Tuesday, February 26, 2013





            An investigation by Durham Police Internal Affairs found that a former Durham police officer “…used more force than necessary” when he repeatedly punched a 25-year-old female US Navy veteran in the face and head, leaving her with a broken nose, black eye and other injuries. The victim, Stephanie Dickerson, filed a complaint against the officer, Brian Schnee, who subsequently left the force. The Durham District Attorneys Office dropped charges against Dickerson. No word on whether she will now sue Schnee and the department.

            The Southeast Raleigh Assembly, Inc., in association with the Raleigh Business and Technology Center, is sponsoring the workshop, “ Everything You Wanted to Know About Computers, But Were Afraid to Ask,” March 20th,  5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Center, 900 South Wilmington Street. Contact David Brown at 919-747-8421or at david.brown@southeastraleigh.org

            The Board of Education will meet beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, March 9, to interview seven candidates for the vacant District 9 seat. The interviews, which will be held in the Board Room at WCPSS Central Services in Cary, will be open to the public. The appointee to the District 9 seat would serve the remainder of former board member Debra Goldman’s term, which expires in November 2013. The board is scheduled conduct interviews from 9:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Board members will vote on the new District 9 representative following the interview process.


            [GREENSBORO] Despite Republican governors in at least six other states accepting it, NC Gov. Pat McCrory was expected at press time Wednesday to sign a bill stopping the expansion of Medicaid to an estimated 500,000 poor North Carolinians. Both the Republican-led state House and Senate ratified the measure, saying that even though the federal government covers 100 percent of the costs for the first three year, and 90 percent thereafter, they don’t trust the feds to keep their words. Medicaid supporters counter that the federal money belongs to North Carolina, so taxpayers are effectively paying the health care costs of people in Ohio, Florida, New Jersey and other states that are in the program.

            [RALEIGH] County commissioners told state lawmakers this week that they should take over ownership and management of public school properties and buildings in their areas from local school boards because they could run them more efficiently, and give the school boards more time to improve education. What started in Wake County as a local issue may, as a result, become a statewide mandate if proposed legislation goes through. The school boards counter that they have good track records and experience in purchasing and maintaining school properties, and charge that this is just a “power grab” on the part of Republican-led commission boards because the GOP is in the majority in the General Assembly.

            [CHARLOTTE] The 2013 CIAA Basketball Tournament is underway at the Time Warner Cable Arena. Twelve historically black NCAA Division II colleges and universities compete in both men’s and women’s play for the championship, and the right to go on to compete with other schools across the nation for the NCA Division II championship.  New CIAA Commissioner Jacqie Carpenter says even though the tournament pumps $50 million into the local economy, the conference is running a $200,000 deficit because “half the people who come to town for the festivities aren’t attending the games.” There has been controversy recently about how much local black businesses have benefitted in the past eight years from the CIAA tournament.

By Cash Michaels

            When it comes to the sanctity of the black vote in North Carolina and throughout the nation, this is proving to be an extraordinary week in history, with far-reaching implications.
            On Monday and Tuesday, a three-judge panel heard arguments pertaining to the two redistricting maps drawn by the Republican-led NC General Assembly in 2010 that Democratic and progressive critics charge illegally “stacks and packs” the state’s Democrat-leaning black voters in certain “minority-majority” districts, taking them from predominately white swing voting districts, thus guaranteeing overall GOP dominance until 2020.
            Republicans counter that their maps are not only legal, but passed muster with the US Justice Dept., which is required under Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) to pre-clear all redistricting maps to ensure that the boundaries are constitutional, another argument that loomed large elsewhere this week.
            Those redistricting arguments ended Tuesday, with a decision from the special judicial panel as to whether to proceed to trial or issue a ruling forthcoming.
If the panel agrees with the Democrats, the GOP-led Legislature has to redraw the voting districts in a manner that still maintains a certain number of black majority districts, but more fairly distributes black voters – the majority of whom tend to vote Democrat – among other districts as well so that white Democrats are able to compete against white Republican challengers.
            Meanwhile, on Wednesday, demonstrators from North Carolina, led by the NCNAACP, Alabama and other southern states convened outside of the US Supreme Court as justices heard arguments about the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
            The VRA of 1965 was landmark legislation which outlawed widespread racial discriminatory barriers like poll taxes and literacy tests throughout the South that were designed “…to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color,” according to the 15th Amendment.
            The law, which has been renewed four times since its passage, mandated that the federal government monitor those states and counties which had a history of racial discrimination when it came to voting
            As indicated earlier, Section 5 of the VRA, which was renewed for 25 years in 2006 by then Pres. George W. Bush, specifically mandates that the nine states, and the seven states that have counties or townships it covers, pre-clear any changes to local election laws or processes.
            VRA-5 covers forty of North Carolina’s one hundred counties. Many of the state’s major counties, including Wake, Durham, New Hanover and Mecklenburg, are not covered, though Wake was until 1967.
            On Wednesday, the High Court heard arguments in Shelby County v Holder.
Shelby County, Alabama, which is covered by the VRA due to a past history of voting discrimination from before the 1960s, filed suit against the US Justice Dept. in 2010, claiming that VRA-5 is unconstitutional because the county has long ago ceased the racist voting practices it was still being held accountable for. They point to the election, and re-election of the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama.
            Two lower federal courts sided with the Justice Dept., however, thus upholding VRA-5’s constitutionality.
            Pro-VRA-5 supporters say that while there has been social progress since the 1960’s, there is clear evidence in recent years of new barriers to voting rights, specifically the more than 30 states who have passed photo voter identification laws, which many critics add up to nothing more than an effort to suppress Democrat-leaning groups like African-Americans and college students.
            The challenge to Section 5 of the VRA has far-reaching implications for the law’s ability to protect voters in covered areas throughout the country, and in jurisdictions in the South in particular,” says Scott Simpson, spokesman for The Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights. “For voters in southern states covered by Section 5, these protections have been vital for generations and are still crucial today.
            Advocates for Section 5 fear that given the ideological balance on the US Supreme Court, there could be trouble.
Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, has already made it clear that he feels the days when affirmative action and other racial fairness practices are needed are long over, and there’s little question that conservative colleagues justices Anton Scalia and Clarence Thomas agree with him.
            Roberts just needs two other justices to agree with him, and VRA-5 could be out the window.
            North Carolina is keeping a keen eye on which way the High Court falls because it has had its own VRA-5 challenges. Indeed the federal courts have ruled five times on findings of voter discrimination in the Tar Heel state.
            In July 2002, the 2001 redistricting plan for the Harnett County Board of Education and Board of Commissioners were found in violation of the VRA.
            In June 2007, the courts objected to the slicing of Fayetteville’s nine-member districts to six, in addition to the City Council’s redistricting plans, as denying black residents their constitutional right to due representation.
            In August 2009, the federal courts ruled against a lawsuit filed by white citizens in Kinston who wanted to change municipal elections there from partisan to nonpartisan. The Justice Dept. opposed the change, saying that it would deny black voters their right to know who was Democrat and who was Republican.
            And most recently, in April 2012, the Pitt County School District got a thumbs down when it tried to change their method of elections from twelve single-member districts to just seven.
            In other states, specifically Texas and South Carolina, VRA-5 has been successfully used by the Justice Dept. to stop voter ID laws there because they weren’t pre-cleared, and posed a real threat of voter suppression.
            Overall, the VRA has rejected over 1,000 proposed discriminatory voting changes between 1982 and 2006, says VRA advocates, and it is still needed.
            Those districts, like Wake County, that can prove that they have indeed buried past racist practices have an option, under the VRA, to opt out of Section 5. The problem is many never applied to do so, an argument made before the high Court to defend maintaining VRA-5.
            Advocates believe if the Supreme Court rules against VRA-5, in addition to the NC courts upholding the Republican redistricting maps, then the voting rights of blacks and other communities of color will be seriously hampered.
            If the Supreme Court strikes Section 5 down, millions of voters will be at risk of having their rights infringed upon by those determined to block access to the ballot,” says national NAACP Pres. Benjamin Todd Jealous. “We can't let that happen.”

By Cash Michaels

            NO OSCAR CLASS – Boy, ABC TV must really be hard up for ratings, given that monstrosity of an Oscar’s telecast we saw last Sunday.
            I understand the need to keep a good audience, and pull in a younger audience so that the Academy Awards replenishes a profitable demographic that is getting older all the time.
            I get that.
            But when you get someone like Seth McFarlane, creator of the irreverent Fox cartoon series Family Guy, and director of the raunchy flick Ted (the R-rated story of an oversexed teddy bear), to host what is supposed to be a classy family program (they don’t bleep those Best Picture film clips for nothing), you’re asking for trouble.
            And trouble is exactly what showed up Sunday night.
            McFarlane’s jokes, for the most part, were crude, sexist and racist.
            Granted, there’s an audience for that, as the ratings for the show proved.  The problem is it send a message to the billion people watching around the world that what American entertainment can no longer do with craft and imagination, it will more than make up for in crass, racist, sexist garbage.
            What’s more disturbing is that this year’s program really had some stellar moments. Seeing the all-but-forgotten great singer Shirley Bassey belt out “Goldfinger” to a standing ovation was priceless. Barbara Streisand reminded us what class and craft is all about with her tribute to late composer Marvin Hamlisch. Academy Award winning actress Halle Berry was arguably the best dressed attendee to the Oscar ceremony, and comported herself accordingly. British singer Adele reminded us that there is still a market for performers who can actually sing intelligently. Director Ang Lee was beyond humble in accepting his Best Director award for the extraordinary “Life of Pi” (which I still have to see, but hear is so great, my wife gave me the book for Christmas).
            And actor Daniel Day-Lewis’ acceptance of his Best Actor award for “Lincoln” was the epitome of class and humor.
            All of the above tells us that Hollywood’s greatest commodity is not just the high quality of films it produces when it really wants to, but leading the world in what craft and professionalism is all about.
            That’s why who is chosen to host the Academy Awards every years is a big deal. The person must be skilled enough to push the envelope, yet skillfully land on the right side of our sensibilities. Make us comfortable hearing the dirty joke because the way it was delivered wasn’t dirty at all.
            Bob Hope was a master at that. So was Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg when they hosted. Even Chris Rock, as radical as his comedy is in comparison to a Hope or Crystal, knew where to draw the line.
            Seth McFarlane is the product of a younger, yet angrier generation that really hasn’t paid its dues, but because they’ve made gobs of money for someone, ABC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences throws them a bone and says, “Let’s see what you can do.”
            I don’t know who will be chosen to host next year (McFarlane says count him out), but I hope ABC and the Academy choose someone we’re not ashamed of. McFarlane is a talented guy for what he does.
            But what he does deserves to be nowhere near the Academy Awards, and under normal circumstances, never would be.
            MICHELLE FULL THROTTLE – Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States, is on a full throttle media blitz to promote the third anniversary of her national “Let Move” children’s health campaign.
 Last week she appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s show dancing up a storm with the now famous “Evolution of Mom Dancing” video which is simply hilarious.
Then on Sunday, Mrs. Obama made a surprise appearance on the Academy Awards telecast to announce the Best Picture Award for “Argo.”
She’s also taped a healthy eating video with Big Bird from Sesame Street in the White House Kitchen; appeared on “Good Morning America” with Robin Roberts this week (by the way, welcome back Robin); and taped a session with Dr. Oz.
Top black national radio hosts like Tom Joyner, Doug Banks, B. Smith and Michael Baisden interviewed the First Lady this week.
And she has enlisted the aid to top national magazines and media companies to help promote healthy recipes.
Plus, today the First Lady is scheduled to announce a new initiative to promote putting
According to the White House, “Mrs. Obama launched Let’s Move! on February 9, 2010 to unite the country around our kids’ health and create real support for families to live healthier lives.  Since then parents, business leaders, educators, elected officials, military leaders, chefs, physicians, athletes, childcare providers, community and faith leaders and kids themselves have stepped up to improve the health of our nation’s children.”
The White House continued, “Thanks to these efforts, families now have access to more information to make healthier decisions for their children. Young people now have more opportunities for physical activity in their communities. Food in schools has been dramatically improved.  More Americans now have access to healthy, affordable food closer to home. And the national childhood obesity rate has leveled off, and even declined in some cities and states.”
So we salute the First Lady. She always has made us proud, and she continues to do so. Apparently the Republicans don’t like all of this activity. BUMP ‘EM is what I say. I’m with Michelle Obama. Anyone else with me?
RAPE NO MORE - Local film professor and filmmaker Joseph Brandon Johnson will depart between the dates of March 23rd through March 31st to shoot the first part of an influential groundbreaking documentary about a group of individuals seeking to confront the pressing issue of rape in South Africa.  Utilizing “active art” in the form of flash mobs with spoken word through the voices at-risk young men, the filmmaker and fellow artists seek to affect social awareness and change.
According to Prof. Johnson, “1 in 4 men in South Africa has committed the act of rape.  Of admitted rapists, over 70 percent stated that they had committed the act before they turned 20.  This project will be an artistic intervention in that we will utilize the performances of these young boys not just to alter their exterior environment but their internal social orientation as well.”
            The mantra of the documentary is as follows: Before they were rapists, before they were victims, before they were silent, they were children.  Let’s start there and work our way forward.  It’s not just a documentary...it’s a movement.
            If you would like more information about this topic, or would like to help the project, please contact Prof. Joseph Johnson at336-624-9815, or email him at johnsonjoeb@mac.com.
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.myWAUG.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html). I promise it will be interesting.
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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