Monday, September 26, 2011

Hunger Strike Haulted July 20, 2011 at Pelican Bay is Back on Again Sept. 26, 2011

After temporarily calling a cessation to the hunger strike for justice in the Security Housing Units or SHU at Pelican Bay State Prison, the strike is starting again today, Sept. 26. Inmates are asked to refuse state issued food. The reason for the strike has to do with the inhumane treatment inmates are subjected to such as sensory deprivation, denial of personal items like photographs of loved ones and books, plus the extended time in the SHU, solitary confinement and the gang validation rule that says in order to leave the SHU an inmate has to implicate other inmates.

July 20, 2011 the strike was called off temporarily so that inmates could regroup and regain their strength; it was also stopped to see what the outcome would be to the public hearing hosted by State Senator Tom Ammiano in August where CDCR representatives addressed the prisoners' five basic demands.

I attended the hearing and these demands were not met; rather the CDCR representative stated they were being studied. According to the warden at Pelican Bay, anyone in the general population joining the fast will be sent to the SHU and denied what few privileges he already has. The warden also said he was taking this strike as a major insurrection and would be harsh in his discipline.

One of the panelists at the State Senate Hearing on Security Housing Units, Charles Carbone, an inmate rights attorney,stated that he'd wait to see what the CDCR planned to implement re: inmate demands; however, it is easy to say this from the outside: "We have to understand these guys have been waiting for decades. Their patience has understandably run out.”

For information about the strike visit:

Other articles:

Public Safety | Daily Report

Inmates vow to resume hunger strike
September 23, 2011 | Michael Montgomery

Juan M Casillas/Flickr

Corrections officials are taking security precautions and gearing up medical staff in response to growing indications that inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison will resume a hunger strike that was suspended July 20.

Strike leaders are calling on state inmates to begin refusing state-issued food Monday to protest conditions in controversial Security Housing Units, according to handwritten letters, Internet postings, and communications with lawyers and advocates.

“Formal and informal sources say they’re going to start the strike again," said Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, an advocacy group that was involved in mediation efforts during the last hunger strike. "They’re tired of being tortured.”

In a statement posted on an advocacy website, strike leaders accused officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation of reneging on promises for major changes in how they manage the state’s four Security Housing Units, the isolation cells that were at the center of the previous strike.

“CDCR has responded with more propaganda, lies and vague double-talk of promises of change in time," the statement reads. "SHU prisoners are dissatisfied with CDCR’s response to their formal complaint and … core demands and therefore will continue to resist via peaceful protest indefinitely, until actual changes are implemented.”

Department officials have agreed to allow personal items for Security Housing Unit inmates that were previously banned, such as sweats, wall calendars and art supplies. And they say new policy guidelines governing the special units will be ready for stakeholder review next month.

An internal memo dated Aug. 25 outlines key elements of the policy overhaul, including changes in how inmates are identified, or validated, as gang members and associates; changes in the criteria used to determine how inmates are assigned to a Security Housing Unit; and the creation of a “step-down” program that would allow an inmate transfer to a general population yard without having to “debrief,” something many inmates consider snitching.

Corrections Undersecretary Scott Kernan said the department has kept its word and will continue the policy makeover even if the inmates launch a new hunger strike. Kernan had sharp words for many of the strike leaders, whom he accused of being "manipulative" gang leaders.

“Unlike in the first instance where we certainly evaluated their concerns and thought there was some merit to it, this instance appears to be more manipulative, and it certainly has the possibility of being a real disruption to the Department of Corrections and the security of its staff and inmates,” he said.

Kernan said officials will treat any new hunger strike as a “mass disturbance” and will take disciplinary action against anyone who takes part. That could include ending commissary privileges and imposing six-month terms in the Security Housing Units for general population inmates who join the action.

Advocacy groups pledged to continue to support the inmates in their demands for change. But some prominent advocates say strike leaders should hold off on another action until the department releases more details on its policy changes.

“If I were the prisoners … I would wait,” said Charles Carbone, an inmate rights attorney who has handled dozens of lawsuits against the corrections department. “But we have to understand these guys have been waiting for decades. Their patience has understandably run out.”


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Spilling the Beans, for Minnijean, by Rafael Jesús González 2010

Minniejean Brown-Trickey & Rafael Jesús González
Las Vegas, New Mexico, January 1910

If truth be told
it's all about
spilling the beans -
whether it's from a tray let go
in the school lunch room
or telling it like it is
from the podium.
It's speaking truth -
whether to power
or to the powerless;
it's blowing the whistle
when the whistle needs blowing.
More often than not
it's about courage -
a heart grown too big
with outrage
or compassion,
more often than not
a heart grown big
with compassion outraged
until it explodes
spilling the beans.

© Rafael Jesús González 2010

On this day in 1957, 1,000 troops secured Little Rock Central High, allowing nine black students to enter and attend school. It was a historic day in the Civil Rights movement not because it was the first school to desegregate, but because it was the first time federal intervention was used to do so.

When the Supreme Court struck down the "separate but equal" doctrine in 1954, banning segregated public schools, it left up to individual states and communities the issue of how and when integration would proceed. Little Rock had approved a gradual approach; the high school would integrate first, then the middle schools, then elementary. But when the time came for black students to enroll in Central High, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus reneged on the deal, surrounding the school with National Guard troops on the first day of the year to protect people, he claimed, from the caravans of protestors on their way to Little Rock. In fact, the Guard denied entrance to the nine black students who attempted to enroll as a crowd of about 300 people gathered. Within days, the spectacle was over, but the Guard remained, napping on the school's lawn and reading newspapers to pass the time. The approach that Southern moderates like William Faulkner had preached was quickly turning from "go slow" into "don't go."

More than two weeks passed before a federal injunction withdrew the National Guard from the school. When Little Rock police officers escorted the nine black students into school on the morning of September 23, crowds of protestors outside became so menacing that administrators had the students slip out a side entrance before noon.
And so two days later, President Eisenhower ordered the Screaming Eagles 101st Airborne Division stationed in Kentucky to escort the nine black students back in - and ensure they were able to stay. By then, the national media attention on Little Rock had become intense, drawing massive crowds - although, as the school newspaper reminded students, the protestors represented less than 1 percent of the town's population.

Of the "Little Rock Nine," as the black students became known, only three graduated from Central High. Five finished their education elsewhere; one was expelled for responding to the constant harassments of her classmates, once by overturning a bowl of chili on a tormentor. (The bullies went largely unpunished.) All nine credited their parents for encouraging them to enroll - and attend class - despite intense scrutiny and racism.

On this day in 1789, the First Federal Congress of the United States proposed 12 amendments to the recently ratified Constitution. Ten of them were ultimately adopted to become what's known as the Bill of Rights.

The amendments were the result of a major compromise between opposing factions, the Federalists - who thought the Constitution was a sound and sufficient document - and the Anti-Federalists, who worried that it gave far too much power to the central government and didn't protect individual freedoms. The two sides were at an impasse, and the Constitution was at risk of being rejected, until an agreement was reached that, if the Constitution was ratified, Congress would add on a bill of rights. The Federalists believed the addition was unnecessary, and the anti-Federalists believed it wasn't enough ... but both sides conceded for the sake of the common good.

The first two amendments, concerning the number of constituents and the payment for Congressmen, were rejected. The other 10, each a single sentence, provided for such rights as the freedom of speech and religion, the right to bear arms, the right to a speedy trial by jury without cruel or unusual punishment, and the right of states to govern themselves in any way not expressly prohibited by the Constitution.
An additional 17 amendments have been added to the Constitution since then. The most recent one, passed in 1992, was that second article proposed and rejected back in 1789, delaying any change to Congress's pay until the following session. The very first article proposed is still pending before state legislatures.

As the anonymous saying goes, "Democracy is cumbersome, slow and inefficient, but in due time, the voice of the people will be heard and their latent wisdom will prevail."

© 2011 American Public Media
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Friday, September 23, 2011

Troy Anthony Davis: A Reflection

I read a book by John Grisham, attorney, novelist and board member of the Innocence Project. His latest novel, The Confession, involves a murderer who is concerned that a man charged with the crime he committed is about to be executed. Stricken with guilt or so we think, he goes to a minister, confesses and asks the pastor's help in exonerating the man charged with the crime he committed.

As Grisham goes—I have read at least ten of his books, from the Pelican Brief to Runaway Jury, The Summons, Ford Country, The King of Torts, The Appeal, The Last Juror, The Innocent Man, and The Associate and found this novel as compelling as others. While not my favorite, it perhaps haunts me the most given the recent events surrounding Troy Anthony Davis. It could have been written with Troy Anthony in mind.

What is compelling about this book is the legal team Grisham profiles as they fight for their client's life, his profiles of the convicted man's family and their suffering along with the convicted man all the years he has been on death row. The final walk and what the victim's family is says about the man accused of their loved one's death before they know the truth and their silence afterward. Grisham's The Confession," also highlights the media spins and macabre nature of American culture--like vultures feeding on carcasses.

When Clinton reversed the habeas corpus and George W. Bush pushed forward the USA Patroit Act 1 & 2, justice died a second death.

The Confession illustrates classic American justice, I jest, classic injustice,a tale spun like the dog running in circles and getting nowhere which is what happens when one is black and caught in the web called criminal injustice.

The murderer has the class ring of his victim and seems obsessed with her years later. A serial murderer and sex offender, he convinces a pastor to help him break his parole and head out of state to try to convince the governor to listen to his story.

The true case of New Orleans resident, John Thompson, who over the course of 18 years went from Death Row to Freedom, shared in the book Killing Time, (2010), by John Hollway and Ronald M. Gauthier, has much in common with the protagonist in Grisham's novel, as does the case of the late Troy Anthony Davis.

Innocence is not a legal or even a sought after option on the check the box for justice form this nation touts but certainly doesn't pretend to uphold.

I was so happy when I heard that Davis had gotten a momentary stay Sept.21, 2011, and then as I watched the news later on I learned that he was gone—the state of Georgia killed him despite the recanting of all the witnesses. I thought in the real world justice sometimes works—-in the real world bad guys get caught, that they don’t escape and escape again and again, which is what happens in Grisham’s novel.

If Grisham’s character is a metaphor for the justice system-- broken, no shattered, on even its better days, then its time for citizens to activate their Constitutional right to resist tyranny until death--the death of tyranny that is (smile).

The murderer says he is dying and this good deed is a way to get right with god. At the end of the story though, the questionable philanthropist’s intentions become suspect— Was this confession a gamble against himself, he wins?

The guilty man gets attention, appears on the news, is sought after as the defendant’s attorneys scramble to file last minute pleas only to find the door shut five minutes before their arrival, and at the governor’s office aides decide what they will share with him, so he doesn’t see the killer’s taped confession. So when the pastor meets the condemned man, witnesses his killing and then goes with the confessed killer on a hunt for the body, which they find . . . one wonders why we are still executing people since in novels and in real life, we get it wrong.

Wanda's Picks September 23, 2011

Our first Guests talk about Duniya Dance & Drum Company and the African Advocacy Network's "Lanyee: A Ballet from Guinea, West Africa," a spectacular performance of high energy West African dance and music, Sept. 30, 8 PM, Oct. 1, 8 PM and Oct. 2, 6 PM at Dance Mission in San Francisco, CA.

Alpha Oumar “Bongo” Sidibe is a traditional drummer from Conakry, Guinea in West Africa and lead vocalist and founder for Wontanara band. He is Musical Director of Duniya Dance and Drum Company. Bongo studied with Master Drummer Mamady Keita at his school, Tam Tam Mandigue, Guinea, and participated in his workshops in Conakry and Balandougou, Mamady’s village. He performed with Ballet Jah Karlo in Dakar, Senegal, and recorded the CD “N’dguel Fall” and toured with Orchestre Baye Fall. Before leaving Guinea, he was co-director of Balandougou Kan, a group of traditional percussionists and dancers. Since arriving in the U.S., Bongo has performed with Rhythm Village, Joan Baez, Bolokada Conde, Mickey Hart, the Grateful Dead, and Black Nature from the Sierra Leone Refugee Allstars at venues such as Shoreline Amphitheater, The Independent, and De Young Museum. Bongo teaches regular drum classes in the Bay Area, and has also taught with Young Musicians and Artists, Out of Site Center for Arts Education and San Francisco Ballet.

Joti Singh is a choreographer, performer, and instructor of Bhangra and Bollywood dances from India and dance from Guinea, West Africa. She is the Artistic Director and founder of Duniya Dance and Drum Company. She was an Artist-in-Residence at CounterPULSE, in 2008. In addition Joti apprenticed Guinean dancer Alseny Soumah through the ACTA Apprenticeship Program and received the organization’s Traditional Artist Development Grant. She participated in the Margaret Jenkins CHIME mentorship program during 2009, studying Mexican Folklorico dance with Zenon Barron. Joti received the Creative Work Fund and SF Arts Commission grants to collaborate with Barron’s company Ensambles Ballet Folklorico de San Francisco to create a piece on the Punjabi Mexican communities of California, which premiered in November 2010. She teaches Bhangra, Bollywood and West African dance classes regularly all over the Bay Area, as well as nationally and internationally. Please see her website for more information:

Our second guest,Intisar Sharif, RN, speaks about the Prevention Well Project in Somalia, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, 6-9 PM at Eden Palm Apartments Hall, 53 Monterey Road, San Jose, CA 94511, (408) 799-5947. The Well Project costs $10,000 as the land is hard and the drill bits break often as the engineers dig deeply into the earth to locate water (because of the drought). Only $7,000.00 has been raised so far. This means that the school Intisar and her sister also started has been vacant as children travel with their families to find water for their herds.

Both Intisar and her sister, Hayat Atteyeh, RT, initiated this project ten years ago using land inherited from their grandfather. Their uncle, Mohamed Atteyeh is the engineer who supervised building the clinic. They live in California and London but travel to the village. Another uncle, Mohamood Atteyeh, is living in Somalia and will supervise drilling the well. Other friends and relatives are contributing to these projects with money and expertise.

Contact by email or send donations to Hayat Atteyeh, 484 Ardis Avenue, San Jose, CA 95117.

We close with the director and cast from Lorraine Hansberry Theatre's opening season:Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue. . . Lorraine Hansberry Theatres 2011-2012 Season opens with two One-Act Plays: Day of Absence and Almost Nothing, October 11-Nov. 20, 2012. Visit or call (415) 474-8800.

Steven Anthony Jones, LHT Artistic Director, and director of these two plays, joins us with cast members: Carla Punch, Rhonnie Washington, Catherine, and Wilma.

Mr. Jones (director) has worked professionally on stage, television and film for 37 years. Most recently, he was a core company actor at American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.), where he acted, directed and taught, and where he has been seen in November, 'Tis a Pity She's a Whore, Blood Knot, The Imaginary Invalid, After the War, Happy End, Gem of the Ocean, Female Transport, Levee James, Waiting for Godot, Yohen, The Three Sisters, The Dazzle, Night and Day, Buried Child, A Christmas Carol (Scrooge and The Ghost of Christmas Present), Celebration and The Room, "Master Harold"...and the boys, The Misanthrope, The Invention of Love, The Threepenny Opera, Tartuffe, Indian Ink, Hecuba, Insurrection: Holding History, Seven Guitars, Othello (title role), Antigone, Miss Evers' Boys, Clara, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Saint Joan, King Lear, Golden Boy, and Feathers. Other local theater credits include Fuente Ovejuna and McTeague (Berkeley Repertory Theatre); As You Like It (San Francisco Shakespeare Festival); The Cherry Orchard, Every Moment, and The Island (Eureka Theatre); Sideman (San Jose Repertory Theatre); and Division Street (Oakland Ensemble Theatre). He originated the role of Private James Wilkie in the original production of A Soldier's Play at the Negro Ensemble Company in New York. His many film and television credits include two seasons of Midnight Caller and a recurring role on the NBC series Trauma. Mr Jones received his early theatre training at Karamu House in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. He is a graduate of Yankton College in South Dakota. Other experience includes the Cleveland Playhouse, Berkeley Rep, San Jose Rep, and San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, among others.

Music: Keb'Mo's "Wake Up Everybody," Babatunde Lea's "African Tapestry, Prayer for a Continent," and two selections from Fely's latest CD, Maturite: "America, Land of Hope" and "Topaz, Working for Someone Else."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Troy Anthony Davis Denied Clemency

Kiilu Nyasha called for a fast from today, Tuesday, Sept. 20-Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011as a show of unity and solidarity for Troy and his family and all the millions of American men and women and children incarcerated and on death row.

She writes:

We can all do this one thing in universal/global solidarity with ONE LOVE in support of Troy Davis and all prisoners locked up in the dungeons of the world. Those of you who twitter, please send out a few lines encouraging this universal, spiritual unity and solidarity in protest of the death penalty and all cruel and usual punishment. This is the least we can do. I hope others will come up with more creative ideas on how we can deliver a consequence to the powers that be without resorting to violence (for which I'm sure they're well prepared). The police state is here!

Peace, power and love,


Troy Anthony Davis has been denied clemency by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole. This means that Troy could be executed tomorrow at 7 p.m. if the board does not reverse its decision, and if no court intervenes.

Members of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty will not idly sit by while a murder is carried out in the name of the state of Georgia. We will be holding speakouts and rallies to demand that this execution be stopped and to urge the pardons board to reverse its decision. We encourage everyone to come out if they can and continue to phone, fax and e-mail messages to the board.

Over 1 million people have signed petitions in support of clemency for Troy. More than 3,000 people marched and rallied for Troy just five days ago in Atlanta--the largest demonstration of support for any death row prisoner since the protests to stop the execution of Stan Tookie Williams in California in 2005. Global actions of solidarity were held all over the world, including Germany, Hong Kong, Belgium and Nigeria, and more than 300 actions that took place across the U.S.

Troy is supported by numerous civil rights leaders, including NAACP president Ben Jealous, Jesse Jackson of Rainbow Push, and Al Sharpton of the National Action Network. Other prominent supporters include President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former FBI Director William Sessions, and former federal prosecutor and death penalty supporter Bob Barr.

The question that has to be asked is: Why can't the members of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles see what over a million people have?

No physical evidence connects Troy to the murder for which he was condemned to death, and seven of the nine witnesses against him at his original trial have recanted their original testimony against Troy. Brenda Davis, one of the jurors in that trial, told CNN in 2009, "If I knew then what I know now, Troy Davis would not be on death row. The verdict would be 'not guilty.'"

Why isn't this good enough to win clemency for Troy? For that matter, why isn't it good enough to win him a new trial where the evidence of his innocence could be heard by a jury?

The answer is simple: It is good enough. People have won reversals in their cases for far less than what Troy has put forward.

So why are so many politicians and state officials in Georgia determined to kill Troy?

This case is not merely a matter of guilt or innocence. Race and class have everything to do with why Troy was arrested in the first place, and why he has had such a hard time getting a hearing in the courts ever since. Troy was a Black man accused of killing a white police officer in a city of the Deep South, and he was too poor to afford good legal representation at his first trial.

Now that he does have lawyers who have been able to unravel the case against him, Troy is required under the law to prove his innocence in a court system that wants to accept the evidence as it was presented against him nearly 20 years ago. Without incontrovertible proof of innocence--like DNA testing that excludes him--it is very difficult to prove innocence in the eyes of the law.

It all comes down to this terrible truth, as Troy himself put it in an interview in the New Abolitionist: "Georgia feels it's better to kill me than admit I'm innocent."

If Georgia goes forward and executes Troy Davis, it will be very definition of a modern-day lynching.

When Blacks were lynched in this country, it was often based on a lie--that they were guilty of some crime and deserved their fate. And there was no recourse for them in the court system or wider power structure. The perpetrators of lynchings were almost never punished--only 1 percent of such cases ever went trial, and far fewer were ever convicted.

Troy Davis has been convicted and sentenced to death based on a series of lies--and he, too, has found no recourse. Because "Georgia feels it's better to kill me than admit I'm innocent."


For more information on Troy's case and to keep posted on what you can do today and tomorrow, visit the CEDP website at Send your messages urging reversal to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole--Call 404-656-5651, e-mail <> and fax 404-651-8502.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Marthe Enice Cassandre St Vil

In August 2010, with one of the leaders of a women's organization in Port-au-Prince, an organization that supports women and girls who are victims of sexual violence since the earthquake and before, I met Cassandre, a young woman who has been raped. Cassandre lost her father in the earthquake; he was putting his daughter through university, so when he was killed, her dreams died too.

When I returned to Oakland on of all days, the Hon. Mosiah Marcus Garvey's Birthday, August 17, 2010, I spoke to a friend of mine, Kamau Amen Ra about Cassandre, and he volunteered to support her in her dream to become an accountant. He has been paying her tuition for a year now. I took myself out of the picture and the two of them have grown close.

For several months Kamau has been telling me he wants to get housing for Cassandre and her mom and grandmother. I got in touch with a friend of mine Jean Yvon Kernizan whose home was turned into a clinic days after the quake. He also started a school to help the children recover from the trauma of the earthquake at his home. I visited his school or after school program when I was there last year as well. It is in the mountains. He funds everything out of pocket. No American dollars have touched his work and programs.

These are two individual stories.

There is so much suffering in Haiti. One can assist organizations, but the need is so great people like Cassandre and her blind grandmother and sickly mother are often left out of the loop.

It costs between $1600 and $2000 to pay for an apartment for a year in Port-au-Prince. I have raised $120.00 of the total cost. If 200 people hear my call, and give $20.00 I can send Cassandre money to move her family this weekend. It is hurricane season, which means in the camps, there is lots of water and chaos--wind and debris which makes an unstable situation even more precarious.

Money can be sent to me: Wanda Sabir, P.O. Box 30756, Oakland, CA 94621. I will keep everyone posted on the monies raised. My goal is to send her the $1600 to $2000.00 by Friday, September 29, 2011, no later than October 2, 2011. 14 days exactly.

Here are recent notes from Cassandre:

Sep 15 (4 days ago)

Hello! How are you Wanda? The situation is really bad at Champ de Mars, yesterday it happened something terible in this camp, there is a group of bandits and a group of Minustha who come into the camp, they use fire arms to shoot, they send g acrimogenes, my family was at Champs de Mars, my mother could not bear, she had a heart attack, we had to transport her to the general hospital, it was very hard, my grandmother is blind, it was very hard for her to support that. We don't know when these criminals go back to hurt people in the camp, we have no other place to go, we are forced to stay in the camp. So I know you want to help my family. I ask you please to think about how you will do to help our family as soon as possible because we really need a safe place to live.

Sep 17 (1 day ago)

Hi Wanda, my Mom is not too bad thanks to God, she was in hospital but now she is at home, a Champs de Mars camp, we are obliged to return to the camp which is full of problems because we have nowhere else to go . You are our only hope.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Stop the "Legal" Lynching . . . Free Troy Davis! End the Racist Death Penalty!

Troy Davis is innocent, yet Faces Execution on September 21st -- Act Now! Listen to a rebroadcast of an interview with Troy's sister when he was about to be executed previously: Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2011, at

The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal in solidarity with the call from:Campaign To End the Death Penalty and others, urges you to come out for:

Global Day of Action in Oakland, CA! Friday September 16th, 4 to 6 PM. at the Oakland Federal Building, 1301 Clay St, near City Center/12th Street BART

Troy Davis was convicted of murdering a Georgia police officer in 1991. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state's non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.

One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester "Red" Coles — the principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.

Troy has spent the last two decades years on death row for a crime he did not commit. He has faced three execution dates and now faces an execution date of September 21st! This time it is going to take all of our voices, all of our action, and everything we can muster to say NO to the death penalty, NO to the execution of Troy Davis, and NO to this modern-day lynching. The time to act is NOW!

ALSO: Contact the Board of Pardons and Paroles, to voice your support for Troy Davis. Call 404 656-5651 or email

Go to to download more information. Watch and respond to this video with Troy's sister Kimberly:

Wanda's Picks Radio Show Friday, September 16, 2011

Fighting for Our Freedom Tour stops in Oakland, Sept. 27-October 1, 2011 and features: Dorothy Pinkney and her husband Rev. Edward Pinkney, who is President of the Benton Harbor NAACP and has been singled out for political attack because of his years of outspoken criticism of the takeover of his local City government by the Whirlpool Corporation. He will join us to talk about his work and the upcoming events in the Bay Area.

Carole Flowers speaks on the Second Annual "Stepping Toward the Cure 5K Fun Run & Walk (Northern California) at Lakeside Park (near Bandstand) in Oakland, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. Registration begins at 8 AM.

Barbara Hunter joins us to talk about the Barbara Hunter Jazz Quartet performing tonight at the 57th Street Gallery in Oakland.

Jacqueline Hairston speaks about Carnegie Hall Preview Concert at Afro Solo at the African American Art and Culture Complex's Burial Clay Theatre, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011. Visit

We feature music arranged by Jacqueline Hairston and original music and that of others featuring Barbara Hunter: "My Secret Love/St. Thomas," "For Sarah" (B. Hunter), Searching for the Truth (M. Wright). We open with an excerpt from "Eternity" (Liz Wright from Salt).

Friday, September 09, 2011

Wanda's Picks Friday, September 9, 2011

8 AM: Jewell Parker Rhodes is the award-winning author of Voodoo Dreams, Magic City, Douglass’ Women, Season, Moon, Hurricane, and the children’s book, Ninth Ward. Her writing guides include: Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons for Black Authors and The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Nonfiction. Jewell is the Virginia G. Piper Chair in Creative Writing and Artistic Director of Piper Global Engagement at Arizona State University.

Her book, Voodoo Dreams; was cited as “Most Innovative” Drama in the 2000-2001 Professional Theater Season by the Arizona Republic and she is currently at work on a theatrical version of Douglass’ Women.

Her work has been published in Germany, Italy, Canada, Turkey, and the United Kingdom and reproduced in audio and for NPR’s “Selected Shorts.”

Her honors include: the American Book Award, the National Endowment of the Arts Award in Fiction, the Black Caucus of the American Library Award for Literary Excellence, the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for Outstanding Writing, and two Arizona Book Awards. Rhodes is the Virginia G. Piper Endowed Chair of Creative Writing at Arizona State University and Artistic Director of Piper Global Engagement.

8:30 AM – 9 AM: Claude Marks & Yusufu L. Mosley

Yusufu holds two degrees, a BA in sociology, and an MA in political science with an emphasis on social ethics. He is also a longtime community activist and has worked with various community organizations designed to advance the liberation struggle. Currently, Yusufu works in the social justice field and is a member of several professional organizations related to the criminal justice field in the Chicagoland area.

Yusufu is a trained and certified as a Circle Keeper in Restorative Justice (RJ) field. He has completed 80 hours of Restorative Justice sponsored by the Community Justice Institute and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of Florida Atlantic University; 16 hours training for Community Panels for Youth at the Children and Family Justice Center of the Northwestern University School of Law; and, 120 hours of Peacemaking Circles for the Living Justice Institute of St. Paul Minnesota and the Center for Reconciliation in Chicago, Illinois.

Claude Marks is a former anti-imperialist political prisoner and is the Project Director of The Freedom Archives, a political, cultural oral history project, restoration center, and media production facility in San Francisco.

Under his direction, The Freedom Archives has released several recent documentary CDs and videos combining restored historical audio and contemporary interviews.

Commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Attica Prison Uprising

Friday, September 9th - 7pm Sharp
518 Valencia Street - San Francisco
Attica - The Restored 1974 Film

Discussion with:
Azadeh Zohrabi - Hastings Race & Poverty Law Journal
Dennis Cunningham - Original Attica Attorney
Manuel La Fontaine - about connecting the dots to
Georgia, Ohio and California prison strikes

Prison unrest in the United States hit a boiling point on September 9, 1971, when inmates at Attica State Prison after months of protesting inhumane living conditions rebelled, seizing part of the prison and taking 35 hostages. The uprising was met with a military attack and the murder of 43 people after NY State troopers assaulted the prisoners. Attica - released 3 years later - is an investigation of the rebellion and its aftermath, piecing together documentary footage of the occupation and ensuing assault. Especially significant today as prisoners from Georgia, Ohio, California and other states fight for their human rights in the face of increased imprisonment and the brutality and torture of long-term solitary confinement.

$10 Donation - $5 youth - No one turned away
Sponsored by the Freedom Archives & the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

Catch this 8-minute video

9:00 PM: Rohina Malik & Raelle Myrick-Hodges

Rohina Malik (Writer and Performer) is a Chicago-based playwright, actress and solo performance artist. She is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatist, and an artistic associate at the 16th Street Theater. She was born and raised in London (UK) of South Asian heritage. Her one-woman play Unveiled, had its world premiere at the 16th Street Theater, where Rohina performed to sold-out houses and received critical acclaim. Unveiled received a second production at Victory Gardens Theater, a third production at Next Theater/Evanston. Rohina is thrilled that Unveiled is having its fourth production here at Brava. She workshopped her play Yasmina’s Necklace with the Goodman Theatre in their New staged Series in Dec 2009, directed by Henry Godinez. Her third play The Mecca Tales, which is a Goodman commission, had a staged reading June 2011, directed by Ron OJ Parsons. Rohina recently completed a one year residency at The Goodman, as a member of The Goodman Theatre’s Playwright’s Unit. With the success of Unveiled, Rohina has been invited to perform at High schools, middle schools, Universities, Churches, Mosques, Synagogues and other venues. You can contact Rohina at

Raelle Myrick-Hodges (Director) studied literature at Ealing College (London) and theatre arts at the University of Southern California. In early 2008 Raelle Myrick-Hodges was appointed as the second Artistic Director in Brava’s 22 year history. As founder of Azuka Theatre in Philadelphia, Raelle presented several world and regional premieres and was a NEA/TCG awardee. Raelle has had the opportunity to work at The Public Theater, MudBone Collective, Aurora Theater, McCarter Theater, Philadelphia Theater Company, Berkeley Rep (Education Dept.), Magic Theater, Playmakers Repertory Theater, Arden Theater Company among others. She has had the chance to work with several artists including Geoffrey Arend, Meryl Streep, Jeffrey Wright, Harold Perrineau, Liev Schreiber, Doug Hughes, George C. Wolfe, Suzanne Lori-Parks, Larry Gilliard Jr., Kirsten Greenidge, Ryan Templeton, Charlayne Woodard, Frederick Weller among others.

9:30 AM: Lenora Lee, Francis Wong

Event: Asian Improv aRts, API Cultural Center & CounterPULSE in association with Chinese Historical Society of America Museum, and Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation present: Reflections by Lenora Lee Dance with Kei Lun Martial Arts & Enshin Karate, South San Francisco Dojo, featuring media design by Olivia Ting, music by Francis Wong, text by Genny Lim, and videography by Ben Estabrook.

The piece is inspired by stories of three generations of men as they realize their identity and community as Chinese Americans.

Thursday - Sunday, September 8th - 11th, 8pm, (panel discussion September 10th) also featuring "Pretonically Oriented V. 3" by FACT/SF CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission St @ 9th St, SF, CA 94103 Even though they are sold out, there are tickets available at the door. Arrive early to get on the wait list. Tickets are $20 at the Door

Live Performers: Lenora Lee, Marina Fukushima, Ronald Wong, Dale Chung, Raymond Fong, Yukihiko Noda, Jon Iiyama, and Collin Wong.

Additional Artists on Video: Corey Chan, Nolan Chow, Junichiro Nakanishi, Keith Soohoo.

Music score by Francis Wong with Kei Lun Martial Arts, Tatsu Aoki, Karen Stackpole, Melody Takata. The Asian American Arts Centre, New York City has given generous permission for the use of excerpts from "Uncle Ng Comes to Gold Mountain" performed by NEA Heritage Fellow Ng Sheung Chi (Uncle Ng).

The mission of Lenora Lee Dance (LLD) is to give artistic voice to the experiences of Asian Americans. Deeply rooted in the Chinatown and Asian American communities of San Francisco, LLD pursues this mission through the creation and presentation of interdisciplinary dance works integrating movement, music, video projection, and text that tell untold stories of family, community, and transformation in facing the challenges of building a life in America.

For more information,,, or email

Lenora Lee (choreographer / dancer) is a native San Franciscan and has been creating and performing work since 1998. She has been an integral part of the San Francisco and New York Asian American contemporary dance and creative music communities, as choreographer, dancer, and Managing Director of Asian American Dance Performances, as dancer and taiko artist with Gen Taiko, as Co-Artistic Director for the Red Jade Collective, as artist-in-residence at the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Northern California, the Chinatown Beacon Center, and in the SFUSD, as Co-Artistic Director of Lee & Wang Dance, and most recently as Project Manager for Asian Improv aRts. Lenora has directed, choreographed, and produced her own works performing nationally and internationally.

Her projects have been sponsored by Mulberry Street Theater’s Ear to the Ground commissioning with generous support from the Jerome Foundation, CA$H, a grants program administered by Theatre Bay Area in partnership with Dancers’ Group, Zellerbach Family Foundation, Performing Arts Assistance Program, Lighting Artist in Dance Award, a program of Dancers’ Group, Asian Improv aRts, Footloose Presents AIM: Artists in Motion, and by Generous Individuals. “Japanese drumming (taiko), tai chi, gung fu and karate, forms I study, bring me to tradition and to cultures I have a great affinity toward and ancestral roots in. What becomes woven into the fabric of my dance is the body’s understanding, in the muscle memory, of what it is to be in confrontation, defense, as well as in harmony, with fiery velocity. Moreover, the dance is informed by the body’s understanding of what it is to be the driving heartbeat of song and community spirit.

My movement vocabulary is also influenced by what are distinctly American art forms: modern dance, sign language, contact improvisation, and jazz music. It is within the detailed narrative gesture of the hands colliding and collaborating with the striking physicality and partnering within contact improvisation vocabulary, where a dynamic visceral language develops, one that is reflective of intimate connection and storytelling. In addition to pursuing the creation of choreography and collaboration with musicians/composers, I have been pursuing the integration of forms such as video projection, large scale visual art, even public art, in informing the synthesis of my work, as well as in providing the frame for the exploration of key themes in my body of work. These themes include the questions: What is my role within the lineage of my family history? How do our experiences within the Chinese Diaspora interweave to manifest a collective narrative? What place does this narrative have in the forming of community within our increasingly complex global trans-cultural and dynamic social ecology?”

Francis Wong
Few musicians are as accomplished as Francis Wong (composer / sound designer), considered one of "the great saxophonists of his generation" by the late jazz critic Phil Elwood. A prolific recording artist, Wong is featured on more than forty titles as a leader and sideman. For over two decades he has performed his innovative brand of Asian American jazz/creative music for audiences in North America, Asia, and Europe with such with such luminaries as Jon Jang, Tatsu Aoki, Genny Lim, William Roper, Bobby Bradford, John Tchicai, James Newton, Joseph Jarman, Don Moye and the late Glenn Horiuchi. But to simply call the Bay Area native a musician would be to ignore his pioneering leadership in communities throughout Northern California. Wong's imaginative career straddles roles as varied as performing artist, youth mentor, composer, artistic director, community activist, non-profit organization manager, consultant, music producer, and academic lecturer. Wong was a California Arts Council Artist in Residence from 1992 through 1998, and a Meet The Composer New Resident in 2000-2003. In 2000-2001 he was a Rockefeller Next Generational Leadership Fellow. He has also been a guest member of the faculty at San Francisco State University (1996-98) and at University of California at Santa Cruz (1996-2001).

Music: Aaron Neville's "So Many Tears" on Hurricane Katrina Relief Benefit CD; Michael Franti & Spearhead BOMB the World "Remix;" Thaddeus Edwards's "Prelude to Peace;" Liz Wright's "Fire."

I am always nervous before the start of a show. I always feel under prepared and this morning was no different. I'd planned to get up three hours before the show and only got up two hours earlier (smile). In the middle of editing and running between rooms picking up files and copies I had unexpected company arrive--

I schedule my life around my show. I don't teach on Fridays and don't schedule work or appointments on Friday either because I usually spend the rest of the day recuperating from the show afterwards.

I was so looking forward to speaking to Jewell Parker Rhodes, such a phenomenal writer--she is a study within herself. Her work is so intentional: her character's integrity and sense. She spoke about the communal aspect of African healing. I like that. In Rufisque this is what I experienced, an experience verified by Joy Degruy Leary, Ph.D., who said that black people are communal, when we are ill the healing takes place in community--it is participatory. I witnessed this first hand when I was invited to several healings where there were drummers and everyone in the village knew the healing songs, the dances and the rhythms even the one who was sick.

I was so excited about our interview, when Mrs. Rhodes Parker responded to my email request for an interview with a yes, I smiled for two weeks at the thought.

Each one of her novels is such a wonderful journey, I want to revisit them now. In Voodoo Dreams after reading the trilogy: Voodoo Season, Yellow Moon and Hurricane, I got background information on characters I'd met tangentially in the other subsequent novels. How does one discuss five novels in such a finite span of time-- half an hour? Not well, yet if audiences got a feel for the author and a curiosity about her work, then I am happy. I could have just talked about Hurricane and perhaps next year we can so just that along with Ninth Ward, but the way Rhodes Parker personifies the watery goddess--names her and her entourage is quite fantastic. Oya's wrath, the water's curse on the west and its capture of her children gems on the ocean floor (August Wilson).

Last night at Brava's Regional Premiere of Rohina Malik's "Unveiled," directed by Raelle Myrick-Hodges tells stories of women beyond the veil, the veil a metaphor for hypocritical and racist responses to women who veil after 9/11. Most of these women, I think all of them, are non-Arab.

Not the first to visit this topic, Malik might be the first to tell these stories from the perspective of women, from a housewife and an attorney in Chicago to a rap artist in London. The five women are unique and yet they are the same, their loss or pending loss is one which can be avoided if at the end of the play, one unveils.

One character speaks about the scarf or hijab --ritual covering she wears in contrast to the political veil bigoted Americans don to justify discrimination based on religion: Islam. When Timothy McVeigh set of these bombs, all Christians were not subsequently vilified another character states.

I thought back on 9/11: where I was that morning and days later when I found out that a friend of mine, a stewardess scheduled to fly that day to DC, but didn't. Masajid were evacuated for safety.

At Laney College where I was teaching, we received bomb threats for months after that fateful day. It became a routine we never got used to: seeing the sheriff at the door with the announcement to evacuate.

Yesterday in class one of my students spoke about a friend of hers, a blind man who survived the World Trade Center bombing with his dog--amazing! He now lives in Alameda. Another student in that same class spoke of a bomb threat at her child's school: Skyline High in Oakland. She was there picking him up and told me she wouldn't be able to make it to class.

I recalled a series of photos my daughter made depicting the different faces of Muslim women. No one was immune, women who covered their hair, anyone who looked like the stereotypical "Arab," was suspect, when Islam is a faith with a diverse constituency.

Islam is the largest and fastest growing religion in the world. TaSin was absent and asked me to read a poem at an exhibit at Pro Arts when Betty Kano was director.

As I was speaking to my last guests Lenora Lee and Francis Wong the program kicked me off. This is the second time I have been on the air and all of a sudden I was disconnected and got a busy signal in the middle of the show. This is within the past three months. Luckily my two guests called me back.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Wanda's Picks Friday, Sept. 2, 2011

STEVE JAMES, Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor, is best known as the award-winning director, producer, and co-editor of Kartemquin’s Hoop Dreams, which won every major critics award as well as a Peabody and Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 1995. The film earned Steve the Directors Guild of America Award, The MTV Movie Awards “Best New Filmmaker” and an Oscar nomination for editing. Hoop Dreams was selected for the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry, signifying the film’s enduring importance to American film history. Steve’s other award-winning films produced with Kartemquin include Stevie, winner of major festival awards at Sundance, Amsterdam, Yamagata and Philadelphia; the PBS series, The New Americans, which won the prestigious 2004 International Documentary Association Award for Best Limited Series; At the Death House Door, which won numerous festivals and was Steve’s fourth film to be officially short-listed for the Academy Award; and No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson for ESPN Films' International Documentary Association-winning series 30 for 30. THE INTERRUPTERS is Steve’s sixth film in partnership with Kartemquin and his fifth film to play at the Sundance Film Festival. The film will be broadcast on PBS' Frontline in late 2011. Steve’s other work includes The War Tapes, which he produced and edited, and which won the 2006, Tribeca Film Festival Grand Prize. The Interrupters opens toda, Sept. 2, in San Francisco and Berkeley.

Jetta Martin joins us to talk about "Mirrored: An Interactive Evening of Dance with Martin and Michael Velez at Dance Mission in San Francisco, Sept. 9-10. Come join us for an evening of dance, adventure and the element of choice. As a part of the Down and Dirty Dance Series Martin and Velez will present new and previously commissioned work. The audience and performers will create their own shared story each night through a combination of chance and luck. We will deconstruct coincidence vs. fate and consider the choices, if any, we really have. Visit

Alisa Froman, Executive Director, established PlazaCUBA in the year 2000 and continues to be the visionary creator of projects and events. Alisa is an accomplished Afro-Cuban folklore and salsa dancer and performs in the Bay Area with various groups. She has studied Cuban culture and religion for many years and remains a knowledgeable and loving member of an international community interested in investigating and preserving Cuban culture. Alisa has been traveling to Cuba for 18 years and has accompanied hundreds of Americans to Cuba on music, dance and cultural adventures. Visit