Monday, May 30, 2005

Take Action: Lend a Hand

Rashawn Brazell Collective
Key Developments and Action Items

7 Exciting Ways for You to Get Involved:
· Learn about the RBCPlanning listserv
· Attend the next RBC meeting
· Lend a hand at AVP’s posting events
· Submit your Rashawn-inspired art to our exhibition
· Join a Rashawn Brazell Memorial Scholarship committee
· Contact a vendor to donate goods/services to the fundraising auction
· Become our vendor liaison

New Listserv
The Rashawn Brazell Collective has created a separate listserv for members committed to attending monthly meetings and being active on a committee. Through this action we aim to:
· Reduce the number of e-mails subscribers to the RBCollective group receive.
· Facilitate communication amongst members interested in serving in an administrative capacity.
· Provide members interested in supporting RBC efforts in a non-administrative capacity with well-defined avenues of action on a regular basis.

The RBCPlanning yahoo group will serve as an administrative resource for RBC members who express an interest in being involved in the planning and execution of future events and initiatives. For information about joining the RBCPlanning yahoo group, please attend our June meeting. The RBCollective yahoo group will continue to serve as the primary site for receiving updates on the police investigation as well as notification for all Rashawn Brazell-related meetings, events and initiatives. To join the RBCollective yahoo group, click here.

Note: Posts to both listservs must be directly related to the Rashawn Brazell case. Neither will be used for personal reflections, announcements for unrelated events, etc. Moderators aim to keep your inbox free of clutter by promptly removing of such posts.

RBC Meetings
The collective will meet on a monthly basis to do planning, reporting and decision-making. Our next meeting will be held in the first or second week in June. Heru Khuti of Black Funk, this month’s facilitator, will post the time, date, location and agenda of the meeting shortly.

AVP’s flyer campaign
The reward for information leading to the arrest of Rashawn’s murderer(s) is now set at $15,000. Basil Lucas of the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (AVP) invites you to help notify the public of this added incentive by distributing flyers at our upcoming posting events.

In addition to the sites recommended by the NYPD (The Warehouse, Escuelita and Down Time), we will be posting the new flyers at locations throughout the city that we deem most conducive to soliciting tips. Because flyers cannot be posted on lampposts or other public property (fines will be levied), volunteers will be instructed where and how to post flyers.

To volunteer, please contact Basil Lucas at Flyers and guidelines for posting will also be made available in the “files” section of our yahoo group.

“Art in the City” exhibition
Photographer Bernard Morisset is currently planning an installation that gathers all of the art generated in response to the murder of Rashawn Brazell. The exhibition welcomes the work of RBC members and non-members alike and will be scheduled to coordinate with this summer’s pride events. If you are interested in submitting any medium of visual art, or in assisting in the planning of this exciting event, e-mail Bernard at

Rashawn Brazell Memorial Scholarship
The Rashawn Brazell Memorial Scholarship will be hosted by the North Star Fund (, and offered annually to a college-bound student of African descent who resides in New York City and exhibits commitment to the fight against racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression.
We will need members to be involved with the “marketing” of the scholarship (i.e. liaising with schools/guidance departments to disseminate information and solicit applications), as well as a selection committee to review applications.

If you are interested in serving on one or both of these committees, e-mail Larry at

“Brighter Days” Fundraising event
The first fund-raising event for the Rashawn Brazell Memorial Scholarship will be held this summer. Titled “Brighter Days”, the party will celebrate Rashawn’s life while generating the funds to sustain this annual tribute to his memory. Two notable DJs have agreed to spin gratis, graciously aiding us in our goal to raise $5000 with this no-cost event.

We also plan to hold a silent auction during “Brighter Days”, which requires us to solicit donations from vendors in the area (restaurants, retailers, publishers, etc). Donations might take the form of autographed copies of books from authors, gift certificates for goods or services, etc. We are relying solely on the work of RBC members to contact potential vendors. To receive informational materials on our official letterhead for use in securing these donations, contact publicist Mervyn Mercano at

Also, a vendor liaison is needed to keep track of our efforts to secure donations, and to extend our thanks to vendors following the event. Mervyn will be posting a more detailed job description for the vendor liaison position to the listserv shortly.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Bloggers Make a Difference

thanks to the ongoing efforts of bloggers
and other concerned citizens,
the memory of Rashawn Brazell lives on.

Gay men unite through blogs to keep alive the story of a city teen’s brutal slaying

May 24, 2005

Rashawn Brazell would have turned 20 in April. Instead of a celebration, his birthday was marked with candlelight vigils and town hall meetings. By then, his February murder had faded from headlines. But a growing number of New York-area bloggers, many of them African-American and gay, like Brazell, are keeping his memory, and the search for his killer, alive.

"I couldn't do anything else until I'd blogged about it," said Larry D. Lyons II, 24, one of the first to write about the crime in an online diary. Lyons compiled links to news reports and posthumous letters he had written to Brazell in early March. Dozens of readers posted their comments, and more comments came with each entry. Brazell's murder struck a chord with Lyons and many in the black gay community who believed his murder had been given short shrift by the New York mainstream media. Brazell, of Brooklyn, disappeared Feb. 14. Several days later, parts of his body were found in a Brooklyn subway tunnel and later a recycling plant. Early news reports said he was going to rendezvous with another man.

read the full story here.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Individuation and the Delusion of the Self

Larry D. Lyons II: egoist? pantheist? buddhist? you decide.

jaqua said...
its always a balancing act of ego vs. true openness of spirit, yes we are all one, yes division is the ultimate illusion, but individuation is divine and there is a such thing as you me and he

larry responds...
i believe that our notions of "you" and "me" are nothing more than temporary and fleeting phantasms. if we believe such things as "you and me and he" to constitute some objective reality, we are only fooling ourselves.

1. the development of the individual from the universal
2. The process by which individuals in society become differentiated from one another.

As I explained in an earlier blog entry, I understand divinity as unity. oneness... That which allows us to experience our intrinsic connectedness. Both of these definitions of individuation (webster's own) point to the distancing, separation or distinguishing of one from another, which is quite contrary to encouraging the experience of oneness. In this way, individuation moves us in precisely the OPPOSITE direction of the Divine, not towards it.

And what is this talk of ego? Is this in response to my statement that no one exists but me? Let's be clear: I communicated this idea in jestful language. I don't believe that I am the ultimate originator of all mankind and that everyone else is merely a version of myself. I do believe, however, that every single interaction I have is purposed to allow me to encounter, confront, experience or process my own karmic energy.

I encounter cattiness because I harbor catty energy and am being allowed the opportunity to experience its toxicity first-hand. I encounter beautiful people because I am being allowed the opportunity to experience and be reminded of my own intrinsic beauty. I encounter sickness, strife and suffering in the world so that I may challenge myself to avoid allowing myself to become implicated in the creation or perpetuation of such conditions. I believe there to be a karmic coordinate or implication of every single occurrence and interaction.

In fact, my entire life is a cycle of encounters with my own energy, often embodied as other people. In thinking about this cycle, the first image that comes to mind is that of washing a garnmet until it becomes radiant in its purity. With each encounter, I endeavor to experience the fullness of my energy... all of the jealousy. all of the love. all of the passion. all of the rage. Then, I wash that energy in such a way that when next I encounter it, it will be a more pleasant experience for all involved.

Aiight, one more analogy and Imma let yall go.

You can also think about this in terms of a fable. Fables are mechanisms that employ fantasy in order to teach a lesson. Generally, fables are told to children so that they can learn moral fortitude. This is done because it is presumed that children can not readily understand abstract concepts like patience, temperance or altruism. So, we give bodies to these virtues to facilitate the child's comprehension. Tortoises. hares, lions, mice. Once children can equate a particular virtue with a particular animal, they can begin to grasp the moral lesson.

Be like the tortoise. He was patient and not impetuous and he won the race.

In this way, my life is a fable being relayed to me by the universe. There are abstract moral lessons that I need to learn in order to grow and mature, so the universe presents Mervyn and Marie and Dorothy as embodiments of my energies. My interactions with each of them provides me with instructions on how to live my life more abundantly... how to realize Oneness.

Just as the goal of sharing a fable with a child is to familiarize him or her so thoroughly with the abstract virtue itself that they no longer need the fictional embodied character to act as a stand-in, so it is with me. My goal is to transcend the need for embodied forms to encapsulate my moral/spiritual and karmic lessons. I pray that the day will come when I look at you and see nothing but our Oneness. No separations. No distinctions. Just the Divine.