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A journal dedicated to truth, freedom of speech and radical spiritual consciousness. Our mission is the liberation of men and women from oppression, violence and abuse of any kind, interpersonal, political, religious, economic, psychosexual. We believe as Fidel Castro said, "The weapon of today is not guns but consciousness."

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    don't get blues
    from morning news
    read  black bird press
    different point of view
    youngsters say
    we think out the box

    no negro news
    crying blues
    we proactive



    not reactive


    we know the devil is the devil
    no matter what time or place
    your job
    defend the race!




    www.blackbirdpressnews.blogspot.com 
    www.bambd.org 

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    Of Monks and Ministers





    The recent march of protesting monks through the streets of Myanmar (Burma) has demonstrated once again the spiritual power of activist clergy. We suggest that ministers in America take to the streets in a show of spiritual power to attack political and social problems such as the war in Iraq and war in the hoods of our inner cities. Perhaps long lines of preachers leading their flocks to the promise land of social justice will have a healing effect on this wretched nation that somehow thinks it can bring democracy to Iraq at gunpoint and not have gun play at home. Yes, we need to see our religious leaders in the streets tending to dissocialized youth and delusional politicians who believe in unprovoked wars for oil and white supremacy.

    But sadly, America is not Myanmar and ministers don’t have the courage of monks these days, rather they sermonize about prosperity rather than corruption in high places, lest they offend pharaoh and suffer the fate of the Myanmar monks who have been shot, beaten and had their monasteries surrounded with troops and barbwire. 

    No, except for a few, our ministers are content to build crystal cathedrals and  travel down safe roads to prosperity, meanwhile the monks show us that spirituality is not devoid of radical political consciousness and action to liberate the oppressed rather than advocate their followers drown themselves in filthy  materialism on their way to heaven.

    Having had a personal relationship with ministers as diverse as the Nation of Islam’s Farrakhan and Rev. Cecil Williams of San Francisco’s Glide Church, we know social activism can be a reality with determined and principled spiritual leaders. But perhaps it is romantic to think the majority of American clergy will step out of their comfort zone, certainly not to the degree of a Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson, although these gentlemen often seem to be ambulance chasers, showing up at every accident for media performances.

    Spirituality is an awesome power when utilized for the common good, but there are communities where the religious leaders are silent and seem to collaborate with sins such as gambling, prostitution and drug dealing, even murder, for as someone noted, often if the preachers didn’t condone such vices they would have no congregation since the children of church members provide their parents with money from criminal life that is given to churches in the form of tithes, thus many ministers are silent about drug dealing and the resultant violence and mayhem in their communities. They would not dare march in monk fashion to community dope spots to pray for wayward youth, or offer to save them by providing alternative economic solutions such as micro credit that is raising millions of people out of poverty around the world.

    As my daughter in Houston, Texas, boarded the bus to march in Jena, Louisiana, she noted the organization skills and discipline of activist Muslims, but when she called around to Houston’s mega churches, she said they had no knowledge of buses leaving for Jena. And we recall that when a minister named Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., attended a national Baptist convention, he was called a hoodlum and thug. And pronouncements to the contrary, we sense he would be called a hoodlum and thug by many ministers today, yes, even while they profess to love Jesus, another hoodlum and thug of his day.

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  • 07/17/17--13:02: prison radio breaking news
  • Dear Marvin X-
    BREAKING NEWS: We are thrilled to announce the release of two Prison Radio correspondents Reverend Edward Pinkney and Lorenzo Cat Johson.  Welcome home! Thank you for all of your support!


    Find more about Rev. Pinkney and Lorenzo Johnson.

    Happy Birthday to Assata Shakur, she has been fundamental in our movement. Feel free to listen to and share her poem, "Affirmations" read by Mumia Abu-Jamal and her message to the movement recorded in the 90's. Many blessings to you, Assata.

    There is also a brand new interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal concerning his new book of essays and reflections "Have Black Lives Ever Mattered? (City Lights). 

    This Just In:

    Listen, download, and broadcast by clicking commentaries in the right-hand column, or below.

    Mumia Abu-Jamal

    Mumia's in-depth commentary on the life and significance of James Baldwin. 
    Mumia discusses the impact of winning his case to receive treatment, and the ways the Pennsylvania prison system creates complication to resist the mandate for treatment. 
    Examining the exuberant mental and physical energy of youth, Mumia explores how young people are natural conductor of revolutionary energy. 
    Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award winning author and journalist who is currently imprisoned in SCI Mahanoy, Pennsylvania. 

    Bryant Arroyo

    Bryant discusses the importance of "Loving vs. Virginia" for bi-racial relationships and its implications for non hetero-normative relationships.
    Bryant Arroyo is an inmate at SCI Frackville, PA. 

    Omar Askia Ali

    Omar comments on Pennsylvania's life without parole policies. 
    Edward "Omar Aski Ali" Sistrunk is a lifer at SCI Coaltownship with claims of innocence.
    When We Fight We Win, Cuando Luchamos Ganamos
     
    Noelle Hanrahan, P.I.
    Audio Engineer
    James Baldwin: Word Warrior
    (9:35)
    Mumia Abu-Jamal


    Hepatitis C Wars Widen
    (3:36)
    Mumia Abu-Jamal


    Youth In The Streets
    (2:54)
    Mumia Abu-Jamal


    What to a Slave is Your Fourth of July? Written by Mumia Abu-Jamal
    (4:09) 
    Read by Bernadette Devilin McAliskey

    Loving Day
    (3:01)
    Bryant Arroyo


    Franz Fanon Revolutionary Journalist
    (3:25)
    Mumia Abu-Jamal


    Pennsylvania: Lifers Without Parole
    (3:53)
    Omar Askia Ali


    Affirmations 
    (1:36)
    by Assata Shakur, read by Mumia Abu-Jamal


    Message to the Movement
    (3:26)
    Assata Shakur

     
    Support prison journalism today!

    Click here to make sure people in prison have a voice! 


    These commentaries are FREE under creative commons license for non-commercial broadcast & personal use

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    Marvin X on Unity, Criticism, Unity


    There are those who seem to feel there are sacred cows that are beyond criticism. We do not accept this for who is without sin, no one! We thus have the right to criticize mama or daddy if and when they get down wrong. Sometimes we can doctor the patient to death, so Mao said cure the sickness to save the patient. So we must do surgery, examine the body, look for malignancies and repair contradictions.

    Of course there is a time and place for the operation. Recently a young fool attacked Amiri Baraka at a breakfast in his honor. We think this was the wrong time to verbally assault an honored guest and the person should have been chastised. Baraka is our greatest living revolutionary writer and as our elder, he deserves much respect.

    Now the sacred cow of the hour is our President. There are those North American Africans who want nothing critical said of Prez. Don't say nothing about him cause the white man is saying enough negative. I agree with Cornell West who says we must respect him, protect him, but check him. There is no need to be personal since it is his political policies, not his personality we must examine critically. He seems to have slowly slipped into the permanent war philosophy of his predecessors. He has no plan of substance to solve the unemployment quagmire. Capitulating to the Republicans on no taxation of the rich while extending unemployment checks for the poor is no answer for the long term problem of joblessness.

    Yes, it hurts to hear the white man say our Prez has no backbone, but it's true. His concept of compromise is capitulation. Ishmael Reed is more reserved in his criticism, but let's see what Ish has to say in his New York Times op-ed column tomorrow. Ishmael pleads us to give the Prez more time in his book Obama and the Jim Crow Media and the Nigger Breakers, but I am totally disappointed in my book Pull Yo Pants Up fada Black Prez and Yoself. I'm ready to tell the brothers to pull yo pants down and show the Prez yo black unruly asses. Even our radical Congresswoman Barbara Lee has come out against his caving in to the Republication tax program. Now you don't wanna get Mama mad up in here! Unity, Criticism, Unity!

    When I wrote an article about Minister Farrakhan, he sent me a message saying that I raked him over the coals, which I did, so he asked me to please contact him first when I want to write something about him so he can tell me his side of the story. I agreed.

    Of course there are those who don't want anything critical written about the minister. Now the white man is exempt since he is allowed to say anything without reprisal, but we want to kill another North American African.

    Don't ever think there is freedom of speech in the community of North American Africans. They want to muzzle you at every turn, especially the culture police, the gate keepers. Where is the free press in the Pan African world? Arab world--until Al Jazeera! Don't speak about the number of journalists killed in Mexico in the last few months, years.

    Gary Webb and Sacramento Bee writer Fahizah Alim who interviewed him shortly before his suicide.

    In America, we need only recall the supposed suicide of Gary Webb who exposed the US government Crack connection, and also the assassination of Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey in broad daylight, downtown Oakland, because he was investigating the Oakland Police Department's shakedown, drug dealing, murder squad in black face. He was also investigating corruption at then Mayor Jerry Brown's City Hall.

    At this hour we await the elimination (murder) of the founder of Wikileaks. Obama has made him a dead man walking for exposing the emperor has no clothes. So much for freedom of speech in America.

    I don't care what someone writes about me, true or false, because usually I will have the last word! And furthermore, I've had the unique ability to outlive my enemies. In my memoir of Eldridge Cleaver, I said some things I probably wouldn't have said if he'd been alive. But he's said things about me that were outright lies. See the collection of his writings edited by Kathleen Cleaver. I actually hesitated writing about him to respect his children who, I feel, were somewhat embarrassed at the antics of their father. I'm sure my children were embarrassed at mine.

    I haven't written about my beloved friend Amiri Baraka for the same reason, although someone asked him why hasn't Marvin written about him? He replied because Marvin knows I will have something to say about him!

    In my play One Day in the Life, there is a scene about my last meeting with Huey Newton in a West Oakland Crack house. The Bay Area Black Panthers were not too pleased about the scene, although they didn't mind my remarks about Eldridge in the play. When we did the play on the east coast, the New York Panthers pulled me aside to let me know they didn't give a damn about Huey Newton, that Eldridge was their man. As we know, when the Black Panther Party split, Huey's army was on the west coast, Eldridge's on the east.

    In Oakland, I officiated the memorial service for Eldridge. Kathleen attended. She said it was a nice service but there were too many Muslims, which is ironic since Eldridge denounced the Muslims even before he was released from prison. Of course when he became a Born Again Christian, Muslims dominated the staff of his ministry, with myself as his chief assistant. See Eldridge Cleaver, My Friend the Devil, a memoir, Marvin X, 2009, introduction by Amiri Baraka.

    Those who have sacred cows must simply keep their cows in the barn. Sometimes we have thin skin and want nothing said negative about the sacred cow.

    Certainly, we felt this way about the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. We were ready to kill anyone who said something negative about the man we considered the lamb of God.


    Minister Farrakhan has confessed he fanned the flames of Malcolm's murder. At the time I was critical of Malcolm but I got over it when I realized shit happens in revolution. Read the history of any revolution, African, Chinese, Russian, Cuban, Mexican, American, and you shall find similar happenings, betrayal, jealousy, envy, assassination (character and physical). As per Malcolm and Elijah, again, I love them both and always shall. They both helped form my consciousness and I cannot deny this.

    I wrote a poem recently praising Clara Muhammad, first wife of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, a woman not often praised in the history of North American Africans. John Woodford, former editor of Muhammad Speaks, said it will be one of my classic poems because it honors a great woman.

    A Muslim who was not part of the first resurrection got upset with the poem because of what I said about Elijah, the wretched condition he was in when Master Fard Muhammad knocked on his door in Detroit. Why did Master Fard knock on his door? Wasn't it because he was deaf, dumb and blind? Shall I say I wasn't deaf, dumb and blind when I accepted the teachings of the HEM? Shall I say I knew what was happening because I was attending San Francisco State University and the white man had hipped me to what's happening?

    No, we were some blind, deaf and dumb so-called Negroes at San Francisco State University, although we had heard Malcolm rapping, but there was much Supreme wisdom we lacked that would later take our consciousness to a higher level. We (and I speak for all the black students in the Bay Area who became Muslims and/or came into black consciousness) must be eternally grateful for Brother Edward who came on campuses with Muhammad Speaks to save our lives with the teachings. In our ignut, arrogant, mis-education, we spate upon and cursed brother Edward for interrupting our Bid Whist game! Called him nigguh, motherfucker and everything under the sun for simply trying to wake up our dead, deaf, dumb and blind asses.

    All the people, especially students in the Bay who came into the Nation or were influenced by the Nation in the late 60s know what I'm talking about, and this includes Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Oba T'Shaka, Donald Warden (Khalid Abdullah Tariq Al Mansour), Norman Brown, Askia Muhammad, Fahizah Alim, Joan Tarika Lewis, Timothy Allen Simon, Abdul Sabry, Mar'yam Waidai, et al.

    Unity, Criticism, Unity! We must be able to criticize each other constructively, to engage in debate and dialogue. This is how civilize people conduct their affairs. Now savages want to kill, no debate, no dialogue, no comment. Man, I wanna smoke dat nigguh! Grow up, get a life! Will you hide the truth while you know? (Al Qur'an)
    --Marvin X
    12/10/10

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    The U.S. is no stranger to interfering in the elections of other countries

    Nina Agrawal
    Update: President Obama on Thursday slapped Russia with new penalties for meddling in the U.S. presidential election, kicking out dozens of suspected spies and imposing banking restrictions on five people and four organizations the administration says were involved.
    The CIA has accused Russia of interfering in the 2016 presidential election by hacking into Democratic and Republican computer networks and selectively releasing  emails. But critics might point out the U.S. has done similar things. 
    The U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries – it’s done so as many as 81 times between 1946 and 2000, according to a database amassed by political scientist Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University.
    That number doesn’t include military coups and regime change efforts following the election of candidates the U.S. didn’t like, notably those in Iran, Guatemala and Chile. Nor does it include general assistance with the electoral process, such as election monitoring.
    Levin defines intervention as “a costly act which is designed to determine the election results [in favor of] one of the two sides.” These acts, carried out in secret two-thirds of the time, include funding the election campaigns of specific parties, disseminating misinformation or propaganda, training locals of only one side in various campaigning or get-out-the-vote techniques, helping one side design their campaign materials, making public pronouncements or threats in favor of or against a candidate, and providing or withdrawing foreign aid.
    In 59% of these cases, the side that received assistance came to power, although Levin estimates the average effect of “partisan electoral interventions” to be only about a 3% increase in vote share.
    The U.S. hasn’t been the only one trying to interfere in other countries’ elections, according to Levin’s data. Russia attempted to sway 36 foreign elections from the end of World War II to the turn of the century – meaning that, in total, at least one of the two great powers of the 20th century intervened in about 1 of every 9 competitive, national-level executive elections in that time period.
    Italy’s 1948 general election is an early example of a race where U.S. actions probably influenced the outcome. 
    “We threw everything, including the kitchen sink” at helping the Christian Democrats beat the Communists in Italy, said Levin, including covertly delivering “bags of money”  to cover campaign expenses, sending experts to help run the campaign, subsidizing “pork” projects like land reclamation, and threatening publicly to end U.S. aid to Italy if the Communists were elected.
    Levin said that U.S. intervention probably played an important role in preventing a Communist Party victory, not just in 1948, but in seven subsequent Italian elections.
    Throughout the Cold War, U.S. involvement in foreign elections was mainly motivated by the goal of containing communism, said Thomas Carothers, a foreign policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The U.S. didn’t want to see left-wing governments elected, and so it did engage fairly often in trying to influence elections in other countries,” Carothers said.
    This approach carried over into the immediate post-Soviet period. 
    In the 1990 Nicaragua elections, the CIA leaked damaging information on alleged corruption by the Marxist Sandinistas to German newspapers, according to Levin. The opposition used those reports against the Sandinista candidate, Daniel Ortega. He lost to opposition candidate Violeta Chamorro.
    In Czechoslovakia that same year, the U.S. provided training and campaign funding to Vaclav Havel’s party and its Slovak affiliate as they planned for the country’s first democratic election after its transition away from communism. 
    “The thinking was that we wanted to make sure communism was dead and buried,” said Levin.
    Even after that, the U.S. continued trying to influence elections in its favor.
    In Haiti after the 1986 overthrow of dictator and U.S. ally Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the CIA sought to support particular candidates and undermine Jean-Bertrande Aristide, a Roman Catholic priest and proponent of liberation theology. The New York Times reported in the 1990s that the CIA had on its payroll members of the military junta that would ultimately unseat Aristide after he was democratically elected in a landslide over Marc Bazin, a former World Bank official and finance minister favored by the U.S.
    The U.S. also attempted to sway Russian elections. In 1996, with the presidency of Boris Yeltsin and the Russian economy flailing, President Clinton endorsed a $10.2-billion loan from the International Monetary Fund linked to privatization, trade liberalization and other measures that would move Russia toward a capitalist economy. Yeltsin used the loan to bolster his popular support, telling voters that only he had the reformist credentials to secure such loans, according to media reports at the time. He used the money, in part, for social spending before the election, including payment of back wages and pensions. 
    In the Middle East, the U.S. has aimed to bolster candidates who could further the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In 1996, seeking to fulfill the legacy of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the peace accords the U.S. brokered, Clinton openly supported Shimon Peres, convening a peace summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheik to boost his popular support and inviting him to a meeting at the White House a month before the election.
    “We were persuaded that if [Likud candidate Benjamin] Netanyahu were elected, the peace process would be closed for the season,” said Aaron David Miller, who worked at the State Department at the time.
    In 1999, in a more subtle effort to sway the election, top Clinton strategists, including James Carville, were sent to advise Labor candidate Ehud Barak in the election against Netanyahu.
    In Yugoslavia, the U.S. and NATO had long sought to cut off Serbian nationalist and Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic from the international system through economic sanctions and military action. In 2000, the U.S. spent millions of dollars in aid for political parties, campaign costs and independent media. Funding and broadcast equipment provided to the media arms of the opposition were a decisive factor in electing opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica as Yugoslav president, according to Levin. “If it wouldn’t have been for overt intervention … Milosevic would have been very likely to have won another term,” he said.

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    Thursday, June 16, 2011


    Shakespeare and Chauncey Bailey



























    Chauncey Bailey: A Shakespearan Tragedy





    On one level, the Chauncey Bailey assassination can be best understood by recalling the drama of classic Shakespeare, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear. Many of his plays dealt with succession rights/rites, often involving themes of jealousy, envy, greed and power. Of course these are general themes of humanity, but the man known as Shakespeare wrote about these matters better than others before and after him. In Othello we find a man duped by his friend and advisor, Iago, so confused by the tricknology of Iago that the great Moorish warrior killed his beloved wife Desdemona, then took his own life.









    Paul Robeson as Othello, the tragic Moor. 


    We can see the parallel in the Chauncey murder. The king dies and there is the fight over which of his twenty sons (there are twenty daughters as well, but this is a patriarchy) shall succeed him. One of the several mothers is determined she and her children should control the empire, but another mother feels the same and moves to secure the throne for her son (s). The first son dies mysteriously in a car-jacking. Her next in line takes over the throne.


    Meanwhile, the man who was a dear friend of the king receives information about the succession battle, a piece of dirt that was, for the most part, already public information. But the messenger was sent by his mother-in-law, knowing the message would incite anger in the successor to the throne who was not of her bloodline.





    When the message is delivered it is overheard by a former co-wife who immediately relays it to her friend, the wife or widow, whose son has seized control. Apparently she tells her son, the new king, who goes into a rage at his father's friend, not realizing he has been set up by the co-wife who sent the message by her son-in-law.

    Iago, Murder under the color of law


    Also, the new king's advisor, call him Iago, has deep resentment for the old king's friend, for the friend knows Iago is a devil and has been seeking information to expose him. Iago figures he can dispose of his nemesis by encouraging the boy-king to murder his father's dear friend.


    Knowing the boy-king is a hot head, Iago (OPD), suggests the plan and it is carried out. He convinces the boy-king he will go free after his dastardly deed, for Iago claims special powers under the color of law. The boy-king is convinced he can commit innumerable crimes because he is under the protection of Iago. He truly believes Iago can get him out of any situation. Yet Iago has his own motivation for inspiring murder, to stop the old king's friend from a possible exposure of his dark deeds that, now involve the boy-king: money laundering, fencing, drug dealing, homicide, prostitution, etc. The boy-king is in too deep, even after considering that his father had a deep relationship with the man he must now dispose.


    The co-wife, now widow, had no idea things would get out of hand but she felt entitled to the empire and was not about to settle for her sister-wife inheriting everything.



    After the assassination of the old king's friend, Iago takes control of the crime scene, gathers selected evidence and a confession. He refuses to question eye-witnesses at the crime scene for they are irrelevant, he has accomplished his mission, or shall we say his patsy has.


    The boy-king soon realizes he has been set up from two sides, the co-wife and Iago, for different reasons. He realizes his deed has caused the death of his father's friend and the possible death of himself by hanging.


    Iago is in the corner laughing, yet worried his mentee may one day disclose all the dirty deeds he was asked to perform for Iago, hence Iago is not home free yet. Now he must configure a way to silence the boy-king. Stay tuned.

    Thursday,june 23, 2011e


    Call for West Coast Black Arts Theatre Festival

    Invited Participants

    Sean Vaughn Scott
    Ise Lyfe
    Geoffery Grier
    Michael Lange
    Linda Johnson
    Ayodele Nzinga
    Destiny Muhammad
    Tarika Lewis
    Thomas Simpson
    Donald Lacy
    D'wayne Wiggins
    Joyce Gordon
    Geoffrey Pete




















    Marvin X Calls Black Arts West Theatre Festival 
    Marvin X, godfather of the West Coast Black Arts Movement, is calling a Black Arts West Theatre Festival in honor of Lorraine Hansberry Theatre founders Stanley E. Williams and Quentin Easter, also in honor of Margo Norman, who transitioned recently. Margo performed in the plays of Ed Bullins shortly before he hooked up with Marvin X to establish Black Arts West Theatre in San Francisco's Fillmore District.

    Before Black Arts West came on the scene, there was Aldridge Players West, with Adam David Miller, et al. After Black Arts West, there was John Doyle's Grassroots theatre and Michael Cattlett's theatre.

    And then came the Lorraine Hansberry. In 1972, Marvin X established Black Educational Theatre in the Fillmore, and in the late 90s, Recovery Theatre in the Tenderloin and throughout the Bay and Northern California. His play One Day in the Life is the longest running play in the history of North American Africans in Northern California. It ran from the late 90s into the new millennium.

    Other theatres came and went, and few were able to survive on the meager budgets grant agencies doled out. The Lorraine Hansberry was the exception, partly because of their non-political stance as per the cultural revolution. But when they produced a performance of Marvin X's One Day in the Life, they transcended the apolitical. They'd also produced a work on the Black Panther Party, along with their signature work of August Wilson.

    No matter the politics of Stanley and Quentin, and for that matter August Wilson, Marvin X considers them comrades in the arts. Any black artist with an iota of consciousness is all right with me. Actually, I appreciate artists period! Of course I appreciate revolutionary arts even more. But any black artists must have some degree of radical consciousness since he must confront and submit himself to the art of Western mythology.

    Even the Lorraine Hansberry theatre brothers told Marvin X, "Marvin, the Black bourgeoisie would like to support you, but they cannot accept your language, if you could only alter your language they will support you." But when Marvin X submitted to the black bourgeoisie request, they did not accept his B script. Even Quentin Easter cried, "Marvin, you have taken all the chocolate out the milk!"

    Marvin recalls one night at the Lorraine Hansberry: "The theatre was packed to overflow. Actually, when Stanley came he said, oh, no, this is a fire hazzard! People were seated on the stage."

    Usually, I would go into the audience during my monologue, but not this night, the audience was seated onstage for lack of seats. They were from recovery programs from throughout the Bay Area. The Theatre District was horrified when all these recovering addicts took intermission on Sutter Street in the midst of the theatre district.

    But more than this, Dr. William H. Grier was in the house. For those who don't know, Dr. William H. Grier is the co-author of Black Rage, the classic psychological study of North American Africans in the 60s. One of his sons is David Allen Grier, but his son Geoffery was playing the role of Black Panther c0-founder Huey P. Newton in my play One Day in the Life.

    In truth, Geoffery was never able to match the psychopathic personality of Huey Newton. Even though Geoffery had been a Crack fiend with me in San Francisco's Tenderloin District, he found it difficult to match the psychopathology of Huey Newton.

    But Dr. Grier,  the psychiatrist, asked me how I was feeling before the play began.
    I responded with a statement that didn't hardly satisfy the doctor. He told his son Geoffery, "I don't know what's wrong with Marvin. He has Mayor Willie Brown introducing his play. He has a packed house. He has a Jaguar car packed outside, yet he's singing the blues."

    Dr. Grier, it's called Divine Discontent. In ghetto language, it's called an ungrateful bastard.

    No matter, let us put together a Black Arts West Theatre Festival in honor of Stanley Williams, Quentin Easter and Margo Norman, now ancestors in the Black Theatre Movement. Of course, we can never forget Nora Vaughn and her Berkeley Black Repertory Group Theatre.
    --Marvin X
    7,11,10

    Friday, June 17, 2011


    Parable for Wannabe Actors, Part One












































    Parable of the Wannabe Actor 

    in memory of Quentin Easter and Stanley E. 
    Williams, founders of the Lorraine 
    Hansberry Theatre, San Francisco


    Kill yourself, everything in you that has nothing to do with the character you are portraying. Kill the way you talk, walk, shit, drink, fuck, laugh, dress. Kill all the reflects you. And even before this murder of the self, you must be sure you know who you are! Are you even aware of how you talk, walk, shit, drink, eat, dress, fuck, shout?

    Are you aware of whom you are? How can an actor play Plato Negro when he doesn't know his own true self? He may think he does, but in reality he doesn't because he's living a lie. He is not true to himself. All or most of his life he's been wearing the persona of some sucker he thinks he is or wants to be, even though his true self may be of higher quality than the sucker he's been claiming all his life.

    So I ask the actor portraying Plato Negro, why don't you first get to the real you rather than that phony sucker you've been all your life? How can you get to the real me when you have never been to the real you? You may have convinced yourself you're a hustler, playboy, romantic or whatever, when in reality you are an intellectual, a nerd, but you refuse to admit this to yourself because you want to be accepted, though in reality you are being rejected because others can see a deeper you than you can see yourself. And you wonder why you are rejected by those with greater insight into your soul.

    The sad truth is that you can't kill yourself because you don't recognize who you are. You can't get to the first step of acting: look in the mirror! Look at photos of yourself. Ask yo mama who you are. Ask your woman or the women you like but don't like you. Ask them why they don't like you, why you turn them off.

    Maybe then you will want to kill your old fake self that is not only preventing you from becoming a stage actor but keeping you from acting on the stage called life!

    My ancestor John Douimbia, founder of the Black Men's Conference, told me, "Marvin, you write great plays and you've been involved in theatre, but you don't know how to act in real life." I thought about what John D. said and decided to make a few changes in my life.

    During my dope addiction, my changed attitude made me a better hustler. I was able to hustle the tourists in San Francisco. I sold them the homeless paper for twenty dollars per copy, or any other paper when I ran out of the homeless paper. I could sell them a roll of toilet paper for twenty dollars! People gave me money simply because they liked my smile. They passed me and made the block to give me bags of money--literally. I told the other brothers hustling with me to do the same and their luck changed immediately. They stopped coming on the street looking mean and evil at the white people.

    Once the actor kills himself completely and totally, he is ready to don the persona of the character he wants to portray. Now some actors are under the grand illusion they can give their version of a character. No! Fuck "You." Your version is essentially you. It has nothing to do with the character. If you are going to portray a character, you must absolutely and totally transcend yourself, becoming 100% the character: you talk, walk, eat, drink, dress, laugh, cry, sing, dance, fuck, love, hate, as he does. You are no longer you, you are him, down to the minutest detail, if you are claiming to be an actor and striving to be a great actor.
    --Marvin X

    Marvin X began his actor career as a child at the recreation center in West Oakland, later in high school in the play Dino, made famous by Sal Mineo. His co-star was poet/critic Shereley A. Williams (rip).

    His first play Flowers for the Trashman was produced by the drama department at San Francisco State University, 1965. Before founding the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale was the leader actor in Marvin's second play Come Next Summer. Marvin performed the role of Clay in Amiri Baraka's The Dutchman. His co-star was Hurriyah Asar as Lula (in white face, as per the BAM tradition). The Dutchman was performed at Fresno State University, circa 1967.

    Along with playwright Ed Bullins, he established Black Arts West Theatre in San Francisco's Fillmore District, 1966, (actor Danny Glover performed there) later worked with Ed at the New Lafayette Theatre in Harlem, New York. Marvin, Ed Bullins, Eldridge Cleaver and Hurriyah Asar established the Black House in San Francisco, a political cultural center that became the center of poetry, drama and political activity in San Francisco during 1967. Associates of the Black House included Amiri and Amina Baraka, Askia Toure, Sarah Webster Fabio, Avotcja, Sonia Sanchez, Emory Douglas, Samuel Napier, Little Bobby Hutton, Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. Black House later became the San Francisco headquarters of the Black Panther Party.

    He taught drama at Fresno State University, University of California, Berkeley, Mills (Woman--Man's Best Friend, musical) and Laney College (In the Name of Love, musical).

    He established Black Educational Theatre in San Francisco's Fillmore, 1972, working with San Ra's Arkestra and choreographer Raymond Sawyer (Resurrection of the Dead, a myth-ritual musical with Babatunde Lea and Plunky).

    Sun Ra arranged music for Take Care of Business, the musical version of Flowers for the Trashman. Recovery Theatre was established in 1996, after producing his play One Day in the Life nationwide, in New York at Sista's Place and the Brecht Forum, in Newark at Baraka's Kimako's. On the west coast it was performed at the Malonga Center, the Lorraine Hansberry theatre and Recovery Theatre in San Francisco's Tenderloin. One Day in the Life is the docudrama of his addiction and recovery.

    Friday, June 17, 2011


    Parable for Wannabe Actors, Part Two


    Parable of the Wannabe Actor, Part Two 
    A great actor once said, and it may have been Sir Lawrence Oliver, "The best part of theatre is getting drunk after the show." I agree totally with him. I would never get drunk before the show or during the show (some actors are known and have been sound recorded entering the dressing room after a scene to take a nip).

    I want full concentration before going on stage. Now this may be most difficult if the actor is also director and/or producer, as he must deal with his cast and their myriad psycho-artistic issues.
    But I will do my best to focus on my time on stage, especially if it is a monologue, for I will not follow the script under any circumstances, well, I may follow the basic script, but one reason I want to focus beforehand is because I know I am not going to follow the script, but at the same time I have no idea whatsoever what I'm going to say, except that I am determined never to say the same thing twice, similar to the jazz musician who never plays the tune the same way, ever.

    I would die if I had to follow the script each night without any changes whatsoever, but as I say, one must give respect to the other actors who may have ques, thus the basic text must be followed at certain points, at least when another actor is about to enter, otherwise you throw them off.

    Now as actor/director/producer, one can say to hell with the other actors, though this is the height of arrogance and disrespect, for actors value and treasure their moment on stage, so there must be humility, even when the actor is also director/producer, meaning he has put the most time, energy and effort into the production, also writer. Thus, he has written the script, carved himself a part, raised the money for the production, directed it, so, yes, he is apt to be a bit arrogant, especially is the other actors sole input is to enter on stage to say their lines, then exit.

    They have not promoted the show, sold one ticket, or invited anyone, including their mama, to the show. At the same time they want equal billing on promotional material, including posters, radio and television ads, etc.

    So, yes, the best part of theatre for me is getting drunk after. Alone! Not Amiri Baraka style socializing at some restaurant and/or bar after the show. No, let me ease out the side door and slip home, no bar watered down drinks, no small talk with VIP theatre Negroes. Let me go to my hotel room and get drunk in peace. After all, I was on stage baring my soul, telling all and beyond all, why do you want to suck me dry, cannot I save a little of myself for myself?

    Let me get drunk alone, the applause was fine, I loved it. I loved that it was a packed house, so packed people were sitting on the stage, in the aisle, but now I want to come down, no autographs, no smiles, leave me alone, I've given my all. Por favor! Basta ya!
    --Marvin X
    6/3/10

    Friday, June 24, 2011


    Obama Drama, Scene #3: Interview with Marvin X



























    fictional--Marvin X Interviews President Obama



    Marvin X, Thank you Mr. President for agreeing to meet with me.

    Prez, The pleasure is all mine. I've been reading your blogs and find them quite interesting.

    MX, I hope you don't say what Minister Farrakhan said about my comments on him.

    Prez, What did he say?

    MX, He said I raked him over the coals.

    Prez, I agree with Minister Farrakhan. You can be quite hard hitting.

    MX, They call me the sledgehammer.

    Prez, Indeed you are.

    MX, Call it tough love.

    Prez, OK.

    MX, Furthermore, I supported you wholeheartedly from the beginning. You obviously haven't seen my book Pull Yo Pants Up fada Black Prez and Yoself.

    Prez, No I haven't.

    MX, But I must agree with our mutual friend Dr. Cornell West. I'm sure you are aware that he said we must protect you, respect you, but check you.

    Prez, Yes, I heard his remarks. And you know what I said, "You brothers need to cut me some slack."

    MX, Prez, you don't need slack. You need us riding your back like Roy Rogers on Trigger.

    Prez, Don't you think I have enough pressure on me?

    MX, Well, I once forced the resignation of the president of Fresno State University. Well, actually he said he was pressured from above (Gov. Ronald Reagan) and below (student protests after the college refused to hire me). So we see you are the type of guy who must be pressured from above and below, from the right and the left.

    Prez, How much pressure you think a person in my position can take?

    MX, You got Mechelle to chill you out!

    Prez, You're right about that.

    MX, But I wrote about her putting a foot in your ass when you get weak.

    Prez, I don't think that's necessary

    MX, Well, you seem to capitulate at every turn. You call it the nature of politics, of course.

    Prez, Well, I certainly don't call it capitulation. That's a bit harsh. I try to negotiate and compromise with my opposition.

    MX, Prez, It seems to me you give in too quickly, sometimes when it ain't even necessary.

    Prez, Marvin, it's the nature of the beast I'm dealing with.

    MX, Ever heard of playing hardball? I mean I was happy you got the health insurance plan through but at what price, selling out to the insurance lobby?

    Prez, I don't call it selling out, it was compromise, the best we could do under the circumstances.

    MX, Prez, why have you not created a jobs program? You bailed out the banks and corporations but not the people, why?

    Prez, Marv, you know I have a most difficult job and we tried a stimulus package, and it worked to some extent.

    MX, But, Prez, there are still millions of unemployed. Yet at the same time you are promising terrorist jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan if they lay down their arms. Should the American unemployed take up arms to get your attention?

    Prez, Marv, please, what are you suggesting, revolution?

    MX, If that's what it takes to get you to consider the consent of the governed. Is not the first priority of this nation the people, not corporations and banks?

    Prez, Well, corporations are people now.

    MX, Prez, you know what I mean.

    Prez, Of course.

    MX, How can you provide funds for educating, housing and employing terrorists abroad but not at home? It just doesn't make sense, Mr. Prez.

    Prez, You're right, Marv.

    MX, Now you're getting ready to raise one billion dollars to keep your job, but you can't find a few billion for the millions of unemployed

    Prez, You're right, Marv. I can do better. Let me regroup with my advisers and think about it.

    MX, Yeah, Prez, I want to support you reelection but I find it most difficult. And the brothers on the street as well. They were happy when you won, they said it was great to know they could look up to someone besides a rapper. But lately they are saying fuck you, Mr. Prez.

    Prez, I'm sorry to hear that.

    MX, You should know this is what they're saying, Fuck you!

    Prez, I often wonder about the mood in the hood.

    MX, You should wonder before something terrible happens to your country because of your neglect and misplaced priorities. Can I ask you something personal?

    Prez, Go for it!

    MX, Do you feel like a white man or black man?

    Prez, Well, when I'm with Mechelle, I feel black. When I'm with my Secretary of State, Hilliary, I feel white.

    MX, I thought Hillary was black, along with her husband, Dirty Bill.

    Prez, Marv, let's not name call, please.

    MX, OK. On a more serious matter, how long did you know Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan?

    Prez, We had him under surveillance for some time.

    MX, Years, months?

    Prez, a long time.

    MX, Should I congratulate you for slaying the dragon?

    Prez, That's up to you.

    MX, Well, you probably deserve a feather in your cap. A couple of Brownie points.

    Prez, Marv, thanks.

    MX, But, Prez, where's the body?

    Prez, We threw it in the ocean.

    MX, C'mon, Prez, do I look like Willie Foofoo?

    Prez, Marv, we did, trust me.

    MX, Prez, I'm an ex-dope fiend. I know how people lie.

    Prez, Marv, are you calling me a liar?

    MX, I didn't say that, Prez, but my elder, Dr. Nathan Hare, taught the fictive theory. Everything the white man (and black man or white/black man) says is fiction until proven to be a fact. Where are the facts, Prez?

    Prez, Marv, trust me. We thought it best to dispose of the body in the ocean.

    MX, But who's going for this, Prez, it sounds shaky.

    Prez, We concluded that was the best way to end the matter of a man who murdered three thousand Americans.

    MX, Prez, how many Muslims have you murdered since you became President?

    Prez, I can't answer that.

    MX, Between Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, how many, especially with the collateral damage?

    Prez, Can't answer that. It was all in defense of America.

    MX, Is a few ignorant men living in mountain caves really a threat to America?

    Prez, They can be.

    MX, C'mon, Prez. Let's change the channel. What happened with the closing of Gitmo?

    Prez, We tried but couldn't pull it off.

    MX, What about the secret prisons in America?

    Prez, I'm not aware of them.

    MX, Maybe you should check with homeland security?

    Prez, Our priority is the safety of Americans.

    MX, Does this include murdering American citizens rather than bringing them to trial?

    Prez, Not necessarily.

    MX, What about the man in Yemen you are trying to kill who is an American citizen?

    Prez, He's a special case.

    MX, But he's an American.

    Prez, Marv, don't press the issue.

    MX, That's exactly what I'm doing.

    Prez, Don't press it, Marv.

    MX, Let's discuss the Middle East for a moment. I've written about your speech in Cairo and Indonesia. I've imagined what you will say about Muslims tomorrow, May 19. You know as long as you occupy one inch of Muslim land there shall be Muslims who view you as a Crusader and they will vow to fight you to the death.

    Prez, Marv, I'm aware how Muslims feel about us occupying their lands. And we plan to vacate all Muslim lands at the earliest possible date.

    MX, Does this include having your friends in Israel do the same?

    Prez, Well, that's a matter for the Israelis, not us.

    MX, But you are their very best friend. You support them right or wrong, true?

    Prez, I wouldn't say that. But we have an enduring relationship.

    MX, Don't you see the day is rapidly arriving when they cannot claim to be the only democracy in the area, that they will bow down to the God of Justice, not peace but justice?

    Prez, Events are rapidly changing in North Africa and the Middle East. Therefore we must all make a paradigm shift in our thinking and behavior, including Israel.

    MX, What about your friends in Saudi Arabia?

    Prez, They will need to make substantial changes as well.

    MX, And Bahrain?
    Prez, It's a special case. We have strategic interests there.

    MX, You seem to be saying America practices selective suffering. You now support the Egyptian revolution, the Tunisian, Yemen, but not in Saudi Arabia or Israel, Jordan, Bahrain.

    Prez, Marv, we have our interests that must be secured first.

    MX, What if and when these nations explode in your face, overnight, as is happening as we speak. Seems like you'll be running after the football or playing catchup?

    Prez, We'll do what we must when we must.

    MX, Thank you, Mr. Prez.

    --Marvin X
    5/18/11

    Marvin X Writes Obama's Speech to Muslims
    As-Salaam-Alaikum
    I, Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States of America, come before you tonight in the name of Almighty God Allah. We, the America people, are pleased to see the people of North Africa and the Middle East rising up against our long time friends in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and elsewhere.

    Of course we instituted a no fly zone over Libya but it is most difficult to do the same in Gaza. The recent unity of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is nice but simply not in the interests of our dear friends in Israel, nor is it in the long term strategic interests of America and her friends throughout the region, especially our brothers in the House of Saud.

    While we endorse the cries for freedom in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen, we cannot support the people in Bahrain. We suspect they are simply agents for Iran and therefore we cannot support their cries for freedom. We have no plans of moving our Fifth Fleet from Bahrain, especially since it is a counterweight to Iranian provocations. We therefore endorse the sending of Saudi troops to crush the Shia uprisings in Bahrain.

    As per Saudi Arabia, we love democracy but it is simply not in our interests to have the Saudi regime destabilized because of a few unhappy citizens, again, many of them are agents of Iran, especially those Saudi women who want to drive cars.

    As per Iran, we call for democracy in that nation, even though we accept full responsibility for overthrowing the democratically elected leader, Mossedeq, and installing the Shah who oppressed his people for many years.

    We know you share our joy with the elimination of the hated terrorist Osama Bin Laden. Even though we created him and supported him, the time came for his removal, even though we were aware he was living in a mansion with his three wives in Pakistan. He served us well, but the time came for his disposal. You know how we handle those who outlive our usefulness, e.g., Saddam Hussein.

    We promised a total troop removal from Iraq, but circumstances may prevent this unless it is expedient for my upcoming election. We hope the people of Iraq understand, especially that guy Sadr and his army of the poor in Sadr City who fought with us to no avail.

    Our regional partners, namely the Sunni neighbors of Iraq, have warned us not to leave Iraq under a Shia regime, again this will only benefit Iran, the enemy of world peace. Not Israel and certainly not America who is the champion of world peace as you all know throughout the Muslim world, not matter that we are now occupying Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and making inroads into Libya. You may be surprised to learn that it is not the oil we want in Libya but the water. Yes, water will be a precious commodity in the coming days. We pray to Allah you can understand why we do what we do.

    As per Afghanistan, we have promised the Taliban if they lay down their arms, we will give them schooling, housing and employment. We wish we could offer the same to our boys and girls in the hoods of America who are terrorizing their communities with drugs and guns, but our budget crisis will not allow education, housing and jobs for the boys and girls in the hood, although we can do this for the Taliban. As you know we did this in Iraq and this was the real cause of the decrease in violence, not the socalled surge of Baghdad under General Betrayus.

    As you know, General Betrayus will be taking over the Central Intelligence Agency. We appreciate his role in prolonging the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We feel he has been successful in routing the 100 to 500 Al Quida in Afghanistan, especially after we sent him thirty thousand additional troops.

    Finally, our friends in Pakistan may have some misgivings about the unilateral move we made to eliminate Osama bin Laden, but we want them to get over it and not make any silly moves like seeking revenge with their nuclear option.

    I close in the name of peace, As-Salaam-Alaikum.
    President Barack Hussein Obama


    Friday, June 24, 2011


    Obama Drama: Scene #1: 

    Speech on Afghanistan































    A fictional speech by President Obama on Troop Withdrawal 
    from Afghanistan


    Good evening, my fellow Americans. You some silly motherfuckers. Do you think I'm gonna bring a bunch of troops home from Afghanistan when my generals tell me they can make a few more billion dollars if we keep the troop level up. I'm not gonna do that, hell naw. As long as my name is Barack Hussein Obama. Yes, who sane Obama, but you insane if you think the thirty thousand troops I sent over there to kill those mountain goats are coming home anytime soon.


    Oh, I might bring home two or three thousand, mostly the wounded with their brains shot out, those with no legs, no arms, we'll send them home, but you know it takes 30 thousand to capture or kill 100 to 500 Al Quida, yes, do the math, 30 thousand men at the cost of one million dollars each--now we don't pay them damn fool grunts no million dollars, but the generals get most of it for their retirement and when they come home to set up defense related corporations. You know the drill, don't you? You know politics and capitalism is dirty, filthy and funky like a ghetto ho. Hee hee hee. vote for me, I'll set you free!


    You know we gotta take care of our generals, since they protect us round the world so you dumb somebitches can ride around in your SUVs, playing soccer mom and your husbands can ride through the ghetto at night picking up little black girls for prostitution. Now if you fuck with my little girls, I'm coming after that ass like I did that boy, our boy, Osama bin Laden.


    Yes, I got that motherfucker. Hell, it was close to election time so I had to do something. Shot that motherfucker between the eyes and had my boys fuck his three wives fore we got outta Pakistan.


    Back to Afghanistan. It is ten billion dollars a month to chase them mountain goats up and down them fuckin mountains, some ten thousand feet to twelve thousand feet up. But we makin progress so we can't leave now. Too much money involved and too much dope. Karzai and his brother is dealing too much dope and it's too good to cut and run now, except for a little drawn down fore election time, hee hee hee. Vote for me, I'll set you free, you dumb motherfuckers, especially my nigguhs.


    How ma nigguhs doing in da hood? Ya'll still got yo shirt on, pants? I know you ain't got no job, ain't got no house, but you know I had to help my boys on Wall Street. I ain't stupid now, hell, I'm a Harvard nigguh, my nigguhs. Gotta help my brotherhood of thieves and robbers. If ya'll stop going to prison and come to Harvard, we'll show you how to be real criminals.


    And they lettin all nigguhs and poor people into Harvard for free, what's wrong wit ya nigguhs? Get yo ass out dem prison cells and come to Harvard so you can be trained to be a real criminal. Look, we ain't gonnna keep payin no $200,000 a year to keep you little snotty nose motherfuckers in juvenile hall. We go put you in Harvard. I'll talk to my man Skip Gates bout giving you a little black studies, none of dat radical shit, some miller lite shit, but I want you to major in crime, how to rob motherfuckers in broad daylight, cheat people out da homes, jobs, take everything, don't leave a motherfucker nothing. Take his wife too. Hee hee hee, vote for me, I'll set ya free!


    Back to Afghanistan. I told them mountain goats if they lay down their arms I will pay for them to go to school, get them housing and get them jobs. But them motherfuckers too dumb, can't count to ten. They can fight like hell when they wanna, but they don't want no schoolin, remind me of you nigguhs in da hood. But they worse than you nigguhs, these mountain goats won't even let the women go to school, lease you boyz in da hood ain't dat stupid. Vote fa me, I'll set ya free.


    Now you boyz and girls in da hood might wonder why I don't give you motherfuckers jobs if you lay down yo guns and stop terrorizing you mama, daddy, grandpa and grandma, yo woman and babies, yes, you nigguhs is killing yo babies too--sometimes ya'll bad as them mountain goats bombing everything with they good suicide asses. Talkin bout they go get some virgins in Paradise. Do the women get dicks in Paradise? Hee, hee hee. Vote fa me, I'll set ya free!!!!


    Let me finish this bullshit speech up so I can hit my cigarette, maybe a little one on one too. Mechelle make me go to a special little room she fixed up for me in the White House to do my thang. You know how them bitches is, always wanna fix up some shit fa a man. Bitch, I'm the motherfuckin Prez, bitch! Better leave me the fuck alone and take care of dem guls and yo mama.


    Back to Afghanistan. We go bring home two or three thousand troops and don't fuck with me about it. Matter of fact, kiss my black yellow ass, especially you Republicans and that Cornel West bitch! American people, good night. Prosperity is just around the corner, soon a chicken in every pot. Hee hee hee. Vote for me, I'll set you free!

    --Marvin X

    6/23/11

    0 0

    Congratulations Marvin X for receiving the 1st Annual Pillar Award for your Eldership and tireless work and pioneering spirit in the Black Arts and Black Power movement, thank you for introducing Eldridge Cleaver to Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, thank you for sharing your journey and testimonies, thank you for teaching us how to fight institutionalized racism and white supremacy with your strong example of self-determination through Black Bird Press, thank you moving forward to educate the masses through theater and poetry even after you got 'White Listed' from professorship in the UC System because you taught THE TRUTH, thank you for rising from the jaws of Cointelpro like a Phoenix to continue the struggle!!! We Stand Strong on your Legacy. Bless you Baba Marvin X. Ase, 
    -Toussaint Haki Stewart with the Elder Zone.



    0 0


    FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2011


    Obama Drama, Scene #3: Interview with Marvin X
























    fictional--Marvin X Interviews President Obama



    Marvin X, Thank you Mr. President for agreeing to meet with me.

    Prez, The pleasure is all mine. I've been reading your blogs and find them quite interesting.

    MX, I hope you don't say what Minister Farrakhan said about my comments on him.

    Prez, What did he say?

    MX, He said I raked him over the coals.

    Prez, I agree with Minister Farrakhan. You can be quite hard hitting.

    MX, They call me the sledgehammer.

    Prez, Indeed you are.

    MX, Call it tough love.

    Prez, OK.

    MX, Furthermore, I supported you wholeheartedly from the beginning. You obviously haven't seen my book Pull Yo Pants Up fada Black Prez and Yoself.

    Prez, No I haven't.

    MX, But I must agree with our mutual friend Dr. Cornell West. I'm sure you are aware that he said we must protect you, respect you, but check you.

    Prez, Yes, I heard his remarks. And you know what I said, "You brothers need to cut me some slack."

    MX, Prez, you don't need slack. You need us riding your back like Roy Rogers on Trigger.

    Prez, Don't you think I have enough pressure on me?

    MX, Well, I once forced the resignation of the president of Fresno State University. Well, actually he said he was pressured from above (Gov. Ronald Reagan) and below (student protests after the college refused to hire me). So we see you are the type of guy who must be pressured from above and below, from the right and the left.

    Prez, How much pressure you think a person in my position can take?

    MX, You got Mechelle to chill you out!

    Prez, You're right about that.

    MX, But I wrote about her putting a foot in your ass when you get weak.

    Prez, I don't think that's necessary

    MX, Well, you seem to capitulate at every turn. You call it the nature of politics, of course.

    Prez, Well, I certainly don't call it capitulation. That's a bit harsh. I try to negotiate and compromise with my opposition.

    MX, Prez, It seems to me you give in too quickly, sometimes when it ain't even necessary.

    Prez, Marvin, it's the nature of the beast I'm dealing with.

    MX, Ever heard of playing hardball? I mean I was happy you got the health insurance plan through but at what price, selling out to the insurance lobby?

    Prez, I don't call it selling out, it was compromise, the best we could do under the circumstances.

    MX, Prez, why have you not created a jobs program? You bailed out the banks and corporations but not the people, why?

    Prez, Marv, you know I have a most difficult job and we tried a stimulus package, and it worked to some extent.

    MX, But, Prez, there are still millions of unemployed. Yet at the same time you are promising terrorist jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan if they lay down their arms. Should the American unemployed take up arms to get your attention?

    Prez, Marv, please, what are you suggesting, revolution?

    MX, If that's what it takes to get you to consider the consent of the governed. Is not the first priority of this nation the people, not corporations and banks?

    Prez, Well, corporations are people now.

    MX, Prez, you know what I mean.

    Prez, Of course.

    MX, How can you provide funds for educating, housing and employing terrorists abroad but not at home? It just doesn't make sense, Mr. Prez.

    Prez, You're right, Marv.

    MX, Now you're getting ready to raise one billion dollars to keep your job, but you can't find a few billion for the millions of unemployed

    Prez, You're right, Marv. I can do better. Let me regroup with my advisers and think about it.

    MX, Yeah, Prez, I want to support you reelection but I find it most difficult. And the brothers on the street as well. They were happy when you won, they said it was great to know they could look up to someone besides a rapper. But lately they are saying fuck you, Mr. Prez.

    Prez, I'm sorry to hear that.

    MX, You should know this is what they're saying, Fuck you!

    Prez, I often wonder about the mood in the hood.

    MX, You should wonder before something terrible happens to your country because of your neglect and misplaced priorities. Can I ask you something personal?

    Prez, Go for it!

    MX, Do you feel like a white man or black man?

    Prez, Well, when I'm with Mechelle, I feel black. When I'm with my Secretary of State, Hilliary, I feel white.

    MX, I thought Hillary was black, along with her husband, Dirty Bill.

    Prez, Marv, let's not name call, please.

    MX, OK. On a more serious matter, how long did you know Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan?

    Prez, We had him under surveillance for some time.

    MX, Years, months?

    Prez, a long time.

    MX, Should I congratulate you for slaying the dragon?

    Prez, That's up to you.

    MX, Well, you probably deserve a feather in your cap. A couple of Brownie points.

    Prez, Marv, thanks.

    MX, But, Prez, where's the body?

    Prez, We threw it in the ocean.

    MX, C'mon, Prez, do I look like Willie Foofoo?

    Prez, Marv, we did, trust me.

    MX, Prez, I'm an ex-dope fiend. I know how people lie.

    Prez, Marv, are you calling me a liar?

    MX, I didn't say that, Prez, but my elder, Dr. Nathan Hare, taught the fictive theory. Everything the white man (and black man or white/black man) says is fiction until proven to be a fact. Where are the facts, Prez?

    Prez, Marv, trust me. We thought it best to dispose of the body in the ocean.

    MX, But who's going for this, Prez, it sounds shaky.

    Prez, We concluded that was the best way to end the matter of a man who murdered three thousand Americans.

    MX, Prez, how many Muslims have you murdered since you became President?

    Prez, I can't answer that.

    MX, Between Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, how many, especially with the collateral damage?

    Prez, Can't answer that. It was all in defense of America.

    MX, Is a few ignorant men living in mountain caves really a threat to America?

    Prez, They can be.

    MX, C'mon, Prez. Let's change the channel. What happened with the closing of Gitmo?

    Prez, We tried but couldn't pull it off.

    MX, What about the secret prisons in America?

    Prez, I'm not aware of them.

    MX, Maybe you should check with homeland security?

    Prez, Our priority is the safety of Americans.

    MX, Does this include murdering American citizens rather than bringing them to trial?

    Prez, Not necessarily.

    MX, What about the man in Yemen you are trying to kill who is an American citizen?

    Prez, He's a special case.

    MX, But he's an American.

    Prez, Marv, don't press the issue.

    MX, That's exactly what I'm doing.

    Prez, Don't press it, Marv.

    MX, Let's discuss the Middle East for a moment. I've written about your speech in Cairo and Indonesia. I've imagined what you will say about Muslims tomorrow, May 19. You know as long as you occupy one inch of Muslim land there shall be Muslims who view you as a Crusader and they will vow to fight you to the death.

    Prez, Marv, I'm aware how Muslims feel about us occupying their lands. And we plan to vacate all Muslim lands at the earliest possible date.

    MX, Does this include having your friends in Israel do the same?

    Prez, Well, that's a matter for the Israelis, not us.

    MX, But you are their very best friend. You support them right or wrong, true?

    Prez, I wouldn't say that. But we have an enduring relationship.

    MX, Don't you see the day is rapidly arriving when they cannot claim to be the only democracy in the area, that they will bow down to the God of Justice, not peace but justice?

    Prez, Events are rapidly changing in North Africa and the Middle East. Therefore we must all make a paradigm shift in our thinking and behavior, including Israel.

    MX, What about your friends in Saudi Arabia?

    Prez, They will need to make substantial changes as well.

    MX, And Bahrain?
    Prez, It's a special case. We have strategic interests there.

    MX, You seem to be saying America practices selective suffering. You now support the Egyptian revolution, the Tunisian, Yemen, but not in Saudi Arabia or Israel, Jordan, Bahrain.

    Prez, Marv, we have our interests that must be secured first.

    MX, What if and when these nations explode in your face, overnight, as is happening as we speak. Seems like you'll be running after the football or playing catchup?

    Prez, We'll do what we must when we must.

    MX, Thank you, Mr. Prez.

    --Marvin X
    5/18/11

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    Harrison Chastang
    News Director
    KPOO FM Radio
    San Francisco, CA
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    photo adam turner


    Marvin. And as far as The Black Scholar is concerned, whenever people are talking about something they never have but part of the picture. I used to get couples in who’d broken up years ago but the courts or/and the schools demanded they get treatment re their child in trouble, and sometimes they’d be surprised of things they thought had happened or didn’t know what happened. 



    Say people would see articles by nationalists or somebody (and by the way, they wanted to reject Marxism that wasn’t acceptable, like Eldridge Cleaver was a no-no, a very creative professor little known in Canada), and they observer wouldn’t know what nationalism had  been rejected or how hard I fought to get in something by Haki Madhubuti, or what had been rejected by whomever. 

    People might communicate with Chrisman as editor, but then when everything is brought to the editorial meeting before each issue he might not be for  it. Plus Chrisman was always editing people’s stuff. The very first article I did, on the festival in Algiers in the first issue, he changed the first sentence. Then when we were drinking one night, he said remarked that I was a sociologist who could write like Hemingway (that sentence had been patterned after Hemingway). 

    I told him Bob he shouldn’t be chopping up these leading authors’ stuff a and don’t toucha sentence of mine. He wanted to be an English teacher and a chiseling poet. He could write short pieces, but not long ones. Poetry he could get together a few words a drink and take his time, but he couldn’t do a long essay very well  if at all. He took off once for a month to write on a book we haven’t seen yet. He objected to m y article  on Black Ecology. He’d already written one in Scanlon’s (?) short-lived but well promoted white magazine, saying “Ecology is a Racist Shuck.” Then here I come with “Black Ecology” saying we could take it higher but blacks would have to show them the way, because our ecological condition was more social, the solution would have to be more social and thus more human. It went all over the  place. He opposed my publisher’s statements, according to Al Ross, particularly the one in the second issue written partly when I was in jail.  



    Or so Al told me. So I stopped doing them in a huff because I always had some writing assignment in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the Harvard professor included me among “Thirteen Black Intellectuals” in an Esquire article, just saying, I didn’t need it but Bob Chrisman did because, even today, his name is nothing apart from The Black Scholar.  And, though I haven’t seen a copy in many years, I’d wager it’s nothing  like  it was when I was there, if anybody wants to check it  out.  We used to do each issue on a special topic. About a very few in, Bob Chrisman announced we’d run out of topics, but I rattled off about five on the spot and we kept on, at least as long as I was there.



    The Black Scholar kicked off so well because a white guy who usually got a thousand dollars for designing covers (say ten thousand in today’s terms) voluntarily did the cover through Alan Ross, who was co-owner of Graphic Arts of Marin. But he didn’t fund us, though he’d print free at first and let us use an office in the building free at first. But we started the journal by chipping in three hundred dollars apiece, except that it didn’t total nine hundred dollars,  just seven hundred and fifty, because Bob Chrisman couldn’t come up with but half of his. That’s why the irony of his willing it to his daughter. Who would have thought of such a thing. I made many mistakes  in life, but one was not in leaving with Al Ross as he continued to implore me to do, as we could have put The Black Scholar in the shade.

    Nathan Hare
     
    From: Nathan Hare 
    Sent: Tuesday, July 18, 2017 11:32 AM

    Marvin,
    Just thinking, for what it’s worth to your friend who missed seeing me at The Black Scholar, you don’t see much of any head people when you go into a place or enterprise, seldom the president of the bank when you go to make a loan let alone to make  a deposit or cash a check. Like people who go to church don’t see God there but testify that they saw him somewhere else and want to be saved. Plus when I went back to school, essentially leaving The Black Scholar except for helping them get two grants of $10,l000, in money of that day, like a $100,000l each now. I was on the Board of the San Francisco Local Development Corporation s well as on the Point Foundation in Sausalito. Among others. When Al Ross left in 1973, Robert Allen had come on as associate editor and I agreed with Bob Crhisman to let Robert Allen take Al’s place on the Board, if he’d let my former secretary, Glroia Bevien, who had been assisting Al Ross, be Business Manager. In time, with me gone, returning to school in September 1973, I was only at The Black Scholar for the weekly Friday morning business meeting. In my mind, I was going to leave when I got the degree. Al Ross  kept trying to get me to leave with him and would ask me to stop by the Black Scholar Book Club he had taken with him to an office in a church at the edge of Marin City. I could have taken the Black Scholar Lecture Bureau (both entities would fold anyway) and God knows what else we could have done from there. 

    You didn’t have that kind of black book club in those days or black lecture bureaus who knew that the trick  is not getting a list of prominent speakers so much as getting the gigs by courting BSU leaders and Black faculty and while college lecture chiefs. You can always get the speaker or the next best thing if you are presenting them with a gig. Conference planners and the like. One needs a clerk  on the phone all day courting such individuals, not the speakers you can get with the drop of a dollar bill. So my office was in the back, the biggest one, usually with the door closed, and in which I even did copyreading and would find umpteen errors after the staff had finished; the office we held the weekly meetings in,. But after 1973, I wasn’t even on the premises other than Friday mornings. I left in late March of 1973, instead of August as I had planned when I returned to school, because I was getting so upset when all three  continued to team up against me in my absence, which I guess they resented and Bob had as a good selling point to the  unenlightened, so a meeting blew up, and I came home and Julia called Al Ross’s widow, as he had recently died, and she came over with their daughter and the three women urged me to quit then instead of August. I guess they feared something might happen  though I was no longer packing, because things had come to a head that morning.

    Nathan Hare
    Phone: 415-474-1707
    Fax: 415-589-7983




    On Wednesday, July 19, 2017, 2:32:40 PM PDT, Marvin X Jackmon wrote:


    Marvin,
    I just took a notion to try to see  what kind of articles The Black Scholar might be doing ideologically these days – to see if it wasn’t more petite bourgeoisie noir or otherwise cloaked in Afrocentrism in the kingdom of Africana -- and this popped up wherein some clowns are saying The Black Scholar was founded by Al Ross and Robert Chrisman, with no mention l’il ol’ me!  You can take an egocentric so-an-so out of white studies and polka dot studies and make him afrocentric or ethnocentric or just let him stay eccentric, if you want him to. Either way –  as Don King put it recently , he’ll still be “just a nigger” (Disclaimer: Don King’s words, not mine).

    marvin x reply to dr hare

    doc, you know we call this revisionist negro history, another crisis of the negro intellectual. they often give their narratives of black history that jump from marcus garvey to malcolm x, never mentioning elijah muhammad. in the black arts movement history, they make me a minor player, although i worked in bam coast to coast, wrote in soulbook, black dialogue, journal of black poetry, negro digest/black world, black theatre, black scholar and muhammad speaks; founded black arts west theatre, black house, san francisco and worked at the new lafayette theatre in harlem, taught black studies at fresno state u., san francisco state u, uc berkeley, uc san diego, mills college, laney and merritt; have written 30 books. minor player my motherfuckin ass!
    --marvin x




    John Woodford 
    To:Marvin X Jackmon
    Jul 19 at 3:31 PM
    Subject: Re: black bird press news--dr. nathan hare on the true history of black scholar magazine
    Nathan Hare has always seemed to me a man of fascinating, wide-ranging opinions, some (just a few) of which, to me, miss the point. But when it comes to brass tacks, or hard facts, he seems to hit the nail on the head, so this is a sniper of history to take seriously.

     Bob Chrisman was one of those unusual people who could speak in a string of bon mots on a variety of topics--music, literature, sports, politics, technology and more -- profound and poetic in conversation, but, as Hare notes, for some reason, except in his poetry, not given to longer prose runs. Yet, being as dogged as he was stubborn, he pulled himself together here in Ann Arbor to write a doctoral dissertation on Robert Hayden.

     In the years I knew him, however, whenever I heard him speak of the founding of the Black Scholar, he always mentioned Nathan Hare as present at the creation. Since I knew that anyway, the private statement may not amount to much, and I don't know what he had to say publicly on that question. I could sense there was bad blood of some sort between them arising from the Scholar relationship. He didn't invite questions on the matter and I was not one to probe for gossip, but he didn't disparage you, Nathan. And as you may perhaps agree, 

    I don't know anything about Ross, but it strikes me, looking back, that it is too bad the Hare-Chrisman-Allen triumvirate couldn't hold, since it was certainly a constellation of mind and talent that could have produce a publication that blazed  even more brightly and remarkably than it did in its prime. 

    Hey, Marvin: I sure like that T shirt!!

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  • 07/20/17--01:00: belated hapi b day assata

  • TOMORROW:  ON SUNDAY, JULY 16, 2017 @ 4:30 pm IN NEWARK, NEW JERSEY... 
    IS THE 70th BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION FOR ASSATA SHAKUR

    THE NEW JERSEY BLACK PANTHER PARTY COMMEMORATION COMMITTEE
    “To move a blade of grass is to change the world…”
    Huey P. Newton
     
    July  2017
     
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE!
     
    EXILED PANTHER ASSATA SHAKUR WILL BE FETED AT 70!
     
                On Sunday, July 16th, a cross section of activists, artists and humanitarians will come together to salute Assata Shakur, the long exiled Black Panther who resides in Cuba to mark her 70th birthday.
              The gathering is called ‘For The Love Of Freedom: Assata Is Always Welcome Here-An Honoring of 70 Years of a Committed Life.
              It will not be the usual maligning of Shakur in connection with the bounty on her head that comes from the NJ State Police, the FBI and the law enforcement community.
              Instead, it will be an evening of poetry, dance, song, testimony and more, appreciating the activist’s lifetime commitment to the struggle for human dignity.
              Shakur was born on July 16th, 1947 to a proud, independent Black family from Wilmington, North Carolina. At the turn of the 20th century, Wilmington was the site of a vicious ethnic cleansing attack that literally ran legions of African Americans from the town. Shakur’s grandparents dared to be landowning business persons against this violently segregated background. It is from this background that would emerge her own commitment and courage that she would take into the Black Panther Party as a college student.
              When the Black Panther Party was faced with the dangerous distinction of  being labelled the ‘greatest threat to the internal security’ of the country by the FBI, and when NY chapters of the Party came under particular attack after surviving the NY 21 case, a case where 21 Panthers, officers and rank and file members were put on trial for bogus conspiracy charges to commit terrorist acts, charges that would have landed them in prison for the rest of their lives, Shakur  and a number of other Panthers opted to go underground and create the Black Liberation Army to continue their fight.
              On May 2, 1973, Shakur was shot and critically injured in an incident on the NJ Turnpike that would capture international attention. It is often referred to as the ‘Turnpike Incident,’ an apparent racial profiling stop by a NJ State Trooper. The incident left Shakur critically wounded, Zayd Shakur, the apparent driver dead and Trooper Werner Foerster dead.  At her trial, forensic evidence clearly established that Shakur was shot with her hands up, and that the Trooper who made the stop, James Harper, by his own admission, started the shooting and fled the scene. Yet Shakur and her co-defendant Sundiata Acoli, now 80 and still incarcerated, were each given sentences of life plus thirty years, after being convicted for the murder of Trooper Foerster. On November 2, 1979, Shakur was liberated from what was then the Clinton Correctional Facility in one of the most incredible moments in the history of the Black Liberation Movement after enduring threats on her life while in prison. She was since given exile in Cuba. She currently has a 2 million dollar bounty for her capture and was put on the FBI’s Domestic Terrorist List retroactively several years ago.
              Meanwhile, supporters of Shakur, and many others in the human rights community believe that cases like hers should be reopened in a context of a Truth And Reconciliation Commission that takes on how racism drove police violence and repression during that period, a framework comparable to what emerged in South Africa on their road to dismantling Apartheid.
              In 1987, Shakur penned a moving memoir of her life story, Assata:An Autobiography. She has lent her voice to other humanitarian efforts and to the support many other of her comrades from the Black Panther Party who are still in prison as a result of the now well-known COINTELPRO Operations that were empanelled to destroy the Party and other important Black leaders. She is the subject of a moving film Eyes Of The Rainbow done by critically acclaimed filmmaker Afro-Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando Ocasio. While murderously maligned by mainstream press and racist and opportunist politicians, she is considered a miraculous surviving link to the Underground Railroad legacy of her ancestors.
              “Assata was not even an officer or a leader in the Party, and yet there was this obsession with going after her, or rather with going after rank and file members of the Party, as intensely as they were going after its leadership.
              “What happened to her is a prime example of the length that the government was willing to go to destroy the Party,” said Zayid Muhammad, a longtime supporter of Shakur and a principal organizer of the gathering.
              “The fact that she survived her incredible ordeal and was able to secure some semblance of freedom, albeit exiled, is a testimony to the spiritual will of our people to survive the worse expressions of oppression and to be free,” he finished
              Just as this moving gathering will feature poetry, song, dance, testimony from Shakur’s comrades, as indicated above, it will also lay out meaningful support measures to be taken in support of her Party comrades still in prison, appreciation of the Cuban Revolution and its incredible solidarity with the African world and the oppressed, and more.
              This moving afternoon will take place at The REFAL Center, 271 So 9th Street, Newark at 4:30pm…

    "Hands Off Assata Shakur, Free Sundiata Acoli & Long Live The Panther Spirit Of Zayid Malik Shakur"
      
    * Above: Read Assata's Book & Support The Revolutionary Art Of Captured Comrade Kevin Rashid Johnson

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    City of Oakland Banner

    Dear Community Member,

    The City of Oakland is excited to announce a relaunched and expanded process for developing a specific plan for downtown Oakland. The City began the Downtown Oakland Specific Plan process in fall of 2015 to create a vision and guiding policy to shape the downtown. The City then paused the process to hire a consulting team of local specialists in both social equity policy and community engagement to address the community’s concerns about racial disparities and displacement.
    This Equity Team will supplement the work of the existing planning team by applying a social and racial equity lens to the process of developing a specific plan for downtown Oakland and deepening meaningful engagement of historically-underserved communities.
    The expanded public process will include activities beginning this summer and continuing through the end of 2017, and will re-engage stakeholders and incorporate stakeholders from underrepresented communities. It has started with a series of activities targeted to leaders in communities of color and other communities whose voices are often not included in policy decisions.
    Working Groups – Coming Soon!
    The next phase is a series of working group meetings on four topic areas based on issues the community identified during the first phase of the specific plan process:
    • Housing, Affordability, Jobs, Training & Economic Opportunity Working Group
    • Arts & Culture Working Group
    • Streets, Connectivity & Built Environment Working Group
    • Sustainability, Health, Safety, Recreation & Open Space Working Group
    Community members interested in one of these topics are invited to join a working group. The first round of working group meetings will focus on social equity, the second on technical analysis, and the final round on implementation and prioritization. We encourage participants to commit to attending all three meetings for their working group topic.
    If you would like to join one of the four working groups that will be meeting over the next several months, RSVP to the first meeting of that working group here to receive more details.  The first round of meetings are the first week of August, from 5:30-8:00pm, at a downtown location near transit (specific location to be confirmed):
    Social Equity Working Group Meetings
    • Monday, July 31:  Housing, Affordability, Jobs, Training & Economic Opportunity
    • Tuesday, August 1:  Arts & Culture
    • Wednesday, August 2:  Streets, Connectivity & Built Environment
    • Thursday, August 3:  Sustainability, Health, Safety, Recreation & Open Space
    Other Opportunities
    If these more intensive working groups are not for you, there will be other opportunities to participate in the planning process. There will be a series of neighborhood design meetings in October and public workshops in late 2017/early 2018 to help develop the draft plan. Stay tuned for more information!
    More InformationThe new EQTDTO (Equity in Downtown Oakland) outreach website for the Downtown Oakland Specific Plan is now live! Be sure to check it for more updates: https://www.eqtdto.com/
    For plan documents and more information about the Downtown Oakland Specific Plan, please visit the following link: http://www.oaklandnet.com/plandowntownoakland



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  • 07/21/17--08:36: black woman is god exhibit
  • bwig_blog_rd2
    Co-curated by Karen Seneferu and Melorra Green The Black Woman is God: Divine Revolution is a group visual art exhibition with free admission celebrating the Black female presence as the highest spiritual form. More than 60 intergenerational artists working in sculpture, painting, new media, and photography create new myths to challenge Eurocentric notions of God.
    Co-curators Seneferu and Green envision The Black Woman is God not only as an exhibition, but as a movement-building platform that explores the intersections of race and gender, dismantling racist and patriarchal notions that devalue Black women’s contributions to society. Now in its second iteration at SOMArts, The Black Woman is God: Divine Revolutionreveals Black women’s divinity and resilience despite intergenerational trauma and suppressed creativity.
    Activated by live performances and a community cyper at the opening reception, The Black Woman is God asserts that subverting our notions of God is a spiritual and revolutionary act. As a statement by participating artists explains, “This exhibition is about Black women taking back their time, their rest, their dreams, and their creativity as a divine critical act, revealing how prayer and the convergences of women’s lives become transcendent through love.”
    Opening with a public reception on Thursday, July 20, 6–10pmThe Black Woman is God will be activated by a performance procession of 100 Black women paying tribute to Black people who have worked tirelessly to heal the community through art, culture, and spirituality. The procession titled Opening the Way will include Black elders, youth, and girls who will walk from SOMArts’ parking lot to the gallery to honor their ancestors in an African libation before the performances begin.
    The opening reception will also include performances by jazz musician Destiny Muhammad among many other legendary Bay Area performers.
    Marissa Arterberry
    Marissa Arterberry, “Kreation Funkstress,” Acrylic paint, oil pastel, and glitter on canvas, 2014.
    Exhibiting artist Marissa Arterberry’s series of paintings titled The Funktresses is inspired by the aesthetics and soul of funk musicians — highlighting Black women’s influence on the musical genre.
    A musician herself, Zakiya Harris’s video for the song Abracadabrakafrikareveals the community-building power of asserting the divinity of Black women.
    Yasmin Sayyed
    Yasmin Sayyed, “Complicated, lovely Sisters,” Acrylic on canvas. 2016.
    Yasmin Sayyed’s painting Breath of Divinity connects to healing through an embrace of cosmologies of the African diaspora — reaching across generations to access ancestral traditions that have been erased by racist and colonial histories.
    Fan Warren
    Fan Lee Warren, “She Forgot Where She Comes From,” Acrylic on paper, 2017.
    Fan Lee Warren’s multimedia painting also reaches through history, depicting archetypes of Black women artists, healers, and leaders to reveal the forgotten and erased histories of Black female divinity.
    On Friday, August 25 & Saturday, August 26, from 8:00pm-midnight, Night Light: Multimedia & Performance Festival blankets SOMArts in luminous art installations, including audiovisual performances and performative interventions by over 25 artists, and digital and cinematic projections by over 20 artists. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door, or $20 for guaranteed entry to both nights of the festival. Advance tickets are available online now at: http://nightlightparty2017.eventbrite.com.
    Now in its seventh year, Night Light utilizes SOMArts’ entire post-industrial space and grounds, including the garden path, street-side loading bay, theater, Bay Gallery and Main Gallery.
    This year Night Light responds to the themes of The Black Woman is Godby presenting visual art installations and performances by artists of many gender identities and cultural backgrounds that reclaims the African cultural narrative of God being a Black woman.
    THE BLACK WOMAN IS GOD
    EXHIBITING ARTISTS

    2AM
    Ajuan Mance
    Audacious Iam
    Alise Eastgate
    Angela Hennessy
    Anna W. Edwards
    Ayana Ivery
    April Martin Chartrand
    April Luvly Martin
    Arinthia Jones
    Ain Bailey
    Bushmama Africa
    Cynthia Brannvall
    Djenne Ba Dynna Batties
    Dawn Rudd
    Dalila Dynes
    Elizabeth Summers
    Erica Deeman
    Francis Mead
    Fan Lee Warren
    Heru
    Hilda Robinson
    Idris Hassan
    JaeMe Bereal
    KaliMa Amilak
    Karen Oyekanmi
    Karen Seneferu
    karin turner
    Kathleen McDonald
    Kiwii McLaurin
    Kimberly Johnson
    Kristina “Namastina” Williams
    Kristine Mays
    Ladi Rev
    Lakiba Pittman
    Latisha Baker
    Lili Bernard
    Lorraine Bonner
    Marissa Arterberry
    Mizan Alkebul-Abakah
    Maya Wamukota
    Marnika Shelton
    Nzinga Hatch
    Nicole Dixon
    Nye’ Lyn Tho
    Orlonda Uffre
    Redwood Hill
    Rosalind McGray
    Rosalyn Parhams
    Sage Stargate
    Sasha Kelly
    Shanna Strauss
    Shylah Hamilton
    Sonjhai Meggette
    Taiwo & Kehinde
    Tania L. Balan-Gaubert
    Tarika Lewis
    Toshia Christal
    Val Kai
    Virginia Jourdan
    Valerie Brown-Troutt
    Venus Morris
    Vanessa Addison Williams
    Wawi Amasha
    Worldly Sistah–Tracy Brown
    Yetunde Olagbaju
    Yasmin Sayyed
    Zakiya Harris
    Zena Carlota
    RELATED EVENTS
    Exhibition
    July 20–August 26, 2017

    Gallery hours: Tuesday–Friday 12–7pm & Saturday 12–5pm
    The exhibition is free to visit during gallery hours and during the opening reception. SOMArts Cultural Center is located at 934 Brannan St. (between 8th & 9th Streets), San Francisco, CA, 94103. SOMArts is wheelchair/ADA accessible. More information on accessibility is available here.
    Opening Reception
    Thursday, July 20, 6pm–midnight

    The opening night celebration kicks off with live music and participatory dance celebration in the Gallery. To learn more, visit www.somarts.org/theblackwomanisgodopening2017.
    Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon
    Saturday, July 22, 1–4pm

    SOMArts, the California Digital Library and Art Practical present a Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon in conjunction with The Black Woman is God to raise the online visibility of Black women artists and challenge the gaps in art history that erase or minimize Black women’s contributions as artists, activists and social change-makers. To learn more, visit www.somarts.org/theblackwomanisgodwikipedia.
    Night Light: Multimedia & Performance Festival
    Friday, August 25 & Saturday, August 26, 8:00pm–midnight

    Luminous art installations, including audiovisual performances and performative interventions by over 25 artists, and digital and cinematic projections by over 20 artists. Tickets are $12 in advance online or $15 at the door, or $20 to attend both nights of the Festival. http://nightlightparty2017.eventbrite.com

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    Silent Night

    Silent night, holy night
    All is calm, all is bright
    Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
    Holy Infant so tender and mild
    Sleep in heavenly peace (2x)
    Silent night, holy night!....
    dreams of freedom in another life,
    Deaf dumb blind this life
    Like Hiram Biff in shallow grave
    Looking for Jesus to save
    rise up Lazarus
    Jesus said
    don't worry Mary
    Martha don't moan
    I got Lazarus in my arms
    Silent night holy night
    All is calm all is bright
    Passive mild like virgin child
    Homeless nameless
    Lost and turned out
    On way to grandmother’s house
    Silent night holy night
    All is calm all is bright
    Get off yo knees crying blues
    Wake up everybody to good news
    You walk with Jesus
    You walk in his shoes…
    Silent night holy night
    all is calm all is bright....
    --Marvin X

    8/21/17

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  • 07/23/17--00:42: the cia in hollywood
  • "The CIA in Hollywood: How the Agency Shapes Film and Television," by Tricia Jenkins

     

    By Book Review Editor
    Friday, April 17, 2015, 11:00 AM
    Published by University of Texas Press (2013)
    Reviewed by Julius Taranto
    Though everyone would surely prefer otherwise, public relations crises are part of the CIA’s ordinary business. The fact that so much of its work is classified puts the Agency in one of those tricky, plumber-like governmental roles: when it does its job right, no one should notice. But when it screws up, there’s a mess, and things smell awful.

    The nature of any covert enterprise is rigged against popularity: the Agency can’t ordinarily brag about its hard-won successes or even update Americans with news of general competence. The FBI, by contrast, gets to issue press releases detailing high-profile arrests and convictions. But with rare exceptions, the CIA hits the front page only when something has gone badly sideways.
    This asymmetry naturally gives rise to an image problem, so the CIA needs a way of loopholing if it wants to shape public perception. Fiction about the Agency—particularly television and movies, the most potent and culture-shaping mediums—has turned out to be that loophole. But it has its risks.
    Depending on whom you ask, Hollywood has been either a great friend or a persistent foe in the CIA’s quest for a better public image. Some might point to media characterizations of the CIA as a rogue, hapless, or amoral institution. Just a few weeks ago, at the Agency’s request, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd talked to members of Langley’s “sisterhood,” who were “fed up with the flock of fictional CIA women in movies and on TV who guzzle alcohol as they bed hop and drone drop, acting crazed and emotional, sleeping with terrorists and seducing assets.” The point of these interviews seemed to be to insist that CIA careers are actually much more boring and difficult than they look on television.

    But more probing critics might highlight that the romanticized representation of spies in film has, in fact, been a boon to the Intelligence Community. Audiences are probably seduced rather than judgmental when fictional CIA officers fall short of perfect virtue. Homeland’s Carrie Mathison may not be a girl scout or a realistic CIA officer, but there’s no question that viewers are on her side, and that they care about her more than her buttoned-up colleagues, precisely because her flaws humanize her. The Agency—and everyone who likes spy movies—should hope Maureen Dowd’s column wasn’t too persuasive, because no one wants to watch a show about unmarred professionalism and competence. They’d watch The Americans instead.

    Absent flawed, interesting protagonists, in other words, CIA-themed TV shows and movies would not exist for long. And that would mean that the only time the public hears or thinks about the CIA is when the Agency is in the news, and something has probably gone wrong. So the entertainment industry’s efforts to portray the Agency hinge, paradoxically, on depicting a more flawed version of the Agency as an institution than is realistic, while depicting individual Agency officials as less lawful, less professional, and less virtuous than is realistic, either. Though possibly the most damaging effect of the television shows is not about the professionalism of individual agents or the Agency, or lack thereof, but instead that because budget constraints push TV production to take place in US locales, not abroad, the general public probably understands that Carrie Mathison is not exactly typical of Langley—but is quite unaware that the CIA is prohibited by law from operating on US soil at all.

    Understanding that spy movies and shows will be produced with or without the Agency’s cooperation, Langley has established a suitably quiet relationship with the entertainment industry in the interest of securing Hollywood portrayals that are at least half-accurate, if not cloyingly positive. That Agency-Industry engagement is the topic of Tricia Jenkins’s, well, frankly underwhelming book, The CIA in Hollywood. Her effort contains a few interesting historical anecdotes, but it ultimately fails to do justice to an underserved, rich, and timely topic.

    II
    Here’s one anecdote: twenty years ago, following the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and the Aldrich Ames scandal, there was skeptical chatter about the CIA’s continued usefulness. Rep. Dan Glickman, then the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan both publicly questioned whether the CIA should have a future. The Agency met this image problem-turned-existential threat by commissioning a network television show called The Classified Files of the C.I.A. It was to be modeled on the 1960s FBI image-vehicle The F.B.I., and it would feature a real, declassified CIA case each week. Langley would feed fact patterns to the producers, who would use them as the basis for a story and sell the show based in part on its authenticity.

    The Classified Files of the C.I.A. never made it to air after the Agency and the show’s producers, Steve Tisch and Aaron Spelling, parted ways over creative differences. But if Jenkins’s account of the concept is even a little accurate, the (alas) never seen two-hour pilot episode sounds like a masterpiece of clunky and humorless propaganda that was, for the Agency’s sake, probably best kept classified. Later, after this failed attempt to micromanage professional Hollywood micromanagers, Langley opted for a lighter touch. Rather than developing its own content, it began reaching out to filmmakers already working on Agency-related projects and offering them insider expertise—and sometimes use of the CIA’s facilities, equipment, or official seal—in exchange for some influence over how the Agency would be portrayed.

    This was the project of longtime CIA officer Chase Brandon, first cousin of Tommy Lee Jones and (not coincidentally) the first CIA Entertainment Industry Liaison. Brandon developed a process at Langley just like the Pentagon’s long-established Hollywood outreach program: guidance and advice are freely given, while filmmakers requesting something more costly—the use of equipment, shooting locations, or technical consultation—have their scripts reviewed to determine whether aiding production aligns with the Agency’s mission. When a filmmaker asks for more than guidance, script alterations are sometimes suggested in the name of authenticity and a more positive take on the Agency.

    In Jenkins’s telling, the first two projects influenced by this system were In the Company of Spies and The Agency. After 9/11, there were a slew of others, including Alias, The Sum of All Fears, The Bourne Identity, and The Recruit. Jenkins tries to tell a story in which the Agency, allegedly in violation of the First Amendment, disingenuously attempts to twist spy movies to its own propagandistic ends and then withdraws vital support from filmmakers who refuse to capitulate. The argument is that this unequal treatment of filmmakers based only on their different characterizations of the Agency amounts to an unconstitutional suppression of speech. Where to begin? It’s hard to swallow that Jenkins is shocked, shocked to find that public relations is going on here! Beyond that, even by her own account of which movies Langley lent its hand to and which it didn’t, it’s difficult to discern any kind of consistent pattern of positivity in these films that isn’t already implied by having a CIA officer as a sympathetic protagonist.

    For example, despite the fact that neither film takes a terribly positive view of Langley, both The Bourne Identity and The Recruit feature Chase Brandon in the DVD’s “extra features” segments discussing what the Agency is really like. It’s a good move—hey, we all enjoy a good movie and, no problem, we’re kind of flattered being the villains—now here’s something to show you what we’re really about. By contrast, another Agency-aided film, The Sum of All Fears, has some rather heavy-handed touches of CIA cheerleading. (Here’s CIA analyst Jack Ryan, the cool head in an apocalyptic crisis: “The President is basing his decisions on some really bad information right now. And if you shut me out, your family, and my family, and twenty-five million other families will be dead in thirty minutes. My orders are to get the right information to the people who make the decisions.”)
    A flawed or overdramatic presentation of the CIA is probably better for Langley than none at all, and over the years the Agency has supported a wide array of films. Even portrayals that caricature the Agency as an institution of ungoverned, amoral assassins aren’t necessarily so bad from a public relations standpoint: they’ll still have a thrilling, outlaw power to them. It’s not despite James Bond’s license to kill that we find him so alluring. The more critical (Syriana, The Good Shepherd) or fantastical (Alias, The Bourne Identity) films likely still help with Agency recruitment (if not internal morale). But Jenkins—an obvious, agenda-driven skeptic of the Agency—rests her whole argument on the simplistic premise that the CIA is flatly against inaccurate or uncharitable appearances in film. If that’s an Agency line, it certainly isn’t the whole picture.

    By no fault of its own, Jenkins’s book suffers from a just-too-soon publication date. It doesn’t reach Zero Dark Thirty and the investigation into the screenwriter Mark Boal’s help from Langley. Jenkins also doesn’t have a chance to talk much about eventual Best Picture winner Argo, which centers on the Agency’s creation of a fake Hollywood production company (so convincing that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas submitted screenplays) in order to rescue six hostages from Tehran. Alas, there could hardly be two more fitting moments from which to launch a discussion of the coy romance between Hollywood and the Agency.

    The book also declines to connect the Agency’s current entertainment industry efforts to its long history of cultural influence. (Just one example of this—and maybe an opportunity for some future inquiry—was the CIA role in generating early funding and prestige for the now-famous Iowa Writer’s Workshop.) And Jenkins only mentions in passing Langley’s relationship with USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies, where Industry professionals workshop threat scenarios and develop military and intelligence tools. So there are gaps in Jenkins’s coverage, and it misses an opportunity for a larger intellectual discussion about the proper role of a democratic government and its agencies, covert or overt, in the promotion of its foundational political ideas—but the book at least cracks the door on some undeniably cool topics.

    III
    When the CIA first reached out to Hollywood, it was facing questions about the fundamental utility of centralized intelligence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But after 9/11, the Agency was vaulted to a position of prominence and is unlikely to face such skepticism about its significance anytime soon. This has surely given Langley more latitude in the types of films it can support, in addition to inclining filmmakers to think harder, and more charitably, about what the Agency does and why.

    With doubters banished and solid funding, the Agency would now likely prefer to return to its role as a good plumber—where nothing goes wrong, and no one pays attention. But the occasional real scandal or high-profile movie seems inevitable. Intelligence will continue to be fertile ground for high-stakes storytelling, especially while terrorism remains in the headlines. So the question remains how to make the best of an unwanted spotlight. The CIA has a place in Hollywood, whether it wants one or not.

    (Julius Taranto, a Student Fellow of the Yale Law School Information Society Project, was a writer in Los Angeles before entering law school.) 

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    This is a book about secrecy, militarism, manipulation, and censorship at the heart of the world’s leading democracy—and about those who try to fight them. Using thousands of pages of documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act National Security Cinema exclusively reveals that the national security state—led by the CIA and Pentagon—has worked on more than eight-hundred Hollywood films and over a thousand network television shows. The latest scholarship has underestimated the size of this operation, in part because the government has gone to considerable lengths to prevent data emerging, especially in the 21st Century, as the practice of government-Hollywood cooperation has escalated and become more aggressive. National Security Cinema reveals for the first time specific script changes made by the government for political reasons on dozens of blockbusting films and franchises like Transformers, Avatar, Meet the Parents, and The Terminator. These forces have suppressed important narratives about: CIA drug trafficking; illegal arms sales; military creation of bio-weapons; the interaction of private armies and oil companies; government treatment of minorities; torture; coups; assassinations, and the failure to prevent 9/11.

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