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, August 27, 2010

Will America Save Troy Davis?

a federal district court decision puts georgia death-row inmate troy anthony davis back on track for execution, despite doubts about his guilt raised during a june 24 evidentiary hearing. judge william t. moore, jr., ruled executing an innocent person would violate the united states con-stitution & davis didn't meet the extraordinarily high legal bar to prove his innocence. in '91 davis was convicted of killing police officer mark macphail.

larry cox, executive director of amnesty international usa, said, "nobody walking out of that hearing could view this as an open-and-shut case." cox further stated, "the testimony that came to light demonstrates doubt still exists, but the legal bar for proving innocence was set so high it was virtually insurmountable. it would be utterly unconscionable to proceed with this execution, plain and simple."

davis' hearing obscured the following: 1) four witnesses admitted in court they lied at trial when implicating davis & they didn't know who shot officer macphail; 2) four witnesses implicated another man as the one who killed the officer, including a man who says he saw the shooting & could clearly identify the alternative suspect, who is a family member; 3) three original state witnesses described police coercion during questioning, including one man who was 16 years old at the time of the murder & was questioned by several police officers without his parents or other adults present.

laura moye, director of aiusa's death penalty abolition campaign said, "the troy davis case is emblematic of everything that is wrong with capital punishment. in a system rife with error, mistakes can be made. there are no do-overs when it comes to death. lawmakers across the country should scrutinize this case carefully, not only because of its unprecedented nature, but because it clearly indicates the need to abolish the death penalty in the united states."

note: this writer disagrees with moye's assertion, "because of its unprecedented nature." mumia abu-jamal, whom, like davis, is a man of african descent, was convicted & sentenced in 1982 for the murder of philadelphia police officer daniel faulkner after a trial many viewed as racially biased. black men con-stitute over 45% of the death row population. jamal, once a peabody award-winning radio reporter & now critically-acclaimed author, has a case eerily similar to davis, yet remains on death row, 28 years later.

any wonder folks feel the justice system, is criminal...

since the launch of its feb '07 report, where is the justice for me? the case of troy anthony davis, facing execution in georgia, amnesty international has campaigned intensively for a new evidentiary hearing or trial & clemency for davis. aiusa has collected hundreds of thousands of clemency petition signatures & letters from across america & around the world. archbishop desmond tutu of south africa, pope benedict xvi, former us president jimmy carter, as well as lawmakers within & around georgia have joined the call for davis' clemency.

amnesty international is a nobel peace prize winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million activists, supporters & volunteers who campaign for universal human rights from more than 150 countries. aiusa investigates & exposes abuses, educates & mobilizes the public & work to protect people when dignity, freedom, justice & truth are denied.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Yes, I'm Really 50!

friday august 6 was an incredible milestone 4 me. god blessed me with 50 years of life on planet earth. i felt compelled 2 affirm, honor & value the gift of life by sharing a few thoughts here, albeit briefly, about being 50, black, male & same-gender-loving in america.

someone told me a long time ago every day above ground is a blessing so live it like its the last day u have. or something to that effect. my memory these days is as reliable as a cell phone call not dropping in the middle of an important conversation. or one you're too afraid to end bcuz the person on the other end is boring you to, in the words of actor/comedian bill murray, h-e-double hockey sticks.

i don't live my life like its the last day i have. somewhere along the way i developed a nasty sense of entitlement. perhaps u could call it spiritual arrogance? i have a way of dismissing folks who don't stimulate my body, mind or spirit. & not in that order, either. i've become so detached from folks, when i meet someone who excites me emotionally, intellectually or spiritually i just don't know how 2 react or what 2 do.

one of my cousins in chi-town, a gifted writer, once said, i believe in referring 2 an anonymous member of our wacky family, "i can only take people in small doses." my quintessential spirit connected with her insight immediately! what a relief 2 know u don't think uniquely when tryna deal with challenging family dynamics. but i digress...

black men die prematurely in america: rick james, gerald levert, tupac shakur, luther vandross, i.e. lest i 4get the assassinations of malcolm, martin & medgar. 50 is, indeed, a cultural milestone 4 this african-descended brotha. when i stopped drinking & drugging in the summer of '95 i knew i needed 2 take care of myself in a serious way: the revolution will not be televised but i can still get my shit together b4 god calls me home.

i stopped telling folks my age many, many yrs ago bcuz nobody believes me. apparently, i don't look like a 50 year-old black man. the brotha at work. the brotha at school. the brotha on the corner. the brotha in the gym. the brotha on christopher street, wall street or 125th street. the brotha on bet, cnn or pbs. like michael jackson told ola ray in the landmark '83 thriller video, "i'm not like other guys." while peeping paul mooney, the godfather of comedy, at caroline's on broadway last saturday nite he said "michael was not a pedophile, but he was definitely x-files."

michael jackson was born 342 days b4 me & died suddenly last june.

after all the pain i've endured - most of it self-inflicted - i used 2 wonder why god kept me alive when so many of my heroes & sheroes are gone 2 soon. as my father put it, "god did not put u on this earth just so u can feel good." damn, damn, damn. seems being of service 2 my community has divinely energized my compromised immune system: my negative sense of self has been replaced by a positive concern 4 others.

african people have been in america since 1441. we've been called everything but a child of god, yet i like calling myself black. black like miles davis. black like grace jones. black like tiger woods. yeah, i went there. have u eva felt like a tiger in the woods? like someone was chasing u & u d'nt know why but u started running nowhere fast? whycome white folk wanna b black, until the police come? ok, i'm being silly. perhaps i don't know where i'm going with this latest post?

on tha real, i'm grateful 4 a life worth living. i'm grateful folks trust me with their feelings & shortcomings. i'm grateful 4 the gift of self-awareness. i'm grateful 4 an intimate relationship with a loving god. i'm grateful 4 friends who care about my joy & my pain. i'm grateful my sexuality is fostered with the spirit of self-determination. i'm grateful 4 organic & vegetarian food. i'm grateful 4 thrice wkly workouts at the gym. i'm grateful 4 daily prayer & regular meditation. i'm grateful 4 my apt in the village of harlem. i'm grateful 4 integrity, respect & self-love. i'm grateful 2 b grateful :-)

i'm single & unemployed. most brothas i know are single: str8, same-gender-loving, or otherwise. the unemployment rate 4 black men in nyc is almost 50%. been that way long b4 a black man moved into the white house. my newfound reality? i've learned 2 b happy with or without money, with or without a partner & with or without the approval of others.

...how old am i? yes - i'm really 50 & free 2 b me!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Will Prison-Based Gerrymandering In New York End Legally?

new york state recently passed legislation to end prison-based gerrymandering in new york. their courageous decision brings new york's redistricting process in line with basic principles of democracy & will serve as a model for other states in the effort to count incarcerated populations correctly in the next round of redistricting.

prior to this new legislation, new york counted prison populations during the redistricting process as most states do: by counting them where they're incarcerated, a practice known as prison-based gerrymandering. this unethical practice violates the principle of one person, one vote enshrined in the 14th amendment of the us constitution, which requires election districts be roughly equal in size, so elected officials each represent the same number of constituents.

prison-based gerrymandering artificially inflates population numbers - as such, political influence - in districts where prisons are located, at the expense of other districts. about 60,000 incarcerated persons are in new york state & the accurate counting of incarcerated folk is essential to fair representation throughout the state.

african-americans living in new york are incarcerated at a rate more than eight times higher than whites living in new york. also, african-americans & latinos account for 30% of the state's population, yet over over 70% of its prisoners. 98% of new york's prison cells, however, are located in in disproportionately white state senate districts.

john payton, president & director-counsel of the naacp legal defense & education fund said, "because incarcerated persons in the us are disproportionately african-americans & other people of color, the current counting of incarcerated persons at their place of incarceration, rather than at their pre-arrest residence, severely weakens the voting strength of entire communities of color." payton further stated, "ending prison-based gerrymandering in new york will enable state & local officials to better fulfill their obligations under the federal voting rights act."

like most states, new york defines a person's domicile as a place where that person voluntarily resides. article two, section four of the new york constitution says an incarcerated person retains the place of residence he or she had prior to arrest. incarcerated persons do not choose the districts where they're confined & can be removed at any time at the discretion of the department of correction services.

unlike myself, incarcerated persons have no opportunities to interact with or develop enduring ties to the surrounding communities. they can't use local services, such as libraries or parks. most importantly, they cannot vote in those communities: they are not constituents of those districts, yet how many new yorkers are aware of these historical indiscretions?

incarcerated persons remain legal residents at their pre-incarceration addresses. they maintain ties to the outside world thru their families & other relationships in their home communities. at the end of their sentences they're released to those communities. the average length of incarceration is less than three years, but the prison count remains in effect for a decade. by counting incarcerated residents of these communities elsewhere, prison-based gerrymandering deprives these districts of the just level of political representation to which they're entitled.

this landmark legislation follows similar bills in delaware & maryland earlier this year. "we urge governor paterson to sign this important legislation into law & call on other states to enact similar legislation before the next redistricting cycle begins, " said dale ho, assistant counsel in ldf's political participation group. ho further stated, "moving forward, the census bureau should ease the burden on state & local governments by changing its enumeration methods to count prisoners in their home communities in the next decennial census."

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Leo Role Call

these dynamic peeps are born under the zodiac sign of leo:

marsha ambrosius. louis armstrong. james baldwin. lucille ball. antonio banderas. count basie. angela bassett. tony bennett. halle berry. barry bonds. kobe bryant. fidel castro. co co chanel. roger clemens. roberto clemente. bill clinton. george clinton.

carl crawford. viola davis. robert de niro. alexandre dumas. bill evans. patrick ewing. roger federer. laurence fishburne. marcus garvey. alex haley. mata hari. isaac hayes. thierry henry. jason heyward. alfred hitchcock. dustin hoffman. whitney houston.

iman. marvin isley. mick jagger. magic johnson. madonna. benjamin mays. george michael. helen mirren. barack obama. sean penn. alex rodriguez. pete sampras. wesley snipes. hilary swank. andy warhol. isaiah washington.

me.