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.

Monday, June 29, 2015

2015 Rent Guidelines Board Increase

on monday june 29, the new york city rent guidelines board (rgb) voted for a zero percent increase on one-year lease renewals for rent-stabilized apartments. this vote is the first time in 50 years the rgb has approved a rent freeze for one-year lease renewals. 

there are over 1.2 million new yorkers who live in rent-stabilized units. most of these residents' leases will end sometime this year, and they share deep concerns about their future. tonight's historic vote means the following: 

1) if you sign a one-year lease renewal between 10/1/2015 and 9/30/2016, your rent won't increase; 2) if you sign a two-year lease renewal lease between 10/1/2015 and 9/30/2016, your rent will increase two percent; 3) if you're facing harassment from your landlord, call 311 and report it now. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Warriors Beat Cavs To Win 2015 NBA Title

the golden state warriors on tuesday beat the cleveland cavaliers 105-97 in game six on the road to become the 2015 nba champions. the warriors' first title in franchise history was 40 years ago. golden state forward andre iguodala was named nba finals most valuable player - the first such honored after not starting a regular season game.

iguodala, an 11-year veteran, was taken out of the starting lineup at the beginning of the season in order for harrison barnes to start. although he didn't approve of the decision, iguodala neither privately nor publicly questioned the bold move of warriors' rookie coach steve kerr. moreover, iguodala is known as the team's resident sage.

kerr said, "he had never come off the bench once in his entire career, and he sacrificed to make harrison better, to make our bench better, and that set the tone for our entire season. an all-star, an olympian saying, 'ok, i'll come off the bench? it set the tone for everything we were able to accomplish, so it feels like full-circle to me that andre received the award. couldn't happen to a better person."

the warriors' draymond green finished the game with a triple-double: 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. but he also remembers the naysayers who doubted his pro ability. "i was a second-round pick, and a lot of people said i could never play in this league. too slow, too small, can't shoot well enough, can't defend anybody. what does he do well? he doesn't have a skill. i've got heart, and that's what stands out," green said.     

nba mvp stephen curry was asked what he learned about his first nba finals as the series progressed. curry said, "to block out the noise, that's the biggest thing." about his teammates, iguodala said, "we have a lot of different personalities. draymond's loud. klay's quiet. then we've got everything in between. but the common denominator is guys were like really hungry to show what they could do individually, and then we believed in our team as a group."

golden state fought back from a two-to-one deficit against cleveland. they showed the mental fortitude and physical toughness critics accused them of lacking during the regular season, after their 67-15 league-best record. but they were also down two games to one against memphis and houston in this year's playoffs; they persevered in each series - clinching game six on the road each time. 

despite their youth, the warriors are the first team since the 1991 chicago bulls to win an nba championship without a single player with nba finals experience. golden state matured in front of the entire world. iguodala said, "the first three games, they were bringing the fight to us. we were just reacting. i felt like games 4, 5 and 6, we were proactive. we brought the fight to them."





Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Chicago Blackhawks Win 2015 NHL Stanley Cup

the chicago blackhawks defeated the tampa bay lightning 2-0 in game six to win the 2015 nhl stanley cup title in front of a raucous crowd of 22,424 fans in chicago's united center. the blackhawks' sixth championship in franchise history is their third in the last six years. the emerging dynasty was also victorious in 2010 and 2013.

the hawks' duncan keith was unanimously given the conn smythe trophy as most valuable player. keith scored once and led a dominant defense against a high-powered offense. "it feels so great. you want to keep being a part of these things. you don't get these awards without being on great teams with great players and like i said, i'm just proud to be a part of this group of guys who cares so much and do whatever it takes, keith said."   

chicago's all-star center and captain jonathan toews raised the stanley cup over his head after the thrilling game. toews said, "we won it for each other, for the city. in so many ways, winning a championship like this in our home city, i think it really transcends the sport. everyone wants to be a part of it. it's amazing."

the hawks' all-star left wing patrick kane scored his first (and only) goal of the final in the second period. he also added an assist, helping his team clinch the cup on home ice for the first time since 1938. kane said, "just wanted to play my best game and control the puck as much as possible and try to step up for my team." 

chicago goalie corey crawford, who was pulled from their first-round series against nashville, had 25 saves in his fifth career playoff shutout. this was the first stanley cup for kimmo timonen, who plans to retire. the 40 year-old defenseman was acquired in a trade from philadelphia - after he missed the start of the season due to blood clots in his legs and lungs. the hawks' record in game sixes is 13-1 since the 2009 playoffs.


Wednesday, June 03, 2015

40 Reasons American Jails and Prisons are full of Black and Poor People

the united states department of justice (doj) reports 2.2 million people are currently in our nation's jails and prisons. 4.5 million people are on parole or probation. one of every 35 u.s. adults is in jail, prison, parole or probation. 

most people behind bars are black or poor. here are 40 reasons why...

1)   crime rates have risen and fallen independently of our growing incarceration rates.

2)   black and poor people are targeted by the police, who discriminate against both.

3)   police traffic stops racially target people in cars.

4)   black and latino motorists are likelier to get tickets than white drivers.

5)   once stopped, black and latino drivers are likelier to get searched than white drivers.

6)   traffic tickets are big business.

7)   unpaid traffic tickets lead to jail time.

8)   in schools, black kids are likelier to be referred to the police than other kids.

9)   black kids account for 28% of total juvenile arrests.

10) despite using at the same rate, blacks are 3.7 times likelier to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites.

11) the u.s. has much tougher drug laws and significantly longer sentences for drug offenses than most other countries.       

12) the bail system penalizes poor people, who remain in jail, presumed to be innocent, awaiting trial, unable to pay to get out of jail.

13) the prison industrial system provides jobs to local, state and federal officials.

14) about 75% of people in jail are for non-violent offenses.

15) criminal bonds take in about $14 billion annually.

16) the rate of mental illness is four to six times higher inside jails than outside.

17) most of the people who need drug treatment in jail don't get it.

18) people who are chemically dependent, mentally ill and/or poor usually remain locked up until their trial dates.

19) poor people normally rely on public defenders, and many facing misdemeanor charges never see a lawyer at all.

20) public defenders are overworked and underfunded when they represent poor people with felony charges.

21) poor people plead guilty not knowing their legal rights.

22) guilty pleas are often coerced by police, leading to wrongful convictions.

23) over 95% of criminal cases are finished by plea bargains.

24) poor people are four times likelier to receive a prison sentence than those who got out on bail.

25) 75% of people imprisoned for drug offenses are black and latino.

26) in new york city, blacks are jailed about 12 times the rate of whites.

27) black males are imprisoned five times the rate of white males.

28) prisons are a lucrative private business.

29) blacks account for almost half of the people serving life sentences.

30) some telephone calls are as high as $12.95 for 15 minutes.

31) 3.9 million people are on probation.

32) 850,000 people are on parole.

33) as many as 100 million people have a criminal record, and over 94 million of those records are online.

34) arrest records and court records are easily accessible online, and 87% of employers conduct background checks.

35) employers are likelier to check the criminal history of black male applicants than white male applicants.

36) 180,000 women are subject to lifetime bans from temporary assistance to needy families because of felony drug convictions.

37) more than 60% of formerly incarcerated people are unemployed one year after being released.

38) the u.s. spends $80 billion on the corrections system annually.

39) jail creates poverty.

40) a criminal record serves as both a direct cause and consequence for poverty.   


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Reparations for Slave Owners in America

according to the national archives and records administration, the district of columbia emancipation act paved the way to compensate slave owners. they were paid handsomely for their "loyalty to the union," and for the loss of income they incurred by freeing enslaved africans.

on april 16, 1862, president abraham lincoln signed a bill ending slavery in the district of columbia. passage of this historic law came eight and a half months before the commander-in-chief issued his provocative emancipation proclamation.

the act ended what anti-slavery advocates called the "national shame" of slavery in the nation's capitol. it provided for immediate emancipation, compensation to former owners loyal to the union up to $300 for each freed enslaved african, voluntary colonization of former enslaved africans to locations outside the u.s., and payments up to $100 for each person choosing emigration.

over the next nine months, the board of commissioners appointed to administer the act would approve 930 petitions - completely or in part - from former slave owners for the freedom of 2,989 formerly enslaved africans.    


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Republican Maryland Governor Vetoes Bill to Restore Voting Rights to about 40,000 people

maryland republican governor larry hogan vetoed a bill to restore voting rights to people immediately after prison, rather than waiting until they've completed parole or probation. the bill would have an impacted an estimated 40,000 disenfranchised people.

the senate passed the measure with the minimum votes needed to override a veto, but the house was just two votes short of an override. governor hogan wrote a provocative letter to legislative leaders expressing his views about the bill.

hogan said restoring voting rights to people after they have completed parole or probation, "achieves the proper balance between repayment of obligations to society for a felony conviction and the restoration of the various restricted rights."  

communities united, a social justice advocacy group supporting the progressive measure, criticized the veto. the group said, "governor hogan has learned nothing from the uprising in baltimore and what the city and state residents needs. freddie gray's west baltimore neighborhood has the highest rate of disenfranchisement in the state. former felons need a voice and the ability to influence what happens in their communities and lives."

democratic senator joan carter conway says she needs to gather just a handful of votes in each chamber to override the veto when the general assembly convenes next january.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Senate Passes Historic Bipartisan Medical Marijuana Bill for Veterans

the senate appropriations committee passed a bipartisan amendment yesterday. the historic measure allows veterans administration (va) doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients in states where medical marijuana is legal. the vote was 18-12.

"veterans in medical marijuana states should be treated the same as any other resident, and should be able to discuss marijuana with their doctor and use it if it's medically necessary. they have served this country valiantly, so the least we can do is allow them to have full and open discussions with their doctors," said michael collins, drug policy alliance policy manager.

the veterans equal access amendment was sponsored by senator steve daines (r-mont) and senator jeff merkley (d-ore). it was added in committee to a must-pass military construction and veterans affairs spending bill. the bill is expected to pass on the senate floor.

t.j. thompson, a disabled navy veteran said, "veterans see this victory as a major step forward in restoring our first amendment rights within the va. this will allow for a safe, open dialogue between providers and patients, and allows veterans to be treated the same as any patient."

in 2002, the ninth circuit court of appeals affirmed in conant v. walters the right of physicians to recommend medical marijuana, regardless of its illegality under federal law, as well as the right of patients to receive accurate information. 

currently, the department of veterans affairs specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding participation in a state medical marijuana program.

there are numerous federal health care programs besides the va, such as medicaid, medicare and chip - but only the va prohibits physicians from discussing and recommending medical marijuana to their patients. a medicare patient may freely discuss medical marijuana use with their doctor, but a returning veteran is denied the same right.

studies show medical marijuana helps treat post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, two illnesses typically suffered by veterans. last year, a study (by the new mexico medical cannibas program) of people with ptsd showed a greater than 75% reduction in severity of symptoms when patients were using marijuana to treat their illness, compared to when they were not.

in 2014, the u.s. house voted five times in favor of letting states set their own marijuana policies. one of the amendments, prohibiting the justice department from spending any money in fiscal year 2015 undermining state medical marijuana laws, made it into the final spending bill signed into law by president obama.