No One Survives The Smoke (Gay Magazine)
Walk(wo)man (Rigorous Magazine)
Coney Island, Brooklyn. 2017.
I pull onto Daddy’s block. The stocky frame houses stack next to one another like planks on the Boardwalk. It’s late fall so there is ample street parking, unlike the summer months when cars crush into each other like Colt 45 cans. A distant car horn buzzes angrily on the ave. Roxy barks from behind the ground level window that overlooks the street. Daddy stands in his front yard behind the tall guard gate, eyeing me as I line my car up against the stretch of curb in front of his house.
He pulls one last drag before flicking his stogie to the cement, heading in my direction.
Men Rape Us and You Let Them (For Harriet)
A month after my arraignment, I hit the 92Y for the first time. Lena Waith in Conversation with Charlamagne the God, the Y advertised. When asked about life after earning an Emmy, Lena responds, “There's a difference between how you walk on this earth when you're living your dream versus how you walk when you’re thinking about [it].” Goosebumps feather my arms. I scooch deep into the mint green velvet chair.
When Charlamagne asks about the inspiration behind her penned Chi characters, she says, “Little black boys are not born with a pack of drugs in one hand and a gun in the other.” I snap my fingers, spread my legs and lamp my head on the seatback. The ceiling is at least a hundred feet high.
And, about her childhood in Chicago, she jests, “I grew up in a two-parent household – my mom and the television.” The crowd laughs. A shared nostalgia breaks free through applause. With my neck craned back, I see that the richly polished auditorium walls wear dead men like halos. Beethoven. Lincoln. Washington. David. Moses are written at the ceiling’s edge, all-capped in faux gold. I remember my own come-up and grunt, “ummm humph!”
Because of crack, TV became my daddy.
But, music was always my God.
Nemo Tenetur Seipsum Accusare
Men rape us.
They rape us in corner offices, and in cubicled workspaces. They rape us on college campuses and in correctional facilities. They rape us in million-dollar shiny glass residences – gaudy golden. And in pissy project stairwells under dim lights while kneeling on sticky steps.
Men rape us.
Stalking and hardly slick in plain sight, men prey on those of us who are innocent, and us indomitable ones, too. Those of us who are trying to get put on, and us already kissing the glass ceiling. They R. Kelly piss and fuck on those of us too young to understand rape’s breadth, and those of us who are Anita Hill, old enough to know that he won’t be held accountable.
Men rape us. And, women join in shaming us silent.
They shame us for not going to the police. They shame us for waiting too long to file a report. They shame us for being girls with asses that roll like mountains when we walk. For being women with breasts that bounce even when barricaded by bras. For having no ass or tits at all. For being pretty. And ugly too. These muthafuckas shame us for breathing.
Book Review The NYPD Tapes: A Shocking Story Of Cops, Cover-Ups And Courage
Sharon sprung up, hinged at the hip, as she sat in her bed, her torso slightly tilted forward as if leaning closer to the bedroom’s door would help her listen past the sound of her heart thump, thump, thumping. She anchored, stiff-backed and paralyzed. Only her chest moved, as she inhaled, exhaled, her ribs constricting each breath and heartbeat. And her nylon baby doll nightie, its right strap slid from her shoulder down her arm, resting beneath her elbow. Pulling down the thin fabric across her torso, exposing her right breast.
Ray Ray came home last night, didn’t he?
A Home of Our Own: Temporary Housing and LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence
IN MAY 2010, THE VILLAGE VOICE published a series, penned by then staffer Graham Rayman, about widespread crime statistic manipulation, routine police officer intimidation and broad corruption within the New York City Police Department. In August 2013, a mere week before Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin’s Floyd v. City of New York decision, which declared the NYPD’s stop and frisk practice unconstitutional and racially biased, Rayman published the
book-length version of his NYPD expose.
In The NYPD Tapes: A Shocking Story of Cops, Cover-ups and Courage (Palgrave Macmillan,
2013), Rayman provides the reader with insider information never before revealed to the civilian masses who live and work outside of One Police Plaza, the most famous blue wall.
In the opening pages, Rayman immediately pulls the reader in while describing the tale of
two New Yorks: the New York that boils at the injustice of a white tourist’s skull being crushed versus the New York that is apathetic to the death of a bullet-ridden black teenager; the New York that is associated with the high-rise-pocked Manhattan skyline versus the tenement-laden outer boroughs of Brooklyn and the Bronx; the New York that boasts the greatest police force in the world versus the New York whose beat cops are intimidated by commanding
officers into fudging the numbers.
Out For Justice
In 2012, twenty-one-year-old Romelle Johnson was transported by ambulance to a local Brooklyn, New York hospital.* While en route, an EMT worked to staunch the blood leaking from Romelle’s stab wounds as Johnson struggled to communicate with the police officer who accompanied him. Despite his fight for breath and words, Johnson ultimately disclosed that, after an argument earlier that night, his live-in partner, forty-three-year-old James McEvoy, stabbed him time and time again. McEvoy was found with a blood-soaked kitchen knife and scratches on his hands, neck and torso, and was arrested. McEvoy was charged with felony assault, among other crimes. Several days later, when called to testify before the Grand Jury, Johnson refused. When a Victim Services Advocate at the District Attorney’s office asked why he would not testify against his assailant, Johnson finally admitted that, without McEvoy, he had nowhere to go, no family to call on, no friend’s couch to sleep on. Because of his financial and pragmatic dependence on McEvoy, Johnson felt he had no choice but to gamble with his life.
Romelle Johnson’s story is not a unique one. During my tenure as a domestic violence prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York, I encountered hundreds, if not thousands, of intimate partner violence survivors.
IN APRIL 2011, JONATHAN SIMCOX AND HIS partner Steven Ondo engaged in a lovers’ quarrel upon leaving a Cleveland, Ohio nightclub. The couple’s neighbor, an off-duty Cleveland police officer, confronted the couple, shouting, “Shut up, you`re disturbing the peace.” Simcox attempted to push past the officer.
The officer slammed him to the ground before unleashing blow after blow to Simcox’s body.
Within minutes, more Cleveland police officers arrived. The couple was arrested, only to be released without any charges. No more than a week later, the couple was awakened at their home by loud banging at the front door. Dressed in underwear, the couple answered, only to see Cleveland police officers. The police, again, arrested them. This time for assault on a peace officer.
Simcox asked the reason for their arrests and was answered by repeated punches to his face. Simcox’s brother asked police if he could get the couple pants and shoes. An officer responded, “You can get them shoes, but faggots don’t deserve to wear pants in jail.”