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, 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.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Medical Marijuana Advocate Retires from the NFL

former baltimore ravens offensive tackle eugene monroe announced his retirement from the national football league (nfl) on thursday. monroe affirmed his long term health concerns as the primary factor in ending his sports livelihood.

monroe is an outspoken advocate for medical marijuana. he was released by the ravens in june, and believes his public efforts to have medical marijuana removed from the nfl's banned substances list fueled their decision. ravens coach jim harbaugh has denied these assertions.

in a candid essay for the players' tribune written last week, monroe shared his profound concerns about concussions - and the imminent threat of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (cte), a degenerative brain disease linked to athletes who suffered repetitive trauma.

monroe said, "the last 18 years have been full of traumatic injuries both to my head and my body. i'm not complaining, just stating a fact. has the damage to my brain been already done? do i have cte? i hope i don't, but over 90%  of the brains of former nfl players that have been examined showed signs of the disease. i am terrified."  

monroe suffered a concussion in the ravens' season opener in 2015, and missed the next three games. he later underwent season-ending shoulder surgery and played just six games. in april, the ravens drafted notre dame's outstanding left tackle ronnie stanley, with the number six pick. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Thousands of Department of Justice Agents and U.S. Attorneys to receive implicit bias training

the department of justice announced 23,000 federal agents from agencies including the dea, fbi and u.s. marshals service will participate in implicit bias training over the next year. 5,800 u.s. attorneys will also be trained.

the goal of the training is to prevent employees' unconscious biases on characteristics including gender, race and sexual orientation from impacting their decisions. the department of homeland security employs 60,000 border patrol agents and officers; they are not required to be trained. 

deputy attorney general sally q. yates described the training as "an important step in our ongoing efforts to promote fairness, eliminate bias and build the stronger, safer, more just society that all americans deserve." 

the plan has attracted praise and criticism. law professor destiny peery cautioned, "in some ways, the discussion of implicit bias has come to the exclusion of discussion about systemic or institutional biases."

Monday, July 11, 2016

Serena Williams and Andy Murray Win 2016 Wimbledon Singles Titles

world #1 serena williams defeated world #4 angelique kerber 7-5, 6-3 on saturday to win the 2016 wimbledon singles championship. williams now has 22 major singles titles, tying steffi graf of germany for the second most in the open era. margaret court of australia holds the record with 24.

williams, 34, won her second consecutive all-england trophy - and seventh overall. hall of famer martina navratilova set a record with nine wimbledon singles titles. williams' 22 major singles wins include six australian open, six u.s. open and three french open titles.

"definitely had some sleepless nights, if i'm honest, with a lot of stuff. my goal is to win always at least a slam a year. it was getting down to the pressure. it's been incredibly difficult not to think about it. i had a couple of tries this year. but it makes the victory even sweeter to know how hard i worked for it," said williams afterwards.

williams avenged her australian open final loss to kerber earlier this year. the fourth seed and uber-competitive german lefty played solid tennis in the final, but williams' serve was unstoppable. she hit 13 aces, won 38 of 43 first serve points, and faced just one break point the whole match: at three-all in the second set, williams hit back-to-back aces of 117 and 124 mph to solidify the game.

despite her stunning loss at the french open this year to world #2 garbine muguruza of spain, williams has reached a major final in seven of the last eight tournaments. kerber said later, "i was trying everything, but she deserved it today. she really played an unbelievable match. i think we both played on a high level."    

world # 2 andy murray of great britain defeated milos raonic 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 on sunday to win the 2016 wimbledon singles championship. murray captured his third career title, and has been in the finals of the last three majors. he lost the australian and french open this year to world #1 novak djokovic - whose third round loss to american sam querrey shocked the world and opened up the draw.

murray, 29, has played in 11 career major singles finals, but this was his first against someone other than world #3 roger federer, or djokovic. as such, he was heavily favored to win against the sixth seeded raonic of canada. in 2013, murray famously ended britain's 77-year drought with no major male singles champion. the quest ultimately proved burdensome.

"it is different. i feel happier this time. i feel more content this time. i feel like this was sort of more for myself more than anything, and my team as well. last time, it was just pure relief, and i didn't really enjoy the moment as much, whereas i'm going to make sure i enjoy this one," said murray.

judy murray, andy's mother and former british fed cup captain, referred to the old phenomenon of fred perry's all-england club victory in 1936.  she called it, "the constant, 'when are you going to wimbledon? when are you going to wimbledon? when are you going to wimbledon?" 

ivan lendl coached murray when he captured his first two major singles trophies, including at the 2012 u.s. open. despite their quick success, they split up, before reuniting last month. as he sat on the sideline wiping away tears, murray would conclude, "to do it twice here...an event where there is a lot of pressure on me to perform well, i'm very proud with how i've handled that over the years."