Monday, October 20, 2014



By Cash Michaels

            EARLY VOTING HAS BEGUN – No excuses. From now until Saturday, Nov. 1st, One Stop Early voting is in full effect across North Carolina. Check your local county for correct locations and times. There is NO voter photo ID this election. And don’t forget, there is no more straight ticket voting by party, so you will have to vote for every candidate individually. Take friends and family, and if you have to, hold your nose.
            But VOTE!
             BAD CNN – Boy, talk about retribution! The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) recently issued a statement chiding CNN, the worldwide news network, for apparently laying off a high number of African-American staffers, including some high level news managers.
NABJ also noted the recent departures of black  anchorpersons Suzanne Malveaux, T. J. Holmes, Roland Martin and Solebad O’Brien.
            In addition, CNN is being sued by a former longtime writer/producer for alleged racial discrimination in the denial of various promotions, and wrongful termination.
            NABJ called the situation at CNN “worrisome.”
            CNN’s response?
            The cable news network pulled its financial support from the 2015 NABJ Convention and Career Fair. Apparently that was CNN’s way to telling NABJ, “Keep you nose in your own business, negroes!”
            This is quite surprising, especially given that NABJ had been awarding CNN for its work on diversity since 2007. But it’s even more surprising in revealing how thin CNN’s skin is to what is relatively mild criticism. It’s not like CNN was branded racist or called bad names. A professional news organization should have thicker skin than that.
            Apparently not.
            SHONDA’S WRONG! – First the opportunity, then the arrogance, and, if not caught in time, finally the self-destruction.
            That’s the unmistakable pattern for those who believe that their success constitutes freedom to do anything they choose, and that they’re always right. Sorry, but when you work to please the public, that may be a common perception, but is almost never the rule.
            More success does give you more freedom, and there’s then the expectation that what you do next will be bigger, and even better.
            But still within an acceptable standard.
            Good example, comedian Eddie Murphy. He is a comic genius, and yet one of the reasons why Murphy’s career is in pretty much in the toilet is because he’s made so many bad, unfunny movies, that studios are afraid to risk millions on him anymore.
            Why? Because when Murphy had power, he used it to get his way on everything. Bad move. Eddie Murphy has proven that he shouldn’t work for Eddie Murphy because Eddie Murphy doesn’t know how to tell Eddie Murphy “No” and make it stick when Eddie Murphy has bad ideas. 
Eddie Murphy is brilliant, but only when he has a boss, a producer, who knows what to bring out of him, how to bring it out, and how to deliver it to an audience.
            It is no accident that some of Eddie Murphy’s most brilliant, and successful films – “Beverly Hills Cop,” “The Nutty Professor,” and of course his Oscar-nominated turn in “Dreamgirls” – are films where he did not have the final say on much, if anything.
            Now look at one of the worst films in Murphy’s career, 1989’s “Harlem Nights,” costarring Richard Pryor, Red Foxx and the great Della Reese. Murphy wrote it, and directed it.
            The end result was an embarrassing piece of mess, instead of the brilliant showcase for black comic talent it should have been.
            So why am I going on-and-on about the trials of Eddie Murphy?
            Because producer Shonda Rhimes is headed in the same direction, and fast.
            Rhimes, of course, is the tremendously successful black female producer of the ABC Television Network’s entire three-hour Thursday night lineup – “Grey’s Anatomy”; “Scandal” and the newest one, “How to get Away With Murder” starring Viola Davis.
            All three shows push the envelope when it comes to outrageous plots, characters and sexual boundaries. That’s fine. Evening soap operas, like “Dallas” and “Dynasty,” have been doing that for years.
            But Rhimes just doesn’t believe in “pushing” the envelope. She’s seems committed to shoving the whole darn thing down our throats.
            In the Shonda Rhimes world of saucy fiction, there are no racial or sexual barriers, so so-called “powerful” black women sleep with powerful white men, a la’ “Scandal,” and young gay men just drop pants, rip off shirts, and start making out bareback for two or three minutes without warning while you’re still trying to digest your chicken leg.
            Remember now, all of this is on the ABC Television Network – regular TV, you know, where TV stations have to get a license to broadcast over the public airwaves from the Federal Communications Commission.  That means a certain standard has to be upheld, and lines of good taste not crossed.
            Apparently Shonda believes those lines are there only to be crossed
            Bad mistake.
            I’m told that “Grey’s Anatomy” has had gay themes on before, and I know that “Scandal” has had gay men in relationships. In both cases, I don’t have a problem with that. Gay people exist, they have lives, and like anyone else, there is drama in those lives and relationships.
            But Rhimes’ newest series, “How To Get Away With Murder (permit me to just call it “Murder” from now on), is not about dramatic relationships when it comes to gay people. Instead, the show is devoted to shocking its audience with as much gay skin as possible, as often as it can.
            Indeed, for the month that it’s been on, there’s been a near-porno gay sex scene in every episode. Last week was perhaps the most explicit and graphic.
            Because of our interest in a series that Academy Award nominated actress Viola Davis is in, my wife and I have been watching “Murder”, primarily because the storyline is compelling, and the performances, thus far, have been good. We want to know where the story is going, which is what a good murder mystery is supposed to do.
            But last week, both my wife and I had to literally cringe when two young male characters went a bit too far with the “let’s get it on” bit, and we found ourselves shaking our heads wondering why all of that was needed.
            And we weren’t the only ones shaking our heads. Folks I communicated with on Facebook, and other viewers across the nation on social media all collectively cringed as well, so much so that news organizations picked up on the dissatisfaction immediately with headlines like, “Shonda Rhimes Riled Up by Fan Upset with Shows’ Gay Scenes”; and “Shonda Rhimes Shuts Down Tweeter Who’s Upset With Gay Sex Scenes.”
            Indeed, a  fan apparently tweeted Rhimes, “The gay scenes in scandal and how to get away with murder are too much. There is no point and they add nothing
to the plot.”
            Rhimes was not pleased with being chastised, and responded in  series of tweets, “There are no GAY scenes. There are scenes with people in them. If you are suddenly discovering that Shondaland shows have scenes involving people who are gay, you ARE LATE TO THE PARTY. If u use the phrase “gay scenes’, u are not only LATE to the party, but also NOT INVITED to the party. Bye Felicia. I love all you Tweeples. Even the ones who still need to grow. And remember that at some point, someone discriminated against you too.”
            Rhimes ended her “I don’t give a darn” Twitter rant with, “I don’t know why this kind of hate is out there. Ugh.  At least in Shondaland. Have a great rest of your weekend.”
            What the fan who tweeted Rhimes wrote seemed quite reasonable to me. She didn’t go off on gay people or do any gay bashing. What she simply said was the scenes were “too much” and “add nothing to the plot.”
            I agree. Her measured words do not betray a bigotry, but rather a dissatisfaction. This fan was telling Rhimes, “You’re going too far with this stuff.”
            If Rhimes weren’t so full of herself, she’d listen and realize that part of her loyal fan base is telling her she’s losing them. Rhimes is too far out front.
            Worse yet, this fan was also telling Rhimes she’s not handling  the subject properly…for broadcast television.
            You see in the old days of television, over-the-air TV was really all we had in our living rooms. Cable was the home of feature films of various ratings, so that medium established itself early as the place where we hear the worst bad language, saw the most graphic sex and violence, and where the most avant garde subject matter, like homosexuality, was tackled.
            In short, you knew what to expect when you watched a cable channel.
            Broadcast television, because it was over the air and regulated, had to try to compete with cable the best way it knew how – with quality programming. Lines were drawn as to what could be shown and said on broadcast, so that pushed Hollywood’s creative community to find more imaginative ways to deal with some of the same subject matter as cable, but with out the graphic nature.
            That led to quality shows like “ER”, “Law and Order: SVU” and ‘The Good Wife” which incorporated great writing and performances, and also pushed the envelope, but did so in a manner which skillfully advanced the plot.
            Shonda Rhimes clearly isn’t interested in advancing the plot. Her business is deeply invested in shock value. So having two almost naked young men making out on screen in your living is apparently, based on her curt response to a complaining fan, normal to her.
            What Rhimes is doing is splitting her fanbase. Clearly some of the young viewers adore what she’s doing. But us older folks aren’t buying it, and it won’t be long, if it hasn’t happened already, when we’ll be telling ABC-TV to do something about it.
            Black viewers, in particular, are proud of Shonda Rhimes’ success, and watch her shows. But the gay sex stuff, based on my read of many Facebook posts, is now turning a lot of folks off. Does Rhimes want to lose us, too? She says if we don’t like it, then don’t watch.
            That really shouldn’t be necessary, let alone said. But Rhimes is feeling her oats. She’s feeling invincible now, like nobody can touch her.  Wrong.
            ABC can ‘touch’ Rhimes by telling her to calm the gay sex stuff down. She doesn’t have to eliminate it, just stop being so graphic with it. Don’t show so much, and don’t go there every episode. Quite frankly, the more you show it, the more you wear it out.
            But know, Shonda Rhimes wants to be the Eddie Murphy of television, meaning being her own worst enemy. So be it.
            Mark this date down on your calendar, and watch how this thing builds. It’s going to happen, because when even your fans tell you you’re going too far, and you’re not listening, something has got to give.
            Being headstrong about this doesn’t make you mighty, Shonda. It just makes you blind. Not a good thing at all for someone who is supposed to be a “visionary.”
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 And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (
           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.
By Cash Michaels

            There is only one “Souls to the Polls” Sunday between now and the Nov. 4th general election, and this Sunday, Oct. 26th is it.
            A coalition of civic and community groups, led by the non-partisan Democracy North Carolina and the Raleigh-Apex NAACP, are urging churches to fill their vans this Sunday, and bring their congregations to Chavis Community Center in Southeast Raleigh, or one of the other seven One Stop- Early Voting locations across Wake County this Sunday between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. so that church members may cast their ballots for the 2014 mid-term elections.
            “The Voting Rights Act of 1965 followed directly after the brutal attack of voting rights activists in Selma , Alabama , on what has become known as “Bloody Sunday,” says Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy NC. “There is no better way to honor the memory and legacy of those who fought so hard for our precious rights than to vote on a Sunday.”
            Thanks to the new voting restrictions passed in 2013 by the Republican-led NC General Assembly, the early voting period, which began today across the state and ends Saturday, Nov. 1st at 1 p.m, has been shortened from 17 days to only ten, even though the same number of total hours is being employed.
            Per the new law, all county election boards, which are all being led by Republicans since the GOP takeover of both the Governor’s office and the state Legislature, have the option of designating Sunday voting during that period.
            This year, eleven counties, including Wake, will allow Sunday voting.
            In Wake, the eight sites that will be open this Sunday from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. include Apex Community Center, 53 Hunter Street in Apex; Herbert C. Young Community Center, 101 Wilkinson Avenue in Cary; Northern Regional Center, 350 E. Holding Avenue in Wake Forest, Optimist Community Center, 5900 Whittier Drive in Raleigh; Knightdale Recreation Center, 101 Lawson Ridge Road, Knightdale; Lake Lynn Community Center, 7921 Ray Road in Raleigh; Wake Technical Community College, 9101 Fayetteville Road in Raleigh; and Chavis Heights Community Center, 505 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd in Raleigh.
            Early voting hours at the these Wake locations are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 25th and Nov. 1st from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
            In Southeast Raleigh, the Democracy NC/Raleigh-Apex NAACP coalition sponsored “Souls to the Polls” event this Sunday will begin with a 12 noon rally at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Gardens at the corner of MLK Jr. Blvd and Rock Quarry Road. Right before 1 p.m., there will be a short march from the MLK Gardens to the Chavis Heights Community Center on MLK Jr. Blvd., where voting will begin from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m..
            Those who intend to vote must note that there is no longer straight-ticket voting, so all candidates listed on the ballot but be selected individually, and not collectively by party.
            The “Souls to the Polls” event this Sunday is sponsored by Democracy North Carolina; Iota Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated; Raleigh – Apex NAACP; Triangle Chapters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated (Knightdale - Wake Forest Alumnae, Raleigh Alumnae, &
Western Wake Alumnae Chapters); The Phi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated; and Beta Lambda Sigma Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Incorporated.
            For more information, contact or call 919 - 272 – 8224.


            [EDEN] The Republican state Senate leader says he will back legislation protecting state magistrates and register of deeds who refuse to either issue marriage licenses, or actually conduct wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples. State Senator Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) says state officials who refuse to recognize gay marriages have the religious freedom to do so. Ever since the 4th Circuit of Appeals overturned Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriages, an a federal judge struck down North Carolina’s Amendment One banning gay marriage, at least two magistrates have refused to conduct ceremonies, even though court officials have mandated that all magistrates follow the law.  Berger says no magistrate in the state should be compelled to obey that directive if they are religiously opposed to it.

            [FAYETTEVILLE] A campaign flier found on cars outside of a Fayetteville church Sunday with the words, “ Kay Hagan doesn’t win, Obama impeachment will begin! Vote in 2014” is raising eyebrows because of the photo that came with it – a picture of a black man being hung and lynched by angry whites. The flier says it was paid for by a group calling itself “Concerned Citizens of Cumberland County. The local NAACP president said that while the message was strong, he dodn’t think it was racist.

            [GREENSBORO] With fewer and fewer people looking for work, North Carolina’s unemployment rate for September dipped slightly to 6.7 percent from 6.8 percent in August. The national jobless rate, in contrast, was 5.9. Experts say there were 5,6000 fewer workers in September than the month prior.



            Steve Beam, the embattled executive director of the Raleigh Housing Authority has announced that after over 18 years, he’s retiring as of December 1st.  Health reasons, in addition to a possible loss of benefits if he stayed on, were citied as reasons for the decision.

            The Raleigh City Council on Tuesday unanimously a new nondiscrimination policy against city employees who happen to be of transgender orientation. The policy now provides workplace protection for “gender identity or expression,” in addition to age, race, religion, disabilities, economic and martial status.

            Straight Talk is s nonprofit support group for the family members of those serving time in prison. On Friday, October 24th, Straight talk presents the screening of acclaimed film, “Middle of Nowhere” directed by Ava DuVernay at the Durham Marriott Convention Center at 6:30 p.m. For more information, go to, or call 919-599-3370.
            Like St. Augustine’s University across town, Shaw University has announced several cost-saving measures to trim at least  $2 million from its budget over the next year. Eleven vacant positions have been eliminated, and ten employees laid off, according to a spokesperson. Contracts are being renegotiated with various university vendors. Student enrollment has fallen by over 650 since 2010, meaning revenues have fallen.


MINISTERS TO COMMUNITY: VOTE NOW - Members of the Raleigh Interdominational Ministerial Alliance came together Tuesday to call on the African-American community to vote in the 2014 general election. They said the issues are too great to ignore. Early voting starts today, and "Souls to the Polls" Sunday voting will be this Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. [Cash Michaels photo]

By Cash Michaels

            Pastoral members of the Raleigh Interdominational Ministerial Alliance (RIMA), representing over 39,000 parishioners, came together this week to call on their congregations, and the African-American community, to proactively go to the polls starting now that the early voting period has begun, and vote to stave off further diminution of their rights.
            Led by Bishop Gerald Sylver, pastor of Freedom Temple Church in Raleigh and president of the RIMA, the group also called on Gov. McCrory to do what he can to protect citizens and health care workers from the spread of the fatal Ebola virus.
            “These pastors have formed a united front to express their disdain for voter suppression that appears to have been directed at the black community, and how the community should respond to it,” Bishop Sylver said in a statement. “They also believe now is the time to address the Ebola crisis before it becomes an out-of-control epidemic among the North Carolina’s medical community, and in particular, our nursing students.”
            With early voting commencing now through Nov. 1st for the Nov. 4th general election, Rev. John Wilkins, pastor of Wake Chapel Church in Raleigh, urged those who normally only vote during the presidential election to understand the importance of the midterm election, and why their ballots are even more important then.
            “North Carolina is believed to be one of the key battleground states in the midterm elections, especially in the US Senate race,” Pastor Wilkins said told reporters at Freedom Temple Tuesday during a RIMA press conference there.
            “Whoever controls the Senate, controls the [nominations] for the US Supreme Court, and you only have to look at the changes in the Voting Rights [Act] to see the power of the Supreme Court,” Rev. Wilkins continued, referring to the High Court striking down Section 5 of the VRA in 2013.
            It was because of that that Republican-led states like North Carolina and Texas immediately implemented wide-ranging voting restrictions that required voter photo identification, among other changes that critics believe are designed to suppress the Democratic-leaning black and youth vote.
            Even though those restrictions were successfully legally challenged in federal court, the US Supreme Court recently overturned those decisions, meaning that while Texas is now allowed to require voter ID for this election, North Carolina will not allow same-day registration nor out-of-precinct voting during the early voting balloting as well.
            By voting in the midterm elections, voters are able to determine who is next chosen to serve on the High Court per the next opening, by whom they elect to the US Senate – incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan or Republican NC House Speaker Thom Tillis. If Hagan is reelected to a second term, the Senate Democrat could retain the majority, and are likely to signoff on Pres. Obama’s next Supreme Court choice.
            If Republican Speaker Tillis is elected, however, that would likely give the Senate majority to the GOP, and the president would then have a difficult time getting any of his High Court nominations through.
            Studies show that less African-Americans show up to vote than they do in the presidential election, proven by the fact that in North Carolina, 280,000 fewer black voters went to the polls in 2010 than they did in 2008, the year President Obama was elected.
            With recent published reports stating that in order for Democrats to retain the majority in the US Senate, presidential year turnout among black voters is essential, Pastor Wilkins said RIMA believes African-American voters cannot afford to stay home.
            “RIMA believes that this is the most important election of this entire decade,” Wilkins said, noting how voter suppression laws and redistricting have had a “direct impact on North Carolina’s African-American community, and “every” pastor of a black church “must commit” their congregations to early voting.
Rev. Frank White, pastor of Antioch Bible Fellowship in Raleigh, urged voters to vote no on a state constitutional ballot referendum that, if passed, would allow defendants in a criminal trial to forgo their right to trial by jury, thus allowing a judge alone to decide their guilt or innocence. Many social justice advocates say allowing the choice would deny poor defendants the right to have their cases heard by a jury of their peers.
As indicated earlier, RIMA also had strong concerns about how the Ebola crisis in the nation is being handled – especially after the missteps at a Texas hospital where a Liberian national died after being misdiagnosed, and two nurses who treated him contracted the deadly virus.
RIMA urged Gov. Pat McCrory and the state General Assembly to work harder to safeguard citizens and health care personnel, by mandating immediate training for those UNC and community college system schools with nursing and health care programs. RIMA also wants all hospitals in the state to immediately procure approved protective gear to maintain safe handling of Ebola patients.
            “We are concerned about this disease running rampant if we’re not prepared to handle it,” Rev. William T. Newkirk, Sr., pastor of Oak City Baptist Church in Raleigh, said in a statement. “At this moment, in this state, we are unprepared.”
            Pastor Newkirk went on to charge that Ebola was ”…exposing our dysfunctional health care system.”
            Rev. Mary Heggie, pastor of First Philadelphia Missionary Baptist Church in Raleigh, read a letter from RIMA that will be hand-delivered to the governor, formally asking for immediate Ebola health care training of all medical staff and students.
            “We hope that this request is met with a sense of urgency, because we believe in this instance that it is better to be proactive, then to lose lives unnecessarily,” Pastor Heggie said.

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