Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince - Genius of Realness

Prince was truly an original artist--a genius of music, and prescient in many ways. He also understood who he was as a black American, and he never let us forget it. As the tributes to his musical genius come pouring in, let us not forget that Prince was also a prince of shade and realness. His standards for musicality and realness were extremely high as well. May he truly rest in peace.

That said, we can rejoice in what he has left us.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


At the League of Women Voters of Plainfield* candidate forum, held last week, I listened to all the candidates present as they spoke of their commitment to the school district--they also challenged Wilma Campbell on her more than a decade long tenure as a president/member, presiding over declining graduation rates, lack of textbooks, lack of transparency--with last-minute "walk-on" items, such as the shocking vote to move the election from November to April without any public input*--and what they viewed as mismanagement of public school funds. I think it's time for Wilma Campbell to go--it's time for new energy, new ideas, and a real vision for the district. I think it's time for new energy, new ideas, and a real vision for the district. I am supporting the team of Lynn Anderson, Dorien Hurtt, and Carmencita Pile for the board this year, and I hope that you will join me in voting for a fresh perspective! Please visit the league's website (CLICK HERE) for information on the candidates and their platform.

**When current members of the Plainfield Board of Education, led by Campbell, garnered enough votes to move the election, I was disappointed, because I knew that this would impact voter turnout and add significantly to the cost of the election--upwards of $115,000, according to the Municipal Clerk of Plainfield. I was further disappointed with the newly-restricted voting hours of 2:00 - 9:00 pm--this will surely suppress the vote. If the board thinks cost should not be an issue in moving the election, they should have at least ensured that there would be no voting restrictions. That said, I hope everyone realizes that the school board election this Tuesday, April 19, is crucial to the future of our children.



*I am a longstanding member of the LWV-Plainfield, and I served as time-keeper, along with member Rupert Crawford. The forum was moderated by a member of the State LWV, as per the organization's rules.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Octavia Estelle Butler: On the 10th Anniversary of Our Sister's Death

This 24th day of February marks the 10th anniversary of the death of one of America's greatest modern writers, the late Octavia E. Butler. As a serious fan and follower of her work, I chose the two quotes in creating these images in tribute to her clear-eyed prescience. May our sister continue to rest in peace. #haikuhallofblackness

Monday, February 1, 2016

2nd Annual Latino Action Network Legislative Conference

Incoming Latino Action Network President Christian Estevez moderating morning Plenary Session with members of the NJ Hispanic Legislative Caucus, including Asw. Annette Quijano, Sen. Nellie Pou,  Asm. Marlene Caride, Asw. Annette Chapparo, and Asw. Eliana Pintor Marin.
This past Saturday, January 30, I had the pleasure of attending the 2nd Annual Latino Action Network Legislative Conference, held at the Robert Treat Hotel and Conference Center in Newark, NJ. Incoming LAN President (and PACHA Commissioner) Christian Estevez moderated the morning Plenary Session with members of the NJ Hispanic Legislative Caucus, who discussed issues of concern to the larger Latino population in New Jersey, including education, child care, earned sick leave, in-state tuition for DREAMERs, municipal IDs, and driving privileges for undocumented residents. I was especially happily to see some of my students from Essex County College in attendance at the conference--the Essex County Dream Team was represented!

Workers' Rights Panel.
Latino Action Network Steering Committee Swearing-in.
Several concurrent  breakout sessions included Immigrant Rights, Environmental Justice, Educating Our Children, Latino Youth Activism, Voting Rights, Affordable Housing, Political Empowerment, Health Enrollment and Access. One of the panels I attended was the Workers Rights panel, moderated by Craig Garcia of New Jersey Working Families. This excellent discussion focused on the fight for justice in the workplace, the recent successes in local worker mobilization to organize unions within their workplaces, and the importance of community engagement to improve working conditions.

Also speaking that day were Ambassador Phil Murphy, Sen. Ray Lesniak, Asm. John Wisnieskwi, Sen. Teresa Ruiz, and Sen. Steve Sweeney. NAACP State President Richard T. Smith also spoke, stressing the importance of coalition-building among communities of Color. The Keynote Speaker was Mayor Steve Fulop of Jersey City. Below, in part, are Mayor Fulop's remarks:

All in all, the conference was a great success, as attested to by the packed rooms for the entire day. I look forward to the next event, and to building upon the new networks!



Saturday, January 16, 2016

Saturday, Jan. 16 - 8th Anuual MLK Food Drive and Potluck Celebration!

“I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for the minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.” --Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mayor Adrian Mapp's 8th Annual MLK Food Drive and Potluck Celebration will begin at 5:00 pm this evening, Saturday, January 16, 2016, at the home of the mayor--535 West Eighth Street. Click on the flier below and print it out. For the past 8 years, the Mayor and the First Lady have served as hosts for this event honoring the legacy of Dr. King. Bring a dish to share for the potluck, and meet and greet your friends and neighbors!  
PLEASE BRING DONATIONS of canned and packaged goods, as well as toiletry items (toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorants, soap, shampoo, sanitary napkins, lotion, mouthwash, and other sundries). As Mayor Mapp noted on his own blog post about this yearly event, "We look forward to welcoming you and to having a good time with all as we collectively do for others as we would have them do for us! [...] We hope that you will be a generous donor this year."

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Youth Summit Listening Session - Tonight at Plainfield Public Library

Tonight (Thursday, December 10, beginning at 6:00 pm, the City of Plainfield will host another "Listening Session" for the Youth Summit on Education and Employment at the Plainfield Public Library. If the young people you know have not attended one of these listening sessions, I strongly urge you to bring them--and to come yourself--to be a part of the planning for this event, scheduled for early in the New Year. Many folks repeat the old platitude, "the youth are our future," but then don't bring them to events such as these.

The GrassROOTS Community Foundation, a public health and social action organization, will be facilitating the discussion and the summit.  It is imperative that young people be a part of the planning in order for this summit on education and employment to be successful for THEM. I hope that you will attend!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

World AIDS Day 2015 - Think Positive: Rethink HIV

The theme for World AIDS Day 2015 is "Think Positive: Rethink HIV." #rethinkhiv 

The First Unitarian Society of Plainfield is hosting a World AIDS Day event today (December 1) from 12:00 - 5:00 at 724 Park Avenue in partnership with the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation and Iris House, with free HIV testing (see below).

The link below will take you to the official government site, which lists activities and events:

The statistics for American youth (especially African Americans) remain alarming--here is a link to the CDC site with statistics (the left navigation bar on the site will take you to other HIV stats for other populations):

The statistics clearly show the likelihood for youth to contract HIV/AIDS--70% don't even know that they are infected. 

As in the past, I have posted the IMPACT (Intensive Mobilization to Promote AIDS Awareness through Community-based Technologies) Initiative Statistics for Plainfield for the year ending 2014. 

Plainfield remains on the list of the Top Ten Cities in New Jersey with the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases (we remain at number 9). The IMPACT Initiative is “… a city-by-city community mobilization initiative designed to galvanize and support African American leaders to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS in cities with the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS.” (from the NJDHSS web site).
So, even as we observe World AIDS Day, we can rethink HIV.