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.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Same-Sex Marriage: Whose Issue Is It Anyway?

over 11 million people in california took to the polls on november 4 & by a margin of less than 500,00 votes said yes to proposition eight. the ballot title of prop 8 was eliminates right of same sex couples to marry. prop 8 also adds a new amendment to the california con-stitution which says, "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in california." before it passed, same-sex marriage was a con-stitutionally protected right in california; a majority of the california supreme court justices affirmed this understanding of the con-stitution in may 2008.

some gay advocates blame black people for defeating this provocative issue. omg. black folk at fault: imagine that? out of the closet while hiding behind pink triangles, rainbow flags & white privilege the myth of blacks being historically homophobic continues to prevail at lgbt rallies across the country, amidst the blogosphere & around the idiot box. on a recent larry king live, hosted by the view's joy behar, among the 4 guests were a gay, white male who has adopted a child with his partner, alongside a black, male pastor who supports prop 8 as a moral obligation. folks on both sides spent $70 million on this issue, an issue george w. bush successfully used to polarize voters & steal the election in 2004. but you ain't heard it from me cuz i ain't one to talk.

is there a better way to spend $70 million? i'm certainly not an economist yet i have a few suggestions on how to spend $70 million wisely. we could start with the people in darfur. i'm sure they'd appreciate a dose of the patriotism doled out ad infinitum on talk radio. they need food, medicine & water. now. $70 million could help folks suffering from home foreclosures. $70 million could help bailout not wall street or the auto industry, but public school kids who have no after school programs, nutritional disciplines or recreational centers. $70 million could re-build our crumbling infrastructures, providing relief to an economy similar to the great depression. $70 million could benefit climate change, energy independence, green jobs, hiv prevention and/or veteran's benefits. shit...drop some cheddar on the folks at 125th street nahmean?

the dialogue on cnn was cordial, informative & polite, as behar sought to give folks equal time to share their perspectives. i was enraged when the gay, white male asserted same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue. he tried to compare it to the laws against interracial marriage (ruled uncon-stitutional by the supreme court in 1967) & the struggle black folk fought for in the 50's...as if (!) our struggle for hue-manity began in the 50's - or, as if/bcuz this issue should be as important to black folk as it is to lgbt folk: a litmus test for anti-gay initiatives or default heterosexism. my opinion? the white guy should be pimp slapped by a pimp named slick back, but as destiny's child sang, "my momma taught me better than that." the truth is i don't believe in violence, having idolized gandhi & king as a kid growing up on the south side of chicago.

several days ago comedy central's emmy-award winning host of his self-titled show stephen colbert stated 70% of blacks voted yes to prop 8, while 30% voted no. as a result of their mandate he said, "gays should boycott blacks," for not letting them experience marital bliss. ironically, the same gay, white male (syndicated columnist dan savage) who was on cnn's larry king live appeared on his show to further rally the cause of the gay movement. on the colbert however, he was a solo guest & his views remained the same. colbert tried to make vanilla of a chocolate situation. savage was a good sport.

a white man named savage is a scary proposition in & of itself...

the racism/white supremacy of the gay movement has no boundaries. the 'n' word was shouted at various lgbt rallies protesting the yes vote. emotional residue from obama's historical presidential triumph? where are the white gays & lesbians at these rallies who oppose the 'n' word proposition? why is there a whiteout from the media about the racialization of this issue? from my perspective this issue is a matter of self-determination. in 2008 black folk have more pressing concerns, among them alcohol/drug use, faith-based oppression, hiv/aids pandemic, illiteracy, mental illness, prison industrial complex, reparations, self-hatred, unemployment, violence, etc. no doubt, we got more issues than jet magazine but same-sex marriage wouldn't even make david letterman's top ten. real talk.

same-sex marriage is an extension of white male skin privilege. this issue, like most so-called gay issues, was framed by the same people whose ancestors enslaved african people on the shores of these yet-to-be united states in 1441. the gay movement - a lily-white, male movement which began around the time rosa parks & emmitt till fueled the civil rights movement - neva intended to benefit african-descended folk, or womyn. same-sex marriage neither addresses nor resolves the historic socio-economic disparities african-descended folk struggle with everyday (except oprah). same-sex marriage is more about equality & less about hue-manity. a gay man wants a str8 man to treat him as his equal. as a same gender-loving man i try to treat a str8 man as my brotha.

marriage is essentially a heterosexual model for relationships. this model is rooted in faith-based oppression manifesting itself in anti-black, anti-female & anti-homosexual perspectives. we've been colonized & socialized & terrorized to believe the heterosexual model is the standard for divine hue-man loving expression. yet, the divorce rate is nearly 50%. folks who embody the teachings of the bible, koran & torah have my profound respect. but they don't have a monopoly on universal qualities like balance, compassion, empathy, freedom, harmony, integrity, joy, kindness, love, peace, truth & wisdom.

i believe in fairness, justice & respect for same-sex couples. i should be vested in & have full access to the health care benefits, insurance claims, pension benefits, wills, i.e., of my partner, just as heterosexual couples do today - by virtue of the law & their unions. i deserve these rights not because of my sexuality, but because, as alice walker would say, we demonstrate loving kindness by trusting the absolute goodness of the universe. same-sex marriage is currently legal in connecticut & massachusetts. one day i may want to jump the broom. but for now, i'll use the broom as it was originally intended, to clean my dirty apartment.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

America Historically Elects Barack Obama As Her 44th President

illinois senator barack obama became the 44th us president in a landslide victory over arizona senator john mccain. in a stunning record turnout - folks everywhere waited in line, some for several hours - over 13 million people voted in this election, many of them under 30 & those for the very first time. this was the largest turnout in 100 years, the last time the cubs won the world series. obama received about 53% of the popular vote, yet his electoral college numbers more than doubled that of mccain. the historical nature of obama's win will be analyzed, discussed, studied & written about for years to come all around the world.

obama delivered a victory speech shortly after 11pm est to 125,000 folks in chicago's grant park, the largest political gathering in our nation's history. just 40 years ago grant park was home to one of the many rebellions around the country in response to the assassinations of rev dr king jr, democratic presidential nominee robert kennedy, the war in vietnam, poverty, racism & social unrest. in fact, before kennedy met the fate of his brother, president john f kennedy who was assassinated less than five years earlier, he prophetically stated, "in 30 or maybe 40 years i believe the american people will be ready for a negro president."

is this why some folks believe someone has to die for others to live?

the improbable campaign began 21 months ago on the steps of the capitol building in springfield, illinois. the temperature was seven degrees, a typically frigid day in the land of lincoln. with confidence, faith & in dramatic style, obama referenced abe, jfk & announced his candidacy for president to thunderous applause from his hometown supporters. he had no money, no endorsements & no name recognition. what he did have was a belief in the generosity of the american people, support from his brilliant wife michelle & their two daughters, as well as the audacity of hope.

the obama campaign is a success story for politicians to model. his grass-roots efforts were evident in nearly every state. his volunteers knocked on one million doors the last two days before the election. he raised about $650 million, most from small donors on the internet. he utilized technology with rigorous e-mails & text-messages to people throughout the campaign, fully accessing consumers from all walks of life. in a bold move unprecedented, obama produced a hollywood-style, marketing-savvy, slick infomerical lasting nearly 30 minutes on several major news stations, on the same day the world series was being played. but they said he was too soft...

some mccain supporters, particularly at rallies held by his vp running mate alaska governor sarah palin, accused obama of being 'liberal', 'muslim', 'socialist,' and/or 'terrorist', even though obama has publicly admitted to being 'christian,' 'patriotic', and a 'mama's boy'. obama did not assassinate the character of his opponent, instead he linked mccain's policies & voting record to bush. he primarily focused on the economy, gender pay equality, local/national service, universal health care & the war in iraq. mccain was in above his head.

during his 15-minute concession speech in arizona, mccain was eloquent, gracious & unifying - at times amidst a chorus of boos whenever he mentioned obama's name & resounding victory. where was this hue-man persona during the campaign? mccain said his congratulatory phone call to obama was "an honor." mccain pledged his abiding support to the president-elect & urged his supporters to do the same. they continued to boo, stopping only because he raised his hands in a gesture of surrender. he shared his faith in the creator, acknowledging obama's grandmother, "the woman who raised him to be the decent man he is today," died the day before. he admitted their political difficulties will prolly remain, yet knows they both want what is best for the country. he admired obama's ability to inspire young & new voters. he also recognized this victory has a "special significance for african-americans."

when obama humbly walked onto the stage at grant park with his wife michelle & their two lovely daughters to deliver the most important speech of his young political career, the windy city erupted. folks were crying, hugging, jumping up & down, screaming, unable to contain themselves. media cameras caught rev jesse jackson with tears watering down his face. oprah winfrey was beaming in the front row. michael jordan was noticeably absent. it was truly a family atmosphere. 70,000 tickets were given to people to attend the monumental event, though it is estimated over one million people were in & around grant park to hear obama change the course of american history & write a new chapter in the political landscape.

obama won 90% of the black vote, 67% of the latino vote & 67% of the youth vote. the so-called minority is the new majority. his wins in florida, ohio & pennsylvania affirmed his universal appeal. at the outset of his speech obama honored mccain's hard-fought campaign, as well as his lifetime, selfless service to america. his supporters applauded with respect. obama proudly referenced lincoln, president franklin d roosevelt & rev dr martin luther king jr. he said, "to those who would try to tear us down we will defeat you, to those who come in peace & security, we offer our support." the most poignant moment came when he talked about a 106 year-old black woman from atlanta, ann nixon cooper, whom has seen america's "heartache, hope, struggle & progress before we had cars on the ground & planes in the sky...she was unable to vote for two reasons, because she was a woman, and because of the color of her skin."

yes we can.