i am

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harlem, usa
same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. mjt975@msn.com.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

California Governor Brown signs bill to restore voting rights for jailed inmates

despite opposition from law enforcement officials, california governor jerry brown on wednesday signed a bill into law to restore voting rights for about 50,000 people serving felony sentences in county jails. many will vote from their cells.

california's constitution denies the right to vote to anyone in prison or on parole. in 2011, the state's "realignment plan," shifted many correction program responsibilities to local governments, spurring the transfer of many low-level offenders to county-run jails and programs. the intent was to reduce overcrowded state and federal prisons - and save money. 

the bill, ab2466, also reaffirms the right for people with felony convictions on probation to vote. some republican lawmakers denounced the bill, saying it will compromise the integrity of elections, and reward people for bad behavior.

assemblywoman shirley weber (d-sd) said, "civic participation can be a critical component of re-entry and has been linked to to reduced recidivism. this bill will send a message to the nation that california will not stand for discrimination in 2016." state senator holly mitchell (d-culver city) co-authored the bill with weber. 

the bill came came in response to a successful 2014 lawsuit on behalf of low-level felons. they argued people in county programs should not be classified the same way as other felons. the law goes into effect next year.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

U.S. Government to pay $492 Million in Lawsuits with 17 Indigenous Tribes

the u.s. government announced on monday a settlement for lawsuits over the mismanagement of natural resources and other assets. the government will pay $492 million to 17 american indian tribes. 

the u.s. says there are over 100 lawsuits - totaling $3.3 billion - which have been brought against the federal government by indigenous peoples and tribes; some date back more than a century.

during his 2008 presidential campaign, barack obama promised to institute an indian policy. obama said the (intended) policy "starts with honoring the unique government-to-government relationship, and ensuring treaty responsibilities are met."

"settling these long-standing disputes reflects the obama administration's continued commitment to reconciliation and empowerment for indian country," said u.s. secretary of the interior sally jewel.

as part of treaty agreements going back to the 1800s, the department of interior manages 56 million acres of land on behalf of more than 250 tribes. the department also handles about 100,000 leases on land on the same land for a variety of uses, including farming, housing, gas and oil extraction.

the u.s. government, as trustees of the land, must make sure the tribes receive "just compensation" for the use of their land. melody mccoy, a staff attorney with the native american rights fund, handled 13 of the 17 settlements.

mccoy said, "the u.s. government would say it held the assets in trusts benevolently, for the protection of indian land and money. the flip side of that is that in exchange, the government was supposed to be a good trustee, and it wasn't. land was not managed well. money and resources were not managed well."

allegedly, native americans lost decades of income as a result of governmental neglect. but mccoy noted since obama took office, there have been 95 total settlements with tribes; 11 more are in active negotiation. mccoy feels this is quite an accomplishment.  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Associated Press (AP) announces 2016 WNBA Awards

the associated press (ap) announced their 2016 women's national basketball association (wnba) awards on tuesday:

ap player of the year - nneka ogwumike, los angeles sparks
rookie of the year - breanna stewart, seattle storm
defensive player of the year - sylvia fowles, minnesota lynx
sixth woman of the year - jantel lavender, los angeles sparks
most improved player of the year - elizabeth williams, atlanta dream
coach of the year - brian agler, los angeles sparks
comeback player of the year - chiney ogwumike, connecticut sun

first team wnba
tina charles, new york liberty
elena della donne, chicago sky
maya moore, minnesota lynx
nneka ogwumike, los angeles sparks
breanna stewart, seattle storm

second team wnba
sue bird, seattle storm
sylvia fowles, minnesota lynx
angel mccoughtry, atlanta dream
candace parker, los angeles sparks
diana taurasi, phoenix mercury

all-rookie team
imani moyette, chicago sky
moriah jefferson, san antonio stars
tiffany mitchell, indiana fever
aerial powers, dallas wings
breanna stewart, seattle storm

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Virginia Supreme Court overturns Executive Order to restore voting rights

the virginia supreme court last month overturned governor terry mcauliffe's executive order to restore voting rights to about 200,000 people in the state who completed their sentences.

in a four-to-three ruling, the court agreed with state republicans: the governor exceeded his authority under the commonwealth's constitution when he restored the rights to all, not individually.

governor mcauliffe released a statement after the ruling saying he'll expeditiously sign the 13,000 individual voting rights orders for those who had their rights restored and registered to vote. the governor also said he'll signing until he has completed restoration for all virginians.

"my faith remains strong in all of our citizens to choose their leaders, and i am prepared to back up that faith with my executive pen. the struggle for civil rights has always been a long and difficult one, but the fight goes on," said the governor. 

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Obama Commutes Sentences of more than 200 Federal Inmates

president barack obama commuted the sentences of 214 federal inmates on wednesday, the largest single-day grant of commutations in american history. obama has used his clemency power to shorten the sentences of more federal inmates than any president since calvin coolidge.

most of the 214 individuals were convicted of low-level drug offenses. but the longest was given to richard l. reser of sedgwick, kansas. reser has a 40-year sentence for dealing methamphetamine and firearm possession. he'll be released december 1.  

the commander-in-chief has publicly denounced the mandatory minimum sentences of previous administrations, and this latest initiative further demonstrates his efforts to humanize our criminal justice system.

"the more we understand the human stories behind this problem, the sooner we can start making real changes that keep our streets safe, break the cycle of incarceration in this country, and save taxpayers like you money," obama said in a facebook post.

the clemency process is, historically, a laborious undertaking. each applicant is reviewed by at least three levels of lawyers at the justice department - and the white house - before their case goes to the president.  
white counsel neil eggleston said, "the individual nature of the clemency process underscores both its incredible power to change a person's life, but also its inherent shortcoming as a tool for broader sentencing reform. while we continue to work on as many clemency applications as possible, only legislation can bring about lasting change to the federal system."

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ohio Judge sentences lawyer five days in jail for wearing Black Lives Matter pin in court

attorney andrea burton was ordered by municipal court judge robert milich on friday to remove the black lives matter pin she wore in the courtroom while representing a client at a pre-trial hearing in youngstown, ohio. burton was handcuffed by bailiffs when she refused to comply.

milich recessed the court and asked burton to join him in his chambers. when they stepped back out, he called the case she was working on and asked her to remove the pin. burton was sentenced to five days in jail, and has been released on a stay while an appeal is underway.

"there's a difference between a flag, a pin from your church or the eagles and have a pin that's on a political issue," milich told wkbn. burton argued her first amendment rights overrule the supreme case law - and milich's discretion - and refused his instructions: she didn't want to remain "neutral to injustice, to remain neutral becomes an accomplice to oppression."

burton said, "it's an act of civil disobedience, i understand that. i'm not anti-police, i work with law enforcement and i hold them in the highest regard, and just to say for the record, i do believe all lives matter. but at this point they don't all matter equally, and that's the problem in the justice system."

the local naacp chapter told wfmj they are monitoring burton's case. they also said the attorney's civil rights may have been violated. burton's sentence will be taken to an appeals court. 

the judge is white. the lawyer is black.

Friday, July 22, 2016

WNBA fines three teams and their players for violating the league's uniform guidelines

the women's national basketball association (wnba) on thursday fined the indiana fever, new york liberty and phoenix mercury and their players. the league penalized them for wearing black warm up shirts in response to recent shootings by and against police officers.

all three teams were fined $5,000 and each player was fined $500 because the shirts violated the league's uniform policy. although the shirts were made by adidas - the league's official brand - wnba rules state uniforms may not be altered in any way.

wnba president lisa borders on wednesday said, "we are proud of wnba players' engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult issues but expect them to comply with the league's uniform guidelines."

indiana fever player rep briann january said, "what's most upsetting is the way it was handled. you have a league that is 90 - if not above 90% african-american - and you have an issue that is directly affecting them and the people they know and you have a league that isn't willing to side with them. it's not a race issue, not an anti-police issue, not a black  or white issue. it's a right or wrong issue."

mistie bass of the phoenix mercury tweeted, "don't say we have a voice and then fine us because we use it." tamika catchings, fever all-star and president of the players association, said, "instead of the league taking a stance with us, where they tell us they appreciate our expressing our concerns like they did for orlando, we're fighting against each other." 

the league quickly gave every team shirts in support of the orlando tragedy in june, which the players wore. liberty guard tanisha wright said, "we were ok with that, we wanted to support that, but also they can't pick and choose what initiatives to support and what not to support just because it doesn't push their agenda. this is important to us."

new york all-star tina charles said, "after seeing the african-american male shot three times after helping an autistic person out this morning in florida, i knew i couldn't be silent. knowing the player i am representing this organization, if anybody was going to wear it, it had to be me. i have no problem wearing this shirt inside out for the rest of the season until we are able to have the wnba support us."

the player's union is preparing to file a grievance over the players' fines. in the spirit of unity, the liberty and fever chose only to speak after the game about social awareness, politely declining any questions about thursday's contest. the league undergoes a month long olympic hiatus beginning monday, but january said players will continue to actively engage in discussions about these issues.