Marcus-David Peters: Demand for justice - 2 Sentencing in C-Ville flamethrower case - 5 What’s the deal with Va. rapper Pusha T. - 10 More focus on increasing suicide rates - 14
Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.
WEDNESDAYS • June 13, 2018
Richmond & Hampton Roads
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SCOTUS upholds controversial voter-purge law
By a 5-4 margin, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a controversial Ohio voter-purge law. It’s known as the “use-it-or-loseit” law, and it's the most aggressive voter-purge system in the country. The state currently strikes voters from the registration rolls if they fail to vote in two consecutive elections — and if they fail to return a mailed address confirmation form. Those challenging the law said it violated the National Voting Rights Act, which said that a state cannot strike someone from the rolls for failure to vote. The emphasis is to get more people to vote — and not have them purged. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion with the court’s other conservatives signing on. The first line of the opinion lays out evidence for why Alito sees the need to clean up voter rolls. “It has been estimated that 24 million voter registrations in the United States—about one in eight— are either invalid or significantly inaccurate,” Alito writes, citing a Pew Center on the States study. “And about 2.75 million people are said to be registered to vote in more than one State.” This was the same study that incoming Trump White House officials cited — misleadingly — to make the case that voter fraud was occurring and immigrants in the U.S. illegally were voting. “Some numbers include the Pew Research study that said that approximately 24 million, or one out of every eight, voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or significantly inaccurate,” Jason Miller, then-spokesman for the president-elect, told reporters
in a conference call week after the November 2016 election. “And in that same Pew Research study, the fact that 2.5 million people have registrations in more than one state. So all of these are studies and examples of where there have been issues of voter fraud and illegal immigrants voting.” The president himself claimed that he actually won the popular vote, despite losing it by about 2.9 million votes, because of voters who voted illegally. There has never been evidence that millions are voting illegally. In fact, a five-year Bush administration study resulted in 86 convictions. The Help America Vote Act “dispelled any doubt that a state removal program may use the failure to vote as a factor (but not the sole factor) in removing names from the list of registered voters,” Alito wrote. “That is exactly what Ohio’s Supplemental Process does. It does not strike any registrant solely by reason of the failure to vote.” The lead plaintiff in the case, Larry Harmon, is a software engineer from the Akron area, who normally votes in presidential election years, but not the midterms. In 2012, neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney excited him, so he decided not to vote. When he did decide to vote a couple of years later, he found he was no longer registered. He had been purged from the voter rolls, because he hadn’t voted in the previous two elections. Failure to vote is not unusual in this country. In 2016, 29 percent of the registered voters in Ohio failed to vote. Nationwide, the number was even higher, more than a third, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
DOJ honors for Newport News The Department of Justice recently recognized local law enforcement agencies and a school in Newport News for their collaborative community efforts. The department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) presented the L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award to the Newport News Police Department, the Newport News Sheriff’s Office, and An Achievable Dream, Inc. The annual award is given to law enforcement teams and community members who use innovative interactions to transform public safety in the community. COPS director Phil Keith said that around 50 applicants from across the country applied for the honor and An Achievable Dream was the only one selected. “95 percent go to college. 5 percent go to the military. There aren’t that many programs that can tout that kind of record. That builds character and that’s what our country needs nowadays, which is character,” said Keith.
Primary election coverage available at LEGACYNEWSPAPER.com
2 • June 13, 2018
Activists and family take to Richmond streets to march for justice in the in the police killing of Marcus Peters SARAH HONOSKY RVA- “Help, not death.” That was the chant that permeated last week’s march that ended at the Richmond Police Department (RPD) headquarters, where hundreds of people demanded justice and reformation for Marcus Peters – an unarmed black man in mental distress who was shot and killed by a Richmond police officer on May 14. “We are here in honor of MarcusDavid Peters and other folks who have fallen victim and died at the hands of state-sanctioned violence,” said Jasmine Leeward, a New Virginia Majority representative who was one of the march organizers. “We are trying to band together as a community to show that Marcus’ life mattered, and other victims of state-sanctioned violence, their lives mattered, and to call for justice, accountability, and reformation.” She also acknowledged that there needs to be more clarity and compassion and “less violence” when it comes to people who are in a mental health crisis. Throughout the march, there was a constant, but impassioned reprise from those who attended: That Peters needed “help, not death”. On the day that Peters was killed, he was having an unidentified episode of mental distress – something which is far too common in the US – especially as police come into contact with people who are having these episodes. According to Chief Alfred Durham in a press conference last week, officers only receive 40 hours of training on how to handle issues surrounding mental health. Nonetheless, Peters was the 425th person to be fatally shot by a law enforcement officer this year, according to The Washington Post’s Fatal Force database. Peters’ aunt, Taisha Peters, a mental health worker said that it is crucial for things to be handled differently, especially when it comes
to the treatment of those who are mentally ill. “That’s primarily why I’m here, to support reformation for not just my nephew who lost his life, but others who may happen to also. [The RPD is] ill-equipped. They don’t have proper training, they’ve admitted that themselves on the record… That’s no excuse for what they did.” The march began at VCU’s Siegel Center, before departing on the mile-long trek to the RPD headquarters on Grace Street. For the family and friends of Peters, the march retraced the steps which ultimately culminated in a life cut short; beginning at the place where Peters graduated with honors, past the Jefferson where he worked parttime, eventually ending at RPD headquarters. “We out here to ensure that justice is served for Marcus David-Peters. Marcus, as has been echoed by his sister Princess many times, deserved
to have the opportunity to be helped and should not have been killed in the process,” said marcher Antonio Redd, wearing a burgundy shirt with Peters’ face emblazoned on the front. The march organizers asked attendees to wear burgundy, Peters’ favorite color. “For other people experiencing a mental health crisis, we want to ensure that they receive the proper help that they need in order to survive, opposed to being killed in the process.” And the crowd that gathered in front of the Siegel Center was flooded with burgundy, along with a sea of signs clamoring for justice and reformation. A giant yellow banner was carried throughout the afternoon asking, “What if Marcus Peters was your son, would his death still be justifiable?” A cabal of different organizations and individuals joined today’s march, including Democratic Socialists of
America, Industrial Workers of the World, Iraq veterans, along with members of various black churches, people committed to social justice, and those who simply thought the death of Peters was an abuse of police power all rallied to support Peters’ family. Ozzie, an Iraq veteran who chose to only give his first name, said the Richmond Police Department’s actions are out of control. “In the military, we show a lot more restraint. In that situation, we could have detained that person. The police didn’t show the same level of restraint. I think it’s the mindset of a lot of police to escalate the situation instead of de-escalating them.” Before the march to RPD officially began, speakers including march organizer Rebecca Keel and Pastor of Second Baptist Church, Dr. James
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June 13, 2018 • 3
PHOTOS: Landon Shroder/ RVA MAG
(from page 2) Henry Harris took to the podium. “We are not here by coincidence,” said Keel. “We are here to affirm the dignity of Marcus’ life, the value of his life, the force of his life. We are here to say to this country, to this state, to this city, the police department that we must end the murder and dehumanization of black and brown people.” VCU community organizers Khudai Tanveer and Taylor Davis also confronted the silence from the university on the death of Peters with an open letter detailing demands to the university and holding the school accountable for their lack of response on one of their alum. “We are allowing for 18 days from the initial receipt of this letter for the release of the stance critical on the use of force. We are generously selecting 18 days when it only took 18 seconds to make a decision that ultimately ended the life of MarcusDavid Peters,” said Tanveer.
Next up was Harris, a pastor, who delivered an impassioned speech referring to the police as the new slave master. “None of us are free until all of us are free,” he told the contemplative crowd. “The former capital of the Confederacy has a new day coming.” As the march snaked through the city on the way to the RPD, it included an unannounced stop at the Jefferson Hotel where march goers drowned the hotel in chants, shouting, “Shame on you, Jefferson,” in reference to the hotel not reaching out to Peters’ family during the incident. Despite this and the muggy 80-degree heat, the crowd rarely slowed, ignited with an energy and mission that pushed well beyond the simple march, making it clear that this is more than just a political statement. Eventually arriving at RPD headquarters just as it began to rain, more speakers took to the podium right at the front entrance to the main building. No one from the police made an appearance or spoke to the
marchers and Durham’s absence was noted by some of the marchers – some saying that it felt like an admittance of guilt. Princess Blanding, the sister of Peters, read six demands, among them a call for RPD to publicly release what their crisis intervention training looks like so it can be thoroughly assessed for effectiveness. She also called for the creation of a “Marcus Alert,” a way for the community to “call on mental health professionals to respond when community members are clearly in crisis,” as opposed to immediately deferring to the police, which can escalate the encounter. She ended the list of demands on the now familiar phrase, “Again, Marcus needed help, not death.” On the heels of RPD’s reported excessive force against autistic Chesterfield teen McKhyl Dickerson the week before, reformation is needed now more than ever. The 2017 Police Violence Report shows that while black people are more
likely to be unarmed, and less likely to be threatening, they are more likely to be killed by the police. This was a theme in the march as the names of black people killed by the police were never far away; names like Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, and now Marcus Peters. The march for justice and reformation for Marcus Peters was also a response to the systematic and institutionalized mistreatment, violence, and over-incarceration against minorities in the US by police. In 2018, questions over accountability and transparency remain more critical than ever, more so when connected to ongoing challenges in how police deal with those who appear to be having a mental health crisis. Instead of vilifying those that are experiencing such an episode, the city needs to look for better mechanisms to help those in need, noted activists. This is the only way this city will be able to move forward from this incident.
4 • June 13, 2018
Richmond region gets Text-to-911 Getting help in an emergency is now faster and easier for those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing in the Richmond capital region. As of June 4, those who are not able to call 911 can send a text message to 911 for emergency assistance in Richmond, Chesterfield County and Henrico County. This service already is available in Colonial Heights and Hanover County. “We encourage residents to call 911 when they can and to text when they can’t,” said Stephen Willoughby, director and chief of Richmond’s Department of Emergency Communications. “If you are deaf or hard-of-hearing, you can’t speak or it’s not safe for you to speak, you can send a text to 911. Otherwise, it’s
best for you to call,” he said. Residents should follow these additional guidelines when texting 911, Willoughby said: Do: Call if you can, text if you can’t. · Send a text message to 911 if you are deaf or hard-of-hearing, can’t speak, or it is not safe for you to speak; provide the exact location of the emergency in the text message; and if you do not receive a reply by text or if you receive a reply that texting is not available, call 911. Do not:Text and drive; send photos or videos to 911 at this time; copy others on the message to 911. Textto-911 cannot include more than one person. Text-to-911 was implemented in the Richmond Capital Region as the result of a grant awarded by the Virginia Information Technologies Agency in the 2017 fiscal year.
Va. Commission on Youth looks at school resource officer role FROM STAFF & WIRE REPORTS The Virginia Commission on Youth met in Richmond last week to review the role of school resource officers (SRO) in the commonwealth. The group, made up of nine legislators and three citizens appointed by the governor, said they met to ‘learn about the SROprogram. Chair, Sen. Barbara Favola, a Democrat from Arlington, said SROs play a critical role inside schools. “This is where children first come into contact with law enforcement,” she said. “It’s really in the public schools.” The commission meeting included several presentations, including one titled “School Safety in Virginia: An Overview of Laws, Trainings, and Resources” by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). Donna Michaelis, manager of the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety, shared that the number of security personnel and SROs have been increasing in schools since 2005. She said bullying, physical fighting and students who reported carrying weapons have all decreased.
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“What we heard is that the SROs are not escalating that school-toprison pipeline,” said Favola. “We really believe the SROs can play a preventive role and that's what we really have to look at, at how we can do better.” SROs have been placed in Virginia schools since the mid-1980s. According to DCJS, 53 percent of Virginia schools have full-time and part-time SROs. Another presentation, from from Virginia Tech, covered two studies: “What the Data Tell Us: Influences on Keeping Kids in the Classroom, and Out of the Courtroom” and “An Investigation of School Resource and Safety Programs, Policy and Practice in Virginia”. That presentation revealed the top five areas where SROs need more training -- working with students with special needs, mental health issues in childhood and adolescence, dangerous/threatening students, bullying and establishing effective working relationships with parents. Favola said the commission is still working on developing recommendations and possible legislation. Another meeting is scheduled in December.
June 13, 2018 • 5
Flamethrower to serve jail time for disorderly conduct SAMANTHA BAARS “It is what it is. It’s no sweat.” That’s the statement Corey Long gave outside the Charlottesville General District Courthouse last week after he was convicted of disorderly conduct for lighting an aerosol can and pointing it in the direction of white supremacists on Aug. 12. Community activists wiped tears from their eyes and hastily left the courthouse when Judge Robert Downer sentenced Long to 360 days in jail, with all but 20 suspended, after Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania advocated for no jail time. “I find that this behavior was very serious,” Downer said when he went against the prosecutor’s recommendation. After the conviction, Long’s legal adviser offered a few more words than his client. “Corey Long was and is and remains a hero,” said Malik Shabazz, president of Black Lawyers for Justice, to cheers from the dozens of community activists who showed up in support of the 24-year-old who they say protected the town during the Unite the Right rally that left three people dead and many injured. Shabazz echoed what the activists have been saying since his client was charged: “Corey Long did nothing wrong.” He advised that in Virginia, inmates with good behavior only serve half of their sentenced time for misdemeanor charges, and said Long will likely be incarcerated for 10 days. Long was ordered to report to the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail on June 22. Shabazz told Long they’ll be the “proudest days you will serve in your life,” and reminded him and the crowd that Martin Luther King Jr. was also arrested and convicted. As white supremacists filed out of Emancipation Park on August 12, immediately after law enforcement had declared the Unite the Right rally an unlawful assembly, Frank Buck testified that he heard someone say, “Kill the nigger.” He then saw Baltimore Ku Klux Klan leader Richard Preston point his handgun at Long, who was outside of the park and holding the homemade
Corey Long, center, was convicted of disorderly conduct for pointing a homemade flamethrower at a white supremacist in C-Ville on Aug. 12. PHOTO: Eze Amos flamethrower with his arm extended. Buck said the flames were first between 20 and 24 inches, and then a bit shorter. “I thought [Long] was going to be shot and killed,” Buck said. “I then heard the gunshot.” He said he saw the bullet hit the ground near Long’s feat, causing a tuft of dirt to shoot into the air. He then saw Preston lower his gun and exit the area. “I lit the can because he wouldn’t get out of my presence,” Long told the judge, though it is unclear whether he was referring to Preston or another man who can be seen swinging a rolled up flag at Long in a photo of the incident that has since gone viral. Richmond-based defense attorney Jeroyd Greene said Long had been spit on and called racial slurs that day, and that Long first sprayed his aerosol can without lighting it. He only lit it when he perceived a threat, which doesn’t make a case for disorderly conduct, the attorney argued. In fact, Greene said two men, including Preston, who fell out of line with their white supremacist allies and moved toward Long once they walked down the steps at the park, were the true aggressors who acted disorderly. “There’s no evidence that they’re doing anything at all but walking down the steps,” said Platania, who argued that lighting the aerosol can was enough of an “annoyance or alarm,” which is required to prove a disorderly conduct had been committed.
Downer said the state’s disorderly conduct statute is complicated and problematic, and in his 17 years of experience, he’s seen only a few people convicted of the crime. “I don’t have the least bit of doubt of his guilt of disorderly conduct,” Downer said. “It clearly motivated people to react in a way that involved a breach of the peace.” Preston pleaded no contest May 9 to a charge of discharging a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school, a class 4 felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and fine up to $100,000. Long was also accused of assault and battery by rally attendee Harold Crews in a separate incident, but Platania said he was unable to reach Crews, and the charge was
dismissed. In the crowd of activists outside the general district court was Kendall Bills, the daughter of local philanthropists Michael Bills and Sonja Smith, who was also involved in August 12 litigation after Dennis Mothersbaugh, whom she calls a “neo-Nazi,” punched her in the face during the rally. The video of the Indiana man clocking her has also gone viral. Mothersbaugh pleaded guilty to assault in November. “He was sentenced to a decent amount of jail time, but, more importantly, I was not subject to the intimidation and harassment that now men of color—especially DeAndre Harris, Corey Long and Donald Blakney—are facing in this community,” she said. “As a white woman, I was protected. My case was settled quickly.” Bills said she took to the streets on August 12 to do exactly what those three black men did, which was “trying to protect and defend our community,” but she hasn’t faced the same “inappropropriate judicial harassment” and retribution the men continue to face in their personal lives. “The city of Charlottesville should be ashamed today,” she said. “I am proud to be a Charlottesville community member many days, but today is not one of them.”
6 • June 13, 2018
Op/Ed & Letters
Why the United States has never achieved greatness TE WIRE - A recent column by a black Republican activist in the Washington Informer included the following: “But to my liberal friends who constantly ask ‘When was America great?’ I simply say that America was great when Lincoln freed the slaves. America was great when we passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. America was great when we passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. America was great when we passed the Fair Housing Act of 1968. America was great when we elected the first black president in 2008.” It takes a willful denial of American history to make such a statement in 2018. The historical truth is that the federal government of the United States has never in its entire history voluntarily promoted or protected the civil and human rights of black people. It has done so only when forced by compelling, strategic circumstances. The real deal is that the false history he so ardently and inaccurately declares is exactly what is being taught in most elementary schools, high schools and colleges in this country. And those teaching it are well aware of what they are teaching. The columnist, who insisted that Lincoln freed our enslaved ancestors, should read Lerone Bennett, Jr.’s must-read book, “Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream!” The late brilliant journalist/historian includes the following Lincoln quote in his book: “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white The LEGACY NEWSPAPER Vol. 4 No. 24 Mailing Address 409 E. Main Street 4 Office Address 105 1/2 E. Clay St. Richmond, VA 23219 Call 804-644-1550 Online www.legacynewspaper.com
and black races. That I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” As for the Emancipation Proclamation, Bennett noted The LEGACY welcomes all signed letters and all respectful opinions. Letter writers and columnists opinions are their own and endorsements of their views by The LEGACY should be inferred. The LEGACY assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. Annual Subscription Rates Virginia - $50 U.S. states - $75 Outside U.S.- $100 The Virginia Legacy © 2016
that “Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was a tactical move designed not to emancipate the slaves but to keep as many slaves as possible in slavery until Lincoln could mobilize support for his conservative plan to free blacks gradually and to ship them out of the country…” Bennett add that “What Lincoln did…was to ‘free’ slaves in the Confederate held territory where he couldn’t free them and leave them in slavery in Union-held territory where he could have freed them.” Just as Lincoln was forced into glory regarding the enslavement of African people, the U.S. federal government was forced into glory to pass the civil rights legislation of the 1960s. It was forced by the courageness of the warriors against White supremacy and by the country’s propaganda needs of the so-called Cold War with the Soviet Union. The white Russians are just as much white supremacist as their American counterparts. However, they took advantage of racism in the United States for their own propaganda purposes. Between 1955 and 1968 numerous black warriors, including Medgar Evers, James Chaney, George Lee, Samuel Younge, Jr., Louis Allen, Samuel Hammond, Delano Middleton, Henry Smith, Phillip L. Gibbs, James Green, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were killed by white supremacist terrorists. Many black people lost jobs, had their homes firebombed, and were otherwise brutalized by the racist terrorists. Very few of whom were punished
for those crimes by local, state and federal governments. I strongly believe that if it wasn’t for those propaganda needs, the federal government would have sat by and allowed the terrorists to crush the civil and human rights movements. That’s exactly what Washington did when black folks were regularly lynched by white, racist terrorists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As for America being great “when we elected the first black president,” my position is one of total skepticism about how that came about. I still want to know how a man who was barely known to most of us before 2004 could be elected president of the United States in 2008. It took big boys to pull that off. I agree with the great Rev. Jeremiah Wright who has been quoted as saying that President Barack Obama “was selected before he was elected.” The columnist should know that the United States has never been great as far as black people are concerned. And it will never achieve greatness until it pays in full the debt owed to the descendants of the Africans whom it enslaved for over 300 years. The U.S. loves to brag about being the wealthiest country in the world. It should be since it is the only country in the world to have enjoyed 300 years of free, enslaved labor. Bailey is an American journalist, author, and lecturer. He was an associate of Malcolm X’s and a member of the Organization of AfroAmerican Unity.
June 13, 2018 • 7
P.T. Hoffsteader, Esq.
Father’s Day in the U.S. It’s time to once again celebrate Father’s Day in America. I like Father’s Day. It’s always interesting to see if my children or anyone remembers. Maybe I will get a text, an email or even a telephone call. Father’s Day is kind of like your birthday you don’t really think about it until the day comes. You then can't help but notice who forgot or who simply does not care. I was always busy as a young adult and probably didn’t pay attention to Father’s Day like I should have until later in life. I got a little closer to my dad in his later years simply because my mother had died and he had to talk to me when I called. My father was a good dad in that he took care of us. He kept food on the table and a roof over our heads. I never had to face living with a single parent or in a blended family. All I knew was my mom and dad and I never worried about being hungry or being homeless. Millions of Americans cannot say this. This is not a negative about single parenting or being homeless or blended families. I’m simply saying that mom and dad hung in there and my sisters and brothers and I have a lot for which to be thankful. My grandfather was a good dad. He raised 10 children. He was a blessing to a multitude of grandchildren. He worked until he was 83. I never saw him smile a lot but how could he smile when there were dozens of grandchildren around all the time? Plus, he worked six days a week until he was 83. He managed it
pretty well. My son is a good dad. I can believe it because he was a good son. Yet, it’s always amazing when you see your child in action. He spends so much time with my little grandson and they have a beautiful bond. I love to watch their interaction and I am so happy for both of them. This Father’s Day will once again be a good day and a tough day. Father’s will count their blessings and also their failures. Father’s will wish for another chance to do it again but we only get one chance to be a dad. Many will visit cemeteries to pay respect to a dad now long gone or Fathers will mourn over the passing of a child. Father’s Day is upon us and the best you can do is to cherish the moment. Make a visit. Make a telephone call. Make the day as personal as possible. Life is about relationships and there is nothing like loving a Father or a child while you have the opportunity. When you look back you’ll be so glad you did. Dr. Glenn Mollette
Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, doesn’t want the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 -- the “Farm Bill” -- used as a political bargaining chip. “Our nation’s farmers and ranchers are not pawns in a political game,” he writes. “They are the lifeblood of our nation.” Duvall’s claims might be more convincing if he didn’t make them right after touting the political power of the agriculture lobby in unseating members of Congress deemed insufficiently loyal to it, powering “rural America’s” election of Donald Trump to the presidency, etc. ... and threatening to use that political power as needed to preserve the tens of billions of dollars in corporate welfare represented by the Farm Bill. Yes, corporate welfare.
As of 1870, one of every two Americans worked in agriculture. As of 2012, that number was less than one in 50 and sinking fast toward one in 100. Advances in science and technology allow one fiftieth as many people to feed ten times as many mouths (not counting exports) now as then. Those advances have come hand in hand with corporate consolidation of the same sort seen in other industries. The day of the Depression-era family farm that my mother grew up on as one of 12 children, operating on human and animal power until they got their first truck right after World War Two and electricity shortly after that, is long gone. The kind of subsistence farm I lived on as a child, and the single-family operations my dad served as a dairy worker until his retirement in the 1990s, are fading away as well. Today, nearly all of the food you eat is produced either by, or under contract to, a few large companies. The rawboned, overall-clad man driving a tractor 12 hours a day, calling the cows in for their evening milking, slopping the hogs, and sitting down for an evening pipe on the front porch before bed was once my grandfather. Now he’s a carefully cultivated image of the past, used by organizations like Duvall’s to propagandize for the transfer of billions dollars every year from your pockets to theirs via the political process, on top of what you spend in honest exchange for their livestock and crops. The Farm Bill isn’t going to save a way of life that for practical purposes no longer exists, nor is it going to bring back that way of life. In fact, a century of agricultural subsidies and welfare programs are at least partially responsible for killing off the family farm as we once knew it. Those subsidies and programs attracted people who were more interested in the subsidies and programs than in the farming. In this
case, literally, the one percent. Don’t reform the Farm Bill. Kill it. Thomas L. Knapp
The Supreme Court of Virginia issued a decision in Vesilind v. Virginia State Board of Elections t declining to set aside the ruling of a Richmond Circuit Court that the question of whether eleven state legislative districts were drawn in violation of the Virginia Constitution was “fairly debatable” and the districts therefore should be upheld. The plaintiffs in the case had argued that the legislature failed to give priority to the Virginia Constitution’s requirement that districts be “compact” and instead subordinated compactness to “discretionary” redistricting criteria, such as protecting incumbents. Gregory Lucyk, a former senior assistant attorney general and now president of the Board of OneVirginia2021, the advocacy organization backing the lawsuit, said they were “disappointed” with the Court’s decision. “The Courts and the legislature have never defined the standards for compactness to enable the line drawers to apply the Constitutional requirement fairly. This lack of clarity in the law has thwarted the purpose of creating compact legislative districts, which is to provide a meaningful restraint on extreme partisan gerrymandering.” Lucyk stated “the Court’s decision shows how important it is that the citizens take action now to amend the Virginia Constitution in order to provide clear and well-defined standards for drawing legislative districts.” Lucyk added that while the court case did not result in the ruling sought by plaintiffs, “it was successful in educating voters about the harm caused by extreme partisan gerrymandering, and it has generated vigorous bi-partisan efforts to reform the redistricting process.”
8 • June 13, 2018
Faith & Religion
Southern Baptists gather amid scandals ADELLE M. BANKS RNS — With Southern Baptists already comparing the state of their denomination to a natural disaster, another dramatic turn has come in the sexual abuse and misconduct scandal swirling around Paige Patterson, a revered institutional leader. Patterson, fired recently from his post at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, announced last week that he won’t deliver the sermon at the convention’s annual meeting in Dallas this week, while denying that the events that led to his dismissal have been accurately portrayed. “I have now respectfully requested to be released from this high privilege because I do not want my role as a preacher to detract in any
way from the important business of our convention and because my desire is to work toward biblical harmony at our annual meeting,” Patterson said in a statement. “Recently, I have been accused, publicly and privately, of a number of things — none of which I acknowledge as having done in the way portrayed, and others that I am confident I absolutely did not do,” he said. Patterson’s firing in May followed reports that he had mishandled rape allegations by students who shared the information with him. Those reports came on the heels of allegations he demeaned women and Patterson’s own account, in a recording dating to 2000, of counseling one woman not to leave her husband whom, she said, was abusive.
Louis Farrakhan Jr., 60, son of Nation of Islam leader, dies Louis Farrakhan Jr., the eldest son of the Nation of Islam leader, has died. He was 60. Farrakhan Jr., who had suffered from a heart condition, died recently in his sleep at a family home in Phoenix, the NOI said in a news release. He was one of nine children of Farrakhan, 85. “We thank Allah (God) for the life of Louis Jr., his contribution to rise of black and oppressed people and for touching so many of us in a deep and very personal way,” the statement said. “He worked alongside his father and family in fulfilling the mission of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam and his dedication and sacrifice to our cause will never be forgotten.” The cause of death will be determined by the Marico County medical examiner. Authorities said there are no initial signs of foul play. “Brother Louis remained committed to the rise of black people and people of color all over the world all of his life,” said Charlene Muhammad, producer, Liberated Sisters TV, a NOI affiliate. “Possessing exceptional
The late Louis Farrakhan Jr. talents and many different skills, Brother Louis was a rare human being best known for being a bold, forward thinking, communicative individual filled with a positive attitude. Gifted with an instinctive natural ability to inspire, Brother Louis was immeasurable and will be missed for many decades to come.” A funeral was he;d last Friday. Farrakhan, Jr., is survived by his wife and five children.
“The mood of the Southern Baptist Convention right now would be similar to that of the country after Watergate,” said Russell Moore, president of the convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, in an interview before Patterson’s announcement. Patterson, an architect of the 1980s Southern Baptist movement known as the “conservative resurgence,” claimed that he still enjoyed support among the delegates, known as messengers, to the annual meeting. “Many messengers have implored me to carry out this assignment, but this convention is not about me,” he said in his statement, “and I have every confidence that this decision is best and right.” His statement was his most explicit denial of the allegations to date. “I take exception to accusations that I ever knowingly ignored or failed to follow appropriate protocols in cases of reported abuse of women, students, or staff at any institution where I have served,” he said. Patterson’s downfall is only one of several crises, which some Southern Baptists describe as “volcanic”. In March, Frank Page, the man who handled the day-to-day operations of the SBC outside of its annual meetings, resigned as the president of the Executive Committee after what was described as a “morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past.” Committee spokesman Roger S. Oldham said an internal financial audit was conducted after Page’s departure and “there was no legal impropriety that was discovered.” In October, Paul Pressler, a retired Texas judge and another prominent architect of what critics call a conservative takeover of the denomination, became the subject of a lawsuit by a male former office assistant charging him with decades of sexual abuse. Pressler has denied the allegations. The Southern Baptist Convention and Patterson, both named as co-defendants, have rejected the charges as meritless. Despite the harrowing headlines, Moore said leaders at all levels of the denomination — which has local associations and state conventions — are trying to determine the best way forward.
“Part of the responsibility that churches and leaders have right now is to teach people through this how to react to such horror in the right way,” Moore said in early June. He said the scandals have helped churches think about how to protect victims of all sorts of abuse. Months before the Patterson scandal broke, Moore’s commission had begun planning a session to take place on the eve of the annual meeting to address the church’s response to the #MeToo movement. But the hallways of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, where Baptists met June 12-13, also were filled with such discussions. Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Jason K. Allen has proposed a resolution, “On Affirming the Dignity of Women and the Holiness of Ministers,” that he said has the support of outgoing SBC President Steve Gaines and six former presidents, among others. Meanwhile, a group of women’s advocates intends to hold a “For Such a Time as This Rally” outside the convention center on the opening day of the meeting. “The rally is not opposing the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole. It’s a rally opposing abuse and discrimination against women,” said Ashley Easter, spokesperson for the event, and host of an annual conference for abuse survivors and their advocates. “We want to be very clear that we love the Southern Baptist Convention. We believe it can be better.” Easter’s group wants to see the completion of a database of Southern Baptist sex offenders that was raised more than a decade ago. In 2007, Wade Burleson, an Oklahoma pastor, requested a feasibility study for such a database, but the idea was rejected out of respect for the autonomy of local Southern Baptist congregations. Instead, Baptist leaders offered new resources — including an online link to the Department of Justice’s national database — and urged individual churches to contact authorities about any sex abuse accusations. Burleson said that the issue needs to be revisited.
June 13, 2018 • 9
“Even the word ‘help’, I didn’t know how to say it” – abuse survivor tells her story Survivors of abuse have been telling their stories to members of the Anglican Communion’s Safe Church Commission. The commission was set up to promote the safety of people within churches of the Anglican Communion throughout the world, with a particular focus on children, young people and vulnerable adults. It met last month in South Africa to plan the next step of its work, and to meet with abuse survivors. “Every time he would go to work I would just look through the window and just stand”, one survivor said as she recounted the abuse she had endured as a child. “Neighbours would see me and come close to the window and talk to me. I couldn’t speak it. I don’t know. . . even the word ‘help’ – I didn’t know how to say it. I didn’t know what to say. They want to reach out. They would ask me why I was not in school . . . but I can’t respond.” Commission member Cleophas Lunga, the Bishop of Matabeleland, said that the commission was “humbled” by the courage of the survivors who met with them. “In
many cases, the stigma associated with such kind of stories makes it difficult for people to come out publicly, to tell their stories and to find ways as to how best that they can be helped. So the work of this commission is quite important in that regard.” Mary Wells, a Canadian social worker, is a member of the commission. “I felt that their final plea was how can I be safe in the Church?”, she said, speaking of the survivors’ stories. “Developing policies that make everyone safe will help them but I would personally suggest that . . . in a very practical way parishes can help women who are emerging from abuse or trying to leave shelters and need help in transitioning.”
Sereima Lomaloma from the Diocese of Polynesia is another member of the commission. “One of the greatest challenges we face is the culture of silence,” she said. “In the community, the majority of the population in the Pacific are Christians and faith is an integral component of our lives. . . And the culture of silence is also a very important part of our lives and so we don’t speak publicly about abuse.” The commission is chaired by barrister Garth Blake, a senior counsel in Australia. He said: “Hearing from survivors is extremely important to our work. We need to ensure we understand the harmful effects that they have experienced and, as best we can, ensure that the guidelines we are developing will prevent that sort of abuse from happening in the future; and where abuse of that nature does happen, that there is proper care for survivors.” Explaining why the commission was established, he said: “Over the last 20 years-or-so there had been public disclosures of abuse – sexual
abuse but other forms of abuse – in a number of provinces. “Our task is threefold: firstly we are to identify what policies are currently in place in the churches of the Communion; secondly, we are to develop guidelines to enhance the safety of people in the churches of the Anglican Communion; and thirdly, to develop resources for the implementation of those guidelines.” Another senior lawyer who is a member of the commission is Canon Andrew Khoo, the Chancellor of the Diocese of West Malaysia and the cochair of the human rights committee of the Malaysia Bar Council. “Where do victims or survivors, people who want to get over this, where do they go for help, he asked. “Where do they go for assistance? Can they actually come to the church? Or is the church seen as the very institution that has allowed these horrible incidents to happen?” The commission is continuing its work through virtual meetings and are expected to gather again in November.
10 • June 13, 2018
Va.’a Pusha T’s album causing controversy RVA - Virginia rapper Pusha-T’s latest album, Daytona, released May 25 via G.O.O.D. Music, has unleashed some intense backlash for what some believe is crude cover artwork. The controversial cover photo depicts late singer Whitney Houston’s drug-covered bathroom sink taken on the night of her death in 2012. Kanye West, who produced the album, reportedly switched the cover art for the album at 1 am on the morning of its release after paying $85,000 to license the photo. Pusha-T told radio host Angie Martinez that the photo of Houston’s bathroom was not the original artwork, but that West changed it at the last second because he, “wasn’t feeling it.” According to Rolling Stone, Houston’s estate was extremely disappointed in West’s decision to change the cover. “Even in Whitney’s death, we see that no one is exempt from the harsh realities of the world,” said her estate in a statement to entertainment media. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Houston’s ex-husband Bobby Brown called the album cover disgusting, and said that West, “needs somebody
Drake, left, and Pusha T have reportedly ended their feud this week. to slap him or something.” Prior to the release of the album, Pusha-T also escalated his longrunning feud with Canadian rapper Drake. The dispute finally boiled over with the release of “Infrared,” the final track on Daytona where Pusha-T calls out Drake for using ghostwriters in his songs. Drake fired back on the same day with “Duppy Freestyle,” in which he calls Pusha-T a hypocrite since his producer, Kanye West, has publicly acknowledged his use of ghostwriters. Drake was a credited songwriter on West’s Life of
Pablo. The altercation intensified when Pusha-T posted a 2007 photo of Drake made up in blackface, and released a diss track called the “The Story of Adidon,” which claims that Drake fathered a child with porn star Sophie Brussaux. The disagreements surrounding Pusha-T’s new release are eerily similar to the manufactured publicity stunts that often accompany West’s album and product releases. West is adept at stoking strong emotions from his fan base to ramp up
publicity and create fodder for gossip columns. The controversy did not stop there, however. According to Ian Sams, a communications manager for Senator Tim Kaine, who took to Twitter, the controversy has even taken hold in the UK with press outreach asking Kaine to weigh in on the drama. For those who were unaware of how these things connect: Kaine campaigned with Pusha-T in Florida during Hillary Clinton’s run for President in 2016.
June 13, 2018 • 11
Literacy for Life celebrates success stories VG - More than 200 people turned out recently to join in Literacy for Life’s annual Celebration of Lifelong Learning, which highlights the successes of the nonprofit organization and its clients, which work to better themselves through education. “It’s an opportunity to acknowledge the successes of our learners and show appreciation for our volunteers and the people in the community who support us,” said Literacy for Life executive director Joan Peterson. “It’s really about thanking people.” Such celebrations have taken place since before Peterson started as executive director a decade ago, and they’ve grown each year alongside the organization itself, which grew from 225 clients to more than 1,000 in that timeframe. Sen. Monty Mason, an advisory board member for the organization, lauded its impact on people of all ethnicities and ages as it helps adults finish school, find jobs and better integrate into the community as a whole. “Look at all the walks of life that this organization touches,” Mason said. “From A to Z, what they do here is really foundational.” The event commemorates another 12 months of progress across a myriad of subjects. Nearly 50 learners got a job or secured a better one, nine obtained a driver’s license and two voted for the first time with help from the organization. In its June round of grant awards, the Williamsburg Health Foundation awarded $50,000 toward Literacy for Life’s HEAL program, which has trained 70 medical professionals in the past year to better serve people with low health literacy while also teaching 150 learners how to interact with professionals and ask relevant questions. Held at the Matoaka Woods Room inside the College of William and Mary’s school of education building, the celebration featured guest speakers including Virginia Deputy Secretary of Education Holly Coy. Two Literacy for Life clients, referred to as learners, also took to the podium to share their stories. “I wanted to learn everything, to read, write, speak English and
Joan Peterson get my GED,” said Israel Gomez Hernandez. He credited his progress at Literacy for Life for earning him a promotion at work. Inspired by his love for cars, Hernandez was also interested in becoming a certified mechanic; he completed the prerequisite class with the third highest marks among his peers. Hernandez is already working toward his next goal: certification in auto collision repair. “I’d never have come so far without my tutors,” he said. Learner Joanne Pollard also talked about her life. Her mother died when she was young and she grew up listening to her father tell her she was dumb. She ran away from home at 16, eventually ending up in Virginia with two children. Pollard secured a job at the New York Deli, even though she’d never held a job and couldn’t read the menu, which luckily featured numbers next to the different options. But she aspired for more in life. “I knew that to better your life, you needed education,” Pollard said. “I was determined to get my GED.” Pollard took a GED class, but found it difficult, as students learned at different rates and there was little in the way of oneon-one help. She stumbled upon a pamphlet promoting Literacy for Life, highlighting its more personal brand of tutoring, and she eventually checked it out. Now she has her GED and she’s interested in pursuing a college education while also helping her grandchildren do well in school. “This is a wonderful program,” Pollard said. “I just love everybody.”
Thanks, but no thanks? Dear Alma, Last year, our company put on a national contest to honor the best people across the organization. The idea was to recognize people who don’t get much recognition and make sure people knew of their accomplishments. We all think very highly of our co-worker, an older woman (65+) named Laura. I nominated Laura, with her permission, and she won! I was excited, our co-workers were excited and she even got an article in the local paper. Laura’s reaction really surprised me. She wrote an email to everyone saying it was embarrassing and that other people deserved it more than she did. Now, she barely speaks to me. And when she does, it’s sometimes snarky or a put down. I am completely mystified. I truly wanted to honor her. And the reaction to her award has been 100 percent positive. To be honest, I'm kind of hurt. One of my friends thinks it’s generational: that some older women don’t want a fuss made over them. Can you think of anything that might explain Laura’s reaction? Thanks, Confused co-worker
Dear confused co-worker, Pardon me while I recap, just to make sure I understand where you’re coming from. You asked for permission to submit info on someone for a contest and she won. You’re feeling good about what you did and thought it doubledoggon delightful when the local newspaper decided to cover the good deed. Unfortunately, while all this was happening the person at the center of the hoopla didn’t seem appreciative and alerted everyone of such feelings, and has now distanced herself. Umhm, I think I got it. So you stopped by to ask me why I think she’s rescinded her cordial communication towards you and others around the office. Umhm, good question. My advice is simple, ask her. You asked her if you could nominate her, now ask her why she feels troubled by the win. There’s no need to guess. It’ll give you two a chance to talk it out. Usually when I try to figure out why someone has said or done something, without confronting them, I’m almost always wrong. My thoughts and judgements are often wildly misplaced. Your questions of concern will honor her even more, and allow her to see that you truly respect her as a colleague and her feelings. While I still have your ear, I’d like to add… When you do something nice for someone, whatever that may be, it’s not your place to determine how they should react. She said thank you, she didn’t deserve it, now that’s her cake to bake. You can’t adjust her appreciation apron. Don’t allow her attitude starved of gratitude to dictate your feelings. The part you played in this contest was admirable, you should take pride in that. The fact that she won is just icing with a cherry on top.
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12 • June 13, 2018
Police, Sheriff’s Office and an Achievable Dream receive national “COPS” award At a special ceremony held last week at An Achievable Dream, the Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) announced that the Newport News Police Department, Newport News Sheriff’s Office, and An Achievable Dream, Inc. are the winners of the 2017 L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award for their partnership to help disadvantaged children succeed in education. Originally founded in 1992 as a nonprofit organization providing a summer and after-school tennis and tutoring program for 4th graders, An Achievable Dream, Inc. now operates four schools through unique public-private partnerships in Newport News, Virginia Beach, and Henrico County. With the belief that all children can learn and succeed regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, and that education can break the cycle of poverty, the organization boasts a 100 percent on-time graduation rate with 90 percent of graduating seniors attending college and 10 percent entering the military or workforce. At its two schools in Newport News, members of the Newport News Police Department, Newport News Sheriff’s Office, and soldiers from Fort Eustis play important roles in these students’ educational lives as daily greeters, uniform inspectors, role models, and mentors.
The L. Anthony Sutin Civic Imagination Award is bestowed upon a collaborative team of law enforcement and community members whose innovative civic interactions have transformed public
safety in their community. The ideal nominee creates community collaborations that are innovative, creative and transformative; displays civic leadership through problem solving and collaborative
partnerships; and promotes public safety through dedication to the community policing philosophy. For additional information about the COPS Office and the award, visit www.cops.usdoj.gov.
per capita 23rd — Active firefighters per capita 35th — Emergency medical technicians and paramedics per capita Vermont ranked No. 1 as the safest
state in the U.S., and Mississippi came in dead last. 70028These are the five safest states, according to the study: Vermont, Maine, Minnesota, Utah and New Hampshire.
Safest states: Where Va. ranks Virginia has a proud history as the birthplace of the country’s founding fathers and Revolutionary War leaders, stellar public and private universities, and is ranked among the best states for quality of life, according to U.S. News. Some less positive notable facts about Virginia: Traffic is often a nightmare and drivers are aggressive. Despite those criticisms Virginia ranks high by the personal finance website WalletHub among the mostsafe states in the country. A new study ranks Virginia at No. 19 on the list. “In order to determine the safest states in America, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 48 key
safety indicators grouped into five different categories,” the study notes. “Our data set ranges from assaults per capita to unemployment rate to total loss amounts from climate disasters per capita.” How did Virginia do? Here’s a snapshot, with a rank of 1 being the safest and 25 being average: 25th — Presence of terrorist attacks 29th — Number of mass shootings 31st — Murders & non-negligent manslaughters per capita 10th — Forcible rapes per capita 5th — Assaults per capita 10th — Thefts per capita 29th — Sex offenders per capita 25th — Drug abuses per capita 32nd — Law-enforcement employees
June 13, 2018 • 13
Rulings in two partisan gerrymandering cases could be a game-changer for American politics The United States Supreme Court this month will decide two key cases that could have far-reaching consequences for the control of Congress and the nation’s state legislatures. The first case, Gill v. Whitford, tackles the practice of partisan gerrymandering, focusing on Wisconsin Republicans’ efforts to draw a statewide map that ensures their party will hold the majority of the seats in the state house in upcoming elections. The second case, Benisek v. Lamone, involves a partisan gerrymander challenge to Maryland’s congressional map, which was drawn by the Democratic governor in 2011. Alex Keena, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science at Virginia Commonwealth University, is watching the court’s decisions closely. Keena is the co-author of “Gerrymandering in America: The House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, and the Future of Popular Sovereignty,” a book that has been cited in briefs for previous Supreme Court gerrymandering cases. Keena explained to VCU News the key points of the cases and their possible impact. Why is SCOTUS addressing partisan gerrymandering? Historically, the judiciary has been very cautious about delving into political matters. In general, the court believes that political issues are best settled by elections. But partisan gerrymandering presents a “catch 22” — if elections are the only solution to settling “political” matters, then it is effectively impossible to challenge unfair districting maps designed to protect politicians from losing elections. Since the 1960s, the Supreme Court has recognized that partisan gerrymandering is an issue that the judiciary probably ought to address, but it has not agreed on a legal standard for identifying what constitutes an impermissible partisan gerrymander, nor how to apply such a standard in practice. What is different about Whitford and Benisek? The first case the court heard, Gill v. Whitford, involves a challenge to a Wisconsin state legislative district map that Democratic voters claim undermines their ability to use the electoral process to elect
Some courts have said that districting efforts weaken black voting strength elsewhere in states. candidates of their choice. What is unique about this case is that it uses a First Amendment “free association” claim to challenge partisan gerrymandering, in addition to an “Equal Protection” challenge. In other words, they claim that, by drawing the district lines to give Republican candidates an advantage statewide, the Republicancontrolled Wisconsin legislature unconstitutionally violated the ability of Democratic voters to associate with the party of their choice. This is an important strategy because the current conservativeleaning Supreme Court has been sympathetic to First Amendment challenges. The court also recent heard a second partisan gerrymandering case, Benisek v. Lamone, which represents a challenge of Maryland’s 6th congressional district, which Republicans charge was unfairly drawn to favor Democrats. While this case is different in some respects — it addresses only one district, as opposed to the entire map — it is important because it involves a Republican challenge to a Democratic-drawn map. “In general, the court believes
that political issues are best settled by elections. But partisan gerrymandering presents a “catch 22” — if elections are the only solution to settling “political” matters, then it is effectively impossible to challenge unfair districting maps designed to protect politicians from losing elections.” Why are these cases important? The Whitford case represents the first time a federal court struck down a districting plan as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. In reviewing Whitford and Banisek, the Supreme Court has the power to set new standards for identifying and challenging unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders that could have farreaching implications for national politics. If the court recognizes that partisan gerrymandering is a violation of free speech rights, then potentially dozens of states may need to redraw their district maps. Indeed, as my co-authors and I show in our book, “Gerrymandering in America,” nearly two dozen states have drawn congressional maps that are biased in favor of Republicans, while one state (Maryland) has drawn a pro-
Democratic gerrymander. This means that these maps could be vulnerable to legal challenges, and this could throw the 2018 and 2020 U.S. House elections into upheaval. On the other hand, the Supreme Court could overturn the lower court’s ruling, or it could issue a very narrow decision, in which case the status quo would prevail. This would mean that, like today, there is no apparent remedy for challenging partisan gerrymandering in the courts. This would ensure that, regardless of what happens this November, the Republicans in Congress would be insulated from steep losses if we in fact see a wave of support for Democratic candidates. But perhaps more importantly, this would mean that statewide elections in 2020 — which will determine who gets to control redistricting during the 2021 redistricting cycle — would feature candidates running in state-level districts that may also be biased in favor of one party, and that partisan gerrymandering will continue unrestricted into the future. In short, the Supreme Court’s decision may affect the partisan composition of Congress for the next decade and potentially beyond.
14 • June 13, 2018
Suicide rates rising across the U.S.
Prevention goes beyond a focus on mental health concerns Suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), released June 7. In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide. In Virginia the rate of suicide has risen nearly 25 percent in the past 15 years, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Out of every 100,000 Virginians, 13.4 committed suicide in 2016, according to the most recent state data. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and is one of just three leading causes that are on the rise. The recent news of the deaths by suicide of well-known people like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade have served as solemn reminders of the significant toll that depression can take on people who struggle with the disease. Suicide is rarely caused by a single factor. Although suicide prevention efforts largely focus on identifying and providing treatment for people with mental health conditions, there are many additional opportunities for prevention. “Suicide is a leading cause of death for Americans – and it’s a tragedy for families and communities across the country,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D. “From individuals and communities to employers and healthcare professionals, everyone can play a role in efforts to help save lives and reverse this troubling rise in suicide.” Many factors contribute to suicide For this Vital Signs report, CDC researchers examined state-level trends in suicide rates from 19992016. In addition, they used 2015 data from CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System, which covered 27 states, to look at the circumstances of suicide among people with and without known mental health conditions. Researchers found that more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. Relationship problems or loss, substance misuse; physical health problems; and job, money, legal or housing stress often contributed to risk for suicide. Firearms were the most common method of suicide used
A tourist stops to read the message on the crisis hotline situated on the The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. by those with and without a known diagnosed mental health condition. State suicide rates vary widely The most recent overall suicide rates (2014-2016) varied four-fold; from 6.9 per 100,000 residents per year in Washington, D.C. to 29.2 per 100,000 residents in Montana. Across the study period, rates increased in nearly all states. Percentage increases in suicide rates ranged from just under 6 percent in Delaware to over 57 percent in North Dakota. Twenty-five states had suicide rate increases of more than 30 percent. The report recommends that states take a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention and address the range of factors contributing to suicide. This requires coordination and cooperation from every sector of society: government, public health, health care, employers, education, media and community organizations. To help states with this important work, in 2017 CDC released a technical package on suicide prevention that describes strategies and approaches based on the best available evidence. This can help inform states and communities as they make decisions about prevention activities and priorities. Everyone can help prevent suicide,
according to the CDC. Learn the warning signs of suicide to identify and appropriately respond to people at risk. Find out how this can save a life by visiting: www.BeThe1to.com Reduce access to lethal means –
such as medications and firearms – among people at risk of suicide. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
The law of the land Medicaid expansion is now the law of the land in Virginia. The budget signed by Gov. Ralph Northam last week on the steps of the Virginia Capitol puts health insurance coverage within reach for nearly 400,000 Virginians. Medicaid expansion was the most high-profile provision of Virginia’s $115 billion, two-year spending plan. “Chaos and partisan warfare may dominate Washington, but here in Richmond we still work together to do the right thing for our people, not our political party,” said Northam, a Democrat who won election last year on promises to expand Medicaid and reach across the aisle.
June 13, 2018 • 15
Suicide isn’t just a ‘white people thing’ KIMYA M. DAVIS Community advocate & educator POINT OF VIEW As a sociologist and criminologist, I often do community outreach on mental health prevention. I urge organizations and programs to avoid “one size fits all” approaches. There are many ways that mental health issues can impact individuals, depending upon race and ethnicity, gender identity, sexual identity, religion and more. But I have found mental health conditions and suicide are often still considered a “white people’s problem.” When I speak with African-Americans and non-white Hispanics – groups that are often overlooked by the mental health community – I’m often asked why I’m “wasting time” addressing race, ethnicity and other cultural variations. In some ways, this is not surprising. Whites make up more than 70 percent of the total U.S. population and have the highest rate of suicide relative to population size. In the black community, there’s a tendency to label suicide and mental health conditions as “crazy” or evidence that you aren’t praying enough. People in this culture, as well as Hispanic, Asian and American Indian communities, are less likely to acknowledge the possibility of having a health condition or seek mental health services. Or, as some commentators and academics have said, suicide is seen as a “white thing” – “AfricanAmericans don’t ‘do’ suicide.” Unfortunately, despite the existence of culturally specific support systems, many cultures still experience silence and shame around mental health issues. This is reflected in the care that’s provided as well. Based on false assumptions, many health professionals and health services end up, intentionally or unintentionally, catering to predominantly white consumers. The problem is partly due to data. Whites have a suicide rate of 18.5 per 100,000 people, leading to the highest total number of suicides for any racial or ethnic group in the U.S. Whites also comprise the majority of membership in suicide prevention organizations and have greater access to resources needed to seek out mental health services. Meanwhile, African-Americans make up about 12 to 13 percent of the U.S. population and are
underrepresented in suicide data. Data suggest that African-Americans have approximately 6 percent of the recorded rate of suicide compared to whites. But this data is likely incomplete – thanks to deaths that have been misclassified. African-American, Hispanic and American Indian suicides have historically been more misclassified than white suicide – and still are to this day. No one knows which specific deaths have been misclassified. However, researchers believe that these errors can be largely attributed to either the coroner’s misclassification of cause of death as homicide or undetermined or the family’s desire not to record the accurate cause of death. That leaves data at the local, state and national level incomplete. Over the last 40 years, there has been slight decline in the number of suicides misclassified
as undetermined or unintentional, although this trend varies by demographics and cultures. There’s no clear reason why the cause of death is becoming more accurately classified. Possible causes include more research on misclassification; better record keeping by law enforcement and coroners; and family awareness of cause of death. Societal attitudes towards black men may also partly explain why suicide data is incomplete. When criminologists talk about violence, we often focus on how demographic factors such as race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status and gender apply to outward violence, or violence toward other people. But I believe that we should also talk about how these factors influence inward violence, or violence toward oneself. The number one recorded cause of death for African-American males
between the ages of 15 and 34 is homicide. But are these deaths often characterized by law enforcement, coroners and family as accidental or homicidal when, in fact, the individual wanted or expected to die? Black masculinity is arguably more confined than white masculinity. African-American boys and men are even more likely to be labeled “weak” and “not a real man” when in need of help. In the “code of the street” described by sociologist Elijah Anderson, African-American boys and men must learn to hide weakness and appear strong and resilient. Society tends to view AfricanAmerican men as heteromasculine, unemotional and aggressive. As boys and as men, they are taught to never admit mental or physical pain. Research shows that some AfricanAmerican boys and men do not expect to live long.
16 • June 13, 2018
Calendar 6.13, 11 a.m.
Newport News Public Library is hosting a blood drive in partnership with the American Red Cross. According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood. Blood donors help patients of all ages: accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients and those battling cancer. The blood drive will be held at Pearl Bailey Library. Participants can register online or call 757-2478677 for additional information. To donate, you must be at least 16 years old (16-year-olds need a parent signature), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. The donation process takes about an hour from start to finish. The donation itself is about 8-10 minutes on average.
June 17, 6 p.m.
Newport News Public Library is hosting Amnesty Week June 11-17. Overdue fines will be forgiven for materials, including books, DVDs and audiobooks, returned during the weeklong event. Amnesty Week welcomes patrons and materials back to the library. It gives patrons the opportunity to check out more items since their overdue fines are forgiven. The program is one of many ways Newport News Public Library aims to provide access to information and materials that lead our community to success. To participate, patrons can bring overdue materials to any Newport News Public Library branch. Materials must be turned in to a staff member at the circulation desk. With a clean slate, patrons can then check out materials for the Library’s annual Summer Reading Program, which begins Monday, June 18. For more information about the Newport News Public Library and to learn about the Library’s events and programs, visit our website and follow the Library on Facebook.
M ...advertised here. oments &e m o r i e s
COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES & EVENTS
Education symposium planned
A symposium at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education will explore the latest ideas and available resources for supporting successful transitions for young children through age 5, from early intervention to preschool and kindergarten, as well as transitions across the daily routine. The fourth annual Evelyn Reed Symposium on Early Childhood Research and Practice will be held Saturday, June 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the VCU Academic Learning Commons, 1000 Floyd Ave. The event will be free and open to
the public. “The Evelyn Reed Symposium has truly become a meaningful event for both participants and presenters,” said Serra T. De Arment, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Counseling and Special Education in the School of Education (pictured). “It is a wonderful opportunity for professionals, families, and VCU students and faculty to come together around a shared interest in promoting positive outcomes for young children and families.” The theme of this year’s symposium will be “transitions,” and will feature panel presentations, concurrent sessions and opportunities to connect with area agencies. Parents, teachers, early intervention providers, researchers and graduate students will speak and present posters. Also, Richmond-area early childhood and family agencies will be on hand to provide information. To attend, register at https://bit.ly/2sXhBNy Coffee and lunch will be provided to everyone who registers in advance. Participants will receive a certificate of attendance documenting hours for recertification. Free street parking around VCU and the Academic Learning Commons building will be available. Alternatively, symposium participants can choose to park in the West Cary Street Parking Deck, located at the corner of Cary and Harrison streets, which requires an hourly fee ($10 for duration of full symposium).
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Lisa Lamb, a senior account manager forByram Healthcare will address the Ostomy Association of Greater Richmond in the Williamsburg-A conference room of Henrico Doctors’ Hospital. Byram Healthcare is one of several ostomy supply distributors which ship supplies to ostomates, and also bill their health insurance for them. The hospital is at 1602 Skipwith Rd in Henrico County. Guests warmly welcome. Call or e-mail Mike rollston at 804-232-1916 or email@example.com for more info.
Sex Offender Helpline The helpline provides support to communities on issues related to accessing sex offender registration information; responsible use of information; sexual abuse prevention resources; and accessing crime victim support services. The tips program provides the public an opportunity to report registrants who are failing to comply with registration requirements. Tips can also be provided at www.parentsformeganslaw.org. This program is not intended to be used to report police emergencies.
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June 13, 2018 • 17
Young blacks doing better under Trump? The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey shows that 32 percent of Likely U.S. Voters believe life for young black Americans has gotten better since Trump’s election. Slightly more (36 percent) say life for these Americans has gotten worse, while 26 percent think it has stayed about the same. But in March 2014, just 16 percent said life for young black Americans had gotten better since Obama’s election five-and-a-half years earlier. By July 2016 in Obama’s final year in office, only 13 percent thought life was better for young blacks. Even black voters are nearly twice as likely (28 percent) to say young black Americans are better off now than they were in the closing year of Obama’s presidency (15 percent). Forty-seven percent (47 percent) of all voters, however, believe race relations are worse since Trump’s election. Still, that compares to 60 percent percentwho felt that way after eight years of the Obama
presidency. Just 20 percent say those relations are better now, while 30 percent rate them about the same. The survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted on June 3-4. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence. Among some of the reasons these voters responded as such is because latest unenemployment statistics note that black unemployment is at an historic low. Among all Americans, fewer than ever know someone who is looking for work or
given up the search, while confidence in the job market remains highs. Fifty-one percent (51 percemt) of blacks and 54 percent of other minority voters believe race relations have gotten worse since Trump was elected, a view shared by 45 percent of whites. By comparison, 38 percent of blacks, 51 percent of other minorities and 66 percent of whites felt race relations had gotten worse during Obama’s eight years in office. Women and those under 40 are more likely than men and older voters to feel race relations have
gotten worse under Trump. Men and voters 40 and over also are more confident that life for young black Americans has gotten better. Democrats and voters not affiliated with either major political party are far more likely than Republicans to believe race relations are worse under Trump. Fifty-four percent of GOP voters think young black Americans are better off now, but only 16 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of unaffiliateds agree. Fifty-four percent of voters who say life for young black Americans is better now believe race relations are improving, too. But among voters who say life for these young people has gotten worse, 94 percent feel race relations are also getting worse. More voters think the government’s not doing enough to improve conditions for America’s black youth, although they think the young people themselves ultimately are most responsible for improving their own situation.
18 • June 13, 2018
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WANTED TO BUY OR TRADE FREON R12 WANTED: CERTIFED BUYER will PAY CA$H for R12 cylinders or cases of cans. (312) 2919169; www.refrigerantfinders.com
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