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, March 19, 2012

Where Is The Justice For Trayvon Martin?

three weeks ago, trayvon martin, an unarmed black teenager, was shot & killed by george zimmerman in sanford, florida. zimmerman, a 28 year-old white, self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, has claimed he acted in self-defense. despite his admittance to the shooting, he has not been arrested or charged with any crime.

just minutes before martin was tragically gunned down, zimmerman called police stating martin "looked suspicious." martin had left a convenience store with a bag of skittles & a can of arizona ice tea. he was walking towards his father's home when zimmerman accosted him.

at the crime scene, sanford police botched their questioning of zimmerman, refused to take the full statement of witnesses & pressured neighbors to side with the shooter. sadly, the state attorney's office has rubber-stamped the police's non-investigation; asserting lack of evidence to support even a manslaughter conviction.

zimmerman got out of his parked car, with a gun in tow, to pursue martin. yet despite being instructed by police not to do so, he continued to follow martin, who was wearing a hoodie on a dark, rainy night. zimmerman proceeded to confront & fatally shoot martin in the chest within minutes.

the case has been compromised from the start. when sanford police arrived on the scene, zimmerman was first approached by a narcotics detective - not a homicide investigator - who apparently peppered him with questions rather than allow him to tell his story without prompting. another officer corrected a witness giving a statement she'd heard martin cry for help before he was shot, telling her she had heard zimmerman instead.

far beyond the questions of professional integrity or the police's disregard for the facts in this case, florida's notorious "shoot first" law takes a shooter's self-defense claim at face value. as such, law enforcement is incentivized to not make arrests in shooting deaths that would lead to murder charges in other states.

moreover, sanford has a history of not prosecuting when the victim is black. in 2010, the white son of a sanford police lieutenant was let go by police after assaulting a homeless black man outside a downtown bar. in 2005, a black teenager was killed by two white security guards, one of them the son of a sanford police officer. the pair were arrested & charged, but a judge later cited lack of evidence & dismissed both cases.

the family of trayvon martin, along with hundreds of thousands of people across the country demand justice. they want the u.s. department of justice to take over the case, arrest martin's killer & launch an independent investigation into the sanford police department's unwillingness to affirm martin's civil rights.

you can sign a petition at: http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/trayvon.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Date With Dental Surgery

a couple of days ago i had dental surgery. this was a new experience for me, as i've never undergone a surgical procedure. i was scheduled for implants on both sides of the bottom part of my teeth. also, i was sedated, again, for the first time. as such, i was required to have an escort take me to & from the hospital. another first for me.

the surgery took place at jacobi hospital in the bronx, which is where i go for primary care. a trusted friend generously accompanied me to my 1:00 pm tuesday appointment. oddly enough, i was unafraid. i felt anxious & nervous, but not scared. in fact, i was ready for the unknown.

my spiritual practice includes daily prayer & regular meditation. a loving god has kindly placed people in my path who humbly shared their experiences with me. i felt neither alone nor unique. i'm proud of myself for the willingness to simply show up & try to be present.

as i was being strapped into the dental chair like a mummy, my body began to tighten up. yes, i was uncomfortable. the iv stung a little but the nurses were pleased with the ease the fluids entered my veins. i felt the numbness take over me. although i enjoyed the sensation i didn't like being powerless over the drugs going through me. after they gave me some gas i was out pretty quickly.

i honestly don't remember the dentist inserting the implants in my mouth. initially i was told the procedure would be about an hour but was later informed it would take "not that long." when i awakened i felt drowsy, sluggish & unpleasant. my mouth was sore & swollen. i could barely finish a sentence & hardly recognized where i was.

eventually, i was given a cold pack, information sheet & prescriptions for pain medication. i took a nap on the crowded & noisy train. when i got home all i wanted to do was sleep. but i stopped at the health food store to get some ice cream, organic yogurt - i dislike yogurt - & soup, because soft foods are recommended for the first couple of days.

its almost 1:00 am thursday & despite my outright defiance, i've tried to follow the suggestions of my dental team. they called me yesterday to make sure i was ok & remind me to come in next week for a follow up. i am so hungry right now. i want to eat something solid but my intention is to do the right thing for the right reason.

...who knew pain could lead to spiritual maturity?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Louis Reyes Rivera: Rest In Peace Beloved

louis reyes rivera made transition last friday in brooklyn hospital following a brief illness. rivera fully embodied the best of our african selves: activist. artist. critical thinker. editor. essayist. historian. poet. radio host. teacher. union organizer. he was 66 years old.

born & raised in brooklyn on may 19, 1945, rivera was a proud graduate of boys high. he began studying the craft of writing in 1960 & founded the continuing student publication, the paper, at city college of new york. after graduation in 1969, rivera started teaching & his influence as a teacher spanned many generations.

rivera distinguished himself as a professor of african-american culture & history, caribbean history, creative writing, nuyorican literature, pan-african literature, & puerto rican history at such institutions as boricua college, college of new rochelle, hunter college, laguardia college, pratt institute & state university of new york-stony brook, among others.

from 1996-2011, rivera hosted a reading series in brooklyn, first & third sundays jazzoetry & open mic @ sistas' place, where he also conducted various workshops. for many years rivera hosted the engaging radio talk & interview show, "perspectives," on wbai 99.5 fm in new york (streamed at wbai.org/archives).

a cultural icon & political activist, rivera was prominent in the successful struggle for "open enrollment" at city college in 1969. since then he's participated in many progressive movements & activities, including supporting the establishment of the freedom party, which ran candidates in the 2010 new york state election. rivera co-hosted two writers for mumia programs dedicated to freeing long term political prisoner mumia abu-jamal, one in 2007 & the other in 2010.

rivera served as chair of the new york chapter of the national writers union (nwu) since 2004. he was revered by all nwu members who saw him in action in new york & at delegate assemblies. rivera provided leadership on union issues & performed his insightful poetry.

calling himself the janitor of history, rivera is viewed as a living bridge between the african & latino communities. also known as the "dean of nuyorican poetica," he is an internationally recognized literary figure, with translation of his work appearing in italian, latvian, russian & spanish.

rivera published four books, who pays the cost (1978), this one for you (1983), in control of english (1988 & 1992) & scattered scripture (1996), for which he received the 1997 poetry award from the latin american writers institute. he had just completed his epic poem, jazz in jail, & was in the process of preparing it for publication.

rivera was honored with dozens of awards. some include the ccny 125th anniversary medal (1973), a special congressional recognition (1988), a lifetime achievement award (1995) & a new york foundation for the arts fellowship (2003) - each award serves to celebrate his impact & scholarship on contemporary literature.

since 1966, rivera performed at various clubs & jazz festivals. he worked with such bands as ahmed abdullah's diaspora, ebonic tones, the james spaulding ensemble, the sun ra all-stars project & his own band, the jazzoets. last spring rivera was inducted into the brooklyn jazz hall of fame. at his last public appearance on february 11, rivera was the featured poet at the american jazz museum's black history salute to jazz poetry in kansas city, missouri.

over the last 40 years, rivera assisted in the publication of well over 200 books. among them are adal maldonado's portraits of the puerto rican experience (1984), john oliver killens' great black russian (1989), bum rush the page: a def poetry jam (2001), co-edited with tony medina, & the bandana republic (2008).

rivera's essays & poems appeared in numerous publications, including african voices, areyto, boletin (center for puerto rican studies at hunter) & the city sun. several award-winning book collections, including, aloud: live from the nuyorican poets cafe, in defense of mumia, & of sons & lovers, utilized his brilliant work.

rivera once performed on the peabody award-winning hbo show, "def poetry jam." he also completed the translation of clemente solo velez's caballo de palo/broomstick stallion & worked on the collected poems of otto rene castillo of guatemala, por el bien de todos/for the good of all.

he was loved, respected & valued by the african diaspora.