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, April 30, 2014

An Open Letter to fans from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after banning Clippers' owner for life

dear fans,

this afternoon i announced that, following the completion of a thorough investigation into an audio recording obtained by tmz, i banned Donald sterling for life from any association with the clippers or the nba, effective immediately. mr. sterling may not attend any games or practices, be present at any clippers office or facility, or participate in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team.

i also fined mr. sterling $2.5 million, the maximum amount allowed under the nba constitution. these funds will be donated to charitable organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts that will be jointly selected by the nba and its players association.

the views expressed by mr. sterling are deeply offensive and hurtful. i am extremely proud of this great league's diverse, respectful and inclusive culture, and we will not allow one individual's intolerant views to define us. let me be clear: mr. sterling's views have no place in the nba.  

this had been a painful episode for all members of the nba family. i very much appreciate your understanding during this process. i also want to express my thanks and admiration to coach doc rivers, chris paul, and the entire clippers organization for their professionalism throughout this matter, and to chris and mayor kevin Johnson for their leadership and partnership on behalf of the players association.

and now i am eager to turn the spotlight back where it belongs: on the game we all love and on these thrilling playoffs, which have been some of the most exciting basketball I've seen in my 22 years with the league. i hope you enjoy the rest of the playoffs and the finals.


adam silver    

Monday, April 28, 2014

LA Clippers' Owner Donald Sterling: Racism amd Misogyny Unplugged

donald sterling owns the los angeles clippers. sadly, he also owns anti-black, anti-female and anti-latino worldviews. tmz sports and deadspin.com obtained audio of sterling making various oppressive remarks during a heated argument on april 9 with his mistress, v. stiviano, after she posted a photo on instagram posing with magic johnson.

sterling excoriated stiviano repeatedly. he said, "it bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. do you have to? you can sleep with black people, you can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. the little i ask you is not to promote it on that, and not bring them to my games. don't put him (magic) on an instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. and don't bring him to my games."

ironically, stiviano is black and mexican. apparently sterling was completely oblivious to her mixed cultural background. she has since taken the picture down but the audio went viral and everyone - including president obama while in malaysia - is talking about him. moreover, nba players, coaches and fans expect nba commissioner adam silver to discipline the embattled clippers owner swiftly and decisively.

the nba plans to hold a tuesday news conference to discuss their investigation into sterling's polarizing attitude. portions of the recordings were released this weekend by tmz and deadspin. silver's first step in the process was to authenticate sterling's voice on the tape. although the nba has not confirmed it, his wife has attributed the comments to him.  

rochelle sterling, in a statement to kabc-tv in los angeles said, "our family is devastated by the racist comments made by my estranged husband. my children and i do not share these despicable views or prejudices. we will not let one man's small mindedness poison the spirit of the fans and accomplishments of the team in the city we love. we are doing everything in our power to stand by and support our clippers team."   

sacramento mayor kevin johnson, the former nba all-star serving as an advisor to the nba players association, called it "a massive distraction" to the league. a few owners condemned sterling's remarks, including miami's mickey arison, washington's ted leonsis and, most notably, charlotte's michael jordan. said jordan, "i'm obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views. i'm confident that adam silver will make a full investigation and take appropriate action quickly." 

silver replaced the retired nba commissioner david stern (after 30 years of exemplary service) february 1. and, this is his first job crisis. because silver works for the owners, its unclear what he legally can - and, will do. but after meeting with johnson on sunday he learned of five demands from the players' union:

1) sterling won't attend any nba games for the rest of the playoffs due to the "enormous distraction." 2) a full account of past allegations of discrimination by sterling and why the league never sanctioned him; 3) an explanation of the range of penalties the league could bring against sterling; 4) assurances the nba and the union will be partners in the investigation; 5) a decisive ruling.     

sterling has a documented history of racist behavior. before his current stint as owner, he became rich as a realtor. he's been sued twice by the federal government for refusing to rent apartments to blacks and latinos. he was also sued for racial discrimination by elgin baylor, a former clippers executive. however, a jury shut down baylor's case. 

the clippers lead the golden state warriors two games to one in the first round of the western conference playoffs. with about 20 minutes to go before game four, the clippers emerged from the tunnel, huddled together in center court and removed their jackets in unison. their uniforms were tucked inside out and they wore black socks and wristbands in a silent protest. the heat, trailblazers and warriors also wore black socks in a demonstration of brotherhood, outrage and solidarity.

chris paul, the clippers' all-star point guard, shouted to his teammates before they ran out, "it's just us, only us. we're all we got." clippers head coach doc rivers was unhappy yet understood their protest. rivers said, "as much as this is about basketball, this is life. and our guys, they have family. they have friends. and they have cellphones. and i can't imagine how much they've been pulled on and talked to and what you should do and what you shouldn't do and what you should say."

airline virgin america, used car dealership chain carmax and the chumash casino resort said they've ended their sponsorships of the clippers due to sterling's racist views. two other sponsors, kia motors america and red bull, said they'll suspend their advertising and sponsorship activities with the team. another sponsor, state farm, said it "will be taking a pause in our relationship with the organization."

kia motors' suspension of ads and sponsorship does not affect its deal with clippers all-star forward blake griffin, who appears in commercials for the car company. similarly, the born to assist ad campaign featuring chris paul as himself, and a fictional, mustachioed insurance selling twin, cliff paul, will continue to run.   

the naacp on sunday announced via twitter sterling will not be receiving a lifetime achievement award from the los angeles branch of the naacp. sterling had been slated to get the honor may 15 as part of the 100th anniversary celebration of the group's los angeles chapter. sterling was previously given an award by the same chapter.

hall of fame nba player magic johnson, who was referenced (along with los angeles dodgers all-star centerfielder matt kemp) on the audio, said on abc-tv sunday, "he's got to come down hard." los angeles lakers all-star guard kobe bryant on monday wrote on twitter, "he should not continue owning the clippers." kevin johnson said, "this is a defining moment for the league. this is a defining moment for the commissioner."

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Recent Self-Disclosure of UMass Basketball Player Derrick Gordon

last week, university of massachusetts basketball player derrick gordon became the first division one male player to publicly self-identify as gay. his story was reported with great sensitivity by cyd zeigler of outsports magazine. in addition to the locker room teasing, zeigler noted, was a photograph of gordon and his boyfriend outside a gay bar in new jersey posted on instagram.

sadly, gordon admitted he considered leaving the sport he loves so passionately. uncomfortable in his own skin, he told his teammates he was straight, hoping their "snickers and snide remarks," would cease. but they didn't. some wouldn't shower with him. the sophomore guard, who averaged 9.4 points last season, avoided parties, stayed up nights crying and isolated - fearful of his sexuality being exposed.

gordon said, "most of the time when you see me on campus, i'm alone. i eat alone a lot. since the school year started in september i haven't been to one party. i'm always working out or lifting in my room. i do the same thing over and over every day. i feel like i can't be who i am or live my life. nobody should ever feel that way."

earlier this month, at his request, umass head coach derek kellogg called a team meeting. kellogg, in the spirit of support, told his team gordon was gay. however, gordon was not alone. he'd met some openly gay athletes and visited philadelphia, where he saw their comfort and happiness. in fact, two of the men were with him in the locker room as he shared his gay identity with his teammates.

as gordon poignantly shared his story of alienation, loneliness and shame, many of the men wept openly. later, one of the gay men said, "it was powerful for these players to see one of their brothers be so vulnerable. these are some inner-city kids, some rough, tough kids who derrick wants to be friends with. they understand who he is a little bit better now."

gordon now benefits from support outside the team. nba veteran and brooklyn nets forward jason collins - whom gordon credited with encouraging him when he came out a year ago - tweeted his praise for gordon. collins wrote, "i'm so proud @flash2gordon. another brave young man who is going to make it easier  for so many others to live an authentic life. #courage.       

the school, in a statement, is supportive. athletic director john mccutcheon said, "umass is proud to have derrick gordon as a member of our athletic family and to honor his courage and openness as a gay student-athlete. umass is committed to creating a welcoming climate where every student-athlete, coach and staff member can be true to themselves as they pursue their athletic, academic and professional goals."

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

UCONN Men's and Women's Teams Win 2014 National Championship

the university of connecticut men's basketball team on monday defeated the university of kentucky 60-54 to win the national championship. the game was played in front of over 75,000 fans at the at&t stadium in arlington, texas. the huskies are now one of only six schools in ncaa history with four titles - all coming in the last 15 years.

uconn's all-american point guard shabazz napier was named most outstanding player. napier had 22 points, six rebounds and three assists. his teammate, sophomore guard ryan boatright was a defensive standout and scored 14 points. afterwards, napier said, "honestly, i want to get everybody's attention real quick. you're looking at the hungry huskies. ladies and gentleman, this is what happens when you banned us."

a short year ago uconn (32-8) was banned for poor grades. their longtime coach jim calhoun left 18 months ago due to health issues. after 20 years in the big east, the school moved to the american athletic conference. 40 year-old kevin ollie, nba journeyman, former huskies player and calhoun's former assistant coach, led his team to an improbable run in only his second year as head coach.  

the university of connecticut women's basketball team on tuesday dominated notre dame 79-58 to win their record ninth championship. uconn (40-0) coach geno auriemma broke a tie with pat summit of tennessee for most all-time. played in nashville, tennessee, the historic contest pitted two undefeated teams in a title game for the first time in women's college basketball history.

ap player of the year, huskies' sophomore breanna stewart was named most outstanding player. she had 21 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks. stewart also won the award last year. their all-american center, stephanie dolson finished with 17 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and four blocks. the 6'5 senior was pulled from the game with a minute left and gave her coach a big hug.

auriemma has never lost in a title game. his nine championships in just 20 years at the helm is unparalleled and unprecedented. his teams have featured star players like rebecca lobo, swin cash, diana taurasi, tina charles and maya moore. but its their hard word, integrity and passion which speaks to his value as one of the most successful coaches in the history of basketball - high school, college or nba.   

Monday, April 07, 2014

Obama to sign executive orders closing wage gaps impacting race and gender

not long after he became the first bi-racial president of the united states, barack obama faced widespread criticism regarding his commitment to the plethora of issues facing black communities. on tuesday, president barack obama will sign two executive orders specifically designed to close wage gaps impacting an individual's race and gender.

one requires contractors doing business with the federal government to include race and gender information when reporting all compensation data. the other prohibits contractors with federal contracts from retaliating against employees who share compensation information. this is important, because in some instances, employees were unaware they were paid less than their peers, which is discriminatory. 

in one of the highest-profile cases involving such discrimination, lilly ledbetter sued the goodyear tire and rubber company for paying her substantially less than male managers in the same role over her career with the company. she worked there over two decades.

in 2007, the supreme court ruled ledbetter missed the window for suing in the case because she hadn't filed her suit within 180 days of receiving her first paycheck. however, she didn't learn her male colleagues earned substantially more than she did until many years after the fact - which made it impossible for her to have adhered to such requirements.

the supreme court ruling against ledbetter would eventually lead to the passage of the lilly ledbetter fair pay act of 2009, the first bill obama signed into law after taking office. an amendment to the civil rights act, the statute resets the clock regarding fair-pay lawsuits. as a result, future plaintiffs aren't limited to the 180-day window.

many employers discourage and often prohibit employees from discussing their salaries and wages with one another. ledbetter worked for a private company: their personnel will not be directly affected by the executive orders. still, this action is a much needed step in amending historical wrongs among hard-working, law-abiding, tax-paying folks.