Yuri Kochiyama Never Went Hollywood

Hollywood distorts just about everything. When wealthy people get together and decide to green light a movie they do so because they believe it will make them money, not because a particular version of the truth needs to be told. With money as the motivating factor often times beautiful people with minimal talent are casted in leading roles, scripts are seriously altered in an attempt to make events more melodramatic, and sometimes very righteous people are completely removed from history.


It wasn’t until my first year of graduate school during a class discussion that I learned that the lady who cradled the head of Malcolm X while he lay dying was not his wife Betty Shabazz but rather it was Japanese-American activist Yuri Kochiyama. Kochiyama remained a fixture on the Bay Area civil rights scene well past her 90th year. As a matter of fact I saw her at the world premiere of a documentary on the life of Richard Aoki at The Grand Lake Theater in 2009. Yuri Kochiyama died in Berkeley on June 1, 2014 in Berkeley, CA.


I think about how a more realistic depiction of the death of Malcolm X would have changed the black and white perception of The Civil Rights Movement. What if Lucy Liu would have been the lady weeping over Denzel Washington’s body instead of Angela Bassett? Would that have been too difficult for the American public to digest? Is reality too complicated to understand? Americans love looking at the real world as if it were a comic book—Black vs. white and good vs. evil—which always ends in an overly simplistic view of society.

African-Americans should realize that the Rodney King Riots in 1992 probably would have been suppressed within a day if it were not for the general empathy and participation of the Spanish-speaking citizens of Los Angeles. Similarly Mexican-Americans should understand that the United Farm Workers of America would not have been nearly as powerful were it not for the involvement of Filipino farm workers who also suffered under the same wretched conditions as day laborers in California and who had also had enough of it.


So Spike Lee made an executive decision to insert a sobbing Angela Bassett into a death scene instead of writing an Asian-American actor into the script. That doesn’t minimize the accomplishments of Yuri Kochiyama, however, it does reduce the potency of her legacy. After all Americans learn their history from the movies not from books. It’s rather pathetic that a woman can be down for the cause until the age of 93 and most conscious people don’t even know who she is. The power of Hollywood is immeasurable


RIP Yuri Kochiyama



You Need to go to this Event on MAY18th!

Soulful III Profile




A Night of literary Performances

“SOULFUL III: Revolutionary Dreams” is almost here!

Be ready for six of your favorite poets and writers to light up the microphone on Malcolm X day, 2013.

That’s Saturday, May 18th at the Grand Lake Coffee House (440 Grand Ave) in Oakland, CA.

ONLY $5 at the door.

If you don’t believe the insane amount of talent we have lined up then check the lineup:

Raphael Cohen—Raphael Cohen is a writer and performer committed to utilizing the word as a vehicle for social change. In 2007, he released Scrutinizing Lines, his first full-length poetry collection. Originally from New York, Raphael has lived in Oakland since 2001. He holds a MFA in poetry from Mills College, and currently teaches writing at The Bay School of San Francisco.

Joy Elan—Joy Elan is from Oakland and Berkeley, CA. She received her undergraduate degree in African American Studies at UC Berkeley and her graduate degree in Education at Stanford University. She wrote Signs of Life: Past, Present, and Future and performs spoken word in the Bay Area. She is working on a new book, Silence Is Not Always Golden: A Poetic Revolution, which is scheduled to be released Summer 2013. She is currently working with urban youth and raising her daughter in Oakland.Joy Elan’s Websites: http://www.joyelan.webs.com and http://www.facebook.com/authorjoyelan

Kwan Booth—Kwan Booth is an award winning writer and strategist focusing on the intersection of communications, community, art and technology. He is the cofounder of Oaklandlocal.com and the Black Futurist Project, editor of “Black Futurists Speak: An Anthology of New Black Writing” and “Soul of Oakland: A People’s Guide to The Town.” He has been published in CHORUS, the literary mixtape” and “Beyond the Frontier: African American Poets for the 21st Century,” He writes at http://boothism.org/

MADlines—MADlines was born & raised in Seattle. She came up in the 206’s vibrant music and spoken word scenes. As one half of the dynamic two-lady rap duo, Canary Sing, MADlines rocked hundreds of stages and opened for the likes of Binary Star, Macklemore and Mystic. Since moving to Oakland three years ago, she’s released a solo Mixtape & attained a Master’s in Fine Arts degree from Mills College. She’s currently working on a Reggae/Hip-hop fushion E.P. called LOVE CHILD–to be released in the summer! Follow her on twitter @MAD_lines for updates! ~MADlove~

Scott Duncan- Scott Russell Duncan, frankly, is a lingerer and a lurker. He’s seen a president eat enchiladas, escaped being held hostage by nuns, fled Mills College with an MFA, and makes his lair in Oakland. Scott’s ancestors are Californio, Hispano, and Texian, so he’s half white guy and Mexican. His novel in progress is The Ramona Diary of SRD, a memoir and fictional travel diary about California.

Aries Jordan—Aries Jordan has been writing poetry since elementary school but it wasn’t until 2010 that she began to share it with the world. In 2011 she released a collection of poems entitled ” Journey to womanhood: A poetic Rite of Passage” through Black Bird Press. Her poetry has been featured in the “Pan African Journal of Poetry” 2011, “PACT Family Newsletter” 2012, and “Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marrissa Alexander.” Her writing has also been featured in The Oakland Post.

Please support our independent artists and buy their books at SOULFUL III.

The event will be hosted by Roger Porter.

It’s definitely going to go down so get ready!