Monday, May 24, 2010

Judi Bari

Judi Bari bombed 20 years ago

Events: May 23-24, 2010
The 20th anniversary of the pipe bomb attack on Judi Bari, Darryl Cherney and Earth First! on May 24, 1990 will be recognized in events in the San Francisco Bay Area over the course of two days.

Twenty years ago on May 24, 1990, a bomb planted in the car of Earth First! activist Judi Bari exploded, sending her and fellow activist Darryl Cherney to the hospital in Oakland--Judi with life-threatening injuries, since the bomb had been hidden directly under her driver's seat. Judi and Darryl were on their way to a music and speaking event on the UC Santa Cruz campus, part of an organizing tour for Redwood Summer.

That explosion, and the subsequent attack on Earth First! as well as Judi and Darryl by the FBI and Oakland police, would forever change the face of forest activism in the redwoods and elsewhere. The bomber was never found, because the FBI never conducted a serious investigation, choosing instead to blame and harass Earth First! activists. But a lawsuit filed by Judi against the FBI for violation of Constitutional rights was ultimately successful in 2002, vindicating Darryl and Judi, but coming five years after Judi's untimely death from breast cancer at the age of 47.

Redwood Summer, 1990, was a mass mobilization of students and others from across the United States to protest the deforestation of the redwood region in Northern California, which was being decimated by the corporate chain saw. The mobilization was modeled after Mississippi Summer, a major organizing effort in the nation's civil rights movement in the South in the 1960s. A key architect and organizer of Redwood Summer was labor and environmental leader Judi Bari. The bomb which nearly killed her was preceded and followed by a smear campaign against Earth First!, carried out by the FBI, which tried to charge Darryl and Judi for the bombing, and tried to brand the deep ecology group Earth First! as a terrorist organization.

Sunday, May 23, 7 pm:
Revolutionary Ecology: a commemoration and a celebration of revolutionary resistance and movement solidarity.

La Peña Cultural Center (3105 Shattuck, Berkeley)
Speakers include Ramona Africa, from Move in Philadelphia, Dennis Cunningham, lead attorney in the Judi Bari vs FBI case, and climate justice activist Gopal Dayeneni

Live music will feature Darryl Cherney, Mokai, Alicia Littletree, K. Rudin, Gary Ball and others. The event will include a film tribute to Judi, exciting historical exhibit and much more.

The event Sunday night was a celebration of Judi's life and a rededication of ourselves to resistance to the attempted corporate take over of the planet. Judi's attorney Mr. Cunningham stated it was time to neutralize the government, to take its philosophy or mandates re: black nationalists organizations in its COINTELPRO program and use it on it. Ramona Africa, here from Philadelphia said she and Judi both knew first hand what the government of the United States was capable of, dropping bombs on homes and killing adults and children and blowing up cars. In both the MOVE bombing 25 years ago and in the car bombing 20 years ago, the victims were charged and in Ramona's case sent to prison.

The film was a pleasant reminder of Judi and captured her commitment to the work she died defending. I wondered about her children and how they were this anniversary, 20 years later.

I remember Judi'd kindness and willingness to participate in a simultaneous reading for Mumia Abu Jamal when he was to be executed on Marcus Garvey's Birthday. The readings were at Diesal Books, Walden Pond and La Pena Cultural Center. She shared work from Mumia's Death Blossoms. We spoke about her radio show, her kids, and the long drive home later that evening...but she came with her kids, if I remember correctly.

And then she was gone before our paths could cross again.

Monday, May 24, 11:30 a.m.:

Marking the moment: To mark the moment of the late morning bomb explosion, people from near and far will gather at 11:30 am at the Oakland site where the bomb blasted through Judi's car, nearly killing her and forever changing the Earth First! movement. The site is in front of Oakland High School, on Park Blvd near East 33rd. Please come and stand in solidarity with those who experienced that day. There will be music and a speak-out.

Cosponsors of these events include Earth First!, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters (BACH). Both events are free.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Take BACK the MIC!

When I got to the club I could hear the music from across the street. TAKE BACK THE MIC! was an opportunity for artists and everyday people to have our attention, to step into the discourse and listen and take part. When I walked in children were dancing and playing on a sleeping bag on the floor. One mother had a pump and filled balloons which the children hit each other with as they tossed them in the air.

When I came into the club several cameras were up collecting footage, Aaron Ableman Ensemble (Live World Hop) on stage performing--he gave a shout out to Wanda's Picks Radio, which I thought was nice! Between sets a roaming reporter with a camera interviewed special guests and artists.

He walked by me, so I guess I wasn't special enough (smile). An artist on stage completed a painting this evening--I don't know where it will hang.

I'd missed Luisah Teish's eco-stories, but I got to say hi before she left. I missed Dave Room's Malia's Papa.

Soyinka had her drum and sat next to me with her friend. Nearby a cute child danced and sang and enjoyed herself as mom and dad stayed close. Naru told a story about how often we make simple things complicated. A representative from Ella Baker Center spoke about the City of Oakland's powerful environmental policy, along with the current ballot initiatives like Prop 16 which we were encouraged to vote no on--that's the one where PGE gets all the business and local alternative energy resources are shut out of the process. There was also a ballot initiative in November which is also a no vote.

The whole idea for the evening, Take Back the Mic! was to have communities take control of the story, interrupt media and change the narratives perpetrated about black (and other) communities--often called "urban" where all the news is bad, scary or frightening. This campaign is going to be worldwide. The idea was born from a song Derrick and his friends in Ghana produced to counteract the negative stereotypes of black people. The folksong, Sweet Mama, reminds me of Tupac's Dear Mama, without the flaws or guilt--this matrilineal paragon is raised up and honored all over Africa.

In a popular music video the artists flipping the negative media to positive without lifting a finger to advertise. The audience came via the Internet as will most of the movement folks who were taping on flip cameras.

The revolution will not be televised, it will be on-line posted on Facebook. It will certainly be twittered maybe even "linked-in."

Get wise and connect.

Outside the community center, Derrick used plants to make a veve on the sidewalk in front of the window. It was pretty cool.

Seasunz & Ambessa FiyaPowa (Spiritual Hip-Hop)followed Naru and a raffle for tickets to the Harmony Festival June 11-13, 2010. Soulfège (an LA-based Afro-beat) closed the evening about midnight, DJ Audiopharmacy spinning us in the balmy night. It was a cool launch for the campaign. All around people were videotaping and taking photos to document the evening and to learn more about next steps.

Grind for the Green was in the house. I think their next event is August 14, 2010.

For more info:, and

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy Birthday El Hajj Malik El Shabazz

Listen to

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Telling Stories

Last weekend at the readers theatre with Black Arts scholar Marvin X, El Muhajir, I had the opportunity to read a chapter from Parables of Plato Negro. I was really excited to read the chapter on The Heart, which was about a man who didn't realize how close God was to him as close as his heart. This event followed a lovely graduation of one of my former students, Marlene Hurd, at Mills College. Senator Pelosi gave the key note address and Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced her. One of the graduates was 89 years old. That's impressive.

So I left there, went home for a bite to eat and then jumped in the car and headed for the African American Museum and Library at Oakland. After the lovely event which was an opportunity for us to get together and talk about values and philosophy--there were a few younger people in the audience. In fact, Geoffrey Grier and his son and a friend, participated in the Parable of the Teacher. They were great, but my favorite after theirs was the Parable of the Cell Phone. It was so funny. A woman was talking on her cell phone inside her coffin. Michelle was hilarious.

From AAMLO is headed for the African Children's Advanced Learning Center for a talk on Malcolm X's legacy by Dr. Oba T'Shaka. Now this was the proper icing on the yummy cake. From start to finish my day was one uplifting and intellectually stimulating moment and the evening at the ACALC was no different. I learned so much about El Hajj Malik that I didn't know, especially about his mother and what happened to her.

Her plight was similar to that of Richard Wright's mom. She was mentally ill and the difference between what happened to her and what happened to Malcolm was Wright's ability to work and keep the family together. Malcolm was too young.

Education certainly gives us the tools to be able to articulate the problem and its solution, so there is no question what the issue is and it works as long as we don't lose any members to the other side.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Haiti Awareness Day & Celebration Tuesday, May 18, 12:30-2 PM at the College of Alameda

207 years ago, May 18, 1803, the Congress of Arcahaie adopt the Haitian flag, General Jean-Jacques Dessalines creates by ripping the white from the center of the French flag and unites the red and the blue. Later that year, the Battle of Vertieres is the last victory of the Haitians over the French. The following year, January 1, 1804, General Dessalines declares Haiti's independence after crushing the French army sent to re-enslave the African people. It is a bloody war and nearly half the people in Haiti died before victory is won.

Haiti Awareness Day Celebration
Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at the College of Alameda

During Spring Break 2010 Professor Wanda Sabir went to Haiti. She visited schools, orphanages, and other organizations devastated by the January 12, 2010 earthquake. She saw crumbled and severely damaged national monuments in Port-au-Prince and just north on her way to Cap-Haïtien. She met wonderful people like Rea Dol whose school Sopudep was damaged and the neighborhood so severely damaged that she decided to rebuild in another city nearby where the stench of death isn’t as powerful and the PTSD triggers absent. Of her staff of 50 over half were homeless three months after the quake, yet, each day they showed up along with students the week the week she was there to help build a wall around the perimeter of the new school site. The former major of Petionville also came by. He is a structural engineer and is consulting with Mrs. Dol on the new structure. Later that week Professor Sabir got a tour of Cité Soleil with a young activist, Jean Ristil Jean Baptiste, who showed her bullet ridden buildings where many more recently orphaned children’s parents were killed by the government.

In an event co-sponsored by ASCOA join us in a celebration of Haitian culture and resilience as we look at a nation which can use our assistance in its move towards liberation and self-determination. We will have a blessing in the Haitian tradition with drumming and song, a slide presentation, along with a history of Haiti in the context of the rebuilding efforts headed by this government (Clinton/GW Bush). There will also be information about grassroots organizations one can assist with money and in-kind donations. Professor Sabir would like to return early June for two weeks this time to visit Port-au-Prince again and Southern Haiti: Jacmel, Les Cayes, Port Salut.

The event is Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 12:30-2 PM in the F-bldg., Student Lounge at the College of Alameda. For information contact Professor Sabir at: and (510) 748-2131. It is a free event.

We will open with drumming and a blessing followed by brief history lesson and a panel discussion, slides and an opportunity for the college community to ask questions. Wanda Sabir will moderate along with officers from ASCOA.

Guests include:

Colette Eloi, Artistic Director of El Wah Movement, Oakland, CA

Colette Eloi is an artist and student of the diverse dance styles of the African Diaspora along with Ballet and Modern. Her emphasis is on Haiti, the native land of her parents. As a dancer/choreographer Eloi has performed extensively, both nationally and internationally. She is artistic director of El Wah Movement, which presents Haitian dance, along with African Diaspora Dance. Her new work will use the folkloric dances of Haiti to address some of the country’s issues in association with the western world. Eloi will offer social commentary about the politics of poverty through both traditional and contemporized Hatian dance, as well as sound and projected visuals.

Michelle Jacques

Michelle Jacques is the Artistic Director/founder of the CHELLE! and Friends, and founder/producer of the Queens of New Orleans Music Festival. Michelle performs educational programs for the San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures in Music program and children’s concerts for Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, California.

Michelle is the founder of the Gospel World Music Chorus, founded and directed the ALA Children’s Chorus in Alameda in 2007-2008, co-directed in 2009 and teaches at the Cazadero Music Camp, is an elementary school conductor for Oakland Youth Chorus in the Oakland Unified School district, and LEAP…Imagination in Learning in the San Francisco school district and former director of Young Performers International chorus in Marin.

Michelle is also a founding member of the Street Sounds a cappella quintet. Michelle has toured throughout the United States and Europe performing with and alongside many well known artists including: Manhattan Transfer, Wynton Marsalis, Linda Hopkins, Ladysmith Black Mambaza, Pete Seger, Al Greene, and The Persuasions. Michelle also performed in Geneva, Switzerland, for the United Nations World Conference of Human Rights, the Montreux Jazz Festival, The Gurten Music Festival, and The Berne Jazz Festival.

Michelle’s credits include: recipient of the City Of Oakland, Individual Artist grant for 2008, winner of the 1992, Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARA) for “Best Folk/Progressive Song”, “Home Africa, soundtrack recording for the 2010 movie “La Mission” with Benjamin Bratt, and served on the board of directors of Arts First Oakland.

Carolyn Brandy

Carolyn Brandy is a percussionist, composer, performer, and educator, and Cultural Worker. She has been a pioneer in opening doors for women in the male-dominated world of percussion and started playing Conga Drums in 1968. She has worked in the Bay Area for many years with many groups such as RhythMix, Jazz Camp West, The Jazzschool, Oakland Jazz Choir, Oakland Youth choir, Redwood Cultural Work, Berkeley and Oakland Public Schools, Skin Talk, The Faye Carol Band, Women Drummers International, Born To Drum Camp for Women Drummers, and many other groups and artists. She was the founder of Sistah Boom, and was also a founding member of the all women jazz quintet Alive! which toured nationally for ten years, and produced three albums, which have been released on a compilation CD, Always Alive! Carolyn released a self-produced CD of her own compositions in 1995, entitled Skin Talk.

Carolyn’s most recent projects include the group called OJALÁ, which is a vocal and percussion creative ensemble that mixes Cuban and American song forms. She is also the creator and co-producer of ‘BORN TO DRUM’ Women’s Drum Camp which was created to inspire and empower women students and teachers of hand percussion. From 2006-2010 the camps have been overwhelmingly successful. The camp offers a faculty of 16 women teachers of percussion from around the world. Carolyn is one of the foremothers of the Global Movement of Women Drummers, and in 1998 created Women Drummers International, which became a non-profit organzation in 2009.

Carolyn has been a drummer and student of Cuban folkloric music for over 40 years. She has been a practitioner of the Yoruba-based Cuban religion, Regla de Ocha, also known as Santeria, since 1977. She was initiated as a priest of the religion in Havana, Cuba by Amelia Pedroso in 2000.

She has led five tours to the Island of Cuba to study Folkloric music and dance. She has organized workshops in Havana, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Camaguey, Santiago De Cuba, Guantanamo, and Baracoa where the groups have studied with masters of Afro-Cuban Folkloric music. Carolyn has a degree in music from Holy Names University in Oakland. Contact Carolyn for more info: View her Websites at:,,,

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wanda's Picks Radio Show May 14, 2010

We open the show with Dave Room and Jonathan Gramling speaking about Take Back the Mic kickoff at Ashkenaz Music and Dance Center, 1317 San Pablo Avenue(@ Gilman, in Berkeley, Thursday, May 20, 7:30 PM. Take Back the Mic is building the groundwork for the Bay Area eco-justice community to connect with mainstream media in a meaningful way. Take Back the Mic Campaign is a way to help communities tell their own stories and define themselves. Visit

Art Exhibit
“Past Forward: African Spirituality in Contemporary Black Art,” through August 19, 2010 at the Sargent Johnson Gallery at the AAACC at 762 Fulton Street, in San Francisco. There is an artist talk, May 29, 2-4 PM at the AAACC. Both the talk and art exhibit are free. There are seven artists in the show curated by Demetrie Broxton, Duane Deterville is one of them.

Duane Deterville is a visual artist, writer and scholar of visual culture. His area of expertise is African and Afridiasporic visual culture. He is co-author of the book “Black Artists in Oakland,” published by Arcadia press in 2007 and the creative director of three symposiums on Jazz. Deterville is currently a columnist for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s on line publication “Open Space” and holds a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts along with a Masters Degree in Visual and Critical Studies.

Parables, Fables, Musings of Plato Negro by Marvin X

No where can one find a writer who produces work as quickly as El Muhajir (Marvin X), his latest work, Parables, Fables, Musings of Plato Negro, will have a reading performance Saturday, May 15, 2 PM at the African American Museum and Library, at Oakland, 14th Street @ MLK Jr. Way. It is also a benefit for Black Bird Press.

The event is free; however, copies of Parable/Fable will be available for a $100 donation. Visit Marvin X is one of the most important poets and playwrights who set the tone for the socially committed Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. He has always been on the forefront of Pan African writing, Amiri Baraka write’s of him. Baraka goes on to say that “[Marvin] is one of the founders and innovators of the revolutionary school of African writing.”

Pamela Z
Pamela Z is a composer/performer who makes solo works combining a wide range of vocal techniques with electronic processing, samples, and gesture activated MIDI controllers. She has toured extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Japan. Her new work, Baggage Allowance opens at Artaud Theater, now managed by Z-Space Studios, 450 Florida Street, San Francisco, CA, 94110 , (415)626-0453. Also visit

“Baggage Allowance”
In this sonically and visually layered work, Pamela Z explores baggage in all its literal and metaphorical permutations. Through performance with voice and electronics, found text, recorded interviews, multi-channel sound, interactive video, and sculptural objects, Baggage Allowance scans and inventories the belongings (and memories) we all cart around – examining baggage as both impediment and treasure.

Sonny Rollins; Meklit Hadero

Sonny Rollins was stunningly magnificent at Cal Performances Thursday night. Sporting a white Afro, in his classic shades, red shirt and dark slacks ... gold horn --the only musician without a chair, just a music stand with water ... the king came on stage blowing and dancing and moving around between one musician and another ... and when I left on the fourth song, he was still going strong.

The first song wasn't named but if ever there was a song which gave Rollins an opportunity to strut his stuff this was the tune. As I said, he came out blowing and walked to the edge of the stage and leaned into his breath, almost on his toes body curled as he became the horn ... curved and at times so aerodynamically off center, I kept thinking he might fall, but what do I know (smile).

He didn't.

His band featured Russell Malone on guitar and was he good. Seated on a stool, he seemed to play so effortlessly. Rollins allowed his musicians to stretch ... Malone, drummer, Kobi Watkins, who certainly fueled the engine that night, he and Rollins. No one could out blow or out play the master (but Watkins certainly made the odds interesting).

Rollins just seemed too tickled or pleased to be playing that night. One could feel his enthusiasm. The audience rose to its feet on more than one occasion. He spoke more than usual too announcing the songs and laughing and joking with us.

Has the approaching seventh decade finally mellowed Rollins out? His birthday is in September. Is seventy the magic number? I kept thinking about the magnificent tenor saxophonists in town recently: Pharoah Sanders and Charles Lloyd courtesy of SFJAZZ Spring Season 2010 and now Sonny Rollins. It doesn't get any better.

I saw this really cool poster for sale in the lobby and I would have bought it, but I didn't have enough cash. It was only $10.00, but I had to save my money for bridge toll; I was leaving to go hear Meklit Hadero at BIMBO's.

Rollins gave the audience a little background on the song Global Warming which is not what one might think. "It's the glaciers too," he said, "but Global Warming is taking care that your garbage doesn't become someone else's work."

Bob Cranshaw was on bass and Victor Y. See-Yuen was on percussion and I am glad Mr. Rollins introduced the personnel, because the printed program that evening was incorrect--Malone was not listed as the guitarist. I don't know what happened, but Malone was a treat! I thought I recognized him and then that recognition was confirmed verbally. It was a night I wish I'd had my binoculars. I was close, but well, Mr. Rollins wasn't about to fall into my lap (smile).

Other songs played that night were Nishi for a friend of the band's in Japan, the ballad My One and Only Love --what a nice thought (smile) and as I was leaving another standard I couldn't name.

Though I was sad to leave, I wasn't the only one in the audience trying to multi-task that evening. Everything started at 8 PM! I couldn't get to San Francisco to see Will Nichols at Velma's, but his trio will be there the second Thursday in June as well. If I'm not in Haiti, that's where I plan to be (smile), but I hope I am in Haiti ... send donations for my trip to ...*

I walked to my car on Telegraph, made a U-turn and headed for San Francisco. It was so easy getting to Bimbo's. I was there, it seems around the beginning of the set. I caught two of my favorite songs: Soleil Soleil and Abbay Mado, which is a traditional song sung in Amharic. He father and others danced the traditional dance. Meklit said, "I always wanted back-up dancers.

She had many guest singers and her sting ensemble were awesome. After the set, DJ Jeremiah played his Afro-beat mix. I danced for a bit.

The Great Tortilla Conspiracy souvenirs were a great keepsake. I have two which are shriveling up. I hope they dry out and last forever (smile). We shall see. Visit

* Wanda Sabir, P.O. Box 30756, Oakland, CA 94604.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Why Did I Get Married Too

Tyler Perry films are like a balm for the soul--you name it and he has made a film about it. Our clocks seem to be in sync. We seem tuned into the same frequency or something psychic like that. Whatever the reason, when his "I Can Do Bad All By Myself" hit the theatres, he articulated exactly how I was feeling in that moment about life and relationships and why I was so happy to be alone (smile). It was like, misery doesn't need company.

So okay, here I am on Mother's Day, a Mother's Day from hell: no cards, just a few sorry "Happy Mother's Day" messages and texts--I was like, I carried the two of you for nine months for this?!

I couldn't even pretend to be happy about a day, my mother likes to say, children honor their moms.

I think this is the day those women with sons get the breaks. Now turn about isn't fair play when on Father's Day the girls pull out all the stops for dear dad.

So Perry...ta da! is just on time once again. I was hoping his latest venture, a remake or sequel was in some theatre in the San Francisco Bay and I found it screening in two locations nearby. I missed all the early shows and went to the early evening screening and with my senior discount the price wasn't too bad.

Set in the Bahamas where the four couples meet for their vacation and yearly check-in, this time, everyone wasn't doing as well as they were when the film ended in the last installation. This time it was the women who had their pulse on most of the drama, even Jill Scott's character, who after the first installation, should have been too happily married, makes too many errs in judgement. As her husband tells her: it's hard when a woman has had such bad previous relationships. She is often ready to give up at the first sign of conflict.

The therapist and her husband, Janet Jackson and company, is the craziest of all the relationships this time; well if we discount the drama queen drunken wife who doesn't trust her former athlete husband at all. I wonder why he doesn't just call the marriage quits.

Perry's garden of Eden has a snake telling fortunes in it as well when his wife slips and calls his character "Phil." He lets it pass until she brings home flowers with a stick minus the attached note and starts wearing sexy underwear to work.

When the film ends on the beach, the couples in white ... yes, there is a death in this episode... it might remind one of an August Wilson play, but Perry's not in that league.

It's crazy how it happens--the accident. Divorce is ugly, but the ugliness has to do with money and a man dies because of it. Jackson's character, the marriage expert, should have known better, but she didn't. When she lost her son, wasn't that a lesson? What about learning curves? How many balls does one need to miss before one gets it?

I think the best part of the film is on the beach when the couples meet an older couple played by actors: Lou Gossett Jr. and Cicely Tyson. Now their stories about love and marriage and how they made it 50 or so years together, second marriages for both of them, was remarkable. It almost makes one believe in marriage enough to try it--I say almost.

The younger couples don't listen or if they do, the lessons are forgotten as one of their own announces her divorce without consulting with her partner.

Oh, besides death, one of the characters has a terminal illness.

Perry pours the drama on mighty thick, perhaps a bit too thick. I'd like to see the character with the drinking problem address her issues, because they are huge. She is never sober and her husband never calls her on it which is one of the problems with their relationship.

Despite the unevenness of the story, I still liked the film and it helped me get through a horrible day that as I write is almost over. These Hollywood stars who come to the stage or cinema via radio waves with guests like Tyson and Gossett extras when they are the main course, is backward, but so much of life presently is backward, starting with this Mother's Day I am trying to get through.

Twenty minutes left to the day. Five....

Last year I was in Los Angeles with my mother and we had such a lovely weekend--Saturday at the beach pouring libations for the ancestors and Sunday at a wonderful evening of poetry and music in Santa Monica. My mother wasn't feeling like company this weekend and believe it or not, I actually went to a wedding Saturday evening--it was a sweet affair.

I am always cheered by those who take that step, but as for me....

Three minutes to another day....

In the previews Queen Latifah has another film coming to the theatres soon, and Loretta Devine with Ice Cube and come other rap artists called: The Lottery Ticket, and I think I recognized another rap artist (he was in "A Rasin in the Sun")in a stupid looking film about signing talent for a film.