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.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

One Year After Daddy Transitions

xactly 368 days ago god called my father home. he lived 80 years & suffered a short bout with lung cancer. my father transitioned three days after his earth day & three days b4 barack hussein obama was inaugurated as america's 44th president - the seventh of african ancestry. also, my father shares the same earth day as miami heat all-pro guard dwayne wade, whom, like my father, is a proud chicago native.

i felt compelled to acknowledge this milestone of sorts. something ritualistic about a year later makes me wanna reflect. reflection is good 4 the soul: the soul yearns to know itself thru its own experience. nana imhotep gary byrd taught me experience is always the best teacher. coming to terms with my father's homegoing was not difficult, primary bcuz god has granted me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change. seems this writer has matured in some ways.

still, i miss dad. i miss his annoying phone calls at no o'clock in the morning. i miss his reply of 'prosperity' when i'd answer my phone (his call) with the standard greeting of 'peace.' i miss our spirited dialogues about black people, family values, history, movies, religion, sports, world affairs, i.e. i miss his nervous, somewhat vulnerable, laughter when i'd catch him off-guard with a funny, goofy or silly remark. i was pleased to make him laugh & appreciated him more when we shared those moments.

my father, slowly over a period of time, began to truly listen to his son. he listened to my joy, my pain, my dreams, my struggles, my sexuality, my spirituality, my goals, my failures, my needs & my shortcomings. my father, slowly over a period of time, began to share with his son what his life was like as a fatherless little boy, as a teenager, as a korean war veteran, as a newlywed, as an entrepreneur, as a divorced man, as a retired adult & as an elder. we cultivated a relationship based in honesty, mutual respect & trust.

part of sanity is effectively relating to others...

oddly enuf, he boldly predicted obama would win. he said america was ready 4 change & america would not, in 2008, elect a white male, whom, in his mind, did not represent change. he also said america was neither ready nor willing to elect a female, especially, if she was white, bcuz, again, a white candidate symbolized past/current political failures. of course, i dismissed his prediction with my usual rebellious nature. but what do i know about politics? in the '04 prez election i voted 4 ralph nader, knowing damn well he was gonna lose.

when i was a kid my father taught me to respect all people, no matter who they are & where they come from. he taught me to work hard, make sacrifices & try to do the best that i can in whatever i endeavor. he said he never met anyone who "wanted to be unsuccessful." he believed in self-determination, asserting, "if you want something done in this world, you better do it yourself, or you'll be waiting for other people to do things for you the rest of your life."

just b4 he left this earth he insisted i become a sportswriter. why? good question. bcuz there are very few black sportswriters in america & he thought i could make money (to eventually buy him the black mercedes benz he joked about incessantly) doing two things i love: sports & writing. sounds logical, right? but i'm not a logical person. my heart is not in it. maybe if i were a quarter century younger i could shift gears & go 4 it. just 4 him. maybe in my next lifetime. 4 now, i'm happy being me. grateful we connected as men.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti Suffers Catastrophic Earthquake

in what some are calling one of the world's most catastrophic disasters, the island of haiti suffered a major earthquake tuesday. the number of deaths are estimated at 100,000. over 40,000 bodies are buried. relief, repair & recovery will undoubtedly take years. international relief organizations are mobilizing a response to the 7.0 earthquake that rocked port-au-prince, destroying the national palace, many government ministries, major hotels & private residencies in the 250 year-old capital city.

the world is watching. god is omnipresent. recent memories of the tsunami, katrina & 9/11 have resurfaced in my psyche. my deepest condolences go to the families, friends & loved ones of haiti, both here & abroad. the full dimensions of the earthquake are unknown. folks on the blogosphere continue to share their varied perspectives. one thing is certain: the men, women & children of haiti are wounded & they need to heal.

most communications with haiti were cut-off, leaving much of the on-ground reporting to haitians & foreigners armed with internet connections & mobile phones. the sad news trickled out in twitter feeds & cell phone pictures from eyewitnesses. they showed collapsed roofs, slabs of concrete & bodies in the streets. what witnesses reported but mercifully did not record were the screams of the desperate & the trapped & the occasional cheers when survivors were pulled from the rubble.

my primary sources of information are cnn, keith olberman & ny1. their non-stop, round-the-clock coverage has been, at times, difficult to watch. cnn showed disturbing footage of haitian men & women - still alive, unable to pry themselves free of rubble, as citizens can be seen in the foreground walking by, looking for lost ones, traumatized by the unfolding tragedy. mothers were seen trying to cover the eyes of their children. in fact, when one of the journalists walked inside of a classroom of teachers & students who miraculously survived, then showed footage of a building destroyed with teachers & students inside, i felt their loss.

raymond joseph, haitian ambassador to the us, said on cnn's situation room with wolf blitzer, "this is a catastrophe of major proportions...the place is really bad now."haiti was still trying to recover from the devastation of a series of back-to-back hurricanes that flooded the northern town of gonaives & the central plain that has been haiti's breadbasket.

haiti is the poorest & second most densely populated country in the western hemisphere. also, haiti has struggled with political turmoil, including the ouster of president jean-bertand aristide in 1991, his restoration by us president clinton in 1994, his re-election in 2001 & his hasty departure, again, shrouded in mystery: he claims he was kidnapped by the us military & forced into exile in south africa. a united nations peacekeeping force under brazilian command has been in haiti since his ouster & remains after the election of current president rene preval.

the obama administration has offered $100 million in relief aid. obama said of the haitian people, "you will not be forsaken...we need an international effort." while many americans are willing to help, folks are encouraged to make cash donations & other supplies to respectable capacity-building organizations genuinely invested in the independence, self-determination & self-reliance of the haitian people. unfortunately, high levels of corruption & scandal peak when folks are most vulnerable; often, the people who need the most help never get it.

obama, in an unlikely yet not unique move, has enlisted former presidents george w bush & bill clinton to serve the haitian people. clinton was named special envoy to haiti. their responsibilities are unclear as of this writing. perhaps bush can somehow redeem himself? the recent us policy toward haitian immigrants is pretty ugly...

haitian refugees interdicted by the us coast guard are not screened to see if they may have valid claims to refugee status. only those who take the initiative to clearly proclaim their fear of return to haiti will be allowed to make an asylum claim. only three of more than 1,000 haitians intercepted since february 1 have been screened as a result of their protestations; these 3 were returned to haiti without a full asylum hearing. haitians who reach the us without being interdicted are put into fast-track removal procedures, during which they are subject to mandatory detention & are not eligible for release on bond.

this package of measures is only applied to haitian people!

i feel compassion for the people of haiti & their loved ones. people on the island are desperately frightened, homeless & hungry. the lack of water, food & medical supplies augments a deteriorating infra-structure for which such aid is forthcoming from countries around the world. time is of the essence. some natives utilize homeopathic remedies to tend to the biological wounds of their loved ones. some folks are being buried on top of each other. some are simply too shocked to act.

haitian-born samuel dalembert, the 7'1 center for the nba's philadelphia 76ers has generously pledged $100,000, while at the same time admits, "i feel helpless." grammy award winning musician/rapper wyclef jean has offered his organization, yele, as a resource for financial contributions. the 2009 world series champion new york yankees have pledged $500,000. the city of new york is launching a $1 payroll donation for all city employees. amidst the darkness & despair folks' selfless service challenges my cynicism towards our government & my wavering faith in humanity.

thank god the obama administration will help. we should help. we are all god's children. each one, teach one is more than just an african proverb. but where did the $100 million come from? amazing how we can assist others abroad & neglect our basic needs at home. i intend to make a cash donation. not sure how much or when, but, i will, sooner than lata. am i my brother's keeper? no doubt.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Will I Win In 2010?

thank god folks didn't call me after the ball dropped to ask me if i have any new year's resolutions. bcuz i don't. new year's resolutions are non-existent virtues i choose not to indulge in. i do believe, however, a new year is a golden opportunity for reflection & intention. deepak chora says, "everything in the universe begins with intention." gary zukav, author of the critically-acclaimed 'seat of the soul, 'says, "what you intend is what you experience." spiritual life coach iyanla vanzant says, "god knows the deepest desires of your heart."

actively learning from their perspectives can help shape my journey. a few years ago i wrote a spiritual vision for success. the paper sits right in front of my computer. i see it everyday. i decided to read it aloud for three consecutive weeks bcuz of a spiritual law - if you do the same thing everyday for 21 days it becomes a habit. applying open-mindedness is essential to growing, maturing & responding life's unfolding mysteries.

i want more for my life in 2010 than i experienced in 2009. or 2008. or 2007. or, you get the message, right? i've been on this earth nearly half a century & i feel it. dammit, i feel everything. everything! at the moment i feel happy yet unfulfilled. content yet not satisfied. optimistic yet worried. excited yet depressed. appreciated yet invisible. thrilled yet scared. a walking paradox, i'm basically a conflicted muhfuh.

despite my creativity, intellect & spirituality i tend to operate more out of fear than love. in fact, the unknown can be terrifying for almost anyone yet this honest self-revelation gives me absolutely no comfort. growing isolation, minor setbacks & petty frustrations make me feel like i'm not making progress. perhaps i need to let go of unrealistic expectations - or get out of my own way, ask others for help & start taking action?

a few years ago i set a goal, one of many, for myself. my goal was to write a book, a film & a play b4 the age of 50. to date, i've written a film & a play. my earth date is august 6. i'm proud of these accomplishments yet frustrated bcuz the work has yet to be seen by anyone other than a few artistic friends. i'm learning to persevere & remain steadfast with my intentions no matter what does or does not happen in my life. life didn't show up god woke me up!

i want to have my own greeting card company for people in recovery & their loved ones. i started taking small biz classes to gather information, network with like-minded folks & seek positive direction. this passionate desire of mine seems incredibly elusive at the moment. one of my ongoing challenges is the inability to focus on one thing at a time. besides, i'd rather watch porn. uh, was that too much information? anyway, oprah winfrey once said, "happiness is having something to look forward to."


so...will 2010 be the year of realized ambitions, new horizons & unlimited possibilities? will 2010 honor the deepest desires of my heart? will 2010 bring me a partner? will 2010 reward me with artistic success? will 2010 offer financial prudence? will 2010 improve my conscious contact with god? or, will i settle for the latest sports obsession, otherwise known as the lebron james sweepstakes? of course, i don't know what will happen in 2010. i'm willing to give it my best & let god take care of the rest. in the meantime, here's to a happy new me :-)