Sunday, March 12, 2017


special to Triceedneywire by Southern Poverty Law Center

( - The number of hate groups in the United States rose for a second year in a row in 2016 as the radical right was energized by the candidacy of Donald Trump, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) annual census of hate groups and other extremist organizations.
The most dramatic growth was the near-tripling of anti-Muslim hate groups – from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year. However fear has grown among many racial and ethnic minority groups. In a post-election SPLC survey of 10,000 educators, 90 percent said the climate at their schools had been negatively affected by the campaign. Eighty percent described heightened anxiety and fear among students, particularly immigrants, Muslims and African-Americans. Numerous teachers reported the use of slurs, derogatory language and extremist symbols in their classrooms.
The growth has been accompanied by a rash of crimes targeting Muslims, including an arson that destroyed a mosque in Victoria, Texas, just hours after the Trump administration announced an  executive order suspending travel from some predominantly Muslim countries. The latest FBI statistics show that hate crimes against Muslims grew by 67 percent in 2015, the year in which Trump launched his campaign.
The report, contained in the Spring 2017 issue of the SPLC’s Intelligence Report, includes the Hate Map showing the names, types and locations of hate groups across the country.
The SPLC found that the number of hate groups operating in 2016 rose to 917 – up from 892 in 2015. The number is 101 shy of the all-time record set in 2011, but high by historic standards.
“2016 was an unprecedented year for hate,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow and editor of the Intelligence Report. “The country saw a resurgence of white nationalism that imperils the racial progress we’ve made, along with the rise of a president whose policies reflect the values of white nationalists. In Steve Bannon, these extremists think they finally have an ally who has the president's ear.”
The increase in anti-Muslim hate was fueled by Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, including his campaign pledge to bar Muslims from entering the United States, as well as anger over terrorist attacks such as the June massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
The overall number of hate groups likely understates the real level of organized hatred in America as a growing number of extremists operate mainly online and are not formally affiliated with hate groups.
Aside from its annual census of extremist groups, the SPLC found that Trump’s rhetoric reverberated across the nation in other ways. In the first 10 days after his election, the SPLC documented 867 bias-related incidents, including more than 300 that targeted immigrants or Muslims.
In contrast to the growth of hate groups, antigovernment “Patriot” groups saw a 38 percent decline – plummeting from 998 groups in 2015 to 623 last year. Composed of armed militiamen and others who see the federal government as their enemy, the “Patriot” movement over the past few decades has flourished under Democratic administrations but declined dramatically when President George W. Bush occupied the White House.
The SPLC also released an in-depth profile of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an anti-LGBT hate group. Leaders of the legal advocacy organization and its affiliated lawyers have regularly demonized LGBT people, falsely linking them to pedophilia, calling them “evil” and a threat to children and society, and blaming them for the “persecution of devout Christians.” The group also has supported the criminalization of homosexuality in several countries.
By Cash Michaels

            NEW BLACK MEDIA ACTIVISM? -  In the recent March 12th edition of Newsweek magazine, Bill Celis, the Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion and Strategic Initiatives at the University of California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, wrote an informative op-ed titled, “The Time’s Right for a New Wave of Black Media Activism,” in which he talked about the need for black newspapers to return to their social activist, community-oriented tradition, especially in light of the current political climate in the nation.
            Here’s just some of what Prof. Celis, a “grandson of Mexican immigrants,” offered as nuggets of wisdom:
            Dailies and weeklies like the (Chicago) Defender, the St. Louis American and the Los Angeles Sentinel portrayed African-American life in its fullness—civic events, celebrations, religious life, marriages, births and deaths—and they countered the stereotypical ways mainstream media covered blacks (if they were covered at all).
            Then—and now—they’ve been a critical voice in reporting the lives of black America.
            “At a time when the credibility of media is under attack, it is important to note that for people of color, the mainstream media has always lacked credibility,” said Martin Reynolds, a journalist and co-director of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, a nonprofit that promotes diversity in the newsroom. “The black press and the ethnic press as a whole have consistently maintained far more credibility in their communities than their mainstream counterparts.”
            Is the time right for a new wave of black media activism? And can the black press retain its effectiveness in a new media landscape?”
            Prof. Celis went on to talk about the critical reporting of Mattie Smith Colin of the Chicago Defender, whose stories about the return of the beatened and battered body of Emmitt Till, a 14-year-old black teen from Chicago who was racially lynched in Mississippi in 1955 by two white men who would later be acquitted of the crime. Her reports, and the gripping photograph of Till’s remains, along with the sorrowful promise by his courageous mother, Mamie Bradley, helped to galvanize a nation, and ignite the civil rights movement.
            Today, many of the issues facing the black community would sound familiar to veterans of the civil rights movement: police shootings of unarmed black men; disproportional incarceration ratesdiscriminatory sentencingvoter suppression; and rising rates of violence against minorities,” Prof. Celis continued.
            “Some observers say this has created an environment ripe for black media. The black press should use this opportunity more than ever to enforce integrity and consistency in telling the truth about community and federal polices,” said Amen Oyiboke, a freelance journalist in Los Angeles and a former reporter for the Los Angeles Sentinel. “The black press has to realize, if it doesn’t already, that this is the time to be the backbone that it has always been.”
            I applaud Prof. Celis for his analysis, and challenge the rest of our Black newspaper industry to redouble our efforts to continue to serve our respective communities to the highest standard possible.
            And I challenge our communities to continue to support the Black Press more than ever before, not only with your readership, which is so greatly valued and appreciated, but also with your business through advertising and subscriptions.  
            The Black Press, and its rich history and reporting truth to power, is here to stay, but only if you do your part.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            House Democrats have proposed that, if passed, would “…increase the state’s minimum wage in phases” over a five-year period, “ when the wage shall be adjusted automatically each year by increases in the cost of living.”
            “More than anything this legislation is the right thing to do for struggling families,  workers and their employers in this state, “ says Rep. Evelyn Terry (D-Forsyth-72).
            Known as  HB289  (and in the Senate as SB210) - “Living Wage by 2022,” the measure was referred to the House Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations on March 9th.  Representatives Pricey Harrison and  Cecil Brockman, among other Democrats, are cosponsors.
            A “living wage” is “the amount of income needed for an individual to meet basic needs without public or private assistance, says the Durham Living Wage Project, a living wage certification group. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders favored an immediate $15-per-hour minimum living wage last year.
            Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have raised their minimum wage since 2009, with New York raising it to $15-per-hour, followed by California.
            State House Democrats have also introduced another measure titled “The Economic Security Act of 2017” which also raises the minimum wage over a five year period, but includes provisions addressing equal pay for women, a repeal on the state ban against collective bargaining, paid leave, a return of the earned income tax credit, and a ban on government agencies requiring job applicants to detail their criminal histories until they receive a “conditional offer of employment.”
            HB2, the controversial Republican-sponsored  “bathroom law,” also does not allow municipalities in North Carolina to raise their local minimum wage rates. Indeed, the GOP majority in the state House is expected to reject any consideration of raising the minimum wage. Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the NC Republican Party, recently said in reaction to the new proposals, “This is why our side is in charge – to stop this stuff the voters long ago rejected.”
            And yet, according to Politifact, anywhere from 65 to 76 percent of North Carolinians favor raising the minimum wage to a living wage. The state NAACP says that number is closer to 80 percent.
         According to language in the HB289, North Carolina employers would pay their employees a minimum of $8.80 per hour (the current federal minimum rate is $7.25 per hour), “or the minimum wage set forth” in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act , 29 U.S.C. 206(a)(1), whichever is higher as of January 1, 2018.
            “…[I]t is based on a graduated scale that begins January 2018 at a minimum wage hourly rate of $8.80 and moves over a period of years to January 1, 2022 to $15.00 per hour based on sound economic indexed projections adjusted by the CPI,” Rep. Terry said.  “Reasonable assumptions are also factored into this law based on conditions often needing consideration by the disadvantaged—lay offs, temporary loss of wages requiring the need to file for unemployment; work first adjustments, workers whose wages depend on tips, etc.”
The bill provides hope for struggling workers, says Rep. Ed Hanes (D-Forsyth-72).
The larger problem that people won't acknowledge is that we have workers forced into jobs that should, in fact, be jobs that teach young people how to work,” Hanes said.  “Instead they are being filled by adults who are being taken advantage of in middle-skilled jobs where wages have stagnated while profits for owners and executives have risen.”
But Republicans disagree.
            We need look no further than Seattle to see the harmful effects of raising the minimum wage,” Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) maintained, referring to at least one study that suggested Seattle employers either laid off workers, or cut their hours when the council raised the minimum wage there to $11-an-hour in June 2014. However, the Seattle council still voted to raise the rate to $15-per-hour by 2022.
“Many people who had jobs are now unemployed or had significant cuts to their hours, according to a study done by the city,” Sen. Krawiec said. “When the price of the service costs more than the service is worth, those services don't survive.”
            “Low wage jobs are a starting point,” Krawiec continued. “A place to be trained for the future. In fact, 42% are high school age and another 27% are college age. These "training ground" jobs will be lost when government requires businesses to pay more for labor than the market demands. Businesses find ways to lower labor costs when necessary. We now see fast food restaurants transitioning to automated systems, eliminating the cashiers and burger flippers. Fast food restaurants have been a catalyst for many successful business people today. It would be a shame to have that training field eliminated.
            “While we would all like to see everyone make top wages, eliminating jobs is not the way to achieve these results. Any wage is better than no wage at all. We can all agree on that,” Sen. Krawiec concluded.
            Rep. Hanes, however, maintains that workers deserve fair wages.
            “The senator’s approach is far too simplistic and a standard Republican talking point.  Unfortunately for her, CONSERVATIVE adult workers disagree with her.  Kids need to learn how to work.  Adults need to make a FAIR living wage that tracks inflation.  Perhaps we should create a tiered wage system for those 21 and under, versus working adults over 21?  There are a ton of's time we stop fighting about it and start working for adults who need relief.”
            “Some wage is better then no wage is not agreeable...,” continued Hanes, “…it's a Republican cop-out to avoid having to face the truth of some of their policies, and the wrath of their own constituents.”
            Indeed, there are economists who suggest that increasing the minimum wage helps employers more than it hurts because when workers decide they can no longer afford to toil for miniscule wages, they leave, creating a high turnover for that business, studies show. That high turnover forces businesses to constantly train new workers, which ultimately cost more money than paying experienced employees more to stay on the job.
There are also proponents who point to major corporations like Target and Wal-Mart, who began paying their employees more than the minimum wage at least two years ago. And in 2015, eleven businesses and two nonprofits joined the Durham Living Wage Project  - a certification program which promoted paying workers at least $12.33 an hour. Both Asheville and Orange County have similar groups.
While the raise hiked labor costs at those businesses, employees were pleased that they were able to feed their families, and were not likely to leave.
I strongly suggest that people determine for themselves what’s fair,” Rep. Terry says,  “and moreover show by the way they vote in all local elections how they truly value legislation that strives to lift not trap people into a spiral of economic depravity while others thrive.”   

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            As with the rest of the nation, North Carolina policy analysts and elected officials are up in arms over the recent Republican House proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – which currently over 500,000 North Carolinians depend on - and replace it with what many are calling “Trumpcare.”
            There is no question, they say, that the poor, elderly and people of color will be negatively impacted, forcing many to choose between medical attention, shelter and food.
            The ACA has played a significant role in reducing worry among Americans who previously struggled to pay unaffordable medical bills when they got sick,” Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1), told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce last week.
We cannot afford to go back to the days when Americans were forced to pay more money for less coverage, and when insurance companies rationed the care people received.
            Under the current Affordable Care Act, enrollees get generous government subsidies or tax credits to help cover the cost of health insurance premiums, thus keeping the cost of health care affordable.
            Trumpcare, if adopted, cuts those subsidies, putting enrolled North Carolinians at risk.
“My constituents do not want to go back to the days where health care emergencies could bankrupt families,” Butterfield added. “This harmful bill rolls back the clock and will rip health care away from my constituents.” 
Officially known as “the American Health Care Act, (AHCA)” the proposal, backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, would reduce the federal deficit by $800 billion over ten years if enacted, by eliminating a number of broad-based taxes currently in the ACA, thus benefitting many of the rich.
            That’s widely considered the “good” news.
            But Democrats, and even some Republicans, have been quick to echo the findings of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which scored the bill this week, and determined that it would also leave over 24 million people uninsured over the next ten years than under the current ACA– 14 million alone by 2018.
            That dire forecast, despite Pres. Trump’s defense, is sending conservative and moderate Republicans in Congress running for the exits, forcing legislative leaders to consider changes to the proposal to ensure passage in the House, and the GOP-led Senate.
            The CBO analysis also projected that the cost of health care will jump dramatically for the working poor and the elderly, with premiums up to five times higher for older enrollees than younger ones (currently, the ACA caps premium increase at three times higher for older enrollees).
            “Trumpcare would dramatically the amount of financial help that North Carolinians receive to help purchase private health insurance on the individual market, Brendan Riley, policy analyst with the nonpartisan, nonprofit NC Justice Center in Raleigh says. “As a result, we’ll see the average subsidy go down dramatically, and more North Carolinians would find their [health] coverage unaffordable.”
            Riley added that North Carolina, according to a study by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, would be the “second biggest” losing state in terms of subsidy amount under Trumpcare…falling more than $5,000 a year.
            And even more troubling for the poor and elderly – many of whom live in the inner cities and rural communities - observers say, is that Medicaid spending  under the proposed law will be cut dramatically. It eliminates Medicaid expansion for those states that did (North Carolina did not expand its program), which means far fewer poor people – three out of five NC senior citizens, and two out of five with disabilities - will get government-sponsored health insurance, and what funding that will be available will be capped, and rationed on a per capita basis.
            North Carolina would have to make up for any cost overruns out its own budget.
The CBO report confirmed our worst fears-millions of Americans will lose their health coverage if the Republican bill to repeal the ACA is passed,” said Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12). “This bill fails working families by giving a tax break to the wealthy, increasing premiums, and ending Medicaid as we know it.”
“By next year, an estimated 14 million people would be without health insurance and premiums would be an additional 15- 20 % higher. This is unacceptable,” Rep. Adams maintained. “Instead of playing politics with our healthcare, the GOP should be working to build on the progress of the ACA and not moving backward.”
According to Prof. Mark Hall, director of Health Law and Policy at Wake Forest University School of Law, “hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians would lose their [health] insurance…” under the AHCA, as proposed. “Simply because they could no longer afford it,” Prof Hall said.
Dr. Peggy Valentine, a local health care educator, echoes the concern about how the AHCA would negatively impact the elderly, and communities of color, where resources are low, and health disparities, and the need for aggressive health care is optimum.
“There are a lot of limitations when we look at all of the gains that were made from the Affordable Care Act,” Dr. Valentine continued, referring to the ability of most people to enroll and qualify. “It seems like all of those gains have been reversed.”
“My concern is what will [the AHCA] do to the communities that are already disenfranchised?”
“Some people will be better off, and more people will be worst off,” Prof Hall of Wake Forest School of Law said. “Younger, healthier people will be better off, and the opposite of all of that will be worse off.”



            [RALEIGH] The Raleigh-Apex Chapter of the NAACP wants to meet with the Wake County School Board to discuss recent incendiary racial incidents caught on video. One involved at least three students at Leesville Road Middle School on tape using explicit racial epithets. Another video involved a black student at Wake forest High, allegedly frustrated with being the target of racism by several white students, grabbing one and throwing him to the ground twice before a teacher stepped in to stop further violence. And finally, a video from January showing a school resource officer at picking a female student at Rolesville High and bodily slamming her to the ground. That officer has since resigned. Wake School Board Chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler says, “We are absolutely committed to address the racial tensions in our school system, not by ourselves but as a community.”

            [ASHEBORO] The mayor of Asheboro is not pleased with announced plans by the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to hold a rally there in May, saying that, “The people of Asheboro have worked too hard to unify our community to let an outside group come in and spread racist views without raising our voices loudly in protest.” Mayor David H. Smith added that the city denounced “in the strongest terms” the KKK “message of hate and division. The KKK rally is scheduled for May 6th at 1 p.m. No location for the rally has been given.

            [SMITHFIELD] The Johnston County Board of Education voted to end  the year-round scheduled at two elementary schools, saying that based on the academic results and the associated costs, they really aren’t anymore effective than traditional schools. The 2017-18 school year will be the last for year-round curriculum at South Smithfield and West Smithfield elementary schools. The system academic officer told the board that the schools were just too expensive.

            [RALEIGH] Once again, Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper urged the Republican-led General Assembly to repeal the infamous HB2 “bathroom law” in an effort to stop the economic bleeding across the state, during his State of the State address Monday evening. Cooper also called for greater investments in public education, rebuilding the state’s film industry, and doing more to spur economic development, especially in rural areas. In his GOP response, Senate President Pro tem Sen. Phil Berger heralded the achievements of the Republican-led legislature, but also belittled Gov. Cooper because of his narrow victory over former Gov. Pat McCrory last November.


No comments:

Post a Comment