i am

My photo
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, February 26, 2007

Former NBA Star Tim Hardaway Hates Gay People: Why Should We Care?

A couple of weeks ago, former NBA all-pro guard Tim Hardaway, in a Dallas radio interview with a trusted writer, admitted he "hates gay people...don't trust them...wouldn't feel comfortable with them in the locker room and would ask for them to be traded." His comments angered, shocked & troubled many people, gay or otherwise, yet some said his brutal honesty was in alignment with the deepest sentiments of the average American. But why should we care?

Ironically, Hardaway's comments came just days after former NBA journeyman John Ameichi disclosed his gay identity with an ESPN reporter. Ameichi, the new author of a book detailing his basketball career & his struggles with self-acceptance, has since become the media spokesperson for everything good, bad or indifferent in the gay community. When asked how he felt about Hardaway's statements, he said, "thousands of people will be adversely affected." But why should we care?

The gay movement in America is younger than my aunt in Chicago. In the early 50's, a few white, male homosexuals sought to cultivate a sense of identity, pride & unity with their sexual politics. The word gay was adopted, yet the burgeoning economic, political & social power of the hugely successful movement becomes evident when a person says something deemed offensive - or commits a hate crime - toward anyone who identifies as gay, or sometimes, though not with as much tenacity, lesbian, most notably when you are white, or jewish.

Quite often, when an individual makes a statement, such as the ones echoed by Hardaway, they are immediately labeled as "homophobic." From my perspective, assigning the homophobic label to people is a function of white supremacy, in that the genesis of the gay identity is a Western social construct which does not benefit African-descended people who experience same sex desire. In fact, the term homophobia was created by a couple of gay, white male psychologists in the 70's to futher strengthen, both legally & socially, the gay movement, as well as punish people who appear, and/or are insensitive to homosexuals.

The root of homophobia is misogyny. Little boys are taught early on how wrong it is to be a little girl, as such, they're attacked by being called a bitch, coward, faggot, punk, sissy and/or weak. This type of humiliation scars boys as they move forward into adulthood because the resulting manhood anxiety is neither addressed nor resolved. I contend emotional abuse, when experienced in this harmful context, is sexual abuse. Some men never recover from their trauma.

Unfortunately, since homosexuality in America has historically been framed from a gay, white male lens - or pair of Dolce & Gabbana shades - the construct is rarely deconstructed in a national forum from a cultural context. American anti-homosexual perspectives are rooted in familial contempt, religious dogma & social stigma. I was born into a large family, yet we never talked about sex: bi, hetero or homo. I have six brothers & sisters...its obvious somebody was fucking, ok? Largely because of the dysfunctional model I was given, I surmised sex was a secret. When I talk to my friends, we generally share the same stories of not talking about sex, with anyone, even the person you have sex with.

Hardaway has since apologized for his unkind remarks. I don't believe a word of it. He said exactly how he felt & now we're supposed to believe, in less than 48 hours, otherwise? I don't think so. Usually folks will play the free speech card when someone goes against the grain. What's important is that we begin to engage each other in honest, open dialogue, especially when the issue is uncomfortable. We should care because his comments, though perhaps unintended, offer an opportunity for people to express themselves freely, even when someone's feelings will be hurt. As a trusted hetero male friend said to me a few weeks ago, "the truth will piss you off before it sets you free."

My mother taught me God don't make mistakes, people do. Hardaway is a hue-man being, subject to the same fears, insecurities & shortcomings many of us have, whether we admit them or not. As the sexy Teddy Pendergrass once sang, "you can't hide from yourself, everywhere you go, there you are." We should care because America, like it or not, offers certain freedoms other countries continue to kill each other for. Mistakes are opportunities for learning. I suggest we extend compassion & forgiveness to Hardaway. And the next time someone says something homophobic, tell 'em , Hardaway told you so.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Super Bowl 41 Has Two Winners This Year

The Indianapolis Colts, led by MVP quarterback Payton Manning, defeated the Chicago Bears, 29-17, to win Super Bowl XLI. In the spirit of African Heritage Month, history was made as Tony Dungy became the first African-descended coach to win the coveted Vince Lombardi trophy. Dungy's counterpart & good friend, Lovie Smith, joined him in the record books as the only African-descended head coaches to vie for the NFL championship. Additionally, Dungy is the only the third athlete to both play & coach on a winning team.

As a Chicago native, my heart was with the Bears, who, under Smith's calm & confident tutelage, have engineered back to back playoff seasons. Before the season started, I boldly predicted both teams would face-off for the big dance. I was well aware of the powerful cultural significance this could represent, though I suspected most of the media, as well as both coaches, would minimize their hue by suggesting, "they just happen to be black." Does Tom Landry, Chuck Noll or Bill Walsh just happen to be white? I don't think so...Malcolm X once said, "Black people are the only people in this country who are expected to lose their identity."

Some folks - not among them Cornel West - lamented how they'd long for the day when race wouldn't matter. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. eloquently shared in his historic 'I Have A Dream' speech, "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judge by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Well, my father, born the day before Dr. King, once told me America is a lie. A big lie: my father does not benefit from lying to his son about something so fundamental as our right to self-preservation, the first law of nature.

I love sports. My favorite sporting events to watch include basketball, boxing, soccer, tennis & track & field. Admittedly, football became more interesting as the playoffs rolled around the corner. On many Sundays it was simply an escape from my non-existent social life. Both the Bears & the Colts started the season with nine consecutive wins. In fact, the current Chicago team was being compared to the '86 Super Bowl squad which featured future hall-of-famer, the late, great Walter Payton, a ferocious defense coordinated by Buddy Ryan, their 'spunky qb' Jim McMahon & a fiery coach & current ESPN commentator Mike Ditka, who preceded Dungy as a Super Bowl player/coach victor.

When both teams eventually lost their first game of the season, the pressure to go undefeated was released from a white society obsessed with perfection (read: blond hair/blue eyes). The Bears finished the season 14-2, despite the media tormenting of quarterback Rex Grossman, who was publicly lauded by Smith, a loyal man hellbent on riding Grossman as far as the season would take him. Meanwhile, the Colts, led by a potent offense & gritty defense, were constantly being questioned about Manning's place in history because he's never taken them to the promised land.

The game began with Bears all-pro rookie sensation Devin Hester running back the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown, a Super Bowl record as no game started in such dynamic fashion. The Colts later responded with a touchdown strike from Manning to all-pro wide receiver Reggie Mayne, no longer in the shadows of his all-pro teammate wide receiver Marvin Harrison. This year, the talented tandem became the first pair of receivers to finish the season with over 1000 receiving yards & 10 touchdowns. Manning was shaky in the first half, but recovered to lead his squad to a satisfying win, as the Bears offense was unable to penetrate the Colts' spirited defense.

I'd like to see a Super Bowl where the opposing quarterback are both African-descended men. A couple of years ago, current Baltimore Ravens shotcaller Steve McNair led the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots. Though he gave a valiant effort, he ended a Montana-like drive one yard short of victory. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb would go on to the title game, only lose to Patriots qb Tom Brady, who has three Super Bowl rings in his young, but highly celebrated career. Will it be Vince Young? Byron Leftwich? Charlie Batch? Only time will tell. Alas, I'll be home watching...trusting my ancestors to see me safely home, or, at least, to sleep.