Friday, April 30, 2010

President Obama's Remarks At Dr. Dorothy Height Tribute

TransGriot Note: The video and transcript of President Obama's remarks made at yesterday's memorial service for Dr. Dorothy Height.

Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.
10:40 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Please be seated. Let me begin by saying a word to Dr. Dorothy Height’s sister, Ms. Aldridge. To some, she was a mentor. To all, she was a friend. But to you, she was family, and my family offers yours our sympathy for your loss.

We are gathered here today to celebrate the life, and mourn the passing, of Dr. Dorothy Height. It is fitting that we do so here, in our National Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Here, in a place of great honor. Here, in the House of God. Surrounded by the love of family and of friends. The love in this sanctuary is a testament to a life lived righteously; a life that lifted other lives; a life that changed this country for the better over the course of nearly one century here on Earth.

Michelle and I didn’t know Dr. Height as well, or as long, as many of you. We were reminded during a previous moment in the service, when you have a nephew who’s 88 -- (laughter) -- you’ve lived a full life. (Applause.)

But we did come to know her in the early days of my campaign. And we came to love her, as so many loved her. We came to love her stories. And we loved her smile. And we loved those hats -- (laughter) -- that she wore like a crown -- regal. In the White House, she was a regular. She came by not once, not twice -- 21 times she stopped by the White House. (Laughter and applause.) Took part in our discussions around health care reform in her final months.

Last February, I was scheduled to see her and other civil rights leaders to discuss the pressing problems of unemployment -- Reverend Sharpton, Ben Jealous of the NAACP, Marc Morial of the National Urban League. Then we discovered that Washington was about to be blanketed by the worst blizzard in record -- two feet of snow.

So I suggested to one of my aides, we should call Dr. Height and say we're happy to reschedule the meeting. Certainly if the others come, she should not feel obliged. True to form, Dr. Height insisted on coming, despite the blizzard, never mind that she was in a wheelchair. She was not about to let just a bunch of men -- (laughter) -- in this meeting. (Applause.) It was only when the car literally could not get to her driveway that she reluctantly decided to stay home. But she still sent a message -- (laughter) -- about what needed to be done.

And I tell that story partly because it brings a smile to my face, but also because it captures the quiet, dogged, dignified persistence that all of us who loved Dr. Height came to know so well -- an attribute that we understand she learned early on.

Born in the capital of the old Confederacy, brought north by her parents as part of that great migration, Dr. Height was raised in another age, in a different America, beyond the experience of many. It’s hard to imagine, I think, life in the first decades of that last century when the elderly woman that we knew was only a girl. Jim Crow ruled the South. The Klan was on the rise -- a powerful political force. Lynching was all too often the penalty for the offense of black skin. Slaves had been freed within living memory, but too often, their children, their grandchildren remained captive, because they were denied justice and denied equality, denied opportunity, denied a chance to pursue their dreams.

The progress that followed -- progress that so many of you helped to achieve, progress that ultimately made it possible for Michelle and me to be here as President and First Lady -- that progress came slowly. (Applause.)

Progress came from the collective effort of multiple generations of Americans. From preachers and lawyers, and thinkers and doers, men and women like Dr. Height, who took it upon themselves -- often at great risk -- to change this country for the better. From men like W.E.B Du Bois and A. Philip Randolph; women like Mary McLeod Bethune and Betty Friedan -- they’re Americans whose names we know. They are leaders whose legacies we teach. They are giants who fill our history books. Well, Dr. Dorothy Height deserves a place in this pantheon. She, too, deserves a place in our history books. (Applause.) She, too, deserves a place of honor in America’s memory.

Look at her body of work. Desegregating the YWCA. Laying the groundwork for integration on Wednesdays in Mississippi. Lending pigs to poor farmers as a sustainable source of income. Strategizing with civil rights leaders, holding her own, the only woman in the room, Queen Esther to this Moses Generation -- even as she led the National Council of Negro Women with vision and energy -- (applause) -- with vision and energy, vision and class.

But we remember her not solely for all she did during the civil rights movement. We remember her for all she did over a lifetime, behind the scenes, to broaden the movement’s reach. To shine a light on stable families and tight-knit communities. To make us see the drive for civil rights and women’s rights not as a separate struggle, but as part of a larger movement to secure the rights of all humanity, regardless of gender, regardless of race, regardless of ethnicity.

It’s an unambiguous record of righteous work, worthy of remembrance, worthy of recognition. And yet, one of the ironies is, is that year after year, decade in, decade out, Dr. Height went about her work quietly, without fanfare, without self-promotion. She never cared about who got the credit. She didn’t need to see her picture in the papers. She understood that the movement gathered strength from the bottom up, those unheralded men and women who don't always make it into the history books but who steadily insisted on their dignity, on their manhood and womanhood. (Applause.) She wasn’t interested in credit. What she cared about was the cause. The cause of justice. The cause of equality. The cause of opportunity. Freedom’s cause.

And that willingness to subsume herself, that humility and that grace, is why we honor Dr. Dorothy Height. As it is written in the Gospel of Matthew: “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” I don’t think the author of the Gospel would mind me rephrasing: “whoever humbles herself will be exalted.” (Applause.)

One of my favorite moments with Dr. Height -- this was just a few months ago -- we had decided to put up the Emancipation Proclamation in the Oval Office, and we invited some elders to share reflections of the movement. And she came and it was a inter-generational event, so we had young children there, as well as elders, and the elders were asked to share stories. And she talked about attending a dinner in the 1940s at the home of Dr. Benjamin Mays, then president of Morehouse College. And seated at the table that evening was a 15-year-old student, “a gifted child,” as she described him, filled with a sense of purpose, who was trying to decide whether to enter medicine, or law, or the ministry.

And many years later, after that gifted child had become a gifted preacher -- I’m sure he had been told to be on his best behavior -- after he led a bus boycott in Montgomery, and inspired a nation with his dreams, he delivered a sermon on what he called “the drum major instinct” -- a sermon that said we all have the desire to be first, we all want to be at the front of the line.

The great test of a life, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, is to harness that instinct; to redirect it towards advancing the greater good; toward changing a community and a country for the better; toward doing the Lord’s work.

I sometimes think Dr. King must have had Dorothy Height in mind when he gave that speech. For Dorothy Height met the test. Dorothy Height embodied that instinct. Dorothy Height was a drum major for justice. A drum major for equality. A drum major for freedom. A drum major for service. And the lesson she would want us to leave with today -- a lesson she lived out each and every day -- is that we can all be first in service. We can all be drum majors for a righteous cause. So let us live out that lesson. Let us honor her life by changing this country for the better as long as we are blessed to live. May God bless Dr. Dorothy Height and the union that she made more perfect. (Applause.)

10:54 A.M. EDT

IFGE 2011 Conference In DC Area For Third Straight Year

The 2010 International Foundation For Gender Education 24th annual conference came to a successful conclusion last week in Alexandria, VA. After they catch their breath, the IFGE team will being the planning process for next year's event.

For those of you who wish to attend the 25th Annual IFGE Conference in 2011 or get a head start on planning your life around it, I can tell you the date and the city it will be held in.

It will be held in the Washington DC metro area for the third straight year and the dates for the 2011 Conference will be April 14 - 17, 2011.

IFGE is working on getting the same hotel, the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center hotel in Alexandria, VA to host it. As soon as I can get confirmation from Bree, Denise and the rest of the IFGE gang that the hotel is the same, I'll pass that info along to you.

In the meantime, watch the IFGE website and Facebook page for updates, info on submitting seminar proposals and any other breaking news on the 25th annual conference. The IFGE conference as always is open to our allies and people who wish to learn more about the lives of transpeople and our issues.

And one of the things I'll be interested in finding out is who makes up the Trinity Class of 2011.

Amanda Gonzalez Andujar Vigil Video

For those of you who couldn't be there to pay your respects, thanks to YouTube, you get to see what transpired at the recent vigil for Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar.

There is also this great post about the April 24 vigil from the Vivirlatino blog.

May you rest in peace sis, and may the person that prematurely ended you life be punished for it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Shut Up Fool! Awards-136th Kentucky Oaks Edition

In a few hours, we'll have the 136th running of the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. While many of you peeps around the planet have heard of the 'Run For The Roses', the 'Run For the Lillies' is not as well known as its distaff cousin.

Rachel Alexandra was last year's runaway winner by 20 lengths of the Oaks, and there was major sentiment in town for her to run against the boys in the Derby. Her owner decided to successfully run her instead in the 2009 Preakness.

Today at Churchill Downs is considered Louisville's day at the races. You'll see women coiffed in fashionable Derby hats on this day just like you will tomorrow, the only difference is that all the races, including the Oaks will be run by fillies.

We'll continue the equine theme of this week's SUF post. Our not so nettlesome task TransGriot readers, will be to determine who was the biggest horse's anus worthy of a Shut Up Fool! Award.

As usual the contenders ranged from the usual suspects of Beck, Palin, O'Reilly, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Michael Steele, and Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ).

But this week's winner was suggested by Renee of Womanist Musings, and I had to agree with her on this one.

Our Shut Up Fool Award goes to Iowa 3rd District Republican candidate for Congress Pat Bertroche.

He's one of seven candidates in a crowded GOP June 8 primary, and this waste of DNA stated during a Tama County candidate forum his solution to the undocumented worker immigration problem.

"I think we should catch 'em, we should document 'em, make sure we know where they are and where they are going. He went on to say to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, "I actually support microchipping them. I can microchip my dog so I can find it. Why can't I microchip an illegal?"

He supported the idea because he feels that too many illegal immigrants find ways to tunnel under fences, and the microchip embedded under their skin would make immigration control simpler.

You know Pat, you and your fellow conservafools need to coordinate your national message of racist intolerance better. Implanting microchips into someone against their will is against the law in California, Wisconsin and North Dakota.

The GOP controlled Georgia Senate passed a bill Wednesday banning what you're suggesting. The GOP controlled legislature in Virginia did the same and a GOP legislator in Tennessee was introducing a bill to doing the same.

However, knowing the competition amongst GOP members to be more obnoxiously racist and 'conservative than thou' will probably result in this bill being amended to incorporate your jacked up idea that violates civil liberties and the Constitution in so many ways I'd need another post to document them all.

I hope the good citizens of Iowa voting in the GOP primary have the good sense to not choose you as their standard bearer.

Um, on second it, Iowa. That will ensure the Democratic incumbent returns to Washington DC in January.

Pat Bertroche, shut the HELL up fool!

Stop Spinning Negro Conservafools-The Teabaggers Are STILL Racist

The Tea Party peeps have a major image problem thanks to their nekulturny behavior and the fact their movement is as white as a Republican party convention.

In addition, they have views and have acted in ways that put them in alignment with people who like to wear white pointed hoods on the weekends or play domestic terrorist soldier while spouting pseudo christian rhetoric or anti government slogans.

In their recent charm offensive they tried to deploy their Negro auxiliaries to make the ludicrous case to the media and people of color that 'they aren't racists'.

Well, those signs y'all carry at the Tea Klux Klan rallies say otherwise.

The charge has been led by Oreo Barbie, oops Angela McGlowan, who is currently running for Congress in Mississippi's 1st District in a three way Republican primary.

It's "not about a black or white issue, it's not even about Republican or Democrat, from my standpoint. All of us are taxed too much."

Angela, you're not on Fox News anymore. Out of 30 OCED ranked nations, the USA ranks 28th in terms of tax burden on a one income married couple with two kids. Go peddle that manure somewhere else.

And oh yeah Miss Thang, the Field Negro is still patiently waiting for you in Philly to debate him.

If that wasn't enough, Bigot Harry Jackson (he doesn't get or deserve from me the respect of calling him Bishop) came out of hibernation from the pimp slapping he got in the DC marriage battle and tried to spin for Teabagger Nation.

In a recent column titled "Is Brewing Tea Dangerous?", Jackson suggested that what the Tea Partiers need is a full-blown PR-directed makeover.

Jackson offered up a tablespoon of advice to the Tea Party movement: Clean up your image. "Now that you know how you are perceived [by the media], what are you going to do"?, Jackson asked.

Give it up conservanegroes. We've already peeped the Teabagger game. They are just Obama 'Two Minute Hate' rallies disguised as anti-tax protests.

And no amount of spin from you Oreo cookie chompers can dissuade us from thinking otherwise.

Patricia Underwood Discrimination Case

TransGriot Note: Since ENDA is languishing in committee right now, thought I'd bring up this piece of African-American trans history that I discovered in the digitized JET magazine archives. It was reported in JET Magazine's June 27, 1994 issue, using proper pronouns I might add.

It once again drives home the point that not only do African descended transpeople exist, the issues we face ain't nothing new, and in many cases we took positive action to fight back.

Patricia Underwood transitioned and underwent SRS in 1982, but found herself a decade later embroiled in a legal battle after being dismissed from her receptionist job because in their words 'she looked too much like a man'.

Then 31 year old Washington DC resident Patricia Underwood sued New York City based Archer Management Services Inc., a New York City-based firm with a Washington DC office where she was employed.

Because federal laws do not (and still don't) properly protect transpeople against discrimination, Underwood flied suit in U.S. District Court under the broader D.C. Human Rights Law that prohibits discrimination based on personal appearance.

She alleged in her suit she was fired because because she is a transsexual and retains some masculine traits such as her large bone structure.

Gender identity and expression in the areas of employment, schools, housing and public accommodations were added to the DC law in 2006.

"I just want to stand up and say that I am not a freak, but a person," said Underwood at the time. "I was doing the work they asked me to do well, and I don't deserve to be treated like that because of my looks."

Archer in a statement according to JET, said it "vigorously denies any allegations of wrongdoing made by Patricia Underwood." It said it believes that her claim of discrimination based on personal appearance is, "without merit ... and that all of Archer's actions related to Patricia Underwood were wholly lawful and nondiscriminatory."

The Underwood v. Archer Management Services, Inc. case was the first effort to determine if the 1977 DC Human Rights Law's looks-oriented discrimination provision applied to transsexuals.

Archer moved to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim, arguing that the Act does not forbid discrimination against transsexuals. U.S. District Judge Richey disagreed, at least in part, finding that Underwood's factual allegations arguably stated a claim of discrimination on the basis of personal appearance (i.e., the reference to "masculine traits").

Richey followed well-established Title VII precedent at the time in dismissing that portion of the complaint based on sex discrimination. Interestingly, he also dismissed the portion based on sexual orientation discrimination, finding that none of Underwood's factual allegations raised any issue about her sexual orientation (and implicitly recognizing that sexual orientation and transsexuality are distinct phenomena). 1994 WL 369468 (U.S. Dist. Ct., D.C., July 12).

Note to all you GL people claiming transpeople are covered under 'sexual orientation language' when y'all move to cut us out of legislation. This case says it doesn't.

Did Patricia Underwood receive justice? Still trying to find out if that case was eventually resolved to her and her attorney Wayne Cohen's satisfaction.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Taking A TransGriot Writing Break

Needed to take a break TransGriot readers. Had to run some errands and pack in addition to tying up loose ends on the board I serve as a member of.

To top it off I woke up with a headache. I'm also on countdown to my birthday, and I tend to get more introspective and moody the closer I get to that day.

So once I've done what I need to do and I'm feeling better, I'll get back to my regular posting schedule tomorrow. If some issue or issues moves me to comment on it before midnight I'll write and post it.

In the meantime, you TransGriot readers have a blessed day.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sistah Sportscasters-A Proud Legacy

When you flip on the television to watch your favorite sporting event, it's not unusual to see and hear Black women such as Doris Burke doing the play by play, the analysis of Kara Lawson, Carolyn Peck and Cheryl Miller before, during and after the game breaking down what's transpiring on the field or the court or studio anchors such as Cindy Brunson reading the sports scores and breaking sports news of the day.

Sistah sportscasters have come a long way since Jayne Kennedy made history and news when she was tapped in 1978 to replace Phyllis George on 'The NFL Today', the CBS lead in show for its NFL broadcasts. Kennedy left the show in 1983, about the time a fledgling sports network was starting to expand to a national presence by becoming part of the basic cable packages of a nation wiring for cable.

ESPN is considered a leader in sports television 30 years later, and has also led the way has in opening doors and diversifying the what was once male dominated domain of sports broadcasting.

ESPN has excelled in hiring quality women sportscasters. One of the women ESPN hired in 1990, Robin Roberts, is considered the gold standard when it comes to the level of excellence that the current group of sportscasting sistahs aspire to reach and surpass.

Robin earned three Emmy Awards during her ESPN tenure and after working both for ESPN and doing GMA assignments, moved on to eventually became part of the Good Morning America team. She was recently promoted to anchor for GMA with the elevation of Diane sawyer to the ABC Evening News anchor desk.

My Texas homegirl Pam Oliver was a weekend sports anchor for KHOU-TV before she made the move to ESPN and eventually FOX Sports to become their sideline reporter for their NFL and college football telecasts. EBONY magazine named her as one of their 2004 Outstanding Women in Journalism honorees.

The Dallas native has the distinction of having her own dressing room with her name on the door at the new Cowboys Stadium.

Cindy Brunson has been an ESPN studio anchor since September 1999 and before joining the network covered the Portland Trail Blazers and the University of Oregon and Oregon State men's and women's basketball and the Oregon Ducks football program for a Portland television station.

I also have to give a shoutout to the new school sistah sportscasters who are currently getting attention and air time.

ESPN's Sage Steele has been with the network since March 2007 after stops in Indianapolis, the Tampa-St Petersburg area and Washington DC.

You can catch her when you tune in to ESPN in the mornings, but she used to cover the Baltimore Ravens during her time in DC.

Lisa Salters has been part of ABC Sports and ESPN since March 2000 as one of their sideline reporters for its NBA and football coverage, but her background is in broadcast news.

The cousin of Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett covered as a ABC Los Angeles bureau based reporter from 1995-2000 the Oklahoma City bombing trials, the Matthew Shepard murder, the crash of TWA Flight 800, and both the civil and criminal O.J. Simpson trials.

Reischea Canidate has made the move from New York City television stations to Bristol, CT. She also received an Emmy nomination for her report on the dwindling numbers of African-Americans in professional baseball.

The other interesting aspect of Salters and Canidate is that like Pam Oliver, Kara Lawson and Cheryl Miller they were also college athletes, in addition to having their broadcast journalism chops.

I enjoy watching all these ladies not only for the quality work they do, but their sense of style as well.

The legacy of sistah sportscasters is not only in good hands, these women are serving as role models for the next generation of girls who wish to follow in their footsteps and expand on their legacies.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ask The Panthers What Would Happen If The Teabaggers Were Black

There's been a lot of hue and cry from the 'white' wing about Dr. Tim Wise's 'Imagine If The Tea Party Were Black' post that's been linked to at blogs across the Blackosphere.

Some of the dismissive comments from the defenders of whiteness call it 'speculative' and tried to shout Wise's conclusions down since it didn't jibe with their vanilla flavored conservaworldview.

But it ain't 'speculation' what the reaction of whiteness and the Feds would be to an armed group of Black people calling for radical change to the system. All you have to do is pick up the history books and go back to the 1966 formation in Oakland of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

The BPP got the attention of California state legislators when they began exercising their rights under California law to openly carry loaded shotguns as part of their confrontational defense tactics against police brutality.

On May 2, 1967 in protest of the Mulford Act, a proposed law to ban public displays of loaded firearms, 30 armed Panthers traveled to Sacramento and legally sauntered into the Cali state Capitol building with loaded shotguns.

Thanks to their brief merger with SNCC, the rapid expansion of the BPP into major cities across the nation amassing a half million members in the process, and the fact riots against our negative treatment started occurring in many cities in 1965 and you can see how jittery the Black Panther Party made the powers that be.

The Panthers also gained support in the Black community thanks to their successful survival programs offering free breakfasts for children, free clothing distribution, classes on politics and economics, free medical clinics, lessons on self-defense and first aid, transportation to upstate prisons for family members of inmates, an emergency-response ambulance program, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and testing for sickle-cell anemia.

The BPP Ten-Point Program called for changes that made them even more threatening.

1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our black community.
2. We want full employment for our people.
3. We want an end to the robbery by the capitalists of our black community.
4. We want decent housing fit for the shelter of human beings.
5. We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present-day society.
6. We want all black men to be exempt from military service.
7. We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people.
8. We want freedom for all black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails.
9. We want all black people when brought to trial to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their black communities, as defined by the constitution of the United States.
10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace.

The exemption from military service was replaced in 1972 by a demand for completely free health care for all black and oppressed people.

Of course, the reaction to the mushrooming popularity of the Panthers in the African American community had to be stopped. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in September 1968 described the Black Panthers as "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country' and targeted them for 'neutralization' by the FBI's infamous COINTELPRO program.

Thanks to armed clashes with the police, infiltration, steadily dropping membership numbers and other COINTELPRO shenanigans the power of the BPP was broken by the mid 70's.

So no, don't doubt for a minute that the reaction of the media and conservafools would be quite different if the teabaggers were all Black instead of racist sore loser white people with deficient spelling abilities hatin' on President Obama.

A Movie That Doesn't Tick Us Off- 'Paulista'

Note to Israel Luna: a movie opened in an LA film festival recently that will give you more than a clue about the proper way to represent transpeople in film.

Lost in the uproar about TOTWK is the opening of a movie featuring a trans character that unlike that jacked up film, has garnered rave reviews. It also features 'gasp', a transwoman actress playing her transwoman character in a non-stereotypical fashion.

The Brazilian made movie directed by Roberto Moreira is called 'Paulista'. Ir focuses on the lives and exploits of several young people living in a Sao Paulo apartment building and looking for love.

One of the interesting characters in 'Paulista' is played by transwoman Maria Clara Spinelli.

She plays an attorney named Suzana, who tentatively begins to open her heart to another attorney named Gil at her firm. But she faces the 'when do I tell him' dilemma common to all transwomen who find themselves falling in love with cismen.

Once she does, Gil has a hard time getting past her trans status and allowing himself to fall in love with the person in front of him.

Spinelli has gotten rave reviews for her portrayal of Suzana on the film festival circuit and even picked up a best actress award in the process.

Wouldn't it be nice if more US filmmakers actually hired trans actors to play transpeople in films as has been done in other nations?

It's the reason I want to see 'Stealth' when it finally gets released.

But I'm digressing. If 'Paulista' hits my local indie film theater back in H-town, I'm definitely planning on seeing it.

A Transsistah's Secret-Observation and Practice

When I'm out and about in the world doing my thang as the Phenomenal Transwoman, people will often ask me various questions about different aspects of my transition.

They'll ask how did I learn how to do my makeup? They'll compliment me on my fashion sense and style. People will ask me how I and other transwomen are able to effortlessly blend into various social situations and look fly doing it.

So how do we become the women we desire to project to the world? There are two key words that basically explain how we're able to do so; observation and practice.

I have learned my femininity (and still do) the same way any cis woman does.

I observe the world and the various women around me whose style and demeanor I admire, pick out the various elements and qualities I like, and then spend time practicing and perfecting what I learn.

Whether it's trying different combinations and colors of makeup, trying various hairstyles, discerning the lengths of hair and colors that complement our facial structures and skin tones, what clothing colors and styles work best for us, and even learning how to effortless walk in heels, we expend a lot of effort in perfecting our feminine presentations.

We do so because we had to overcome obstacles in our path to get to where we needed to be to project to the world on the outside the women we are on the inside. The trials and tribulations we go though as transwomen put us in the position where we don't take femininity for granted.

And a little does of reality here, the observation and practice we put in toward perfecting our feminine presentation can not only possible save our lives, but get us through our days without unnecessary drama.

Because we chocolate transwomen have had decades worth of fashion forward examples to observe and admire from Diahann Carroll to First Lady Michelle Obama, in order for us to blend in with our cissisters, we're willing to spend the time to make sure that we are projecting the same air of elegance, class and innovative fashion forward style while wishing to be seen as compliments to Black womanhood, not detriments to it.

That desire is even more acute amongst Black people of my generation. We were raised to never being seen as 'embarrassing the race'.

So me and my transsisters will continue to do our parts to look our gender best by observing our cissisters, practicing what we see, and coming up with our own signature style.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Children Of Light, The Children of Darkness Are Winning

'It is still one of the tragedies of human history that the 'children of darkness are frequently more determined and zealous than the children of light' Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I look at that MLK quote juxtaposed against our own early 21st century time frame and right now it's clear the children of darkness, who I interpret as anti-human rights forces, are on the march.

They seem to be more determined and more willing to do what it takes (legally and illegally) to get their agenda passed than we children of light are.

Our job as the 'children of light' isn't easy. We have to build consensus amongst a vast, ethnically diverse coalition with multiple interests, but educate, cajole, lobby, and describe a vision of the world as we wish and need it to be.

While we're trying to accomplish that task, we shout to be heard above the Conservative Noise Machine and their reams of rapid fire propaganda from Faux News u.

All the children of darkness have to do as defenders of the jacked up status quo is lie, cheat, obfuscate and bamboozle good people into working against their own economic and political interests.

You know, like the teabaggers.

But if we children of light wish to see a country and a world that reflects our values instead of one of fear, anger and hate, then we need to get busy making it happen.

And the first step to it is going to the ballot box and making sure we elect candidates who are committed to making that type of positive world a reality.

While we're organizing to win elections for the next thirty to forty years it's going to take to erase all the conservacrap set in motion by Saint Ronald of Reagan's election and 30 years of mean spirited godless conservatism, we also need to be building our coalitions and doing a much better job of articulating our message.

Because the only way the children of light are going to overcome the children of darkness is to become more tough minded and determined than them to fight for our vision of America and save the conservasheeple from themselves.

Tracee McDaniel Interview

Here's an interview with Atlanta transwoman Tracee McDaniel on 3LW TV

Elizabeth's MAGNET Rally Testimony

If you want to know why many transpeople are ticked off about TOTWK, check out this video of Elizabeth Marie Rivera-Valentine's testimony at the MAGNET protest rally held Friday outside the Tribeca theater in which the movie was playing.

What Else Is New?- Black Transpeople Getting Harassed By New Orleans Po-Po's

TransGriot Note: Black transpeople getting harassed by the po-po's is nothing new as witnessed by the lawsuit recently filed by the ACLU against the Newark Police department and the late Duanna Johnson's beatdown in Memphis.

Here's a truthout story forwarded by Stephanie Stevens about my New Orleans transsisters complaints of NOPD harassment.


Transgender Community in New Orleans Claims Police Harassment

Saturday 24 April 2010

by: Jordan Flaherty, t r u t h o u t | Report

New Orleans' black and transgender community members and advocates complain of rampant and systemic harassment and discrimination from the city's police force, including sexual violence and arrest without cause. Activists hope that public outrage at recent revelations of widespread police violence and corruption offer an opportunity to make changes in police behavior and practice.

On a recent weekday evening, a group of transgender women met in the Midcity offices of Brotherhood Incorporated, an organization that provides health care and fights the spread of HIV and AIDS in low-income black communities. When the conversation turned to the police, the mood in the room turned to outrage as each woman had a story of harassment and abuse. Tyra Fields, a health worker who facilitated the meeting, told a story of being arrested without cause one night as she walked into a gay bar. "They never give us a reason they are arresting us," she said, explaining that being black and transgendered is often enough reason for arrest, generally on prostitution-related charges.

A young and soft-spoken transgendered woman named Keyasia told a story of being persecuted by police who followed her as she walked down the street, rushed into her apartment and arrested her in her own home. "Within the last four or five months, I've been to jail eight or nine times," said Keyasia. "All for something I didn't do. Because I'm a homosexual, that means I'm a prostitute in their eyes." Expressing the frustration in the room, she added, "I want to go to the French Quarter and hang out and have cocktails just like everyone else. Why can't I?"

Diamond Morgan, another of the women, said she has faced a pattern of harassment from police that begins, she said, "Once they discover my transgender status." She said she has been arrested and sexually assaulted by police and by employees of Orleans Parish Prison, who are part of New Orleans Office of Criminal Sheriff. She details her own personal experience of assault and those of friends, adding that Orleans Parish Prison is a site that many women she knows speaks of as especially abusive. She said that sexual assault of transgender women is common at the jail and other women in the room agree.

Tracy Brassfield, a transgender sex worker activist also attending the meeting, has dedicated herself to fighting against discrimination. Originally from Florida, Brassfield moved to New Orleans because she fell in love with the city. "But when I got here," she said, "I started running into problems with the police." These problems included what Brassfield calls deliberate harassment from officers who she said are targeting black transgender women not because of any crime they've committed, but just because of who they are. "They say, you're transgendered, you're a fag, you're a punk, you're going to jail," she said.

Brassfield decided to fight back and organize: "I was raised in an activist family," she said. "I know my civil rights." She has contacted local social justice and legal advocacy organizations such as Women With A Vision, Critical Resistance, the ACLU of Louisiana and the Orleans Public Defenders, seeking allies in her struggle. She has also reached out in the community of transgender women. "My thing is put it out there, get it exposed," she explained. "This is not just about me, this is about everyone."

Patterns of Violence

Both local and national attention is currently being directed on the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). In recent months, the city has been rocked by revelations of police murder and cover-ups, with the justice department and FBI investigating at least eight separate cases, and signs that the federal government is headed toward a takeover of the department. Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu is engaged in a national search for a new police chief, telling reporters that the department needs "a complete culture change."

Although the current federal investigations have not looked into police treatment of the black and transgender community, advocates hope that the justice department will also look into these complaints.

Members of the city's larger gay community complain about unwarranted arrests and a criminalization of sexuality, with police specifically targeting bars in the gay community. "If a gay man wants consensual sex, the undercover officer lies and said money was offered," said John Rawls, a gay civil rights attorney who has spent decades in New Orleans fighting on these issues.

Advocates and community members also said that once gay men and transgender women are arrested for offering sex, they are more likely than others arrested in similar circumstances to be charged with a "crime against nature," a felony charge. The law, which dates back to 1805, makes it a crime against nature to engage in "unnatural copulation" - a term New Orleans police and the district attorney's office have interpreted to mean soliciting for anal or oral sex. Those who are convicted under this law are issued longer jail sentences and forced to register as sex offenders. They must also carry a driver's license with the label "sex offender" printed on it. The women's health care organization Women With A Vision has recently formed a coalition with several advocacy and legal organizations to attempt to fight this use of the sex offender law.

Stories of Abuse

Wendi Cooper, a black and transgender health care worker, was charged under the law almost ten years ago. Although Cooper only tried prostitution very briefly and has not tried it again since her arrest, she still faces harassment from the police. She is frequently stopped, and when they run her ID through the system and find out about the prostitution charge, they threaten to arrest her again, or, sometimes, she alleged, they demand sex.

"Police will see that I been to jail for the charge," she said. "And then they'll try to have me, forcefully, sexually ... One I had sex with, because I didn't want to go to jail."

Thinking about her experiences with police over the years, Cooper got quiet. "Sometimes I just wanna do something out the ordinary and just expose it, you know?" She sighed. "They hurt me, you know? And I just hope they do something about it."

In response to the allegations of abuse, NOPD spokesman Bob Young responded, "Persons are charged according to the crime they commit." He encouraged anyone with complaints to come file them with the department, adding, "the NOPD has not received any complaints against plain clothes officers assigned to the vice squad."

The New Orleans Office of Criminal Sheriff did not respond to requests for comment. However, a September 2009 report from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) found that, "conditions at OPP violate the constitutional rights of inmates." The DOJ went on to report; "Inmates confined at OPP are not adequately protected from harm, including physical harm from excessive use of force by staff." And documented "a pattern and practice of unnecessary and inappropriate use of force by OPP correctional officers." This included "several examples where OPP officers openly engaged in abusive and retaliatory conduct, which resulted in serious injuries to prisoners. In some instances, the investigation found, the officers' conduct was so flagrant it clearly constituted calculated abuse."

Abuse Starts at a Young Age

Wesley Ware, a youth advocate at Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, said that harassment against those who are perceived as gay or gender noncomforming begins at a young age and can include hostility from their parents, fellow students and often from school staff. According to Ware, this leads many of these youths to bring weapons to school to defend themselves. "Gay and bisexual boys and young men are four times more likely to carry a weapon to school," he said. "Of homeless youth, 50 percent identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Of kids in youth detention, 13 percent are LGBT." Ware adds that many of these youth face an unsympathetic court, including judges who think that they will help "cure" gay youth by sending them to juvenile detention. "Ninety-nine percent of the kids in youth detention in New Orleans are black," added Ware. "So obviously what we're talking about is youth of color."

"This community is facing systemic discrimination in pretty much every system they deal with," said Emily Nepon, a staff member of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a legal organization that fights for transgender racial and economic justice. According to Nepon, women in this community deal with intersecting forms of oppression. "High levels of employment discrimination, housing discrimination, overpolicing, profiling that leads to higher incarceration rates and higher levels of abuse within prisons."

Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu calls criminal justice one of his signature issues. But will he be willing or able to try to change the culture of the New Orleans police? Advocates say change will not come easy. "You can do a million police trainings," added Nepon. "But in general, that doesn't have an impact on rampant police homophobia."

Many advocates believe federal oversight can make a difference in these patterns of police abuse. They are also pressing for an end to the use of the crime against nature statute, as well as a general shift from charging people with nonviolent offenses. Attorney John Rawls, who is generally supportive of current Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, believes the DA understands that the current use of the sex offender statute invites discrimination.

However, added Rawls, it will be hard to get his office to stop charging people under the statute. "People who hold powerful offices have many motives and one of them is they love being powerful," he said. "Prosecutors get their power from criminal statutes. The more statutes they have, the more ways they can prosecute someone, the more power they have." If activists are going to challenge this power, they will need to utilize the current public outrage for far-reaching reforms, said Rawls.

Back at the meeting at the Brotherhood Incorporated offices, Brassfield urged women to stand up and fight back. "We need to document," she said. "What you want to do is illustrate a pattern of harassment and abuse." She handed out fliers and phone numbers for Women With A Vision, Critical Resistance and a sympathetic lawyer. "We have to look out for each other," she said. "I want to organize, just what we're doing now. The girls got to stick together."

© 2010 truthout

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hubble Space Telescope Launch 20th Anniversary

Today is the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, named for renowned astronomer Edwin Hubble.

On April 24, 1990 the Hubble Space telescope was launched on the STS-31 mission. It was the culmination of the dreams of many astronomers and astrophysicists to have a telescope in low Earth orbit free of the distortion of our atmosphere.

It was designed to be serviced in space, and that part of its design turned out to be fortuitous.

Not long after its deployment in space, it was discovered that one of the mirrors had a flaw that caused fuzzy images instead of the promised clear ones.

But after five repair missions starting in 1993, the Hubble was repaired, and we Earthlings began to be treated to some spectacular photos.

It also provided scientists with answers to some questions about our universe, debunked others and created new ones.

The Hubble 20 years later has exceeded expectations. Its lifespan has been extended until a new and improved space telescope can be deployed in 2014.

So happy launch anniversary Hubble. And keep those beautiful photos coming.

Arizona's Unjust Law

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust?

A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
Letter From A Birmingham Jail, 16 April 1963.

I guess Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer wasn't paying attention when Arizona suffered the boycott during the 80's and 90's for being a state vehemently opposed to a King holiday.

Brewer signed that abomination of an anti-immigration law Friday that was denounced as 'misguided' by President Obama.

Despite your long winded speech Friday trying to defend it, while I was watching it you morphed in my mind into anti civil rights governors such as Orville Faubus, George Wallace, and Ross Barnett.

I don't want to hear any more of that 'there's no difference between Democrats and Republicans' from people on the left. The previous Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano vetoed similar legislation.

And if any liberal-progressive is considering sitting out the election November 2, I'm questioning your sanity and your dedication to the advancement of progressive civil rights in this country.

And if you thought the Latino/a community was pissed after last summer's confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor...

You ain't seen nothing yet. You may have just jumped off a shift of Latino/a's to the Democratic party column for at least a decade.

Not good when your share of the Klan hood wearing vote is shrinking and 2050 will be here before you know it.

Arizona, say goodbye to your chances of landing:

The Super Bowl
Any future NCAA men's or women's Final Four or NCAA regional
Major conventions or conferences
Relocations of corporate HQ's with international divisions
International sporting events.
Concerts from major music artists opposed to this unjust law
Tourists for your centennial celebration in 2012 and in general.

There's a cost for passing unjust laws.

If you think I'm kidding, Cincinnati lost an estimated $600 million dollars, two corporate headquarters relocations, numerous conventions and the opportunity to become the US bid city for the 2012 Summer Games because of the anti gay measure they passed in the early 90's that they didn't repeal until 2004.

So how long, Arizona will you keep an unjust law on the books?

How much are you willing to lose to do so?

Amen, Roland!

I love my Houston homeboy, CNN and TJMS commentator Roland S. Martin.

This Aggie (yes, he's a Texas A&M alum) kicks butt and takes names when it comes to ignorance and stupidity, like he did recently when he took on Confederate history revisionists earlier this month in the wake of Virginia governor Bob McDonnell's Confederate History Month proclamation.

And I will never, under any circumstances, cast Confederates as heroic figures who should be honored and revered. No, they have been, and forever will be, domestic terrorists. Roland S. Martin CNN

Keep speaking truth to power, Roland!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Archie Dates A Sistah

So what does the Archie comics team do for an encore after a six comic dream sequence storyline in which Archie gets married to both Betty and Veronica?

That storyline also garnered increased sales and media attention for the iconic comic franchise and rekindled a lot of Archie comic book fans like myself interest in the hijinks and goings on in Riverdale.

Can you say 'interracial relationship' TransGriot boys and girls?

And no, Archie isn't dating Nancy Woods either.

In the soon to be released Archie Comics 608 and 609 Betty and Veronica will have a little competition for Archie's affections from an unexpected direction.

Her name is Valerie Brown, and you've seen her before. She's the lead songwriter and bassist for Josie And the Pussycats.

I used to read those comics on the regular as well and get up on Saturday mornings to watch the cartoon version.

What sets up the story entitled 'It Starts With a Kiss' is the Archies do a joint musical tour with Josie and the Pussycats. Of course Alexander Cabot as the Pussycats manager sets up some shady stuff unbeknownst to either band which results in Josie and the Pussycats getting top billing instead of co-equal status.

That gets unraveled by Veronica's cousin Marcy, who is acting as the Archies agent.

During this tour a romance gets kindled between Valerie and Archie, and you'll have to get Issues 608 and 609 to find out how.

Yep, will have to head back to my fave comic shop to pick these issue up. I'm just as curious to see how this is going to play out as well.

Shut Up Fool! Awards-Countdown To Derby Week Edition

Thunder Over Louisville last weekend began the countdown to the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1. In the interim, we have the Kentucky Derby Festival happening in Da Ville.

The festival is chock full of events ranging from star-studded parties, parades, the marathon, a balloon race, and various other events and concerts from now until the 136th Kentucky Oaks on April 30 and the Run For the Roses..

It's Friday, and y'all know what that means. It's time to see what fool or fools will win, place or show themselves to be the fools we know they are or reveal themselves to be this week.

As always there were too many fools and not enough room in this post to chronicle all of them. There';s the usual suspects of Beck, Hannity, Palin and Steele along with various people in the GOP.

But we're going to stay local this week. Just across the Sherman Minton Bridge in New Albany, IN to be precise.

Our award winner this week is New Albany, IN police officer Jack Messer. He stated after a NAPD roll call on January 22 that 'giving civil rights to African-Americans was “the worst thing they ever did.”

So what, you say as you shrug you shoulders? Messer also happens to sit on the New Albany city council.

If you were walking in my chocolate pumps, would you want or trust a cop with those attitudes? To add to my community's concerns, this person is also in a position to make public policy.

It's why the New Albany chapter of the NAACP is going batshit crazy over it, as well they should. Of course Messer is now doing the tried and true spin tactic of peeps when backlash develops over something they said by claiming he 'misspoke'.

He now says that he believes blacks "should have every right everyone else has."

Yeah, right. That's not what you were thinking on January 22 when you expressed yourself to your fellow New Albany police officers.

Jack Messer, shut up fool!

And Then There Were Four

Ten years ago in Alexandria, VA Dawn Wilson became the first African-American transperson to win the IFGE Trinity Award.

Today in that same hotel and locale, longtime Washington, DC activist Earline Budd along with Laura Calvo and Jennifer Barge received their 2010 IFGE Trinity Awards at the IFGE 2010 Capital Conference awards luncheon.

In picking up her award, Earline Budd made a little history. She became the fourth African-American transperson and the first since 2006 to win the US transgender community's second highest service award.

Dr. Marisa Richmond won it in 2002, and yours truly in 2006.

Congratulations 'Number Four'. You definitely deserved it after all the years of work you have put in on behalf of the trans community in Washington DC.

Know that your sisters and brothers outside the beltway deeply appreciate it.

Here's hoping that we see more deserving trans people of color picking up a Trinity and that we get to see a trans brother win one as well.