Lessons from the African American vote in Alabama

The African Americans who have convinced themselves that one vote doesn’t matter, should take a very close look at what happened during the recent special election in Alabama. In spite of the endorsement of President Donald Trump and the extremely conservative white voters who supported Roy Moore, Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate won the for the United States Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Jones was the first Democrat elected to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate in 25 years. How he won is very important to African Americans across this nation.

Exit polls showed that 98 percent of African American women who voted supported Jones and 93 percent of African American men who voted chose the Democratic candidate. The Jones’ victory by 1.5 percent clearly shows that, without the black vote, Jones wouldn’t have won the special election. Equally important is the fact that this degree of African American voter participation in an off-season special election, demonstrates what we can do, when we choose to get involved. African Americans cannot allow “voter suppression” tactics, like additional photo identification requirements, to deter us from going to the polls.

According to Nonprofit VOTE, “In all but two states, voting age citizens convicted of a felony are barred from voting for some period of time.” In Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Utah, the voting rights of returning citizens are restored automatically once they’re released. In Florida, Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia, ex-offenders are forced to petition the government to have their voting rights restored.

African Americans are disproportionately affected by voter suppression tactics and laws, which deny ex-felons the right to vote; that’s why we should be focused on “voter registration” and not candidate endorsements at this stage of the game. We cannot allow apathy and indifference to take the place of the hard won battle for voter participation on the part of African Americans. Just as we rallied and voted for President Barack Obama, we must rally and vote against the policies and political candidates promoted by the Trump Administration. We have to do whatever it takes to defeat those who would continue to support a system of economic inequality dressed up as tax reform that ultimately harms the majority of Americans.

Jones’ victory in the special election in Alabama demonstrates that black votes matter and that black voters cast crucial votes in elections, where white voters are decidedly split— that’s the real lesson. We make our victories and define our value. Let’s not let others do that for us. Every black vote counts and can make a difference in the Deep South and across the nation.

Dr. John E. Warren is the publisher of the San Diego Voice and Viewpoint and a contributing writer for the NNPA Newswire specializing in intergovernmental affairs. The San Diego Voice and Viewpoint is a member publication of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Learn more about becoming a member at www.nnpa.org.

NAACP opens voting for 49th NAACP Image Awards to the public

— For the first time in its award show history, voting for the 49thNAACP Image Awards will be open to the public. Viewers will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite nominees in 36 different categories across film, television, and music.

In previous years, the award-winners were selected by members of the NAACP. However this year, members of the public who are not NAACP members may cast votes by visiting the NAACP Image Awards online at Naacpimageawards.Net.

“We are excited about the opportunity to open voting to the public,” said Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO. “The Image Awards represents a universe of powerful stories and images, told in ways that express our beauty and make us proud.”

Since 1967, the NAACP Image Awards has been the preeminent multicultural awards show celebrating the accomplishments of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature and film, and has also honored individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors.

While, this year, voters do not have to be members of the Association, the NAACP encourages those who participate in this year’s voting process to become members.

“To become a member of the NAACP is to join a community of individuals from all facets of life who like you are committed to the elimination of discrimination of any type and making our nation a better place for all people,” said Johnson.

The deadline to cast votes for the 49th NAACP Image Awards is December 15.

Viewers can watch the winners claim their trophies just one month later during the two-hour LIVE TV special, hosted by Anthony Anderson on TV One on Monday, January 15, 2018 at 9 p.m. EST, with a One-Hour Live Red Carpet Pre-Show at 8 p.m. The evening will be the culmination of a day of volunteer service, citizen action, and celebration on the national holiday honoring the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

For more information, visit the NAACP Image Awards website: naacpimageawards.net

Need for a cultural shift on gender-based violence!

November 25 kicked off the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence. At no time has this work been more necessary than now. From rampant sexual harassment to sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual trafficking, women across the globe and in the United States face gender-based violence at horrifying rates.

I’d like to start with my recent personal experience, although it was definitely not the first time I have experienced it in my 45 years. I share these experiences because while there has been important attention paid lately to men in power abusing women who are their subordinates in the workplace or other realms, it’s essential to remember that “everyday” men also commit these same acts of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault.

Not because their work position affords them any particular power over a woman but because the general sense that they are entitled to do and act as they please is prevalent in how many boys and men are socialized.

Not long ago, I experienced unwanted sexual conduct from someone half my age. He had no social power over me other than the fact that he is a male in a culture in which some males are taught that things are theirs for the taking. Likewise, on my campus I have been catcalled by boys recently out of high school who feel entitled to yell repulsive things.

A 15-year-old girl that I know was harassed by much older men while wearing a caroling costume for a holiday event. This is ubiquitous, so normalized that people are surprised by all the allegations that are emerging. We shouldn’t be. Horrified, yes. Outraged, yes. But not surprised.

Here is why we should not be surprised: Statistics have long shown the scope of these problems. Studies have found that some one-third of American women experience sexual harassment in the workplace. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly one-third of the world’s women have endured physical or sexual intimate partner violence. Domestic violence kills more women worldwide than civil wars.

Far more people in America— largely women— have been killed by their partners than were U.S forces in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined. American women are twice as likely to suffer domestic violence as breast cancer. In the United States, more women are injured from domestic violence than from car accidents, rapes and muggings— combined.

A woman in the U.S. is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN). Women and young girls are sold into sexual slavery— not just overseas but on American soil. They are often recruited from websites like Backpage and Craigslist with promises of lucrative modeling or acting jobs.

More than 3,500 sex trafficking cases were reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center in 2016, a figure that far underestimates the scope of the problem given that most instances are not reported and a girl can be trafficking multiple times per day.

Males in powerful positions are even more able to exploit and demean women and those they see as powerless, as these people fear they will lose their jobs, their reputation, and even their lives if they resist or if they tell anyone. This is tremendously clear with the spate of sexual harassment, misconduct and assault allegations being levied against politicians, media moguls and celebrities, including but sadly not limited to Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor, Roy Moore, Al Franken and of course, Donald Trump.

What are we to do? The good news is there is a lot that is already happening. New laws are criminalizing revenge pornography, helping to stop males from sharing provocative photos and imagery as a means of controlling women. Women are speaking out about the harassment, abuse and assault and refusing to be silenced. Legal settlements like the recent one in Seattle that three women who were sold into sexual slavery when they were 13 to 15 years old were awarded against Backpage. Activists are continuing to strategize and build on the energy and momentum from last years’ Women’s marches.

In South Florida, I am fortunate to be able to work with a non-profit organization, “No More Tears,” which helps victims of many of these forms of gender-based violence. This unique organization is entirely volunteer-run and provides comprehensive services that allow victims to heal and to build happy and healthy lives. Additional information about No More Tears is available at www.nomoretearsusa.org. I am also co-organizer of the College Brides Walk, a dating and domestic violence awareness campaign that reaches several thousand high school and college youth. More information can be found at www.collegebrideswalk.com.

We know more such organizations are needed nationwide.

It is my hope that the increased conversation about these issues is indeed a cultural tipping point. Enough is enough.

Laura Finley, Ph.D. teaches in the Barry University of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice

Rethink office layouts to improve workers’ health

Americans are gung-ho about getting in shape. Seventy percent say they want to take steps to improve their health, according to a new study from UnitedHealthcare.

Those steps usually stop at the gym door. More than six in 10 workers don’t take advantage of subsidized gym memberships and other wellness benefits, even though nearly three-quarters of employers offer them. This lack of physical activity takes a toll on worker well-being— and drives up health costs.

Employers may think they can’t force their workers to exercise. But indeed they can— by subtly integrating more physical activity into the 9-to-5 routines. Office spaces that “nudge” employees to move around are proving that they can provide a hefty boost to workers’ health and productivity.

Most Americans are sedentary. The typical person sits 13 hours a day. Only one in five exercises enough, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All this sitting makes people sick. Inactivity increases the risk of costly chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, depression and stroke. These diseases devastate workers and their families. They also harm businesses’ bottom lines. Lost productivity due to poor worker health costs the economy $84 billion a year.

To recapture these costs, companies are changing up their office layouts to encourage workers to get up and move more, a philosophy known as “active design.” For instance, firms create multiple work areas, so employees have to travel to different rooms depending on whether they’re making calls, conducting meetings or compiling reports.

Consider the offices of architecture firm Gensler in Newport Beach, California, with workspaces spread around, often on different floors. Employees are encouraged to change locations regularly by walking around the office, climbing stairs, even riding on company scooters and bicycles.

These nudges toward movement may sound trivial. But they have a huge impact on health and productivity. Workers who take a five-minute stroll every hour exhibit increased energy levels, an elevated mood, less fatigue and fewer food cravings.

Other companies encourage workers to shun the elevator and use the stairs by designing visually compelling, inviting staircases. The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee headquarters in Chattanooga includes a monumental staircase with multi-story outdoor views in each of its buildings. The insurance giant reasoned that workers would eagerly take stairs that offer picturesque views of the Tennessee River. Views of a musty stairwell with no natural light? Not so much.

Many employers also provide workers with sit-stand desks. Allowing workers to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day is among the simplest ways to improve worker health. Employees love this flexibility. Seventy percent of full-timers admit that they dislike sitting all day.

Reducing the amount of time spent sitting at work lowers the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer. Cutting sitting time by just three hours a day can increase life expectancy by two years. Other firms are experimenting with active design by adding outdoor workspaces, healthy onsite food options and light, airy rooms. Natural lighting has been linked to improved moods and better sleep quality— nearly one more hour per night. That makes for a more engaged and productive workforce.

These investments in smart design pay off. When companies improve the health of their sickest workers, those employees become 11 percent more productive, according to a new study. Americans say they want to make their health a priority— but often fail to follow through. Their employers can help, often unbeknownst to them, by adopting the principles of active design.

Dick Resch is CEO of KI Furniture (www.ki.com).

Turkeys in the White House

Satire in the Time of Trump is becoming really tricky. Just when a satirist believes that he or she has the kernel of a silly or outrageous extrapolative idea, this administration jumps in front of it and even outdoes it. From Saturday Night Live to stand-up comics to the Onion to Andy Borowitz, it’s getting more dicey by the day.

For instance, I was chuckling grimly to myself as Thanksgiving approached, creating an SNL bit in my mind where Trump overturns the pardons of last year’s turkeys by Obama. Hahaha, I thought, that would spoof Trump’s outrageous assaults on all that is decent in health care and environmental protection that Obama did via Presidential Findings.

Then Trump actually said that he tried to overturn Obama’s pardons for last year’s turkeys. Trump thought that was darn funny. My blood ran cold. This man’s sense of humor must have been surgically implanted by a really stupid robot improperly programmed in a middle school, shop class. This is a fellow who believes his wit is the height of caps when he calls a foreign head of state short and fat or yuks it up with cops about brutality.

I’m American, approximately Trump’s age and I’m a white guy so I’m feeling embarrassed and apologetic when I’m not feeling apoplectic at the snake pit into which we’ve cast ourselves.

The Deadbeat Prez! It’s so rampant the makers of Embarrassmints cannot keep them in stock.

Hurry, Mueller, please. Bring charges, snip the Putin Puppet strings, and strip this sorry excuse for a public figure of all title, wealth, power and comfort. Can you manage? Will my $5 donation help? I could do $10 if you could jam on the gas. I know my annual donations to worthy causes aren’t enough but on a percent basis I am confident they overtop Trump’s. You can have some of my zip ties; they make great handcuffs.

We’ve seen this country sink faster than a granite block in water and there is no bottom in sight. I have a friend who is one of the world’s top climate scientists and he is trying to convince us all to get busy. I have another friend— two friends actually, who are heading to prisons for nonviolent resistance to climate chaos greatly exacerbated by the astonishingly poor decisions and inept presidential orders we have seen launching off the Oval Office desk.

Trump fails to understand rudimentary science, basic morals, honesty, simple ethics, decent planning for the future of our nation, and all-around civility.

Who raised this cringe-worthy one? Does he have a daily quota of groups and individuals he intends to offend?

It’s all I want for Christmas. Make us all grateful. Bring down this failed and dangerous administration— quickly. His fingers may be tiny but they have been in all the wrong places and cannot get near the nuclear football.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is a scholar of civil resistance and PeaceVoice Director.

What everyone can learn from the Texas ESSA state plan

Education officials in Texas put a lot of work into the Every Student Succeeds Act state plan that they submitted to the Department of Education. We can all learn from what they included and what they chose not to include.

The Texas plan is supported by the strategic priorities of the Texas Education Agency (TEA). These priorities

include: (1) recruiting, supporting, and retaining teachers and principals; (2) building a foundation of reading and math; (3) connecting high school to career and college; and (4) improving low-performing schools. TEA acknowledges these priorities require support and therefore list three prerequisites referred to as “enablers” for effective implementation of these strategies. These enablers include: (1) increased transparency; (2) ensuring compliance; and (3) the strengthening of organizational foundations.

Overall, Texas’s plan is designed to implement ESSA as Congress intended; allocating resources and funds according to need, closing the achievement gap, and increasing community partnerships. TEA states several long-term goals. The first, being that by the year 2030, sixty percent of Texans aged 25-34 will possess some form of post-secondary credentials. Another long-term goal is a 94 percent high school graduation rate. For English Language Learners, TEA proposes that by 2032, forty-six percent of students should be achieving English language proficiency. To support these long-term goals, Texas has established short-term targets in five-year intervals.

A major component of equitable resource allocation is the collection of data. TEA evaluates academic performance by ethnicity, economically disadvantaged, students receiving special education services, students formerly receiving special education services, English learners, continuously enrolled, and mobile. The minimum size for subgroup data reporting is 25. Data for subgroups 10 or smaller will be calculated using a three-year composite score. Considering the population of Texas metropolitan areas, it seems the subgroup size of 25 is appropriate. TEA will also periodically review the resource allocation process for local education agencies; which could include a review of per-pupil spending.

ESSA requires that schools use three academic measures and one non-academic school quality or student success measure to determine school achievement. TEA has chosen to use the “percentage of assessments at or above the Meets Grade Level standard for all students and student groups by subject” as their school quality and student success measure for elementary and secondary schools. For high schools, TEA will use college, career, and military readiness to include: students who earn dual credits; students who successfully complete AP Exams, students who are awarded associate’s degrees while in high school, students who enlist in the military, etc. These “non-academic” indicators are disappointing since the U.S. Department of Education encourages less emphasis on testing. Four of the six indicators of school success identified by TEA include an element of testing. Students deserve holistic education that values social development as well as academic achievement. Primarily focusing on test scores as a means of determining success devalues other important categories of intelligence, such as musical-rhythmic and harmonic abilities.

Texas does deserve praise for their inclusion of a “Closing the Gaps Domain” in their A-F accountability system. The Closing the Gaps Domain focuses on educational equity for all children; irrespective of ethnicity, economic status, or special education status. The Closing the Gaps domain must represent at least 30 percent of the overall school rating. Any school that has one or more significant gaps in achievement between subgroups will be identified for targeted support and improvement. TEA will also use a ranking system; comparing school progress to other schools with similar student demographics.

Texas also seems to have made every effort at establishing community partnerships by proposing numerous consultations under a variety of circumstances. Campuses that need comprehensive support or require even more rigorous interventions must undergo a district-led improvement plan. However, before any plan may be submitted the district must consult with parents and community members. TEA has also included parent and community feedback in their initiatives to reduce the risks of student drop-outs; the Texas Readers Initiative focuses on creating parental and public awareness while the redesign of school report cards assists parents in better understanding their child’s learning needs.

So, although school accountability measures focus primarily on testing, and support for a well-rounded curriculum like the promotion of the benefits of a free enterprise system, as well as, religious literature including “the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament) and New Testament, and its impact on history and literature,” Texas made a concerted effort to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act according to the original intention of the law to allocate resources and funds according to need, close the achievement gap, and increase community partnerships.

Lynette Monroe is a master’s student at Howard University. She is the program assistant for the NNPA’s Every Student Succeeds Act Public Awareness Campaign. Follow Lynette Monroe on Twitter @_monroedoctrine.

NAACP report on air pollution misses the mark

The health of African American communities is a genuine cause for concern in our country, but attacking the natural gas and oil industry is the wrong approach and detracts from the real work that should be done to reduce disparately high rates of disease among African Americans. Let’s be clear— the natural gas and oil industry is:

•Committed to the health and safety of the communities where it operates and to its workers.

•Leading the way on reducing U.S. greenhouse gas and other air emissions.

•Supporting millions of well-paying jobs— one of the most important factors in the well-being of Americans.

Recently, I read a NAACP paper that accused the natural gas and oil industry of emissions that disproportionately burden African American communities. As a scientist, my overall observation is that the paper fails to demonstrate a causal relationship between natural gas activity and the health disparities, reported or predicted, within the African American community.

Rather, scholarly research attributes those health disparities to other factors that have nothing to do with natural gas and oil operations— such as genetics, indoor allergens and unequal access to preventative care. The objective should be to address the underlying socio-economic factors that contribute to the disparities, and one of the best vehicles is via the good jobs the natural gas and oil industry supports.

More specifically, the paper misleads on the information associated with asthma and cancer prevalence by conflating industry-associated emissions, hazards and risks. When we review health data from the states where energy development is occurring, we see a different outcome. For example, the latest Pennsylvania Department of Health data shows asthma hospitalizations among African Americans have decreased significantly at a time of increased natural gas production in the state.

Let’s look at some facts:

•Thanks to increased use of clean and abundant natural gas, carbon dioxide emissions from power generation have fallen 25 percent since 2005, and emissions from energy use across the entire economy are at their lowest levels in nearly 25 years. The use of domestic natural gas also is playing an important part in reducing other emissions, including nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. Both are important developments for everyone’s health.

•The industry has improved its fuel products, eliminating lead in gasoline and reducing its sulfur content by more than 90 percent from 1990 to 2016.

•Ambient benzene concentrations dropped by 71 percent from 1994-2013 nationwide, according to data from EPA’s 2008 and 2015 Reports on the Environment— largely due to reductions in refinery emissions and improvements in gasoline.

•During development of its 2015 Refinery Sector Rule, the EPA concluded that the public was protected from refinery emissions, including benzene, by existing regulations, and that protection would only increase with full implementation of the final rule.

•Methane emissions from natural gas systems are down 16 percent since 1990, according to the EPA—a time period in which natural gas production has increased more than 50 percent. While not a direct public health concern, methane is an important greenhouse gas that the industry is working to reduce even more.

•The industry is committed to making continuous improvements in the environmental performance of its operations and products, spending more than $320 billion on these improvements since 1990. Between 1990 and 2015, U.S. refiners alone spent $160.1 billion on improving their facilities.

•The natural gas and oil industry supports 10.3 million jobs across the country— jobs that pay for health care, good nutrition, livable homes and more. Tens

of thousands of our current employees are African Americans, a number that is projected to grow significantly in the future.

•Natural gas and oil companies are invested in the communities where they operate. Our employees live, work and raise families in these communities.

In short, the natural gas and oil industry demonstrates its commitment, every day, to ensuring the protection of human health, safety and the environment for all Americans while providing millions of American families the benefits of affordable, reliable energy.

Our industry is a leader in reducing emissions and is committed to continuing that progress in the future through the use of data, new technologies and equipment— each reflecting our companies’ desire to strengthen the communities where they operate.

Uni Blake is a scientific adviser in regulatory and scientific affairs at the American Petroleum Institute. As a toxicol-ogist her focus includes exposure and risk assessments as they relate to environmental and public health. She lives in the Northern Neck of Virginia with her husband and children.

New exhibition opens at Reginald Lewis Museum

“Freedom: Emancipation: Quilted & Stitched” is an exhibition of documentary-style story quilts that celebrates the contributions, lives and legacies of people of color in Maryland. The quilts are creations by fabric artist Joan M.E. Gaither, Ph.D. and include several works that consist of community collaborations facilitated by Gaither.

The experiential lives and contributions of “People of Color” are viewed in the context of smaller communities, in particular, to a broader story of slave emancipation, history and culture in Maryland.

The quilts featured in Freedom: Emancipation Quilted & Stitched are presented as collective stories connected to a continuing struggle for freedom in our shared greater American story. The work speaks to a place in many communities— telling one’s own story, telling the stories of others, and finally, helping others to find and tell their own stories within the context of one collective story.

The Reginald Lewis, which is located at 830 E Pratt Street in Baltimore City is Maryland’s largest museum focused on the state’s African American history and Culture.

Amtrak prepared to accommodate surge of travelers for Thanksgiving

In anticipation of the busiest travel week of the year, Amtrak is prepared to accommodate the surge of holiday travelers with additional trains and added capacity— operating every available passenger railcar. Tickets sell out quickly, so customers are encouraged to plan ahead and book tickets early.

In response to customer demand, Amtrak Acela Express (Boston – Washington, D.C.) and Northeast Regional (Boston – Washington, D.C./Virginia) services will operate extended schedules with additional frequencies and added capacity during the week of Thanksgiving. Regular Amtrak booking procedures apply.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, some customers may get to travel in newly, refreshed train cars as Amtrak is investing in a nearly $17 million refresh of its train interiors. Several services, including the Northeast Regional, are undergoing a series of phased improvements including new seat cushions, carpeting, curtains and refreshed restrooms to provide a more modern, comfortable experience onboard.

Hear are some tip to ensure your trip goes smoothly:

•Avoid the Rush, Arrive Early— The busiest travel days are the Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday of Thanksgiving week. Customers are encouraged to arrive 45 minutes before departure.

•Check Train Schedules— Check holiday train schedules and status before arriving at the station on Amtrak.com, Track Your Train (on Amtrak.com), or Amtrak mobile apps.

•Carry Photo ID— Customers are required to show travel documents and valid photo identification at all times aboard trains.

•Safety First— If you see something, say something. Report any suspicious activity or unattended items to an Amtrak employee or the Amtrak Police Department at (800) 331-0008, by calling 911, or by sending a text to APD11 from a smartphone, or to 27311 from a standard cell phone.

Black celebrities, athletes and politicians must respect the Black Press

Throughout history, the Black Press has been the best friend that black celebrities, athletes and politicians have ever had. The Black Press often covers black public figures from the very start of their careers, before they’re “discovered” by the mainstream media, all the way through to their ascension to stardom or leadership status. Before they became household names, had hit records, secured multi-million dollar contracts or became leaders in the United States Congress, it was the Black Press that was always there for their press conferences and events, often giving them extensive coverage when the mainstream media might only give them a brief mention in the B-section of their newspapers or 15 seconds at the end of an evening news segment.

When the mainstream media finally “discovers” these same black celebrities, athletes and politicians and they attain a certain degree of fame and success, suddenly, they think it’s okay to snub the Black Press. Now they don’t have time to give interviews to black newspapers or magazines; there’s no time to make the visits to black radio stations, where they once made regular appearances; their (usually) white public relations and management staffers guard their time and appearances carefully, and shun black-owned media. These same public relations firms often discourage their black clients from working with black-owned media companies and advertising with the Black Press.

This is a disgrace, because when things go bad and these black celebrities want to get “their” side of the story out, the first place these folks run to, is the Black Press. If there is a story about political corruption, infidelity or other alleged crimes involving a black public figure, the mainstream media’s attitude is usually “guilty until proven innocent.” It’s the Black Press that usually takes the “innocent until proven guilty” approach, urging fairness and caution, telling readers, listeners and viewers to wait until all the evidence is in, frequently reminding folks of all the great things that their favorite hero did in the past.

The Black Press remains the advocate for black celebrities, athletes and politicians, even now, despite the fact that so many of them seem oblivious to our existence. That is why, increasingly, the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the trade group that represents over 200 black-owned media companies, which reach more than 20 million readers in print and online every week, is reminding these black public figures that black newspapers are their champions and defenders 24/7, and that we have backed them in good times and bad. While the classic case of a black superstar, who ran away from the Black Press for years and then returned at the eleventh hour, remains O.J. Simpson, it is instructive to see how mainstream media is covering the NFL in the wake of Donald Trump’s garbage claims that the players are somehow “disrespecting the flag and the military” if they kneel during the playing of the national anthem, a claim that was and continues to be absolute nonsense.

The Black Press backed Colin Kaepernick’s protest against oppression and police brutality from the beginning, and continues to do so. The Black Press supports Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett and other players who have responded positively in the wake of criticism. Black newspapers have printed the entire Star-Spangled Banner, including its verses supporting slavery, while many mainstream publications have bought into the Trump idiocy. When conservative newspapers and publications attacked ESPN commentator Jemele Hill for her tweets about Trump, it was the Black Press that offered unqualified support. We’ve been there through decades of attacks on black leaders, and we remain vigilant to the constant character assassination and innuendos lodged against black public figures at the local, state and national levels.

What the Black Press wants from black celebrities, athletes and politicians is respect, fairness, transparency and the same access provided to mainstream media outlets. Don’t just advertise in The New York Times or The Washington Post; also do business with NNPA member publications; continue to make appearances at black radio stations; order subscriptions to black publications, in print and online. Our subscriptions and advertising rates are more reasonable than those of the big corporate newspapers, and despite what some advertising firms say, we’re more trusted in the black community than “general” market publications.

It’s time for the black celebrities, athletes and politicians who say they value entrepreneurship and economic empowerment to do business with the Black Press. Why should black public figures financially support our mainstream competitors, exclusively, when those businesses have very few connections to the black community?

The Black Press is there for our black entertainers and politicians passionately sharing their stories with our readers, listeners and viewers when no one knows who they are, we celebrate their success and we don’t assume guilt if something goes wrong, or won’t desert them when they’re wrongfully accused and dragged through the gutter by the mainstream media.

So, to the black celebrities, athletes and politicians who think that they’re too big for the Black Press: recognize and support us as we’ve recognized and supported you all along.

The Tennessee Tribune is a member publication of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Learn more about becoming a member at www.nnpa.org.