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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Family Reunion Looms On The Horizon

my mother, youngest sistah & i've been talking about having a family reunion lately. nearly half a century on the planet & i've yet to participate in a family reunion. back in tha day the o'jays recorded a wonderfully heartfelt song about family reunions but i thought they were singing about somebody else's family. not my family. my family has a long-standing reputation of always showing up late to family functions. the one's we plan!

after speaking to a few folks who've experienced family reunions of their own, the consensus is it takes at least a year to plan such an event. are folks genuinely interested? will they show up or cancel on cp time? where should we gather? what will we do? how much will this cost? does anyone know oprah? well, seems everyone knows oprah but the most practical way to get to her is thru her best friend. gayle king. but i digress.

after we gauge folks' interest it was suggested to establish a planning committee. can't imagine how that would work considering we plan poorly in this family: plan b means fuck it cuz i ain't going. although i must admit the women in our family have always held it down, especially when it comes to nurturing the kids. ah, yes. bebe's kids. there are so many now. can't remember every one's names. of course, with all these hip hop inspired, post-9/11, weird ass spellings...what happened to simple names like john, paul, george & ringo?

i was watching an episode of america's next top model & one of the participants was a fly young sistah from the west coast; california, i believe. her name was spontaneus. 4 real. i gagged. what was her momma thinking? or drinking? why do black folk do shit like that? ok, i prolly spelled her name wrong - she changed a letter here & there. u know how we do. tryna be creative. & shit. something different. oh, how we lie to ourselves. but that was her name. a model named spontaneus. right. she lost early. not bcuz of her name. but it wasn't a plus. trust me.

the idea of a family reunion intrigues me for so many reasons. most of our tribe lives in chicago, yet we got folks scattered in florida, indiana, missouri, new york & texas. our world has become more & more isolated as we speak, or tweet. nobody talks to each other. krs-one once rapped about the difference between civilization & technology. growing up we talked about the cosby show or the weather, but not about how we felt. do i expect a reunion to change family dynamics? no. but we can have fun in the spirit of unity. also, we can model the young folk a template for love.

from what i understand, family reunions are unique opportunities to learn about ancestral legacies. we learn to practice patience as we wait for the elders to take out their teeth before they talk. we learn to practice more patience as we wait for the elders to remember their train of thought. we learn to practice more patience as we wait for the elders to wake up when they fall asleep. we learn to practice even more patience as the elders go on & on & on about stuff nobody understands. yo, i don't care what nobody says: u can't make a long story short. why? bcuz it's a long story...

granted, some folks would rather text than talk. some folks prefer e-mail to real mail. i'm cool with it all yet i believe a family reunion could impact us in ways none of us might imagine. after all, it'd be a first. a new experience. we'd be together bcuz we really wanted to, not bcuz we feel we have to, like when someone dies, for example. we can start a valuable tradition for generations to come. many of us come home from work & bury ourselves into the computer, tv or latest video game. others don't connect. at all. i miss being around my peeps more & more as i get older. so, i hope we do it sooner than lata.

besides, like antwone fisher, i can eat.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Juan Martin Del Potro and Kim Clisters Win 2009 US Open Singles Titles

20 year-old juan martin del potro of argentina stunned world #1 roger federer of switzerland 3-6, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 to win his first grand slam singles title at the us open in flushing meadow last monday. the thrilling match lasted well over four hours, starting in the early afternoon and climaxing at nite with one of del potro's many powerful forehand winners. del potro became the second south american (guillermo vilas '77) to claim the heralded crown. surprisingly, for a non-american, he admitted, "this was my dream, my favorite tournament, i've always wanted to win here and i can't believe this moment."

del potro crushed world #2 rafael nadal of spain in the semi-finals 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in less than two hours. his booming serve and flat, hard ground strokes were too much for nadal, who, despite a sore abdominal strain, played better as the tournament progressed. del potro is now the only man to beat both federer and nadal in a grand slam tournament. del potro was in tears after he shook hands with federer, who set the record of 15 grand slam men's singles titles upon beating american andy roddick in a five-set epic at wimbledon this summer.

clearly the hands-down favorite - he'd never lost to del potro - federer was primed for a record-tying sixth us open crown. the elegant swiss was up a set and a break at 5-4 in the second set before del potro broke his serve with an incredible running down-the-line forehand winner. in the third set del potro double faulted on set point yet showed maturity and poise beyond his years to come from two sets to one down for his unforgettable triumph. federer was 50 percent on his first serves and converted only five of 22 break points, conceding in the post-match press conference, "i had my chances...he played well...its not the end of the world."

kim clisters of belgium handily defeated surprising first time finalist 19 year-old caroline wozniacki of denmark 7-5, 6-3 to win her second us open singles title. clisters won in 2005 and abruptly retired to get married and have a baby. she returned to the tour this summer and played well in three tournaments. clisters became the first mother since evonne goolagong in 1980 to win at flushing meadow. after delivering a forehand winner at the net on match point she dropped to her knees and cried tears of joy.

clisters admitted after the match, "this wasn't our plan...i just wanted to play some matches and get used to the environment again." her 18-month old daughter jada joined her on court later to the delight of the record-setting crowd. the beaming clisters, popular and well-liked by all, was gracious in congratulating the young dane for her impressive run to the finals. the ninth-seeded wozniacki, who showed a steady calm in each of her matches, survived the onslaught of upsets as 16 of the top 32 seeds lost in the first two rounds.

the unseeded clisters was given a wild card this year and used it wisely. she didn't lose a set the entire tournament, playing hard each match with nothing to lose. clisters defeated venus williams in the fourth round & her sistah serena williams in a controversial semi-final match. williams was fined $10,000 (as well as $500 fine for racket abuse) by the usta for shouting verbal obscenities at a lines woman who called a foot fault on williams as she served 5-6, 15-40 in the second set. though contrite during her post-match press conference, the following day williams issued an amended apology to the lines woman, the usta, clisters and her fans for her, "inappropriate outburst."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

White House Environmental Adviser Van Jones Resigns

last week white house environmental adviser van jones resigned from his gig as obama's green jobs czar. some republican leaders actively sought his demise amid revelations (some deem controversial) from his past activism, all of which caught white house officials off guard. jones joined the administration in march as special adviser to the council on environmental quality. as he did not report directly to obama, he did not require senate conformation and avoided the kind of vetting cabinet officials are generally accustomed to.

after jones stepped down from a progressive post many were excited about he said, "on the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. they are using lies and distortions to distract and divide." jones continued, "i have been inundated with calls from across the political spectrum urging me to stay and fight, but i came here to fight for others, not for myself. i cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. we need all hands on deck fighting for the future."

in recent days jones had issued a couple of public apologies, one, for signing a petition in 2004 from the group 911 truth.org. the embattled group questioned whether bush administration officials "may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war." the other apology he offered was for using a crude term to describe republicans in a speech he gave before joining the obama administration. of course, some will question the sincerity and timing of his apologies, but i digress.

another source of contention was jones' brief involvement with the bay area group, standing together to organize a revolutionary movement (storm), a group which was allegedly influenced by marxism. additionally, jones admitted he's a staunch advocate and supporter of political prisoner mumia abu-jamal, the brilliant and profilic brotha institutionalized on death row (falsely) convicted of killing a philadelphia cop in 1981.

fox news channel host glenn beck, who recently warranted national attention for calling obama a racist, led the charges against jones after a group jones founded in 2005, colorofchange.org, organized a successful advertising boycott for beck's show specifically due to his callous attack on the president. rep. mike pence (r-ind.) ushered the call for jones' resignation stating, "his extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this administration or this debate."

senator christopher s. bond (r-mo.) urged congress to examine jones' "fitness" for the position. in an open letter, bond wrote, "can the american people trust a senior white house official that is so cavalier in his association with such radical and repugnant sentiments?" echoing bond's concerns was senator john cornyn (r-tex.), chairman of the national republican senatorial committee. cornyn wrote on his twitter account, "van jones has got to go."

on fox news sunday, senator lamar alexander (r-tenn.) and former house speaker newt gingrich declined to criticize jones directly but alexander questioned why the obama administration appointed so many czars. "i don't think he's the issue...i think the czars are the issue," alexander said. former vermont governor howard dean, who (also) signed the 9/11 truth.org petition - admittedly by mistake - said of jones' resignation, "i think he was brought down...it's too bad...it's a loss for the country."

white house adviser david axelrod appeared on nbc's 'meet the press' sunday and mentioned he had not spoken with obama about jones' decision. axelrod said, "the political environment is rough, and so these things get magnified...but the bottom line is that he showed his commitment to the cause of creating green jobs in this country by removing himself as an issue and i think that took a great deal of commitment on his part."

jones' meteoric rise to national prominence in the environmental movement is a unique commentary for a strong black man in a conservative multicultural society. he was a civil-rights activist in california before shifting his focus to energy and environmental issues exclusively. jones was respected for articulating, organizing and strategizing a broad visionary plan for green jobs in a manner ordinary folk could embrace and feel inspired by pre-obama. he undoubtedly benefited from a yes we can america. yet less than six months on the job many republicans are saying, no you can't.