Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another Senseless Police Execution: Annette Garcia, Mother Of 3, Shot In The Back And Killed By Police In Her Driveway.

Sigh. This is really a horrible story, guaranteed to have you shake your head and be like wtf. There is zero coverage of this in mainstream media. Only Indymedia, which covers the story and the candlelight vigil/protests that ensued (more pics at the Indymedia link). The other main source is CAPE (Coalition Against Police Executions) who issued updates on the situation:

Annette Garcia, a Brown Beret de Aztlan member
and a mother of three children, was shot in the
back Wednesday evening by a Riverside County
Sheriffs deputy. The name of the shooter has not
been released but according to the Riverside
County Sheriff's Perris Station, the deputy has
been placed on "paid" administrative leave pending an investigation.

The call was made due to a domestic dispute. The
police started shooting from a block away, and was in NO DANGER.

The deputy arrived by himself at a home at the
16900 block of Lake Mathews Drive and shot at
Annette Garcia six times while she was walking
away. She was distressed, carrying a knife while
walking AWAY FROM THE OFFICER. The officer began
to shoot from behind, at which point, Annette
Garcia started running for safety to her home.
Five of the shots missed but one hit Annette
Garcia in the back. She bled to death in front of her children.

The 29 year old mother was rushed to the
Riverside County Regional Medical Center in
Moreno Valley but was pronounced dead on arrival.

What words are there for this? When a woman of color is gunned down in her own driveway after needing HELP from police? Does this happen in Orange County? And where is the coverage? This happened almost a week ago! Do riots need to happen for this to gain attention? ie, minimize the murderous actions of police and emphasize the rage of targeted communities? At this point, I am considering that the mainstream media is fearful of feeding the momentum of the national and internationally growing police accountability/anti-police brutality movement. The silence of the media makes them complicit with the travesty. I encourage people to inquire of the main news machines why this story is not being covered, and insist that it gets coverage before another community explodes in outrage.

New York Times: News Dept. nytnews@nytimes.com
SF Chronicle: chroniclewatch@sfchronicle.com
LA Times
Washington Post
CNN: News Tips

I have been lagging with my own reportback from the 2nd Oscar Grant Protest, which was really beautiful and powerful. The peaceful part that never got reported anyway. Apologies. More to come. Praying for healing and justice.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Electra Feels Good To Peaches Thinkin' Triple X: Women In Electro Music

Besides blogging, one of my larger passions is deejaying. I've been deejaying since 1985, me and my now brother-in-law David started learning together in Jamaica, which became the foundation of Ambassador Soundsystem. And in case you didn't know this about Jamaicans... we LOVED to boogie! And when i say boogie, i mean we were poppin and lockin and breakin, had battle crews and taggers and the whole nine. Shoo, a yardie named Kool Herc started this whole hip hop game, let us not forget! Nuff respek...

Speaking of forgetting... i have been haunted by an obscure song for decades. I would sing what i could remember to other deejays, and a faint light might sparkle in their eye, but no one could tell me what this song was. My most vivid memory of this song was either the 1982 or 1983 Campion High School Barbecue in Kingston (high school barbecues were a big big ting back then!!) and a popping and locking electric boogie duo performed on stage to this song. It was an amazing performance, i remember them creating invisible obstacles for them to pop lock and shiver through. My own "boogie tag" was "Shiver" for a minute cause i used to pass the wave with visibly vibrating limbs. I think i still can too... aw yeah! :)

I finally found the elusive song accidentally on an old school house and electro compilation online just a couple weeks ago (its called Chicago Boogie - its dope!!), and there it was, Electra "Feels Good" (1982). I immediately wrote my bredda-in-law and other members of Ambassadors, i had finally found this song that had stumped us! And i have to say, i love YouTube, they have more old school gems up there than mp3 sites! (full song above). I was also inspired to blog about this through stumbling onto the Cocoa Luv Chronicles blog... she is also a dj, and puts up clips of old school jams.

Listening to the Electra song, I was transported back to pre-teen memories, and i just love it! However, I was also amused at how dated the lyrical content seemed. Electra is singing about doing all these exercise routines, but not for herself. She makes it crystal clear that she is only doing this to please her lover. Although she never says her lover is male, its till sounds loaded when she sings "all for you! just you! bending and stretching for you, just you." I guess at least she says all the the working out "feels good" to her. But it made me think about the evolution of women in electro music, and how there seemed to be a trajectory of lyrics moving from a more self-sacrificing womanhood to a more aggressive and assertive expression of femininity.

To be clear, I am not referring to electronic music in totality, just the sub-genre of electro music, which is typified by the synth drum sounds of the Roland TR-808 module that came out in 1980. The sounds on this drum machine are distinct, especially in the way they do not sound like real drums. The TR-808 also influenced techno along with the TR-909. Early electro had its foundations in the sounds of Kraftwerk, Afrika Bambatta's "Planet Rock", and Classic pre-Detroit Techno tracks like Cybotron's "Clear". The minimal synthetic electronic sound evoked the robotic emulations that electric boogie and popping and locking were.

In terms of electronic music, women like Wendy Carlos and Laurie Anderson have long been pushing the experimental electronic envelope, and the Bay Area's own Miya Masaoka has been rockin the laser koto for decades, in tandem with performance art works involving insects, the body, and commentary on race and gender. In terms of women and electro, the earliest my own dj library and research can come up with is Electra's "Feels Good" and Berlin's "The Metro" (awesome song! somewhat tortured video, themes around finally leaving a problematic relationship... whew! peep the link). From there, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam did their electro meets freestyle thing with hits like "I Wonder If I Take You Home." (1984), (wow... i'm sorry, i forgot how fine Lisa Lisa was. She was foine! Heh. You gotta peep the hairstyles in this video too!) Here, Lisa Lisa sings openly about her sexuality ("because i need you tonight") while questioning if the dude will stick around afterwards. We are moving away from more tortured relationship dynamics slowly :) JJ Fad brought it back to the Afrika Bambatta hip hop/electro roots with "Supersonic" (1988) . They are having a blast! And this is pure, feel good, shining female hip hop bravado. They are Supersonic, what more do you need? At this point, the whole Miami Bass phenomenon definitely took the electro thang and ran with it. You can still hear electro influence in South Side Hip Hop. Electro-funk took off much earlier in 1980 with acts like Zapp & Roger, and Midnight Star (Freak-A-Zoid! live!) who took the vocoder elements of Kraftwerk and fused it with raw funk, programmed beats and bubbling synth basslines. No one would guess how abused the vocoder would become through the 2000's in contemporary hip hop and r&b. Please issue cease and desist orders to T-Pain and Kanye West.

Back to the the Clan Of Electra... Mad props gotta go to Missy Elliot too! When she dropped "Lose Control", she brought it full circle back to original electro, by revamping Cybotron's "Clear." And no doubt, Missy ain't got time to worry about half-steppin knucklehead lovers, she is "clear"ly too busy being awesome. Get your back off the wall. Miss Demeanor said so.

Missy Elliot "Lose Control"

Finally, the new school queens of Electro (or electroclash, which has more roots in the fusion of new wave and electro- like Berlin "The Metro") are acts like Ladytron and Peaches. And whoooo.... Peaches? Here, fierce and assertive womanhood is unapologetic and on your face. No that's not a typo :) I think this a good place to complete the timeline of women in electro, and the widening continuum of expression of female power that was portrayed. There are more videos on Peaches' website, but i just have to embed the YouTube fake video of "AA XXX" just cuz its one of my fave Peaches songs. (below. mp3 listen link for AA XXX here.)

I await commentary and theorizing around what the cybernetic combination of warmblooded women and cold bleeping machinery can mean or symbolize. Cylons!! (tip of the hat to BSG fans :)

Peaches "Double A Triple X" (strong language may not be appropriate for minors)

ps: wanna dig deeper? are you like... what is the difference between electro, techno and house? peep the helpful, interactive, irreverent and mostly accurate Ishkur's Guide To Electronic Music.

Friday, January 16, 2009

This What A Feminist Looks Like! Commemorative Obama Issue of Ms. Magazine

Wow. Can't wait to pick up this one! I'm super curious! (Thanks for the heads up Leslie!)

Have people seen what Obama has stated on his transition site, under "agenda" and "women"? Its pretty extensive. And not only helpful on a domestic level, but globally. Also well done are what he has under "agenda" and "civil rights". There he states his platform of support for the LGBTQ community. All looking good for starters! I have been saying that Obama's picking of Rick Warren may be an indication of his political strategies to come, handing symbols to the right, while actually pushing through legislation that is pro-people. I feel like the right has done this to marginalized people forever- name a street after MLK, then actually do nothing for black people. Don't be suprised if Obama names a street after Rush Limbaugh, and then do real ish for the people on the under... it might get him a second term!

Needless to say, about the whole Rick Warren thing... I am now relieved to hear that Obama has appointed The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay bishop, to kick off the inaguration. And apparently this wasn't a response to the outrage, it was already in the plans. Interesting timing though!! Again, as I have said before, I am so psyched about this positive and powerful image of black masculinity that is now centerstage. Straight Black Man as a communicator, family man, president, feminist, and straight ally. Loving it!!

Imma look for that copy of Ms. this weekend...

(ps reportback from 2nd Oscar Grant Rally still comin!!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Heartening news in the SFGate about the killer ex-cop who seemed to be on the run! Thank you Nevada for taking action where BART was not!! The family lawyer Burris also commented:

"If it's true, the family is delighted, and it will really help with the healing process," Burris said. "This is also very important for the community. This had to occur; it was almost a no-brainer. I think the district attorney ought to be commended for moving (the case) expeditiously."

The rally is still scheduled for today at 4pm, in fact it looks like i might dj a bit at the beginning. I am super interested to feel the vibe at this gathering given this great news. May Justice continue along this path!

Rally for Justice for Oscar Grant
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
4:00pm - 7:00pm
Oakland City Hall
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This One Goes Out To The Boys On The Double Dutch Team

Hey peeps, wassup. I've been blogging about super intense stuff lately, I felt the need to take it down just a notch. I found this clip on Feministe, and it definitely spoke to me. Its about a little black boy who joins a double dutch team (traditionally a "girls game"). He is teased and bullied, but is also skilled and happy, doing what he loves. Even moms was like hell no at first, but she comes around. Kudos to gender outlaws and supportive allies!

I am of the belief that rigid gender roles hurts everyone. The socially acceptable boxes of "masculinity" and "femininity" are tiny, suffocating, and often make soulfully taxing demands (ie, boys can't have feelings besides anger, girls should take care of others before themselves). So I find this to be a story of triumph. I wish that my sister, when she was a pre-teen got this kind of support from her school. In those days, she was a tomboy who could kick a ball better than most. And she would play football with the boys all the time (soccer to most people in the US, not Jamaica tho!!), some boys didn't even realize they were playing against a girl cuz she was rockin a short fro like a lot of the boys. But when it came to inter-school competitions, she was not allowed to be on the team. Sigh. Effed up. When we moved to the US, my sis was on a high school all-girls team though, and she excelled. But I am sure the exclusion that she experienced earlier stayed with her.

This one goes out to the boys on the double dutch team, the girls playing rough and tumble, everyone in between living their lives, and gender outlaws everywhere. May we all let the fire in our chests burn bright, and may these silly boxes just fade away already. Bless up!

Monday, January 12, 2009

12-Year old African American Girl, Dymond Milburn, Beaten By Police. And More Accounts Of State Funded Predators With Guns.

Outrage around the state funded murder of Oscar Grant III has gone beyond the Bay Area, and has also given more visibility to the reality of cops acting in arrogant, excessive, racist and often deadly ways to the people they are supposed to be protecting. (*for a heartful reportback on the Oscar Grant Protests/Riots, please see my previous post.)

I just found out from What About Our Daughters? via Erik Pukinskis' blog about this outrageous case in Galveston, Texas, where plain clothes cops looking for a white sex worker, identified a 12 year old black girl as their target, dragged her off of her stoop, gagged and beat her, shouting that she is "a prostitute". wtf. Her father was also arrested for trying to protect his daughter from maniacs is suits trying to drag his 12 year old daughter away while beating her and calling her a prostitute.

Dymond Milburn, from Galveston, Texas, was grabbed by three plain-clothed police officers out the front of her house and told, “You’re a prostitute. You’re coming with me”, according to the lawsuit. After struggling with the men and screaming, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy”, the girl had her mouth covered and was struck in the face and throat, leaving her with black eyes and throat and ear drum injuries, her lawyer said.

The officers had been called to the area in relation to three white prostitutes nearby.

Dymond’s house was two blocks from the area the policemen were told to go to, and, as an African American 12-year-old girl, she did not fit the physical description of the suspects.

However, the officers reportedly believed she was a prostitute because of the “tight shorts” she was wearing. Three weeks later, police went to Dymond’s school and arrested her for assaulting a public servant. Her father was also arrested. SOURCE

Insanity. And effed up for so many reasons. This is such a scary case of gendered profiling, where a 12 year old girl wearing "tight shorts" can get beaten by cops?!? It is also a disturbing account of how police treat sex workers. As if it would have been "ok" otherwise. And of course, it is frothing at the mouth rabid racism, to target a young black girl chillin on her stoop whilst looking for a white suspect-- and then have the audacity to go and arrest the girl and her father 3 weeks later for defending themselves from pathological power tripping morons.

Wish I could say that that was the last story, but there is more. On New Year's Eve in LA, Michael Cho was shot 10 times and killed while wielding a tire iron a good distance from the police. Why the cops chose to use lethal measures? Sounds like more racism and effed up aggro crap to me.

On New Year’s Eve, La Habra police shot and killed Michael Cho in a strip mall parking lot when he allegedly threatened officers with a tire iron.

The killing of the UCLA graduate and artist has set off criticism of police not heard in Southern California’s Korean American community since the 1992 Los Angeles riots, when shop owners complained that officers never showed up to stop looters, and they picked up guns to defend their stores.

This time, community leaders say La Habra police were too quick on the trigger when responding to a vandalism call.

We haven’t seen this expression of shock, disbelief and sadness in the community before,” said Richard Choi Bertsch, of the Orange County Korean American Coalition. “All of the first-generation parents are saying, ‘This could’ve been my kid.’ ” Charles Kim, a La Habra resident and past national president of the Korean American Coalition, said that “the community’s mind is pretty much set that the police overreacted.”

The shooting has been widely followed in the Korean-language media. Korea Times reporter John Lee called it “one of the biggest stories” and said every new development is reported “as soon as it comes in.”

There was some anger. People posed challenging questions and wanted to know why police didn’t use nonlethal force,” Kennedy said. “They wanted to know why the young man was shot so many times, and how would [Kies] feel if it had been his son.” SOURCE

Meanwhile in Greece, people rioted for over a week because of the police shooting of 15 year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos. The latter link leads to a site that was organizing an international response. One blogger on the last thread even said that protestors in Greece are also in solidarity with Oakland.

What this says to me is that outrage around these events can be channeled into an international forum and response. Around the world, the urgent need for police reform and accountability is in the spotlight. In these times when Israeli military has slaughtered 900 Palestinian civilians, is using illegal incendiary chemical weapons like white phosphorous, and is thwarting medical supplies reaching the Gaza strip (go Green Party Candidate Cynthia McKinney!!)... Clearly there is a lot of consciousness and outrage around state funded and validated, occupying militarized forces wreaking havoc in marginalized communities. It was good to see people at the Oscar Grant Protest drawing lines between Gaza and Oakland, and indeed, solidarity is needed. (For more info about the Gaza situation... its all about Al-Jazeera people!)

Wanna close out this post with something I excerpted from an anonymous letter called "Don't Mourn, Organize". Personally, i think both are important things to do, but I hear the emphasis on not remaining inactive. This is in response to Oscar Grant III, Rest In Peace. And may he definitely rest in Justice too.

  1. The first thing we can do is to boycott BART. They said it will take two weeks to ‘get back to’ us around their internal investigation; therefore, we should take two weeks to get back to them. BOYCOT BART FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS!

  2. Demand BART, as part of a community restitution, help fund community based healing centers that focus on grief counseling, conflict resolution and restorative justice. Despite police brutality, much of the murder in Oakland is either black on black or brown on brown crime. We need healing around all of this.

  3. Organize city wide to begin to address local problems, form work cooperatives, and establish training programs in safe new technologies for employment and community development.

  4. Be safe and savvy. In this day of face recognition technology, young protesters should cover their faces. Law enforcement run photographs through DMV records and attempt to round people up. They may get charges but police then use that information as leverage to ‘turn’ young people into informants and spies.

  5. Beware of agent provocateurs. We learned in the 60s and 70s that often the one suggesting the most extreme acts of violence were actual police disguised as protesters to initiate acts that will get people in trouble so that the movement gets bogged down in legal troubles.

  6. Link up struggles. What is the relationship between Oscar Grant’s murder and the teenager killed by police in Athens, Greece? They are very similar and the response was similar because the capitalist, military style police strategy is the same. What is the relationship of Oakland’ struggle to Chiapas, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil? Are delegates representing Oscar Grant’s anti-police brutality movement going to the World Social Forum to explain to the progressive world their/our plight?

  7. Devise culturally sensitive training classes developed by professionals and the community to help eradicate racist assumptions, class stereotypes and immigrant fear among all police agencies in the Bay area. It should be mandatory for all law enforcement.

  8. Get involved with something now. Even though our new president’s focus is on re-stabilizing American capitalism, he was a community organizer and has encouraged everyone to ratchet up their social commitments and work in their communities. That dove tails perfectly with Oakland’s effort to become a ‘Model City’ and the call to participate. We must revive Oakland’s radical and progressive spirit. It is here, as evidenced by the face that Alameda County gave Obama his highest vote percentage in the nation, 79%. It is time this social awareness pay dividends to people directly represented by them doing something for themselves.

Rally for Justice for Oscar Grant
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
4:00pm - 7:00pm
Oakland City Hall
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Reportback From The Oscar Grant Protests/Riots.

Wednesday, Jan 7th. Oscar Grant Protest/Riots, Downtown Oakland

(This post contains some strong language and imagery of violence. May not be appropriate for minors.)

The news about how Oscar Grant was killed by the police weighed heavily on me, and the video footage looped in my head.

after wheeling my records home from my gig, i wash my face and call a taxi. i walk outside to wait, and the sky is buzzing with helicopters. (at 10:33pm, it still is... i can see searchlights crawl over the Tribune building) my head is turned skyward, approximating the helicopters to be somewhere by the lake. maybe by International.

an older black man stops and says
"They protestin' Oscar Grant you know."
i tell him that's where i want to go.
he says
"This ain't nothin new you know, cops killing black people.
They usually say that the man was resisting arrest or sumpn.
This one just got caught."
I nod in agreement.

The taxi pulls up, i recognize the driver from lifts to dj gigs. i greet him and smile, and then look upwards. looking back at him, i say "could you follow the helicopters?"
and we're off.
for a moment i enjoy the fact that i just asked a taxi to follow helicopters.
we talk, he shares his outrage, shakes his head in grief. soon, we are at a police blockade, and i can see the crowd swelling behind them. we pull over, i pay and tip the driver.
he looks me in the eyes.
"Thank you. Be safe."
"You too."

I walk past the blockade without interference.
i approach the crowd
they are chanting





i join in.

and i light my white seven day candle
in its glass sleeve.

soon, i see people i know.

there are smiles and hugs,
and also shaking of heads.

There are Korean drummers beating out poongmul rhythms, lots of bicyclists, huge banners indicting killer cops, bullhorns shouting chants of No Justice, No Peace.

i notice that the crowd is mixed, but with a lot of white folks.

some young white kids are in full black with hoodies and bandanas covering their faces.
One is carrying a black flag.

Black Bloc. "Anarchists."

They keep trying to set fire to stuff, and others keep trying to put em out.

i feel anger because i know that the media will racialize the unrest to not look like these suburbanites who use protests as an excuse to smash stuff. Not very radical seeming to me.

We converge on the BART Police station.
A police car is in the middle of the road.
The chants turn into

No Justice No Peace, Fuck The Police!

Some of us look at each other, not chanting.

Then the rocks started being thrown.

And then someone was jumping on the police car.

And then a dumpster was on fire.

And then the dumpster was pushed towards the now rocking police car, as people attempted to turn it over.

I am starting to buzz with adrenaline. I reach for my face towel, awaiting what had to be inevitable. I looked around to see if i could see them-

There they were. Riot cops blocking off one street walking towards the intersection.

I started backing away, and seconds later came the tear gas.

I only smelled a little of it thanks to my towel, and i was far enough for it not to get in my eyes.

I am still holding my candle.
I am the only one holding a candle.
I feel strangely out of place
and also that this is the most important place for me to be
with a lone candle.

even police have been smiling and nodding at me.
somehow, this candle has transformed me from being
a racially profiled target
into the one person that maybe they aren't so worried about.

more kids show up, i am also no longer sure who is genuinely angry, and who is just ready to wreck shit.

trash cans are pulled into the road, cars are now being walked and stomped on.

as a protestor, and not a rioter, i figure its now time to go home.

i text friends letting them know they can come over if things get hectic. I text other friends to let them know that Downtown Oakland is going crazy.

i am stopped by an older black man on the way home. His name is Charles DuBois. We talk about grassroots movements, Obama, and politicization of youth, his amber brown eyes lit by my candle. People walk by, smile and salute us.

When i get home, i am on edge. I can't sit still. The outside sounds of copters, sirens and breaking glass permeate my apartment. I feel stir crazy, unsettled, unfinished. I have to get out again. In my head I imagine friends and family thinking I am crazy. I drink water, and text Mahfam and Kendal to let them know that i am heading out again.
I pick my candle back up and head into the night.

There are police blockades everywhere now.

i try to meet up with folks, but things are looking hectic. My candle still seems to encase me in a cocoon of light that police and others smile at.

a sista around my age stops me, says she recognizes me from earlier on in the protest. she thanks me for walking with a candle, and keeping alive what this should really be about. I thank her as well.

I head down 14th street towards Webster... and that's as far as i get. A couple blocks further down, the crowd looms, and its a riot crowd. i can smell something burning, and Broadway is obscured with smoke that could be the source of the smell, or tear gas. A metal hulk slowly rolls out of a backlit cloud of smoke. it is a paramilitary tank with a mounted water cannon. Is this my neighborhood?

I rest my back against a corner streetlight, and watch, the candle flame flickering slightly under my face. neighbors from my building join me, we stand there and take in the mayhem that our block has become.

there are more people of color now. young kids of various backgrounds are smashing cars, and at least one car is burning. Store windows are getting smashed now too. At first i thought black kids were targeting Korean stores, but then an African hair braiding store got smashed. Later, friends would tell me that they saw the immigrant African family in the store, asking why, why, why? Another friend said that an older Asian man-- on crutches no less-- pleaded with rioting youth not to smash his car up. But they did. Right in front of him. And i saw a middle aged Asian woman running, screaming because her bag had been snatched. I shouted for people to leave her alone, but i had no idea where her assailants were.

This was officially out of control.

Then the crowd started running full tilt up the street towards me. Some people look terrified, but most actually were smiling, looking at each other like "awww shit! hee!" I know you aren't supposed to run in situations like this, but i really didn't feel like getting hosed, gassed or rubber bulleted. Or hanging out with rioters. So i kept close to the buildings, and jogged back towards my house. A thrown bottle broke on the wall near my knee.

I get to my stoop, and see other neighbors. One woman, a mother of two, comes out in her pajamas, asking what is going on. The tank rolls by. she is incredulous. I ask if she knew about Oscar Grant. She didn't. I tell her that an unarmed black man was handcuffed, put on his stomach, and then was shot in the back and killed by a cop. Her eyes widen, her jaw drops in horror. She says with a Philippine trill on her tongue, "No wonder they are so angry!"

The helicopters are everywhere, their buzzing drone bouncing off buildings and rolling down the canyons of streets. searchlights lit up windows and intersections.

Somebody walks by my stoop, looks at us and says what sounds like "The mayor is coming around the corner."


It seems that the crowd and riot cops have moved on, so i walk from my stoop to Harrison and 14th, and lean against that lightpost.

Coming up 14th, is indeed Mayor Dellums. He is surrounded by an anxious looking suited entourage and media. He himself looks distraught. He sees me. He looks at my candle. And he simply reaches out and holds my arm for a second, and then he and the entourage keep moving.

It occurs to me that cops are probably not going to tear gas, hose, or rubber bullet the mayor. And now i run into Newman, who is also curious to see where this mayoral train is heading. We fall in step behind the entourage.

The mayor stops on 14th and Madison and starts talking to people and press. Madison is absolutely lit up with rotating police lights. I can't hear what Dellums is saying, but he seems to be unintentionally pissing people off.
"Be patient?? Be patient?? Be patient while they keep killing us??" One sista shouts.

At some point, we are completely encircled by riot cops, but they are a decent distance away from us. Everyone is ignoring them, and focusing on the mayor. A paramilitary tank rolls up. A brotha shouts "Oh look, democracy has arrived!"

The mayor breaks the circle, walking towards the tank. Riot police scurry and reposition themselves. Dellums talks to an officer. Moments later, the tank and riot police dissolve back into the troubled night. Dellums announces on a bullhorn that he has asked them to leave. He is drowned out by people demanding the release of arrested supporters, reform of Oakland police, and streams of curses that basically refer to him as an @%#* Uncle Tom and worse. Whew. Though I must say, I am curious as to what he is going to do and say besides wave some cops away.

So yeah, at this point I think i'm about ready to head back home now. I see friends Bea and Inez, and tell them that I have seen enough for tonight, and that i'm going home. A young sista overhears me, and says with a half joking voice "you should give me your candle then." I turn and look at her.
"Do you really want my candle?" I can see that she has been crying all night.
"Blessings." I reach out and give it to her, and she looks into my eyes and smiles in a way that warmed my whole soul.

I watch her walk away, see how she now looks transformed, serene and angelic in that candlelight. I understand a bit more why people smiled at me. She and the flickering candle disappear in the crowd.

I walk home, the idea of the candle continuing on in the streets touching me deeply.

When i get inside, I don't feel unsettled anymore.

Just the need to write.


This just in:

Rally for Justice for Oscar Grant
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
4:00pm - 7:00pm
Oakland City Hall
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA

Friday, January 2, 2009

Some Love For A Revolutionary Diva: Eartha Kitt

Happy New Year everyone! May this year bring healing, love, positive manifestation and justice to our communities! I'm actually gonna take a short break from blogging until after the 10th, but after being inspired by Feministing's tribute to Eartha Kitt, i decided i should at least leave y'all with that. Gotta say, i searched YouTube for a better clip, but the one Feministing picked is definitely the one that shows her to be the provacateur that she was! Not only was she a reknowned singer, actress (Catwoman!! grrrrowl!!) and dancer, but she also raised eyebrows and consciousness when she protested the Vietnam War at a posh White House dinner. To quote The Nation:

"You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed," the singer told the First Lady and the 50 other women at the luncheon. "They rebel in the street. They don't want to go to school because they're going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam."

The First Lady reportedly burst into tears.

The president was furious.

Kitt was blacklisted. She was investigated by the FBI and CIA, and ended up on the "Enemies List" of Johnson's successor, Richard Nixon.

Hats off to Eartha Kitt! She was reportedly an advocate for inner city youth as well. At the age of 81, she died on December 25th 2008, after establishing herself as a unique, colorful, truth-talking, provacative cultural icon, which was not easy for a black woman in her day. May her legacy influence us in this new year to be creative, have fun, be fabulous, live outside the box, and take action! Rest in Peace and Fabulousness Eartha Kitt, and have a glorious 2009 everyone!