Saturday, November 21, 2015


By Cash Michaels

            HAPPY THANKSGIVING – I’m a firm believer that holidays are what you make them. So I get it that the pilgrims and Native Americans didn’t get along a long time ago, but that’s not why my family and I celebrate Thanksgiving.
            Given all of the strife going on in the world now, when you still have your health, and your family, and a way to make a living to provide for your family, then there is much to thank GOD for. Obviously you should be thanking Him each and every day, but why not on a national holiday in a big way? Why not get together with family and friends, and laugh, eat and talk? Why not?
            So Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and your families, and may GOD continue to bless you.
            WHEN FREE SPEECH SHOULDN’T BE “FREE” – Amid the recent protest on majority white college campuses by black students alleging racism, and inaction by the respective administrations, there has been a pushback by conservatives essentially saying, “So what is these black kids get called “nigger” every once in a while. That’s just free speech, and they’ll just have to live with it.
            My position is hate speech, when used in situations where race is a factor, is threatening speech, and should be treated as such.
            Well, a female judge on Facebook disagreed, saying that “Speech is not limited because one who hears it perceives it as threatening unless there’s some imminent danger to someone.”
            I disagreed, and said so online. Here is my edited answer.
            Judge, I've had this debate before, and those of you taking your position ALWAYS issue a qualifier. I maintain that while the n-word, in itself is not illegal, if the slur is used in the work environment by someone white to someone black, or is used in the course of a denial of human or civil rights, then it IS threatening. And the very fact that in many states, it can be actionable in a court of law given the appropriate context, means that the word satisfies some basic legal standards - that it is race-specific, and constituted a degree of harassment resulting in an environment where those of a specific race or ethnicity felt routinely unsafe (or threatened).
Now in my grammar school days, we were taught that while we had freedom of speech, that also came with an inferred responsibility for what we said and how we said it. Thus yelling FIRE in a crowded theater was ill-advised given the inherent general danger. I would suggest to you that the same could be said of a white person going into a mostly black environment and yelling “N-word”, as opposed to "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.” The slur would IMMEDIATELY be considered threatening to those gathered, and they would react accordingly. Indeed, most sensible white people would think twice about doing such a stupid thing because they could pretty much guess what the reaction would be.
But let's take race out of the equation, Judge. Let's use gender. There have been many cases of women being called the “B-word” in the workplace, usually by a male. Per my reading, the derogatory term IS considered gender-specific enough to constitute harassment of a sexual nature, with the context being the workplace. If constantly used (and it usually is), it can make a female feel unsafe, and even threatened about her future working in an environment that should be free of gender-specific harassment.
So no, Judge, those words and slurs, though commonplace in our culture, are dynamite in environments and situations where their usage instantly disrupt and corrupt what would be commonly considered places of safe haven. If my black friends use the N-word in common speech, it is not likely that their intention is to harass or threaten me. But if a white person directs the slur towards me in an environment where my ability to exercise my constitutional rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness may be greatly impaired, then we have a problem. You say that such speech is not threatening "...unless there's some kind of imminent danger to someone." You apparently mean bodily harm. But you're assuming that if someone white calls me "n-word" to me face, than I instantly know what is going to happen next. What I DO know that whatever it is, it's NOT going to be good or friendly, and every indication is that, in fact, it is going to be contentious.
Clearly that white person is bold enough to make it clear to me that I am not welcomed in a neighborhood, job, school or shopping area that he or she feels they have dominion over because of the color of their skin. Clearly they feel that because of their color, they can create an unfriendly, and yes, threatening environment for me so that I understand that I am not wanted. Thus, if my new white neighbors call me “n-word,” then I can pretty much guess that living in that neighborhood is going to bring more of the same, if not worse. The same if my white colleagues begin calling me "monkey" and "coon." Think I'll feel like getting up every day to go to work with crap like that being hurled at me? I would justifiably feel unsafe that I am being racially singled out for harassment. Where I feel unsafe, Judge, I feel threatened. Some would say, "Then just leave that environment, and save yourself the grief." Oh, I get an American citizen of color, I have less freedom that white citizens who get to live, work and learn anywhere they choose, and my job accordingly is just to buck up and swallow it while they don't have to.
Sorry Judge, but we have anti-discrimination laws in place to assure equal opportunity. That means that as an American citizen, I have the same right of unfettered access as anyone else. What I do with it is my business, because equal outcomes can't be guaranteed, but if I follow the rules, and I'm given a fair chance to succeed, then the rest is up to me, not someone's biased attempts to stop me based on their racial shortcomings.
You fail to realize that words and terms are time-honored weapons that have literally destroyed the rights of decent people. I'm sure that black college students who are speaking out now, have stomached a lot of racial abuse directed specifically towards them for no other reason than what they look like, or what their white counterparts misinterpret black culture to be. As a result, they have suffered unjustly, and repeatedly asked their respective university administrations to address the situations to no avail. Meanwhile those who were responsible for the racial harassment determined that they can enhance their efforts beyond just racist words and phrases. They've graduated to tangible actions like nooses from trees and vandalizing pictures of esteemed black Harvard professors. Like the slur "b-word," "n-word," when used in what normally would be an inappropriate setting, and directed toward someone specific solely because of their race or gender for the purpose of demeaning them, IS threatening speech. Now obviously the specific facts and context of a particular case must apply, but I agree with this 7-20-12 ruling from the 7th Circuit in Passananti vs. Cook County, which said in part, "We must proceed with "[c]ommon sense, and an appropriate sensitivity" to that context to distinguish between general vulgarity and discriminatory conduct or language "which a reasonable person in the plaintiff's position would find severely hostile or abusive."
I rest my case, Your Honor!
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.


            [RALEIGH] The NC Dept. of Transportation wants motorists to get where their going without delay over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, so the agency is suspending work on many of its road projects across the state that usually tie up traffic. The suspension began Wednesday at 6 a.m., and will end Sunday, Nov. 29th at midnight. In the Raleigh area, however, the I-40 Project Fortify will be ongoing with lane closures and a three-lane limit for an 8 ½ mile stretch.

            [WILMINGTON] NHC  Commissioner Beth Dawson insists that folks move along and there’s nothing to see or talk about, but published reports suggest otherwise. Commissioner Dawson’s husband, Daniel, was arrested last week in Horry County near Myrtle Beach and charged solicitation of a prostitute. The arrest was part of a sting by Horry County law enforcement that busted 15 suspects, including Dawson, who also, at one time, served a three-year term on the Wilmington Planning Commission. Commissioner Dawson said this was a private matter now, and that, “We love each other very much… and we will work through this together.”

            [GREENSBORO] The classic Eagle versus Aggie football rivalry continued last weekend when North Carolina Central University defeated NC A&T University for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship, 21-14. The 8-3,7-1 Eagles won the title by tying with the Aggies 9-2, 7-1, and Bethune-Cookman beating Florida A&M, causing a three-way tie. However, NC A&T will go on to play in the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta on Dec. 19.



            This year, the Raleigh Rescue Mission, the nonprofit public assistance group, says not only will it continue to serve over 150 needy people for Thanksgiving at its downtown Raleigh headquarters but thanks to it’s “Gobbles to Go” program, volunteer will also deliver at least 800 hot cooked meals. The mission serves three meals-a-day at its shelter.

            Just like their counterparts did the week before at UNC-Chapel Hill and the University of Missouri, black students at Duke University gathered at Page auditorium and issued demands for President Richard Broadhead and the administration to address alleged racism and homophobia on campus. Students say none of the issues are new, but they feel administrators haven’t taken their previous complaints seriously in the past. Broadhead said his administration will seriously consider the student’s concerns.

            North Carolina Central University has settled a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the former chief of staff to Chancellor Debra Saunders-White for $175,000, published reports say. Kimberly Luse claimed that she was terminated in 2014 because Chancellor Saunders-White had “…personal animus towards non-African American individuals.” In the settlement, neither the chancellor, NCCU or the UNC System Board of Governors admitted any wrongdoing. As part of the agreement, Luse cannot be employed by any school in the UNC System, and she has waived any future claims.

                                                       REP. LARRY HALL                                              

                                                           SEN. DAN BLUE

By Cash Michaels

            “I know that if I don’t protect my freedom, no one is going to be as interested in it as I am.”
            And with those words, state Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D-Wake) urged members at Nov. 14th’s Bi-Annual Convention of the State African-American Caucus of the NC Democratic Party (AAC-NCDP) in Chapel Hill to come together, and organize for the crucial 2016 elections.
            North Carolina will see March primaries, in addition to gubernatorial, presidential, congressional and legislative races. With Republicans already in charge of the Governor’s Office and in the majority of the state General Assembly, Sen. Blue and other black Democratic Party leaders made it clear at the AAC-NCDP Convention that turning out the vote was crucial to stopping what many believe to be regressive GOP policies.
            Sen. Blue made it clear that despite protestations to the contrary, many of the laws passed by the Republicans in the Legislature, and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory - like the 2013 voting restrictions, and 2011 redistricting plans “stacking and packing” black voters into a handful of voting districts – are racially based and inhibit the rights and citizenship of African-Americans in North Carolina.
            Blue said there are currently 16 Democrats in the state Senate now, and they’ve identified eight seats that they feel are winnable to give them the majority in the 50-member state Senate come 2016. Because each campaign could cost upwards of over $1 million to fund, the statewide effort is currently underway to make sure that adequate campaign war chests are in place to unseat each Republican incumbent.
            Since many African-Americans have now been redistricted to majority black voting districts, Sen. Blue asked that they use their influence outside of their districts to help elect the eight Democrats needed. “I don’t care what color they are…you can tell them that the future of their kids and grandkids depends on what they’re willing to do.”
            “It doesn’t matter who the governor is [if we don’t have] some real direction where the state is going if we don’t change the General Assembly,” Blue insisted. “If we pick up four or five more [Democratic] senators, we will have an effect on what direction this state is going in. If we pick up our eight or nine, we will have control.”
            The challenge for Democrats to retake the state House is no less daunting, said House Minority Leader Larry Hall (D-Durham). There are currently 45 Democrats in the house, compared to the 74-member Republican majority, so compared to the state Senate, the ground that must be made up to regain Democratic control is considerable. And given how the districts are drawn to protect Republican seats, it’s not likely Democrats will take 30 seats or more in the 2016 elections, observers say.
            But Rep. Hall told AAC-NCDP members from across the state that even a few House gains can give Democrats more influence on what shape future public [policy takes.
            “We work, we win,” Hall had the audience repeat after him. “Don’t let anybody tell you there is no hope.” The Minority Leader reminded that that of all of the Republican-dominated state legislatures across the nation, the NC House was the only one in 2014 to pick up Democratic seats, in this case three.”
            “So we know what the formula is. We’ve got to pick up at least four more seats,” he said.
            Rep. Hall stressed the importance of working at the precinct and county levels to strengthen local organizing to get out the vote. But he also made clear that House Democrats were committed to do their part to help “…move North Carolina forward.”
            “You’ve seen what’s been happening in the headlines. It’s much worse than you know, the graft and corruption happening in our General Assembly through our [Republican] leadership there…,” Hall charged, adding that he believed that wrongdoing was also taking place in Gov. McCrory’s office was well.
            “It’s beyond belief, it’s disrespectful to the people of North Carolina, and we will not stand for it,” Hall declared, noting that the FBI was already investigating allegations that the governor unduly influenced the extension of a contract a donor had with the prison system. McCrory has denied this.
            “We’re going to continue to stand and make sure that North Carolinians get a fair shake from their leadership,” Rep. Hall vowed. “But everybody in your household should be registered to vote.”

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