New Music: Donnie’s The Daily News

I am getting ready for a trip to Portland, Oregon tomorrow, where I am doing a “Letters From Young Activists” event for the Universalist Unitarian Associations’ General Assembly. I haven’t had time to write the review of Donnie’s new album, The Daily News just yet. But in the meantime, he just posted a letter about the new record on his myspace page, that I think you’ll enjoy. I am posting it below in its entirety…I hope he won’t sue me for copyright infringement.

Also check out the new video “If I Were You” below.

What’s up everybody? I know that it has been a long time since I’ve spoken to the people that support me and my artistry. So it is with great excitement that I would like to say that, June 19th, 2007 will see the release of my second album, “The Daily News”. I’m sure most of you have read a newspaper before, so you probably have a good idea as to what “The Daily News” is about. I just thought it would be wonderful if we could sing along to songs that speak of our daily culture – not only as an American but as a global citizen.

Of course, everything we sing about on this record is not pretty. You all know that is how life is. A little sunshine, a little rain. In the entertainment industry, it seems that, we want to escape into a fantasy world where we deny how bad things are. Well, I believe in the word that KRS-1 coined – “edu-tainment” . We can entertain ourselves and change the world at the same time. Hopefully, this album will be start of a movement whereby “changing this world 4 the betta'” becomes the hip thing to do!

BUT please remember the music business has changed dramatically since I first appeared on the scene. At the end of the day it’s on ME and YOU to do whatever we can do together spread the WORD! As fans, you have to get involved and put pressure on radio, video television, concert promoters, the media and let them know that there is an AUDIENCE for this. If not, you’ll just get another “rapper of the month” interview or “singer of the month” magazine cover. Until the powers that be recognize that there is an actual audience for this music, we will ALL be relegated to the background of popular culture.

My new single, “If I Were You”, is about making change both internally and externally. Why not use the release of this album to help bring about those changes? As a people we can stop a war; forge a new path; break down barriers of prejudice; become more tolerant. I’m not saying “The Daily News” is the tonic you need to become a better person. Instead, I’m saying “The Daily News” represents that struggle within each of us to grow as individuals. Much of today’s music does not represent that struggle. It does promotes neither thought nor substance. We can change that.

If some corporate person in a multibillion dollar company sees that there is a market for “substance”, maybe we’ll get more of it? Or maybe they’ll snuff it out? LOL! Either way, I TRULY believe that this album can be the vehicle for delivering that message! “The Daily News” is about the music. It’s about FREEDOM.

I truly hope that you enjoy it!

DONNIE

THE VIDEO

WEEKLY AIDS REPORT: Baptist Convention and CDC LGBT Health Site

People have commented to me recently that I am doing alot of HIV/AIDS stories on this blog. To you, I say, NOTHIN’ GETS PAST YOU, DOES IT, GENIUS!?

Seriously, as I’ve said before, here and otherwise, we don’t really deal with HIV enough in the country, especially about HIV in this country. So there. So I’ll try to keep my boring ole “who wants to hear about AIDS stories” to one post a week. But here are two brief updates this week in the world of HIV.

Hallelujah!!! The National Baptist Convention, for the first time in HIV’s 26 year history, is going to bring HIV/AIDS programming into it’s convention this ear for the first time. DAMN! It’s about time. From the Kaiser Health Report via the Associated Press/Springfield News Leader:

Delegates of the National Baptist Convention USA — the nation’s largest black religious organization — this week for the first time will discuss the issue of HIV/AIDS in the black community, the AP/Springfield News-Leader reports. The group is in St. Louis for a weeklong meeting that will feature a health fair.

The 7.5 million-member organization historically has excluded the topic from its health forums, Evelyn Mason, the groups’ health organizer, said. According to Mason, the group had thought of HIV/AIDS as “something only bad people get” because of the disease’s association with homosexuality and drug use. Blacks are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS and account for about 49% of all HIV cases in the U.S., according to CDC. “The numbers dictate we have to pay more attention and take ownership,” Mason said, adding, “This disease has taken ownership of us.”

In addition to workshops and information on hypertension, diabetes, obesity, prostate cancer, prescription drug costs and other health issues of interest to the black community, organizers are incorporating discussions about HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness into the agenda.

The group also will hold an educational forum to address about 3,000 black youth on the topic of HIV prevention (Wittenauer, AP/Springfield News-Leader, 6/19). “This wouldn’t have happened five years ago. There’s a change within church leadership [and] within local churches,” Mason said, adding, “We won’t be passing out condoms, but we will be telling [participants] there’s something called AIDS that they are likely to get if they do certain things” (Associated Press, 6/18).

Wonder what those “certain things” are…Sodomy, anyone? Fornication?

Is it hot in here?

NEXT…

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention have now launched a special LGBT Health Section of their website. It features all sorts of goodies about how much HIV we have, how much breast cancer and suicide. Might not be the most fun way to spend an evening, but is certainly useful information. The have links to data and info on gay/bisexual men, transgendered folks, and lesbian/bisexual women. The front page says:

America’s gay and lesbian population comprises a diverse community with disparate health concerns. Major health issues for gay men are HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse, depression, and suicide.

Image of female couple on stairs.Gay male adolescents are two to three times more likely than their peers to attempt suicide. Some evidence suggests lesbians have higher rates of smoking, overweight, alcohol abuse, and stress than heterosexual women. The issues surrounding personal, family, and social acceptance of sexual orientation can place a significant burden on mental health and personal safety.*

That wasn’t so bad, was it, kids?

Now, back to my regularly schedule programming.–up next, a review of Donnie’s new CD, The Daily News.

4 Young Lesbians Serving Time for Defending Themselves

I am not going to say a whole lot about this right now. One, because I’ll cry. Two, because I am compiling a bunch of things to write a larger piece or pieces about this situation. But I can’t let it go too long with mentioning it to you. As I said, I will further deal with this when I am done thinking and writing about it.

Last summer 7 young black lesbians from Newark, NJ ranging in ages from 19-25 (I think), were walking in Greenwich Village. A man tried to kick it to one of them, they denied his advances. He proceeded to jump off at the mouth. They defended themselves.

I am paraphrasing.

Now, four of those young women were sentenced to anywhere from 5 to 11 years. This story from the New York Times describes the sentencing in the courtroom. It’s a must read.

  1. Terrain Dandridge, age 20. Sentenced to 3.5 years.
  2. Venice Brown, age 19. Sentenced to 5 years.
  3. Renata Hill, age 25. Sentenced to 8 years.
  4. Patreese Johnson, age 19. Sentenced to 11 years.

Secondly, FIERCE!, the community organizing project for queer and trans youth have been doing most of the support work as an organization for the accused and their families, many of whom are facing financial ruin because of the legal fees associated with defending this case. I want to thank FIERCE! for that. If you want to know what you can do to assist, contact Bran Fenner of FIERCE! at bran@fiercenyc.org.

Grease up! Take the Lube Survey

Rectal MicrobicidesDudes and dudettes!!!

Cats and cat-ettes!!!

When you’re feelin warm for someone else’s form, and you need some, shall we say, assistance with loosening up the doors to ecstasy, what’s your favorite lube (or lubricant)?

WHY? Right now, lubricants do not need to be tested for safety before being sold. Some lubes commonly used for anal sex may not be as safe as others. By filling out the short survey, you will help scientists prioritize the next round of lubes that should be tested. Also, you will be giving valuable insights to researchers working on a new prevention technology called rectal microbicides.

The folks over at the International Rectal Microbicide Working Group are doing some research to develop a microbicide that will not only protect against STI’s (sexually transmitted diseases) including HIV, but will also give you the same sensation and have the right viscosity you need to for you, or the one you’re getting close to “when the moment is right (like the erectile dysfunction commercials say!).

And this ain’t just for the gays, mind you. I know lots of lesbians and straight women who use lube for whatever itch they need scratched. Lord knows that straight boys are not immune from needing a lil anal stimulation er-y now and then—and it’s OK fellas! All my queers and trannies and gender nonconforming peeps are up in the mix too.

Basically, if you’re tryin to get laid and have used lube to moisten your (or somebody else’s) services, you need to take the survey!

TAKE THE SURVEY HERE!!!

Gay boys? You can also go to the LIFELUBE site.

There are already 4000 people from across the globe whom have taken it, and they’re trying to get as many people to take it before they close the survey July 31. I hope they do something about the smell of lube too. Nothing worse than trying to relish in post-coital bliss, and have to deal with the awful plastic-y smell of lube! Fierce. Continue reading

Black and Male In America: Roberto Duncanson and the Rest of Us

This weekend author and activist Kevin Powell will host his annual conference, Black and Male in America, in Brooklyn NY.

I am thinking about Roberto “Pancho” Duncanson, and what his recent murder has to do with being Black and Male in America. The other young man who committed the act of violence, Omar Willock, is now being prosecuted. Hatecrimesbill.org posted this update from the Brooklyn DA’s website.

Brooklyn, June 14, 2007 – Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes today announced the indictment of Omar Willock, 17, in the stabbing death of Roberto Duncanson, 20, because he was gay. Willock is charged with Murder in the Second Degree, Murder in the Second Degree as a Hate Crime and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree.

On May 12, Willock and Duncanson passed each other on St. Marks Avenue in Crown Heights, and Willock became enraged, accusing Duncanson of looking at him and shouting anti-gay remarks. Duncanson walked away and continued to a friend’s house. When he returned, Duncanson again passed Willock, and Willock again berated him for his sexual orientation. Duncanson tried to walk away, but Willock pursued him and started a fistfight. The indictment charges that Willock then pulled out a knife and stabbed Duncanson four times in the back. Duncanson was taken to Kings County Hospital and died an hour later.

An indictment is merely an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Howard Jackson from the Homicide Bureau. Ken Taub is Chief of the Homicide Bureau.

I know how unsafe I feel as a black gay man in most black urban neighborhoods, including many I have lived in personally. That’s not an easy thing to say or admit, but it’s the truth. I understand the relationship that poverty and deprivation and forms of state violence have on violence in the domestic sphere against children, women, and queer folks. But damn, do we have to solve world poverty before women, chldren and differently gendered people can walk down the street in their own community and not be harassed, bashed or even murdered?

Even still, will hate crimes legislation solve the problem? Has hate crimes legislation based on racial identity solved racism? Hardly. And I hardly think it will solve the problem of homophobia. I wish that gatherings of Black men like this weekend Black & Male in America would be a place where I felt safe to do work and to make these issues of violence to the table. But oftentimes I get shut down by the need to address “real issues” in the community, or shut down by heterosexual allies who want to beat me to the punch, because they want to appear to be the most “hip” on issues of gender and sexuality–and as long as they keep talking I am forced to shout or fall silent, neither of which are good choices.

So I wonder, this weekend, at being Black & Male in America, though there are a sprinkle of gay or “same-gender loving” presenters, I wonder about the overall arch of the event, and those spaces. Be gay as long as you’re not too gay, or as long as you get with the “strong black brotha” program, we’ll let you in the club. Not so much.

So I wonder in the course of this weekend, how man times Sean Bell’s name will come up. Not that it shouldn’t, but I wonder how many times Roberto’s name will come up, will folks sit and think through strategies of how to engage the young brotha who killed him? Will the names of the 7 seven black lesbians now facing time for defending themselves against a black man’s advances come up? Will they wonder how they can as black men, be more supportive of black women (especially those they have no chance of sleeping with)?

I’m ranting. I need to get ready for my weekend.

Tonight. Cassandra Wilson.

Tomorrow: Color Me Queer.

Sunday: Newark Pride.

That’s my way of being Black and Male in America.

Missing Black Woman Bumped from MSNBC for Paris Hilton

A reporter with The Miami Herald recently blogged about the fact that he was scheduled to appear on MSNBC to talk about Stepha Henry, a 22 year old black woman who is has been missing from the Miami area since May 29th. But reporting on Paris Hilton’s jail hissy fit took precedence and he was booted from the show. David Ovalle writes:

I’m livid. I agreed to conduct a last-minute interview with MSNBC about the case of missing Stepha Henry, the 22-year-old college grad who went missing May 29 from Miami-Dade. I rushed to MSNBC’s studio but a few minutes before the interview, I was told that it was off — Paris Hilton coverage was more important.

Contrary to the stories we see on the nightly news about “missing” people, but here are the numbers: from a 2005 USA Today story:

FBI statistics show that men are slightly more likely than women to be reported as missing, and that blacks make up a disproportionately large segment of the victims. As of May 1, [2005], there were 25,389 men in the FBI’s database of active missing persons cases, and 22,200 cases of women. Blacks accounted for 13,860 cases, vs. 29,383 whites.

Beenie Man, Capleton and Sizzla Sign No Murder Music Pact

So the folks out of London who have been doing the Stop Murder Music campaign have been able to get Beenie Man, Capleton, and Sizzla to agree to stop performing songs that call for setting fire to, killing, or otherwise harming queer folks. GayUK.com reported:

“Three of the world’s top reggae/dancehall singers have renounced homophobia and condemned violence against lesbians and gay men.

Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton had previously released anti-gay hate songs, including incitements to murder lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

They have now signed up to the Reggae Compassionate Act in a deal brokered with top reggae promoters and Stop Murder Music activists.

The agreement follows the three-year-long Stop Murder Music campaign, which resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of the singers’ concerts and sponsorship deals, causing them income losses estimated in excess of five million dollars.”

They also mention in the story that TOK, Buju Banton, Elephant Man, Bounty Killa, and Vybz Kartel have yet to sign the pact. Protests against them will continue as needed.

The Reggae Compassionate Act that the artists signed has pledged them to:

■ “respect and uphold the rights of all individuals to live without fear of hatred and violence due to their religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender”;

■ “there’s no space in the music community for hatred and prejudice, including no place for racism, violence, sexism or homophobia”;

■ “we agree to not make statements or perform songs that incite hatred or violence against anyone from any community”.

This is a win for this campaign, and perhaps a bigger win for LGBT/Q folks of Caribbean descent all over specifically. I’ll probably annoy some people and stretch and say it’s a win for Black people, because being here in NYC, I have been called a batty boy, chi-chi man and threatened as such—I know dancehall is also big on the African continent, and wonder what impact it (and American hip-hop for that matter) is having on cultural attitudes towards violence against straight women and all queers. Though I am an African-American, dancehall has a lot of cultural currency among African-Americans here as well as among Caribbean immigrants.

More importantly, I wanna thank the folks in Jamaica and in the larger Black Caribbean who have had to deal with the brunt of this, and have also been leading the work. As I mentioned in a piece I blogged for AfterElton.com, I have noticed this year that because of the work folks like C-FLAG and J-FLAG and others have been doing, the tide is seeming to shift in the Caribbean in terms of the larger public’s growing intolerance for this kind of violence. Big ups to you all!