NC legislature has ill-served African-Americans

As I ponder the recent movements of the N.C. Legislature, elected by North Carolinians who knew exactly who they were voting for, there is one question in particular that keeps me awake at night: Is North Carolina a safe haven for African-Americans?

Recent laws passed by the legislature lead me to the conclusion that North Carolina is not pro-African-American. Laws passed this year and in previousyears will bear this out. First, Republican lawmakers started gerrymandering districts with “surgical precision,” intending to disenfranchise the African-American vote. The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down these districts.

There was the work to restrict voting rights by passing voter ID laws under the presupposition that widespread voter fraud exists, especially among black voters.

They passed into law a bill that would reduce early voting sites, knowing that African-Americans are more likely to vote early, which can greatly impact an election. In some cases, they wanted to reduce early voting to one or two weeks, or even a weekend.

They cut unemployment benefits and reduced the amount of pay individuals would receive. Although this will affect all unemployed persons, it disproportionately affected African-Americans. They also wanted to drug-test food stamp recipients.

Republican lawmakers have refused to provide Medicaid expansion that would cover 400,000 to 500,000 citizens, again many of whom are African Americans.

They have reduced funding for early education like Smart Start and early day care. They have siphoned funding earmarked for urban schools and shifted those funds to charter and private schools in an attempt to dismantle urban public schools. This shows a devaluing of African-American education. What’s worse, they have not put enough pressure on the federal government to provide funding for poor African-Americans who lost everything in one of North Carolina’s worst hurricane events.

They passed a bill at 3 a.m. that would take school funding and other pet projects away from poor rural districts. This is racism in its ugliest form and has no place in state politics. This act of vengeance will surely come back to haunt them.

Further, they have passed laws that make it impossible for local counties to pass minimum wage laws, making the rich richer and the poor poorer. They have followed President Donald Trump in defunding Planned Parenthood, which is needed more than ever because of low wages and lack of health care for the poor.

African-Americans have been colonized by the Republican Party of North Carolina, with political domination over the poor and the very poor. Colonization dehumanizes individuals and reduces them to a state of nonexistence and produces stereotypes that African-Americans are unable to govern themselves. What the colonizers fail to realize is that people are inherently equal.; not by an act of any legislative decree, but by God almighty.

Knowing that people who were elected to preserve the state and national constitutions have neglected to do so for all people is outrageous. For those who voted to keep these people in office, you have done a disservice to your state by promoting perpetual racism. The time is now for African-Americans to rise up and make some noise. Again, I ask, is North Carolina good for African-Americans? As I see it now, the answer is a resounding no.

Rev. Dr. Earl C. Johnson is the former president of the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association and the founder of The Success Dream Center, a self-help organization.

African American Contractors Association protest, claim racial discrimination in Hyde Park development

Members of the African American Contractors Association protested in front of the construction site for the new Boutique Hotel on the corner of 53rd Street and Dorchester Avenue, Monday, June 5. The demonstrators demanded the hiring of African-American workers in neighborhoods with large numbers of African Americans. – Owen M. Lawson III

By JOSEPH PHILLIPS
Staff Writer

The African American Contractors Association in collaboration with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition protested in front of the construction site for the new Boutique Hotel on the corner of 53rd Street and Dorchester Avenue, Monday, June 5. The groups claim that the developer William A. Randolph Inc. (WARI) defaulted on an agreement to offer them a part of the contractual work on the hotel.

The African American Contractors Association (AACA) is a professional association dedicated to business development, professional ethics and standards, job procurement, equitable financing and bonding for minority vendors.

“We have union guys who are paying dues but aren’t getting any
contracts or work,” said Omar Shareef, founder and consultant of the
AACA. “When it comes to hiring and firing on job sites, the whites are the first ones in and the blacks are the first ones out.”

Shareef felt slighted by WARI after it defaulted on its promise to contact him directly by email with the possibility of his organization earning a contract for the hotel. But after waiting for an email for over a week, he said that a representative of WARI told him they tried to contact him through a third party and rewarded the contract to another company.

Shareef claimed he never received an email message from WARI.

“I told them a week ago, if I don’t hear anything from them by Friday
in regard to equity for contracts on the [hotel] job, we would be out
here protesting,” Shareef said.

Shareef said he wanted to negotiate a contract that included painting, masonry, and female janitorial jobs for his workers. But according to Eric P. Handley, vice president of William A. Randolph Inc., there was never a verbal agreement in place between the two.

“There has never been a verbal agreement with African American Contractors Association or its members to provide preferential contracting terms,” Handley said. “But WARI will continue to work with their members along with other qualified MBE/WBE subcontractors to ensure that the project benefits the community at every stage.”

According to Handley, WARI has a long history of working with local communities and local subcontractors to provide opportunities for minorities to participate in their projects.

He explained that the Hyde Park Hotel project was no exception and that he and his company have worked with Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) for over two years while attending public meetings on the project.

“The contractors that have been awarded the contract are African Americans from the 5th ward,” Hairston said. “They [the AACA] can’t come in on a side deal when there has been a very open process and procedure, which they could have participated in.”

In addition to the claimed verbal agreement between the two companies, Hairston also stated that they invited the AACA to a subcontracting conference back in April, where over 70 companies were in attendance. Although most contractors in the city attended the conference, Shareef argued his company was never invited.

“We were excluded,” Shareef said. “We never got the invite.”

Hairston said the event was publicized in The Chicago Defender.

According to a representative from The Chicago Defender, the ad ran from April 5 to April 11.

Construction has already begun on the Boutique Hotel, which according to the developer’s website, will feature 97 rooms and space for retail and a restaurants.

The Arsenio Hall Show Was Ahead of Its Time in Promoting Black Artists. Too Bad It’s Still Ahead of Ours.

If The Arsenio Hall Show been around in 2016, would we have another Clinton in office now?

During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton did not secure the office just by exploiting the electoral college. Another crucial component was his unorthodox performance on Arsenio’s late-night talk show, where Clinton mesmerized the nation with his shades and Kenny G-worthy sax skills.

Through Hall’s show, Clinton was able to connect with young voters and the “urban” community (i.e., people of color). Whereas Hilary Clinton was seen as pandering to the black community last year, to some, Bill Clinton was the closest thing to a black president we would ever get—until Obama, anyway. Had Hilary had the chance to play the flute along to Future’s “Mask Off” on Arsenio’s show, maybe her relatability would have rivaled her husband’s.

While many black comedians of the early nineties were disciples of Richard Pryor, Arsenio made his own comedy applicable to a vast audience with his large smile, upbeat tempo, and universal perspective on life. During his show’s initial five-year run, nationally syndicated from 1989 to 1994, he gave a voice to the black community that could not be found elsewhere on late-night TV.

In the world of Jay Leno, Johnny Carson, and Conan O’ Brien, The Arsenio Hall Show was a vital platform for breaking artists of color into the mainstream. During the late eighties and early nineties, hip-hop culture was mainly relegated to a two-hour segment on Yo! MTV Raps. Though the likes of N.W.A. and Tupac were arguably becoming some of the greatest musical acts of their generation across all genres, their visibility was still limited by the “controversial” narrative that the mainstream media painted. But Arsenio provided a star-studded list of people, including Eddie Murphy, Michael Jackson, Will Smith, and Snoop Dogg, with a space to be unapologetically black on national television.

Comedy plays a significant role in how many of us receive information. So it matters that, unlike any other show at the time, Arsenio’s not only put underrepresented entertainers in the spotlight, but also illuminated issues affecting “urban” communities in entertaining, enlightening segments. He brought together some of the most notorious “gangster” rappers (some of whom represented rival gangs), like Eazy-E, Ice-T, and N.W.A., to perform “We’re All in the Same Gang” as a way of denouncing and shedding light on gang violence. He brought in Magic Johnson to talk about the stigma against HIV and Louis Farrakhan to speak on the Nation of Islam and the late Malcolm X. During the era of the L.A. riots, with police brutality making national headlines, Arsenio became a symbol of positivity and camaraderie in the black community.

Facing falling ratings because of stiff competition from similar programs starring Letterman, Leno, and future The Daily Show host Jon Stewart—whose The Jon Stewart Show premiered in 1993 on MTV—The Arsenio Hall Show ended in 1994, but not without first hosting the most monumental hip-hop cypher of all time, which featured A Tribe Called Quest, MC Lyte, KRS-One, and other big names, to wish him well.

Hall would go on to have a successful career as a comedian and an actor, costarring alongside Eddie Murphy in Coming to America and voicing Winston in the Ghostbusters cartoon, among other TV appearances. It was exciting when CBS decided to bring back The Arsenio Hall Show in 2013, but its short lifespan revealed a not-so-shocking truth: not much has changed. Police brutality is still making national headlines, and late-night TV is still a cis white men’s country club.

In 2013, Arsenio was on familiar ground, but he still stood out, competing against Stewart, Colbert, and O’Brien. His core audience, which he called “The Dog Pound,” was still there, returning his famous, fist-pumping “Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof!” But that wasn’t enough to keep him on the air.

Though it only lasted one season, the second Arsenio Hall Show brought to late-night TV something it still desperately needs: a fresh perspective. Though the likes of Trevor Noah have shown up on Comedy Central, their shows are still rooted in the narrative that Stewart and Colbert built. It’s not enough to give black people a seat at the late-night table if they are not drawing their narrative from the black perspective.

But Arsenio’s influence on late-night TV can still be felt, with groups like Migos showing up on The Tonight Show and Ellen. Though Arsenio isn’t likely to get back on the late-night TV circuit anytime soon, his stand-up dates at Goodnight’s Comedy Club this weekend should be filled with hilarious stories and life lessons from a historic entertainer.

This article appeared in print with the headline “Real Talk.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Chilling Photos Of A Community In The Grips Of A Serial Killer

Gauzy southwestern skies, empty suburban streets, and generic tract houses aren’t images typically associated with a violent crime spree, but when photographer Jesse Rieser was assigned to document the impact of a serial killer on Maryvale, a neighborhood in West Phoenix, he couldn’t ignore the surreal contrast of blazing bright light in an area grappling with devastating misfortune.

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“This work comes from a place of my psychological response of first visiting the neighborhoods under the pretense of tragedy,” Rieser tells Co.Design about his series, Stalking a Serial Killer, by email. “The harsh Arizona sun became part of the experience when dealing with such a dark and tragic subject.”

[Photo: Jesse Rieser]

Between August 2015 and July 2016, a serial killer murdered nine people in Maryvale. (There were 12 shootings in all, but a few victims survived.) There was no discernible pattern between the victims, who were all shot at night, often walking to their cars or houses.  The suspected killer, 23-year-old Aaron Saucedo–drove around the neighborhood in his BMW and picked his victims at random.

Until last month, when police arrested the suspected shooter, there had been few leads and little progress in the investigation. For nearly two years, the neighborhood’s residents–predominately low-income African-American and Latino individuals and families, many of whom are immigrants–had been living in constant fear that they, or their loved ones, could become the next victims of a senseless act of gun violence.

In October 2016, Rieser received an assignment from Society, a French magazine, to document the killer’s impact on the community, which yielded Stalking a Serial Killer, a series of photographs and quotes that, at first glance, tell a specific story about how a serial killer affected an entire community’s psyche. But the series also reveals the tangled, interlinked social challenges facing the United States in general.

[Photo: Jesse Rieser]

“This story was to serve as a metaphor for issues plaguing American policy and politics–a lack of immigration reform, racial inequity, a shrinking middle class, community policing dysfunction, a lack of mental health care, and quotidian gun violence,” he says.

When Rieser and reporter Emmanuelle Andreani-Facchin visited Phoenix, the killer was still at large. He visited the streets and locations where the murders occurred, but didn’t necessarily include those specific sites in the series–it was more about capturing slices of the entire neighborhood since everyone in the community was impacted by the shootings. Because Rieser avoids the familiar language of crime photography–gruesome shots of crime scenes, police tape, crying and/or fearful faces–the series becomes even more haunting.

[Photo: Jesse Rieser]

“You couldn’t help but to feel a sense of dystopia, revealing a failed suburban state–years of crime, gang and drug violence preceded the killings,” Rieser says. “I am always striving to make work that goes beyond the surface and engages on a psychological level.”

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Meanwhile, Andreani-Facchin spoke to people in the neighborhood to hear their perspective about the killings. Anonymous quotes taken from those interviews, which are interspersed throughout the series, speak to police distrust, the failure of the American Dream, and speculation about why the murders were taking place. What’s especially worrisome is how immigration policy potentially impacted the investigation. For example, some people told Andreani-Facchin that their neighbors knew who the killer was, but were to scared to tell police because of SB 1070, the controversial 2010 bill that mandated people to have paperwork that verifies their immigration status on them at all times.

Rieser hopes the series helps people understand the many layers of racial inequity that exist in America today, but also how their own communities aren’t so dissimilar to Maryvale when you zoom out. “[You] can find parallels with Flint, Michigan’s water crisis and how if that happened in a white affluent neighborhood, the issue would have been resolved much faster,” he says. “Yes, the neighborhood is poor, but it’s one with pride–a pride you can find all across America no matter the communities racial or economic distinction.”

Five Things You Need to Know If You’re African American And Can’t Sleep

Sleeplessness in America is a growing epidemic that leaves more than 80 million people waking up on the wrong side of the bed every morning. For years, stress, poor sleep habits, longer work days and the struggle to achieve a work-life balance have been considered leading factors in America’s sleep decline. Now we can add race to that mix.

As it turns out, African Americans are more tired than any other race in the U.S. In a recent CDC study, nearly 67 percent of white respondents got the minimum seven hours associated with good sleep habits. Just over half (54 percent) of African Americans achieved the same feat. Another study reveals African American participants were five times more likely than whites to get less than six hours of sleep a night. This sleep gap has sounded alarms for the health care provider community.

While race is by no means the determining factor in sleep health, there is mounting evidence that we need to consider race when we study sleep and treat sleep related problems. As we embark on National Sleep Awareness Week, let’s use this opportunity to get serious about getting black communities some more shuteye. If you are African American and having a tough time sleeping, here’s what you need to know.

  1. Chronic sleep deprivation is bad, regardless of your race. Sometimes sleep problems can be solved with simple behavioral changes, like setting a regular sleep-wake schedule, establishing a soothing bedtime routine and allowing for at least seven hours of sleep each night. If you think you are one of the 30-plus percent who are chronically sleep deprived and can’t get your sleep routine in check, get help.

  2. For African Americans, chronic sleep deprivation may explain higher health risks. Poor sleep is a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes and obesity – all conditions that disproportionally affect the African American community. Addressing sleep problems early may help control these deadly problems or improve treatment outcomes for people who suffer from them.

  3. Don’t sleep on treatment. An astounding 50 to 70 million people suffer from sleep disorders, and again, there is evidence that blacks are disproportionally affected. In a report by the journal Sleep, 12.8 percent of African American had sleep apnea, compared to only 7.4 percent of whites. Health disparities for African Americans, such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, also play a role in apnea, so pay attention to the warning signs. If you think you suffer from a sleep condition, be sure to seek out a health practitioner, get diagnosed and follow through with your treatment.

  4. It may be a neighborhood thing, not a race thing. Sleep disparities between races may be environmental or geographical, rather than physical. Areas with lots of pollution, more mass transit noise, bright lights and higher crime rates may be stronger influencers of sleep quality than any gene or physical trait, and the people who live in these areas may experience more stress and disturbed sleep as a result.

  5. Sleep is never a “nice to have” health bonus. It’s time we as a nation start to treat sleep like we do diet and exercise. Sleep should be one of the first things you discuss with your provider during an office visit, and it should be tracked alongside things like weight, blood pressure and cholesterol as a key indicator in overall health. If your provider seems disinterested in sleep talk, find another one. Nurse practitioners can be a great first line of defense when your sleep is out of whack.

The takeaway here is that sleep is critically important to every single one of us. Sleep studies have been going on for years, but only recently have researchers rolled up their sleeves to tackle the relationship between race and sleep habits. While the jury is still out on why race seems to be a factor in sleep health, we know the consequences of poor sleep for any race. If you’re an adult living in the US, there is more than a 30 percent chance you are sleep deprived right now. And if you’re African American, there’s an even greater chance you’re not getting your 40 winks each night.

It’s time to put sleep problems to bed by making sleep a health priority. You may be so tired you forget what it feels like to be rested, but I assure you, a little taste of the sleep nectar and you will be calling it a night much earlier from now on, and potentially saving your life in the process.

Noose Found in US Capital’s African American Museum

A noose was found in the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture, the museum said Wednesday.

Police came to investigate and remove the noose found in the Segregation Gallery on the second floor of the museum, reopening the exhibit just three hours later, Smithsonian officials said.

This is the second noose found on Smithsonian grounds just this week.

In the United States, the noose is symbolic of lynchings of African Americans that took place primarily between the 1860s and though much of the 20th century, at the hands of white mobs.

‘The noose has long represented a deplorable act of cowardice and depravity, a symbol of extreme violence for African Americans. Today’s incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African Americans continue to face,’ Lonnie Bunch, III, the museum’s founding director, said in a statement.

‘This was a horrible act, but it is a stark reminder of why our work is so important,’ he wrote.

Over the weekend, a noose was also found hanging on a tree outside the Hirshhorn museum of modern art, police said.

The incident was the latest in a string of public demonstrations of racism in the Washington, D.C., area.

Posters with racist messages were seen posted in a residential neighborhood in nearby Alexandria, Virginia, on Saturday. The posters have been linked to a group called ‘Vanguard America’ that calls for America to reclaim itself as a White nation.

During the past month, similar incidents have been reported at universities and schools in surrounding areas. Bananas hanging from what appeared to be nooses were strewn across the campus of American University, just days after Taylor Dumpson was sworn-in as the school’s first female African American student government president.

Fliers with racist and white supremacist messages have been circulating at universities across the country, including Texas University and Minnesota’s St. Olaf College.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which documents incidents of hate across the United States, recorded more than 150 reports of White nationalist fliers on college campuses in the months after the election.

It has also documented a rise in what it deems hate groups for the second consecutive year.

Two ways of thinking about American racism

… 17, 2015, murdered nine African Americans during a prayer service … deep racism. But what about the breadth of racism, the … at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Another … sort of tacit, background racism that provides the context … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News

State funding for International African American Museum cut from next year’s budget

by Drew Tripp & Megan Rivers

Sketch of International African American Museum (FILE)

A state budget compromise reached by a joint House and Senate committee May 31 does not include funding for the International African American Museum in the upcoming fiscal year.

The Senate originally allocated $4 million for the museum as part of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism’s funding in the upcoming 2017-18 budget year.

That money for the project, estimated to cost $75 million to complete, is no longer included in the version of the budget bill going before both chambers of the General Assembly this week for debate.

The museum’s funding is among numerous items slashed from next year’s budget, as the state finds itself footing the bill for more than $60 million in cleanup costs caused by Hurricane Matthew.

Construction funding plans for the museum have local government, state government and private fundraisers each covering one third of the projected cost, according to museum CEO Michael Boulware Moore.

Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said Monday the state so far has provided approximately $14 million of the $25 million it promised. However, Moore says government officials have placed a caveat on fulfilling the rest of their commitment.

“We’ve learned (state legislators) want us to get to 100 percent of the private fundraising before they invest further,” Moore said Monday.”

Moore says despite not receiving state funding in the coming year, the plan is still for the state to fund a third of the costs.

“The state has been very supportive,” Moore said. “Although we would have liked to be in this year’s budget, we understand this unforeseen requirement for funding. Our team will redouble efforts to raise the private funds required for this project.”

As of April, museum officials said they were only $18-$19 million shy of the total funding needed.

Riley said Monday private fundraising for the museum is going very well, and museum officials expect to reach their $25 million goal for private fundraising this year.

“Once that is achieved, we are confident the state will provide the remaining $11 million,” Riley said.

Construction on the museum, planned for a site on Gadsden’s Wharf on the Charleston Harbor, is set to begin in 2018. Charleston’s Board of Architectural Review approved final construction plans for the museum in March.