LONDON CALLING: Stories from the Diaspora
Top Ten Social’s latest conceptual entry in its acclaimed Speaker Series touches on storytelling as a way of reconnecting with community in a time of uncertainty.
"The recent riots in my home town of London was not about criminals, color, religion, or just the youths. It is more complex than that,” says “London Calling”’s featured speaker and artistic catalyst, Daz-I-Kue. “All I know i...s, it’s a small reflection of what's going on in the world today."
Social unrest, economic turmoil, corporate globalization and grassroots mobilizations. This is the world we live in today. What’s at the root of these crises, however? Is it just a massive disconnect? Or are we failing to communicate effectively as a community and as a people? How do we make sense of what’s happening all over the world and bring it back into harmony with our reality?
The answer is in telling our stories in words and song.
Past Speaker Series events have touched on the connection between spirit and ancestry, and journeys and arrivals. However, “‘London Calling’ is rooted in the recent riots in London,” explains Top Ten Social’s Michael Orange. “The goal is to challenge the self-imposed disconnect from our global struggle. Folks are rioting in London, Rio, and Oakland, but they are also telling the same stories. ‘London Calling’ connects these individual stories to a larger worldview”
“London Calling” begins Friday, Sept. 29, with a dialogue between an urban visionary musician (Daz-I-Kue) and two voices from the frontlines of today’s socioeconomic reality: Fred Blackwell (Director of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency) and Greg Hodge (former Superintendant of Oakland Unified School District). Afro-German activist, poet, and author Victoria B. Robinson will moderate the discussion.
With such a stellar array of speakers, there are no limits as to where this conversation can go; however, topics such as the state of public education, the conflict between gentrification and redevelopment, the role of youth culture and direct activism as forms of political and social expression, and the need to bridge these often-disparate spheres into a coherent whole, will surely be discussed. This is a lecture series done Top Ten style, baby! Imagine a live taping of “The Dick Cavett Show” from a post-urban Afro-intellectual perspective, and you’re halfway there.
The other half of the TTS manifesto will be realized in London Calling: Part Two on Saturday, Sept. 30, which adds more voices from the diaspora, and more storytelling, while upping the ante with interactive musical and dance aspects. Scorpio Blues of Hot Water Cornbread MCs, while live jazz from Marcus Cohen and The Congress interweaves in-between first-person narratives by Daz-I-Kue, Victoria B. Robinson, vegan soul food chef and author Bryant Terry, artist/professor Bryan Keith Thomas, iconic African visual artist Githinji Wa Mbire, and iconic African American visual artists/entrepreneurs Keba and Rachel Konte, and others TBA. A closing London-influenced DJ set by Daz-I-Kue rounds out the evening.
As The Congress’ Marcus Cohen relates, “Music is a universal language that we all can understand and use to communicate no matter our native tongue. This event provides a unique forum where we can exchange stories and ideas about the parallel chaos and tragedy across the globe.” Additionally, proceeds from “London Calling” benefit humanitarian aid organization Vision Africa (www.visionafrica.org). For more information, http://www.toptensocial.com/.
Part 1: “Diasporan Discussion” with Daz-I-Kue, Greg Hodge, and Fred Blackwell, moderated by Victoria B. Robinson. Catered by Hibiscus. Limited seating; RSVP at www.bit.ly/oakstory
Thursday, September 29, 6pm
Marion E. Greene Black Box Theater at the Oakland School for the Arts (in the Fox Theater), 531 19th Street
complimentary admission with RSVP online at www.bit.ly/oakstory
Part 2: “Voices from the Diaspora” performance/storytelling featuring live music from The Congress, stories by Daz-I-Kue, Victoria B. Robinson, Bryant Terry, Bryan Keith Thomas, Githinji Wa Mbire, and a DJ set by Daz-I-Kue.
9pm, September 30 (show begins promptly at 10pm)
The New Parish, 579 18th St., Oakland CA
Tickets: $5 adv/$10 Door
Advance tickets available at OAKOLLECTIV (1427 Broadway) or online at www.bit.ly/oakstories
Sponsors: Lucky's Barber Shop, OAKOLLECTIV, KQED, Hibiscus
Proceeds from “London Calling” benefit humanitarian aid organization Vision Africa (www.visionafrica.org)
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Top Ten Social
Top Ten Social's organizational goal is to push the cultural, artistic and intellectual envelope of Afro-futurist urban expression and create sustainable models through innovative events like their Speaker Series, Performance Series, Fela! in Oakland, and Oakland Innovation Film Lab.
Our mission encompasses informative and educational approaches to cultural entertainment, which recognize ancestry while updating tradition, and build up the spiritual, mental and economic health of urban communities.
Originally founded in 1966 in Milwaukee, TTS is currently based in Oakland, California.