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Florida Courier

‘Next Generation Legal Summit’ motivates Orlando students

FLORIDA COURIER — Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law hosted its first “Next Generation Legal Summit” on July 1 at the law school. About one dozen Jones High School students participated in the one-day summit where they explored the legal system and learned how laws are made.

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Students from Jones High School in Orlando visit the law school.

By The Florida Courier

Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law hosted its first “Next Generation Legal Summit” on July 1 at the law school. About one dozen Jones High School students participated in the one-day summit where they explored the legal system and learned how laws are made.

In addition, participants were exposed to the various careers within the legal field. They also gained in-depth information on knowing their rights and how to effectively face tough situations.

“The Next Generation Legal Summit” also consisted of a mock trial where students practiced courtroom roles, critical thinking, writing and communications skills.

“FAMU Law believes in giving back to the community by motivating local students to achieve their full potential,” said FAMU Law Interim Dean Nicky Boothe Perry. “Spending the day around FAMU Law professors and administrators, touring the campus, and learning the law school’s history are all important parts of the students’ career growth and development.”

For more information about the FAMU College of Law, visit law.famu.edu.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Marti Johnson

    Marti Johnson

    July 12, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    Excellent… The Legacy of Excellence will continue.

  2. Emma Williams

    Emma Williams

    July 12, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    CONTINUED BLESSINGS

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Books

Dennis-Benn’s novel of Jamaican immigrant is magnetic, wrenching

FLORIDA COURIER — In her new novel, Nicole Dennis-Benn contrasts the deep chasm between the American dream and immigrant reality, and the result is magnetic and wrenching. The story is a perfect fit for the author: Her first novel, “Here Comes the Sun,” laid bare the poster image of Jamaica as a tropical paradise, revealing the ugly truths behind the promises of sun, sand and sex.

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Dennis-Benn was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan and an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She lives with her wife in Brooklyn, New York.

By Connie Ogle

In America, anyone can be anything. That’s what the dream assures us, right?

We live in the land of opportunity for anyone willing to work hard. Unless of course you get here the wrong way. Then there’s little opportunity, few choices, constant unease, quick despair. You don’t belong.

In her new novel, Nicole Dennis-Benn contrasts the deep chasm between the American dream and immigrant reality, and the result is magnetic and wrenching.

The story is a perfect fit for the author: Her first novel, “Here Comes the Sun,” laid bare the poster image of Jamaica as a tropical paradise, revealing the ugly truths behind the promises of sun, sand and sex.

Another mirage

Now, in “Patsy,” she exposes another mirage, returning to themes she explored with insight and empathy — sexism, racism, colorism, homophobia, motherhood and poverty.

What must women sacrifice, Dennis-Benn asks, to become their true selves? It’s not just a question for the privileged. Patsy, a civil servant in Jamaica, knows her answer.

In a fair world, her affinity for math would lead her to a desirable job.

Accounting, maybe. But such work is impossible to find, because dark-skinned, poor women like Patsy have little value in her town.

So Patsy has invested the little money she has saved and spent it on a visa application. She is going to America, she tells her 5-year-old daughter Tru, to “mek t’ings bettah fah you. Fall all ah we.”

A new life

This is a lie. Patsy hopes to find a better job — after all, she has taken two courses at a community college and once solved 100 math problems in a row at school.

But she won’t return to Jamaica because Cicely is in America. Cicely, her beautiful friend who emigrated and married for a green card.

Patsy and Cicely loved each other once, and Cicely still writes hopeful letters to Patsy, encouraging her to come to New York. And so Patsy leaves Tru to build a new life. But America is less a paradise than a treacherous illusion.

Hard choices

A mother who abandons her child is a monster in most cultures, but Dennis-Benn’s deep compassion for Patsy — for all women facing unthinkable choices — forces you to reconsider your own preconceptions.

She urges you to think about this woman’s desperation, her fear, her past, her yearning for connection. She never wanted to be a mother, and Tru’s father, a married police officer, can provide a stable home for the girl.

That rationalization doesn’t soothe Patsy’s guilt, nor does it comfort Tru, who clings to her mother’s promise to return for as long as she can.

Eventually, though, Tru has to grow up and make hard choices of her own.

Two views

“Patsy” is told from both points of view, mother and daughter, the voices raw, honest and haunting. Patsy faces the irony that the only options open to her are nanny jobs, caring for the children of others.

She hates being labeled “illegal” and “can’t understand why she’s deemed a criminal for wanting more.” She wonders: “What am I good at?” and simply doesn’t know.

As a teenager, Tru begins to reject the role her culture has carved out for her (Dennis-Benn has a lot to say about how girls are raised in her native Jamaica).

Both women suffer depression, a battle all the harder to win when you don’t have the means to fight it.

But reinvention and redemption are possible. The story ends on a note of hope, though it comes at a price. What are you good at, Patsy? Loving. Learning. Living. The most human strengths of all.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier

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Florida Courier

CDC issues warning about ‘crypto’ in pools, water parks

FLORIDA COURIER — Outbreaks of “crypto,” a parasite found in swimming pools that causes long-term diarrhea, are on the rise, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC says outbreaks of the summertime parasite increased an average of 13% each year from 2009-17.

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The fecal parasite can survice for days in chlorinated water in pools and water playgrounds (Photo by: Dreamstime | TNS)

By Stephanie Sigafoos

Outbreaks of “crypto,” a parasite found in swimming pools that causes long-term diarrhea, are on the rise, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The CDC says outbreaks of the summertime parasite increased an average of 13% each year from 2009-17.

Cryptosporidium is spread through the infected fecal matter of humans or animals. The CDC says people have been getting sick after swallowing the parasite in contaminated water or food or after coming in contact with infected people or animals.

It is said to be the leading cause of disease outbreaks in the United States linked to water, specifically outbreaks linked to public pools or water playgrounds.

Kids susceptible

According to the report:

  • 35% of outbreaks were linked to treated swimming water in places like pools or water playgrounds
  • 13% were linked to contact with infected people in childcare settings
  • 15% were linked to contact with cattle, and 3% to drinking raw milk or apple cider

Young children are particularly susceptible to spreading the disease and experiencing severe symptoms, said registered nurse Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program.

“They don’t know how to use the toilet and wash their hands, or are just learning how,” she said. “But we as parents can take steps to help keep our kids healthy in the water, around animals, and in childcare.”

Tough to kill

The concern with crypto, according to the CDC, is that it’s tough to kill.

It can survive for days in chlorinated water in pools and water playgrounds, and even on surfaces disinfected with chlorine bleach.

Someone sick with crypto can have diarrhea for up to three weeks.

Outbreaks of crypto are most common in the summer, the report says, and anyone with diarrhea should not swim or enter public pools or playgrounds.

Children sick with diarrhea should stay at home and away from child-care facilities.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier

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Commentary

COMMENTARY: Meharry’s Juul grant is good news

FLORIDA COURIER — Should Meharry Medical College, a Historically Black College (HBCU) established in 1876 in Nashville, have accepted $7.5 million from Juul Labs, the controversial e-cigarette company that provides an alternative to smoking tobacco? Meharry says it will use the grant, the second-largest it has ever received, to study public health issues and African Americans, including the health effects of tobacco products. They will establish a Center for the Study of Social Determinants of Health and according to its president, Dr. James Hildreth, “begin conducting fully-independent research into the health conditions and issues related to tobacco and nicotine-delivery products.”

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Photo by: mmc.edu

Dr. Julianne Malveaux

Should Meharry Medical College, a Historically Black College (HBCU) established in 1876 in Nashville, have accepted $7.5 million from Juul Labs, the controversial e-cigarette company that provides an alternative to smoking tobacco?

Meharry says it will use the grant, the second-largest it has ever received, to study public health issues and African Americans, including the health effects of tobacco products. They will establish a Center for the Study of Social Determinants of Health and according to its president, Dr. James Hildreth, “begin conducting fully-independent research into the health conditions and issues related to tobacco and nicotine-delivery products.”

Should have passed?

Critics say that Meharry has made a deal with the devil since African American people smoke more and have a higher death rate from tobacco-related illnesses than other racial and ethnic groups. They think Meharry should have passed on the Juul donation because they don’t believe that the historically Black Meharry can’t take Juul’s money and continue to make a difference in Black lives.

I say nonsense! Juul will not be dictating the topics or terms of research with Meharry. Dr. Hildreth, who has been determined to increase the amount of research that Meharry students are doing, says the college approached Juul, not the other way around – and they did it with their eyes wide open.

He says he is confident that the new research center Meharry will establish will be independent of Juul. They won’t have input to the research topics that Meharry tackles, nor will they determine the course or direction of research.

A pause

Most medical colleges, including Meharry, turn down contributions from tobacco companies. As Meharry and Juul were exploring the possibility of the donation, Altria, a tobacco company, acquired 35 percent of Juul. Should that have killed the deal?

It caused Meharry to pause. But eventually, they decided to accept the money because they believe they can use it for the greater good. I agree.

President Hildreth has been a biomedical researcher for more than 36 years. In a letter to the Meharry community, he reminded them that “The bodies of Black Americans have historically been the subject of scientific experimentation with no control on our part. If it takes an unorthodox partnership to change that dynamic, then let the research begin.”

Government approval

I can’t read that part of Hildreth’s letter without thinking of the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, where the federal government-funded research on the effects of untreated syphilis on Black men. Medicine to cure syphilis was withheld from the men in the experiment. The federal government did this!

The commercial use of Black bodies included the harvesting (and reproduction) of the cells of Henrietta Lacks, a Black woman whose DNA is still being used today for medical research. And, when we think of experiments on Black bodies, one must think of the odious J. Marion Sims, who was called the “father of modern gynecology.” He earned his fame by conducting painful experiments on enslaved women. Thank goodness New York City removed his statue from Central Park!

Meharry doesn’t aim to hurt the six million African Americans who are smokers or to profit from them. They aim to have a seat at the research table, a place from which Black researchers, and Black research institutions, have often been excluded.

Juul’s contribution allows Meharry to pull up a chair to the research table and participate in the scientific inquiry about the health effects of cigarettes and other tobacco products – critical investigation given the fact that African Americans are more likely to die from tobacco-related illnesses than others.

Some questions

Dr. Hildreth’s letter to the Meharry community outlines several research questions. What is the long-term impact of e-cigarettes? Does vaping cause developmental health issues? Are vaping devices effective as smoking reduction or cessation devices?

Will laws prohibiting tobacco sales for those under 21 improve health outcomes? San Francisco recently passed legislation outlawing the sale of vaping devices. How effective are such laws? These are questions worth answering through research.

From where I sit, Meharry should have negotiated for a much more substantial contribution from Juul, and perhaps they will. After all, according to Dr. Hildreth, the tobacco industry “has taken our money and delivered sickness and death in return.

“We at Meharry intend to advance the fight for better health and longer life by turning that insidious relationship on its head.”

The right thing

Bravo, Dr. Hildreth. If Meharry’s research can help us learn more about addiction, and if the research can be used for tobacco use prevention, then Meharry is doing the right thing. I don’t see others lining up to fund Meharry’s research, and fundraising for HBCUs is extremely challenging.

I look forward to the work that the Center for the Study of Social Determinants of Health will produce.


Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. Her latest book, “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy,” is available at www.juliannemalveaux.com. Click on this commentary at www.flcourier.com to write your own response.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier.

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Community

Israel running again for Broward sheriff’s job

FLORIDA COURIER — Ousted Broward Sheriff Scott Israel took another step on his comeback campaign Monday when he filed the paperwork to launch a reelection bid.  Israel, first elected in 2012 and again in 2016, lost his job as Broward’s top cop in January when newly elected Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him from office and blamed him for the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s botched response to the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 

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By David Smiley

MIAMI — Ousted Broward Sheriff Scott Israel took another step on his comeback campaign Monday when he filed the paperwork to launch a reelection bid.

Israel, first elected in 2012 and again in 2016, lost his job as Broward’s top cop in January when newly elected Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him from office and blamed him for the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s botched response to the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Israel, 63, is challenging his removal.

Filed paperwork

But regardless of whether he’s reinstated by the Florida Senate — which under Florida law has the power to overturn a governor’s suspension — Israel would need to be elected in 2020 in order to run the agency going forward.

He began that process Monday when he walked into the Broward Supervisor of Election’s office and submitted paperwork to open a campaign account.

Israel did not respond immediately to a text message seeking comment.

Accreditation revoked

Last week, a state panel voted unanimously to revoke BSO’s accreditation, citing the agency’s mishandling of the response to shootings in Parkland and the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport as the grounds for its decision.

Israel will presumably run against Gregory Tony, the former Coral Springs sergeant DeSantis appointed to run BSO upon Israel’s suspension.

Tony, who owns a firm specializing in mass casualty incidents, has not yet filed paperwork but has said he will run to keep his job in 2020.

Israel, a Democrat, joins a crowded field. H. Wayne Clark, Willie Jones, Al Pollock, David Rosenthal, Andrew Maurice Smalling, and Santiago C. Vazquez Jr. have already opened campaigns, though none of the candidates has raised much money to date.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier.

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Business

Black pharmacists going ‘above and beyond’

FLORIDA COURIER — After a health insurance change forced Bernard Macon to cut ties with his Black doctor, he struggled to find another African American physician online. Then he realized two health advocates were hiding in plain sight. At a nearby drugstore in the suburbs outside of St. Louis, a pair of pharmacists became the unexpected allies of Macon and his wife, Brandy. Much like the Macons, the pharmacists were energetic young parents who were married — and unapologetically Black.

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Customer Bernard Macon (center) is shown with Vincent and Lekeisha Williams, owners of LV Health and Wellness Pharmacy in Shiloh, Illinois.

By Cara Anthony

SHILOH, Ill. — After a health insurance change forced Bernard Macon to cut ties with his Black doctor, he struggled to find another African American physician online. Then he realized two health advocates were hiding in plain sight.

At a nearby drugstore in the suburbs outside of St. Louis, a pair of pharmacists became the unexpected allies of Macon and his wife, Brandy. Much like the Macons, the pharmacists were energetic young parents who were married — and unapologetically Black.

Vincent and Lekeisha Williams, owners of LV Health and Wellness Pharmacy, didn’t hesitate to help when Brandy had a hard time getting the medicine she needed before and after sinus surgery last year.

The Williamses made calls when Brandy, a physician assistant who has worked in the medical field for 15 years, didn’t feel heard by her doctor’s office.

“They completely went above and beyond,” said Bernard Macon, 36, a computer programmer and father of two. “They turned what could have been a bad experience into a good experience.”

Black doctors, dentist

Now more than ever, the Macons are betting on Black medical professionals to give their family better care. The Macon children see a Black pediatrician. A Black dentist takes care of their teeth. Brandy Macon relies on a Black gynecologist.

And now the two Black pharmacists fill the gap for Bernard Macon while he searches for a primary care doctor in his network, giving him trusted confidants that chain pharmacies likely wouldn’t.

Trust, understanding

Black Americans continue to face persistent health care disparities.

Compared with their White counterparts, Black men and women are more likely to die of heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza, pneumonia, diabetes and AIDS, according to the Office of Minority Health.

But medical providers who give patients culturally competent care — the act of acknowledging a patient’s heritage, beliefs and values during treatment — often see improved patient outcomes, according to multiple studies.

Part of it is trust and understanding, and part of it can be more nuanced knowledge of the medical conditions that may be more prevalent in those populations.

Creative support

For patients, finding a way to identify with their pharmacist can pay off big time.

Cutting pills in half, skipping doses or not taking medication altogether can be damaging to one’s health — even deadly. And many patients see their pharmacists monthly, far more often than annual visits to their medical doctors, creating more opportunities for supportive care.

That’s why some Black pharmacists are finding ways to connect with customers in and outside of their stores.

Inspirational music, counseling, accessibility and transparency have turned some minority-owned pharmacies into hubs for culturally competent care.

“We understand the community because we are a part of the community,” Lekeisha Williams said. “We are visible in our area doing outreach, attending events and promoting health and wellness.”

History of mistrust

To be sure, such care is not just relevant to African Americans. But mistrust of the medical profession is especially a hurdle to overcome when treating Black Americans.

Many are still shaken by the history of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were used in research worldwide without her family’s knowledge; the Tuskegee Project, which failed to treat Black men with syphilis; and other projects that used African Americans unethically for research.

At Black-owned Premier Pharmacy and Wellness Center near Grier Heights, a historically Black neighborhood in Charlotte, N.C., the playlist is almost as important as the acute care clinic attached to the drugstore.

Owner Martez Prince watches his customers shimmy down the aisles as they make their way through the store listening to JayZ, Beyoncé, Kirk Franklin, Whitney Houston and other Black artists.

Prince said the music helps him in his goal of making health care more accessible and providing medical advice patients can trust.

More than dispense

In rural Georgia, Teresa Mitchell, a Black woman with 25 years of pharmacy experience, connects her customers with home health aides, shows them how to access insurance services online and even makes house calls.

Her Total Care Pharmacy is the only health care provider in Baconton, where roughly half the town’s 900 residents are Black.

“We do more than just dispense,” Mitchell said.

Iradean Bradley, 72, became a customer soon after Total Care Pharmacy opened in 2016. She struggled to pick up prescriptions before Mitchell came to town.

“It was so hectic because I didn’t have transportation of my own,” Bradley said. “It’s so convenient for us older people, who have to pay someone to go out of town and get our medicine.”

Educating patients

Lakesha M. Butler, president of the National Pharmaceutical Association, advocates for such culturally competent care through the professional organization representing minorities in the pharmacy industry and studies it in her academic work at the Edwardsville campus of Southern Illinois University.

She also feels its impact directly, she said, when she sees patients at clinics two days a week in St. Charles, Mo., and East St. Louis, Ill.

“It’s just amazing to me when I’m practicing in a clinic setting and an African American patient sees me,” Butler said. “It’s a pure joy that comes over their face, a sigh of relief. It’s like ‘OK, I’m glad that you’re here because I can be honest with you and I know you will be honest with me.’”

She often finds herself educating her Black patients about diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other common conditions.

“Unfortunately, there’s still a lack of knowledge in those areas,” Butler said. “That’s why those conditions can be so prevalent.”

Bad experience

For Macon, his experiences with medical professionals of backgrounds different from his own left him repeatedly disappointed and hesitant to open up.

After his wife had a miscarriage, Macon said, the couple didn’t receive the compassion they longed for while grieving the loss. A few years later, a bad experience with their children’s pediatrician when their oldest child had a painful ear infection sparked a move to a different provider.

“My daughter needed attention right away, but we couldn’t get through to anybody,” Macon recalled. “That’s when my wife said, ‘We aren’t doing this anymore!’”

Today, Macon’s idea of good health care isn’t colorblind. If a doctor can’t provide empathetic and expert treatment, he’s ready to move, even if a replacement is hard to find.

HUED app

Kimberly Wilson, 31, will soon launch an app for consumers like Macon who are seeking culturally competent care. Therapists, doulas, dentists, specialists and even pharmacists of color will be invited to list their services on HUED.

Beta testing is expected to start this summer in New York City and Washington, D.C., and the app will be free for consumers.

“Black Americans are more conscious of their health from a lot of different perspectives,” Wilson said. “We’ve begun to put ourselves forward.”

But even after the introduction of HUED, such health care could be hard to find.

While about 13% of the U.S. population is Black, only about 6% of the country’s doctors and surgeons are Black, according to Data USA.

Black pharmacists make up about 7% of the professionals in their field, and, though the demand is high, Black students accounted for about 9% of all students enrolled in pharmacy school in 2018.

‘Barbershop feel’

For Macon, though, the Williamses’ LV Health and Wellness Pharmacy in Shiloh provides some of the support he has been seeking.

“I still remember the very first day I went there. It was almost like a barbershop feel,” Macon said, likening it to the community hubs where customers can chitchat about sports, family and faith while getting their hair cut.

“I could relate to who was behind the counter.”

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier

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Florida Courier

PRESS ROOM: Governor Signs State Technology Changes

FLORIDA COURIER — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed a bill that will eliminate the Agency for State Technology and seek to improve cybersecurity. The bill (HB 5301) was passed unanimously by the House and Senate during the legislative session that ended May 4. It will move the duties of the Agency for State Technology to the Department of Management Services.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis (Photo by: U.S. Air National Guard Master Sgt. William Buchanan | Wiki Commons)

By News Service of Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed a bill that will eliminate the Agency for State Technology and seek to improve cybersecurity.

The bill (HB 5301) was passed unanimously by the House and Senate during the legislative session that ended May 4. It will move the duties of the Agency for State Technology to the Department of Management Services.

The bill also includes issues such as creating a task force to make recommendations to improve the state’s cybersecurity.

The task force will be chaired by Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez or her designee and will include private-sector appointees of the governor, appointees of the Senate president and House speaker and representatives of agencies such as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Division of Emergency Management.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier

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