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, September 29, 2014

California Signs Amended Sexual Assault Bill

california governor jerry brown will sign a bill to define when 'yes means yes,' and adopt requirements for colleges to follow when investigating sexual assault reports. the historic announcement on sunday makes california the first state in the nation to unequivocally protect students by changing the language and law of consent.

state lawmakers approved senate bill 967 by senator kevin de leon (d-la) last month, as states and universities across the country are under pressure to change how they handle rape allegations. campus sexual assault victims and women's advocacy groups delivered petitions to brown's office on september 16 demanding he sign the bill.

de leon said the progressive legislation begins a paradigm shift in how college campuses in california prevent and investigate sexual assaults. the familiar refrain of 'no means no,' is no longer the definition of consent - the new bill requires "an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity."

"every student deserves a learning environment that is safe and healthy," de leon said in a statement sunday night. "the state of california will not allow schools to sweep rape cases under the rug. we've shifted the conversation regarding sexual assault to one of prevention, justice and healing," he said.

lawmakers say consent can be nonverbal, and universities with similar policies have outlined examples as a nod of the head or moving in closer to the person. the legislation says silence or lack of resistance does not constitute consent: someone who is asleep, drugged, drunk or unconscious cannot grant consent.      

advocates for victims of sexual assault support the change as empowering. savannah badalich, ucla student and founder of the group 7000 in solidarity, welcomes the new legislation. badalich said, "this is amazing. it's going to educate an entire new generation of students on what consent is and what consent is not...that the absence of a no is not a yes."

the bill requires training for faculty reviewing complaints so victims are neither asked insensitive questions nor made to feel shameful when filing grievances. the bill also provides much needed access to counseling, health care and other resources.  

sb 967 applies to all california postsecondary schools - public and private - receiving state money for student financial aid. the california state university and university of california systems are supporting the legislation; both adopted similar consent standards this year.

uc president janet napolitano recently announced the system will voluntarily establish an independent advocate to support sexual assault victims on every campus. an advocate office is a provision of the federal survivor outreach and support campus act proposed by u.s. senator barbara boxer and representative susan davis of san diego, both democrats.

     

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ferguson Police Ordered To Stop Wearing 'I Am Darren Wilson' Bracelets

the department of justice (doj) on friday ordered police officers in ferguson, missouri to stop wearing bracelets in solidarity with darren wilson, the white cop who last month shot and killed michael brown, an unarmed black male. the bracelets say, i am darren wilson.

christy lopez, deputy chief of the special litigation section of the justice department's civil rights division, wrote a letter on friday to ferguson police chief thomas jackson. lopez writes, "these bracelets reinforce the very 'us versus them' mentality that many residents of ferguson believe exists."

lopez admits in the two-page letter she's unclear if ferguson officers specifically are now or have been wearing the bracelets. additionally, she understands jackson agreed to prohibit officers from wearing the bracelets while in uniform and on duty, and to ensure other officers from local agencies will observe the prohibition.

the letter comes after residents told a doj official about the bracelets this week at a community meeting. they complained officers wore the bracelets tuesday while patrolling folks' protests over the tragic death of 18 year-old brown august 9. protesters demand wilson's arrest. the doj has been investigating the shooting, while a grand jury is deliberating about whether to charge wilson.

residents said officers patrolled the community without name tags, or with their names covered by black tape. lopez, in the letter, asked the embattled police chief to ensure officers will follow department policy and wear their name tags.

"allowing officers to remain anonymous when they interact with the public contributes to mistrust and undermines accountability," says lopez, in a separate letter to jackson, written on tuesday. that letter was released on friday. lopez further writes, "the failure to wear name plates conveys a message to community members that, through anonymity, officers may seek to act with impunity."

       

 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Attorney General Eric Holder Announced He Will Resign Pending A Successor

attorney general eric holder announced his resignation on thursday at an emotional white house ceremony. president barack obama praised holder saying he did a "superb job," and mentioned holder will leave his post at the justice department once a successor is confirmed.

holder acknowledged his family and colleagues by saying, "i thank you all for joining me on a journey that now moves in another direction, but that will always be guided by the pursuit of justice and aimed at the north star." 

holder, 63, also expressed gratitude for obama, whom he called his colleague adding, "but the bonds between us are much deeper than that. in good times and bad, in things personal and professional, you have been there for me. i am proud to call you my friend."

holder is the first black to hold the nation's top law enforcement position. he's been in the job for nearly six years, since obama began his (own historic) reign as commander-in-chief. if holder remains in the position in december, he would be the third longest-serving attorney general. 

"i have loved the department of justice ever since as a young boy i watched robert kennedy prove during the civil rights movement how the department can - and must - always be a force for that which is right. i hope that i have done honor to the faith you placed in me, mr. president, and to the legacy of all those who served before me," said holder.    

under holder, the department of justice (doj) sought to protect voters' rights, women's rights and lgbt rights. obama said holder helped lower the crime rate and incarceration rate by 10% in six years. the doj also encouraged judges to use discretion in sentencing low-level drug offenders, reduced the disparity between crack and powder cocaine penalties from 100-1 to 18-1, and eliminate "draconian" mandatory minimums.

holder made criminal justice reform his top priority in 2014. he went to ferguson, missouri last month after michael brown, an unarmed black male, was killed by a white police officer, darren wilson. holder wants to restore trust between law enforcement and black and brown communities. he plans to go to scranton, pennsylvania on friday, and complete his goal of visiting all 93 u.s. attorney's offices.

before he was sworn in as the 82nd attorney general in february 2009, holder served as president bill clinton's deputy attorney general, the first black to hold to hold that position. the columbia law school graduate was previously u.s. attorney for the district of columbia and served during ronald reagan's administration as an associate judge at the superior court of the district of columbia.    
 
    




     

 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Georgia's Incarceration Rate for Blacks drops 20% in five years

the incarceration rate among blacks in georgia dropped by 20% in five years. the change signals a shift in their approach to sentencing and offender treatment. driven to cut costs and improve outcomes, lawmakers increasingly reject tough-on-crime models which once defined the state.

instead, they're adopting public health-based solutions, including treatment centers for drug addicts and inmates with mental illness, as well as accountability courts offering alternatives to incarceration for offenders working to experience drug-free living and optimum mental health.

georgia's progressive reforms have improved outcomes for offenders of all ethnic groups. in fact, they've cut the state's overall incarceration rate by 15% since 2009, which is both remarkable and historic considering the state's dark past with black prisoners. 

though blacks are currently over-represented in georgia prisons - making up more than 60% of the state population but less than 32% of the overall state population - the encouraging decline affirms success towards fair sentencing practices and outcomes.      


Saturday, September 20, 2014

National Organization of Women President demands NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Resign Imnmediately

the national organization for women (now) president terry o'neill wants national football league (nfl) commissioner roger goodell to resign effective immediately. goodell held a hotly anticipated press conference on friday to address the maligned league's current stance on domestic violence issues.

goodell, in the almost 45-minute conference, admitted he 'made a mistake in the ray rice matter' and was 'sorry' for it. goodell asserted he would not resign, but would hire a personal conduct committee, before the 2015 super bowl, to establish a policy of higher standards and moral integrity. goodell also promised greater transparency in the league's handling of such issues in the future.

but o'neill questions goodell's leadership qualities. she said, "glaringly absent from mr. goodell's remarks is a commitment to conduct an independent investigation into all of the incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking on his watch. roger goodell's steadfast refusal to broach these questions speaks a lot louder than his formulaic mea culpas and repeated promises that he's going to do better." 

o'neill said, "now continues to demand that he resign and that his successor appoint a thorough, independent investigator with full authority to unpack all relevant aspects of the nfl's response to incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, and to make serious recommendations for change. the time for half measures and pr feints is long past. roger goodell must go."
     

Friday, September 19, 2014

Procter & Gamble Withdraws Breast Cancer Initiatives with the NFL

october is breast cancer month. during the last several years, the national football league (nfl) has become a popular supporter and powerful institution to effectively highlight the need for ongoing awareness, education and treatment of breast cancer.

nfl players across the league proudly wear pink shoes, pink socks, pink wristbands, and use pink towels. the field and footballs are adorned with the cause's pink ribbon, the coin used for the opening toss is pink, and fans can buy pink nfl gear to support breast cancer.  

but after several incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault involving nfl players - among them jonathan dwyer, greg hardy, ray mcdonald and ray rice - procter & gamble, a major sponsor who planned to partner with the nfl, has planned to pull out of their "significant league-wide" campaign for breast cancer awareness month.

the campaign, sponsored through the company's crest brand, was going to include "multiple players" on each of the league's 32 teams. one player would be deemed an official "ambassador" of the initiative. players would have worn pink mouth guards and interacted with fans on social media as part of the campaign.

the selected players were recently informed the prospective campaign has been cancelled. also, procter & gamble informed the players money slated to be contributed to cancer charities as part of the campaign would still be donated, even though no campaign is forthcoming.

pepsi & company, on thursday, became the latest sponsor to publicly express their displeasure with the nfl and its peripatetic approach to domestic violence cases and sexual assault issues with players. other sponsors voicing their concerns publicly include anheuser-busch, campbell soup company, mcdonald's, verizon and visa.

   




Sunday, September 14, 2014

Phoenix Mercury Wins 2014 WNBA Title

the phoenix mercury defeated the chicago sky 87-82 on friday to win the 2014 wnba title. phoenix swept the sky in three games, earning the franchise a third championship. the detroit shock also have three titles. but the houston comets own a record four titles. 

all-star guard diana taurasi was named most valuable player for the second time in her illustrious career. she became the wnba all-time playoff leader in scoring. taurasi scored 24 points, as did their all-star forward candice dupree. the mercury clinched without all-star center 6'8" brittany griner, who sat on the bench after suffering an eye injury in the second game.

taurasi has three wins in the ncaa, olympics and wnba. she said, "college ones feel great because when you're in college you're really in a family atmosphere with people that are my friends for life. olympics is for your country. you wear that flag and there's no other feeling like that. and then, the wnba is the best competition in the world. so when you're champions here, you're champions. you've earned it."

phoenix finished the regular season with 29 wins - the most in wnba history. the mercury won their last 20 games at home. their 18.3 points per game margin is the third best in playoff history. dewana bonner and penny taylor averaged double figures in the finals. phoenix's high-powered offense led the league in scoring during the regular season.

chicago, led by all-star forward elena delle donne and all-star center sylvia fowles, reached the wnba finals for the first time in the team's short history. dubbed the comeback kids for their faith, grit and perseverance, the sky won both their first playoff game - and playoff series - in their first year reaching the playoffs.