Tuesday, July 26, 2016


By Cash Michaels

            HISTORY – I am so, so grateful to have lived long enough to see the election of our first black president, Barack Obama. He’s brought intelligence and dignity to the office of commander-in-chief, and if history is fair ( and that always depends who’s telling it), it will reflect how truly great he is, and the tremendous obstacles he’s had to overcome not just to be elected twice (his enemies hate to be reminded of that), but also to lead. We will learn only in later years what true depth of courage it ook.
            But this week, we discovered once again that other Obama in the White House – First Lady Michelle. We always knew that this very special young lady from the south side of Chicago was someone who was very much accomplished in her own right, and if she wanted to, she too could run for office, win and govern successfully.
            But Michelle Obama has always been  at her best when she shared her tremendous heart with the nation. That’s what she did this week on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Her heartfelt address about why Hillary Clinton should be our next president was unifying, touching and personal. It is already being touted as one of the best political speeches by a nonpolitician at a political event in US history.
            In her DNC convention address, her last one as First Lady, Mrs. Obama issued her endorsement from the vantage point of a young parent trying to raise her two daughters in a country where some subjected their father to the most heinous indignities, inlusing trying to portray him as a Muslim terrorist who wasn’t born here.
            “When they aim low, we aim high,” Mrs. Obama told her children as to how they should respond to such foolishness.
            She continued on about waking up every morning in a house built by slaves, and yet she could look out the window for the paat eight years and watch her children play on the White House lawn with their dog. That was a symbol of America’s greatness, Mrs. Obama said, meaning that there is always hope, no matter how tough things get.
            Mrs. Obama hailed the candidacy of Hillsry Clinton as allowing her children to now fathom the possibility of a woman being the president of the United States just as the election of her husband in 2008 has fueled the vision of some young person of color that they, too,  could aspire president.
            In her own classy, relevant and poignant way, Michelle Obama rebutted every word spoke by Donald Trump and the Republicans at last week’s trainwreck of an RNC Convention in Cleveland. She made us all feel better about ourselves, and empowered to tackle the lingering problems that still plague us.
            Michelle Obama will indeed go down in history as one of the most important public figures of our time, and rightly so. Her community, and indeed the world, is very proud of her.
            SCARY – Last week was my last scheduled week in the hospital for chemotherapy, seven days of treatment for the acute leukemia that I have that is supposed to be in remission, and GOD willing, should stay in remission given all that my family and I have gone through since March.
            So it was bad enough that I had to be hooked up for hours on end to vital medicine needed to combat my malady, but I also had to lay in a hospital bed through it all and endure the Republican National Convention from Cleveland, Ohio on television. I must say, I was so, so fortunate that as close to becoming sick to my stomach as I got, I knew I had competent doctors and nurses at the ready to bring me any medication necessary to address  the growing sickness I was feeling in my stomach for each evening of the GOP confab I suffered through.
            Lucky for me, I skipped many a late dinner on those four fateful nights. Much that I heard from the Republican speakers was a depressing and inaccurate profile of our country that simply doesn‘t match up in the facts. For instance, once again, there were more black people on the stage  at the GOP convention than there were black delegates who actually attended the convention – 18 out of over 2,000 Republican delegates. Whatever happened to that tremendous outreach the Republican  Party was endeavoring for for or five presidential elections ago?
            And then the speakers were generally uninspiring. My goodness, can anyone explain to me why anyone would be moved by anything actors Scott Baio and Anthony Sabato Jr. say. Baio was famous for portraying Chachi on “Happy Days” and Sabato was famous for modeling underwear and appearing on second-rate soap operas.
            What about firebreathers like former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani and soon-to-be former NJ. Gov. Chris Christie, two prosecutors doing their best to lead lynch mobs to “lock Hillary up.” Gee, imagine someone from a foreign country watching those performances.
            But how can we leave out the main attraction, the Republican nominee onald J. Trump. You could not be held at fault if you shook your head during Trump’s acceptance speech and wonder what screwed up, messed up country he was opining about. Yes, we have our problems – every country does – but the crime-plagued joint Trump was describing was an eye-opener. Not that much that was being peddled was true, but rather that Republicans like Trup have to paint such a bleak  and distorted picture in order to win elections.
            The next three months will go down in history as some of he most important in our lifetime. We thought a lot was on the line when we elected a black president, and there was. But the main question then, “Will we move forward?’
            Now we’re faced wih the very real prospect of moving decisively backwards.
So the question now is, “What will we do?”
            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
Contributing writer

            If there is one demographic statistically most at risk for contracting the HIV virus, and subsequently the AIDS disease, it’s young black males, ages 13-24. And the situation is “not improving.”
            According to the US Centers for Disease Control, 73% of new diagnosed HIV cases are African-American men, 57% of whom are classified as gay or bisexual, and 39% of that group are between the ages of 13 to 24.
            Alarmingly, a stunning 87% of new cases in that age range occurred between  2005 to 2014.
            What can be done to reach this young demographic with effective HIV/AIDS education and prevention, especially when the lifestyle of young gay men is still considered taboo in the black community?
            “This is something both alarming, and unfortunately true,” says State HIV/STD Director Jaquelyn Clymore with the Epidemiology Branch of the Division of Health, the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services, confirming the same HIV infection among that young black male demographic.
            “We have a growingly disproportionate HIV epidemic among young [gay] men, and that is particularly true among young minorities, particularly African-Americans. It is alarming, and very, very concerning to all  of us working with HIV and STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), and it is a health disparity that is not improving.”
            Clymore says there are a lot of “different reasons” for that, but that her department is mobilizing every resource it has to find answers. New HIV infections for black males 13to 24 has seen a steady to quick rise in the state over the past five to ten years, she says.
            And Clymore confirmed that many of North Carolina’s more urban counties, led by Mecklenburg, Wake and Forsyth, have the lion’s share of young black male HIV cases because it’s easier for young black gay men to live those more populated  urban communities, as opposed to rural areas.
            “It’s where they can meet people, and avoid the stigma and judgment of being both HIV and gay,” Director Clymore says.
            Her department was awarded a CAPUS grant to address health inequities in HIV in minority communities to overcome barriers in testing, getting in care and staying in care.
            The grant helped fund a men’s clinic in Raleigh and Durham to help identify HIV carriers and get them the care that they needed, including new medications to help prevent any further spread of the HIV virus from one partner to the other.  The are other programs to help with education and prevention that Clymore feels gives those battling the deadly disease more tools to fight with than they even had five years ago.
            Many of the new prevention drugs, however, are expensive and not covered, so there is still a struggle to0 bring down the costs for those need them.
            Another program is clled “Safe Places”, which is being conducted in seven areas of the sta run by young black men for young black men, working on HIV screening and education.
            “We encouraging young men to refer each other  to these groups,” Director Clymore said.
            For more information or questions about any of the state’s HIV/AIDS, contact Jacquelyn .Clymore@DHHS.NC.gov.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            In North Carolina, as in the rest of the country, blacks still lead communities of color that have consistently registered the highest prevalence for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and consequently, HIV/AIDS.
            Though much hasn’t been reported in recent years, the problem hasn’t gone away. HIV/AIDS is still an epidemic scourge in the black community, threatening primarily young people, health officials say.
            HIV is the virus that researchers say causes the AIDS disease, which destroys the human immune system, leaving it vulnerable to opportunistic diseases, and subsequently death.
            There is no cure.
            African-Americans historically have been disproportionately represented when it comes to the sheer number of known cases of STDS such as syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia, the result being special programs targeting specific populations in the black community for education, prevention and treatment.
            According to the US Centers for Disease Control [CDC], African-Americans “…are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV in the United States.’ More than half of the new cases determined in the black community are among gay and bisexual men. Also nationally, the number of black women being diagnosed with the HIV virus has gone down even though African-American women still lead all other female groups in contracting the disease.
            From 2014, the last year complete national numbers are available, the CDC reports that a whopping 44% (19,540) of new HIV cases across the country are in the African-American community, even though make up only 14% percent of the American population. 73% of new HIV cases are men, 26% are women. 57% were gay or bisexual men, and 39% of that group are between the ages of 13 to 24.
            The CDC reports that of that 13 to 24 age range, new cases exploded by a stunning 87% between 2005 to 2014.
            While the number of new HIV cases among African-Americans grew from 2005 to 2014 by a startling 57%, new cases among black women fell a dramatic 42%.
            What may be eye-opening for many is that, according to the CDC, by the end of 2012, 496,500 African-Americans were living with HIV, and 14% had no idea that they were infected.
            By the end of 2014, 48% of those living with the AIDS disease were African-American. In 2013, 54% of deaths attributed to either HIV or AIDS were African-American.
            In North Carolina’s most recent HIV/STD Surveillance Report - ending as of March 31, 2016 - and published by the Epidemiology Branch of the Division of Health, the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services, the number of new HIV and AIDScases has been erratic since 2014.
From January to March 2014, the state logged 397 cases. That same period in 2015 in North Carolina saw a drop to 303 reported cases.
            But between January 1 and March 31st of this year, HIV cases in North Carolina cracked 410.
            Among the major counties, Wake has 53 cases, Forsyth 19, New Hanover 7, and Mecklenburg led all of North Carolina’s one hundred counties with 72 cases this year.
            As per cases of the AIDS disease in the state, again between January 1 and March 31st in 2014, there were 193. In 2015, 188 AIDS cases. And this year, 170.
            Again among the major counties, Wake has 20 cases, Forsyth has 15, New Hanover has 0 (though it did have 5 last year), and Mecklenburg again leads the state with 33 (dramatically down from 47 in 2014 and 40 in 2015).
            As referenced earlier, HIV/AIDS aren’t the only prevalent STDs the black community has to worry about. African-Americans unfortunately lead in those numbers too in North Carolina.
            Per the latest NC HIV/STD Surveillance Report, from January 1 to March 31,2016 on Early Syphilis infections, blacks lead their white counterparts with 64.5% of the cases (344). Chlamydia, blacks are 34.8 %  (4,876) of North Carolina cases. Gonorrhea, African-Americans are 51.2% (2,460) of all reported cases across the state.



            [PHILADELPHIA, PA] Delegates from North Carolina added their voices to history Tuesday added their voices to history when Hillary Clinton became the first woman in US history to be nominated  for president. North Carolina is considered a crucial battleground state in the November general election, so Clinton and her Republican rival, businessman Donald Trump are expected to campaign routinely in the Tar Heel state.

            [RALEIGH, NC] Contained in the revelations from the 20,000 DNC e-mails disclosed earlier this week, were a series of missives by Democratic National Committee officials, extoling the fact that passage of House Bill 2 legally restricting
LBGT people use of public bathrooms was subjecting the state to a severe economic boycott. Gov. McCrory, in a tight reelection bid against Democratic challenger Atty. Gen. Roy Cooper, blasted the Democrats as using the state “as pawns for purely political purposes and to raise money. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned this week because of the e-mail revelations.

            [CHARLOTTE, NC] Not known for being outspoken about social issues, Charlotte Hornets owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan issued a letter decrying not only the deaths of innocent black citizens at the hands of the police, but also the recent murders of police officers. “I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well,” he wrote in an open letter. Jordan donated $1 million dollars to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and $1 million to the International
Association of Chiefs of Police's Institute for Community-Police Relations.



            The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to rehear the redistricting case involving the Wake school board and county commissioner races. The appellate court declared the redistricting by the Republican-led NC General Assembly to be a unconstitutional. A federal judge or the State Board of Elections could redraw the districts. State Republicans want the current maps used in the November elections.

            Shaw University has announced that it is now ending a three-year austerity program that reduced salaries in a cost-cutting effort.  In a letter to Shaw employees and faculty, Pres. Tashni Dubroy stated that it as their selflessness, in addition to generous contributions from corporate and private sponsors, that helped put the HBCU back in the black. Regular wage schedules are now being resumed at the campus.

            The Raleigh Police Accountability Community Taskforce (PACT) is a growing grassroots community group that will be sponsoring special workshops between July 30th  and August 27th. Democracy North Carolina, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group, is leading a workshop on organizing and power-mapping this Saturday, July 30th from 12 noon to 3 p.m. at Vital Link School, 1214 E. Lenoir Street in Raleigh. Please go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/raleigh-movement-builders-community-organizing-training-series-tickets-26310638829 to sign up. The workshop is free.