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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

WNBA All-Star Britney Griner Pleads Guilty to Disorderly Conduct

wnba all-star britney griner accepted a plea deal following her arrest on april 22 for disorderly conduct and suspicion of assault. griner, who plays center for the phoenix mercury, will enter a diversion program, said her attorney david michael cantor on tuesday.

griner, 24, plead guilty to disorderly conduct. she will attend 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling - and upon completion all charges will be dropped. griner voluntarily began counseling the day after her arrest, and is cooperating with the league's investigation into the matter.

a verbal argument between griner and her fiancee, glory johnson, turned physical. the incident led to minor injuries in their goodyear, arizona home. both were seen "throwing things at each other, and several people inside the home tried to break up the fight," before authorities were called, the police report noted.

griner and johnson were both arrested on assault and disorderly conduct allegations. yet, neither of the women desired prosecution. the popular basketball couple were subsequently booked into the maricopa county jail in downtown phoenix, and later released.

"it is never ok for an argument to turn physical. this will never happen again, and i take my relationship and my responsibility as a role model seriously. i am committed to making positive changes and i plan to use what i have learned to set a good example and help make a difference in the world around me," griner said. 

last year, in addition to leading her squad to a title and being named the starting center on the western all-star team (despite nagging injuries), griner was named the wnba defensive player of the year. johnson, 24, was a forward with the much improved tulsa shock in 2014. the pair announced their engagement last summer.     


Friday, April 24, 2015

Loretta Lynch confirmed as first black female U.S. Attorney General

the u.s. senate on thursday voted to approve loretta lynch as the next u.s. attorney general. lynch becomes the nation's first black female top law enforcement official. the historic confirmation took five months - longer than the last seven attorney generals combined.

lynch, 55, was approved by a 56-43 vote. ten republicans cast their ballots for lynch, including senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. she expects to begin serving as head of the u.s. justice department on monday, replacing eric holder, the first black attorney general.

many republicans who voted against lynch vehemently disliked her support of president obama's executive order issued in november. the controversial order was meant to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation. 

republican senator jeff sessions, an outspoken critic of the order, said, "we do not have to confirm someone to the highest law enforcement position in america if that someone is publicly committed to denigrating congress, violating law."    

senate democratic leader harry reid chided republicans for delaying the vote. reid said lynch was "as qualified a candidate" as he'd seen in almost 30 years in the senate. lynch has awaited confirmation since last november when obama, a fellow harvard law school graduate, nominated her.

lynch will likely handle some civil rights cases involving recent fatal incidents between white male police officers and unarmed black males in several cities. the justice department said it will assess possible civil rights charges against cops in maryland. freddie gray, 25, died on sunday in baltimore after sustaining a spinal cord injury while in police custody. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

John Legend announces campaign to end mass incarceration in america

grammy-winning singer john legend wants to end mass incarceration. legend announced on monday the multi-year initiative, free america. he'll visit and perform at a correctional facility on thursday in austin, texas; where he'll also take part in a press conference with state legislators to discuss texas' criminal justice system.

legend said, "we have a serious problem with incarceration in this country. it's destroying families, it's destroying communities and we're the most incarcerated country in the world, and when you look deeper and look at the reasons we go to this place, we as a society made some choices politically and legislatively, culturally to deal with poverty, deal with mental illness in a certain way, and that way usually involves using incarceration."

legend, 36, will also visit a california state prison and co-host a criminal justice event with politico in washington, d.c. later this month. the campaign will include participation from other artists - to be announced - and various organizations committed to ending mass incarceration.

legend's speech at the oscars this year resonated with people who share his views. he won best original song for "glory" from the film selma, with actor/rapper common. "i'm just trying to create some more awareness on this issue and trying to make some real change legislatively. and we're not the only ones. there are senators that are looking at this, like rand paul and cory booker, there are other nonprofits that are looking at this, and i just wanted to add my voice to that," legend said.

the singer/songwriter feels an early victory for his campaign was the approval of proposition 47 in california in november. the progressive initiative calls for treating shoplifting, forgery, fraud, petty theft and possession of small amounts of drugs - including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine - as misdemeanors, instead of felonies.      

"once you have that tag of a felony on your name, it's hard for you to do anything. getting those reduced to mmisdemeanors really impacted a lot of lives and we hope to launch more initiatives like that around the country," legend said.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Aaron Hernandez: Professional Timeline and Personal Tragedy

june 8, 2010 - aaron hernandez, a superb tight end from the university of florida, is drafted and signed to a four-year contract with the new england patriots.

july 16, 2012 - two men, daniel de abreu and safiro furtado, are shot to death in their car as they wait at a red light in boston's south end neighborhood.

august 27, 2012 - hernandez signs a five-year, $40 million contract with the patriots.

february, 2013 - alexander bradley, an associate of hernandez, is shot in the face in florida. bradley files a lawsuit alleging hernandez shot him after they argued at a strip club.

june 17, 2013 - the body of odin lloyd, a semi-professional football player, is found about a mile from hernandez's mansion in north attleborough, massachusetts. lloyd was dating the sister of hernandez's fiancee.

june 26, 2013 - hernandez is arrested on a murder charge in lloyd's death, and taken from his home in handcuffs. the patriots release him hours after his arrest. he later pleads not guilty.

may 15, 2014 - hernandez is indicted on two counts of first-degree murder - and other charges - in connection with the shootings of de abreu and furtado. his lawyers say he is innocent. 

may 28, 2014 - hernandez pleads not guilty to seven charges in connection with the deaths of de abreu and furtado. a prosecutor says hernandez was angry because de abreu accidentally bumped into him at a nightclub while dancing, spilling his drink.

january 9, 2015 - hernandez goes on trial for murder in lloyd's killing.

april 7, 2015 - prosecutors and hernandez's lawyers present their closing statements and the high profile case goes to the jury.

april 15, 2015 - hernandez is convicted of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole.



2015 NBA Official League Player Leaders

Points Per Game
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder       28.1
James Harden, Houston Rockets                      27.4
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers                   25.3
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans               24.4
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings              24.1

Rebounds Per Game
Deandre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers              15.0
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons                     13.5
DeMarcus Cousins, SAC                                 12.7
Pau Gasol, Chicago Bulls                               11.8
Tyson Chandler, Dallas Mavericks                    11.5

Assists Per Game
Chris Paul, LAC                                                10.2
John Wall, Washington Wizards                        10.0
Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets                               9.6
Russell Westbrook, OKC                                  8.6
Rajan Rondo, DAL                                           7.9

Steals Per Game
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs                    2.3
Russell Westbrook, OKC                                 2.1
Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies                          2.1
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors               2.0
Chris Paul, LAC                                              1.9

Field Goal %
Deandre Jordan, LAC                                         71.0%
Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors                    57.2% 
Marcin Gortat, WAS                                           56.6%
Timofey Mozgov, CLE                                         55.5%
Tyler Zeller, Boston Celtics                                 54.9%

Free Throw %
Stephen Curry, GSW                                            91.4%
Jodie Meeks, DET                                               90.6%
JJ Redick, LAC                                                   90.1%
Jamal Crawford, LAC                                           90.1%
Chris Paul, LAC                                                  90.0% 

Three Point %
Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks                                 49.2%
Eric Gordon, NOP                                              44.8%
Stephen Curry, GSW                                          44.2%
JJ Redick, LAC                                                 43.7%
Klay Thompson, GSW                                       43.5%

Blocks Per Game
Anthony Davis, NOP                                            2.9
Serge Ibaka, OKC                                               2.4
Rudy Gobert, UTA                                               2.3
Deandre Jordan, LAC                                           2.2
John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks                           2.0

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Stop and Frisk Practice in Chicago has Higher Rates than New York City

the american civil liberties union (aclu) of illinois completed a study in march of this year. the aclu found the chicago police department (cpd) is unlawfully stopping a "shocking number of people," and they single out (racially profile) black and brown people.  

the aclu's compelling report showed "chicagoans were stopped more than four times as often as new yorkers at the height of new york city's stop and frisk practice." last summer, the cpd made over 250,000 stops - none led to arrests. black people constitute about 33% of the city's population, yet they accounted for nearly 75% of all stops. 

the cpd has increased pedestrian stops under the eye of police superintendent garry mccarthy. he spent much of his career in the new york police department and was the former police chief in newark, new jersey. both cities received court challenges. the cpd does not collect systematic data on all frisks or stops resulting in an arrest or ordinance violation.

the aclu made some recommendations, in order to cultivate trust in the black and brown community. they suggest the cpd: 1) collect data on all stops and frisks, and make them public; 2) provide regular training on legal requirements for stops and frisks; 3) require officers to issue a detailed receipt for every pedestrian stop.  

Friday, April 10, 2015

Two Congressmen Introduce Bill To Restore Voting Rights After Prison

u.s. senator ben cardin (d-md) and u.s. representative john conyers (d-mi) recently introduced the democracy restoration act. the bill intends to give every citizen the right to vote in federal elections, unless they are incarcerated for a felony at the time the election takes place.

according to information in the socially progressive bill, the variation in state disenfranchisement laws "leads to an unfair disparity and unequal participation in federal elections based solely on where a person lives." 

the bill also states about one in every 40 adults in the u.s. presently cannot vote as a result of their felony convictions. of the 5.8 million people are barred from voting due to a felony conviction. only 25% are in prison. 

marc mauer, executive director of the sentencing project says," you've done your time in prison, now you're living in the community. you're expected to abide by the rules of society, pay your taxes, get a job...it's counter-productive to the community-at-large for us to be essentially treating people like second-class citizens."

the bill also notes state disenfranchisement policies disproportionately impact people of african descent. currently, one in 13 blacks in the u.s. are barred from voting - a rate four times greater than non-black people.

senator barbara mikulski (d-md) said, "from suffragettes through civil rights, expanding access to the ballot box in america has always been a move in the right direction. disenfranchising former offenders does a disservice to the very idea of democracy. if an american citizen has paid their debt to society after committing a crime, our focus must be on the rehabilitation and full reintegration into society - voting rights and all."

conversely, last month, u.s. senator rand paul (r-ky) and u.s. senate minority leader harry reid (d-nv) introduced the bipartisan civil rights voting restoration act. this bill would restore voting rights only for people convicted of non-federal crimes.


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

2015 NBA Hall-of-Fame Class

the 2015 naismith memorial basketball hall-of-fame inductees are:

dick bavetta. john calipari. louie dampier. lindsay gaze. 
spencer haywood. tom heinsohn. john isaac. lisa leslie. 
dikembe mutombo. george raveling. jo jo white.

the induction ceremony is september 11 in springfield, massachusetts. 

UConn Women Wins 2015 NCAA Championship

uconn (38-1) beat notre dame 63-53 on tuesday to win the 2015 ncaa championship. the hard-fought victory was their third consecutive title, and tenth overall for the teams' storied franchise. they've never lost a title game, and dominated notre dame (36-3) by 20 points in last year's finals.

huskies coach geno auriemma tied ucla legend john wooden with 10 ncaa titles. "obviously it's a very significant number because that's the number that's been out there and people want to talk about it. i'll be the first to say i'm not john wooden and i got a bunch of friends who'd tell you i'm right, i'm not. as i said the other day i just think what we've done here in the last 20 years is pretty remarkable in it's own right," auriemma said.

uconn forward breanna stewart was named most outstanding player for the third straight year. the two-time ap player of the year became the first women to achieve that distinction. she finished with 15 rebounds, eight points and four blocks. "we had to work hard for this one. this is one of the hardest things we've had to do since i've been here," stewart said. her goal is to win four championships.

kaleena mosqueda-lewis and moriah jefferson led the huskies with 15 points each. both players earned all-american honors this year. the senior mosqueda-lewis set an all-time ncaa record with 392 three-point field goals in uconn's final four victory against maryland on saturday.

notre dame all-american jewell lloyd shot poorly and scored just 12 points. coach muffet mcgraw led the irish to the championship game two straight years, and four of the last five seasons: but they lost each one. notre dame won it's lone title in 2001. mcgraw said, "it was a great accomplishment to get here. it was disappointing we weren't able to play our game."    

the connecticut-notre dame matchup was just the second time in the history of the tournament the same teams played in two consecutive finals. uconn beat tennessee in 2003 and 2004. it was also the 55th meeting between the top two teams in the ap poll - the #1 team holds a 34-21 edge. notre dame beat uconn by 18 points earlier this season, but not last night, when it mattered most. 


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Duke Wins 2015 NCAA Championship

duke beat wisconsin 68-63 on monday to win the 2015 ncaa championship. in a highly-competitive, thrilling game played in indianapolis between two number one seeds, the blue devils fought back from a nine-point deficit in the second half to earn longtime coach mike krzyzewski his fifth title.

freshman guard tyus jones was named most outstanding player. jones scored 19 of his game-high 23 points in the second half. duke set a tournament record for most points by freshmen in the final game with 60. grayson allen ignited the bench with 16 points, justise winslow had 11 points and jahlil okafor scored 10 points, despite early foul trouble.

coach krzyzewski's five titles puts him alone in second place to legendary, hall-of-fame, ucla coach john wooden, who has 10 ncaa championship wins. in 1991, 'coach k' spurred duke to back-to-back victories. krzyzewski said, "they showed such grit tonight. our bench was spectacular, and like we said two months ago, eight is enough. eight is enough." 

okafor is expected to be the number one pick in the nba draft if he goes pro. his skills and talents are refreshing for a post-up college guy in a point guard pro league. but the center from chicago was outplayed by naismith college player of the year frank kaminsky. okafor said, "it was fun to watch my teammates do what they do. they have my back the entire season, it was no different tonight."   

wisconsin (36-4) upset kentucky (38-1) in the final four, a team which beat them by one point in the 2014 title game. kaminsky had 21 points and 12 rebounds, but duke's aggressive defense led to the badgers poor shooting: they shot just 41% - seven points off their season average. furthermore, the team had just two fouls in the first half, but 13 in the second half. 


Thursday, April 02, 2015

President Obama Commutes 22 Drug Sentences

president barack obama commuted the sentences of 22 men and women on tuesday. eight of the 22 inmates graced with reprieves would have died behind bars with their life sentences intact. prior to this announcement, obama had only commuted the sentences of 21 people, and pardoned 64, out of thousands of applications received.

the individuals granted clemency reflects the president's broad approach - not exclusively leaning toward resourceful, white-collar criminals. each person was sentenced to jail for intent to distribute an illegal drug, with 14 of those cases involving possession or distribution of cocaine.    

white house counsel neil eggleston said, "had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society. because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years - in some cases more than a decade - longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime."

obama sent a letter to each of the commutation recipients, and he encouraged all of them to utilize their unexpected freedom as a vehicle to improve the quality of their lives. an administration official says this was the first time obama has sent such letters during his presidency.

obama's letter reads,"i am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around. now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity. it will not be easy, and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change. perhaps even you are unsure of how you will adjust to your new circumstances."

"but remember that you have the capacity to make good choices. by doing so, you will affect not only your life, but those close to you. you will also influence, through your example, the possibility that others in your circumstances get their own second chance in the future," obama wrote.

the justice department expanded its criteria for clemency applicants last year, prioritizing defendants who would have likely been given a shorter prison term had they been sentenced today and who have served at least 10 years behind bars, have had good conduct in prison, have no significant ties to criminal enterprises and have no history of violence or significant criminal history.

advocates for greater clemency argued obama should have followed through on the core principles of the 2010 fair sentencing act. the president signed this document, which exponentially reduced the disparity in federal treatment of crimes involving crack cocaine and cocaine powder. 

four of the 22 commuted inmates were represented by the clemency project 2014, a group of lawyers offering pro-bono legal assistance to prisoners applying to have their sentences reduced. cynthia roseberry, the group's manager, held their anonymity. roseberry said, "the organization continues to submit petitions at an increasing pace and looks forward to more regular grants by the president."