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Because Some Laundry Needs to Be Aired

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By Jasmyne A. Cannick

When I got the text from one of my best friends that she was being admitted into the hospital at 1:30 in the morning, I immediately called her back to find out what was wrong. It’s not unusual for me to be up all night working, especially if I have to be at the radio station by 4:30 a.m. I’d rather sleep later than risk oversleeping and missing the show. I never reached her that night and so when I was done with the show at 6 a.m., while my intentions had been to go home and go to sleep for a few hours, something inside of me wouldn’t let me. So at 6 a.m., I got on the freeway in search of my friend. I went to her house and she wasn’t there so I called her cousin in hopes she would know what hospital she was at—no help there. I often forget that while I am an early riser, most people are not.

So I went to the nearest hospital thinking that’s where she would be, call it logical deduction. She wasn’t there. Then it came to me to read the text message she had sent to me again. I did and realized she had actually said where she was at and so I got directions and headed over there.

I don’t know what I expected when I finally reached my friend’s hospital room, but I do know that what I saw when I walked into that hospital room nearly killed me and is something that I will never forget for the rest of my life. I practically collapsed on the spot when I walked into that hospital room and saw my friend hooked up to an IV, withered down to skin and bones. She had lost a lot of her hair, including her eyebrows and her skin color—it just wasn’t normal.

I immediately burst into tears crying and asking what’s going on. I had seen enough with family members to know that what I was looking at wasn’t normal. My friend, always the protector of everyone else but herself, immediately explains to me that it’s just stress from working two jobs and not eating. She told me that she was dehydrated and that stress had done this to her.

I wasn’t buying it. I didn’t tell her that, but inside, I didn’t buy that excuse for a minute. I know stress and what I was looking at wasn’t stress. For the sake of my friend, I pretended to go along with the story. I comforted her, I talked to her, I held her, I kissed her, I loved her. I didn’t want to leave my friend’s side not even for a minute after I got there but after a while I suggested that I should run to her house and grab her clothes and other toiletries she might need—she agreed.

After giving me a laundry list of things to bring back with me, I left the hospital to go to her house.

In the car, I called a mutual friend of ours in tears explaining what had just happened. I needed to talk to someone who knew us both. I was so scared for my friend. I was still on the phone with our mutual friend when I reached my friend’s house. I remember walking into her house looking around and surveying her refrigerator. Why the refrigerator? Because she told me about not eating and I wanted to see what food she had.

Still crying while I am talking to our friend on the phone, I began to gather her clothes. While digging around for a shirt she wanted, I came across a stash of medicine hidden in a hamper. I remember thinking, that’s weird, why is the medicine in the hamper under all of these clothes? I abruptly ended the conversation I was having on the phone and pulled out the pills and took a closer look at them. They were awfully colorful, all packaged up by day and time of day. How efficient, I thought. They weren’t opened. That can’t be good. I managed to read the names and numbers on the pills and I started punching them up on my phone’s Internet browser to find out what they were for. Orange pill. TMC. So I searched for “TMC pill.” Pill imprint 400 TMC has been identified as Prezista 400 mg. Prezista is used in the treatment of hiv infection and belongs to the drug class protease inhibitors. I thought, okay well it must treat more than that. Let me search another pill. Blue pill. Gillead 701. Pill imprint GILEAD 701 has been identified as Truvada 200 mg / 300 mg. Truvada is used in the treatment of hiv infection; nonoccupational exposure and belongs to the drug class antiviral combinations. Cue the denial. White pill. 227. Pill imprint 227 has been identified as Isentress 400 mg. Isentress is used in the treatment of hiv infection and belongs to the drugclass integrase strand transfer inhibitor. And then I scream. Looking back now, I know her neighbors were probably like what the hell is going on next door. I screamed. I cried. I ran around her apartment and then I literally collapsed right there on her living room floor into a ball. I’m not sure how long I lay there crying and screaming “why” over and over again before I called the one person in the world I could talk to about this—my grandmother. It turns out that my best friend had been living with HIV since 2007 and had kept it a secret from her family and her friends all of this time. The shame, stigma, fear, and denial were simply too much for her to bear. After being unable to deal with the side effects of the medicine she was taking while still working two jobs, she simply one day decided to quit taking them. The result of her doing that was a viral load of 1.5 million and 4 T-cells. She had just 4 white blood cells to defend her body against any new infectious diseases and the 1.5 million virus infections already in her.

It’s been a month since she was released from the hospital and she’s not out of the danger zone yet, but she’s on the way. My friend’s situation is not unique—this is happening all over Black America because of the stigma, hate, and fear we’ve placed on HIV/AIDS. Most people don’t die from HIV/AIDS in America anymore thanks to recent medical advancements and access to antiviral drugs. But when it comes to Black people, we die from the shame and fear and attached to HIV/AIDS because of our attitudes towards getting tested and then seeking treatment if we are positive coupled with the stigma we have cultivated andseemingly embraced in the Church, our homes, and among our family and friends. Our fear prohibits us from getting tested and allows us to believe that we are somehow immune and it can’t happen us. I got news for you, no one is immune—not you and not me and HIV doesn’t care how fine you are, how much money you have, how old you are, what you think your man or woman is or is not doing when you are not around, or what God you pray to and how highly favored and blessed you are. Until we break the cycle of fear and shame about HIV/AIDS, Black people are going to continue to die from the fear and shame of the same disease that others manage to live long, healthy, and productive with. Real talk. June 27 was National HIV Testing Day. It’s still not too late to take the test, take control.

Chosen as one of Essence Magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World, Jasmyne A. Cannick is a campaign media and public affairs specialist. She is also a radio andtelevision politics, race, and pop culture critic. Follow her on Twitter @jasmyne and on Facebook at /jasmyne.

Maligning Federal Employees

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By Julianne Malveaux

NNPA Columnist

Congress is on fire to balance the federal budget, and they don’t care who they take as prisoners in the process. There are at least two proposals to freeze federal salaries for yet another year (they have been frozen since 2011), and to continue to demonize federal workers as do-nothing folks who don’t need raises. Meanwhile, President Obama has asked for a minimal half percent a year increase while many in the private sector are seeing wages rise. Of course, everyone is struggling with unemployment rates rising to 8.2 percent. Still, it is onerous that federal employees seem to be bearing the brunt of this budget crisis.

It is even worse when we understand that African Americans make up 17.4 percent of the federal workforce, compared to 10.1 percent of the civilian labor force. Of course, the higher the pay grade, the fewer African Americans. Whatever the pay grade, it is clear that African Americans are far more likely to get proportional pay in the federal government than in the private sector. Thus, proposals to cut federal pay disproportionately affect African Americans. Somebody could perhaps argue that cuts are race neutral, but I’m not buying. The fact is that the federal government has been most open to African American workers, and most willing to offer relatively equal pay.

Too many would like to characterize government workers as ineffective without looking at the fact that most federal government and private workers do their jobs and then some. Everybody can tell trifling somebody-done-me-wrong songs, but the real deal is most works do their best. Those members of Congress that target federal workers ought to look long at hard and the results they get form the folks who process Social Security checks, manage veterans’ benefits, move money from the federal government to state and local governments, and manage the process. These folks need kudos not the killing remarks that suggest that they don’t earn their money.

It’s a rough job market and many, including federal employees, make the choice to take pay freezes instead of looking for other work. Are we losing some of our best employees, though, when we impose a freeze for the third year in a row? It may be hard for some others to sympathize with folks who have steady and well-paid employment, but at the same time, who wants to work without appreciation or a raise? Does our Congress cut off our nose to spite our face by targeting federal employees?

As a CEO, I’ve had to preside over the difficult task of imposing pay freezes and hoping that my staff would understand that frozen pay is better than no pay or layoffs. At the same time, I shudder when I think that our federal government cannot appreciate, even in a small way, those who keep our trains running, our balls in the air, our elders compensated, our work done. Half a percent is a small amount, and it hits those at the bottom, not the top. How can Congress push to maintain Bush tax cuts, but fail to raise wages for federal employees.

There are two reasons that I am passionate about this. First, although many federal workers earn more than $150,000 a year, too many, mostly Black women, are at the GS-1 to GS-4 level, earning less than $40,000 annually. These women raise families, send children to school and overcome odds. They need a raise. They aren’t going to get it from a Congress that demonizes government workers, and that is a tragedy. Secondly, African Americans are more likely to get fair treatment from a civil service system than from the ordinary labor market, and it seems that this is a reason that some legislators seem to go after government employees.

While Congress must be prudent about our budget, they shouldn’t take it out of the hide of government workers, especially those at the very bottom. There is no fairness in freezing government salaries while other salaries rise.

Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.

Black Women Don’t Have the Luxury of Staying Home

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By Julianne Malveaux

When Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen said that Ann Romney had “never worked a day in her life,” Romney behaved as if she had just hit the lottery. She smugly made the media rounds talking about how hard it was for her to raise her five sons. And she’s right.  Stay at home moms work extremely hard to cook, clean, run a shuttle for their children and their various activities, participate in school activities like “Room Mom” and “Cookie Mom.” How do I know, having never had chick or child?  A very dear friend, a Harvard-educated lawyer, has been mostly home with her children, one of whom is my godson, for the past decade or so, and it shows.

I digress. Hilary Rosen misspoke when she said Ann Romney had never worked. What she could  have said is that Ann Romney never needed to work in the paid labor market.  Even when Mitt Romney was in graduate school, they survived by living on the returns from their investments, according to them. So it isn’t that Ann Romney never worked, it is simply that she was never forced to.

This entire conversation is a blast from the past, reminiscent of articles that I wrote in the 1980s.  Even then this was a mostly White women’s’ conversation since few Black women have or are married to the kind of wealth that would allow them to stay home.  Conservative stay home moms often say that people have to make sacrifices to stay at home, perhaps cutting out luxuries such as restaurant meals and extra clothing.  But unless food is a luxury, there are Black women who are in the labor market simply because they have no choice.

The official unemployment rate among African Americans is 14 percent.  The actual rate is more like 26 percent, and in many inner cities the Black male unemployment rate is nearly 50 percent.  This is a burden to African American women who often don’t have the economic assistance they need to raise a family. As a result of this burden, nearly 40 percent of African American children live in poverty, too often supported by a single mom (more than 40 percent of African American households are headed by women).

While there is a group of African American stay-at-home moms called Mocha Moms, and there is little data to suggest the size of the African American stay-at-home mom population, it is clear that historically, African American women had no choice but work.  I am not invoking ancient history when I reference the women who, as maids, were paid to take better care of their employer’s children than they could possibly take of their own.  And then they often paid, I part with used clothes and leftover food substituting for cash.

Patriarchal tradition kept White women home, while White men were paid a “family wage” that was, by definition, enough to support a whole family. Such patriarchal tradition was not economically present in the African American community.  Few African American men were paid a family wage, but instead something like a subsistence wage. Women needed to work to help keep the family together.

Until the late 1980s, the labor force participation of African American women exceeded that of White women, which means that proportionately more of us were working.   African American women’s earnings often make the difference between poverty and comfort for their families.  Mommy wars?  Give me a break.  Let’s talk about survival wars.

Even those African American families who have been blessed with higher education and “good jobs” are well aware that African Americans are “last hired, first fired”.  Too many so-called middle class families are a paycheck or two away from poverty.  Last time I checked, African American households had only 2 percent of our nation’s wealth, hardly a cushion to fall back on, with few investment returns to live on when no one is working.

Tuesday was Equal Pay Day, which counts the extra days women have to work to earn as much as a man did last year.  This hits women of all races, but it may hit African American women harder. We can only laugh and shake our heads at Hilary Rosen’s faux pas and Ann Romney’s smugness.  We working African American women, stay at home or in the paid labor force understand that “life for us ain’t been no crystal stair”.  Educated or uneducated, middle class or working class, the labor market has never been a level playing field for us, and our salaries show it.  Mommy wars?  We fight survival wars in the workplace and in this economy.

Julianne Malveaux is president of Bennet College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.

If You Have A One-Person Corporation, You Still Need To Have An Annual Meeting

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By Richard Nevins

Many small business owners are too busy running their business to hold an annual meeting of their corporation. In California, a corporation can be owned and operated by a single individual, so having an annual meeting can be like talking to yourself. If you have created a corporation, you have probably received many official-looking letters that appear to come from a state government agency. These letters cite the California state laws that require an annual corporate meeting and they cite the state laws regarding the problems facing your corporation if you fail to have a record of your corporation's annual meetings. These letters also include an offer to prepare the minutes of your annual meeting for a modest fee of $100 to $150.

The problem with these letters is that they are just advertising-through-intimidation. While it is true that all corporations are required to have an annual meeting of the shareholders and the board of directors, it is not true that the minutes of these annual corporate meetings have to be on file with some state agency. The annual meeting is not a public matter and the minutes do not have to leave your office files.

In a one-person corporation, having an annual meeting may seem like a waste of time, but it most definitely is not. All of the legal, financial and tax benefits of having a corporation are only available if the corporation is treated and recognized as a separate entity from the person, who created it. One of the greatest benefits of having a corporation own your business is that your family home and your personal property can be protected if there is anyone decides to sue your business. A properly formed and operated corporation is an important element in any asset protection plan.

The corporation's ability to shield you from personal liability is lost if the existence of the corporation is not documented. Under the law, a corporation has all the legal rights and protections of any human. However, since the corporation is not human, the only proof that is exists is based on its documents. The minutes of the annual meeting is one its most important documents.

During this meeting, the shareholders elect the board of directors, who in turn hire the corporation's president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. All of the major actions taken by the corporation should be approved or ratified by the board of directors and described in the annual minutes.

If important tax matters are properly documented in the annual minutes, then the corporation has an additional level of protection if there is an audit by the IRS. The annual meeting should include participation of the company's tax-preparer, because some valuable corporate tax benefits are required to be documented before the end of the tax year. The company's business lawyer should also be requested to review prior actions and to assist with future plans.

Richard Nevins has been an attorney for 18 years. His law firm provides legal advice in estate planning and small business law. For more information about trust and wills, please see the website for Richard Nevins at www.RiversideTrustLaw.Com. Attorney Nevins is also available to speak to your organization about trusts and estate questions. You can contact his office to arrange for a seminar at (951) 750-6630 or by email at Richard@RiversideTrustLaw.Com.

Tiger back on the prowl?

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Woods appears ready for Masters this week.

By Leland Stein III

At the risk of sounding like a homer, it was great watching golf again (lol). Especially since Tigers Woods was in the hunt for a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando. I’m not trying to minimizing the efforts of so many great golf professionals on the PGA Tour, including the up and coming group of young golfers that is making the sport as competitive as ever.

But for me, there is something – I have to use my ‘60’s vocabulary here – groovy about seeing Woods in his red shirt and black pants prowling the final 18 holes with a chance to win; it gets me kind of excited and eager to watch a slow game like golf on television. My wife was even watching the tournament off and on with me. She would periodically yell at me, “Is Tiger still in the lead?”

Now I’m pretty sure this was not just happening in the Stein household, but in many homes across the country. The documented PGA television rating when Woods is in contention clearly shows that the Stein household is not alone in this.

I’m sure thousands of others are wondering if Woods is really back and if this is his very real first step to getting back towards reclaiming world golf domination with his five-stroke victory at Bay Hill?

By ending his 30-month winless famine and triumphing for the 72th time on the PGA Tour, Woods showed that he’s quite capable of finishing first in an elite stroke-play tournament against a strong field.

He had not won since September 2009 and I was questioning if he had lost his mojo. I think that is what bothered me the most about Woods decent into the golf abyss. Surely any man that gets caught cheating on his wife is put in a position of scorn.

However, I was totally shocked that Woods let the media and public perceptions affect him so greatly that he appeared to lose his self-confidence and self-esteem. Now to be balanced, he did have very real injury problems that required surgery. Surely that had a negative effect on his ability to swing his clubs and negotiate a golf course.

But the style in which Woods won at Bay Hill is what got me giddy. He built a lead through the first three rounds with inspired all-around play. Final day competitor Graeme McDowell tried to make it interesting after Woods’ first-hole double bogey pushed his lead to three. However, Woods seemed to regain his mojo at Bay Hill. Yeah he tossed a club after a bad hit off a tee, and, the camera caught his cussing at himself after a makeable putt he missed. I like that passion. The fact of the matter is that is the type of energy it takes for any superstar athlete to ascend to the elite level.

We will all soon see if Woods’ rebirth is worthy of a cigar as the golf crown jewel, the Masters, start this week and he’ll be the favorite. Woods has never really given credence to the fact he has been on a protracted slump, instead he has always said he feels he can still win and every time out he expects to or at least tries to win.

No matter, after the Bay Hill win there was obvious joy in his demeanor and spirit as he walked off the course to rousing cheers. "It does feel good,” Woods told reporters just before signing his card. “It feels really good. It's been a lot of hard work."

Woods finished at 13-under 275 for his 72nd PGA Tour win, one short of Nicklaus for second place on the all-time career list. But that's not the record Woods wants. He has 14 majors, four short of the Nicklaus standard, and he tries to end a four-year drought at the Masters this weekend. For me, Woods at the 1997 Masters drowning in tears while in a prolonged embrace with his father, Earl, who was recovering from heart bypass surgery and ignored doctor’s orders by attending, took precedence for me over Tiger being the first man of color to win a major championship. He set a tournament-record 18-under-par 270 at the very young age of 21. He has won four Masters Titles overall. Leland Stein III can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII Tiger Woods at the Buick Open in 2009. – Andre Smith photo

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