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.

Monday, March 02, 2015

TGI Fridays sued by Black waiters

nearly all of the black waiters at a tgi friday's in manhattan were replaced by "light-skinned" workers - mostly hispanic - when the chain closed a busy midtown location and opened a new store. according to a lawsuit filed thursday in bronx supreme court, just one black staff member was rehired after being fired.

when the workers protested, a restaurant manager told one of them he preferred hispanic workers because they "work harder," the class action discrimination suit alleges. one of the plaintiffs, lisa baker, said, "it was their opinion that black people are lazy." the 48 year-old waitress also said, "we weren't even given a chance."

managers openly referred to the old location as the "ghetto store," or the "black friday's," and wanted to rid themselves of that reputation, the suit contends. former employees said they were promised an equal opportunity to work at the new restaurant, a 15,000-square-foot franchise on 34th street, but never heard from their employers.   

"they knew exactly what they were doing," said tony pringle, 42, another plaintiff. he earned $850/week and was not rehired. pringle said, "they were basically not hiring blacks." one of the plaintiffs' lawyers, matthew bilt said, "the only reason these people are not working right now is because of their skin color. heck, this isn't the 1950's."

a spokesman for tgi friday's owners, national restaurants management inc. - a family-run business known as the reise organization - said the company "is proud of its 75-year tradition of positive employee relations with a diverse workforce." their spokesman pat smith asserted, "the restaurant in question has a workforce, including managers, that is more than 80% non-white." 

lawyers for the former waitstaff are seeking $500,000 for each of the 10 fired employees. the $5 million suit pursues "loss of wages, emotional distress and punitive damages."      

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Timeline for Melissa Alexander's Legal Case

august 1, 2010 - nine days after giving birth to a premature daughter, marissa alexander was attacked by her estranged husband in their home - while his sons were present. alexander writes, "in an unprovoked jealous rage, my husband violently confronted me while using the restroom. he assaulted me, shoving, strangling and holding me against my will, preventing me from fleeing all while i begged for him to leave." she retrieved her lawfully registered gun and fired a warning shot upwards into a wall to prevent him from killing her. no one was injured by her weapon.

february 10, 2011 - alexander began her incarceration.

august 17, 2011 - alexander was denied stand your ground immunity from prosecution.

may 11, 2012 - alexander was found guilty of three counts of assault with a deadly weapon. she received a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.

july 10, 2013 - alexander was denied bond, pending her appeal of the guilty verdict.

september 26, 2013 - alexander successfully appealed the 2012 trial, the guilty verdict was overturned, and she was given the right to a new trial. the appellate court ruled the jury instructions put too much of a burden on her. a three-panel judge ruled, "the defendant's burden is only to raise a reasonable doubt concerning self-defense. the defendant does not have the burden to prove the victim guilty of the aggression defended against beyond a reasonable doubt." the appellate court did not overturn the 2012 court decision to deny alexander stand your ground immunity from prosecution.

october 31, 2013 - alexander's re-trial was scheduled for march 31, 2014.

november 27, 2013 - alexander was released on bond the night before thanksgiving. she spent 1,021 days in prison. she is currently under house arrest with special conditions, which include: posting a $200,009.00 bond; remaining under the supervision of the pretrial service program at all times; subject to 24/7 electronic monitoring, and remaining in home detention until her case is  completed.

january 7, 2014 - state prosecutor angela corey filed a motion to revoke alexander's bond release, claiming alexander violated the condition of her release. alexander's legal team filed a response to the motion, stating the correctional staff supervising her bond release confirmed she complied with all of the conditions of her bond release and is not in violation of her bond. the hearing is scheduled for january 10, 2014.

january 10, 2014 - corey's motion to revoke alexander's bond release was denied. alexander remains under home detention - and, with more restrictive conditions.

january 30, 2014 - alexander's trial was postponed to july 28, 2014.

march 1, 2014 - the florida times-union reported corey seeks a 60 year sentence for alexander if she is found guilty in her 7/28 trial. corey argued the mandatory minimum statute required alexander to serve three 20 year sentences consecutively, not concurrently, tripling the mandatory minimum.

march 14, 2014 - alexander's legal team filed a motion requesting a new stand your ground hearing.

may 16, 2014 - judge james daniel did not issue a ruling on alexander's motion for a new stand your ground hearing. judge daniel said he would rule in june, and is accepting written arguments through the month of may.

june 10, 2014 - judge daniel postponed alexander's trial to december 8, 2014. jury selection begins on december 1. the judge - and her defense team - wanted more time to see how the recent changes in the stand your ground law will impact her case. alexander's next court date is scheduled for august 1, when the judge expects to decide if she will get a new stand your ground hearing. 

june 21, 2014 - changes to florida's stand your ground law went into effect. one of the changes expands the law to cover warning shots. alexander's case is cited as an inspiration for the reform.

july 21, 2014 - alexander was denied a new stand your ground hearing. she will not receive immunity from prosecution and must defend herself again in a new trial, scheduled for 12/8.

november 24, 2014 - alexander accepted a plea deal with the state of florida. the plea deal includes time served (1,030 days); an additional 65 days in duval county jail, beginning today; and two years of probation serving house detention while wearing a surveillance monitor. she will be in jail until january 27, 2015 - the date of her next hearing.

january 27, 2015 - alexander was released from prison today. the state attorney's office tried to add two years probation to her (plea deal) sentence, but they failed. alexander intends to go to school and become a paralegal. 







Monday, February 16, 2015

West defeats 163-158 in 2015 NBA All-Star Game

the western conference held on to defeat the eastern conference 163-158 and emerge victorious in the 2015 nba all-star game. held at madison square garden in new york city for the first time since 1998, amidst frigid temperatures, fans were treated to a showcase of the game's elite players.

russell westbrook, the dynamic, explosive and fiery point guard of the oklahoma city thunder was named most valuable player. westbrook finished with 41 points - one shy of the all-time record set by wilt chamberlain in 1962. he set an all-star game record with 27 points at halftime. "it's amazing. it's a blessing to be here in new york city," he said.

james harden of the houston rockets had 29 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the west. lebron james of the cleveland cavaliers led the east with 30 points. "don't get no better, man. you play in the garden in front of these fans," james said. kyle korver, in his first all-star appearance at age 33, hit seven three-pointers. three of his atlanta hawks teammates also played. korver leads the nba with a 52.3% three-point field goal percentage.  

pau gasol of the chicago bulls and marc gasol of the memphis grizzlies became the first brother duo to start in the game's history. san antonio's tim duncan played in his 15th all-star game, three behind abdul-jabbar's record of 18. kobe bryant of the los angeles lakers, anthony davis of the new orleans pelicans and blake griffin of the los angeles clippers were voted in as starters for the west, but injuries prevented them from playing. 

several other records were tied or broken last night. both teams combined for 165 points at halftime, which tied a previous mark. westbrook hit 11 field goals in the first half, tying the old record. the west's 163 points tied a record. both teams' combined 321 points is a new record. the west shot 25-for-68 in three-pointers, both records. both squads were 68-for-133 in threes: another record.

19 year-old rookie zach lavine of the minnesota timberwolves electrified the crowd and won the slam dunk contest. stephen curry of the golden state warriors won the three-point shooting contest. patrick beverley of the houston rockets won the skills challenge. hawks legend dominique willkins, chris bosh of the miami heat and swin cash of the new york liberty won their third straight shooting stars contest.  

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic Win 2015 Australian Open Singles Titles

world #1 serena williams of the u.s. on saturday defeated world #2 maria sharapova of russia 6-3, 7-6 to capture the 2015 australian open women's singles championsip. williams now has 19 major singles titles, one more than hall-of-fame legends chris evert and martina navtrailova. steffi graf of germany holds the record in the open era with 22 major wins.

williams' record in grand slam majors is 19-4, the best in the open era. this was her sixth title down under - another record. she won her first major as a teenager in 1999 at the u.s. open. today, at age 33, she became the oldest woman to win a major championship. furthermore, williams beat sharapova for the 16th consecutive time: modern tennis' most one-sided rivalry.

"i never thought that i would be sitting and having this discussion," williams told a small group of reporters after the match. "before i just had a dream and a racket and two wonderful parents who supported me. a part of me thinks, wow, i really have a chance to create history, and a part of me thinks, wow, i've done so much, this is amazing. i just try to look at both sides of it," she said.

williams struggled in her early matches, twice coming back from a set down. a recurring cough lingered in her chest for much of the fortnight. in fact, she vomited off court during a rain delay in the second set. sharapova elevated her game and forced a dramatic tiebreaker - saving two match points with powerful forehand winners. but williams, undaunted, intensely smacked an ace - her 18th of the match - to emerge victorious.

world #1 novak djokovic of serbia defeated world #6 andy murray of great britain 7-6, 6-7, 6-3, 6-0 to become the 2015 australian open men's singles champion. djokovic now joins andre agassi, jimmy connors and ivan lendl with eight major titles apiece. he won his fifth trophy down under and improved his career record at melbourne park to 5-0.

"there were a lot of turning points in the match. regardless of the record i have here, we both knew we had equal chances to win. it was a cat-and-mouse fight, it always is with us," djokovic said. at the end of the match, he threw his racket into the crowd at rod laver arena. several aussies - former champions - were present, including rod laver, roy emerson, ken rosewall and margaret court.

djokovic won the grueling first set tiebreaker. the second set was delayed for about five minutes after the seventh game when a court invader protesting australia's refugee policies was removed by security after jumping out of the stands and onto the court. other spectators in the stadium unfurled a political banner. organizers said two people were arrested, and the matter was dealt with swiftly.

after two and a half hours of physically demanding tennis, the match was tied at one set apiece. it appeared murray had the momentum, but when djokovic broke his serve in the third set, he never looked back, despite enduring a bruised hand and leg ailments. a new husband and father, djokovic is adored internationally. some serbian fans yelled, "adje nole," which is serbian for "come on nole," his increasingly popular nickname.         

Friday, January 30, 2015

2015 NBA All-Star Team

the 64th nba all-star game will be played sunday, february 15, 2015 at madison square garden in new york city. according to nba game time, the game will be seen by fans in 215 countries and territories, and will be heard in 47 languages. tnt will broadcast for the 13th consecutive year.

nba commissioner adam silver will select the replacement for any player unable to participate in the game. if the injured player is a starter, the head coach of that team will determine who replaces him in the starting lineup. it was recently announced kobe bryant - voted as a starter - will miss the rest of the season due to an injury which could sideline him for nine months.

the 14 reserves were chosen by the 30 nba head coaches. they were asked to vote for seven players in their respective conferences: two guards, three frontcourt players and two players regardless of their position. they were not permitted to vote for players from their own team.

the east and west all-star coaches and coaching staff were determined by the best record in the conference through games played on sunday february.1. atlanta's mike budenholzer and his staff will coach the east. golden state's coach steve kerr and his staff will coach the west.

western conference starting roster:

guard - kobe bryant, los angeles lakers
guard - stephen curry, golden state warriors
center - anthony davis, new orleans pelicans
forward - marc gasol, memphis grizzlies
forward - blake grifffin, los angeles clippers

western conference reserves:

lamarcus aldridge, portland trailblazers
tim duncan, san antonio spurs    
kevin durant, oklahoma cith thunder
james harden, houston rockets
chris paul, los angeles clipper
klay thompson, golden state warriors
russell westbrook, oklahoma city thunder

eastern conference starting roster:

guard - kyke lowry, toronto raptors
guard - john wall, washington wizards
center- pau gasol, chicago bulls
forward - carmelo anthony, new york knicks
forward - lebron james, cleveland cavaliers

eastern conference reserves:

chris bosh, miami heat
jimmy butler, chicago bulls
al horford, atlanta hawks
kyrie irving, cleveland cavaliers
paul millsap, atlanta hawks
jeff teague, atlanta hawks
dwayne wade, miami heat

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Black Lives Matter: Fact or Fiction?

the colorado chapter of the naacp was the target of a bombing three weeks ago. boko haram entered the nigerian town of baga a couple of weeks ago. they killed about 2,000 residents - many of them children, women and the elderly. yet these (and other) acts of terrorism against black people and institutions have failed to generate much attention in america. 

do black lives matter?

most of the western world focused their gaze on no. 10 rue nicolas-appert, paris, france: the location of satirical magazine charlie hebdo. about three weeks ago, an al-qaida-led terrorist attack left 12 people dead. also, in a separate, but related terrorist attack two days later in paris, four hostages were killed by a gunman at a kosher supermarket.

the hebdo massacre is largely viewed as an attack on freedom of the press and free speech. inspired by civil rights marchers in the u.s. on sunday, over 50 world leaders such as gabon president ali bongo ondimba and israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu linked arms in unity. they led an estimated 3.7 million people in a march of solidarity for charlie - a magazine whose anti-islam bent has been ignored.

ironically, many of the heads of state and high-ranking ministers present at the march represent countries with disturbing records of free speech. these countries, among them algeria, egypt, gabon, hungary, russia and turkey, routinely suppress public demonstrations and imprison journalists whose views are not shared by their respective government bodies.

after months of racial and social unrest sparked by the state-sanctioned killings of unarmed black people across the u.s., their so-called liberal allies had a national audience and timely opportunity to proclaim "black lives matter" at the golden globe awards on sunday. instead, hollywood luminaries such as kathy bates, george clooney, jared leto and helen mirren declared "je suis charlie."

hip hop artist, actor and activist common was the only (!) person who mentioned the protests around the country. but his remarks were framed as "all lives matter," further marginalizing an historically oppressed group. fox news correspondent shannon bream said after the hebdo attacks it's difficult to tell who the "bad guys" are if you "can't see what color they are."

do black lives matter?

lassana bathily, the black muslim who saved the lives of several shoppers when amedy coulibaly burst into parisian kosher market hyper cacher, was not hailed as a hero. in fact, he was initially considered a suspect because of his skin color. bathily told bfmtv, "they told me, get down on the ground, hands over your head. they cuffed me and held me for an hour and a half, as if i was with them."

the washington post recently weighed in. they described cherif kouachi, who, along with his brother, said kouachi - both now dead - are denounced for carrying out the attacks. the post said, "radical islam simmered in the 19th arrondissement. its skyline was crowded with the sort of high rises the associated press described as 'public housing slums that breed violence and crime.'..."he drank, smoked pot, slept with his girlfriend and delivered pizzas for a living...and spent a lot of time listening to rap music."   

apparently, rap music is partly to blame for the hebdo attacks. this default mainstream narrative is fueled by a youtube video of kouachi rapping. our society's instinctive need to contextualize these crimes through a supremacist lens magnifies the recurring pathology of black men as inhuman, predatory and violent. meanwhile, wounds from the deaths of african-descended folk remain unaddressed, unresolved and untreated.      

do black lives matter?





Thursday, January 22, 2015

Raise the Criminal Responsibility Age in New York State for all Youth

new york and north carolina are the only two states in the u.s. which prosecute all 16-17 year-olds charged with a crime in the adult criminal justice system, regardless of the alleged crimes' severity. new york also treats 13-15 year-olds accused of committing certain serious crimes as "juvenile offenders." 

juvenile offenders are prosecuted as adults - unless their cases are referred to family court. 16 and 17 year-olds in new york state who get detained or incarcerated via a criminal court order are confined in adult prisons and jails. juvenile offenders are confined in youth facilities (at least) until they are 18 years old. 

each year over 45,000 kids aged 16 and 17 are arrested as adults in new york state. because the law defines them as adults, they can be questioned by police without parental notification and confined alongside adults in prisons and jails.

young people housed in adult prisons are in grave danger. they're 50% more likely to face attacks from other prisoners, twice as likely as adults to be assaulted by prison staff, and five times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than their peers in youth centers. children in adult jails are also 36 times more likely to commit suicide than those in youth facilities.

youth in adult prisons and jails are often kept in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day - for months at a time. extended isolation can be psychologically shattering for anyone, but it is especially harmful for developing adolescent minds.   

research demonstrates prosecuting and sentencing children as adults not only presents threats to children's safety and well-being, but also decreases public safety. young people who are charged as adults have been shown to be more likely commit future acts of violence and return to prison at much higher rates than youth who were prosecuted as youth.

youth who are convicted of adult crimes may have to carry that mark with them for the rest of their lives, making it difficult for them to get on the right path and become productive and healthy adults. the aftermath of a lifelong criminal record often includes the permanent denial of educational loans; barriers to employment, housing and benefits; potential deportation, and the loss of housing for both themselves and their families.      
this issue impacts some communities much harder than others. because they are more likely to be targeted by the police and are disproportionately represented at virtually every point in the justice system, young people of color are more likely than white children to bear the serious and lasting consequences of being charged and incarcerated as adults.

over the last decade, many states have successfully raised the age of criminal responsibility without overwhelming the courts or the youth justice system. usually a leader in criminal justice reform, new york state is shamefully behind on this issue. this outdated law puts our children and our economy at risk.

all children have a right to safety, and to access developmentally-appropriate services, programs, education and treatment. raising the age in new york state would increase public safety, limit dangers to youth, and provide healthier opportunities for our young people to grow and develop..