Monday, August 29, 2016


By Cash Michaels

            WHAT YOU STAND FOR  - Up until  Monday morning when I was asked to  comment on the Colin Kaepernick controversy, I was familiar with the story in passing. A black NFL superstar quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, who for the pass several exhibition games, has refused to stand  with the rest of the stadium in honor and respect for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem.
            Needless to say, when a multi-million dollar star athlete refuses to join the rest of his countrymen in paying tribute to the nation that has given him  the opportunity to be rich beyond anyone’s dreams, that’s going to make news, and it has.
            Just like Colin Kaepernick wanted it to.
            By now you’re very familiar with argument against what Kaepernick is doing. As an American citizen of some privilege, CK has the gall to disrespect the very symbols of American freedom others fought and died for. This country has always prided itself for standing for freedom no matter what trials and tribulations it was going through…including slavery.
            Being an American was, and is, many maintain, the greatest blessing any human being can be bestowed with, because no other country in the history of man has been a beacon of freedom, justice and opportunity as American has been. Home of the greatest military fighting force in history, home of the greatest democracy ever, home of where, with hard work and sacrifice, an individual’s dreams can come true.
            How dare Colin Kaepernick turn his back on America, refuse to bow down to its greatness and blessings. He should be  punished, CK’s critics insist. He should be made to understand how selfish and unjust he’s being.
            But all of that brings us to the other side of the argument…the side Kaepernick says he represents.
            CK  says he hasn’t “turned his back” on America, on his country, but rather his country has turned its back on him and people like him.
True, America is the “land of promise,” but CK says his country is not living up to its promise of freedom, justice and equality when black people are being shot down in the street like dogs by police officers, and our criminal justice system little to hold them accountable.
            CK says its hard to honor America’s promise, when the nation routinely refers to its citizens of color as less than all other citizens, by calling them “minorities”
            The word “minority” has only one meaning – less than. Black, yellow and brown American citizens are just that – American citizens, and nothing less. So why is it acceptable to routinely remind everyone that there are less of them, and more of whites, if everyone is a full citizen deserving of equal rights and protection?
            And CK says despite lots of lip service about how blacks and Latinos have a fair chance of achievement and accomplishment in American society, then why do many still find it almost impossible to find meaningful employment, or assistance in opening small businesses?
            Yes, refusing to stand in solemn silence is a slap in the face to other Americans, but allowing one group of Americans to pass laws to deliberately deny another group of Americans their right to vote and fully participate in this nation’s democracy is also a slap in the face….to all Americans, and should not be so readily accepted.
Colin Kaepernick  says if his silent protest and high visibility brings attention to these hypocrisies, then so be it. He’s willing to take his punishment, just like Muhammad Ali did when he gave up his championship title after refusing to serve in the US Army, or when Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood strong with their Black Power salutes at the 1968 Olympics.
CK is making us think….what is the value of citizenship if the same Americans who insist on standing at attention for the pledge and national anthem out of respect for our war dead and ideals of freedom, conveniently ignore the indignities and  injustices burdened by other Americans, just they’re “minorities” and don’t have the privileges of the majority.
And for the record, CK is free to express his concerns in the peaceful manner that he chooses.
            Afterall, Colin Kaepernick is an American.
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

            On Monday, several retired state Supreme Court justices and judges – co-led by former Chief Justice Henry Frye of Greensboro - along with the nonpartisan advocacy group, Common Cause, released their simulated version of what a nonpartisan Congressional map of North Carolina could look like if state lawmakers stopped using redistricting for partisan advantage.
            The result – the 13 congressional districts were fairer, and more competitive.
            In the simulation, Mecklenburg constitutes the 13th District. In the latest legislative rendering, Mecklenburg is the Twelfth.
If state lawmakers employed the nonpartisan approach to redrawing all thirteen voting districts for 2020, when the next redistricting is scheduled, not only would NC’s congressional districts be constitutional, but African-American voters would still be able to elect black representation to Congress not only from the First and Thirteenth Districts (which are covered by the 1965 Voting Rights Act), but possibly also the Fourth District as well, says Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause.
And that’s because all three congressional districts, which would be predominately Democratic, would produce black-white coalitions of voters that could readily elect an African-American to Congress.
It could be done, Phillips says, if the state legislature would adopt a nonpartisan redistricting commission to draw the maps. Members of both parties have expressed interest in establishing such a panel in the past, but the lure of controlling the redistricting process exclusively for partisan goals has always won out in the end.     
Several weeks ago, the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the 2011 NC Congressional maps, drawn by the Republican-led NC General Assembly, to be unconstitutional because the First and Twelfth districts were drawn to “stack and pack” black voters, meaning that they were moved out of swing districts in order to give white Republicans a better chance of winning close races with white Democrats.
In doing so, Republicans were able to dominate the North Carolina Congressional delegation 10 – 3 over Democrats, with Rep. G. K. Butterfield in the First, Rep. Alma Adams in the Twelfth, and Congressman David Price in the Fourth.
Because of the appellate court ruling, the March congressional primaries had to be postponed until June with no runoff races while the legislature redrew the maps supposedly to ignore race, instead putting a premium on Republican partisanship, maintaining the 10 to 3 congressional ratio.
The 2016 map has also been challenged, but will stand until the federal courts say otherwise, if they do.
According to Phillips, the First, Thirteenth and possibly the Fourth are drawn to be Voting Rights Act [VRA] compliant in the new simulated nonpartisan map. Black Democratic voters in those districts control the primary process.
In the First District, black voters are 42 percent; the Thirteenth blacks are over 34 percent, and in the Fourth, blacks are over 31 percent.
Coalition voting is feasible in these areas, as proven historically elsewhere prior to the 2011 redistricting by the re-election of Sen. Dan Blue in Wake County and Sen. Floyd McKissick Jr. in Durham.
            In the simulated version, because of how people are clustered across the state, says Phillips, there are several congressional districts that are decidedly Democratic, some that are predominately Republican, and possibly a handful that are considered tossups, meaning candidates from either party could win.
            “At least that would be map that is more in line with where we are as a state,” says Phillips.
            Instead lopsided congressional delegations like 10-3, congressional elections could easily produce more even results like 7-6. But again, state lawmakers would have to commit to establishing a nonpartisan redistricting commission.
            Phillips says the next step is to continue to educate the public about the possibilities of nonpartisan redistricting, so various sessions will be held across the state, in hopes of convincing lawmakers that this is something North Carolinians want.
            Republicans may pay more attention, says Phillips, especially if Democrats this fall successfully make considerable election gains in the state House and Senate, not to mention other key offices. The GOP may not want to be targeted by Democrats, Phillips says, the way Republicans targeted them when the 2020 redistricting rolls around.


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