About Race 

Two women speak out

SUN 3/14

As Kathleen Cleaver surmises, President Bush probably pulled out of the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in 2001 because "he [actually] wanted to go to a conference for racism. He said, 'I'm at the wrong place! How can we be against it?'" After all, it would be out of character for the scion of Texas oil barons to participate in a forum where the issue of reparations for slavery and colonialism is on the table. Cleaver wears many hats: She's a law professor, former communications secretary of the Black Panther Party, and an international spokeswoman on liberation movements. As such, she levels criticism against the United States for its "race problem" of white supremacy, its penchant for conserving hierarchical structures, and its public institutions that operate at the behest of corporations. Along with her comrade Mabel Williams -- an advocate for armed struggle against racism, famous for cofounding the newsletter The Crusader and the radio program Radio Free Dixie -- Cleaver links her personal experiences to larger narratives of resistance. Influenced by their comprehensive study of Frantz Fanon, Che Guevara, and Kwame Nkrumah, combined with their international work in places like India, Hanoi, and Tanzania, these two women are paving the way for a new generation of race scholarship and activism. They will speak together on Sunday at 7 p.m., at the First Congregational Church in Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. Tickets are $10, students $5. Info: 415-863-9977. -- Rachel Swan

FRI 3/12

Get Happy!

Sacramento's Anton Barbeau writes endearing, sometimes belligerent pop songs about fruit, furniture, flowers, fundamentalism, and Helen Mirren -- think Elvis Costello after a high-colonic of whimsical California sunshine. Also claiming to be happy but probably full of BS on that account is Happiness , the nom d'étape of violinist j. Kleinberg. Both play Val Esway's monthly acoustic music night at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, with Val Esway. Showtime: 8 p.m. Info: 510-644-2204. -- Stefanie Kalem

3/13-3/19

Bagel Call

It's the CoCo Jewish Film Fest

The Contra Costa International Jewish Film Festival is more than just another event competing for space in the festival-rich Bay Area -- the fest, now in its ninth season, is a further sign of the cultural coming-of-age of the Walnut Creek-Pleasant Hill exurb. It's also a place to see some good movies, such as last year's Yossi and Jagger (gay Israeli soldiers), Shanghai Ghetto (documentary look at the Jewish settlement in pre-Mao China), and Manhood (director Bobby Roth's LA family feud), as well as new stuff like The Wisdom of the Pretzel (Hochmat Ha'Beygale, literally Wisdom of the Bagel), a romantic comedy by Israeli filmmaker Ilan Heitner. The CCIJFF's opening night show is Canone Inverso, the dramatic tale of a young Jewish musician in Italy, at 7 and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday at Century's CinéArts in Pleasant Hill. Other screenings take place at the Contra Costa JCC in Walnut Creek. Want to know more? Visit JFED.org/jewishfilmfestival -- Kelly Vance

SUN 3/14

Sheet Music

Sound Escapes in Berkeley

Brian Fraser and Chris Palmatier, better known to discriminating music heads by the inherently casual moniker of Brian and Chris, make their music like bathtub pharmacists make drugs. That's not to say that listening to their collaborations can actually induce a psychedelic experience -- the government has that technology, and it certainly isn't sharing it with Bay Area musicians -- but the pair combine and recombine the organic and synthetic, the electric and acoustic, in ways that will tempt you to close your eyes and just follow your soul for a while. That said, there won't be too much to look at when the duo celebrates the release of its new 12-inch EP on Dielectric Records at the Jazz House, 3192 Adeline St. in Berkeley, tonight. But John Wiese will also play, and if you buy any of the goods Dielectric is selling, you'll get a free compilation from the label. Showtime: 7 p.m. Info: 510-655-9755. -- Stefanie Kalem

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