i am

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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, March 26, 2014

Kentucky State House Rejects Senate's Restrictions on Voting Rights Bill

the kentucky state house on wednesday rejected the senate's changes to a voting rights bill reducing the number of people eligible for voting rights restoration by half. the original bill, hb 70, would give voters the opportunity to approve a constitutional amendment enacting automatic rights restoration for most individuals with felony convictions.

in previous years, similar bills which passed in the democratic-controlled house always failed in the republican-controlled senate. last month, the senate approved the voting rights bill for the first time, but only after adding several restrictions, including a five-year waiting period and exclusions for individuals with multiple prior offenses.

according to an analysis by the league of women voters in kentucky, the senate's restrictive version of hb 70 would delay or deny the restoration of voting rights for over 55% of the 180,000 people in kentucky currently banned from voting due to felony disenfranchisement policies.

earlier this month, a 50th anniversary reenactment of a civil rights march on frankfurt became a rally for voting rights. thousands gathered near the state capitol to hear speakers urge support for the original hb 70. later that day, house legislators rejected the senate's changes to the bill. if the senate doesn't drop its changes, hb 70 goes to a conference committee to hopefully reach a compromise.   

carl wicklund, executive director of the american probation and parole association, wrote an op-ed in the lexington herald leader a few weeks ago, urging the state legislature to pass hb 70 in its original form, without the senate's restrictive changes. he feels successful parole and probation systems prevent future crime by helping individuals reintegrate into their communities - rather than continuing to punish them after serving time.  

wicklund believes voting rights are an important part of effectively becoming a productive member of society. he says, "civic participation strengthens the ties between...individuals and their fellow citizens.  when people vote, they are making an investment in their community." 

last month, the herald-dispatch published an editorial in support of hb 70, lauding the state for moving forward on voting rights. the piece affirmed current probation and parole systems already provide a reasonable waiting period. still, the authors conclude, even the senate's restrictive version of the bill would "be a step forward for kentucky that we hope voters would approve."  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Obama Has Ordered A Review Of His Administrations' Deportation Policies

early in his first term, president barack obama had a plan, in theory, for comprehensive immigration reform. the administration's strategy was to increase border security and deportations of immigrants who entered the country illegally.

even some republicans conceded obama's approach was helpful in generating broad support for comprehensive reform in the senate. but in the gop-lead house, it didn't matter. they've been unwilling to accept concessions as part of a bipartisan compromise.

on thursday afternoon obama met with hispanic lawmakers in the oval office. the president said deportations of immigrants who enter the country illegally should be more humane. according to a white house statement, he told them he had "deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system."

afterwards, representative luis v. gutierrez (d-ill) said it was "clear that the pleas from the community got through to the president." last night, the white house issued a statement saying obama "has asked secretary of homeland security jeh johnson to do am inventory of the department's current practices to see how it can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law."

the senate approved a bill designed to boost economic growth and lower the deficit. the bill is supported by business leaders, immigrant advocates, labor unions and people of various faiths. but republican leaders won't allow a vote. hopefully, the administration's inventory review will inspire congress to extend compassion to people who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Wisconsin's Racial Impact Statement Bill

wisconsin has the highest rate of black male incarceration in the u.s. state lawmakers are proposing legislation to address this. senator nikiya harris and representative sandy pasch have co-sponsored the minority impact statement bill, which requires a legislative committee to prepare a racial impact statement before codifying a new crime, or modifying the criminal penalty for an existing crime.

under the legislation, if the committee concludes a bill has a disparate impact on racial minorities, the bill's author would be required to make amendments or provide a written explanation for advancing the unchanged bill. if successful, wisconsin would join three other states - connecticut, iowa and oregon - to require minority impact statements on criminal laws.

minnesota's sentencing commission electively conducts this analysis. florida and mississippi lawmakers are considering similar bills. recent reports have shown one in eight working age black men in wisconsin were in state prisons or local jails: almost double the national average. although black men constituted less than five percent of dade county's adult male population, they accounted for over 40% of its prison admissions in 2012.

wisconsin also leads the nation in their incarceration of native american men. 7.6% of working age men (or 1 in 13) were in state prisons and local jails in 2010, compared to 3.1% (or 1 in 32) nationally. by contrast, the state's rate of incarceration of white men is similar to the national average, which is 6.7% (or 1 in 15).

in 2010 the u.s. census bureau conducted its decennial count of wisconsin residents. the ten worst states for incarceration of black men showed wisconsin had the highest rate. the other nine states, in respective order, were oklahoma, iowa, pennsylvania, california, indiana, louisiana, texas, colorado and kansas.      

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Surgery, After Care and other shit...

last Monday i went to mount sinai hospital in harlem for surgery. my appointment was for 10:30 am. they treated me around 2:30 pm. i woke up an hour later, oblivious to the magnitude of my tenuous physical condition. i felt disoriented, fatigued, groggy - and hungry as a muhfuh.

this was my first experience with surgery. as such, i had no blueprint on how to deal (read: not complain) with the unknown. i was instructed to neither eat nor drink after midnight. i complied. also, i was kindly accompanied by a trusted friend, whom helped ease my anxiety, fear and uncertainty. without an escort home i would've had to re-schedule.

about 15 months ago my primary care physician was concerned i might have anal cancer. i was treated by a specialist who did a biopsy, pap smear and tried to remove some of the pre-cancerous cells. he suggested i follow up in six months. i missed that appointment but saw him the first week of january.

he inserted a tube (with a scope) inside my anus to assess the damage, then he applied some alcohol to my anal area while asking me to relax. when he tried to stick me with a needle i screamed like a white girl with a nightmare on elm street. real talk. the pain was unbearable. he seemed (!) frustrated and said i'd have to be put to sleep for the procedure to work...


i have anal condyloma. i don't know anyone on the planet with anal condyloma. do you? a google search mentioned embarrassment and psychosocial stress are common symptoms. the surgeon said laser treatment can be effective but is not a cure. he said there may, or may not be, cancerous cells dormant in my anus. i was instructed to follow up in two weeks and be monitored every six months.

i asked him would i need to change my diet after surgery. he said no. i asked him would the surgery affect my bowel movement. he said no. i asked him will i feel any pain during the surgery. he said no. i was given lidocaine ointment, percosets, stool softeners and a cream to ease my pain. he told me i'd be sore for a week. and i am. ten days later.

he was dead ass wrong how surgery affects my bowel movement.

it took more than 24 hours to take a shit. when i did, i felt like i was in labor. i squeezed and squeezed and squeezed and it seemed like a large brick was coming out of me slow as molasses. i was unable to get it all out, as my body contorted like a gymnast in the olympics for half an hour. the pain was unlike anything i've experienced, which is why it's taking me this long to write about it.

i've been in physical pain everyday. everyday. i've been constipated daily. the ointments and percosets gave me temporary relief - but it still hurt to cough, laugh, move or sit. i feared each bowel movement because i knew i'd have to endure more pain. i felt a burning, stinging, throbbing sensation which lasted for hours and hours and hours.

i didn't understand this pain. i had no language for this pain. i wanted this pain to immediately disappear and never come back and it only got worse each breathing moment. sadly, i had a number of disheartening thoughts which included suicide. i know god will never give me anything more than i can handle but i felt like this pain was more than i can handle.

a couple of days ago i called my primary care physician at home. i was desperate for relief and willing to do whatever it takes to heal. she suggested i stop taking percosets because they constipate my anus, which makes bowel movements painful. she told me to take two 800 mg of ibuprofen daily, warm baths with epsom salt, use witch hazel on my anus and lots of lidocaine ointment afterward.  

she also suggested i eat fruit in the morning, salad for lunch and vegetables for dinner. i was grateful for her input because i was still indulging in fried foods and microwaveable dinners. it took me a week to realize my unhealthy diet impacts my bowel movement and because the area is so delicate i need to eat softer foods which can be digested without disturbance.  

its almost 4:10 wednesday morning. i just took a warm bath with epsom salt. i'm listening to bill withers. i'm grateful for the family members, friends and other folks who've prayed for me. i'm grateful for the phone calls, e-mails and texts graced with loving energy. a loving god has angels everywhere. i'm starting to see a light in the midst of this darkness.

thank you god. thank you god. thank you god.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Chokwe Lumumba Makes His Transition

chokwe lumumba succumbed to heart failure on tuesday and made his transition. the 66 year-old black revolutionary, human rights activist, lawyer and mayor of jackson, mississippi was revered within the black community, and among progressive folk worldwide.

safiya omari, his chief of staff, told usa today, "it is with heavy heart that we inform you that our beloved brother, human rights activist and mayor of the great city passed away this afternoon. we ask that you pray for his children and family, his friends and for this great city of ours."

lumumba was born edwin taliaferro in detroit. he rejected his "slave name," renaming himself for congolese independence leader patrice lumumba, - and chokwe, an angolan tribe. he helped a group of students take over a western michigan university campus building the day after rev. dr. martin luther king, jr. was assassinated. they demanded more black professors and scholarships for black students and black studies.

as a black nationalist, lumumba worked as a leader for the republic of new afrika, proposing an independent black country in the u.s. in 2011, while serving as a city council for jackson's ward 2, he campaigned successfully for mississippi governor haley barbour to pardon the scott sisters, who served 16 years for a robbery they denied committing.

lumumba successfully ran for mayor of jackson, mississippi. he sought to revive a crumbling city dealing with an eroding infrastructure, middle-class flight and poverty. former naacp president ben jealous tweeted, "you were a man's man and a servant of humanity. it was an honor to help you free so many wrongly convicted people." 

jackson council member melvin priester, jr. said, "he was a great mayor because he was always open and transparent. we didn't agree about everything, but you could talk to him, and if you had disagreements you could vent it out. he brought a spirit of openness."