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D.C. Women’s March An All Inclusive Affair

THE AFRO — Thousands gathered Saturday to observe the third annual Women’s March in D.C.

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By George Kevin Jordan

Thousands gathered Saturday to observe the third annual Women’s March in D.C.

The group was diverse, representing many demographics, ages and nationalities.

The march started around 11 a.m. near Freedom Plaza, 1455 Pennsylvania Ave NW, and wrapped back around to the original location and site of the rally. The march, “Rise Up, #womenswave” built steam as it went on, with crowds swelling once they reached the main stage. This event was part of several marches held across the U.S.

The women’s movement is a complex push for changes in policy. The group organization put forth a 72 page agenda. According to their official document:

“We believe the Women’s Agenda is the first intersectional feminist policy platform. Women’s March convened a group of 70 movement leaders to create this set of 24 essential federal policy priorities that form the foundation of the 2019 Women’s March on Washington and will establish the priorities of our movement over the next two years.”

The root of the movement is based in intersectionality, which the agenda describes:

“Intersectionality is a way to describe the experiences of identity that cross lines of gender, such as race, class, ability and sexual orientation, and come together to impact one’s experiences of moving through the world. The concept originates in Black feminist theory and the word itself was coined by Dr. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw to describe the ways that Black women are uniquely impacted by discrimination in the workplace, the criminal justice system, education and more. Today, we advocate for an expansive understanding of intersectionality when we fight for social and policy change.”

The movement wants to create policies and legislation that address ending violence against Women & Femmes, Reproductive Rights and justice, LGBTQIA Rights, Immigrant rights, Civil Rights and liberties, among many other items.

The lineup of speakers was representative of the intersectionality that the organization’s agenda described. Romper.com reported a full list of speakers.

One of the highlights of the march and rally was the imaginative posters and protest signs depicting everything from an illustration of Martin Luther King, Jr. silencing a tweeting President Trump to a man carrying a sign that read: “Build Blasey-Ford Tough” paying homage to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who testified during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.

For Alyzsha Negron, a Virginia resident, attending the march was personal.

“I’m here to stand for something,” Negron told the AFRO. “If we don’t stand for something we’ll fall for anything. Everybody’s out here for something. I’m hoping that we actually have some change. I just hope for equality for everyone.”

Negron said she is hopeful the new energy and legislators in office might help bring a change.

“As long as we let oppressors oppress us it won’t make a difference,” Negron said. “So as long as we stand together with the new faces we’ll be fine.”

Lyn Walker from Pennsylvania, walked along the the perimeter of the stage. She said that her need to attend was nonnegotiable.

“I had to be apart and show the government that we do care about they way their talking about women, the way they’re treating us, and how we need to be apart of the administration as well,” Walker told the AFRO.

The experience was powerful for Walker who added, “It feels good to see so many women that I didn’t realize felt the same way, that they want a government that understands their point of view.”

There was controversy prior to the march as some members of the founding organization accuses other organizers of anti-semitism. During the day, inclusion was the focal point.

Patricia Thomas, Tee Ford Ahmed and a woman who asked to be identified as Amoriya traveled all the way from Athens, Ohio to attend the march.  The women were excited as soon as they got to the crowds.

“I’m already feeling inspired,” Thomas told the AFRO. “We’re trying to make a positive change in this country.”

And although they all came with hopes for the future, they were all united to keep the momentum of the march going when they returned home.

“We already have a sister march in our hometown,” Thomas said. “We’ll go home and keep it rolling.”

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

Activism

IN MEMORIAM: Robert Farris Thompson, Renowned Professor of African American Studies

Prolific Professor Robert Farris Thompson truly embodied the term ‘Maestro de Maestros.’ He was an absolute giant in the field of Afro-Atlantic history and art, respected by his peers for his groundbreaking work and multiple major articles and publications, particularly the seminal “Flash of the Spirit” (1984) and “Faces of the Gods” (1993).

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Robert Farris Thompson. Yale University photo.
Robert Farris Thompson. Yale University photo.

TRIBUTE

By John Santos

We’ve lost a Rosetta Stone.

Prolific Professor Robert Farris Thompson passed in his sleep Monday morning due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease and having been weakened by a bout with COVID-19 at the beginning of the year. He would’ve completed his 89th year on December 30.

Born on Dec. 30, 1932, Thompson was a White Texan who spectacularly disproved the fallacy of White supremacy through his pioneering and tireless elevation and clarification of African art, philosophy and culture. He removed the blinders and changed the way that generations of international students see African art.

A U.S. Army veteran, he went to Yale on a football scholarship and earned a B.A. in 1955. He joined the faculty in 1964 and earned his Ph.D. in 1965. He remained on the faculty until 2015.

‘Master T,’ as his students and friends often referred to him, was the Col. John Trumbull professor of the History of Art and professor of African American Studies at Yale University.

Thompson was also an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

He curated game-changing national exhibitions such as “African Art in Motion,” “The Four Moments of the Sun: Kongo Art in Two Worlds,” and “Faces of the Gods: Art and Altars of Africa and the African Americas.” The latter had a run at U.C. Berkeley in 1995 when local practitioners of African spirituality and musicians — including myself – demonstrated the powerful knowledge of tradition.

Thompson truly embodied the term ‘Maestro de Maestros.’ He was an absolute giant in the field of Afro-Atlantic history and art, respected by his peers for his groundbreaking work and multiple major articles and publications, particularly the seminal “Flash of the Spirit” (1984) and “Faces of the Gods” (1993). If he did not coin, he certainly standardized the term ‘Black Atlantic.’ He was a brilliant presenter, writer and teacher. But unlike many if not most academicians, he was also loved, revered and respected by the musicians, artists and communities about whom he wrote.

Initiated in Africa to Erinle, the deity of deep, still water, Thompson was hip, quirky and totally immersed in African and African-based music, dance, language, art and history. His lifetime of research, immersion and visionary work formed a bridge between Black America and her African roots.

Countless trips to Africa, the Southern U.S., the Caribbean and Central and South America informed his passionate work. He wrote about sculpture, painting, architecture, dance, music, language, poetry, food, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, African history, stolen antiquities, African spirituality, African retention, Brazil, Haiti, Cuba, Black Argentina, New York, México, mambo, tango, jazz, spirit possession and so much more. He recorded African drumming. He befriended giants of African diaspora music such as Julito Collazo, Babatunde Olatunji and Mongo Santamaría.

I first saw his writing around 1970 on the back of the classic red vinyl 1961 Mongo Santamaria LP, Arriba! La Pachanga (Fantasy 3324). They are inarguably among the deepest liner notes ever written.

He told me that he used our 1984 recording, Bárbara Milagrosa, by the Orquesta Batachanga, to demonstrate danzón-mambo to his students. I nearly burst into tears when he invited me and Omar Sosa to address and perform for his students at Yale, his alma mater, where he was a rock star. It was an unforgettable occasion for me.

He wrote wonderful liner notes on our 2002 Grammy-nominated production SF Bay, by the Machete Ensemble. He went out of his way to support and encourage countless students and followers like me. I was highly honored to count him as a friend as well as mentor.

He will be missed.

John Santos is a seven-time Grammy-nominated percussionist and former director of Orquesta Batachanga and Machete Ensemble and current director of the John Santos Sextet.

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Bay Area

Council President Pro Tempore Sheng Thao Introduces Immediate Police Hiring Plan to Address OPD Vacancies, Crime Surge, 911 Response Time 

“Being a city leader means breaking through the discourse and finding solutions that are effective and holistic,” said Thao. “While important violence prevention programs like Ceasefire and Town Nights continue to focus on the important community-building that is necessary, it is important that the city improve its 911 response times and ensure nobody is waiting hours for help. Equally, it is important that OPD is supported and staffed at the levels that the Council has already authorized and funded.”

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Sheng Thao. Twitter photo.
Sheng Thao. Twitter photo.

By Council Press Office

Calling Oakland’s efforts to fill its 60 vacant police officers’ positions, “an unacceptable failure,” City Council President Pro Tempore Sheng Thao introduced on Wednesday a new hiring incentive program for the Oakland Police Department (OPD) that will focus on immediately filling officer vacancies.

The program will provide significant cash incentives for experienced police officers and Oakland residents to join OPD. This will improve OPD’s 911 response time, provide the ability to increase the numbers of visible patrol officers, and allow for the expansion of the Ceasefire program. (Ceasefire is a data-driven violence-reduction strategy coordinating law enforcement, social services, and the community, according to the City of Oakland web site.)

Thao’s legislation calls for partnership with an outside hiring agency to conduct a nationwide search for “strongly qualified and experienced lateral police officers,” who are officers that have already gone through police training and are currently serving their respective police departments.

“No one is coming to save us; we’re going to have to save ourselves. That means being aggressive, creative, and disruptive as we look to do things differently at City Hall, because the results are in and what we are doing isn’t working.

“I am introducing a plan to help the City Administration speed up recruitment as well as help save the city dollars and time when filling key vacancies,” explained Thao, “My plan will make Oakland more competitive in its work to hire seasoned, quality officers from across the nation.” This legislation is supported by a broad community coalition from Oakland.

This effort, in combination with Thao’s work in September to secure additional police training academies and provide the overtime OPD is using for walking beats in business corridors during the holidays, reaffirms her commitment to ensuring business corridors are safe, that small businesses can thrive in Oakland and that residents can be assured that crimes will be investigated and police more visible.

Additionally, Thao’s proposal will not take away any of the historical investments Thao and five other councilmembers approved for violence prevention programs.

“Being a city leader means breaking through the discourse and finding solutions that are effective and holistic,” said Thao. “While important violence prevention programs like Ceasefire and Town Nights continue to focus on the important community-building that is necessary, it is important that the city improve its 911 response times and ensure nobody is waiting hours for help. Equally, it is important that OPD is supported and staffed at the levels that the Council has already authorized and funded.”

Daniel Swafford, executive director of the Laurel Business Association and Montclair Business Improvement District said, “I want to thank Councilmember Sheng Thao for her work prioritizing small businesses, our neighborhood commercial districts, and the public safety and health of our communities. Councilmember Thao has brought real, tangible resources to small businesses and their neighborhoods and this legislation is another example of her ability to listen to concerns and provide solutions. I hope the rest of the City Council will vote for this resolution and that the City Administration will push implementation forward.”

The City Council passed a budget in June and the Administration, which reports to the mayor, is responsible to implement it. Currently, the city has hired and deployed fewer officers than the 737 approved by the City Council in June. Thao’s plan to rapidly fill the vacancies will help ensure the public is provided with the resources that have been approved and funded.

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Bay Area

San Francisco Declares Water Shortage Emergency in Response to Statewide Drought

The average San Franciscan uses 42 gallons of water per day at home—one of the lowest rates in California and less than half of the statewide average of about 90 gallons per person per day. In April, the SFPUC called upon its 1,600 irrigation customers and City departments to reduce water use and asked all customers to reduce water waste, which helped lead to an overall reduction of water use in San Francisco through November 2021.

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With the declaration of the emergency water shortage, the City is poised to launch a water conservation public awareness campaign that will include the SFPUC’s outreach channels and strategically targeted paid media advertising.
With the declaration of the emergency water shortage, the City is poised to launch a water conservation public awareness campaign that will include the SFPUC’s outreach channels and strategically targeted paid media advertising.

Voluntary action calls for 10% reduction in water usage system-wide

From S.F. Mayor’s Office

Mayor London N. Breed and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) last week  declared a water shortage emergency and approved measures aimed at further conserving and reducing water usage across the SFPUC’s service territory in response to exceptionally dry weather conditions that have affected the entire state over the past two years.

As a result of the emergency measure, which the SFPUC unanimously approved, San Francisco has declared a 10% reduction in water usage across its regional system.

The 10% reduction will be compared to water use from July 2019 to June 2020 and will be applied to all of the SFPUC’s 2.7 million customers, which include customers in San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Mateo counties. The call for voluntary water reduction will go into effect immediately.

“With California still experiencing devastating drought and the uncertainty around this rainy season, we need to make tough decisions that will ensure that our water source continues to be reliable and dependable for the future,” said Breed.

“Year after year, San Franciscans step up to conserve our most precious resource, resulting in one of the lowest water usage rates in California, and during this critical time, I know that our City will once again meet the call to reduce water use,” she said. “I applaud the SFPUC Commission for declaring a water shortage emergency and urging our customers to be mindful of their water usage.

“We are in a drought with far-reaching consequences, and it has become clear we all need to do even more to address it,” SFPUC General Manager Dennis Herrera said. “San Franciscans have been doing their part and have some of the lowest water usage in the state. This emergency water shortage declaration will help all of our customers pull together and move in the same direction. We know we can rely on each other. I’m confident that everyone will do their part so we can all get through this.”

With the declaration of the emergency water shortage, the City is poised to launch a water conservation public awareness campaign that will include the SFPUC’s outreach channels and strategically targeted paid media advertising.

The messages will be conveyed in multiple languages and will include tips and resources on actions that customers can take to reduce their water usage to help achieve the 10% reduction system-wide, such as fixing leaky toilets, installing low-flow fixtures, reducing outdoor irrigation, and receiving water usage audits from SFPUC professionals.

The average San Franciscan uses 42 gallons of water per day at home—one of the lowest rates in California and less than half of the statewide average of about 90 gallons per person per day. In April, the SFPUC called upon its 1,600 irrigation customers and City departments to reduce water use and asked all customers to reduce water waste, which helped lead to an overall reduction of water use in San Francisco through November 2021.

However, with the state continuing to experience extremely dry weather overall, the SFPUC is expanding on those efforts by declaring a water shortage emergency, which will help the agency access water reserves and resources available only during emergencies.

The SFPUC has about 360,000 acre-feet of reserve water in its water bank. An acre-foot is enough water for about two California households annually on average.

However, the State Water Board’s curtailment orders, emergency regulations issued in August 2021 that restrict diversions from the Tuolumne River watershed, effectively prevent the SFPUC from accessing that water bank.

Due to the Water Board’s curtailment orders, the SFPUC and its retail and wholesale customers are less prepared to address drought conditions moving forward.

“We need everyone to take action to preserve and stretch our limited water supplies,” SFPUC Commission President Anson Moran said. “San Franciscans and our wholesale customers have been doing a good job when it comes to being efficient with their water use. We can all do better. We look forward to working with all of our customers to further reduce water use.”

Declaring a water shortage emergency carries with it the requirement that the SFPUC institute a temporary drought surcharge for retail water and wastewater customers of up to 5% on part of their bill.

The SFPUC Commission voted to introduce the surcharge on April 1, 2022. The effect on the average residential customer’s bill is estimated to be a little over $6 per month if they made no reductions to their water use. The temporary drought surcharge will automatically end when the SFPUC Commission rescinds the water shortage emergency declaration.

Earlier this year, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a Drought Emergency for 50 of the 58 counties in California and called on all Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 15%. The state’s ongoing drought has increased the significance of water reuse, recycling, and conservation programs, measures SFPUC has long championed.

More information is available at www.sfpuc.org/savewater.

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