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.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sigma Alpha Epsilon's Racist Chants Fuels University Suspensions

several members of sigma alpha epsilon on sunday were caught on video chanting supremacist views while riding on a charter bus. university of oklahoma fraternity white males, hands raised, fists pumped, in unison, sang, "there will never be a nigger in sae, you can hang them from a tree but they will never sign with me, there will never be a nigger sae."

university president david boren on monday severed the school's ties with the national fraternity. boren ordered its on-house campus be shuttered; members have until midnight tuesday to remove their belongings from the fraternity house. boren said frat members "violated all that we stand for."

boren attended a pre-dawn rally organized by students. he called the frat members involved "disgraceful," publicly admonishing their behavior as "irresponsible." at a mid-day news conference, he said, "this is not who we are. i'd be glad if they left. i might even pay the bus fare for them." 

the president, notably outraged with their bigoted remarks, also said the university's legal staff is exploring whether the students who initiated and encouraged the chant may have violated title six of the civil rights act, which prohibits racial discrimination.

national leaders of sigma alpha epsilon said late sunday their investigation confirmed members took part in the chant. additionally, they announced the local chapter will be closed, saying they were "embarrassed," by the "unacceptable and racist," behavior.

ou unheard, a black student group on campus, posted a link to the video after someone anonymously called it to the group's attention sunday afternoon. on monday, communications director alexis hall, a junior, said, "we immediately need to share that with the ou student body. for students to say they're going to lynch an entire group of people...its disgusting."

"i was shocked they were just doing it openly on the bus, like they were proud of it. from the chant you could tell they had done it before. it wasn't a first-time thing. and it was everybody. and the fist-pumping," said jared scarborough, a junior in construction science.

north mesquite (texas) high offensive tackle jean delance tweeted monday morning he has decommitted from oklahoma. delance, ranked in the scout 150, said he was impacted by the video's messages, and it played a role in his decision to begin looking elsewhere for his collegiate aspirations. 

similarly, atlanta-based rapper waka flocka flame aborted his upcoming concert at the school. according to his instagram post, flame said, "i'm disgusted and disappointed in the actions of the sae fraternity at university of oklahoma and i will be cancelling my scheduled performance for them next month. racism is something i will not tolerate." 

university of oklahoma sooners football coach bob stoops, who attended a morning rally on the campus, humbly cancelled the team's afternoon practice. the players and coaches walked into the practice with linked arms, gathered to say a prayer, then left.

located in the southern oklahoma city suburb of norman, the student population is about 27,000. less than five percent are black. sigma alpha epsilon was founded in 1859. their mission "is to promote the highest standards of friendship, scholarship and service for our members based upon the ideals set forth by our founders and as specifically enunciated in our creed, "the true gentleman." 

the greek system remains largely segregated. 




Monday, March 09, 2015

Civil Rights Voting Restoration Act of 2014 re-introduced by Senators Paul and Reid

u.s. senators rand paul (r-ky) and harry reid (d-nv) re-introduced the civil rights voting restoration act of 2014. this bipartisan piece of legislation was originally introduced by paul in the senate on june 26, 2014, read twice and referred to the committee on the judiciary of the 113th congress (2013-14).

the civil rights voting restoration act of 2014 declares the right of a u.s. citizen to vote in any election for federal office shall not be abridged or denied because the individual has been convicted of a non-violent criminal offense; unless, at the time of the election, the individual is serving a sentence in a correctional facility or a term of probation.

the bill, known in congress as s.2550, restores the right to vote of an individual on probation: 1) on the date the term of probation ends, if such term is less than one year; or 2) one year after the date the individual begins serving the term of probation, if such term is one year or longer.

also, the bill directs the attorney general to determine and establish a list of the criminal offenses under federal and state law deemed non-violent criminal offenses. s.2550 provides for enforcement of, and remedies for violations of, this act. the bill also sets forth requirements for state and federal notification of individuals of their voting rights pursuant to this act.

moreover, s.2550 prohibits a state, local government, or other person from receiving or using federal grant amounts to construct or improve a place of incarceration unless that person has in effect a program under which each incarcerated individual is notified, upon release, of his or her rights under this act.       




Saturday, March 07, 2015

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders Wins $825K Suit against the team

a group of tampa bay buccaneers cheerleaders settled for $825,000 after winning a lawsuit against the team. former bucs cheerleader manouchcar pierre-val filed a class action lawsuit against the team last may. she alleged they paid the cheerleaders just $100 per game - nothing for practice, and only limited money for other team events.

the suit states, "the squad makes approximately 300 community appearances every year for both non-profit organizations and corporate events. the ladies are actively involved in the community relations activities and programs generated by the organization. additionally, the team is invited to serve as ambassadors for the nfl across the country and overseas on various military tours, bringing smiles to the men and women who valiantly serve the united states."

additionally, the suit contends, "the cheerleaders are required to attend at least four (4) to fifteen (15) hours of mandatory practices per week, arrive approximately four (4) hours prior to home game start times, and are required to perform at least forty (40) hours of community appearances, but they do not receive any compensation for this time."  

pierre-val, on behalf of herself and 93 other bucs cheerleaders, was demanding $661,000. she received $825,000 after settling with her former employer. after $264,000 goes to the lawyers, the cheerleaders will divide $561,000. each woman should expect to net about $6,000. pierre-val started with tampa bay in 2012, and also worked full-time as a registered nurse.


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.