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.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Eric Garner Family Receives $5.9 Million Settlement from NYC

almost one year after he died at the hands of new york city police officers, the family of eric garner accepted a pretrial settlement from the city on monday. garner's estate, which filed a claim against the city in october, 2014 for damages related to his untimely demise, will be paid $5.9 million.

new york city comptroller scott springer's office is charged with settling claims against the city. springer said, "following a judicious review of the claim and facts of this case, my office was able to reach a settlement with the estate of eric garner that is in the best interest of all parties."

cell phone video of garner's death in july, 2014 emerged, fueling conflicts between the nypd and the community. garner, an unarmed 41 year-old black man, was put in an illegal chokehold by a white cop who hasn't been charged with a crime. officers alleged garner was selling loose cigarettes before his fatal encounter.  

"we are all familiar with the events that led to the death of eric garner and the extraordinary impact his passing has had on our city and our nation. it forced us to examine the state of race relations, and the relationship between our police force and the people they serve." and, while the settlement "acknowledges the tragic nature of mr. garner's death, the city has not admitted liability," said springer.

new york city mayor bill de blasio said the anniversary of his death was on his mind, as it was for many other new yorkers. but the mayor said, "i think the important thing is to stay focused on the work of the reform. i think we've come a long way, even in the last year, in terms of bringing police and community together." 


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

President Obama Commutes Prior Sentences of 46 Drug Offenders

president barack obama on monday commuted the prison sentences of 46 drug offenders. the commander-in-chief said the move was part of his larger attempt to reform the criminal justice system, including reducing punishments for non-violent crimes and reviewing sentencing laws.

obama has commuted about 90 sentences - more than any president since lyndon b. johnson. most have been for federal prisoners incarcerated for drug offenses with long sentences mandated under guidelines set in the 1980's. under current sentencing guidelines, most of these individuals would have served their time.

of the 46 people commuted on monday, 13 were serving life sentences. most of these commuted sentences will now end in november, 2015. this is a several month transition period officials said allowed for arrangements to be made in halfway homes and other related facilities.

after they're released, the former prisoners will be supervised by probation officers and subject to conditions set during their original sentencing, which for some includes drug testing. earlier this year, 22 prisoners convicted of drug crimes were granted release. in late 2014, eight criminals were also given commutations.

unlike a presidential pardon, a commutation does not erase a criminal conviction, it only reduces a sentence. obama has granted 64 pardons in his presidency. the white house on monday posted a letter written by obama to each of the 46 men and women granted commutations.

obama wrote, "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."

later this week, obama is expected to discuss his plans for more criminal justice reform. on tuesday he travels to philadelphia to speak at the annual naacp convention. on thursday obama will become the first president ever to visit a federal prison, when he tours the el reno facility in oklahoma. "i believe that at its heart, america is a nation for second chances, and i believe these folks deserve their second chance," obama said.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic Win 2015 Wimbledon Singles Titles

serena williams of the united states defeated garbine muguruza of spain 6-4, 6-4 to win the 2015 wimbledon singles championship. williams now has six career singles titles at the all-england club in london. the historic win on saturday improved her majors finals record to 21-4.

williams became the first player to win four consecutive majors twice; the first time in 2002-03. her unique feat is known as the "serena slam." at 33, she's the oldest to win a major title in the open era - 16 years after her first championship at the u.s. open. the world #1 is one major victory away from tying steffi graf of germany, who has 22 grand slam trophies.

"i've been trying to win four in a row for 12 years, and it hasn't happened. i've had a couple of injuries. you know, it's been an up and down process. i honestly can't say that last year or two years ago or even five years ago i would have thought that i would have won four in a row," williams said.

williams has six titles at the australian open, wimbledon and the u.s. open, and three at the french open. muguruza, 21, upset williams in the second round at roland garros last year. the hard-hitting woman reached her first major final, and will enter the top 10 for the first time in her bright and promising young career.

novak djokovic of serbia beat roger federer of switzerland 7-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 to win the 2015 wimbledon singles title. the world #1 now has nine major singles victories in his career, including three at the all-england club in london. he defeated federer in five thrilling sets last year.

djokovic won the australian open in january, lost the french open final to stan warwinka of switzerland, and defended his wimbledon title against federer on sunday. djokovic has reached 15 of the last 20 major singles finals - winning eight. his major finals record is 9-8, but he's never won at roland garros.

djokovic later praised coach boris becker, whom he hired in december, 2013. becker has six majors, including three at wimbledon. "it's definitely been a long run since we started working together. it took a while to understand each other. he is german. i'm serbian, so there are significant differences! we managed to find common ground and the right chemistry. this is his trophy as much as mine, he said."   
the 28 year-old serb now has a 20-20 career record against federer. last year, federer held serve in 88 of 89 games through the semifinals, but was broken four times by djokovic - the greatest returner in history. this year, federer held serve in 89 of 90 matches before the semis, and was broken by djokovic four times (again) in the finals.



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Virginia Governor Removes Barriers to Voters with Felony Convictions

virginia governor terry mcauliffe recently announced individuals with felony convictions no longer have to pay outstanding court costs before they're eligible to have their voting rights restored. mcauliffe also said they will now be able to include that information on their official police record.

"these men and women will still be required to pay their costs and fees, but their court debts will no longer serve as a financial barrier to voting, just as poll taxes did for many years in virginia," said governor mcauliffe.

historically, virginia has been one of the most oppressive states restoring voting rights to felons. their colonial polices disproportionately impact black residents: in 2010, over 20% of the voting-age black population could not vote due to felonies. civil rights history scholar helen gibson says virginia's felony disenfranchisement laws can be "traced back to 19th century attempts to undercut the voting strengths of african-americans."

mcauliffe's administration took steps to streamline the voter restoration process. those steps include reducing the waiting period before applying for people convicted of violent crimes from five years to three. and, removing drug crimes from the list of felony offenses requiring a waiting period.

in his first 17 months in office, governor mcauliffe restored voting rights to over 8,000 people - more than any previous governor in their four-year term. 71% of those people have already registered to vote. the aclu of virginia says they're working hard to place a constitutional amendment for automatic restoration on the 2018 ballot.





Monday, June 29, 2015

2015 Rent Guidelines Board Increase

on monday june 29, the new york city rent guidelines board (rgb) voted for a zero percent increase on one-year lease renewals for rent-stabilized apartments. this vote is the first time in 50 years the rgb has approved a rent freeze for one-year lease renewals. 

there are over 1.2 million new yorkers who live in rent-stabilized units. most of these residents' leases will end sometime this year, and they share deep concerns about their future. tonight's historic vote means the following: 

1) if you sign a one-year lease renewal between 10/1/2015 and 9/30/2016, your rent won't increase; 2) if you sign a two-year lease renewal lease between 10/1/2015 and 9/30/2016, your rent will increase two percent; 3) if you're facing harassment from your landlord, call 311 and report it now. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Warriors Beat Cavs To Win 2015 NBA Title

the golden state warriors on tuesday beat the cleveland cavaliers 105-97 in game six on the road to become the 2015 nba champions. the warriors' first title in franchise history was 40 years ago. golden state forward andre iguodala was named nba finals most valuable player - the first such honored after not starting a regular season game.

iguodala, an 11-year veteran, was taken out of the starting lineup at the beginning of the season in order for harrison barnes to start. although he didn't approve of the decision, iguodala neither privately nor publicly questioned the bold move of warriors' rookie coach steve kerr. moreover, iguodala is known as the team's resident sage.

kerr said, "he had never come off the bench once in his entire career, and he sacrificed to make harrison better, to make our bench better, and that set the tone for our entire season. an all-star, an olympian saying, 'ok, i'll come off the bench? it set the tone for everything we were able to accomplish, so it feels like full-circle to me that andre received the award. couldn't happen to a better person."

the warriors' draymond green finished the game with a triple-double: 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. but he also remembers the naysayers who doubted his pro ability. "i was a second-round pick, and a lot of people said i could never play in this league. too slow, too small, can't shoot well enough, can't defend anybody. what does he do well? he doesn't have a skill. i've got heart, and that's what stands out," green said.     

nba mvp stephen curry was asked what he learned about his first nba finals as the series progressed. curry said, "to block out the noise, that's the biggest thing." about his teammates, iguodala said, "we have a lot of different personalities. draymond's loud. klay's quiet. then we've got everything in between. but the common denominator is guys were like really hungry to show what they could do individually, and then we believed in our team as a group."

golden state fought back from a two-to-one deficit against cleveland. they showed the mental fortitude and physical toughness critics accused them of lacking during the regular season, after their 67-15 league-best record. but they were also down two games to one against memphis and houston in this year's playoffs; they persevered in each series - clinching game six on the road each time. 

despite their youth, the warriors are the first team since the 1991 chicago bulls to win an nba championship without a single player with nba finals experience. golden state matured in front of the entire world. iguodala said, "the first three games, they were bringing the fight to us. we were just reacting. i felt like games 4, 5 and 6, we were proactive. we brought the fight to them."





Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Chicago Blackhawks Win 2015 NHL Stanley Cup

the chicago blackhawks defeated the tampa bay lightning 2-0 in game six to win the 2015 nhl stanley cup title in front of a raucous crowd of 22,424 fans in chicago's united center. the blackhawks' sixth championship in franchise history is their third in the last six years. the emerging dynasty was also victorious in 2010 and 2013.

the hawks' duncan keith was unanimously given the conn smythe trophy as most valuable player. keith scored once and led a dominant defense against a high-powered offense. "it feels so great. you want to keep being a part of these things. you don't get these awards without being on great teams with great players and like i said, i'm just proud to be a part of this group of guys who cares so much and do whatever it takes, keith said."   

chicago's all-star center and captain jonathan toews raised the stanley cup over his head after the thrilling game. toews said, "we won it for each other, for the city. in so many ways, winning a championship like this in our home city, i think it really transcends the sport. everyone wants to be a part of it. it's amazing."

the hawks' all-star left wing patrick kane scored his first (and only) goal of the final in the second period. he also added an assist, helping his team clinch the cup on home ice for the first time since 1938. kane said, "just wanted to play my best game and control the puck as much as possible and try to step up for my team." 

chicago goalie corey crawford, who was pulled from their first-round series against nashville, had 25 saves in his fifth career playoff shutout. this was the first stanley cup for kimmo timonen, who plans to retire. the 40 year-old defenseman was acquired in a trade from philadelphia - after he missed the start of the season due to blood clots in his legs and lungs. the hawks' record in game sixes is 13-1 since the 2009 playoffs.