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, July 29, 2013

Fast Food Workers Strike For Higher Wages Around The Country

thousands of workers in seven american cities went on strike, demanding wages for $15/hour and the right to unionize. building on the momentum of an initial strike last november in new york city, organizers say dozens of restaurants in chicago, detroit, flint, kansas city, milwaukee, new york city and st. louis will be affected by waves of worker walkouts over the course of the week.

"these workers need a raise and they need representation in the workplace," said martin rafnan, community director for stl735. the acronym stands for "st. louis can't survive on $7.35," referring to missouri's minimum wage. rafnan said the group, which plans to strike today and tomorrow, hopes to build on a strike last may, when about 100 workers walked off the job.

rafnan said, "in this particular set of actions this week, we're expecting to strike 50 stores and between 100 and 200 workers." he added the response to the strike in may was greater than anticipated - the group only expected 40 or 50 workers to walk out. rafnan said, "it ended up being a much bigger thing."

today's action could see 500-plus workers at dozens of new york city fast food restaurants abandoning their posts for picket lines, said jonathan westin, director of fast food forward and executive director of new york communities for change. at a mcdonald's across the street from yankee stadium, several dozen people chanted, "we can't survive on $7.25."

in april, 400 fast food employees walked off the job in new york. at twice the size of the group's inaugural walkout last november, local organizers called that event the biggest fast food strike in the country - until now. these actions are designed to call attention to "the contradictions between the folks at the top...and the workers themselves living in poverty," westin said.

spokespeople from mcdonald's and yum brands (parent company of kfc, pizza hit and taco bell) referred questions to their trade group, the national restaurant association. bob bertini, a company spokesperson, said, "burger king restaurants offer compensation and benefits that are consistent with the qsr industry." he also said, "wendy's is still assessing the situation...we have no additional comment."    

this week's actions were fueled by a publicly criticized budget guide for mcdonald's workers recommending they get a second job and save $20/month for health insurance. also, a report by the national employment law project shows the vast majority of fast food positions are dead-end jobs. the group's earlier research found nearly 60% of post-recession job creation was for work paying $13.83/hr. or less. 

an open letter was signed by more than 100 economists and published this month by the university of massachusetts, amherst's political economy research institute. the letter is titled, "economists in support of a $10.50 u.s. minimum wage." the economists strongly believe raising wages would add just five cents to the price of a big mac.

the general perception of a fast food worker is a teenager with extra spending money. but the average age of today's fast food worker is 32, the letter said, which has much grimmer implications. "if a worker today is employed full time for a full 52-week year at a minimum wage job today, she or he is making $15,080. this is 19% below the official poverty line for a family of three," the letter also said.





Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Stevie Wonder Boycotts Florida After Zimmerman Verdict

grammy-award winning singer, humanitarian and worldwide superstar stevie wonder has vowed to never perform in the state of florida until a controversial self-defense law is abolished. the international icon went public following the acquittal of george zimmerman, who shot and killed trayvon martin, an unarmed black teenager, february 26, 2012.

zimmerman is a volunteer neighborhood night watchman. on saturday he was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter charges by an all-female (five white, one latina) jury in sanford, florida. he claims he shot martin in self-defense. his defense lawyer mark o'mara said race was not a factor in the confrontation and if zimmerman were black he never would have been arrested. zimmerman is latino and white.

although the state's "stand your ground" law was not used in this trial, the polarizing law has come under civil, legal and media scrutiny. the law establishes law-abiding residents and visitors may legally presume the threat of bodily harm or death from anyone who breaks into a residence or occupied vehicle and may use defensive force, including deadly force, against the intruder.

additionally, the law states, in any other place where a person "has a right to be," that person has "no duty to retreat," if attacked and may "meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

wonder announced he'll boycott florida and the 22 other u.s. states carrying similar laws, until those laws are overturned. speaking to fans at a show in quebec city on sunday, the legendary singer said, "i decided today that until the stand your ground law is abolished in florida, i will never perform there again. as a matter of fact, wherever i find that law exists, i will not perform in that state or in that part of the world."    

wonder continued, "the truth is that for those of you who've lost loved ones in the battle for justice, we can't bring them back. what we can do is we can let our voices be heard. and we can vote in our various countries throughout the world for change and equality for everybody. that's what i know we can do."

zimmerman's acquittal sparked mass protests across the u.s. some artists publicly spoke out against the verdict. they include beyonce, her sister solange knowles, chris brown, miley cyrus, rihanna and russell simmons. veteran soul singer lester chambers was hospitalized on saturday after he was attacked by a woman at the hayward russell city blues festival in california for dedicating a song to martin.


Monday, July 15, 2013

George Zimmerman Found Not Guilty

yesterday in florida an all-female jury (five white, one latina) found george zimmerman not guilty on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter for fatally shooting trayvon martin, an unarmed black teenager, february 26, 2012. 

zimmerman is a 28 year-old volunteer neighborhood watchman in the gated community of sanford. martin was walking back to his father's house on a dark and rainy night after buying a bag of skittles and a can of ice tea. 

i wanted to write about this yesterday. i really did. but i couldn't. i was unable to find the courage to articulate my emotional turmoil and spiritual warfare. until i saw a tweet by the activist, humanitarian and singer john legend. his tweet said, "my heart hurts."

i felt such profound sadness yesterday. spirit knew i needed to talk to somebody about how i was feeling. but i lacked the humility to pickup the phone and call someone. anyone. my heart was hurting so bad. i feel compassion and empathy for the martin family and their allies worldwide.

i've never had faith in the criminal justice system. i distrust the stand your ground law. i'm resentful towards the secretive right-wing american legislative exchange council and the koch brothers, who fund their oppressive efforts. i'm disgusted with the prosecution for their horrible incompetence. they were a non-mother fucking factor! 

and my heart hurts.

i'm disappointed with the judge and the special prosecutor for not educating the jury on the etymology of the term, cracker. while on the witness stand, rachel jentael, martin's friend - the last person to speak with martin - said martin called zimmerman a "creepy cracker." in the south, the term cracker is neither derogatory nor racist.

i detest zimmerman's trial lawyer, mark o'meara, for suggesting, after his client was acquitted, if zimmerman were black there would be no trial. i wanted to punch him the face for his insensitive remarks. racial profiling was not discussed in the trial, yet martin was racially profiled and stalked by zimmerman: even after law enforcement instructed him to get back in his car.

yes, there have been peaceful marches throughout the country in both large and small cities. a plea for calm has been issued by president obama, martin's parents, florida law enforcement agencies, governors, senators, community-based organizations, non-profit institutions, athletes, celebrities, social media people and progressive folk everywhere. 

and my heart hurts.

trayvon martin was found dead. george zimmerman was found not guilty. fuck the evidence! fuck the law! and we're supposed to do what? pray? turn the other cheek? give it to god? hope this doesn't happen again? is this what a post-racial america looks like? no, this is the real america. this is america's his-tory and enslavement and con-stitution and declaration of independence and jim crow. apartheid has reared its ugly head. again.  

dred scott. emmitt till. fred hampton. rodney king. michael griffith. yusef hawkins. amadou diallo. patrick dorismond. oscar grant. sean bell. ramarley graham.

today, in new york city, there are hundreds of cops on the street everywhere - but young, black men don't feel safe. after trayvon, who's next? is there justice for young, black men in america? or, in the words of richard pryor, is it, just us? 

and my heart hurts... 

Monday, July 08, 2013

Marion Bartoli and Andy Murray Win 2013 Wimbledon Singles Titles

marion bartoli of france defeated sabine lisicki of germany 6-1, 6-4 on saturday to win the 2013 wimbledon singles championship. the 15th-seeded bartoli achieved her first major singles crown at the all-England club. she did not lose a set during the two-week tournament.

bartoli was a runner-up to venus williams six years ago. in a tender display of compassion after the match, she said to her tearful opponent, "i was there in 2007 and i missed it. i know how it feels, sabine, and i'm sure you will be there one more time. i have no doubt about it."

lisicki upset world #1 serena williams in the fourth round. she also beat two other major champions, fransesca schiavone and samantha stosur, earlier in the tournament. said lisicki, "i was just overwhelmed by the whole situation but credit to marion she's been in this situation and she handled it well."   

bartoli served out the final game at love with an ace on match point and dropped to her knees to actualize a childhood dream. she climbed up the wall into the players box to celebrate with 2006 wimbledon champion amelie maursemo - the last frenchwoman to win a major singles crown - and her friends and family. bartoli received $2.4 million for the victory.

andy murray of england defeated world #1 novak djokovic of serbia 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 on sunday to win his first wimbledon singles crown. muray's victory ended an almost 80-year drought by male british players: fred perry was the last to win at the all-england club in 1936.   

the world #2 was asked how the burden of a nation was finally lifted. murray said, "i think i persevered. that's really been it, the story of my career probably. i don't know how i managed to came through that last game. it was unbelievable."

sevens were wild on a warm sunday afternoon in england. murray became the first player from england in 77 years to win at wimbledon. virginia wade won the wimbledon women's singles championship in 1977. the date for yesterday was 7-7. 

murray and djokovic are now the game's top rivalry. federer has slipped to #5. nadal has unreliable knees. both were upset early in the tournament. murray beat djokovic in the us open men's final in 2012. it was his first major victory after enduring four losses. in fact, the two players have faced each other in three of the last four major finals. 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Patents Keep New HIV Meds Too Expensive

doctors without borders, a leading medical aid group, said on Tuesday rising intellectual property rights are blocking the generic production of newer drugs to treat HIV and are keeping them out of reach for developing countries.

at an international aids meeting in kuala lumpur, Malaysia, the group said prices of older drugs long used to treat patients have fallen sharply as india and other countries make generics. but newer, more effective drugs against the aids virus are too expensive, costing up to 15 times more.

"it's good news that the price of key hiv drugs continues to fall as more generic companies compete for the market, but the newer medicines are still priced far too high," said Jennifer cohn, medical director for doctor without borders' access campaign. she said, "we need the newer treatments for people that have exhausted all other options, but patents keep them priced beyond reach."

according to doctor without borders, the governments of Thailand and Jamaica pay $4,760 and $6,570, respectively, a year per patent for the new drug, darunavir alone. Paraguay pays $7,782 for etravirine, while Armenia pays $13,213 for raltegravir. by comparison, a cocktail of older generic drugs costs as little as $139 per person a year.

the group also said the world health organization's new guidelines, which recommend earlier treatment for adults, means an additional nine million people in developing countries will now be eligible for treatment. currently, only about 60% of those who need the drugs are getting them.

arax bozadijan, an hiv pharmacist for doctors without borders, said, "scaling up hiv treatment and sustaining people on treatment for life will depend on bringing the price of newer drugs down." the trans-pacific pact countries account for nearly 40% of global gdp and about a third of world trade; any agreement could significantly impact prices. the obama administration says it hopes to wrap up talks by the end of the year.