Tuesday, March 20, 2012



By Cash Michaels

            The spokesperson for the embattled YWCA Board of Directors confirms that it was advised it faced criminal liability if it continued to operate beyond Feb. 29th.
            More importantly, it was at the mercy of grants and proposals that were promised, but never came.
            Maria Spaulding, board spokesperson and immediate past president, confirmed exclusively to The Carolinian Wednesday that they were advised by their CEO on Feb 27 as to how dire the 110-year-old YW’s financial situation was, and of the three possible options that were on the table, the board decided that shutting down by Feb. 29 was the best.
            “All of our advisers…indicated to us that we needed to cease operations immediately,” Spaulding said. “We knew at the time that we were going to be legally liable. That was a consideration for me. I knew that there was going to be the legal liability of the board for the indebtedness that occurred, but I…don’t think I thought about the personal liability that it brought as much as the fact that we really were not able to, in a short period of time, to rally enough support to pay off and continue to operate for a few more days.”
            “We really didn’t have much of a choice.”
            But Ms. Spaulding, whose two-term tenure as board president ended last November, also admits that the board was caught by surprise as to the depth of the YW’s financial straits, even though their 2009 financial filing shows their debts far exceeded their fundraising even then.
            Additionally, the board, Spaulding confirms, knew things were so tight last October, that several employees were laid off last fall. And yet, because the board was assured that certain grants that had been applied for would be coming through in a timely fashion, it depended solely on that saving the day, instead of developing options for what should happen in the event that the grants didn’t come through.
            A month ago, when it was clear that there would be no grants to the rescue, Spaulding said the board had no choice.
            “For years, the organization has operated on waiting for grants and proposals to come in, and we were given the list of grantees and proposals that were current, and that we were awaiting a response from” Spaulding told The Carolinian. “We were hoping that that would supply us with the necessary financials to be able to make some further commitments, but also to do some more specific eliminations for those areas that were not producing revenues, or did not have revenue resources.”
            “We have just never been in this much debt before,” she added.
Ms. Spaulding said the YW board “feels very strongly about how unfortunate it is that we’ve had to discontinue services…and are especially concerned about the situation it has put our employees in, and continued indebtedness we have with other members of the community that have provided services to the Y.”
She called it a “very undesirable position to be in.”
            Spaulding did acknowledge the tremendous support expressed from all areas of the Raleigh and Southeast Raleigh community to the plight of the YWCA. The board has met with various community and institution leaders over the past week to find a way not only to satisfy hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, but to restructure the Y into a self-sustaining entity that can feasibly provide some of the enriching services it historically did for the community’s seniors, young people and general population.
            Tuesday night, Spaulding and the rest of the YWCA board met with several of the displaced employees it had to lay off. The workers were apologized to for the turmoil that has happened in their personal lives as a result of not being paid, and they were promised that they would be paid for wages owed, as soon as the board can identify a way to do that.
            Olivia Robinson, a spokesperson for the displaced workers, told The Carolinian Wednesday that she trusts the board at its word that it will find a way to compensate them, even though both she, and Ms. Spaulding, agreed its unknown how long it will take, given that the Y is reportedly in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.


Supreme Court Decision on Affordable Care Act Will Have Major Health Care Consequences for Racial and Ethnic Minorities
Stubborn Disparities Highlighted in Newly Released Fact Sheets
WASHINGTON, DC – In advance of the upcoming arguments in the Supreme Court case on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the nation’s broadest civil rights coalition is releasing a set of fact sheets outlining the importance of the ACA to minority communities.
Building on its amicus brief defending the law filed with coalition organizations, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights collected data from a variety of sources supporting their argument that the ACA advances equal opportunity for millions of Americans. 
The burdens of costly health care are not distributed evenly. Rather, they fall disproportionately on disadvantaged populations, which are more likely to experience higher rates of unemployment, to have jobs that do not provide health insurance, and to have lower incomes that put higher insurance premiums out of their financial reach.
“These are more than just numbers on a page,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Together these statistics paint a macabre portrait of minority health in this country. And when compounded with the financial implications of enormous medical debt – poor credit, bankruptcy, lost wages, and unemployment – it becomes clear that this case is about more than health care, it’s a battle over fundamental civil and human rights.”
The fact sheets highlight disparities in health care access and health of racial and ethnic minorities, including:
  • Racial and ethnic minorities are much more likely to be uninsured than Whites. They constitute about one-third of the U.S. population, but make up more than half of the 50 million people who are uninsured.
  • Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders account for more than 50 percent of all Hepatitis B cases in the United States.
  • Compared to the general U.S. population, American Indians are 638 percent more likely to suffer from alcoholism, 400 percent more likely to contract tuberculosis, 291 percent more likely to suffer from diabetes, 67 percent more likely to have pneumonia or influenza, and 20 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease.
  • Hispanics have the highest uninsured rate of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S. They are nearly three times as likely as non-Hispanic Whites to be uninsured.
  • 44 percent of African Americans delay or forgo routine and preventive care.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.

            Shaw University’s CIAA champion Lady Bears advanced to the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Final Four Semifinals for the second year in a row after defeating Pittsburg State University, 61-58. We have a wrapup on how the No. 2 seed Lady Bears did in next week’s edition. 

By Cash Michaels

            The US Justice Dept. and a Seminole County grand jury are now doing something the Sanford, Fla. Police Dept. didn’t - fully investigate the circumstances surrounding the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
            The fact that the shooter was cleared on the spot and never arrested, has outraged the nation.
            National NAACP Pres. Benjamin Todd Jealous joined with the Seminole County NAACP Tuesday night during a church rally in Sanford, in calling for the firing of Sanford Police Chief William Lee, who has maintained that his department has done nothing wrong.
            “We will stand our ground as our ancestors did," Jealous told the overflow crowd of 400 at Allen Chapel AME Church Tuesday. "We will stand up as we have before and we will ensure that justice is carried out here in Sanford. We will ensure that all of our sons and daughters wake up and feel safe in Sanford. We will ensure that there is a new chief in Sanford."
Undoubtedly civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton, who has vowed that there will continue to be “a sustained national presence” in Sanford until a federal investigation commences and an arrest is made, will also call for Chief Lee’s head during another planned rally in Sanford later there this evening.
            Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of people across the nation, and here in North Carolina, are demanding in online petitions, social networking sites, and public demonstrations, that the man who killed Trayvon Martin be brought to justice.
            Martin, an African-American, was shot to death by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, in a Sanford gated community Feb. 26th while walking back from a convenience store to his father’s house.
            The teen was unarmed, having only the candy and iced tea that he’d purchased.
            Only because Martin’s parents refused to accept the Sanford Police Dept.’s determination that Zimmerman, 28, acted in self-defense after fatally shooting the black teenager once in the chest, is this case now a national cause célèbre. As a result of their many media appearances on national cable and broadcast programs, the chilling 911 police tapes were released, capturing the sound of young Martin allegedly crying for help, and then in a stunning moment, being killed in a single gunshot.
            Those tapes, in addition to the release of Zimmerman’s initial call to 911 to report seeing Martin, who was wearing a hoodie, jeans and sneakers, walking in the complex, spurred an avalanche of reaction from the public and elected officials like Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown, demanding that the case be taken out of the hands of Sanford police authorities, and given to the FBI.
            Sanford police say Zimmerman, who identifies as Hispanic even though his father says he’s half-white, alleges he was attacked by Martin after he followed the teen subsequent to calling 911. Because of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows a citizen to meet force with deadlier force if they believe their life was in danger, Sanford police say Zimmerman was in the right, an closed the case.
            But neighbors who heard the confrontation between the two tell a different story, saying that it was the black teen, not Zimmerman as he contends, who was screaming for his life, not knowing why a man with a gun was suddenly assaulting him for just walking the street.
            Press reports this week indicate that the teen was on his cellphone with his girlfriend at the time of the shooting. Phone records confirm according to attorneys representing Trayvon’s parents, that the teen was speaking to his girlfriend one minute after Zimmerman called 911.
            The girl, who has not been identified at the request of her parents, told the Martin family attorneys that Trayvon told her a man was following him. She says she told him to run, but he refused. She then said she heard Trayvon ask someone why was he following him, and she heard another voice ask, “What are you doing here?”
            The girl says she then heard what she believed to be a push, because it dislodged Trayvon’s cellphone, cutting it off.
            She says she never heard the subsequent gunshot, and when she called back repeatedly, she never got an answer.
            Sanford police never spoke to the girl, she confirms, even though they have been in possession of Trayvon’s cellphone ever since.
            "To me it proves that he wasn't walking around the neighborhood doing anything suspicious," Tracy Martin, Trayvon's father, told the "Today Show” on Wednesday. "He was on his way home. He had every right to have on his hoodie. It was raining. Why not put on his hoodie to prevent getting wet?"
            Police say they believed Zimmerman’s self-defense story, even though they did no background check on him on the scene, nor did they test him for alcohol or drug use. If they did, they would have found a mugshot and a 2005 arrest record for assaulting an undercover police officer, a charge that was later dropped.
            Witnesses complained that immediately after the incidents, interviewing officers tried to restate what they were told in an effort to bolster Zimmerman’s version.
Witnesses say that Zimmerman, not Martin, was the aggressor.
The Civil Rights Division of the US Justice Dept. is formally looking into the incident. Their determination will be whether Trayvon Martin’s civil rights were violated on the night of Feb. 26th. The focus of their probe will be whether the black teen’s race played a role in his shooting death.
Published reports this week suggest the answer lies in Zimmerman’s 911 call to Sanford police dispatch that night.
After being told by the 911 operator to stop following Martin, which Zimmerman admits on the call that he is, Martin family attorneys say an electronic clearing of the tape reveals Zimmerman saying “f--king coon” under his breath as he’s walking trying to find Martin.
If federal authorities confirm that to be true, then there can be justification for federal charges to be rendered, legal experts say. Indeed, unless the April 10 Seminole County grand jury determines otherwise, if Florida law continues to shield Zimmerman, it will take federal civil rights statutes to finally bring Zimmerman to a court of law for a jury of his peers to determine the truth.
Hundreds of thousands across the nation, both white and black, say they hope that happens, or else the killing of Trayvon Martin will haunt this nation.


            [SMITHFIELD] Almost five children a day die because of child abuse. On Saturday, April14, the Prevention of Child Abuse 5K Walk will kick off from the Neuse River Amphitheater, 298 S. Front Street in Smithfield from 8a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Pre-register at www.HandsofProtection.org. For more information contact Ronald or Carolyn Penny at 919-931-8898.

            [GREENSBORO] In an effort to make drivers licenses impossible to forge for identity theft, the NC Dept. of Motor Vehicles is expected to introduce new 3-D licenses early next year per their Next Generation Secure Driver License System. The new system will cut wait times at the DMV office, and provide better ID security for the state’s 6.9 million drivers, officials say.

            [CHARLOTTE] In a move to galvanize his support base in North Carolina, Pres. Obama has taken the unusual step of weighing in against the proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriages, more commonly known as “Amendment One.” The president believes the measure, which will appear on the May 8 primary ballot, to “be discriminatory,” Cameron French, the Obama NC Campaign’s press secretary says. “It would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples – and that’s why the President does not support it.”  


            As part of the 59th Annual NAACP Southeast Region Civil Rights Advocacy Training Institute, the NC NAACP will host the “This Is My Vote” Outdoor Rally and Town Hall Meeting this Saturday, March 24 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the Raleigh Civic Center Plaza. The NAACP says this assembly is “…to challenge the racist attacks on minority voting rights across the South and remind us of the bloody fight to win minority voting rights.  "This is My Vote" will feature NAACP State Conference presidents from the NAACP Southeast Region.

            Last week it was a closed-door meeting with community leaders to garner support for recovery. This week, the Board of Directors of what was formerly the YWCA of the Greater Triangle met with 14 workers that were laid off when it abruptly shutdown operations and closed on Feb. 29th without warning. The board reportedly apologized to the workers when they met Tuesday, and explained the fiscal problems they were having. But no promises were made as to when the workers will get their back pay still owed. Public documents show the YW was in debt up to $500,000.

            More good news on the unemployment front. The jobless rate in the Triangle fell in January to 8.1 percent from December’s 8.4 percent, officials with the Division of Employment Security said. Observers say this report so far adds to a hopeful pattern of stronger economic recovery for North Carolina over the past year. The concern is that that pattern continues to grow, further lowering the state’s unemployment, instead of petering out like it did a year ago when the Triangle jobless rate was 7.9.

By Cash Michaels

            HAPPY TENTH ANNIVERSARY, MARKITA - I must say, I have to hand it to the woman who has been able to put up with me as a husband for the past ten years. I’m not an easy person to get along with…I know, I know. And now that I’m ten years older since we married on March 22, 2002 at the Wake County Courthouse (with a followup wedding ceremony on June 15, 2002 in our backyard performed by my good friend Rev. Paul Anderson), I know I’m even more crankier.
            And yet, Markita, my lovely wife of the past decade, has hung in there, “…for better or worse,” as they say. Have to give the woman I love and mother of my youngest, KaLa, credit. She is beautiful, devoted, smart and believes in family. Those combinations are very hard to find these days. She’s a great mom to KaLa, and a great stepmom to my oldest, Tiffany, who is off on her own.
            So for those couples who have 25, 30 or even 50 years of marriage together under your belts, be forewarned, Markita and I are catching up.
            Beloved wife of mine, thank you for ten great years together. I love you.
            Now strap yourself in for the next ten years, because I’m going to be crankier than ever!
            TRAYVON MARTIN CASE - As the proud parent of two beautiful children, my heart aches for the parents of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, the young man who was tragically shot to death Feb. 26th by a phony “neighborhood watch” volunteer.
            I say phony because anyone with an ounce of common sense knows real neighborhood watch volunteers NEVER carry guns.
            Maybe some pepper spray and cell phones in case they get into a bad situation. But to carry a deadly weapon in an official voluntary capacity would require training to know when, and when NOT to use it.
            George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old man who admittedly shot Trayvon, had no such training.
            Yes, Zimmerman had a license to carry, but he had no formal training that we’re aware of in knowing when, and when not to use a gun.
            Zimmerman also had something else we’re well aware of - a criminal record.
            That infamous picture of Zimmerman we’ve all seen in our newspapers and television screens? They call that a “mugshot” when they arrest you for allegedly breaking the law.
            Zimmerman was honored with one of those in 2005 when he was charged with assaulting a police officer. Imagine that? Apparently homeboy had anger management issues seven years.
            And allegedly still had them as recently as three weeks ago, when he went against a 911 operator’s directive to stop following Trayvon after Zimmerman called in a suspicious black male in a hoodie walking through the gated community at night there in Sanford, Fla.
            Zimmerman apparently decides that 9mm gun he keeps in is truck makes him a man, “man” enough to disobey a police directive, seek out the black male he saw, and confront him.
            Now we get to the interesting part - that black male that Zimmerman “knows” is up to no good in his neighborhood is a 17-year-old kid, visiting his father’s fiancee’s house the neighborhood. The kid has no criminal record, no problems we know of, and is just coming back from the store buying some Skittles and an iced tea. He is also apparently listening to music on earphones as he walks, but switches to a cellphone to speak to his girlfriend, because he realizes he’s being followed by some strange man in a truck.
            So far, Trayvon is carrying out his Constitutional rights -namely the right to walk down a street to a home he is visiting - just fine, thank you.
            Zimmerman, as the neighborhood watch guy, is actually on strong standing for a little while here. Because of a rash of local breakins, he does the right thing to call the Sanford police he sees somebody walking around that he doesn’t recognize as living there.
            We’ll give him that, because that what neighborhood watch volunteers do, monitor their area streets, and if they see something they’re not sure about, call the law enforcement professionals to check it out.
            That’s what should have happened, though I’m sure Trayvon wouldn’t have liked it. Zimmerman actually did that. No foul. It’s a gated community for a reason, namely to keep folks who don’t live there out.
            But when Zimmerman disregarded the police directive to stay away from the subject - a directive to make sure that no one gets hurt until police arrive on the scene to investigate - then that’s when EVERYTHING that happens next is George Zimmerman’s responsibility.
            Trayvon Martin did NOT break into a home or car.
            Trayvon Martin did NOT take a hostage.
            Trayvon Martin did NOT brandish a weapon of any sort.
            All the kid was doing was walking. All that needed to happen was for a police officer to stop him, question him, perhaps call ahead to the house to confirm Trayvon’s story, the drive him there to make sure everything is OK.
            The officer could even ask Trayvon for some Skittles while he’s at it, since that’s all he had.
            The absolute worse thing that could happen in that scenario is a police officer, with a gun drawn, order Trayvon to put his hands up and get on the ground, where he could be searched for a weapon.
            Like I said, Trayvon and his folks wouldn’t have liked it, but at least, unless something weird happened, he would have been safe.
            But George Zimmerman offered no options. He decides to be judge and jury, follows Trayvon, apparently catches up to him and challenges him. It is clear that the two had physical contact because neighbors calling 911 say they here a scuffle outside.
            A 17-year-old kid, unarmed and not a gang member, just coming back from the store, just wants to get where he’s going, not stop and mess with some strange man following him.
            Not unless he’s forced to, like being pushed or grabbed, and then thrown down to the ground.
            And it’s also apparent that Zimmerman didn’t have his gun out at first when he approached Trayvon, because if he did, the kid would have frozen.
            Trust me, I know from experience, when a strange has a loaded weapon pointed at you, time slows down, you hear your own heartbeat, and your mind starts asking a thousand questions a second. The last thing you do, if you’re a kid who’s never been through this before, is try to pull a James West on the guy.
            So what did we hear on the 911 tapes? A cry for help, an indication that someone recognizes that they’re in a fix they can’t get out of, and then a loud, sharp gunshot, at which point the loud wail IMMEDIATELY stops.
            That loud, pleading cry was Trayvon seeing Zimmerman’s gun pointed at him. That cry ends suddenly when one 9mm bullet pierces Trayvon’s chest,a nd perhaps his heart, killing him almost instantly.
            As best as we can tell, Zimmerman does nothing to administer aid to his victim, who is lying on the ground with a bullet wound to his chest.
            He just let’s Trayvon lie there. Zimmerman believes he’s done his job by ridding his neighborhood of someone who would have robbed somebody’s home, and threatened their safety.
            All Zimmerman has to do is claim the unknown black kid, who is sure to have a police record, no question, attacked him while all he was doing was being a good citizen who gets action.
            The kid is dead, Zimmerman is thinking, and its dark out here. The cops will believe his story.
            No problem. This is what the neighbors want.
            What George Zimmerman didn’t count on was the exact opposite was true.
            Though dark, too many witnesses heard enough to call the police, and captured the essential part of what Zimmerman did for the world to eventually hear.
            And Zimmerman also didn’t count of the Sanford police, in a effort to cover their own behinds, trying to coerce witnesses into backing up Zimmerman’s version of events, despite hearing something completely different.
            Finally, Zimmerman didn’t count on Trayvon’s parents, knowing deeply that whatever happened, their son was not at fault, pushing the envelope in making sure that the world knew what happened, and that the world would respond, through social networking and public demonstrations, that justice be done.
            The Sanford Police closed this case, but under tremendous public pressure, the state of Florida is now investigating.
            The US Dept. of Justice is looking into this as well.
            Now, all of a sudden, even though Zimmerman walked, thanks to the Sanford police and a crazy “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida that allows people to shoot each other dead, and claim self-defense with impunity, he now the most wanted man in America.
            Zimmerman may slide on state charges (a grand jury has been impaneled, but it may be just a way for the local prosecutor to wash his hands of a politically and racially explosive issue), but a federal investigation could establish that he believed any and every black male he saw was a potential criminal.
            I think they call that racial profiling.
            So let’s see how this plays out here. The people want to believe that their criminal justice system works for everyone.
            We’ll see, because right now, it better work for Trayvon Martin.
            If it doesn’t, then no black child in this nation is safe.
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.

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