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.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Howard University Students demand resignation of White professor for holding mock auction

earlier this month, a white male professor at howard university delivered a lecture on the hardships of slavery. his lecture was based on the various writings of the abolitionist, critical thinker, educator, freedom fighter and historian frederick douglass. 

the professor asked one of the two black men to stand while his classmates observe his physical features. upon acknowledging his healthy build, the professor said, "he was the type of slave buyers would look for." many angry students demanded he stop immediately, but he continued.

the student was then asked to turn to the class and watch them examine his teeth and his weight. the professor noticed the shock on the faces of the students and said, "it's ok. i'm uncomfortable, too, i'm white."

the professor then asked him to turn around so the class could observe his buttocks, which led to widespread rage. the student said, "i wanted to hit him. i was being racially and sexually harassed in front of my peers and the only think i could think to defend myself was by punching him."

the disturbing incident became a provocative topic in the classroom. as such, it forced howard university students to open an official investigation regarding this matter. students are now calling for the immediate resignation of this professor.     

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bail Reform in New Jersey, Maryland and Illinois

new jersey's new bail system, which drastically reduces the use of cash bail, went into effect this past january. approved by voters in 2014, the new system involves a judicial assessment of defendants' flight risk and threat to public safety in deciding whether to detain them before trial.

judges set bail only three times in the 3,382 cases processed statewide. additionally, 283 defendants were held without bail due to their risk level. in contrast, a 2013 study found 39% of the jail population was in custody solely because of their inability to post bail.

according to judicial officials, "the overhaul was driven by a desire to address one of the ways in which the nation's criminal justice system tends to fall hardest on poor and minority defendants." the state's bail bond agents resist this reform by highlighting the release of individuals they perceive as dangerous.

maryland's court of appeals recently issued a new rule. the court's initiative moves away from cash bail by instructing judges and court commissioners to look for alternative ways to insure people will show up for trial. 

last november, the maryland office of the public defender released a report revealing money bail disproportionately impacts low-income black defendants. in october, attorney general brian forsh warned courts by stating excessively high bail was likely unconstitutional.

cherise fanno burdeen of the pretrial justice institute said, "it's now up to the state legislature to pursue comprehensive reforms of the state's pretrial system and move away from money bail towards (what) we know works: evidence-backed pretrial risk assessment and supervision." 

illinois lawmakers have recently introduced legislation to abolish cash bail by allowing individuals' charged with nonviolent crimes to be released until their court dates. this initiative would also give judges discretion to choose detention or electronic monitoring for those accused of violent crimes.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Federal judges ruled some Congressional districts were gerrymandered by Republicans

a ruling late friday by a three-judge panel in san antonio said republicans gerrymandered some congressional districts. the judges' two-to-one decision could be appealed by texas to the u.s. supreme court.

republicans hold two of three congressional districts ruled newly invalid. they were found to have been partly drawn with discriminatory intent against black and brown people. the gop-controlled texas legislature approved the maps in 2011 - the same year then, governor rick perry signed voter id laws.

judges noted the "strong racial tension and heated debate about latinos, spanish-speaking people, undocumented immigrants and sanctuary cities" which served as the backdrop in the legislature of texas upon adopting the maps and voter id laws.

u.s. district judges orlando garcia and xavier rodriguez wrote in their opinion, "the record indicates not just a hostility toward democrat districts, but a hostility toward minority districts, and a willingness to use race for partisan advantage."

njna perales, vice president of litigation for the mexican american legal defense and educational fund, and legal counsel on the case, welcomed the ruling. perales said, "the court's decision exposes the texas legislature's illegal effort to dilute the vote of texas latinos. moving forward, the ruling will help protect latinos from manipulation of district lines in order to reduce their political clout."     

hispanics fueled texas' dramatic growth in the 2010 census - the year before the maps were drawn - by accounting for 67% of its new residents. texas was forced ahead of the november election to weaken its voter id laws, which allow concealed handgun licenses, but not college student ids, after a federal appeals court found the requirements to be discriminatory.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Florida House Bill would restore voting rights automatically in three years

a new resolution in the joint house of florida would allow felons the right to vote three years after their sentence is up. sponsored by rep. al jacquet of west palm beach, the resolution, would, if passed on the next general election (or a special election specifically for this) ballot, amend the statutes on voting to extend the right to felons.

in 2016, a previous resolution failed to make it on the ballot due to not getting the required number of signatures. florida rights coalition president desmond meade spearheaded the movement. the statutes say no person convicted of a felony or deemed mentally incompetent shall be allowed to vote or hold office until those rights are restored.

the new, added portion says, "however, a person convicted of a felony shall be automatically qualified to vote three years after the person completes his or her sentence." florida is one of three states, along with iowa and kentucky, which don't allow felons voting rights. florida has 1.7 million felons - more than 25% of the nation's felony population - who can't vote.

a proposed amendment by the floridians for a fair democracy group expands the resolution by rep. jacquet. their group proposes felons, except for murderers and sex offenders, will have their voting rights immediately restored after they complete prison and probation. this month, the florida supreme court will hear arguments to legalize this initiative.