Lateisha Green Post-Conviction Update & Essence Interview

I have some good news to share for those interested in justice across the board. The now-convicted murderer Dwight DeLee has been sentenced 25-years to life for killing Lateisha Green. Ms. Green was a lovely trangender woman who was brutally murdered by DeLee for no reason other than her gender identity which I’ve discussed in this post.

While this won’t bring her back at least her family can take some comfort (I hope) knowing consequences have been meted out. As someone who has experienced the murder of a beloved innocent sibling by a DBR (damaged beyond recognition) black male I wish that one chapter would be closed. If there can be no justice in this life I trust there will be some in the afterlife. See the great post that blog host Monica wrote up at Transgriot.

One other interesting development is how MESSence, er Essence magazine interviewed Lateisha’s mother Roxanne Green and published it on their web portal. I think they are desperately trying to combat the negative publicity and ridicule they justifiably received after a) telling black women they were low value, desperate and should take whatever they can get by b) dating black men (not suggesting they seek out a man of caliber of any race/ethnicity) WHO FREQUENTS STRIP CLUBS. I for one was very glad my subscription had lapsed and I missed that month of debasement for I most certainly would have cancelled it after being so insulted.

Anyhoo, not to detract from this one incident of decency I still cannot in good conscience recommend any black woman who values herself to ever read MESSence again but this is one interview. You can decide for yourself about that. This is good exposure to an audience of “conservative black church-going black community” loving women though. I wonder how well they’ll respond to this seeing how the strip club recommendation went over many heads.
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Note to Readers, Lurkers & Nurturing Future Alliances

It’s been an especially hectic two weeks at Acts of Faith blog. I know I have readers who are not black or live in “black communities” or have to deal with any of the issues that have been discussed. I bet it’s been an eye-opener! I also am welcoming a lot of new readers who may have found me because I’ve been blog-rolled or due to extra interest from my guest blogging gig. 
I felt a fire had been lit under me and I had to speak out on these issues. It was with the best intentions. Often that means correctly and with utmost accuracy telling the unvarnished truth. We cannot grow without being willing to dig deep. We’ve covered some rather controversial and difficult subjects. I think we will all be better for it.
One of the nicest messages I’ve received in feedback is how many don’t agree with me but find my arguments compelling nonetheless. I appreciate that. We are all coming from different perspectives and will not see eye to eye on everything. I’m not looking for a rah-rah chorus but to be engaged and challenged by others as well. One thing I will not do is claim I alone (or mostly) have all of the “answers” or have a condescending attitude. I’d never be so presumptuous, but I will be very firm about my thoughts on these matters.
I will analyze behaviors, choices and actions of the collective even as I look at my own. I don’t need to have grown up in a completely different background to be able to properly think about how damaging or limiting some of those choices are. In fact I think there are times when only someone who’s lived through a similar experience can adequately assess a situation. Ultimately, it isn’t where we’ve come from but where we’re going and how willing we are to get there. 
I also should state emphatically that I don’t hate black men. It’s quite the opposite. What I abhor is the behavior of an increasing majority and the total silence of those that have seen it and done nothing. Recognizing and removing those that devalue or obstruct you is key to living a full life. Some people are so loathe to hold others accountable there are times we have to be extra diligent to try to regain some equilibrium and protect ourselves.
There are men and women who engage in these destructive patterns (enabling or perpetrating) who don’t want to analyze them or change. They do identify with each other and protect each other when they value a similar racial categorization over normative human behavior. That doesn’t apply to everyone, but it pretty much covers a lot of black people. We are not enslaved anymore and don’t have to circle the wagons from outside attack. Not when people on the inside are causing each other mortal wounds.  
So while I reserve the right to revisit these topics I need to have clear boundaries and resist the urge to wallow in them. I am spent. I don’t look at this as some sort of scientific study on Lifestyles of the Pending Underclass. Not when I’m thinking of real-life flesh and blood people. Not when I know that I’ll have to make some hard-line decisions about navigating limited contact with said people. Not physically (already done) but emotionally. Saying that you have to leave and actually moving on and leaving others behind isn’t as simple as waving a magic wand. I don’t want to end up like Lot’s wife. I’m here to inform, not fight every slight or injustice 24/7. The point of discussing these matters is so we move on from them.
We had no say in the families we are born into. We have complete autonomy in choosing who we allow in our lives as adults. Choosing well will help add to the quality of our lives and sustain us in times of trouble. Choosing poorly will bring us nothing but trouble. Being a drag to be around will drive away a lot of great people as well. So will being a people-pleaser or a doormat. 
It’s time to advance. We have to move at our own pace anyway. Some are still evaluating what we’ve been discussing. That’s okay cuz so am I!! I hope many of you will continue to be part of this journey as I write about a wide variety of things I am passionate about. Which long term readers of this blog are already aware of. This week I want to discuss ways in which we build communities and how the best ones function. You’ll still need a seat belt – not to worry.
So what is on your mind? What stories do you find compelling these days? Are there subjects you’d like some attention focused on? Don’t be shy!

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Mandela Would Be Proud: McKinney Returns to Gaza

This time Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney successfully got through the illegal blockade and delivered medicine and other goods to the residents of Gaza!!! Crow if you will but she is certainly one determined African-American woman on a mission of peace. In honor of one criminal, rabble-rouser and terrorist per labeling by the US government, Nelson Mandela set forth a tradition of resistance. He actually practiced what he preached and spend nearly one third of his entire life behind bars. Somehow I just don’t see many of the black male infotainment hustlers and pontificators being willing to give up their manicures and creature comforts to do hard labor. 
I’m not sure what I would’ve done after I’d be kidnapped by a foreign government while trying to aid a separate one, jailed, left to twist in the wind by my gov’t and suddenly released. I don’t think I would’ve turned right back around a mere week later to attempt the very thing that got me kidnapped and charged to begin with. I admire her fortitude. 
Whatever your political viewpoints are regarding this there are two indisputable facts: Hamas is the legally elected gov’t and there’s $4B in gas reserves off the coast of Gaza. Think about that for a minute. Or two…..
The San Francisco Bayview has her article in its entirety. I am including an excerpt here:
Gaza is beautiful. Gaza is full of life, despite Israel’s Operation Cast Lead. And now I have seen, Gaza has been bombed to smithereens. No wonder the Israelis didn’t want photos taken!
I think I’ve mastered my video camera enough to share some images with you. I’ll post them on these sites when I return: 
http://www.livestream.com/dignity 
http://dignity.ning.com/ 
http://www.twitter.com/dignityaction 
http://www.myspace.com/dignityaction 
http://www.myspace.com/runcynthiarun  
http://www.twitter.com/cynthiamckinney 
http://www.facebook.com/CynthiaMcKinney
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You Wanna Know Why ACT UP! Has Been On My Mind Lately?

Many moons ago I took a marketing class for creatives where we were told to find our character in mythology. The key was to get to the core of who we were as individuals and find a way to reach a mass market that cut across nationality and various cultures. Every group has certain archetypes they can easily relate to. They may not share the specific character but they’re similar. This was an intense 6-week process where we set out in groups of five and we needed a large population to approach in person to get an assessment. The person being assessed couldn’t make direct contact. Long story short my character is the goddess that fights injustice. 

 Now I have to be honest I hesitantly agreed with the assessment because I wondered if this was part of the black woman as matriarch savior (to her detriment). I also wondered where the conditioning within the “black community” stood and if that in turn influenced me. At least I can articulate that now, but back then I wasn’t sure why I felt reluctant about adopting it. Since we had to get a sample pool of 20 people per person and complete a complicated process involving Jung and lots of mythology books I finally accepted this. Injustice does bother me as I’m sure it does many people. I wasn’t exactly gunning for Mother Theresa’s position though, but I always figured I’d do my part to try to give back to the world on some level.

 So I’ve volunteered for numerous causes. One of the first organizations I went to was ACT UP! I know living in NYC in the early 90’s had something to do with. Also some of my neighbors were very involved so it was easy. All I had to do was walk upstairs to their apartment, make some calls, go to marches and pass out flyers. It felt good to do something. 

Since reading the post Portraits in Activism: Larry Kramer at Muslim Bushido blog I’ve been thinking about those days again. Another blogger mentioned the group in the comment section yesterday. All which inspired my post from this morning. My friends were very radical. They got into police clashes and put themselves in some precarious situations at times. Of course they were mostly male and white. I was young and idealistic but I wasn’t getting arrested or beat on by cops voluntarily. So I decided flyer duty and speaking at neighborhood meetings was probably more conducive to my health and well-being. What I remember was the passion and the focus. 

 I wondered if this was what it had been like during Civil Rights. Of course I knew that was a LOT more dangerous and to compare the two would be inaccurate. I remember wondering what had happened to the passion from other people for things. I think complacency is too easy a fall-back for many. I think people like talking around issues instead of doing anything about them. I’ve been one of those people as well. We also get bogged down when we have to struggle to meet our needs. Especially if we don’t have help. This comes from doing too much alone. Which brings me back to the “black community” (as viable, reciprocal & supportive to black women and children) lie.

The 2008 election was important to many but where are a lot of them today? There should be just as many people pushing for health care and for a Main Street bailout. We have to be strategic, numerically formidable and persistent. We have to stop waiting for somebody else to step forward. If it is safe to do so we have to – of course using wisdom to assess the situation.

 As a non-white person living in a dominant white culture there is much I could find fault with. There are other abuses and misuses of power going on that have a big impact. I have to talk about all of them, not just the things that may immediately affect me. We have to try to right the cosmic imbalance and get it as balanced as possible. Of course I know things will never be equal, but many people seem stuck on railing against that. We have to move things in increments. So this is how I am doing my part. This may not be your “issue”. Find a cause and put out some effort towards the light. One pebble and one ripple becomes many and we can turn the tide.

The Fight For Justice Continues With the Murder Trial of Lateisha Green

Update: July 17th – A jury convicted Dwight DeLee of manslaughter in the first degree as a hate crime!!!! WooT!! Of course, the caveat is that it was manslaughter and NOT 1st degree murder. Witnesses had been intimidated against testifying (WTF) and Teisha’s brother had also been injured when this miscreant murdered her. So this is a case of a step to the side versus a definitive step forward. Progress for black trans women is slow but it will happen!!!

Justice for Teish Green
So while I will be continuing the discussion about the disordered thinking within the non-existent “black community” I’m stepping aside to get back to some other business of the day. Sonia Sotomayor’s SCOTUS Confirmation hearings are a joke, but not funny. The white male privilege in place really makes me want to throttle some of them and wipe the smirks off their faces. I still think Kimberlie Crenshaw should have been nominated first. 
It would seem our dear President has been advised he needed to make some type of gesture to black women because he nominated Regina Benjamin to the Surgeon General post. Many people are pleased not only because of her work, but because she’s a Delta. Now since one of the black male fraternities extended a membership to former President Bill Clinton will he think he’s got black cred again? Let’s hope not.
Moving on there’s something more serious to mention. Today was the first day of the murder trial of trans woman Lateisha Green being held in Syracuse, New York. Her life was lived in the open which put her at great risk. Currently the Federal Hate Crimes legislation does NOT include gender identity and that needs to change. Here’s to the hope the murderer gets a long prison sentence and the message gets sent that if you murder a transgender person you will be prosecuted and put away.
Photo gallery Press Conference Day One of Trial Transgender Legal Defense with the Green family. It’s nice to know they fully supported her transition which also dispels the myth of blacks being less tolerant than other groups.
I can’t help but think of a case that horrified many of us last year regarding Memphis resident Duanna Johnson. Duanna was taken into custody ostensibly on a prostitution charge that was never filed. She had to be released but not before she was humiliated, cursed at with racial ephitets and physically assaulted by police officers. Thanks to the taped footage of the beating both officers were fired. Yet shortly thereafter Duanna was found murdered. You connect the dots. 
So when the corporate media fails again to cover stories of importance that’s where we bloggers come in. Nice to see GLAAD on top of things as well. There’s a history of gays and lesbians working against transgender rights believe it or not! Hooray for citizen journalism and the stomach to write about these things. It’s not easy to discuss but again, the things that make us squirm are the conversations we need to be having. It might save someone’s life. 

There’s a Facebook page “Justice for Teish” you can join as well.
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In A Fair World Bush Would Be Sentenced to Prison Instead

And Cheney.
And Rumsfield.
And A bunch of others too.
Since we know life doesn’t always pass out party favors, let’s grab a glass of your favorite beverage and raise it in toast of journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison for throwing shoes at #43. Now one could argue that as President Bush deserved some respect but I’d say the office of President is only as good as the person holding it. With the history of how this country was created the pretense of these ideals rings hollow at best. Where’s the real-life Michael Scofield when you need him! If he can be called Mr. President despite all that he did to undermine the (idea of) integrity of the United States then no one else has a leg to stand on about anything #44 does. 
Especially in light of the fact that Bush prevented people from voting and pulled other nefarious deeds to get into office. Followed by his further hatred for the regular folks by allowing his thieving friends to take off with whatever wasn’t nailed down structurally. Just like a dictator does. And eventually those who commit foul deeds should be made to pay for them. I suspect Bush will have to wait to see his “Lord” and find out how wrong he was but until then we can certainly keep insisting that something be done other than abject silence. 
So now one man who is a prisoner of politics and bad timing gets to suffer but if he can survive his ordeal he will be honored as an elder statesman for justice. It’s about the principle of what he took a stand for that matters most. He follows in the footsteps of many who’ve fought the elite and the protectionists to make life (seem) a little fairer for the rest of us. His outrage is ours at the way innocent civilians have been maimed, murdered and sent into extraordinary rendition so a handful of people could benefit financially. I hope there’s an extra nice pocket of torment waiting for them in hell, along with other unrepentant evil people. 

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Prop 8 & New Jersey 4 & Other Misdeeds: Where Race, Class & Gender Collide

Later on today the oral arguments will be heard in the California Supreme Court pro and con regarding the passage of Proposition 8. The judges will have 90-days to render a verdict. If the ruling strikes down the Proposition, the California Constitution will forever alter the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman and the same-gender marriages performed will be left intact. If it’s struck down those marriages get invalidated and all hell will break loose!
These are the three questions being covered in three hours. 

Is Proposition 8 invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than an amendment to, the California Constitution?

Does Proposition 8 violate the separation of powers doctrine under the California Constitution?

If Proposition 8 is not unconstitutional, what is its effect, if any, on the marriages of same-sex couples performed before the adoption of Proposition 8?

We could discuss the meaning of marriage where women were/still are chattel and the “love” concept is a special privilege open to wild interpretation – and poor execution. What can’t seriously be denied is that we live in patriarchal society where marriage was/still is a contract that can elevate one’s financial/social status but it’s definitely meant to maintain it at the very least. Marrying “down” is a big no-no because it could plunge a woman and her future children into poverty and a life of hardship. Yes, this is a decidedly hetero-leaning evaluation but often a “marriage” is an exercise of survival for an entire family.
When looking at it from that perspective the way the laws are set up everything from tax breaks to custody can be greatly enhanced by conforming to what’s the accepted standard. The question now is what will that standard be? Personally, I think everyone should have all of the legal benefits of what’s commonly viewed as marriage but separate the religious baggage attached to it. Even atheists marry after all. People who wish to add that can take that up within their individual faith practices. Which could be a whole other battle but I say go where you’re wanted and don’t put your money into people and institutions that don’t value you – all of you. I somehow suspect that if the money dried up a bunch of “religions” would suddenly find new meaning in their religious dogmas that would favor the departed. 
After watching numerous news reports, reading articles in newspapers and blog posts I still feel conflicted about the whole thing and it’s been four months. I’ve written posts about my thoughts why No On 8 would fail, the ruling and its aftermath in my November 2008 archives. I still feel that the people most gung-ho for Prop 8 are middle class white men with some white women sprinkled in there. Funny enough so is the opposition. Of course the focus of ire was reserved for Blacks even though Asians and Latinos also voted in opposition of it at a greater rate. Blacks only make up 6% of the state and since we (over)populate the Prison Industrial Complex (to the point where the state spends more on prisons than education) you can bet a large percentage didn’t even vote at all. 
We’re gonna beat that dead horse some more because Blacks were universally blamed from Dan Savage to Andrew Sullivan, curiously enough white…gay…men who retreated with little (Sullivan) or absolutely no (Savage) apology. It irks me to this day!! Marriage equality (as it’s poorly termed) doesn’t begin to address the complexities involved with this, but let me tell you all something. Equating it with Civil Rights will eliminate many would-be allies each and every time. Marriage can never be equal in a patriarchal society (where a woman is property) but I suppose that’s a nuance too subtle for most of the (white) men to get!
For some white gay men it’s their only issue of contention and once satisfied they’d return to their self-absorption (white male privilege) without a thought to anyone else’s suffering in the world at large. I’ve barely seen any non-whites involved – and that’s not to say that there aren’t many who support marriage rights – they’d certainly benefit from it. I was following Jasmyne Cannick’s writings during this time (in November) and she took an unpopular stance (for some) by stating it wasn’t the biggest priority for her and how the Gay Rights Industrial Complex (my terminology) of mostly white men had hijacked the narrative while refusing to build key relationships with Blacks and other people of color. Just like Eric Holder calling out people’s cowardice for ignoring race issues, white people just don’t want to hear it. It’s uncomfortable and it disrupts privilege. Too bad!
That relationship is further fractured with the implementation of the ridiculous “Gay Is the New Black” meme being used without remorse AND after numerous people let it be known how inappropriate it was. My position has always been to wonder why the Black LGBT “community” allowed this narrative to take hold without protest? Blacks have always been uniquely involved in securing equality – our very lives depended on it. From Crispus Attucks, to Toussaint L’Overture, to the pre-Stonewall activities, to Bayard Rustin, to Barbara Jordan and beyond we’ve always been down for the cause. 
So now it’s okay that everyone else gets to reap the benefits while ignoring our historic contributions? Not on my watch!! We can argue about how gay rights, like feminism will always show cracks along the fault lines of race, ethnicity, gender and class constructs but….so what! White people shouldn’t always have to be reminded of how we built this country with our blood, sweat and tears when most of us where brought here by force. The ignorance is very grating and unacceptable.
I don’t recall any national protests, major news reports, Olberman or Maddow-style “special segments” or candle light vigils being held for the Black women sent to prison and separated from their families and children for defending their very lives. Where were the local LGBT chapters offering help from them being attacked in the press during the farce of a trial? If you asked the average person they’d probably know about Prop 8 but would have no idea what a “New Jersey 4” is. In case you dear reader are unfamiliar with this case, 4 young women were defending themselves from being raped in 2007 by a man who thought he could make a lesbian straight and a fight broke out. 
The prosecutors apparently didn’t believe a Black woman had the right to refuse sex from some jerk on the street while the judge had utter contempt for the women during their trial and sentenced them to terms harsher than men get for killing their wives. If this sounds familiar to a gay bashing or what happened to Brandon Teena it’s because it is. Except for the race part – so I guess all bets were off. By the way when you do a search on Google it doesn’t even pop up automatically. Why is that? When the LGBT issue is fought from the body of a Black woman there is nobody there for her. 
Even moreso when that she is a transwoman. We all know how the GRIC fails miserably at setting an appropriate agenda and offering the same amount of support for trangendered issues as gay issues. Violence is prevalent and often directed at Black women (and other WOC) in a much higher proportion considering population size. From the violence in mostly Black residential areas to hate crimes, Black women are under assault constantly. Didn’t we just hear about a 15 year old who was beaten by two racist cops while in custody? Just look at the life – and death – of Duanna Johnson or all of those whose names fill the pages for the Day of Remembrance. It is not a coincidence and it is not right!  
Yes, there has been some attention – mostly from female bloggers of color –  but it’s like a drop in the bucket when all the “leaders” are white and all they care about is “marriage” as the single most important agenda and the media hasn’t covered anything else with the same intensity. So if all LGBTs had the right to marry tomorrow how is that going to improve the lives of those women from behind bars or bring back those who didn’t survive their attacks? As for me since I consider my time precious and the No on 8 leaders thought they had it in the bag I’d suggest we spend our time actually helping those that need it and would appreciate it. I haven’t seen or heard from them since November trying to do anything to rebuild what they tore down. 
Let’s focus on what’s most important. Tell Essence magazine to get off their “Black Love” nonsense and save some Black women.  Remind the NAACP their purpose is to help all Blacks not just Black men who’ve been hurt by white cops. Call up GLAAD and the HRC to get off their high horse. Let’s not forget the names of the New Jersey 4 and their ages at the time of their attack and subsequent arrest:
  • Venice Brown (19)
  • Terrain Dandridge (20)
  • Patreese Johnson (20)
  • Renata Hill (24)
When are MILLIONS of people going to demand they get justice? 

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Update: 4 Suspects Have Been Arrested In Rape Case

Well this would have to be one of the quickest solved rape cases. All four suspects in the gang assault of a lesbian resident of the SF Bay area from December 13th have been taken into custody. One of the suspects turned himself in – and get this – he has a girlfriend. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by that. It was the publicity surrounding this incident that worked in the survivor’s favor this time. Of course the case has to go through its judicial process but I can’t help but think how race and class always play a part in these situations. I will be satisfied for justice being served but it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth all the other women who aren’t afforded the positive press and a cooperative police department or have perpetrators who are wealthy and can obfuscate their way out of prosecution. There should not be a special element that makes the prosecution of a rape more amenable to others to judge as heinous: be that person a sex worker, a child, poor, trans, a woman of color – or even a male. 

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False Mea Culpas from Bush & OJ

Karma is a debt that must be paid. OJ Simpson was reduced to tears and begging the judge for leniency at his sentencing hearing today. He had been found guilty for a dozen counts related to armed robbery and kidnapping. He might be eligible for parole in 9 years but I honestly don’t see him getting out. So many people want to see him under the jailhouse for his role in the slaying of his ex-wife. Hmm, Johnny Cochran was a brilliant lawyer. 
OJ should have recognized the gift he’d been given with the unrestricted support he’d received from the Black community. He had been seen as a symbol for all those Black men who’ve historically been falsely accused, tried and murdered for crimes they had not committed. Black women foolishly defended a criminally-minded, self-hating and dangerous Black man and embued him with qualities he never had. So many of us still do this and it is to our detriment. Our only fortune was that he went right back to his white skin love and abandoned ‘us’ once again. He never learned the art of self-reflection or humility and continually escalated the behavior that would land him right back in the system. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye – and good riddance.
Nepotism
War crimes (also known as torture and murder)
Bankrupting the country
Borrowing more money than we’ll ever be to repay
Continuing to be clueless and not giving a damn – check, check check!
Now here’s a man that should be in a prison cell right next to the Juice but justice truly is blind. Listening to this excerpt from the Dec 2nd interview with Charles Gibson I am floored. This man does not WANT to get it. The destruction has clearly been revealed for all to see. He made decisions that have caused irrevocable harm but because he has no conscience he is totally able to sleep at night. That is truly evil. 
Did I forget to mention how there’s always some woman in the mix making excuses for the man she ‘loves’ no matter what he does. Yet Barbara Bush is afforded a level of respectability a drug dealer’s partner would never get. There are a lot of women sitting in prison now because they turned a blind eye to the criminal acts of their partners. When will we ever learn?

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McCain Wants More Deregulation as WAMU Folds

Mr. Cut & Run and his Republican cronies (not all Republicans) are going to stall this bailout for as long as they can until they twist the knife in a little deeper in the backs of the average American. Unless WE stop them.

Now Washington Mutual is going down the tubes. See that bailout was only gonna go but so far.
Bush can’t hold back the floodgates of all the ish that’s going down now. It couldn’t have happened at a better time. It’s 40 days and counting to election day. Will we make it until then?