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.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Michael Vick Signs Two-Year Deal With Philly

former atlanta falcons star quarterback michael vick just signed a two-year deal with the philadelphia eagles. the first year is reportedly worth $1.6 million & the second year with an option for $5.2 million. why is this breaking news? the unemployed & supposedly, now, bankrupt vick was released from prison on may 20 after serving just 18 months for his implicit role in an ugly yet profitable dog-fighting ring which made him the default poster child for animal rights lovers around the world who despise anyone who knowingly harms innocent pets. the folks at peta must be pissed.

nfl commissioner roger goddell's decision to both reinstate vick & extend him the ability to earn a living also raises concerns about the real values (read: ratings bonanza/revenue bonus) of the nfl. vick's swift return to football glory is unusual, in that goddell typically suspends athletes at least a year for off-the-field activities unbecoming to the league's tarnished image.

cleveland browns wide receiver donte stallworth pleaded guilty to a dui manslaughter in june yet served only 24 days in jail after he killed a man attempting to cross the street. goddell suspended the talented flanker for the entire 2009 season for violating the league's substance abuse policy & intends to reinstate him after the super bowl. stallworth recently signed a lucrative seven-year deal.

what, if any, role does vick's african ancestry play in folks' perception of his microscopic media assessment? black male athletes in america are demonized for egregious, immoral and/or unethical transgressions - muhammad ali, ron artest, barry bonds, kobe bryant, plaxico burress, wilt chamberlain, michael irvin, magic johnson, adam (pacman) jones, michael jordan, dennis rodman, deon sanders, o.j. simpson, latrell sprewell & mike tyson immediately come to mind.

b4 we paint a broad brush of racial profiling here, keep in mind the man was found guilty in court of a crime. that's why he went to prison! still, this country spends more money for folks to be behind bars than to be behind books; california doles out $49k per prisoner but you don't hear attorney general eric holder speaking out on this disparity do you? some folks believe vick got off easy like sunday morning & now he's back on the field possibly contending for the playoffs. hmmmm...

is it possible to discern vick has learned life lessons after doing time? are we to expect he, though admittedly remorseful, would've stopped what he was doing had he not been caught? how long does it take to heal an open wound? vick is scheduled to appear on 60 minutes this sunday nite. an oprah visit is sure to follow. maybe he'll lead public awareness campaigns on the evils of dog fighting at some point, which is kool until you wonder if he can make a difference in the lives of average folks, or, our youth.

years prior to all this sad stuff going down the seemingly modest vick was another handsome, successful & young brotha led to believe he was invincible in a supremacist society ripe with cultural contradictions. white male athletes neva (!) have to answer to the white, male community when their private lives are fucked up in public. real talk.

pete rose got a lifetime ban upon finally confessing (after lying repeatedly) he bet regularly on baseball games. brett favre once said he was addicted to pain medication. chris andersen violated the nba's substance abuse policy more than once. fuzzy zoeller casually joked tiger woods would celebrate one of his pga tour wins by eating some fried chicken. john mcenroe was unabashedly contemptous of tennis officials during his matches. i contend white, male skin privilege transcends the thrill of victory & the agony of defeat.

eagles all-pro starting qb donovan mcnabb told reporters he adamantly lobbied for the team to sign the embattled vick. mcnabb's love/hate relationship with philly fans & their media is no secret, but he echoes the sentiments of his coach mike reid: he feels "everyone deserves a second chance...he's spoken truth to the nation...who better to join a team who's gone through tough times...i'm looking forward to it." hall of fame qb & espn analyst steve young suggested philly might use mcnabb & vick together in certain situations. boos or cheers await them both.

vick will undoubtedly experience unwarranted attention both on & off the football field. his every move will be analyzed, blogged & commented on for months to come. he is, indeed, a marked man. while his new found mentorship with the retired (super bowl winning coach of the indianapolis colts) tony dungy is respectfully heralded publicly as an act of humility, hopefully he'll seek counseling of some sort. prison time is serious biz.

yeah, i'm a bit cynical of the need to publicly redeem one's self tho i believe vick deserves the opportunity to resolve his internal conflicts & live life abundantly. nonetheless, i wonder how the dog-fighting folks he once hung out with feel about their source of income? cruel & inhumane treatment of animals surely must haunt one's soul. but if you are a marketable black athlete with a skilled lawyer america will help you forget your pain.

are you ready for some football?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor Makes History As New Supreme Court Justice

with historic distinction sonia sotomayor was sworn in saturday august 8 as the us supreme court's first latina justice, third female & third person (thurgood marshall, clarence thomas) of african ancestry in the top court's 220-year history. sotomayor is president barack obama's first appointment to the prestigious court, which has shaped many polarizing issues like abortion, school desegregation & the death penalty. as a successor to the now, retired, justice david souter, sotomayor is not expected to alter the nine-member court's ideological balance.

sotomayor initially swore an oath at a private ceremony in the room where the justices hold their private conferences. minutes later she took a second oath from chief justice john roberts in an ornate conference room, beneath a portrait of the heralded chief justice john marshall. as her left hand rested on a bible held by her beloved mother, celina, sotomayor pledged to "do equal right to the poor & to the rich." sotomayor rocked a cream-colored suit & her right ankle, fractured in a fall a couple of weeks after her (somewhat contentious) nomination, was unbandaged. her 60 or so guests included justice anthony kennedy, white house counsel greg craig & other members of the obama administration who helped prepare her for the senate confirmation hearings, as well as assorted family members & friends.

roberts said that once the oaths were administered sotomayor could "begin work as associate justice without delay." obama nominated her for the lifetime appointment in may & the senate confirmed her on thursday. the 55 year-old native new yorker has been lauded by some with the most impeccable credentials in 100 years, having been a federal judge for 17 years. she is the daughter of proud puerto rican parents raised in a south bronx housing project who was educated at princeton & yale b4 experiencing success in the legal profession. sotomayor will join justice ruth bader ginsburg as the only other woman currently serving on the court.

obama, noticeably absent from the ceremony, scheduled a white house reception for sotomayor on wednesday. the new justice can now begin working, although the supreme court won't hear arguments until september 9, in a key campaign finance case. the entire court will convene a day earlier, however, for a formal ceremony to welcome sotomayor. she will learn some of the court's quirky customs, for example, as a newcomer, she must take notes & answer the door when the justices have private meetings, including one in late september at which they dispose of a couple thousand appeals.

meir feder, a former clerk to sotomayor's predecessor, souter, says the first case in september could get her thinking about the biggest change anyone faces in becoming a justice, the far-reaching impact of some supreme court decisions. feder, who is now a partner at the jones day firm in new york, said, "there are few easy questions that come the court's way...you're not applying settled law because if it's settled, it shouldn't get there in the first place." sotomayor symbolizes cultural pride & gender solidarity everywhere; in fact, several women in an east harlem restaurant watched her ceremony on television together while sporting t-shirts emblazoned with the words, wise latina.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Faison Firehouse Theater Presents James Baldwin's Harlem: Remembering Jimmy On His 85th Birthday

sunday august 2 james arthur baldwin celebrated his 85th spiritual earth day. earth day is a term i learned from (one of my mentors) nana imhotep gary byrd. he calls birthdays earth days bcuz all of god's kids are born once on different days yet on the same planet. anyhoo. the faison firehouse theater in harlem offered a riveting tribute to the man who inspired me, as he did so many others around the universe, to write. sitting in the theater for my first time on this historical occasion i felt in awe, deeply humbled & very excited to be in the presence of such greatness.

in the house was tony award winning choreographer & host george faison, the legendary activist/playwright/poet amiri baraka, author/poet/professor sonia sanchez, author quincy troupe, historian/writer herb boyd, vogue magazine's editor-at-large andre leon talley, howard university english department chairwoman eleanor traylor, musician/singer genovis albright, along with baldwin's sister-in-law helen baldwin, nephew trevor baldwin, as well as one of his proteges, alexa birdsong.

the ominous stage was adrift with african masks, kente cloth & other loving remnants of the motherland. you could feel the spirit of james baldwin in the room. i know i did. faison encouraged folks to get drinks (like jimmy) b4 the show started. baldwin was known for his all nite cocktail parties in the south of france where miles davis, bobby short, simone signoret or nina simone would stop through. i stopped drinking over 14 years ago & chuckled with the memory of a perfect excuse to have just one drink.

each special guest offered a wondrous tribute to baldwin - devoted activist, gifted writer, incredible humanitarian, the oldest of nine kids, a man baraka referred to during his eulogy at st john's cathedral of the divine as "god's revolutionary black mouth." interspersed between guests were snippets of the poignant documentary, the price of the ticket. the theater was completely packed as late arriving folks stood proudly in the back to witness a celebration of a harlem literary genius. what a blessing!