From Yeezus to Nike: Your guide to the High Museum’s Virgil Abloh exhibition

Virgil Abloh High Museum of Art Atlanta
Installation views of Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” at the High Museum of Art (Nov. 12, 2019 – March 8, 2020).

Photograph by Mike Jensen

The words “Caution Your Perceptions” are painted on a yellow sign at the entry to the Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech exhibition at the High Museum. This is certainly an indicator of what’s to come from the artist, who is the artistic director of menswear for Louis Vuitton and has his own label, Off-White. The exhibition is like taking a walk through Abloh’s creative genius, including a mix of garments, video, music, rare sneakers, and works by his contemporaries. With each object, he ponders race, hip-hop, and the marketplace, all with a nod to his native Chicago. Figures of Speech is on view through March 8, 2020.

“Our hope is that this exhibition will be seen as a continuation of our efforts to broaden and expand our audiences by providing a diverse range of work—just as Virgil Abloh himself works across a range of media,” says Kevin Tucker, the High’s chief curator.

Virgil Abloh High Museum of Art Atlanta
Installation views of Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” at the High Museum of Art (Nov. 12, 2019 – March 8, 2020).

Photograph by Mike Jensen

Renaissance man
Before venturing into fashion design, Abloh studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. As his career in fashion bloomed, his background in architecture influenced his designs. You’ll find elements from Grecian architecture as well as Italian renaissance art on the graphic tees from first label Pyrex.

Virgil Abloh High Museum of Art Atlanta
Installation views of Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” at the High Museum of Art (Nov. 12, 2019 – March 8, 2020).

Photograph by Mike Jensen

From Yeezy to Yeezus to Jesus
Abloh has had a long-standing friendship with fellow Chicago native, Kanye West. Blending high and low garments, West’s signature blazers and hoodies with jeans were styled by Abloh. In the “Music” section of the exhibition, an oversized version of the Yeezus album cover, which Abloh designed, is also on display. 

Virgil Abloh High Museum of Art Atlanta
Installation views of Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” at the High Museum of Art (Nov. 12, 2019 – March 8, 2020).

Photograph by Mike Jensen

The fabric of our lives
The complex relationship between black people and cotton is explored in each of the exhibition’s four sections. The cotton logo is painted white with a spotlight shining on it in “The Black Gaze” section. There is also a black flag embroidered with a cotton peace sign hanging over a prayer rug with a crown of cotton on it in the “Music” section. These pieces demonstrate Abloh’s hyperawareness that he is creating products to sell in the same marketplace that black people were once sold through.

Virgil Abloh High Museum of Art Atlanta
Installation views of Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” at the High Museum of Art (Nov. 12, 2019 – March 8, 2020).

Photograph by Mike Jensen

Baby bags
As Louis Vuitton’s first black artistic director of menswear, part of Abloh’s mission with the brand is to include more images of black people in the advertisements. For his first campaign, he featured a black boy playing with vinyl blue and red duffle bags.

Virgil Abloh High Museum of Art Atlanta
Installation views of Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” at the High Museum of Art (Nov. 12, 2019 – March 8, 2020).

Photograph by Mike Jensen

Checkmate
Nike asked Abloh to redesign 125 of their bestselling tennis shoes. On some, he includes plastic red tags that resemble those tied onto bodies at a morgue. This is not only an acknowledgement of the constant presence of death due to the murder rate in Chicago, but also to the stream of headlines about teens being robbed and killed over Nikes.

Virgil Abloh High Museum of Art Atlanta
Installation views of Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” at the High Museum of Art (Nov. 12, 2019 – March 8, 2020).

Photograph by Mike Jensen

Gassed up
An awareness of the business of art is a through line in the exhibition. Abloh recognizes that his commercial success rests on building anticipation and marketing an illusion of exclusivity. At the end of the exhibition, this is punctuated by a deconstructed black Sunoco gas station sign with the prices in white LED lights. It contains a duality, since “gassed up” is a colloquial term for overstated hype.

Virgil Abloh High Museum of Art Atlanta
Installation views of Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” at the High Museum of Art (Nov. 12, 2019 – March 8, 2020).

Photograph by Mike Jensen

Virgil Abloh High Museum of Art Atlanta
Installation views of Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” at the High Museum of Art (Nov. 12, 2019 – March 8, 2020).

Photograph by Mike Jensen

Virgil Abloh High Museum of Art Atlanta
Installation views of Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” at the High Museum of Art (Nov. 12, 2019 – March 8, 2020).

Photograph by Mike Jensen

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An African American cultural trail is coming to Greenville this summer

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) The beginning of Greenville dates back nearly 240 years ago.

The Greenville-Pitt County Convention and Visitors Bureau wants to share the city’s history by creating a self-guided African American cultural tour. 

Patricia Grimes Short is the Chairman of the new trail.

“A lot of people don’t know the history and we’re doing it so they can learn the things that they didn’t know so it should be very interesting,” she says.

The committee for the tour has established five locations as the first phase of the tour. 

The Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza, which is being constructed right now, is going to be the launching point for the trail.

They’re looking at areas that either have established buildings in use or that used to be there. 

The tour will be guided by a mobile app that will feature accounts from individuals along with photographs and oral histories from people who lived in the neighborhood and their descendants. 

“It’ll be an opportunity for people coming in for other reasons to learn more about the culture and history of Greenville and Pitt County and then it’ll also be for group tours as well,” says Andrew Schmidt, the CEO of the Greenville-Pitt County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Schmidt also believes that this will be an economic development project, attracting people from around eastern North Carolina to stay in Greenville and learn its history.

Finding peace in a troubled world

As a college teacher for many years, I prepare assignments that will not only meet the requirements of the courses I teach for knowledge and skill development but also meet my hope for students in terms of the more illusory objective of emotional growth.

Those who pay little attention to research or commentary on college students might feel that this is a privileged group in American society and can be defined by the cars they drive, the clothing they wear, the wild parties they attend, their joyful faces when the television camera operators at The Ohio State University or the University of Kentucky sports events pan the audiences.

There is so much more to my students from the 14- year-old enrolled as a College Credit Plus student to the 50-year-old seeking a degree required in his company or to the woman who knows that a degree in a health-care field will enhance her employment possibilities for the remainder of her work life.

I realize the power of the written word to give a permanence, a reality to an experience as well as the power of words to heal. As part of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize events, each fall se4mester my students write about the obstacles, challenges, and horrific situations they have faced and the ways in which they have come to peace with them – or not.

I’d like to share with you some of their topics so that you can see college students as the complex human beings they are.

Several years ago a Marine veteran wrote about the grief he feels at not being deployed to Afghanistan because of a shoulder injury and a friend who was deployed and died there. He believes he might have saved his friend’s life. Another veteran wrote about being warned by a father and son that the convoy in which he and members of his unit were riding was about to be ambushed. The convoy took an opposite route but later came across the man and his son, murdered because they had given a warning to the enemy, American forces.

One of my students wrote about being “set up” in a robbery, sent to jail, and in handcuffs giving birth to her son.

As students write these personal experience essays, it’s their task to be reflective, to tell their story — and they do so in prose that resonates with me.

Recently, a student detailed her mother’s drug addiction and her acceptance of the reality that her mother will probably never be clean and sober. Another wrote of power lifting that has given her confidence and pride in her body.

When another student indicated that she was going to write about dying, I was curious about her approach. Her essay detailed brilliantly a medical mistake that caused her death following what should have been a routine surgery and a subsequent resuscitation.

Finding a path out of deep depression is another journey a student detailed recently, and another wrote of meeting with hostility and rejection in a church where she assumed she would find acceptance and spiritual growth.

The list is long, and my students explore bullying, the death of a parent, parents who fail in their responsibilities, addictions, disease, sexual abuse, and being “other”: African American in a world dominated by Anglos, homosexual with some religious denominations proclaiming they are on a pathway to hell.

As Thanksgiving arrives in this turbulent world, I want to thank my students for sharing their lives with me, for having the courage to explore and write their truths. I am blessed in many ways; however, working with students brings me joy.

I encourage my readers to find their joy in things small and large as they discover ways to find peace with the challenges/atrocities of their past lives. Embrace the good; be thankful. Maybe you’ll even consider writing a short essay!

Vivian B. Blevins. Ph.D., a graduate of The Ohio State University, served as a community college president for 15 years in Kentucky, Texas, California, and Missouri before returning to Ohio to teach telecommunication employees from around the country and students at Edison State Community College and to work with veterans. You may reach her at 937-778-3815 or vbblevins@woh.rr.com. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. This column shared through the AIM Media Midwest group of newspapers.



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Marie Greenwood, One Of Denvers 1st African American Teachers, Dies At 106 – Colorado Public Radio

Marie Greenwood, a pioneering Denver teacher who spent decades fighting segregation in city institutions, has died. She was 106.

Greenwood was one of the first black teachers to be hired by Denver Public Schools, which would later name an elementary school in the northeast corner of town after her.

Born on Nov. 24, 1912 in Los Angeles, Greenwood’s family moved her here from Arizona at age 13. She was a tenacious child who craved adventure and stood up to discrimination.

“It never dawned on me that I was a different color because my father had always taught me I was as good as anybody else and if I worked hard enough I could be better,” she told CPR in a 2017 interview. “And I had that attitude even though I ran into this discrimination.”

Courtesy Bill Greenwood
Marie, age 8, with her parents, Sarah and Joseph Anderson.

As a high school student in Denver in the 1920s, the girls’ dean told Greenwood she shouldn’t waste her parents’ money on college because she could never aspire to be more than a maid. Greenwood went on to graduate No. 3 in her class, go on to what is now the University of Northern Colorado to earn a teaching degree, and return to Denver Public Schools.

At college in Greeley, Colorado, Greenwood and other black students weren’t allowed to live on campus and were discouraged from participating in extracurricular activities.

Decades later, the university granted Greenwood an honorary doctorate, asked her to speak at a commencement and established a scholarship in her honor.

Her teaching career began at Whittier Elementary School in 1935. Her salary was $1,200 a year as one of the first African-American school teachers in Denver. She earned respect and admiration for breaking down racial barriers throughout her long career in Denver Public Schools. 

A simple but powerful vision defined her earliest days as an educator: every child can learn. She was a first-grade teacher for 30 years, animated in life by the importance of early literacy programs. Up until her later years, she continued to participate in Each One Teach One, an early literacy program at the school that bore her name.

BLACK VOICES FOR TRUMP

Black voters
PHOTOS BY CURTIS COMPTON/ ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION/TNS
Paul Morrow, a concrete business owner, joins President Trump on stage during the Black Voices for Trump Coalition rollout on Friday, Nov. 8 in Atlanta.

President makes re-election pitch to ‘forgotten’ Democrats

BY TIA MITCHELL AND GREG BLUESTEIN
THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION/ TNS 

ATLANTA – Three years after challenging Black voters to shrug off support for Democrats and back him, President Donald Trump used Atlanta as a staging ground for a new Black outreach initiative that he said would be a key part of his 2020 reelection bid. 

Surrounded by roughly 400 supporters, including some who were from out of state, the president on Friday, Nov. 8 invoked the refrain he repeated so often during the 2016 campaign in front of largely White crowds as an appeal to Black voters: “What the hell do you have to lose?” 

Those who took the gamble and supported him, Trump said, were rewarded with criminal justice initiatives, low Black unemployment rates and staunch opposition to abortion, he said at the launch of his Black Voices for Trump group. Democrats, he countered, can only come up with empty promises. 

“Under Democratic politicians, African Americans have become forgotten — literally forgotten — Americans,” Trump told the crowd, a mostly Black audience that also included much of the Georgia GOP’s top leadership. “Under my administration, they’ve become forgotten no longer.” 

Black voters
Supporters listen to President Trump while he speaks at the Black Voices for Trump Coalition rollout.

Drew protesters too

Outside the cramped Georgia World Congress Center, hundreds gathered to protest the president, waving signs mocking his agenda or supporting his impeachment. 

Some got into shouting matches with Trump supporters. And earlier in the day, several of Georgia’s most prominent Democratic leaders assailed his presidency. 

State Sen. Nikema Williams, the Atlanta-based chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said Trump was bringing his “backward agenda to Georgia to pretend like his actions haven’t been a disaster for the Black community and marginalized communities across this entire country.”

“In Georgia, we know better on issues from health care to criminal justice to education to basic respect, Donald Trump has failed to be a president for all Americans, especially Americans from marginalized backgrounds,” Williams said the morning of Nov. 8. 

Black voters
Supporter Joel Patrick wears his campaign gear while waiting for President Trump to arrive.

‘Get educated’ 

Trump is trying to improve on dismal support among Black voters. Just 8% of them cast ballots for him nationwide in 2016. And a recent poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that only 4% of Blacks think Trump’s actions and policies have benefited Black people. 

Angeline Payne, who lives in South Fulton, said she attended the event to support Trump and “rally and recruit” Black voters. “More Blacks need to get engaged in politics and stop letting others tell them how to vote,” she said. 

“If you live in America, you’re involved,” said Payne, 58. “So you should get educated. Find out about the parties, where the parties came from, how they represent you, and then make a decision on what party you want to be and don’t let somebody tell you what party you’re in.” 

Invitation-only event 

Payne, who teaches financial literacy, said when voters aren’t engaged they just align with a party by default. “And if you’re not looking at the other side and seeing what they’re doing,” she said, “do you really want to be represented by that?” 

The event was nothing like the last time Trump appeared at the Georgia World Congress Center, when thousands of his supporters thronged a vast concrete ballroom in 2016 for a rally memorable in part because the lights briefly went out. 

The Nov. 8 event was held in a far smaller room in the convention center and was open to only those who had invitations, leaving some of the president’s backers waiting outside for a chance to see him speak. 

Pence, Carson speak 

It started with an excerpt of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a poem that’s often referred to as the Black national anthem, which caused a stir on social media with critics who called it disingenuous. 

Trump was preceded by Vice President Mike Pence, who told the crowd of the sweep of Black Republicans who were elected to office during the Reconstruction era and said that the GOP, from Abraham Lincoln to Dwight Eisenhower, has advocated for Black Americans. 

Then came U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, the only Black member of Trump’s Cabinet, who drew a rousing ovation when he told the crowd that if “Trump is a racist, he’s an awfully bad one.” 

That contrasted with the message from Williams and other Democratic legislators, who blasted the president’s play for Black voters and said their party is best positioned to meet the needs of communities of color. 

A pastoral rebuke 

The Rev. Timothy McDonald, a civil rights leader and pastor of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, closed a news conference with a scathing rebuke of Trump’s latest effort to woo Black voters. 

“To launch a program that he thinks is going to cause Black people to vote for him is outrageous, it is insane and it is a slap in the face of all Americans of goodwill,” McDonald said.

“This man’s rhetoric and his agenda have taken our country backward, not forward, to a time when there was much pain that existed.” 

Georgia politicians attend 

Although Trump’s event targeted Black voters, the audience was peppered with influential White politicians from Georgia: Gov. Brian Kemp, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, and U.S. Reps. Doug Collins, Buddy Carter and Jody Hice were all in the building. Each was also singled out by Trump. 

The crowd was also dotted with local Black conservatives. Among the attendees was Herman Cain, the former presidential hopeful; Alveda King, a niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; and Melvin Everson, a former state legislator. 

The event served as a reunion of sorts for Black Trump supporters from across the nation. Political adviser Katrina Pierson named over a dozen states she said attendees hailed from, including Georgia, Florida, Ohio and Texas. “You forgot Arkansas!” a few people shouted. 

A thankful veteran

Trump gave one of the most prominent speaking slots, though, to a lesser-known supporter: Kelvin King, an Atlanta contractor and Air Force veteran who credited Trump’s economic agenda for helping his business thrive and thanked the president for “making the Black community a priority.” 

“Our future success depends on our success in ignoring the distractions we see on a daily basis,” King said. “Don’t sit on the sidelines because of emotions or feelings.”

David Solomon, who came to the event from Miami, is the type of voter that Trump is hoping to win over. He said he was drawn to Trump because of his support for school choice and opposition to abortion, and that he plans to challenge other black voters to question their party ideology. 

“Why not try something different?” he said. “We’ve already given them a shot for 50-some-odd years, and what have they done for us?”


Bria Felicien contributed to this report.

African American female NASCAR pit crew member recounts her journey

Janet Weinstein/ABC News

Janet Weinstein/ABC News(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — The sound of drills is deafening, but the careful choreography of hurried tire-changing puts everyone on the track into their own quiet Zen.

“My heart’s like: ‘Boom boom, boom boom,” NASCAR rear-tire changer, Brehanna Daniels, told ABC News. “If there is a wheel rolling down pit road, that it’ll be my fault, and I’m fired.”

Once practice ends, Daniels and her team members whip off their helmets to talk, a motion that quietly reveals that she’s the only woman in the pit.

“Anything a guy can do, we can do — probably do a little better too!” she joked.

“I’m never complacent,” she added. “I’m going to keep doing whatever I can to be great.”

And “great” she already is. In 2019, Daniels became one of the first women in NASCAR history to pit at the Daytona 500. She is also the first African American female pit crew member to compete at a national series.

“I’m doing something that’s not just for myself but it’s much bigger than me,” she said. “I’d like to see NASCAR as multiple faces and not just one.”

Daniels said she never initially set out to get into the race car game. She played basketball for Norfolk State University on a full scholarship and had no interest in NASCAR until she heard there were tryouts on campus.

“Something told me, like, you have to go to this NASCAR trial,” she remembered. “It was like God told me, like: ‘Brianna you have to do this.’”

She said she was the only woman to try out in the trial, which eventually led her to a spot on NASCAR’s “Drive for Diversity” program.

“They were specifically recruiting athletes,” she remembered. Considering how heavy the tires are and how valuable speed is, athletic conditioning is key. Tires can range between 65-75 pounds.

In stark contrast to the intensity of her daily job, every night Daniels sinks quietly into her journals. She has been journaling every day since she was a little girl. She has over a dozen journals stacked up, all different colors, sizes and shapes, all filled with life-altering moments as well as mundane middle school gossip. She smiles as she flips through one, remembering her first college basketball game.

“Journaling is very therapeutic to me — like we have best friends that we can talk to, you know, talk to about stuff that’s gone on our lives. But you don’t always tell them every single thing,” she says. “It’s like everything’s bottled up inside. I’m slowly releasing it as I’m writing it down on paper.”

She credits her mom for getting her into writing — a routine that grew more important to Daniels after losing her mother to breast cancer when she was 14 years old.

“She was a real trooper, you know,” she said. “She was like Superwoman to me.”

Back at the pit, Daniels joked around with the other male team members, even lightly punching one in the arms as they run laps.

“She’s basically one of the guys out here,” said NASCAR tire carrier and teammate, Ernesto Holden. “We treat her the same way we treat the other guys.”

But for Daniels, she said she strives for more.

“I always thought that name looked good on TV,” Daniels said with a smile. “One day everybody will know who Brehanna Daniels is.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Eight weeks of impeachment has taken a toll on Trump

WASHINGTON — It’s been a rough two months for Trump and the GOP: Eight whole weeks have now passed since Democrats began their impeachment inquiry on Sept. 24, and it’s hard to overstate just how damaging it has been for Trump and the GOP.

Let us list the ways.

  • Every week (and sometimes every day) has produced a new bombshell revelation. The most recent was from State Department official David Holmes, who testified he overheard a phone conversation between Trump and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland: “I then heard President Trump ask, quote, ‘So he’s going to do the investigation?’ unquote. Ambassador Sondland replied that, ‘He’s going to do it,’ adding that President Zelensky will quote, ‘Do anything you ask him to.’”
  • Republicans have been forced to give changing and conflicting defenses — Trump’s July 25 call was perfect; there was no quid pro quo; if there was a quid pro quo, it’s not impeachable; the testimony against Trump is merely hearsay; let the voters decide about the president’s actions.
  • During it all, Trump has tweeted more and more, including that tweet Friday directed at witness Marie Yovanovitch: “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go?”
  • The president has uttered more and more falsehoods about Ukraine and impeachment (CNN has counted 45 different false claims).
  • And during this time period, the GOP has lost gubernatorial elections in the red states of Kentucky and Louisiana, as well as control of the legislature in increasingly blue Virginia.

The good news for Trump is that the totality of the last eight weeks hasn’t changed his political standing. A new NPR/PBS/Marist poll has his approval rating essentially unchanged at 41 percent, and it shows the public is divided about his impeachment/removal from office.

Nov. 19, 201901:48

But what the impeachment inquiry has done is produce the worst version of Trump — the tweeting, the dissembling, the changing explanations.

As we wrote on Friday, he can’t compartmentalize.

Impeachment inquiry update: Today’s Hearing-palooza

And when it comes to the public testimony, today will be the biggest day yet – with four different witnesses testifying, per NBC’s Geoff Bennett.

  • Today beginning at 9:00 am ET: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and VP aide Jennifer Williams
  • Today beginning at 2:30 pm ET: Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison
  • Wednesday morning: Gordon Sondland
  • Wednesday afternoon: Laura Cooper and David Hale
  • Thursday morning: Fiona Hill and David Holmes

2020 Vision: One day out before tomorrow’s MSNBC/WaPo debate

On the campaign trail today: The day before Wednesday’s MSNBC/Washington Post debate in Atlanta, most of the Dem candidates are down for debate prep… Julian Castro, who didn’t qualify for the debate, holds a discussion with Angela Rye in Atlanta… And Stacey Abrams participates in a discussion on voter suppression in Atlanta.

Dispatches from NBC’s campaign embeds: While in Atlanta yesterday, Pete Buttigieg responded to reporters’ questions about him continuing to poll low with African-American voters. From NBC’s Priscilla Thompson: “Buttigieg responded to NBC’s question about the latest poll showing him at 0 percent support among African-Americans. Buttigieg said he tries not to get too caught up in poll numbers, but that polls also showed a number of voters there still don’t know who he is. ‘There are some areas, certainly places like Iowa where folks feel like they’ve seen every candidate dozens of times, others where clearly we’ve got a lot of work to do just to make sure that the message gets out,’ he said. ‘And it’s one of the reasons why we’re making investments both on the ground, and on the airwaves and South Carolina.’”

Buttigieg went on to say he “understands the skepticism of a new political figure coming in making promises to the black community, but he hopes in doing show he’s demonstrating ‘where our priorities are and where my heart is,’ so that people know what they’re voting for.”

Data Download: And the number of the day is … zero

That’s the share of African-American vote that Pete Buttigieg gets in South Carolina, according to a Quinnipiac poll of the state that was released on Monday.

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The overall horserace numbers in the poll among likely Democratic primary voters: Joe Biden 33 percent, Elizabeth Warren 13 percent, Bernie Sanders 11 percent and Pete Buttigieg 6 percent.

And the horserace among likely African-American Democratic primary voters in the state: Biden 44 percent, Sanders 10 percent, Warren 8 percent, Kamala Harris 6 percent and Buttigieg … 0 percent.

Talking policy with Benjy

The big policy news over the last week has been Elizabeth Warren’s plan to split Medicare for All into two parts, with the (relatively) easier task of expanding health care through a public option coming first, and the harder task of banning private plans second, per NBC’s Benjy Sarlin. This comes on the heels of her plan to finance Medicare for All without directly raising taxes on the middle class.

In combination, the plans come with upside. Warren has argued her two-bill approach shows she’ll both protect Obamacare and get more reforms done ASAP rather than getting bogged down in every detail of the current Medicare for All bill. If you’re a moderate nervous about the general election, the plans signal she’ll have flexibility responding to attacks on Medicare for All’s private insurance provisions and its taxes. If you’re a progressive worried about how to make single-payer a reality, Warren’s filled in more details than Sanders has about his own bill, and earned high praise for it from the House’s lead Medicare for All sponsor, Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

But the risks are massive. Warren is now effectively all on her own on this issue, making her a gigantic target for criticism from all sides for the rest of the primaries.

On the left, the alliance between her and Sanders on this issue has never looked shakier. He has made clear he doesn’t like her plan to finance Medicare for All and on Friday said he’d pursue his full bill on day one.

At the same time, the center-left candidates show no sign of being placated by her latest moves. The Biden and Buttigieg campaigns both portrayed the two-step plan as validation of their criticism that full Medicare for All is politically untenable. And while Warren has made clear her plan is still much more far-reaching than either of theirs, she’s now operating under a framework that Buttgieg supports — passing a public option to get to Medicare for All. That could make it harder to play the purity card with the left against him.

Tweet of the day

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn’t miss

The White House physician released a new statement Monday night denying speculation about the president’s weekend hospital trip and reiterating the administration’s previous statement that the trip was part of a routine checkup.

House investigators released testimony from David Holmes, a U.S. embassy official in Ukraine, who raised questions about a phone call between Ambassador Gordon Sondand and President Trump.

The New York Times reports that Kurt Volker is expected to testify Tuesday that he didn’t know about attempts by others to link Ukrainian foreign aid to an investigation into former Vice President Biden and his son.

Politico reports House freshmen want Democrats to move on President Trump’s proposed trade deal with Canada and Mexico, and are worried impeachment could blunt their re-election.

Trump Agenda: Prisoner release

The Taliban released two American University of Kabul professors, one American and one Australian, who have been held hostage since they were kidnapped at gunpoint three years ago.

A senior State Department aide resigned Monday after an NBC News investigation into whether she inflated her resume.

The New York Times explores how Rudy Giuliani’s foreign policy efforts were undertaken on open cell-phone lines and unclassified applications.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the Trump administration is reversing previous U.S. policy and now believes Israeli settlements in the West Bank don’t violate international law.

An IRS whistleblower spoke to Senate aides about concerns about potential Treasury Department interference into the audit of the president or vice president’s tax returns.

The Supreme Court temporarily blocked a ruling that would have required an accounting firm to turn over the president’s tax returns to Congress.

2020: Stacey in the spotlight

Stacey Abrams may not be running for president, but she looms large in the 2020 debate as she works to expand voting rights.

The New York Times looks at how Tulsi Gabbard’s spat with Hillary Clinton has breathed new life into her campaign.

Joe Biden is trying to clean up his position on marijuana, arguing he wants to decriminalize possession and allow states to legalize it after telling town hall attendees he doesn’t support federal legalization at this time.

Buttigieg takes the debate stage leading in Iowa but mired in controversy in South Carolina

CLOSE

Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg spoke at an Indianapolis NAACP event on Oct. 4, 2019. Grace Hollars, Indianapolis Star

Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg’s night-and-day campaigns in Iowa and South Carolina clearly show both why he’s such a formidable opponent and also why he remains a longshot to win the nomination. 

In Iowa, he surged into first place after hitting Elizabeth Warren hard on how she would pay for her massive Medicare expansion. In South Carolina, he’s navigating troubling accusations that his campaign grossly overstated black support for his sweeping platform for African Americans. 

Here’s what it means in the short term. For the first time, he’s going to have a target on his back when he walks onto the debate stage Wednesday in Atlanta. The three frontrunners can no longer afford to mostly ignore him as little more than a smooth-talking Midwestern curiosity, pundits say. 

And for the long term, if he emerges from the debate politically unscathed, he’s going to have to find a way to convince voters of color that he has their backs

“In the past debates, he’s come out swinging and he’s landed some punches,” said Chad Kinsella, assistant professor of political science at Ball State. “As his popularity has grown, I don’t think they’re going to let him go. I think a couple of people will come after him and bring him back down to Earth.”

New front-runner? Pete Buttigieg shoots to the top of the 2020 field in Iowa poll

The unanswered question: Buttigieg scored by hitting Warren on spending. But how will he pay for his own plans?

A campaign spokesman for Buttigieg declined to comment on debate strategy, other than to say the mayor will be prepared.

Buttigieg’s record on race clearly remains his greatest vulnerability. When a white South Bend police officer shot a black man wielding a knife in June, the mayor’s bumpy relationship with African Americans was exposed. Things haven’t much improved. 

African Americans make up a significant portion of the Democratic base and as long as he’s polling at near zero percent with black voters, his path to the nomination remains murky at best.

He clearly knows he has to make up ground, recently announcing a $2 million advertising purchase in South Carolina, where the campaign has been heavily promoting his Douglass Plan, named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and where he remains mired in fifth. 

Things are not going well. Prominent African Americans in South Carolina are accusing his campaign of embellishing black support for the Douglass Plan.

Their criticism stems from an open letter published Nov. 15 in the HCBU Times, purportedly written by 400 South Carolinian supporters of the Douglass Plan, including several elected officials, pastors, business owners and students. 

“Together, we endorse his Douglass Plan for Black America, the most comprehensive roadmap for tackling systemic racism offered by a 2020 presidential candidate,” the letter states.

The trouble started soon after publication. Several elected leaders denied they had endorsed the plan, according to The Intercept, a digital news publication. A review by the publication showed many of the 400 supporters were white and some lived out of state.  The Intercept also reported a woman in a photo used to promote the platform lives in Kenya, and had never heard of the plan.

According to the campaign, some leaders withdrew previously made endorsements and their names were removed. The list of 400 people was intended to show biracial support, the campaign said, not just endorsements from African Americans. And the photo is a stock image, the campaign said. 

“Our campaign is working to build a multi-racial coalition, and we sought and received input from numerous black policy experts and advisers to create a comprehensive plan to dismantle systemic racism: the Douglass Plan,” the campaign said in a prepared statement. “We asked a number of black South Carolinians, as well as South Carolinians from many backgrounds, to support the Douglass Plan, and we are proud and grateful that hundreds agreed to do so.”

Larry Sabato,the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said the rollout has been sloppy but it’s not a campaign killer. Still, he said Buttigieg will have to weather a barrage of criticism. 

The more important question, he thinks, is whether Buttigieg can win over voters of color. In addition to the polls of African Americans, Sabato referenced a survey in California where the mayor had little support among Latinos

“He doesn’t just have a black problem,” Sabato said. “He has a brown problem.”

At Wednesday’s debate, Buttigieg’s response to the controversy might reveal his strategy with African American voters moving forward. In the June debate, he took responsibility for the ongoing tensions between his police department and black citizens, saying “I couldn’t get it done.” 

That moment aside, Buttigieg has had it pretty easy at the debates so far. He’s taken on the front runners, made his points on policy, while easily swatting away attacks from lower-tier candidates such as Eric Swalwell, Julián Castro, Beto O’Rourke and Amy Klobuchar.

But Wednesday, pundits don’t think Warren and Bernie Sanders, in particular, can stay on the defensive as he continues to hammer away at their more progressive positions, most notably on health care. 

Elizabeth Bennion, a politics professor at Indiana University-South Bend, said there’s some risk that attacking Buttigieg could simply raise his profile even higher. But she thinks the frontrunners will want to slow down his rise heading into Iowa and New Hampshire.

“As Warren, Sanders, and (Vice President Joe) Biden compete with Pete Buttigieg to win the first-in-the-nation caucus in Iowa, I expect that the three national frontrunners will be more forceful in drawing distinctions between themselves and Mayor Pete,” she said. “The candidates head into the November debate with many Iowa, and national, voters undecided.”

Biden might be the least likely to target Buttigieg. In fact, pundits think the former vice president would prefer Buttigieg win Iowa over Warren, who had been leading. Biden’s support among African Americans remains strong, positioning him for a comeback in South Carolina and on Super Tuesday, when several southern states vote. From that perspective, Warren is Biden’s more significant long-term threat. 

Then again, Biden might be tired of Buttigieg’s strategy to replace him as the moderate candidate. 

“Somebody will go after Buttigieg,” Sabato said. “I don’t know which one, maybe all of them. Warren seems the most anxious to do so.” 

Warren and Buttigieg have clashed on Medicare for All. She released a $20.5 trillion funding proposal after Buttigieg and others criticized the lack of details in her proposed expansion. Meanwhile, progressive groups have dismissed Buttigieg’s Medicare for All Who Want It counterproposal as not bold enough. 

There’s cause to think Buttigieg would win that fight. Sabato said he recently commissioned a study that showed Medicare for All was a loser among voters in Congressional races in 2018. Warren notably didn’t talk much about her plan to expand Medicare at a recent trip through Iowa, which might be a sign she knows it’s troubling for some Democrats. 

Unions, in particular, remain a strong force in the Democratic base, and they fought for health-care benefits as part of their salaries. 

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Progressive groups have taken another tactic that might foreshadow what happens at the debate. Pointing to past tweets and statements, they accuse Buttigieg of flip flopping, once supporting but now opposing Medicare for All. While Buttigieg’s campaign pushes back on that, being saddled with the flip-flopper moniker has hurt others, perhaps most notably Al Gore in 2000

It’s also possible Biden, Sanders and Warren continue to ignore Buttigieg, for the most part. If that happens, Sabato said it’s a sure sign that their internal information says he’s still not much of a threat beyond Iowa. If that’s the case, Buttigieg might be positioned to continue to attack the leaders while fending off the rest of the field. And be sure, the rest of the field is likely to continue to target him. 

“We’ll have to see what their internal calculations are,” Sabato said of the frontrunners. “For the second-tier candidates, there is a lot of jealously and resentment of Buttigieg. They see him as arrogant and inexperienced.” 

In that scenario, his biggest vulnerability remains his first: He remains the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend. 

Call IndyStar reporter Chris Sikich at 317-444-6036. Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisSikich.

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Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2019: Meet the brilliant new voices shortlisted for the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright

There’s more to the buzz around a brilliant new playwright than a memorable evening at the theatre

Exciting new voices offer fresh perspectives on the world around us, making us sit up and pay attention to what they have to say.

The Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright has a long history of celebrating those writers, with past winners including Jez Butterworth, Lolita Chakrabarti, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Polly Stenham and Martin McDonagh.

The winner of this year’s award will be announced at the 65th Evening Standard Theatre Awards, which take place on November 24. Here, meet the bright talents on this year’s shortlist.

Zoe Cooper

Out of Water, Orange Tree Theatre

(The Other Richard)

What inspired you to write Out of Water?

My wife works in education. She told me about an incident at school, when Stonewall came to give a talk about homophobic bullying. The school were very enthusiastic about the talk, but later that day a pregnant head of department warned the staff who had attended not to tell anyone that she herself was in a same-sex partnership. I could understand why a teacher would feel this way, especially a woman who might already feel vulnerable because she was pregnant, and especially given her senior position. I decided to write about a teacher who lies about the gender of her partner when she starts a new job, and then can’t find a way out of that lie. The consequences for her and her students.

What’s your best memory from the production at the Orange Tree?

Lots of the people involved in making the show were queer themselves, and so it was a lovely feeling to all be making a show together which centred some of our shared stories.  My best memories come from these collaborator’s contributions, a moment when an actor saw something of themselves in a character and in so doing helped me to see that character more clearly, or a stage manager questioned whether I had got the detail of the script right.  Like lots of other minorities, queer women and non-binary people in particular rarely get to see ourselves on stage or screen, and when we do it is even rarer that we get to see ourselves in the role of the protagonist. I felt really privileged to be telling the story with all of them.

Who are your biggest influences and inspirations?

I have really diverse tastes in terms of theatre and playwrights, some of my favourites are Lucy Kirkwood, David Grieg, Tom Wells, Winsome Pinnock, Caroline Horton, Alan Ayckbourn, Annie Baker. Maybe what they have in common is that they are all tender writers, who are united in trying to understand why their characters do what they do, with compassion.

What’s the best thing you’ve seen this year?

I was completely blown away by It’s True, It’s True, It’s True by Breach Theatre. The story was so urgent, so beautifully staged and the performances were three of the best I have seen all year. I also absolutely loved Charley Miles play, There Are No Beginnings at Leeds Playhouse and Danusia Samal’s Out of Sorts at Theatre503. All three plays tell really specific stories meticulously and again with compassion, and in doing so reveal bigger truths.

What would you like to write about next?

I want to write plays that are about the church, about women and poverty and pain, about elder care and the environment. I’ve got lots of ideas, and some of them feel like they belong on bigger stages. Historically those bigger stages have been dominated by the of work canonical writers, who are more often than not white and male. This, in turn, has created its own assumptions: that white male work is ‘bigger’, or that ‘bigger work’ looks like things that white men write. However, I am hopeful that this is changing and that I and other writers like me (and not like me!) will get the chance to occupy those stages more frequently soon! 

Yasmin Joseph

J’Ouvert, Theatre503

(Helen Murray)

What inspired you to write J’Ouvert?

J’Ouvert is the official start of Caribbean carnival at dawn, and when I moved to New York in 2015 for an internship at the New York Theatre Workshop, it was the night before Labor Day – the city’s annual West Indian Parade.  The sound of soca music outside my building made me instantly feel at home and let me know that my community was nearby, so I went out to explore. A year later in 2016, I learned of a woman called Tiarah Poyau, shot and killed during J’Ouvert celebrations in Brooklyn, for declining the advances of a man she didn’t want to dance with. I was really angry and thought a lot about what carnival means to me in this country, as a space to lay claim to my heritage, as a vital act of resistance and a way of pushing back against erasure. For me, black women are an integral part of the tradition, and I think J’Ouvert was my way of reconciling with how we’re mistreated in the spaces that we pioneer.

What’s your best memory from the production at the Theatre503?

Carnival itself is inherently theatrical, the energy is electric, literally millions of people pouring into the streets, dancing, releasing and presenting a heightened version of themselves. The audience felt like the final character in my play, the biggest test was how to effectively mirror this energy on stage. On the opening night I was terrified, but hearing the laughter, people singing, the nods and hums of agreement from elders, the call and response with people finishing off old Jamaican proverbs. I felt really proud and privileged to be documenting such a vital part of my history. Throughout the run it was generally just so special having chats with people after the show and hearing them say they felt celebrated and seen.

Who are your biggest influences and inspirations?

I draw inspiration from so many places and people. My family is full of storytellers, my best friends are riotous and some of the wittiest, sharpest women in the world. I listen to lots of music and can get ideas from anything from Headie One to Nina Simone. In terms of theatre artists, a uni tutor once highlighted that the way Arthur Miller uses language is really economical, nothing is wasted. That’s why A View From A Bridge is one of my favourite plays. Almost every line in isolation packs a punch. debbie tucker green inspires me to trust my audiences, she uses words in a way that feels so intentional and specific, she dares us to keep up. Some other great minds that have influenced me this year have been Rebekah Murrell, Ross Willis, Lisa Spirling, Lucy Morrison, Milli Bhatia, Jane Fallowfield, Leo Butler and Gill Greer.

What’s the best thing you’ve seen this year?

This question’s a bit impossible because there have been so many amazing shows – and also because I find it hard to remember stuff. Clean Break’s [BLANK] by Alice Birch had a profound impact on me. It was so harrowing and humane. It just felt like a visceral portrayal of our flawed criminal justice system and the women that this country continues to fail. I always say that her work finds me exactly when I need it.  It made me want to be a better human, it also reminded me how much I love my mum.  Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train by Stephen Adly Guirgis was also incredible. I love work that pushes audiences to challenge their own concept of morality.

What would you like to write about next?

The things that scare me and the things that give me hope. Things that examine the human condition and make us think and laugh. Stories that are political, timely and centre the experiences of black people, particularly in this country. 

Jasmine Lee-Jones

seven methods of killing kylie jenner, Royal Court

(Helen Murray)

What inspired you to write seven methods of killing kylie jenner?

To be honest, all of the young black womxn I’ve grown up with. I was really fascinated by the spaces black womxn of my generation have carved out and curated on social media and how we have used the tangled web of the internet to create platforms to amplify our voices. Those two things combined made me want to write something with the onus on black womxn – particularly black womxn who are prominent on social media.  Having the opportunity to hold up a mirror to their lives as a dramatist and, in doing so, pay homage to them has been a tremendous privilege.

What’s your best memory from the production at the Royal Court?

There are too many to pick from! What I remember distinctly is the sensation of relief –  I went from a very intense, stressful period being at drama school and trying to stay up at night and write the play, to the warmth, calm and unity of our rehearsal room: it felt like stepping into heaven! There was a lot of laughter – it’s a very silly play so Milli Bhatia (the director) did an amazing job of making sure we had lots of space to be silly in rehearsal.  If I were to pick one memory from the production that was significant it would probably be when the young womxn from Treasure Tress’ Teen Experience came to watch the play – talking to them after and hearing how boldly they lived in their truths moved me to tears. Treasure Tress are such an incredible organisation that offers spaces for young black womxn to congregate and communicate – everyone spread the word about them!

Who are your biggest influences and inspirations?

I have loads! I love the African-American artist Carrie Mae Weems – the political act of her placing her body in her art has really influenced my practice as an artist – I always like to place myself in my work in some way or another. In terms of people in my medium I have to say Michaela Coel, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and debbie tucker green – they all have incredible voices and talents whilst simultaneously having massive artistic integrity and not compromising their visions or instincts. My parents put me on to a lot of fantastic irreverent comedy from the 80’s when I was younger like The Real McCoy and Oliver at Large, the latter of which starred Jamaican comic genius Oliver Samuels. Both of those shows’ ingenuity and bravery has profoundly influenced the way I view humour and risk-taking as an actor and writer. 

What’s the best thing you’ve seen this year?

This is cheating slightly because it’s not theatre but let’s just say I don’t believe in the hierarchy of mediums! I think the thing that’s moved me the most this year is Rocks at London Film Festival. It is a beautiful, beautiful film about coming-of-age and it’s the first time I’ve seen a young British Black woman of secondary school age represented authentically on the big screen. The film brought out raw, truthful performances from a cast of generous actors. What a feat! I think all creators should aim to achieve that level of authenticity and genuine ensemble in their work.

What would you like to write about next?

The next thing I write will be for myself to perform in. I’m in the process of researching, writing and developing stories that I feel connected to as both an actor and a writer. Speaking more generally, I’m keen to keep telling stories with black womxn as the protagonists and not necessarily in the ways we have been represented previously. While the confluence of our race and gender identity are factors in our lives and there should be space where those two factors are the centralised themes, I’m really interested in telling stories where our race and gender identities are leitmotifs and our images and experiences can exist as the default. I feel like a lot of the time, even when I see us depicted on stage or on screen, we are still being othered because the centrality of whiteness and maleness is still being implied in the work. I want to use my voice to counter that.

(Editor’s note: The term ‘womxn’ is used as alternative word for ‘woman’ or ‘women’ to explicitly include transgender women and women of colour)

Ross Willis

Wolfie, Theatre503

(Helen Murray)

What inspired you to write Wolfie?

I wanted to write about how life during and after the care system feels. How it affects your sense of self at your very core and how those feelings of loneliness and isolation affect your transition into adulthood. Formally I didn’t want Wolfie to feel domestic because I think there’s nothing domestic about the care system at all.

What’s your best memory from the production at the Theatre503?

I think anyone who watched the play on its own terms and just took it for what it was trying to do. Sometimes I find as an audience member it’s a surprisingly hard thing to do.

Who are your biggest influences and inspirations?

Dennis Kelly, Lisa Spirling, Lucy Morrison, Yasmin Joseph and Jules Haworth.

What’s the best thing you’ve seen this year?

Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu’s production of Little Baby Jesus.  It was a big f*** off maelstrom of electricity and fire which you felt in your bones. I hadn’t seen a director create something like that in a long time. He filled every moment with a sense of wit and play. His energy as an artist is incredible. I’m obsessed.  

What would you like to write about next?

I’m writing a play about queer history told through the eyes of STIs. Something which feels like Greek theatre featuring old beasts, myth, monsters and magic. 

The 65th Evening Standard Theatre Awards, in association with Michael Kors, take place on November 24.  standard.co.uk/theatreawards  #ESTheatreAwards

 

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American Airlines looking for codeshare deal with African carrier

American Airlines wants more access to connect to African destinations after filing for a codeshare agreement with Moroccan carrier Royal Air Maroc.

The two companies filed for the agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation last week. It would give the airlines the ability to sell one another’s tickets and book passage on the two airlines with one itinerary.

The agreement comes as state-owned Royal Air Maroc readies to enter American Airlines’ Oneworld alliance. Meanwhile, American is preparing for its first service to Africa with a flight from Philadelphia to Casablanca, Morocco, starting in 2020.

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JANUARY 15: The Tel Aviv skyline is seen at sunrise on January 15, 2017 Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

American Airlines already has an interline agreement with Royal Air Maroc, allowing the two airlines to transfer baggage.

“Our goal is to offer customers additional options to reach more destinations in Africa like Marrakesh, Accra and Lagos,” said American Airlines spokeswoman Nichelle Tait. “We look forward to taking this next step in our partnership.”

Royal Air Maroc has headquarters at Casablanca-Anfa Airport and serves 98 destinations, including 27 in Africa, mostly in the central and northern parts of the continent.

Royal Air Maroc has mostly Boeing jets, including some new 787 Dreamliners. It also flies a few Embraer and ATR planes on shorter routes. Royal Air Maroc is the third-largest airline in Africa, behind Ethiopian Airlines and EgyptAir.