One more thing we love about Issa Rae: How “Insecure” showcases black artists

The second season of Issa Rae’s groundbreaking HBO comedy “Insecure” is amazing for a number of reasons. The characters are complex and funny, the story lines are hilarious, and Rae is brilliant at showing so many sides of blackness, something that so many shows fail to do. Rae also does something else through her show that is much needed in the art world: she’s launching careers and providing platforms for other artists.

I remember when I first started out as an artist, running around as a writer and a photographer. Writing was the passion but photography paid the bills. I’d rip through the city shooting anything and everything, and eventually the word got out that I was cheap and pretty decent, so I started booking steady hood gigs: weddings, rap album photo shoots and parties, mostly. I even shot a funeral once.

As my reputation grew, I started getting bigger gigs. One was for a popular writer. I shot all of his events — I even did some for free, just for the opportunity to meet people in the publishing world. In between gigs I’d share my writing ambitions with him and he’d give some good insights, but he never offered any connections, not even for the opportunities he didn’t want. The same thing happened with my photos — he’d post my images, but would never credit me as the photographer.

Sometimes I’d say to him, “Yo, give me credit on my pics. I’m trying to get some money!”

And he’d say, “My apologies, bro, I got you!” before posting my name — without my social media handle. I quickly realized that he had no interest in promoting anyone other than himself.

I didn’t let his actions make me bitter. Instead, I told myself that if I ever made it, I’d use my platform to help promote other artists. I’ve been doing that from the moment I became fortunate enough to travel to promote my work, and watching Issa do it on Insecure has given me more hope.

We are barely halfway through the season and I’ve already noticed Rae using her HBO platform to plug the amazing artwork of Derrick Adams by showcasing his work in a Los Angeles gallery. The show has used music from Baltimore’s talented hip hop musician TT The Artist, and showcased the cover of Angela Flournoy’s award-winning book “The Turner House.” All of these people are gifted and experiencing success; however, that push from “Insecure” will definitely help increase their profiles and grow their audiences, which could ultimately take their careers to the next level.

I hope more influential artists with large platforms follow her lead. Rae is proving that we all can win, especially if we help each other.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

The New Indian Massacre? Police Shootings of Native Americans on the Rise

The late afternoon sun cast shadows on the pavement as the squad car pulled up alongside a petite Navajo woman walking slowly down a street lined with modest homes, dirt yards, and chain-link fences. A white cop with a buzz cut and a powerlifter’s build, dressed in a department-issue polo shirt and military-style boots, jumped out.

“Police, stop!” he yelled.

Twenty-seven-year-old Loreal Tsingine turned around and peered at him through her glasses. They’d met before, although it wasn’t clear if he realized it. Without any explanation, Officer Austin Shipley pulled her arms behind her back and tried to force her into handcuffs.

Seemingly bewildered, Tsingine shook off his grasp and kept on walking down the empty street.

Shipley yanked on the hood of her jacket, which hung off her slim, 5-foot, 2-inch frame. She fell to the ground, her body colliding with the cold pavement.

When she got back up, she was clutching the small pair of metal scissors she used to trim the ends of her long, black hair, which that day was pulled back into a messy bun. Shipley threw her to the ground again. Pill bottles containing the anti-psychotic medication she hadn’t been taking fell out of her purse and scattered across the sidewalk.

She got up again, and began to stride confidently toward the cop.

Shipley pulled out his .40 caliber Glock 22.

He fired five rounds.

Then Loreal Tsingine, who’d been nicknamed Dreamer and loved her 8-year-old daughter more than anything else, collapsed for a third, and final, time.

Another officer, who’d just arrived on the scene, picked up his radio and called for help as she rolled, painfully, from her side onto her back. Shipley’s gun stayed drawn and pointed at her. He breathed heavily, almost hyperventilating, as her blood spilled out onto the dirty pavement.

“She came at me with those scissors,” he said, then started retching, just as sirens became audible in the distance.

It was March 27, 2016 — Easter Sunday — in Winslow, Arizona, a high-desert railroad town that borders the Navajo reservation. Just moments before, a cashier at the Circle K had called police to tell them that the Native American woman in gray sweatpants who’d shoplifted two six-packs of Bud Light earlier that day had returned to the store.

Later, Tsingine’s friends and family watched the police body camera footage from the last 30 seconds of her life again and again, trying to understand what went wrong, and how an arrest for shoplifting had turned deadly.

“She was kind of lost in the world, but that wasn’t a reason to kill her,” says her friend Dedrick Romero. “That’s not being a cop; that’s being a murderer.”

Tsingine’s death shocked people in Winslow, who thought of their town as a quiet place where not much happened besides the occasional meth bust. Suddenly, the young mother with the quick smile who’d worked at a nearby animal kennel was part of a national statistic: the growing number of Native Americans who’ve been fatally shot by police officers.

Native Americans aren’t typically thought of as the face of police violence. But a 2014 study using data from the federal Centers for Disease Control showed that over a 12-year period, Native Americans were statistically more likely to be killed by police than any other group, including African-Americans.

Nationally, Native Americans make up just 0.8 percent of the population. Yet they comprise 1.9 percent of all police killings.

And between 2015 and 2016, Native Americans were the only racial group to see their death toll due to police shootings go up, even as the number of officer-involved shootings across the country fell.

Until we understand why this is happening, we won’t be able to make sense of Loreal Tsingine’s senseless death.

The road to Teesto, where Loreal Tsingine grew up.EXPAND

The road to Teesto, where Loreal Tsingine grew up.

Antonia Noori Farzan

Loreal Juana Barnell grew up in Teesto, a community of 900 people living in ranch houses scattered amid the juniper and sagebrush in the southeast corner of the Navajo reservation. It’s roughly a 45-mile drive on the two-lane road from Winslow, passing by flat rangelands and purple-gray buttes. Horses graze under wide-open skies, and sunflowers grow on the side of the road. Cell service arrived a few years ago, but some people in Teesto still don’t have running water. Seba Dalkai, the Bureau of Indian Education school that Loreal attended, is the only employer in the area, so residents often travel into Winslow to find work instead.

When Loreal was 10, her father died. Her mother, who had grown up at a time when Native American children were still taken away from their families at a young age and sent off to abusive boarding schools intended to “civilize” them, suffered from alcoholism. Child Protective Services placed Loreal with an uncle who lived in Winslow instead. She bounced back and forth between his house and her grandmother’s home on the reservation, rarely staying in either place for too long.

By 17, she’d dropped out of high school and moved to Flagstaff to live with a man who was four years older. A year later, her daughter, Tiffany, was born. In photos taken at the hospital, Loreal looks like she can hardly believe her luck. She got Tiffany’s name tattooed on the front of her wrists, and “Blessed Forever” on the back.

“Being a mother is not about what you gave up to have a child, but what you’ve gained from having one,” she posted on her Facebook page.

The following year, in 2009, her own mother died. It was around this time, her family says, that she rediscovered the Christian faith that she’d been brought up in. According to her friends, she also began turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with the pain.

In 2011, things began to look up when she married Michael Tsingine, who was 10 years older and had kids from a previous marriage. He’d been living up in Page, near Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, and the two went hiking together in the dramatic sandstone canyons. They posed for pictures, squinting in the northern Arizona sunlight, and carved their names, Mike and Loreal, into the red rock.

But after a few years, she returned to Winslow. Her posts on Facebook give a sense of her mental state at the time. On November 19, 2014, she wrote, “I’m done, I’m through, I can’t do this anymore. Each day is getting harder and harder. If ya don’t see or hear from me no worries I’m sure I’ll be in a better place.”

A few days later, she shared a quote: “I am a strong person, but every now and then I need someone to take my hand and say everything will be alright.” Within hours, she posted again, this time in her own words: “Hey we should do some things we shouldn’t be doing?!?! Adrenaline rush, baby!!!”

On Thanksgiving Day, she typed, “Right about now I really wish I had wings so I could fly so high and far away. I’m sure I wouldn’t be missed anyway. I’m invisible even now. I’m just a waste of space … real talk.”

Loreal’s relatives have declined to discuss her mental health history, and Phoenix New Times was unable to reach Michael Tsingine. But police records show that she’d been prescribed aripiprazole, an anti-psychotic medication used to treat bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression, and was carrying the pill bottle when she was shot. (A toxicology report suggests that she hadn’t taken the medication recently.)

In the wake of a fatal shooting, discoveries like these are alarmingly common. In fact, when researchers from California’s Claremont Graduate University studied fatal police shootings of Native Americans over a 15-month period, they found that nearly half the victims had documented histories of mental illness.

And regardless of their race, people with untreated mental-health issues face an increased risk of being killed by police officers.

The Washington Post, which maintains a database of fatal police shootings, has found that over the past two years, mental illness played a role in roughly a quarter of all incidents. In most of these cases, no crime had been committed; rather, police were responding to a call reporting a mentally ill person behaving erratically.

“From an officer’s perspective, they’re trying to manage and control the situation,” says Heather Hamel, a Phoenix-based civil rights lawyer and the founder of Arizona Justice That Works. “”There’s a huge focus on getting people to comply, often by using force and waving guns around, but the problem is people may emotionally respond to that threat — justifiably so — which then causes the officer to panic more, and the situation just escalates.”

A study conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum found that, on average, new recruits get only eight hours of training that teach them how deal with people who are experiencing mental-health crises. That means officers often lack the ability to accurately assess whether an individual poses a legitimate threat, and may not even recognize the symptoms of mental illness in a suspect.

And when a mentally ill individual is at risk of hurting themselves or others, the officer who responds to the scene may not know how to safely subdue them.

But that doesn’t mean that more training is the answer, Hamel says. Rather, it should be mental-health professionals who respond to mental-health crises — not law enforcement.

After all, she points out, mental-health professionals have years of education and training in their fields. Expecting cops to play the role of psychologists and social workers, with only a sliver of that knowledge, is unrealistic.

“We’re relying on them to do these things because we don’t want to invest in mental-health care,” she says. “But that lack of investment is deadly.”

Funding for mental-health services is dismal across the board, but the problem is compounded in Native American communities. Indian Health Services, which approximately 60 percent of Natives rely on for health care, is chronically underfunded and overburdened, with a budget that hasn’t kept pace with inflation.

In fact, one UCLA study found that the U.S. government spends half the amount, per capita, on IHS as it does on health care for federal prisoners.

Meanwhile, thanks to hundreds of years of genocide and trauma, Native American communities report shockingly high suicide rates, with one recent Department of Justice study noting that Native children experience PTSD at the same rate as combat veterans.

And less than 1 percent of the IHS budget goes toward urban health initiatives — despite the fact that census data shows that more than 70 percent of Native Americans live in a metropolitan area.

On top of that, there’s a nationwide shortage of Native American psychologists and counselors.

All in all, the UCLA researchers concluded, accessing culturally relevant care was next to impossible.

“What I have found is that a lot of people who have mental-health problems don’t know their diagnosis,” says Winslow’s new police chief, Daniel Brown, who took over in May 2017. “So then they turn to substances of one sort or another.”

“You couple the mental-health disorder with a substance-abuse problem and you have a firestorm. It leads to criminal activity, and that’s when a lot of folks get arrested. And then it’s a downward spiral.”

In December 2014, Loreal Tsingine’s beloved uncle, Benny Barnell, died. The next year, her behavior became increasingly erratic, and she had a number of run-ins with the police, getting cited for shoplifting from the Family Dollar, riding in a stolen car, and getting in a fight with two other women outside Walmart.

By then, she was living with a man described in police records as a 31-year-old Hispanic male. On two occasions, the Winslow Police Department received calls from concerned neighbors saying they believed Tsingine was the victim of domestic violence. She declined to cooperate with investigators, and no charges were filed.

On April 27, 2015, Winslow police were notified that Tsingine had woken up with no clothes on and might have been sexually assaulted. Officer Austin Shipley responded to the call.

Tsingine didn’t want to talk to him. “Victim appears to be on some kind of drug,” the incident report notes. It was the second time he’d been sent to do a welfare check on her.

A month later, Tsingine shared a variation of the Serenity Prayer on her Facebook page: “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept stupid people the way they are, courage to maintain my self-control, and wisdom to know that if I act on it, I will go to jail.”

Roughly two weeks later, she did go to jail. A store clerk at R. B. Burnham & Company, an old trading post from the frontier era that now sells Navajo rugs and jewelry to tourists passing by on Interstate 40, called to report that she’d been running around the store and had refused to leave.

When a deputy from the Apache County Sheriff’s Office found her, she was poking at an electrical box full of wires, swinging a padlock in one hand. Seemingly confused, she gave her name as “Barnell Yazzie” and claimed she had been born on June 11, 2015.

Tsingine tried to wriggle away when the deputy attempted to arrest her. When he pinned her against the hood of his car, she reached for the pistol in his holster. But before she could grab it, he knocked her onto her back. As she kicked and punched at him, he held her down and forced her into handcuffs.

“OH yea feels good to be FREE….lol,” she posted after her July release.

Yet before long, she was back in jail again, this time for drinking at a bus stop in Holbrook. Through the fall and into the winter, she fell into a cycle where she’d get arrested for a minor offense, skip her court appearance or violate the terms of her parole, then get sent to jail when a police officer ran her name and found her open warrants.

In February 2016, a month before her death, Michael Tsingine filed for divorce.

Then, on Easter Sunday, she showed up at the Circle K in gray sweatpants and a tank top. Seemingly unaware that everyone in the store was staring at her, she grabbed a hot dog off the rack and began to eat it. The cashier, who later told investigators that Tsingine had seemed “a little out there,” dialed the police.
“She’s back again,” the cashier told them.

The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission has spent years documenting racism and discrimination in predominantly white towns that border the reservation, such as Flagstaff, Winslow, and Holbrook..

The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission has spent years documenting racism and discrimination in predominantly white towns that border the reservation, such as Flagstaff, Winslow, and Holbrook..

New Times illustration

To understand the context of Loreal Tsingine’s death, you have to start in a place like Winslow.

Four blocks from the Circle K, a seemingly endless stream of tourists stop to take pictures at Standin’ on the Corner Park, which commemorates the city’s main claim to fame — a brief mention in the Eagles’ “Take It Easy.” Ignoring the young Navajo woman selling jewelry in the 100-degree heat, they head for the souvenir stores that display Confederate flag bandannas and fake Border Patrol badges alongside T-shirts plastered with Glenn Frey’s face.

Then, they get back on the highway.

Away from the few blocks that make up the tourist area, there isn’t much to see in Winslow besides abandoned motels and service stations along U.S. Route 66, which in 1979 was replaced by an interstate highway that decimated the city’s economy.

Largely unbeknownst to nostalgic white baby boomers, towns like Winslow that sit on the edge of reservations have long been the site of violence and harassment directed at Native Americans, both from civilians and the police officers who are ostensibly there to protect them.

The earliest examples date back to when these communities were first built by white settlers, but brutal violence is hardly a thing of the past. With alarming regularity, reports emerge of Native Americans being beaten to death, their bodies found in ravines or on the side of the road.

Barbara Perry, an internationally recognized expert on hate crimes, spent close to a decade at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff in the late 1990s and early 2000s, studying racially fueled violence against Native Americans in the Four Corners area.

“I could have not have anticipated how emphatic participants would be in their indictment of police as enablers — if not participants — in the racial harassment and violence directed toward Native Americans,” she wrote afterwards.

In towns that border reservations, she found, police were eager to investigate cases where Native Americans were accused of wrongdoing, but less interested when Native Americans themselves were the victims of crimes.

“It is as if police are ready and willing to accept the mythology of the ‘savage’ Indian, and act accordingly,” she concluded.

For the past four decades, the United States Commission on Civil Rights has been holding hearings in border communities across the western United States, compiling hundreds of pages of reports that describe, in detail, the many forms of discrimination that Native Americans face when they leave the reservation for work, school, or simply to shop for groceries.

The 1975 Farmington Report — written after the bodies of three Navajo men who had been severely tortured were found scattered in the canyon country outside Farmington, New Mexico — documented a realm of civil rights abuses akin to conditions found in the Jim Crow South. Included among them were claims that policemen frequently beat up Navajo men, calling them “red dogs” and accusing them of living off welfare.

In 2004, the Commission on Civil Rights returned to Farmington and noted “marked improvement,” while also acknowledging that racial profiling was still a concern. The new report had not even been out for a year before William Blackie, a 46-year-old Navajo man, was driven to a secluded area of town by three young white men who beat him over the head with a club, shouting, “Die, nigger! Just die!” Miraculously, Blackie survived; when the Farmington Police showed up, he begged them not to shoot him.

Six days after Blackie’s near-death experience, Clint John, a 21-year-old Navajo man, was fatally shot by a white Farmington police officer during a confrontation in a Walmart parking lot. Shortly afterward, the Navajo Nation created its own Human Rights Commission to investigate racism and discrimination in border towns, and began holding hearings throughout Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado.

During those hearings, Navajos testified that they were told, “I hate educated Indians,” refused service in restaurants, and picked up by law enforcement officers who would then drive them to the city limits and drop them off on the side of the road. Farmington may have developed a reputation as the Selma, Alabama, of the Southwest, but its problems were (and are) by no means unique.

”There’s not a sense that the town fathers have any kind of accountability or responsibility to the Navajo people who come into these towns,” says Jennifer Nez Denetdale, a professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico who serves on the Human Rights Commission.

“We’re always treated as outsiders, even though that is our territorial land. Anything that we have to say is not regarded as anything that the fine mayors of these towns have to consider.”

In many communities that border reservations, Native people have no representation in local government. Winslow, for instance, is 23 percent Native American and 29 percent Latino, yet the mayor and everyone on the city council is white.

By contrast, the jails are full of Native Americans, who are disproportionately arrested, ticketed, and incarcerated. In Winslow, 65 percent of the people arrested in 2016 were Native American — a rate consistent with previous years. Likewise, in Flagstaff, nearly half the arrests over a five-year period involved Native Americans, who make up 12 percent of the city’s population.

In both cities, the disparity in arrests is frequently attributed to the large number of “visitors” — that is, people who live on nearby reservations.

Winslow police chief Daniel Brown points out that since alcohol sales are banned on the Navajo reservation, people often travel to border towns to drink instead, then end up getting arrested for fighting, panhandling, or trespassing. “We have criminalized something that we should look at as a public health issue,” he acknowledges.

Statewide statistics from the Arizona Department of Public Safety confirm this: In 2015, Native Americans made up 21 percent of the arrests for liquor law violations, despite only being 4.5 percent of the population.

Undoubtedly, alcohol abuse is an issue in Native communities. But that doesn’t fully explain some of these statistics.

Take underage drinking, for instance — a law frequently broken by bored teenagers of all races.  In Flagstaff, Native Americans received 57 percent of the citations handed out for underage drinking in 2016, even though the city is home to a large (and predominantly white) university that has a reputation as a party school.

Similarly, in Farmington, New Mexico, where Native Americans make up 22 percent of the population and 68 percent of arrests, 84 percent of citations for underage drinking went to Native kids last year.

Complaints about being pulled over for “driving while Native” are also common. Andrew Curley, an organizer with the Bordertown Justice Coalition, says that he was routinely pulled over by police in Flagstaff while he was conducting research there for his Ph.D.

“I’ve lived all over the country, but it’s only in Flagstaff that I’ve had constant harassment for petty infractions like a crack in the windshield,” he says.

He draws the comparison to Ferguson, Missouri, where low-income black residents were frequently pulled over for minor infractions like a broken taillight, then handed expensive tickets that they couldn’t afford to pay.

“We are poor — we have less resources than most of the white population,” Curley says. “Driving around on these BIA roads, they’re not well maintained, and if rocks end up in your windshield, it’s going to be expensive to get it fixed. A lot of people on the reservation don’t have disposable income, and as a result they get pulled over by police and searched.”

Police agencies routinely deny that they engage in racial profiling, which is easy to do since they receive relatively few formal complaints about it. Widespread distrust of law enforcement means that even getting people to raise grievances at a public hearing is a challenge, Jennifer Nez Denetdale says.

“They don’t want to draw attention to themselves,” she explains. “If they provide testimony, they’re subjected to possible intimidation and harassment again.”

Outright violence, too, often goes unreported, according to Roberto Sheets, a former Winslow police officer.

One time, he says, he saw a fellow officer punch an intoxicated Native American man who’d been handcuffed and was waiting to be transferred to the county jail in Holbrook. Another time, he witnessed an officer drag a 14-year-old into his car and start kicking him, supposedly because the teenager had spat on him after being handcuffed.

“I’ve seen an officer beat up on a 19-year-old in a holding cell, no threat to nobody, because she didn’t want to blow into the tube to get her B.A [blood alcohol content],” he adds. “So he stamps on her foot — a 200-pound man — and she punches his leg ’cause it hurt. I’d have done the same thing. Then, he started whaling up on her face.”

Winslow Police Chief Daniel Brown told New Times that the allegations were “alarming” and that he would investigate Sheets’ claims.

But Sheets isn’t optimistic. He told the 19-year-old girl that she could file a complaint and he’d be a witness, he says. But she didn’t want to do that.

“They [Native Americans] are so scared of retaliation from the police department,” he says. “Once they got to know me, they would tell me, ‘That officer kicked my leg,’ or whatever. I’d say, ‘I need a name.’ But they were afraid.”

After eight years with the Winslow Police Department, Sheets was let go in 2015. He can’t talk about what happened because he has an EEOC complaint pending, but documents obtained through a public records request show that he was terminated for discussing official department business outside the chain of command.

Seeing what happened to Loreal Tsingine, he says, has made people even more fearful. But what upsets him most is his belief that her death could have been prevented — if only someone had listened to the concerns that he and other officers had shared about Austin Shipley.

“Her death should never have happened,” he says. “And it’s devastating, because she’s got a little girl who’s going to grow up without a mom.”

Former Winslow police officer Roberto Sheets says he witnessed other cops beat up Native Americans who were in their custody.EXPAND

Former Winslow police officer Roberto Sheets says he witnessed other cops beat up Native Americans who were in their custody.

Antonia Noori Farzan

On September 22, 2016, Austin Shipley walked into the two-story glass atrium that greets visitors to the Mesa Police Department. He sat down in front of a panel of veteran cops who’d be conducting an independent investigation into Loreal Tsingine’s death. Then, over the course of an hour, as his voice grew hoarse, he tried to explain what had happened that Easter Sunday.

By that point, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office had already conducted their own investigations, so some of the answers were routine. Yes, it was normal in Winslow to respond to calls before backup could arrive. No, he hadn’t known that Tsingine was carrying scissors. Yes, he’d been given a Taser and was carrying it at the time.

Tom Denning, a former homicide detective previously tasked with investigating cold cases, led the questioning. He stumbled over the pronunciation of Tsingine’s last name several times (it’s SINN-uh-gin-ee,) then gave up.
“Did you utilize your full potential physical strength on Miss, uh, on her, when you attempted to detain her?” he asked Shipley, a 200-pound man who spent his spare time powerlifting.

“No, sir,” Shipley croaked.

“And why not?”

Silence.

“I — in my mind — ”

“At the time,” Denning prompted, sounding almost paternal.

“At the time, I just didn’t think it was necessary. I mean, in my mind at the time, speaking frankly, I was thinking, this is stupid. Why is she acting like this over a petty shoplifting incident?”

“So, is it fair to say that if you chose to, you could have used more physical force on her?”

“Yes, sir.”

A month later, the Mesa investigators presented their findings to the Winslow Police Department. Shipley resigned on the spot. To this day, he has not publicly commented on the shooting. His wife, Rachael Roberts Shipley, a nurse at the Little Colorado Medical Center, tells New Times that he’s joined the military.

“He wants to just put the incident behind him,” she says.

What we do know about Shipley comes from his internal affairs file. The son of a railroader, he was born in 1989, the same year as Loreal Tsingine, and grew up in Winslow. He got his high school diploma from Abeka Academy, an online distance-learning program run by Pensacola Christian College that’s been criticized for denying scientific concepts like evolution. In July 2012, he joined the Winslow Police Department.

Training records show that as a recruit, he was admonished at least five times for failing to follow orders, and dinged for six other policy violations, including falsifying a report that almost led to a wrongful arrest, taking home a domestic violence report and showing it to his wife so she could proofread it for him, failing to establish probable cause for an arrest, and improperly removing evidence from a secured box.

Instructors noted that he was too quick to reach for his weapon. He also appeared to relish the thought of violence.

“Officer Shipley has made the statement that having a badge gives him the right to harass the public,” Sergeant Ken Havlicek wrote, noting that on one occasion when an intoxicated suspect approached them, Shipley had later stated that “he was waiting for the subject to get stupid with him, so he could fight him.”

In another situation, a suspect became verbally aggressive, but officers were able to calm him down. “Shipley advised me that the next day he went home and ‘pouted’ because I took the fight away from him again,” Havlicek reported afterward.

Shortly before Shipley’s training came to an end in September 2013, Corporal Ron Chisholm wrote a memo to Police Chief Steve Garnett and Lieutenant Ken Arend, urging them not to hire him.

“Officer Shipley continues to falsify reports,” he wrote. “This is not a wording issue. The issue [is] accurately reporting the facts as they took place.”

But Shipley got the job anyway. In a memo later sent to Arizona POST, the standards board for law enforcement agencies, Lieutenant Jim Sepi said he’d been told, “There’s nothing to it; they just don’t like him,” when he asked Arend about Chisholm’s concerns.

Arend, who is still employed by the Winslow Police Department, declined to comment.

And once Shipley became a full-fledged officer, the complaints continued to come in.

In 2013, he was suspended and required to attend diversity training after a woman complained that he’d called her teenage daughter a cunt. (She also accused him of slamming the girl against his squad car, which he denied.)

Then, a month before Tsingine’s death, he received a one-day suspension, this time for using his Taser on a 15-year-old girl who’d disobeyed his orders. He was still on probation the day he responded to the shoplifting call from the Circle K.

There’s little question that Shipley should never have become a police officer, or at very least shouldn’t have been allowed to carry a gun. But was his quickness to pull the trigger indicative of insidious and deep-seated racial prejudice? Because of Shipley’s silence, it’s hard to tell.

“Would he have done the same thing to a white person who was accused of shoplifting?” Andrew Curley of the Bordertown Justice Coalition asks. “Would he have pushed her down like that? I don’t know.”

And virtually nothing is known about whether unconscious biases make it more likely that a police officer would perceive a Native American suspect as violent or threatening.

Michael Friedman, a clinical psychologist in New York City, has documented how sports-team mascots reinforce negative stereotypes and lead to negative perceptions of Native Americans, particularly among non-Natives.
But there isn’t any evidence connecting that phenomenon to the high rate of Native Americans being fatally shot by police. No one’s ever done the research.

Nor, to his knowledge, has anyone studied the biases that people have against Native Americans, generally, and whether law enforcement officers share those biases.

“The bottom line is we simply don’t know,” Friedman says. “But I think it’s important to look at this issue. If there’s this much of a disparity — what’s going on that this keeps happening?”

Then he adds, “If this were happening to other groups of people, it would get a lot more funding, a lot more research, and a lot more resources.”

A memorial to Loreal Tsingine at the spot where she died.EXPAND

A memorial to Loreal Tsingine at the spot where she died.

Antonia Noori Farzan

On March 27, 2017, roughly 20 people, most of them Navajo, marched down Winslow’s usually quiet streets under overcast skies. Dressed in hoodies to fend off the March chill, they carried photos showing Loreal Tsingine smiling widely at the camera, her newborn daughter in her arms. It was the one-year anniversary of her death.

When the protesters reached the Winslow Police Department, which is located in an otherwise-empty shopping center, there wasn’t a single officer in sight. But someone had been expecting them. Caution tape and safety barriers surrounded the building, preventing them from getting too close.

They waited in the potholed parking lot until the sun went down, lighting candles that flickered as the wind began to pick up. Tsingine’s grandmother, Sarah Morris, grabbed a bullhorn from one of the activists from the Bordertown Justice Coalition. “Austin Shipley, I know what you did,” she shouted. “You won’t get away with it.”

The lights inside the police station went on, but no one came out to address the group. “Winslow police, where the fuck are you?” her cousin, Alta Barnell, yelled. “I’m never going to let this go.”

Toward the end of the vigil, gentle rain began to fall. It was a sign, some of the marchers said, that Loreal was watching.

“We’re still angry, we’re still frustrated, but above all we still have faith we will get justice,” Tsingine’s aunt, Floranda Dempsey, told the crowd.

So far, justice has proven to be elusive. Six weeks after the shooting, Winslow Police Chief Stephen Garnett, who’d signed off on Shipley’s hire, announced plans to retire. Winslow city officials claimed the timing was purely coincidental.

Then, last July, after what he called a “careful review,” Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery announced that Shipley wouldn’t face criminal charges.

A month later, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division announced it would be conducting its own investigation into Tsingine’s death. There was hope that the federal government would come in and demand meaningful reforms in Winslow, like it had in Ferguson and Baltimore.

But then the 2016 election happened. Under the Trump administration, the Department of Justice’s priorities have shifted away from police reform. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made it clear that he thinks the DOJ has no business telling local law enforcement agencies what to do — in his confirmation hearing, he claimed that federal investigations of police departments were bad for morale, and dismissed the abuses described in the Ferguson Report as “anecdotal.”

Tsingine’s family say they haven’t heard from the Department of Justice since the investigation was opened. Likewise, Winslow’s new police chief, Daniel Brown, says he’s heard nothing since taking over in May.

In response to queries from New Times about the status of the investigation and whether it has been closed, spokesman Devin O’Malley sent a one-sentence response: “The DOJ declines to comment.”

A memorial to Tsingine still sits at the spot where she was killed. Painted pink and decorated with fabric flowers and prayer candles, it’s become a familiar part of the landscape, just like the Burlington Northern Santa Fe trains that pass through town so often that locals no longer notice the noise. For a while, Tsingine’s friends and relatives gathered there on the 27th of each month, but eventually life got in the way, their numbers dwindled, and the monthly vigils came to an end.

On one recent hot Friday afternoon, the parking lot at the Circle K was packed with trucks towing rafts and inflatable tubes as people on their way to Clear Creek stopped by to pick up firewood, propane, and frozen slushies in insulated foam cups.

The white guy working behind the counter had never heard of Loreal Tsingine. He’d only been on the job for six months, since moving out west from Arkansas.

“Arkansas was kind of violent,” he says. “There were a lot of shootings. It’s nice here. Peaceful, quiet. You don’t have a lot of problems.”

(Selected scenes in this story were reconstructed with the use of police records, media reports, videos, photographs, and descriptions from people present.)

Colin Kaepernick to Get His Own Display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

20 Aug, 201720 Aug, 2017

Few people, if any, keep track of ratings or public approval numbers for the Smithsonian. However, if they did, those numbers would soon go down dramatically. Why? Because the man who single-handedly accomplished the nearly impossible feat of turning America against its favorite game, is about to get his own exhibit.

According to curators at the museum, currently unemployed NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is about to get his own display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall.

In fact, museum officials have already begun requesting various items of significance from Kaepernick’s protests of last year.

According to the Washington Examiner, “Artifacts from former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protests will reportedly soon be on display at the Black Lives Matter collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History.

“The National Museum of African American History and Culture has nearly 40,000 items in our collection,” said Damion Thomas, the museum’s sports curator, to USA Today. “The Colin Kaepernick collection is in line with the museum’s larger collecting efforts to document the varied areas of society that have been impacted by the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Incredibly, as pointed out by IJR and The Washington Times, the museum extends Kaepernick this honor while only mentioning African-American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in connection with the sexual harassment charge brought against him by Anita Hill.

According to The Washington Times:

“The National Museum of African American History and Culture has plans to include the beloved D.C. newsman Jim Vance in its exhibitions — but there’s still no room for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

“The Smithsonian Institution previously said the absence of Justice Thomas, the second black man to sit upon the highest court in the land, could not be rectified because exhibition content is determined by “themes, not individuals.”’

Apparently, the theme of rising from poverty to the become only the second African-American to ever sit on the Supreme Court, is not a theme that appeals to the museum. Themes that do appeal to the museum, however, include hip-hop, the Black Panthers, Black Lives Matter, and now, Colin Kaepernick.

DNA evidence prompts New Milford police to charge Oxford man…


An Oxford man was recently charged with a November 2014 robbery of a New Milford gas station after he was linked to the crime through DNA evidence, police said.

Michael Warga, 25, of 43B Christian St., was arraigned last week in Bantam Superior Court and charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and fourth-degree larceny.

The charges stem from a November 2014 robbery of the Valero gas station at 28 Danbury Road, according to an affidavit. In investigating the incident, police determined that a man entered the store, held an employee at gunpoint and demanded he open the cash register.

“Once the cash register drawer was opened the male took the money and then told (the employee) not to do anything, count from one to (50) without moving and nothing bad would happen to him,” wrote New Milford Detective Mark Lynch in the affidavit. “The male then fled out of the store.”

The suspect was seen in surveillance footage wearing a dark zippered hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, boots, dark gloves and a dark hat, according to the affidavit.

K-9 Officer Michael Lafond and his partner, Kira, began to search the area and found a black hat, two black gloves and a black article of clothing that seemed to be a jacket or sweatshirt. These items were later brought to the Connecticut Forensic Laboratory, where they returned a DNA profile, which was entered into state and national databases, police said.

The DNA profile from a glove was found to match those from similar robberies under investigation in Naugatuck and Prospect, according to the affidavit. Two further robberies in Ansonia were thought to have been committed by the same person.

In March 2017, a positive match for Warga, incarcerated at the Bridgeport Correctional Center, was determined to correspond for the aforementioned cases.

Warga was found to have a criminal history in Florida and Connecticut, according to the affidavit, with past charges including larceny, possession of marijuana and assault.

A warrant had already been completed for a DNA sample for Warga, according to the affidavit. In May 2017, that sample was compared to the DNA collected on the hat and gloves gathered from the November 2014 robbery and the resulting report “showed that Michael Warga’s DNA was located on all of the aforementioned items,” according to the affidavit.

Warga’s case was transferred to Litchfield Superior Court last week, according to court records, and bail was set at $10,000. He is next scheduled to appear in court Aug. 31.

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Charlottesville and Trump’s Response Reshape Virginia Gubernatorial Race

Mr. Northam said in an interview that “an awakening” had taken place in Virginia after the Charlottesville violence that left one woman dead, many more wounded and a liberal college town convulsing.

“We have to be sensitive to all people’s feelings and represent all Virginians,” he said, criticizing his Republican opponent, Ed Gillespie, for not “denouncing the president” by name after Mr. Trump asserted that there were good people marching alongside Nazi sympathizers and Klansmen last weekend.

Yet Mr. Northam has little appetite to make Virginia’s counties and cities uproot their memorials to the Confederacy and says the decision should remain up to the localities.

Mr. Gillespie also believes local communities should make that decision. He argues that the statues should remain in place, but include added context clarifying that the lost cause they represent would have perpetuated slavery, not just the euphemistic “states’ rights” preferred by some traditionalists.

“Rather than glorifying their objects, the statues should be instructional,” Mr. Gillespie said in a lengthy written statement earlier in the week.

In an illustration of this state’s complicated politics, and the expectations of each party’s base, it is Mr. Northam, the descendant of slaveholders and a product of Virginia’s rural eastern shore, who is calling for the statues to come down, while Mr. Gillespie, a New Jersey native who moved to Northern Virginia after establishing a political career in Washington, is more closely aligned with the old guard.

Graphic

In Their Own Words: What Some of the Charlottesville Rally Participants Stand For

Recent statements from participants at the protests.

OPEN Graphic


Each, though, hails from the establishment wing of their party. And the specter of an election shifting from a hard-fought but aboveboard clash over taxes, health care and the economy to an explosive debate about race and identity makes officials in both campaigns uneasy.

Democrats, while encouraged about having a tool to mobilize black voters in an off-year election, are cognizant of national polling that shows opposition to removing Confederate monuments is bipartisan. They also fear that conservative whites may come out in higher numbers to register their opposition.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, spoke for the more reticent in his party this week when he suggested they were better off keeping the focus on the more politically safe topic of neo-Nazis and the Klan. Democrats worry about Mr. Trump’s attempt to shift the debate to Confederate monuments and a slippery slope argument toward tearing down memorials to slaveholding founding fathers.

Mr. Schumer accused Mr. Trump of a ploy “to divert attention away from” his “refusal to unequivocally and full-throatedly denounce white supremacy, neo-Nazism, and other forms of bigotry.”

Yet many Republicans are equally wary about running a gubernatorial campaign with race as a centerpiece. Virginia is an increasingly progressive state, and in an election that is bound to become nationalized, evading Mr. Trump, a deeply unpopular figure in the most vote-rich regions here, would be all but impossible for Mr. Gillespie under those circumstances.

“It puts Ed in a tough spot,” said State Delegate David Albo, a veteran Republican legislator, alluding to the pressure Mr. Gillespie is under to distance himself from the president.

Or as Representative A. Donald McEachin, Democrat of Virginia, put it: “We have the gift that keeps on giving in Donald Trump. We don’t know what tomorrow’s news will bring.”

Compounding Mr. Gillespie’s challenge, Mr. Trump is not the only incendiary Republican looming over this campaign.

Corey Stewart, who in June narrowly lost the nomination for governor after making the statues a central part of his platform, has already started his 2018 bid for the seat held by Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat. Mr. Stewart, a Minnesotan by birth, is using that bullhorn to complain that Mr. Gillespie is being overly timid on the matter of Virginia’s Confederate history.

“He’s like some dainty old lady who doesn’t want to get her hands dirty,” said Mr. Stewart of his former rival, adding: “If he continues to try to stay above the monuments’ debate he will lose the election.”

The searing images of torches and mayhem on the University of Virginia’s iconic lawn and murder in the community that Mr. Jefferson made his home have left many in this state reeling, furious that a group of bigots from beyond the state’s borders have stained a place they revere.

Yet those outside agitators only reignited a debate that was inevitably going to return.

Virginia still venerates its past. That is why even a transplant like Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, took care to wear a tie bearing the state seal (Sic Semper Tyrannis) in his public appearances and appeared in a national television interview this week from the governor’s mansion standing in front of a portrait of Barbara Johns, the black teenage civil rights activist who in the 1950s protested Virginia’s segregated schools.

Yet many African-Americans have long since grown tired of such prominent Confederate iconography as the horse-bound generals on pedestals who loom over Monument Avenue in Richmond, the state capital and former capital of the Confederacy.

“You are amazed there could be a whole street dedicated to losers, except for Arthur Ashe,” said Mr. McEachin, who descends from slaves, referring to the local tennis great who was added to the boulevard over the protests of some white Virginians.

This state is also increasingly filled with new residents who see its ubiquitous rebel statues, schools and street names as, at best, a charming relic — but in many cases an ill-conceived homage to a past that should hardly be celebrated.

“The whole argument over the Confederacy and how we honor our history was bound to occur,” said state Senator Creigh Deeds, a Democrat, pointing to the increasing numbers of Virginians born elsewhere. “We’re a diverse state and strong because of it, but we have to figure out how to live side by side.”

In truth, those with different views increasingly don’t live together. Virginia effectively contains the political and social equivalent of Alabama and New Jersey within its borders, and its politics reflect this dichotomy. The affluent and educated urban crescent that stretches from the Washington suburbs down to Richmond and on to Virginia Beach votes differently from the poorer and more rural areas in much of the state’s south and west.

And this Balkanization increasingly shapes state politics as much as Virginia’s presidential preferences (it has supported the Democratic nominee in each of the last three elections). There are increasingly few Northern Virginia Republicans elected and rural Democrats such as Mr. Deeds, have become just as scarce.

Because the state — or “the commonwealth,” as Virginia’s political leaders dutifully call it — is now so sharply divided, few were much surprised when Mr. Gillespie and Mr. Northam staked out their positions on the state’s civic canonization of the Confederacy. Their voters demanded it.

“If you’re Northam, how do you go to black churches this fall and say, ‘We’re going to do something about those monuments: Every locality can decide for themselves?’ ” asked Larry Sabato, the University of Virginia political scientist who witnessed the white supremacist rally from his home on the school’s lawn. “Nobody would applaud.”

Mr. Northam said the moment called for leadership and he was acting out of conviction. But asked about the many Confederate images at his alma mater, Virginia Military Institute, he signaled that he would no force the issue.

He said he would prefer to see the rebel monuments at V.M.I. taken down. But Mr. Northam also twice said the decision would be left to the school’s governing board.

Many in the political middle here fault Mr. Trump for effectively weaponizing the conversation.

“We need a rational debate, but I’m afraid the emotion of the moment after what Trump did just destroyed the opportunity for that discussion,” said Mr. Deeds, who did not criticize Mr. Northam but made clear he thinks localities should be free to decide the monument issue.

Yet much like the aftermath of the 2015 rampage by a white supremacist in a South Carolina black church, there is an impulse in Virginia to take a tangible step toward healing.

“This state is no longer a history lesson suspended in animation,” Mr. Sabato said. “This was a disaster for Virginia, and people want to put a period on it.”

Continue reading the main story

The Economy of an Ecological Society Will Be at the Service of Humanity

Capitalism places people at the service of the economy, whereas the economy of an ecological society orients production and consumption toward the health and well-being of both humans and the broader environment. (Image: studiocasper / iStock / Getty Images Plus)Capitalism places people at the service of the economy, whereas the economy of an ecological society orients production and consumption toward the health and well-being of both humans and the broader environment. (Image: studiocasper / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

What would a truly just, equal and ecologically sustainable future look like? Why would it require a change in our economic system, namely the end of capitalism? Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams answer these questions in Creating an Ecological Society: Toward a Revolutionary Transformation. Suffused with radical hope, this book can be yours with a donation to Truthout!

Is a world possible based on equitable needs, empathy and sustainable economics? Two authors believe so — and that it would require the end of capitalism: Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams, who co-wrote Creating an Ecological Society. In this Truthout interview, Magdoff — a professor emeritus of plant and soil science at the University of Vermont — shares his vision of how we could move toward such a world. 

Mark Karlin: In summary, what would an ecological society look like to you?

Fred Magdoff: We know an incredible amount about how to use ecologically sound ways to produce what we need for a good life. Although we will learn even more as time goes on, we already know such things as how to grow high yields of food and how to create healthy soils using ecologically sound practices (without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers) and how to produce cleaner energy using renewable sources and how to store energy from intermittent sources such as wind and solar. We know how to build appropriate and flexible-use structures (making for easy repurposing), how to better recycle human wastes uncontaminated with industrial pollutants back to farmland and to raise farm animals humanely, how to harvest ocean fish sustainably and how to use aquifers sustainably.

Under capitalism, people are at the service of the economy, as workers and consumers of goods and services. In contrast, the economy of an ecological society will be at the service of humanity and its needs, which of course includes a biodiverse and clean environment with fully functioning natural flows and cycles. Instead of [being based on] the profit motive, decisions made about production and consumption of material goods will place emphasis on having positive effects on humans and the health of the broader environment.

The details of an ecological society will have to be worked out by the people as they are engaged in the struggle and the transition to a new society. But my vision is one in which people live in harmony with each other and the rest of the natural world. It is one of substantive equality and profound democracy, in which the people together decide what is needed for a good life and then ensure that everyone has access to these needs — quality housing, food, clothing, health care, public transportation, sanitation facilities, clean water, clean air and so on. And we can’t leave out access to varied educational, cultural and recreational possibilities, which, combined with meeting material needs, allow all people to fulfill their human potential, wherever their interests lead them. Workers will control the farms, factories, distribution centers, hospitals, etc. and, together with the surrounding communities, will decide what to produce and how to produce it, utilizing ecologically sound methods of interacting with the rest of the natural world.

It will be critical to operate in ways that maintain an egalitarian and democratic society. Transparency and openness need to be maintained. There are a variety of methods to help make that happen, such as simple processes for recall of unsatisfactory persons in positions of authority and regular rotation of positions within economic units and within social structures, such as community, regional and multi-regional councils. Continuing efforts will take place in schools and society at large to encourage pro-social traits needed in a cooperative society — cooperation, reciprocity, sharing, empathy, treating all people equally and fairly (no favoritism) — and to work to minimize the expression of traits emphasized and rewarded by capitalism (especially, greed, selfishness and individualism) and to eliminate the deep scourges of racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination and oppression.

Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams. (Photo: Monthly Review Press)Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams. (Photo: Monthly Review Press)

How does capitalism impede the development of an ecological society?

By its very nature capitalism operates in ways that harm people and the broader environment. The purpose of capitalism is to produce something (a good or a service) using hired labor, raw materials and machinery and sell it for more than the production cost. The motivating and driving force of the system is making more and more money by producing and selling commodities. As [Richard] Levins wrote, “Agriculture is not about producing food but about profit. Food is a side effect. Health service is a commodity, health a by-product.”

If some peoples’ needs are met because they have a good income, that’s how the system is supposed to work. But for the poor and near poor, always present in capitalist societies, their needs for food or health care or decent housing or clean water, etc. are not met, forcing them to rely on mostly inadequate government programs and charity. That is also the way the system is supposed to work. Class stratification of society is integral to capitalism and is considered “natural.” Unemployment, racism, oppression of native peoples, oppression of women and other forms of discrimination cause stress, illness and frequently, shortened lives. For example, African American men have a high incidence of hypertension. But while scientists search for genes to explain this, the fact that Africans living in Africa do not have particularly high blood pressure indicates that the high rate of hypertension among African Americans is a result of stresses suffered while living in a racist and competitive dog-eat-dog society. Workers laboring in insecure and contingent jobs feel considerable stress, leading to diseases such as ulcers, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

Regarding the environment, there is nothing built into the system, no formal procedures or mechanisms, to rationally regulate human interaction with the rest of the natural world. This means that environmental damage is part of the very fabric of capitalism: overfishing of the seas, pollution of air, water, soil and life, including people. According to a 2009 report of the President’s Cancer Panel, we are even born “pre-polluted” with a cocktail of toxic chemicals. Mines, factories and refineries are operated with little regard for the environment. And cleaning up abandoned mines, factories and waste dumps is normally left to society to take care of — we all pay twice, by living with damaging pollution and by paying for cleanup costs.

Social scientists refer to these negative social and environmental effects of capitalism as “externalities.” But in reality, they are logical outcomes of a system in which decisions are made based on the profit motive. Although laws are sometimes passed to deal with some of the “externalities,” they are usually watered down to make them acceptable to business and regulations are not rigorously enforced. These are the equivalent of small band-aids placed on a patient suffering from a variety of life-threatening ailments who desperately needs multiple operations.

The ideology developed through our educational systems and media gives the false impression that capitalism is natural, just the right fit for our “human nature.” Thus, any other system is just not possible because it goes against the basic nature of humans. So, there are both practical and ideological impediments thrown up by capitalism to make it very difficult to change the economic/political/social system.

Explain the biosphere and its cycles of life.

The biosphere encompasses all living organisms and the places where they live, including much of the atmosphere, the oceans, fresh water, soils and deep into the earth. Living organisms are in a constant interaction with the non-living environment, taking in substances from their surroundings and give off waste products. But organisms are also in a constant interaction with other organisms, frequently taking the form of cooperation, such as the symbiotic relationship between nitrogen-fixing bacteria living in nodules in the roots of legume plants. Another telling example is the human biome, the myriad organisms living on our skin and in our digestive system, enabling our bodies to live and function well.

All organisms go through a life cycle, being born (or hatched), growing to maturity, reproducing and then dying. But where do they get their energy and nutrients from in order to live? Almost all life depends either directly or indirectly on the sun’s energy, which is captured by plants and used to convert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, together with over a dozen other nutrients (mostly from soils), into starches, proteins and other organic materials needed for life.

There are a variety of “foodwebs” in which the primary producer (of energy and life), normally a plant, is then consumed by a “secondary” producer (an animal), which is then consumed by a “tertiary” consumer (another animal), etc. Animals either eat plants (cows, plant-feeding insects, humans) or eat animals that eat plants (a crocodile eats a wildebeest that fed on grasslands, humans consume chickens fed with corn and soy). Waste products are excreted, and after death, the residue of all organisms become food sources for smaller organisms such as bacteria and fungi.

Thus, the multitude of organisms comprising our biologically diverse biosphere participate in cycles of life and death, foodwebs, cooperation (among and between species), as well as antagonism between species, as when humans are attacked by a bacterial disease or intestinal parasite. It is the rich diversity of organisms, interacting with one another and with the nonliving natural world, which helps maintain a balance in nature that helps minimize outbreaks of widespread disease that would decimate a species or upset the delicate balance of life.

In what way is equality a biological fact?

We are a very young species: Anatomically modern humans have existed for about 200,000 years. (Although a recent finding may push that back to 300,000 years, from an evolutionary point of view that’s still a blink of an eye.) For most of the time Homo sapiens lived in Africa, with groups leaving beginning around 70,000 years ago, eventually populating all continents except Antarctica. Various superficial characteristics evolved during this short period of time in which human populations have been separated, but there has not been sufficient time for true “subspecies” or “races” to develop. This is the explanation for the very small genetic differences between randomly selected people, about 0.1 percent. People in South Africa, Congo and Ethiopia have more genetic variation between them than each group does compared to Europeans.

Within any large group of people there are differences in abilities and capacity that result from a variety of factors. Genes play an important part, as do the chemicals on the genes that result from a number of factors and control their expression (epigenetics), life experiences (social environment, education and other stimulation, and encouragement), physical environment (exposure to pollutants). All these combine in individuals to influence their interests, talents and abilities. However, there is no evidence whatsoever of differences in intellectual prowess or moral character between groups of people — men, women, those with different skin pigmentation, those whose ancestors lived in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas, or Oceana. No group is smarter or more ethical than another. As the paleontologist and evolutionary scientist Stephen J. Gould explained, “Human equality is a contingent fact of history. Equality is not given a priori; it is neither an ethical principle (though equal treatment may be) nor a statement about norms of social action. It just worked out that way.”

What strategies would make your plans for an ecological society move beyond an intellectual movement and become a goal of the middle class?

For a revolutionary transformation to an ecological society, the goal of the majority of working people, including those in the working class and the middle class, must be for establishing a society that’s equitable, democratic and ecologically sustainable. This will take a long-running multipronged effort at organizing, educating and struggling for gains small and large. Persons in the middle class, although in a privileged position relative to poor, often feel that something isn’t quite right with society and their lives. They feel the effects of environmental degradation, although not nearly as much as the poor. But still, they frequently breathe polluted air or live in coastal communities that because of sea level rise (resulting from global warming) and more intense storms are flooding more regularly. Their bodies are polluted with flame retardants and plasticizers and pesticides, just like other people’s. Their economic positions are not as secure as they once were, as robots and algorithms take over well-paying jobs. After losing homes during the great financial crisis, many now feel especially left out. Middle-class women are also affected by sexism, and a variety of forms of oppression. People in the middle class are also concerned about the economic and environmental conditions that their children and grandchildren will inherit. Thus, there are reasons to believe that working-class and middle-class people can eventually unite around issues of good jobs for everyone, social justice and a healthy environment.

This doesn’t mean that there won’t be difficulties. The system uses an array of strategies to keep people from uniting, such as endemic racism and fostering the deep ideological belief that the people in the various economic strata deserve to be where they are: If you want to get ahead, just work harder and make better life choices. But if you fall behind and are poor it’s just your fault and not the fault of society for failing to provide well-paying jobs, good educational experiences and health care for the poor.

However, we are born with the instinct to want to be treated fairly and have others treated fairly. The movement needs to emphasize that instinctual feeling, continually demonstrating that people born into poverty or an oppressed group are not treated fairly and are not able to compete on an equal footing with those from wealthier families in capitalism’s game. Many people sort of understand that the game is rigged, but they need to be shown how incredibly rigged it actually is. Once they deeply understand that it is the way the society functions that creates these problems, they might be open to considering a different way of organizing the economy and society.

How would a revolutionary transformation be achieved?

This, of course, is the hardest question of all. The vast majority of people must move from an acceptance of current conditions, or a quiescence about them, to a recognition that such a transformation is needed for ecological reasons as well as to promote an equitable society free of discrimination and oppression. For years, the left has been weak, split into countless organizations and NGOs, each pursuing its own very important issue, such as anti-racism and oppression of Indigenous peoples, supporting a healthy environment (against fracking, oil and gas pipeline expansion, reliance on fossil fuels, release of toxic materials into the environment, etc.), extending quality health care for all, preventing hunger, building and supplying affordable housing, growing food without relying on massive amounts of fossil fuels and toxic and polluting chemicals, and so on.

All these and many not listed are worthy causes! But we won’t get anywhere until [all] the people affiliated with and dedicated to each of these worthy progressive causes come to see their primary issue as related to all the others. They can only be solved together. People must come to see that the struggle for a just and ecologically sound society is one struggle and requires a massive mobilization of people over the long term. Whether a coalition of organizations or a single organization is formed, a strategy needs to be developed to engage in a long and difficult struggle. This will entail what Jane McAlevey refers to as “deep organizing.” This is the type of struggle that was common in the union movement in the 1930s and 1940s. Individual actions, such as demonstrations and occupations, strikes, and voting and petition drives become the means to explore people’s concerns, constantly enlarge the base of activists, and to develop local leaders. While every campaign is important, each needs to be viewed in the broader context of movement building.

The forces in favor of the status quo are formidable and will be used to try to suppress united mass movements seriously working to create a humane, egalitarian and environmentally rational society. Only a large majority of the people, using their power to stop working and to engage in civil disobedience and other forms of struggle, can mount a force sufficiently strong to counter the power of capital.

Orphan home

The Evansville Orphan Asylum, also known as the Orphan Home, opened in October 1872, in the former home of Dr. John Laval.

The home sat on 20 acres at the end of West Indiana Street. Originally, the orphanage housed children of all races, as well as provided temporary care for children while their parent sought care in local hospitals or the Boehne Camp.

As many other aspects of Evansville society began to segregate, so did the Orphan Home. In 1983, a Colored Orphan Home, as it was known at the time, was built across the street, about 800 feet away from the original orphanage, to house displaced African American children.

History Lesson is a pictorial history of Evansville compiled by Daniel Smith, local history and digitization librarian at the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.

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Why I Only Buy Black Dolls For My Daughters

As a kid, my collection of toys included stuffed animals, footballs and trucks. I hated Barbies. Even though I had a disdain for the popular waif doll, I often received the dolls during Christmas season. All of these dolls had two important features: They had a lot of hair and they were Black.

black dolls

Owning only Black dolls fell in line with the norm for our household. Our home was adorned in Black art, Black figurines, children’s books with Black illustrated characters, and during Christmas time, a Black angel topped the tree and a Black Santa sat on our counter. Representation was never a problem within the walls of my childhood home.

I now have two daughters (one child is two years old and the other is 10 months) and so far, all of the dolls that they have are Black. It is important that our children have great self-esteem at an early age, and displaying toys that look like them is important since the need for diversity is lost on much of media.

In her essay, The Beauty Ideal: The Effects of European Standards of Beauty on Black Women, Susan Bryant explains how the lack of representation can effect young Black girls:

The detrimental effect of these European beauty standards on black women is a societal issue that is often unaddressed on a multisystem level. Black women today are subjected to incessant messages about European ideals of beauty through family, peers, partners, the media, and larger society. If young black women stand in contrast to what society dictates as attractive, they may find it difficult to grow to accept themselves. As a result, the internalization of racialized beauty standards can perpetuate into a lifelong, intergenerational culture of self-hatred.

It’s no secret that the presence of Black people, especially Black women, is lacking in media. After all, only 14 percent of female characters were Black in the top 100 grossing films of 2016. And who could forget Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s doll test, which proved how at a young age society’s beauty standards cause us to have feelings of inferiority. Both White and Black children chose the White doll as the one they preferred and attributed “positive characteristics” to it, including being pretty and nice.

But Black dolls date back to the 1800s and to individuals like Leo Moss, a black handyman. His collection of dolls was exhibited in the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit from September of last year to June of this year. I See Me: Reflections in Black Dolls displayed the history of Black dolls, porcelain and plastic toys and let many, finally, see the beauty in them.

“The purpose really is to show how dolls empowered African Americans throughout history as a way to see yourself, to empower yourself,” said Jennifer Evans, assistant curator at the Wright Museum to The Guardian. “Having so many dolls in one place, and for those growing up who couldn’t have a black doll, is very powerful.”

While keeping Black dolls probably doesn’t sound like that serious of a thing in this day and age, it’s still very much important.

I’ve had a couple of people question my decision and even assume that only buying Black dolls will limit the exposure my children will have regarding race. To those people I say that it’s not about other people but about my kids and how they receive and perceive images and see themselves.

Not only do I plan to continue buying Black dolls for them, but I will also be mindful of what shows/videos and books they are viewing and reading. Of course, there will be characters of various ethnicities, but with innocent nursery rhyme videos that show the one Black character in a less than positive way and an educational app which contains the only Black girl under the word “sad” (both scenarios are real and were watched by my toddler and quickly turned off), I have to stay abreast of what my daughters are taking in. It warms my heart that my toddler can look at her Princess Tiana toys and say “a princess.” When seeing other princesses whom are normally White, both in toy form and real life, she now knows a princess can be Black as well.

I want to ensure that my children know and comprehend that their blackness is beautiful and should be celebrated. They will understand how to love all people regardless of their color, but appreciate and love all shades and features of their own people. So while I appreciate someone buying our children gifts, one gift we can’t accept is a doll that doesn’t look like us.

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