market, plus award hostess.
"The film centers on a black man named Richard Kelly (newcomer Cedric Sanders), who, after graduating from college and becoming successful in the corporate world, is falsely arrested in the 1965 Watts riots. Kelly faces racial prejudice from professors and students after his agreement to a plea bargain that involves spending two semesters at a seminary. Gossett plays an elderly ex-con who lives in the basement of Kelly's dorm and inspires him to conquer his demons" http://www.comingsoon.net/films.php?id=40057.
Cinquest closes it's 19th Season today, March 8, 2009. Visit www.cinquest.org or call (408) 295-3378
It's getting harder and harder to get into shows for personal edification or reviews...previews today especially the smaller venues like local club Yoshi's or even community centers like Ashkenaz. I have no luck and don't even inquire at the Independent, the Paramount, the new Fox, Razzz or whatever it's name is.
One would think after 12 years of coverage publicists would be courting me, and some do, but its mostly a shot in the dark...blind calls and rounds of evasion. One would think I might have, if not carte blanche a little respect for the unpaid years in the trenches covering many of today's top Bay Area artists...but such is not the case.
Most club owners never spent a dime in advertising with the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, an outlet which went from weekly publication to monthly after 20-plus years, November 2008. This monthly deal a reprieve after a July 2008, final edition.
Club owners must think I am trying to get a free ticket to a show. What they fail to realize that after covering the arts scene in the San Francisco Bay Area for all these years, I know these artists and the ones I don't know, it is in the artists and the venue's best interest that I do, because I don't think there is any journalist in this area that knows as much about the African Diaspora art+politics scene than I do and a nod from me will go along way in expanding audiences. I cover classical music, both European and African Diaspora, and now that I have a radio show, my reach is international, not that it wasn't before...the SFBV made sure that it was and continues to be.
The only reason why I don't have a TV show is the fact that I have to work for a living and a full-time teaching load means I am limited during the daytime and exhausted after running around in the evening.
When I ask independent black directors, like Kevin Epps and the directors of the Good Life, for access to their product, most often I get refusals initially. The same is true when I ask black theater directors for access to their international casts which is what happened with the last events at Tabia. Because I am not working for a news outlet with money, just heart, if I ask for an interview and received no as a response, I don't have time, if I remember, to make further inquires.
I just keep moving.
Today, I am getting a lot of product without asking, but no tickets to shows or access to artists even those I am connected to regionally, like Irma Thomas who is a New Orleans artist who might be a relative, but who certainly knows a lot of people I know and care about.
When I have an artist on my show, this interview is a potential story, but that market has also dried up. I don't have time to write for free, the investment is too time consuming...which is why I have gone to radio where I reach a broader audience and the work is not lying static on a shelf or in a file. This is what was happening with all my great interviews over the years. No one wanted to run them, or they would steal my pitches and/or give them to other journalists to write.
We don't have to even speak about reneged promises.
I have an Internet radio show and many, if not most of the artists I speak to respect the web and are quite obliging when I ask for an interview. I don't have time to hold grudges or bear anyone ill will or even think about the guests I've had on my show who blew the interview and my time because they were not fully present or that they didn't take me seriously. I have had several cases of people not showing up or sending me an email just moments before the show. But I continue to push forward and maintain integrity and honesty that I believe the profession demands. I have a lot of great ideas for shows which don't always happen, like the show I'd planned to have last month with Eve Ensler, Rhodessa Jones and Sia Amma around Women's Rights. Who knows, it might happen one day.
I am a revolutionary whose tool is communication. It's all the same story, which is why we have to keep telling it. I am also a Race Woman in a time and place in history where such is not only a concept diluted and perhaps redefined, but few own.
Last week, I had an opportunity to be in the presence of one of our community's greatest storytellers: Lou Gossett Jr. I will never forget this moment. I didn't get a chance to shake his hand or tell him how much I appreciate his dedication and commitment to us, his people. I didn't get a chance to thank him for generosity: time and money spent telling our stories, using Black stories of greatness as a vehicle to erase racism. It was like being in the presence of a Sidney Poitier, Cicely Tyson, James Earl Jones, or Beah Richards.
Of course I could buy tickets to these shows, like the "Divas tour" whose publicists said they didn't have anymore press tickets, or other publicists for internationally touring African artists who tell me clients have completed their interview schedule or are no longer in the States, as if an interview with an artist abroad is a problem in a technical age.
I could purchase a ticket but I have to be frugal. Where was the local support for my family when we were homeless for almost six months? Where was the public outcry when I was evicted because of my activism? Where was the assistance when my daughter was laid off and I was the only one paying the mortgage? I have to be frugal because I don't have much in the way of a savings account and if I need help I have no one to depend on except myself. I have relatives, but everyone is in the same shape I'm in financially.
I wonder about the people these artists hire to manage their careers. Who are they and where do they come from? What are their instructions? Why do they keep people like me, African-centered journalists like me, away from their clients--clients who if I can some how get close enough to say hi to, greet me with a smile and give me a story?
It is strange and so unnecessary. I spend too much energy being disappointed after being felled by high walls and closed doors. I have to crawl from underneath so much debris...I am crushed and have to regroup often when I read stories I wanted to cover in the mainstream or corporate press. I wonder if it's because of where I am, that if I lived in New York or Chicago would I fare the same? Many of the artists I had access to years ago, I have a hard time reaching now.
This is an ongoing conversation I have with myself when I feel like quitting and don't. I'm looking for reasons to keep going.... This morning's discourse the day we "spring forward" has only made me late for the Marilyn Buck Luncheon and answered nary a question about why I should continue along this course.
Friday, March 06, 2009
Wanda's Picks Radio this week March 4 & 6
Wanda’s Picks March 6, 2009
We'll be talking about women political prisoners with Pam Africa and Linda Evans, Marilyn Bucks' co-defendant, and Marilyn’s attorney, J. Soffiyah Elijah is the Deputy Director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School, at 8 AM. There is an event for Marilyn, who will be released next year, this Sunday, March 8.
Author, Cheo Tyehimba follows. His new book is "Like Loving Backward." His official Bay Area book party is at MoAD 3/7.
Director, Barry Jenkins is on at 9 AM. His Black San Francisco postcard: "Medicine for Melancholy," opens at the Embarcadero in San Francisco, and we close with Mama Naomi Diouf, Diamano Coura West African Dance Company host of the 14th annual “Collage des Cultures Africaines” Festival, March 12-15 in Oakland and Berkeley. art, design, music, film, literature Art
Wanda's Picks March 4, 2009
The morning will begin with an update on Albert Woodfox’s case. I heard things went well in court Tuesday, March 3. We’ll be speaking with exonerated Anglola 3 member Robert Hillary King and other supporters, Albert's brother, Michael Mable and Parnell Herbert, Deputy Director of the Millions More Movement, about the hearing.
This conversation will be followed by a talk with Todd Evans, playwright. His play, “Battle Road,” a play about Black people’s involvement in the Revolutionary War, will be produced at the Barn Theater in Ross, March 6, 7 & 8.
We will close the program with The Big Read in Oakland, sponsored by the Oakland Public Library, the Oakland Museum and Cal State University East Bay. The book this year is Ernest Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying, and there are many events planned this month to celebrate this wonderful work: films, poetry writing workshops, dramatization and an interview with the author.
All the events are free. Visit this website for information about Oakland's first ever Big Read program visit: www.theoaklandcenter.com
03/04/2009 - Wednesday 6:30 pm Fresh Perspectives: Theatrical performance Location: Main Library, West Auditorium @ 125 14th Street, Oakland, CA Artistic Director of Rough N Ready Theatre Players, Daunielle Rasmussen and the Theatre Department Chair at Laney College, Michael Torres, work with local actors to bring to life poignant scenes from A Lesson Before Dying in an intimate theatrical experience.
03/06/2009 - Friday 6:00 pm At the Death House Door Location: Oakland Museum of California @ 1000 Oak Street at 10th, Oakland, CA 94607. After the special screening of the Independent Film Channel's award-winning documentary, a short discussion follows.
03/07/2009 - Saturday 10:00 a.m. Writing Lessons: A Poetry Workshop Location: CSU East Bay's The Oakland Center @ 1000 Broadway, Suite 109, Oakland, CA 94607 Prize-winning, local creative writer, Arisa White.