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.

Friday, February 20, 2009

New York Post Cartoonist Depicts President Obama As Dead Chimpanzee Shot By White Male Cops

the new york post ran a cartoon depicting the author of the stimulus bill as a dead chimpanzee, shot & killed in cold blood by two befuddled looking white male cops. the caption comes from the cop standing behind the cop with the smoking gun in his hand and reads: "they'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill." this racist cartoon, drawn by sean delonas, was strategically run on wednesday february 18, the day after president barack hussein obama signed into law the $800+ billion bill, his first major piece of legislation.

i contend ownership breeds oppression. new york post owner rupert murdoch, whom also owns the fox news channel, has historically attacked the beauty, dignity & hue-manity of black folk in one genre or anotha. to expect anything different from him or his employees would be insane. malcolm x once said, "if you're black & in america & don't know you're crazy, then you're really crazy." still, the timing of this cartoon is eerily similar to cnn producing black male comedian (instead of a black male activist, historian, journalist or professor) dl hugley's show, "dl hughley: breaking the news," a few short weeks b4 the election. any wonder why folks say the more things change the more they stay the same?

perhaps delonas did not intend to be controversial. nonetheless his cartoon has created a media frenzy. i peeped the news & witnessed various perspectives from cnn's anderson cooper, david gergen & roland martin, msnbc's keith olberman & the women on abc's daytime talkfest the view. i tuned on the radio (wbai-fm) & heard from bklyn councilman charles barron, whom, along with councilmembers eric adams & letitia james, as well as rev al sharpton, has organized a series of rallies in front of the post's mid-town nyc headquarters, in addition to otha pro-active initiatives. finally, i went online & got instructions from colorofchange.org & yourblackworld.com, two progressive organizations dedicated to social change, to boycott the paper & write the post's editors & corporate sponsors demanding a public apology & the immediate firing of delonas.

i just love it when folks talk about racism :-)

the cartoon, run on pg 12 of the paper & can also be seen on their web, was not funny, insightful or meaningful in any way. the post says the cartoon was meant to mock the contents of the stimulus bill by comparing the legislation to the now infamous pet chimpanzee who attacked a woman in connecticut. furthermore, the post's editor, col allan, defends the concerns of black & otha progressive folk stating, "the cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to with the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in connecticut. it broadly mocks washington's efforts to revive the economy. again, al sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a political opportunist."

the post wants us to believe the cartoon is not about obama. but on the page preceding the cartoon there's a big picture of obama signing the bill. some pundits - not limited to republicans but also including well-meaning blacks & so-called liberal whites - who defend the post say the cartoon could easily be mocking nancy pelosi, speaker of the house or otha congresspeople who supported the bill. yet the historical legacy of apes, chimps & monkeys as racist symbols of black folk in america, used many times during the election attacking obama's character, are part of our ancestral cellular memory.

yesterday myself & otha journalists received an e-mail from the post's associate editor sandra guzman which reads, "thank you for your feedback. please know that i had nothing to do with the sean delonas cartoon. i neither commissioned or approved it. i saw it in the newspaper yesterday with the rest of the world. and, i have raised my objections to management." white house press secretary robert gibbs was asked about the image on air force one wednesday. he replied, "i have not seen the cartoon, but i don't think its altogether newsworthy that i don't spend a lot of time reading the new york post."

what is particularly troubling about the cartoon image is the increase in race-based violence in america. hate crimes are on the rise, ranging from arson on black churches to homosexual assalts to vandalism. in fact, obama survived an unprecedented number of death threats, reported or otherwise, during his historic journey to 1600 pennsylvania avenue. just a week ago, a man drove from louisiana to the capitol with a rifle b4 he was stopped by the police, whom he told he had a "delivery" for the president. in venezuela, hugo chavez had to pass a law against the right wing calling for his assassination over television. would a bigoted group be punished for doing the same thing in america?

a cartoon calling for the murder of a us president gets you prison time...

hopefully the black press and/or global journalists of color will seek to do more than write about how pissed off we are. its not enuf to be outraged when the life of a hue-man being is publicly attacked. the cartoon should serve as a lesson in white supremacy 101. rev dr king jr said, "a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to injustice everywhere." the new york post should be held accountable financially, legally & socially for their crimes aganst hue-manity. if folks (americans, democrats, obama supporters, i.e.) allow the new york post to get away with the usual default apology for this blatant offense then the blame is on us not them.

in the late-80's i joined forces with cemotap - commitee to eliminate media offensive to african people - a queens-based non-profit, to boycott the new york post. among otha pro-active initiatives we disseminated fact sheets, marched in the streets of harlem, urged consumers to stop buying the paper & wrote editorials to raise folks' awareness & cultivate social change. the noted african-american historian benjamin mays once said, "a man's job may be finished, but his work is never done." in the spirit of mumia abu-jamal, anthony baez, sean bell, tawana brawley, eleanor bumphurs, larry davis, amadou diallo, michael griffith, fred hampton, rodney king, abner louima, anthony rosario & assata shakur i'm reminded of an ole skool cultural saying, "praise the lord & pass the ammunition."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Father Farewell

my 80 yr-old father died of lung cancer saturday night january 17. i've been avoiding writing this blog & i'm not sure why. i neva thought i'd write about my father's death. when god called him home i was neither shocked nor stunned receiving the news from my youngest sistah, tracey, whom, i sensed, in making small talk, which i hate, was struggling with how to tell me. is there a right way to inform your brotha of the death of your father? to be honest, i anticipated a short struggle with cancer based on his age, failing health & my evolving spirituality.

the last time i saw him was in frigid chicago, mid-december, in his messy bedroom, sleeping quietly. i felt god's calming presence. god told me he would welcome my father home sooner than lata although he was unwilling to give me the exact date & time. real talk. the whole week i was home my father was in & out of the hospital troubled with dementia, loss of appetite & what seemed to be a restless spirit. for the first time in my life this proud man appeared defeated, shaky & vulnerable. i was frightened.

when tracey told me he died i was with a few friends & shared the news with them. each offered their condolences & vowed to check in on me from time to time. thank god for caring friends. i was relieved he was no longer suffering the hue-man condition yet i felt deeply ashamed bcuz, at age 48, i had no money in my savings account to go home for the funeral. instead of grieving his loss i was worried i'd be unable to participate with my family in his farewell. my youngest brotha, james, was generous enuf to pay for my round-trip ticket & i headed home for five days.

b4 leaving nyc i humbly asked my mother how i could be of service. she mentioned the obituary. instinctively i felt writing his obituary would be an honor & a privilege - nothing i eva expected in life yet something god prepared me for on my spiritual journey. my cousin lorraine's sensitive & selfless editing proved fruitful. unexpectedly, to my delight, another cousin, rod, officiated the quietly respectful morning service. when one of my father's gambling buddies shared a few words about their relationship my heart warmed with love.

the otha family members who were present for my father's funeral, despite their personal feelings & unresolved conflicts, made the difficult trip worthwhile. some folks we grew up with as kids showed up with hugs & smiles. cousin juanita, arriving fashionably late as usual, sang a couple of songs in her unique style: i like her voice. aunt maxine, whether you wanted to or not, could be heard quibbling about the integrity of my obituary. wateva. as lorraine e-mailed me earlier, this was my tribute to my father. she also warned me of a potential backlash; her mother didn't think my obituary was fair.

i had the police on speed dial.

almost a month has passed since he made transition & i've yet to shed tears. am i in denial? no. i've been missing my father more & more the last few days. i can feel it in my gut. those annoying phone calls at 8am have left a void which no one can replace. 80 years on earth for a black man in america is nothing to sneeze at. i'm at peace with our relationship because he was finally honest with me about issues i thought we'd take to the grave. for example, he felt unappreciated by his family & also told me he wished he'd been a better father - i told him he was the best father a son could ask for. he cried. he cried some more. he then hung up the phone perhaps embarrassed or overcome with emotion or unwilling to remain vulnerable with his son.

amazing what you remember when somebody you love dies. i was grateful he shed those tears bcuz black men are conditioned to be invulnerable. as paul laurence dunbar once wrote, "we wear the mask of silent unity." speaking of silence, the ride to the burial was creepy. we're talking dark shadows creepy ok? i shared a car with my mother, older brotha larry, older sistah marla & tracey. the silence was omnious. omg. was i the only one in the car who couldn't breathe? nobody mentioned my father's death. his casket, of course, was in one of the cars in front of us, yet we didn't talk about - him. we were all gathered together bcuz of, him. if it weren't for, him, we wouldn't be together, on this day, for, him. crazy, scary & tuggle to the bone.

my father was a veteran, having served in the korean war many years b4 i was an embryo. proud of his anti-church, anti-prayer, anti-religious perspective, he once told me when the enemy was upon him he had no time to pray. said it didn't matter who or what anyone believed in bcuz self-preservation is the first law of nature. don't ask why but i wanted to argue with him. after all, even the pointer sisters knew "you got to believe in something." but i digress. i'm good at that. digressing. yeah, that's me. i digress. if i don't do anything else i...ok. i need to compose myself, or something resembling sanity.

now i know why i avoided writing this blog...

something in me says writing about my father's transition represents closure - as if his casket wasn't already closed. there i go again, tryna make light out of a dark situation. tryna ease my pain with sarcasm to mask the grief, loss & sadness. it's surreal knowing he's not physically present. i used to wonder how i'd respond if he went b4 i did. life with a compromised immune system has been emotionally challenging; so many friends with aids-related complications have come & gone. i grew weary of asking god why am i still here? my father, interestingly enuf, helped me to accept what i knew intellectually: everything in life is purposeful.

still, there is something to be said for the written word. this is my second draft & i'm feeling better already. i have my father's obituary on my computer desk. i'm not ready to put him on the wall with the obituaries of otha family members & friends. not just yet. am i in denial? no. i know he's gone. but i want him now where i needed him then: by my side. close to me. like a father should be for his son. in the spirit of unity.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Pittsburgh Steelers Win Record 6th Super Bowl

the pittsburgh steelers defeated the upstart arizona cardinals 27-23 to win their record sixth super bowl. with less than three minutes to go in the fourth quarter, steeler quarterback ben rothlesberger led a montana-like drive, culminating with a touchdown pass to wide receiver santonio holmes with 35 seconds left in the game to seal the deal. holmes caught nine passes for 124 yards, including six in the fourth quarter & was awarded the most valuable player.

prior to super bowl 43 the dallas cowboys & san francisco 49ers tied the steelers with five vince lombardi trophies. the storied franchise, led by the bright, confident & handsome young african-american head cocah mike tomlin moved them into the history books for more than one reason. the two other steeler coaches to win super bowl trophies - chuck noll with four & bill cowher with the win in 2006 - share a commonality with tomlin: they were hired by the rooney family at a young age; all coaches were well under 40, a risk that paid off.

most experts picked the experienced steelers to run away with the game, as this was the first super bowl trip for the cardinals, whom, at 9-7, won their division yet lost the last four games heading into the playoffs. arizona's high-powered offense was spearheaded by all-pro quarterback kurt warner. the popular 37 yr-old is the third oldest qb to play in the super bowl & only the second qb in history (craig morton) to lead two teams to the super bowl. warner's two big, strong wide receivers antoine bolden & larry fitzgerald are always a threat to gain big yards after a catch and/or score.

the all-world fitzgerald broke several of hall of famer jerry rice's records in the cardinals' three wins preceding super bowl 43. though relativley quiet in the first half, he caught seven passes for 215 yards & two touchdowns in the game, yet it was not enough to stop pittsburgh from prevailing in the end. the steelers' number one ranked defense, led by defensive player of the year, linebacker james harrison made the plays when it counted. in fact, just before the end of the first half, harrison intercepted warner's goal-line pass & ran a record 100 yards to give his team a 17-7 lead.

pittsburgh took a 20-7 lead into the fourth quarter & looked like they were poised for a rout until warner caught fire. the young cardinals, fueled by fitzgerald's stunning 64 yard touchdown reception, led 23-20 with a little over three minutes in the game. their players were jumping for joy on the sidelines. but this year the steelers have manufactured six fourth quarter or overtime victories. their confidence in rothlesberger was evident as he led them down the field, with one big play after the other, at times escaping what looked like surefire sacks from the tenacious arizona defense. holmes later confessed he told rothlesberger in the huddle to give him the opportunity to make a play for his team. like a mailman, he delivered.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Rafael Nadal & Serena Williams Win 2009 Australian Open Singles Titles

Rafael Nadal of Spain continued his dominance over former world #1 Roger Federer of Switzerland in a thrilling five-set win, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2, to win the 2009 Australian Open Men's Singles Title. The victory - his first on a hard court in a grand slam, lasted almost four & a half hours. Nadal destroyed Federer's opportunity to win his 14th major, which will tie Pete Sampras for the most in men's grand slam singles history. Ironically, Nadal is the only player to defeat Federer in a major; he's beaten him 13 out of 19 times in their incredible rivalry. In fact, their ongoing play against one anotha parallels the legendary competition between Martina Navratilova & Chris Evert, Bjorn Borg & John McEnroe, Andre Agassi & Pete Sampras.

This was the most anticipated match of the season. After seeming to be invincible, Federer lost his top spot last summer to Nadal when he succumbed to him at Wimbledon. The 22 year-old powerful lefty has shown no signs of stepping down from his throne. His five-set, semi-final win over countryman Fernando Verdasco took five hours & 14 minutes, the longest in Australian Open history. Some experts felt despite Nadal's superior level of fitness he'd be too weary to beat Federer in Rod Laver Arena, in front of Rod Laver, who was there to witness the match. But Nadal is resilient with a heart of gold. He saved a bushel of break points, particularly in the third-set where Federer had six chances in game 10 & game 12.

When Federer won the fourth set it looked like he'd be victorious. Yet he played unusually flat in set number five. Federer's five-set record is 13-11, amazingly mediocre for someone considered to be the best of all time. At the podium, upon receiving his runner-up trophy, he began to cry uncontrollably: he showed us his humanness. Nadal, like Federer, has three of the four majors in his repertoire. He has six majors & will probably break Sampras' record as well. But he gets better because he has Federer to play against on the world's biggest stages. Like Laver, who did it twice, unlike Federer whose yet to do it once, Nadal might win all four grand slams in a single calendar year. The international tennis community awaits with delicious anticipation.

Serena Williams defeated Dinara Safina of Russia in straight sets to win her fourth Australian Open women's singles crown. The resounding victory moved her into the number one spot, a familiar place for the confident African-American. Williams now has 10 grand slam singles titles, a record shared only by Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf & Monica Seles. In fact, both Martina & Steffi are on record stating Serena could be the greatest of all-time among women, yet nagging injuries & outside interests have impacted her ability to play at a consistent level.

The match, their second straight grand slam appearance against one anotha, seemed over before it started as Williams broke early & often in the first set. She ripped winners from both sides & attacked Safina's vulnerable second serve without mercy. The third-seeded Safina has made tremendous strides in the last 18 months, getting physically fit & working on her mental toughness, an overwhelming liability in her career. Despite her outstanding play to reach the final, she was no match for Serena, who was in control from the very first point.

Williams joins Court, Evonne Goolagong, Graf & Seles as the only women to win four singles titles down under. Record temperatures plagued players throughout the tournament. In fact, the heatwave was, at one point during Williams' semi-final match against eighth-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, over 140 degrees on the court. Australian Open policy dictates the roof to be opened after the first set, a welcome relief to both champions. Williams also won the doubles with older sistah Venus, their eighth major title.