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.

Monday, February 27, 2012

NBA All-Star Weekend 2012

the western conference all-stars defeated the eastern conference all-stars 152-149 at the amway center in orlando, florida. the two teams scored 301 points, setting a record for most points in an all-star game. the west led 88-69 at halftime, setting a record for most points by a team at halftime. kevin durant of the oklahoma city thunder was named most valuable player. durant finished with 36 points, seven rebounds, three assists & three steals.

the west thoroughly dominated the game until midway through the third quarter when reigning mvp derrick rose & two-time all-star mvp lebron james got hot. but in the fourth quarter the west rebuilt a 20 point lead with less than eight minutes to go. james & nets guard deron williams hit a couple of three-point field goals in a short span. james set an all-star record with six three-pointers in the game.

james' miami heat teammate, dwayne wade, became the third player in all-star history to record a triple double. the other two players? michael jordan & lebron james. wade had 24 points, 10 rebounds & 10 assists. but with his team down by one, he missed a breakaway layup (on a pass from james) with less than 90 seconds to go. also, both teams combined for 24 three-point field goals: another all-star record.

kobe bryant scored 27 points for the west. bryant set a record for most points in all-star game history with 271. the previous record was held by michael jordan with 262. jordan is majority owner of the charlotte bobcats, who own the worst record in the league. charlotte lost 16 consecutive games this year. the nba lost 16 games this year due to the lockout.

nba all-star saturday night produced other winners as well...

shootings stars: allan houston, landry fields & cappie poindexter, new york.
skills challenge: tony parker, san antonio spurs.
three-point contest: kevin love, minnesota timberwolves.
slam dunk contest: jeremy evans, utah jazz.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Five Day Fast Was Successful!

today i completed a five day fast. my diet for the last five days consisted solely of fruits, organic juices, organic nuts & water. also, meditation, prayer & rest were prominent in my ongoing quarterly spiritual practice. as a result i feel calm, peaceful & serene.

i started fasting well over a decade ago. my innate curiosity led me to try something i thought could benefit my health. i did not envision fasting as a way of life. i thought it was something i would do once, twice, maybe three times. nothing more, nothing less.

the first time i tried to fast i didn't know what i was doing. my ego, false pride & image would not allow me to ask for help. i heard through the grapevine fasting for three days would be a safe way to start. i didn't know anything about preparing for the fast and/or breaking the fast.

i remember someone telling me the first meal of the day is called breakfast for spiritual purposes. i recall him saying we sleep (meaning rest) before we eat breakfast & rest is an important part of fasting. i'd never thought of this & felt excited about learning something new & potentially valuable.

still, i neglected to ask my friend for guidance in this new venture. i live with a compromised immune system. yet, it didn't occur to consult my primary care physician about fasting. in some ways i was doing this secretively because i wanted the satisfaction of being right.

i always felt ashamed of my body. i was a skinny kid with a funny last name - just like obama. i never learned how to cook for myself. when the females in my family told me to get out of the kitchen i complied with relief. moreover, healthy eating was not part of our family practice. at all.

my basic four food groups were grease, sugar, pork & chocolate. more was never enough. i thought food would make me socially acceptable. i was wrong. i became addicted to fast food. fast food is slow suicide. these old, useless patterns damaged my emotional, physical & spiritual well-being. i realized something had to give.

i thought fasting would solve my unresolved issues with food. although i don't look like it, i have a weight problem...i can't wait to eat. i eat when i feel angry, bored, depressed, lonely, sad, etc. certain foods give me a false sense of comfort. i needed new coping skills & unbeknowst to me, fasting would become my salvation.

instead of eating meat at night, i indulged in popcorn, potato chips, pretzels & trail mix. don't ask why. at the time, it seemed better than kfc, mcdonald's or white castle. i didn't tell anyone what i was doing. after three days of this i rewarded myself with popeye's chicken. don't asky why.

popeye's had me calling ralph in the bathroom. i got sick. pain has a unique way of getting your attention, unless you continue to stay in denial. ashamed, embarrassed & frustrated i took a risk & asked someone for help. a woman at the health food store gave me some simple suggestions. an associate of mine loaned me his book on spiritual waste. i had a series of colonics for the first time.

i fasted for three days, seven days, ten days & once, during a hot summer, 14 days. although it was not my intention i lost 30 pounds in 14 days. i went from 200 pounds to 170 pounds; not like luther, but the weight loss was noticeable. over a period of time i decided to fast every 90 days.

five day fasts build self-discipline, improve my conscious contact with god & reaffirm a passionate desire for self-love. i try to avoid stressful people & toxic situations. i welcome the opportunity to serve my wounded temple. most importantly, i feel good about myself because i'm invested in the liberation of my body, mind & spirit.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston Dies Suddenly At 48

whitney houston was found dead in her room at the beverly hilton hotel last night. her publicist, kristen foster, said the the cause of death is unknown. beverly hills police lieutenant mark rosen said, "there were no obvious signs of any criminal intent." the findings of an autopsy are scheduled to be released monday. she was 48.

houston was at the hotel preparing for the clive davis pre-grammy party. she will be humbly remembered in a tribute by jenifer hudson, organizers said. houston was at rehearsals for the show thursday coaching singers brandy & monica, according to a person at the event who is not authorized to speak publicly about it. the person said houston look disheveled, was sweating profusely, as liquor & cigarettes could be smelled on her breath.

at her peak, houston was one of the world's top selling artists. from the mid-80's to the late 90's she sold over 170 million albums, singles & videos. her first album in 1985, whitney houston, charted several number one hits, among them, saving all my love for you - culminating in her first of six grammy awards. her seven consecutive number one singles was a first by any artist in the record industry.

as a model, in 1981, houston became the first black female to grace the cover of seventeen magazine. she sang backup for chaka khan, jermaine jackson & many other artists. but she was discovered by her mentor, arista records producer clive davis. davis first heard her perform around this time. he once told good morning america, "the time that i first saw her singing in her mother's act in a club...it was such a stunning impact. to hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song, i mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine."

houston transitioned into films as her career gained international notoriety. she starred in, the bodyguard, whose soundtrack won a grammy. her #1 single from the film, i will always love you, was a cover of an obscure dolly parton track - it is her signature song; a song people all over the world could hear & feel her majesty, power & range. she also co-starred in the preacher's wife & waiting to exhale

her 1992 marriage to new edition singer bobby brown was fraught with alcohol, drug use, erratic public behavior & rumored infidelities. people blamed brown's influence on houston yet we later learned she struggled with addiction, seeking treatment on more than once occasion. her abuse of alcohol, cocaine, marijuana & pills ravaged her quintessential voice, subsequently curtailing her amazing career for a few years.

in her infamous 2002 interview with abc's diane sawyer on good morning america, houston said, "the biggest devil is me. i'm either my best friend or my worst enemy." aretha franklin, houston's godmother, said she was stunned. "i just can't talk about it now. its so stunning & unbelievable. i couldn't believe what i was reading coming across the screen," said franklin, in a prepared statement.

houston was born august 9, 1963 in newark, new jersey. the daughter of legendary gospel artist cissy houston & cousin to 60's pop icon dionne warwick, houston was destined for musical greatness. she grew up singing at the new hope baptist church in newark. outside the church on a fence post, one of her sympathy cards read, "to the greatest songstress ever."

although houston became a global superstar, she had her critics. some folks in the black community felt she neglected her cultural roots to appease white audiences with pop songs. she was even booed during the 1989 soul train awards. during a 1996 interview with katie couric, houston said, "sometimes it gets down to that, you know? you're not black enough for them. i don't know. you're not r&b enough. you're very pop. the white audience has taken you away from them."

houston influenced such diverse female artists as mary j. blige, mariah carey, christina aguilera, jazmine sullivan & kelly clarkson. in 2009, she reunited with davis & released her long-awaited cd, i look to you, with a modicum of success. she sat down for a candid two-day, one-on-one interview with oprah the same year. among other issues discussed, she admitted she no longer uses crack, marijuana or pills, but drinks socially. she also reaffirmed her faith in god, family & loved ones.

in her last interview, houston talked about working with american idol sensation jordin sparks in a sequel to the movie, sparkle. she performed a duet with kelly price at a pre-grammy event thursday, yes, jesus loves me. houston was scheduled to appear at davis' annual pre-grammy event saturday night before we learned of her tragic death. a moment of silence was called & tony bennett sang in her honor.

the spirit of her incredible legacy will undoubtedly live on.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

New York Giants Win Super Bowl XLVI

the new york giants defeated the new england patriots 21-17 to win super bowl 46. the giants thrilling victory made them the fifth team to win four or more super bowls. giants quarterback eli manning completed 30 of 40 passes for 296 yards & a touchdown, earning him his second most valuable player award. manning is the 11th quarterback to win multiple vince lombardi trophies.

eli manning is now the fifth player to win two super bowl mvp's. he did not turn the ball over. he engineered a nine play, 88-yard drive with less than four minutes to go in the game. the giants have won seven consecutive postseason games - all on the road or at neutral sites. at age 65, the giants' tom coughlin becomes the oldest coach to win a super bowl.

the giants come from behind triumph was spurred by the relentless attack of their defensive front four. justin tuck had two sacks & pro bowler jason pierre-paul pressured patriots quarterback tom brady, especially in the 4th quarter. this was their second super bowl win over new england in four years. they destroyed the patriots' hopes of an undefeated season in 2008 with a last-minute 4th quarter manning touchdown pass to plaxico burress.

the new york offense featured standout performances from several players. wide receiver hakeem nicks caught 10 passes for 109 yards. wide receiver mario manningham caught five passes for 73 yards, including three key receptions (for 56 yards) during their final drive. running back ahmad bradshaw ran 17 times for 72 yards, scoring the winning touchdown with less than a minute to go in the game.

pats' head coach bill belichick & brady set a super bowl record for a coach/qb duo by appearing in their fifth title game. the two have three victories & two losses. all of their championship games were decided by four points or less.

brady completed 27 of 41 passes for 276 yards, two touchdowns & one interception. in the first half, he set a super bowl record with 16 consecutive completions. the game ended with brady throwing a hail-mary from midfield with five seconds left, nearly tipped by the giants defenders to pro bowl tight end rob grankowski. new england has made seven super bowl appearances. their record is 3-4.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Legacy of Don Cornelius Lives On in the Spirit of Soul Train Fans Everywhere

don cornelius died early wednesday of an apparent suicide. cornelius was a cultural icon who executive produced & hosted soul train, the popular television show which lessened racial barriers & nationalized black culture. soul train revolutionized dance, fashion & music in its own unique way. long before video music box, mtv, vh1 & bet, there was soul train.

officers responding to a report of a shooting found cornelius at his mulholland drive home around 4:00 am, police said. he was pronounced dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, said los angeles county assistant chief coroner ed winter. he was 75.

"i am shocked & deeply saddened at the sudden passing of my friend, colleague & business partner don cornelius. don was a visionary pioneer & a giant in our business. before mtv there was soul train, that will be the great legacy of don cornelius. his contributions to television, music & our culture as a whole will never be matched. my heart goes out to don's family & loved ones," said quincy jones.

the rev. al sharpton said he was shocked & grief-stricken. "i have known him since i was 19 years old & james brown had me speak on soul train, "the civil rights activist said in a statement from new york. sharpton continued, "he brought soul music & dance to the world in a way that it had never been shown & he was a cultural game changer on a global level."

soul train began in 1970 as a local program in a small studio in chicago, hosted by clinton ghent. the show moved to los angeles a year later & aired nationally until 2006. soul train introduced television audiences to such legendary artists as james brown, aretha franklin, marvn gaye, the jackson five, gladys knight & the pips, diana ross & stevie wonder.

soul train was one of the first shows to showcase african-americans prominently, bringing the best r&b, soul & later, hip hop acts to television. in a 2006 interview with the associated press cornelius said, "there was not programming that targeted any particular ethnicity. i'm trying to use euphemisms here, trying to avoid saying there was no television for black folks, which they knew was for them."

the show was well-known for its trademark opening of an animated chugging train. but it was not, however, an immediate success for cornelius, an ex-disc jockey with a baritone rumble & cool persona. only a handful of stations initially were receptive. said cornelius, "when we rolled it out, there were only eight takers. which was somewhere between a little disappointing & a whole lot disappointing."

what exactly were some of the reasons given for television stations not willing to pick up the show? cornelius continued, "there was just, we don't want it. we pass," he said, with race going unmentioned. "no one was blatant enough to say that."

the growing audience reaction, coupled with the high-powered talent from the show attracted people from all walks of life. soul train eventually began to feature popular white artists like david bowie, elton john, teena marie, gino vanelli & the average white band. ironically, cornelius admitted he was no fan of rap. yet he welcomed artists like kurtis blow, ll cool j, public enemy, run d-m-c & grandmaster flash & the furious five.

soul train always featured a dance line, the highlight of each production. teens pranced & strutted their way between two lines of dancers awaiting their time to shine. today, the soul train dance line is a part of american culture. barbeques, family reunions, house parties & wedding anniversaries are just some of the events where a soul train dance line will transcend age, class, faith & race.

cornelius was inducted into the broadcasting & cable hall of fame in 1995. he also has a star on the hollywood walk of fame. cornelius remained grateful to the musicians who made soul train their destination for the best in black music. he said, "i figured as long as the music stayed hot & important & good, that there would always be a reason for soul train."

in 1993 cornelius stepped down as host of soul train. the series spawned a franchise which includes the soul train music awards, the soul train lady of soul awards & the soul train christmas starfest. the awards returned to the air in 2009 after a two-year hiatus. last year's awards were held november 27, with earth, wind & fire receiving the legend award.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Origins of Black History Month

black history month, also known as african heritage month, is a time to appreciate, celebrate, reflect & rejoice in the magnanimous beauty & unparalleled brilliance of the motherland. in acknowledging africa's extraordinary contributions to global society, we honor all members of the afrikan diaspora. let us begin by taking in an-depth look at just how this unique cultural phenomenon came to be.

in the early 1900's, omega psi phi, one of the oldest african-american fraternities, first celebrated the achievements of black people on february 12, abraham lincoln's birthday. later, in 1916, dr. carter g. woodson, an honorary member of omega psi phi, convinced the association for the study of negro life & history - an organization he started - to sponsor "negro history week." his aim? to reach a larger, more diverse audience.

dr. woodson began the annual celebration in 1926 to increase awareness of & interest in black history among both blacks & whites. he diligently distributed promotional brochures & pamphlets to various state boards of education, elementary & secondary schools, colleges, universities, women's clubs, white scholarly journals, black newspapers & periodicals: implementing ways to document truth.

unequivocally accepted as the founder of this, now, national movement & observance, dr. woodson comes from humble beginnings. he was born to parents who had been enslaved & were illiterate. as an adolescent he worked in the west virginia coalmines to support his family; as a result, he started school later than most children yet he earned a high school diploma with honors. his motto in life was "it is never too late to learn."

dr. woodson continued his education at harvard university where he received his master's & ph.d. he later studied at the prestigious sorbonne in paris, france. while developing as a scholar he recognized a disturbing pattern in history & literature books. he was convinced africans were intentionally omitted from history, &, if they were mentioned at all, it was done only to advance the culturally oppressive myths (read: lies) about africa & her people: imparting, by default, to europeans a false sense of superiority & to africans a fatal sense of inferiority.

for example, the african ancestry of alexander pushkin, noted father of russian literature, is peculiarly "blacked-out" from standard history texts. pushkin was castigated for embracing his heritage. another literary giant of african descent, alexander dumas, spent most of his life in france. dumas once publicly stated, "when i discovered i was black, i was determined to act so that men should be beneath my skin."

in germany, the word "mohr" means black. in english, however, that same word is spelled: moor. one of the world's most honored & treasured musicians is a man of african origin. we know him in america as ludwig van beethoven; in germany, he is referred to as "the blackamoor." beethoven is also known in other countries as "the black spaniard."

contrary to past belief & contemporary misconception, february was not "given" to blacks by guilt-ridden whites because it's the shortest month of the year. dr. woodson consciously chose the second week in february to memorialize the birthdays of lincoln, & more significantly, abolitionist & freedom fighter, frederick douglass. in the early 1970's, dr. woodson's vision was extended throughout the entire month of february. moreover, the use of the noun "black," which symbolized power, pride & purpose, was ceremoniously added to the title.

today, dr. woodson is generally best known for his groundbreaking book, "the miseducation of the negro." he wanted black history affirmed everywhere it is researched: on every continent & in every culture. just like marcus garvey, maya angelou, malcolm x & queen mother moore, dr. woodson clearly understood the power accurate history has on a people's collective self-determination, self-value & self-worth.

february 1 is the first day of african heritage month. comedian paul mooney calls black people, "stolen africans." however you identify yourself, all god's children can share dr. woodson's third eye this month & every day of our lives. how? we can honor our ancestors, cultivate our spirit, express our creativity & treat our brothers & sisters with the love & compassion they so richly deserve. ache alafiani.