Sidney Horton Tackles Race in the Arts With ‘The Submission’

We’re right to be suspicious of leaders who loudly spout their righteous certitudes. Thoughtful people know that moral rectitude, ethnic traditions, civil liberties, and political correctness can often crisscross into bewildering tangles and conundrums.

Sidney Horton, who is directing Three Bone Theatre’s The Submission, puts it more bluntly: “We all are clumsy when we deal with race and sexual orientation.”

Opening at Spirit Square this Thursday, Jeff Talbott’s comedy drama goes one better than holding up a mirror to our clumsiness. The playwright turns his mirror back around from his audience and shows that the same clumsiness — and assorted prejudices — also afflict theatre artists.

Talbott’s protagonist, Danny Larsen, has written a play about an African-American mother and her cardsharping son striving to escape the projects to build a better life. Trouble is, Danny is white, which could seriously hurt his chances of getting produced at the prestigious Humana Theatre Festival, where he submits his manuscript. At an ill-advised moment, Danny decides to overcome this liability by submitting his playscript under the very African name of Shaleeha G’ntamobi.

Getting selected for the festival compounds Danny’s woes, because he can’t come clean about his true race and gender. Instead, he decides to hire a black actress to bring Shaleeha to life. But Danny is in for a lot more blowback than he bargains for: Emilie isn’t buying Danny’s premise that, just because he’s gay, he can understand the challenges of growing up black in America.

Horton’s choice to play Danny isn’t exactly surprising. Tackling Talbott’s playwright, Scott Miller is playing his second writer in the past four months after his role as Trigorin in Stupid F@#%ing Bird, an Anton Chekhov knockoff staged by Actor’s Theatre. It’s also déjà vu for Miller with Three Bone at Duke Energy Theater, where he was Martin, the most promising writing student in the acerbic Seminar last August.

“Trigorin in Stupid F@#%ing Bird was a joy to play because he’s one of those characters that knows how sleazy he is and revels in it,” Miller says. “Danny is the most troubling to play, and the most challenging in many regards. He justifies his prejudices and thinks his self-appointed victimhood gives him license to do more-or-less whatever he wants.”

Standing up to such insidious entitlement is a formidable task, and Horton has made a bold choice in casting his Emilie. After returning to the Carolinas from Emerson College in Boston, where she earned a graduate degree in publishing, Lechetze D. Lewis has circled the Q.C. in three previous outings — two in Concord, one in Mooresville — but her role in The Submission will mark her Charlotte debut.

[From left] Dan Grogan, Daniel Henry, Lechetze D. Lewis, and Scott Miller in 'The Submission.'

  • [From left] Dan Grogan, Daniel Henry, Lechetze D. Lewis, and Scott Miller in ‘The Submission.’

“Lechetze had a fire about her in auditions,” Horton recalls. “I knew I had to have someone strong that could more than hold her own against Scott. I took a chance with Lechetze, and boy did it pay off.”

Needing to ensure that all four of his cast members felt comfortable with one another at rehearsals, Horton made sure there was plenty of discussion about the issues that Talbott’s script addresses. Yes, there were disagreements as the cast talked things out, but professionalism has prevailed.

“The play deals with LGBT rights, racism, discrimination, affirmative action, non-traditional casting and who has the right to say or do things when it comes to someone else’s identity or culture,” Horton says. “All of these issues are pretty hot right now in America — we are more divided now that we have been in recent years. The thing that strikes me most, and one of the main reasons I wanted to do this play, is it deals with these issues in the arts community. We as artists like to think of ourselves as being all-accepting and non-judgmental. Are we really?”

With such questions floating in the air, rehearsals can be stressful. In the heat of the moment, hurtful comments hurled in your face by a fellow actor addressing your fictional character can still hurt. Identifying with Emilie as a black artist, as Lewis must, she can hardly be invulnerable when the conflict with Danny has so much relevance to her daily life and self-image.

“Something that really gets to me is his idea that black actors who win awards don’t deserve to win what was created for whites,” Lewis says. “As an artist, I hope that any awards I receive will be acknowledged as something that my hard work has earned… but Danny doesn’t see it that way. Scott is an amazing actor to work with and he definitely doesn’t hold these views, but he’s talented enough to make those words sting. I am so lucky to be working with an actor who takes the time to check in on how we’re both feeling and if we’re okay to move forward.”

Horton has also been helpful for Lewis, frequently reminding her that she does win in the end. Conversations with Miller and the other two cast members, Dan Grogan and Daniel Henry, about how the script has affected them personally have been doubly beneficial for Lewis — not only soothing her emotions but helping her to shape her performance.

Of course, Emilie also dishes out a harsh word or two.

“I will admit to having a bit of fear regarding how she’ll be perceived,” Lewis confides, “because so much of what she says is hypocritical. But it doesn’t mean that, in some aspects, she’s completely wrong.”

Horton has another succinct comment about the intensity of the crossfire in The Submission: “Thank God for the comedy in this show — it makes it palatable.”

Talbott doesn’t turn on the heat immediately. There’s a certain point, says Miller, when the tone begins to change. Even then, there’s a gradual crescendo leading up to the inevitable fireworks between Danny and Emilie. Along the way, we realize that Talbott’s farcical plotline isn’t going to play out strictly for laughs.

At the same time, the playwright is turning his telltale mirror toward us. There will likely be a recoil factor when we recognize ourselves.

“While watching The Submission,” Miller cautions, “many people will agree with some of the controversial things the characters say. I predict several lines will get a chuckle before the audience realizes the inappropriateness of the character’s comment. The play is not out to condemn or chastise anyone in the audience. But I think – or hope – it will make many think about their implicit and explicit biases.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Despite Self-Congratulation, Lawmakers Did Virtually Nothing about Maternal Mortality Crisis

Governor Greg Abbott said he was “committed to doing everything we can to combat the maternal mortality rate,” but lawmakers ignored specific recommendations to reduce pregnancy-related deaths.

From the way the governor and top Republican lawmakers have been talking, you’d think the Legislature was taking bold steps toward solving the state’s alarming maternal mortality crisis.

“It is unacceptable that Texas continues to have a high rate of pregnancy-related deaths, but this upcoming special session presents us an opportunity to improve the situation,” said Representative Cindy Burkett, R-Sunnyvale, in June.

“Encouraged to see Texas House taking action on SB17 tonight. High maternal mortality rate is unacceptable and needs to be addressed,” Senator Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, tweeted on Sunday.

“As governor, I am committed to doing everything we can to combat the maternal mortality rate in this state,” Greg Abbott said on Wednesday.

But after a 140-day regular legislative session and a 30-day special session, all lawmakers managed to do was pass a couple narrow measures and continue a state task force that’s been studying the issue for nearly four years.  

Greg Abbott accepted the Site Selection Governor's Cup in March, but neglected to mention the behind-the-scenes corporate handouts that made Texas a frontrunner for the honor.
Greg Abbott accepted the Site Selection Governor’s Cup in March, but neglected to mention the behind-the-scenes corporate handouts that made Texas a frontrunner for the honor.  Patrick Michels

Extending the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force was never controversial. A similar measure during the regular session had only token opposition and was on the brink of passage until it was derailed by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick in a ploy to force a special session over the so-called bathroom bill. When the House debated Senate Bill 17, the task force legislation, on Sunday, lawmakers were so distracted that two female representatives had to ask for order four times in 10 minutes just to hear each other.

The task force was created in 2013 by the Legislature to study maternal mortality in Texas. The group, which is made up of medical professionals, did its work quietly, at least until an independent study in 2016 found that the rate of Texas mothers dying of pregnancy-related causes had doubled in two years and ranks the highest in the developed world. National outrage forced the Legislature to do something. Now conservatives are claiming credit for passing what health experts say is the bare minimum, while ignoring recommended policy changes that have already been identified by the state’s own researchers. It will likely be 2019 — eight years after the task force was first proposed in the Legislature — before lawmakers will have the next opportunity to address the crisis.

Researchers are not able to explain the troubling spike, and agree that further investigation is necessary. Lawmakers added language to clarify and expand the work of the task force this session, which they hope will allow the state to get complete data and better understand the problem. But advocates say that’s not enough.

“This research bill should be the beginning — rather than the end — of legislators’ work on this critical issue,” said Adriana Kohler, senior health policy associate at Texans Care for Children. “When the task force makes recommendations to reduce maternal mortality, we hope state leaders follow through on them for the sake of moms and families all over Texas.”

In 2016, the task force issued a report that offered lawmakers multiple recommendations to help mitigate the crisis. Foremost among the solutions: expand access to health care. Instead, both chambers let multiple bills that would do so languish in committee without so much as a hearing. Most of the proposals would cost money — anathema in the spending-averse Legislature.

One proposed measure would have extended Medicaid coverage for mothers a year after birth, rather than ending just 60 days after delivery. It failed to get a committee hearing. Another would have extended coverage for the first year, with a focus on postpartum depression treatment. It did not get a committee hearing. And another would have expanded coverage ahead of pregnancy by auto-enrolling individuals in the state’s low-income women’s health program when they age out of Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It did not get a committee hearing.

Shawn Thierry, who's practically secured a seat in the Texas House in 2017 thanks to the votes of 13 county precinct chairs.
Representative Shawn Thierry  Shawn Thierry campaign/official

“Getting the task force up to par was the first piece of the puzzle,” said Representative Shawn Thierry, D-Houston, who pushed Abbott to include maternal mortality issues in the special session. Her bill to investigate why African Americans are disproportionately likely to die of pregnancy-related causes was indiscriminately killed by the House Freedom Caucus. “But ultimately Texas needs to expand Medicaid so women can have full access to maternal care and health care. Until that happens, we’re going to have more challenges,” she told the Observer.

But Texas Republicans rejected a federally funded Medicaid expansion that would have covered 1.1 million more people, and are not likely to reconsider their decision soon. Experts point to the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid as a factor in problems with women’s health access. According to a new report, about one in four Texas women between the ages of 19 and 64 are uninsured, more than twice the national rate.

While Abbott and the GOP-controlled Legislature haven’t shown an appetite for expanding women’s health care, lawmakers have passed plenty of legislation that could make the problem worse. In June, Abbott unilaterally ended a bipartisan committee that advises Texas on women’s health and family planning programs, saying the state “should focus on programs that address more clearly identifiable needs.” This week, the governor signed three new anti-abortion bills into law, including one that critics say would force women with high-risk pregnancies to put off a medically-advised abortion until their life is in danger. The state’s sweeping new anti-abortion law during the regular session, which is already facing a legal challenge, was authored by Schwertner in the Senate and Burkett in the House.

This trend isn’t new. The Legislature in 2011 slashed family planning funding, forcing 82 clinics in the state to close. Texas kicked Planned Parenthood, the largest family planning provider, out of its low income women’s health program in 2013, leading to a 39 percent decline in women receiving health services from the program in the last five years. And the state is continuing to fight in court to ban Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood.

The Monuments Must Go: An Open Letter From Great, Great Grandsons of Stonewall Jackson

Full text of letter from William and Warren Christian, the great, great grandsons of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson to Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and Members of the Monument Avenue Commission. From Democracy now.

Dear Mayor Stoney and Members of the Monument Avenue Commission,

We are native Richmonders and also the great, great grandsons of Stonewall Jackson. As two of the closest living relatives to Stonewall, we are writing today to ask for the removal of his statue, as well as the removal of all Confederate statues from Monument Avenue. They are overt symbols of racism and white supremacy, and the time is long overdue for them to depart from public display. Overnight, Baltimore has seen fit to take this action. Richmond should, too.

In making this request, we wish to express our respect and admiration for Mayor Stoney’s leadership while also strongly disagreeing with his claim that “removal of symbols does [nothing] for telling the actual truth [nor] changes the state and culture of racism in this country today.” In our view, the removal of the Jackson statue and others will necessarily further difficult conversations about racial justice. It will begin to tell the truth of us all coming to our senses.

Last weekend, Charlottesville showed us unequivocally that Confederate statues offer pre-existing iconography for racists. The people who descended on Charlottesville last weekend were there to make a naked show of force for white supremacy. To them, the Robert E. Lee statue is a clear symbol of their hateful ideology. The Confederate statues on Monument Avenue are, too — especially Jackson, who faces North, supposedly as if to continue the fight.

We are writing to say that we understand justice very differently from our grandfather’s grandfather, and we wish to make it clear his statue does not represent us.

Through our upbringing and education, we have learned much about Stonewall Jackson. We have learned about his reluctance to fight and his teaching of Sunday School to enslaved peoples in Lexington, Virginia, a potentially criminal activity at the time. We have learned how thoughtful and loving he was toward his family. But we cannot ignore his decision to own slaves, his decision to go to war for the Confederacy, and, ultimately, the fact that he was a white man fighting on the side of white supremacy.

While we are not ashamed of our great great grandfather, we are ashamed to benefit from white supremacy while our black family and friends suffer. We are ashamed of the monument.


In fact, instead of lauding Jackson’s violence, we choose to celebrate Stonewall’s sister — our great, great, grand-aunt — Laura Jackson Arnold. As an adult Laura became a staunch Unionist and abolitionist. Though she and Stonewall were incredibly close through childhood, she never spoke to Stonewall after his decision to support the Confederacy. We choose to stand on the right side of history with Laura Jackson Arnold.

Confederate monuments like the Jackson statue were never intended as benign symbols. Rather, they were the clearly articulated artwork of white supremacy. Among many examples, we can see this plainly if we look at the dedication of a Confederate statue at the University of North Carolina in which a speaker proclaimed that the confederate soldier “saved the very life of the Anglo-Saxon race in the South.” Disturbingly, he went on to recount a tale of performing the “pleasing duty” of “horse whipping” a black woman in front of Federal Soldiers. All over the South, this grotesque message was attached to similar monuments. As importantly, this message is clear to today’s avowed white supremacists.

There is also historical evidence that the statues on Monument Avenue were rejected by black Richmonders at the time of their construction. In the 1870s, John Mitchell, a black city councilman, called the monuments a tribute to “blood and treason” and voiced strong opposition to the use of public funds for building them. Speaking about the Lee Memorial, he vowed that there would come a time when African Americans would “be there to take it down.”

Ongoing racial disparities in incarceration, educational attainment, police brutality, hiring practices, access to health care and, perhaps most starkly, wealth, make it clear that these monuments do not stand somehow outside of history. Racism and white supremacy, which undoubtedly continue today, are neither natural nor inevitable. Rather, they were created in order to justify the unjustifiable, in particular slavery.

One thing that bonds our extended family, besides our common ancestor, is that many have worked, often as clergy and as educators, for justice in their communities. While we do not portend to speak for all of Stonewall’s kin, our sense of justice leads us to believe that removing the Stonewall statue and other monuments should be part of a larger project of actively mending the racial disparities that hundreds of years of white supremacy has wrought. We hope other descendants of Confederate generals will stand with us.

As cities all over the South are realizing now, we are not in need of added context. We are in need of a new context — one in which the statues have been taken down.


William Jackson Christian

Warren Edmund Christian

Indiana Corporate Whistleblower Center Now Urges an Insider with Proof a Federal Contractor in Indiana Is Falsely Claiming to be Minority Owned to Call About Possibly Huge Rewards

The system designed to assist minority or women owned businesses obtain federal work contracts is very easy to manipulate”

— Indiana Corporate Whistleblower Center

WASHINGTON , DC, USA, August 17, 2017 / — The Indiana Corporate Whistleblower Center says, “We are urging an insider or employee with proof an Indiana based federal contractor is lying about being minority owned to gain an unfair advantage on federal bids for work to call us anytime at 866-714-6466. As we would like to discuss anytime the rewards for this type of information can be extremely significant.” http://Indiana.CorporateWhistleblower.Com

The Center believes that companies in Indiana and nationwide misrepresent the nature of their ownership structure to gain an unfair advantage when bidding for lucrative federal contracts. As an example, the US Department of Transportation mandates that 10% of federal highway jobs go to a minority or woman owned business. These federal contracts can be worth tens of millions of dollars for even a subcontractor.

The Indiana Corporate Whistleblower Center says, “Most federal agencies make giving minority or women owned businesses preferential treatment when it comes to biding on federal contracts a priority. The system designed to assist minority or women owned businesses obtain federal work contracts is very easy to manipulate. As an example, a Caucasian male could appoint his female wife president/CEO of a Indiana based transportation company, food services company and or a construction company that builds highways and only an insider or the employees of the company would know the husband ran the business. The company could be based anywhere in Indiana such as Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Evansville, South Bend, Hammond, or Bloomington.

“If you work for a company that is falsely claiming to be a minority or woman owned to business in Indiana to get an unfair competitive advantage on federal jobs or federal contract bidding or as an insider you possess this type of proof-please call us anytime at 866-714-6466 and let’s explore the reward possibilities. Why sit on a potentially winning lotto ticket without ever knowing what it could have been worth.” http://Indiana.CorporateWhistleblower.Com

Simple rules for a whistleblower from the Indiana Corporate Whistleblower Center: Do not go to the government first if you are a potential whistleblower with substantial proof of wrongdoing. The Indiana Corporate Whistleblower Center says, “Major whistleblowers frequently go to the government thinking they will help. It’s a huge mistake. Do not go to the news media with your whistleblower information. Public revelation of a whistleblower’s information could destroy any prospect for a reward. Do not try to force a company/employer or individual to come clean about significant Medicare fraud, overbilling the federal government for services never rendered, multi-million-dollar state or federal tax evasion, or a Indiana based company falsely claiming to be a minority owned business to get preferential treatment on federal or state projects. Come to us first, tell us what type of information you have, and if we think it’s sufficient, we will help you with a focus on you getting rewarded.”

Unlike any group in the US the Corporate Whistleblower Center can assist a potential whistleblower with packaging or building out their information to potentially increase the reward potential. They will also provide the whistleblower with access to some of the most skilled whistleblower attorneys in the nation. For more information, a possible whistleblower with substantial proof of wrongdoing in Indiana can contact the Whistleblower Center at 866-714-6466 or contact them via their website at http://Indiana.CorporateWhistleBlower.Com

Thomas Martin
Indiana Corporate Whistleblower Center
email us here

Powerful condemnation of racism with The Caucasian Handbook

… powerful condemnation of racism with The Caucasian Handbook … powerful condemnation of racism with The Caucasian … Again.. Power, racism, black, white, African American, Caucasian, Latino; … past the stereotypes of African Americans and other minorities … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News

Riverbed Improves ‘Digital Experience Management’ with Latest SteelCentral Update

Riverbed Technology is looking to bring more science – and less black arts – to the best ways to deliver high-quality digital experience. The latest update to SteelCentral aims to let companies do better troubleshooting all parts of the digital experience.

Tags: ALM, CX, cloud, DevOps, digital experience, Riverbed, SteelCentral, UX,

Companies of all kinds continuing to invest heavily in delivering the best digital business initiatives. That said, the ability to deliver a high-quality user experience for such projects remains largely a patch of challenging guesswork.

Riverbed Technology is looking to bring more science – and less black arts – to these tasks. The latest update to its SteelCentral digital experience management solution aims to let companies do better troubleshooting all parts of the digital experience.

SteelCentral comes with the ability to track and measure performance from the user’s experience on the device to the back-end network, infrastructure, cloud and application.

Mike Sargent, Riverbed’s senior vice president and general manager of SteelCentral noted the updates come as more organizations are making “big ticket, highly strategic investments in digital business transformation initiatives.”  Companies assume these investments will “drive customer intimacy and employee/partner productivity,” he added. Sadly, they are not always successful.  

With the prevalence of cloud and mobile technologies, Sargent surmised that traditional tools are unable to holistically measure and manage a user’s digital experience.

SteelCentral is helping enterprises deliver a reliable and consistently high-quality end user experience. Sargent indicated that “with the breadth and depth of insight that [the solution] provides, down to the individual transaction level, we are taking visibility to a whole new level to help our customers achieve their strategic goals.”

SteelCentral’s latest release looks to fill in many of the gaps between digital experience monitoring and IT’s ability to capture, see and evaluate all the variables that go into digital experience, Sargent suggested.

Many in IT and business can probably relate to how frustrating this gap can feel.  SteelCentral product marketing director Erik Hillen explained it this way in a recent blog post:

Despite the focus on digital transformation, few companies are able to actually understand the digital experience of their customers or their workforce.  Customers complain about web load times, app performance, network speed, yet IT has no line of sight to the problem. Performance is impacted, customer satisfaction plummets and the IT’s reputation is seen as lagging the market.

At the same time, IT has instrumented a great deal.  We monitor, apps, end user experience, networks, databases, infrastructure… all with a myriad of point solutions, but the tools don’t talk, the groups don’t talk and, most importantly, none of these elements help to manage the critical question: what is the end user’s experience?

SteelCentral aims to pull together capabilities to fill (if not eliminate) this gap, according to Sargent.  To support that mission, this upgrade adds several key features to let IT and business stakeholders better collaborate quickly and clearly – and deliver high-quality digital experiences, he added.  

Among them:

Enriched ‘end-user experience monitoring’ and integrated visibility into digital experience: Under the covers, SteelCentral will incorporate the device-based view of end-user experience. This visibility will show both IT and business executives a deep and unified view – with a single-pane-of-glass – of performance and its impact on end users.

Reduced risk for application migrations to the cloud: As companies continue to migrate apps to the cloud, both IT and business are looking for better ways to overcome cloud’s ‘blind spot,’ and better understand and assess the impact on network performance.  SteelCentral introduces application migration planning and prediction and enables network planning and architecture teams to simulate and predict traffic behavior and impact on the network prior to application migrations.

Manage outcomes across the application lifecycle: As organizations adopt DevOps, developers, QA teams and IT operations are looking for ways to increase agility and quality of application releases. Often that comes with efforts to streamline, integrate and automate processes. SteelCentral looks to aid in those efforts by allow IT teams to more easily visualize and analyse performance insights and diagnostics across the full application lifecycle.

SteelCentral’s ability to provides all this deeper understanding of performance levels brings about end results sought after by both IT and business – including resolving performance issues and improving service performance.

The recipe for these results come from SteelCentral’s capability to blend a all the key pieces of instrumentation that goes into a digital experience – device-based end user experience, infrastructure, application, and network monitoring. Here are some notable details on the ingredients – and how they all come together:

End user experience monitoring: Monitor the actual end user experience of any local, cloud, web, or enterprise mobile app running on any physical, virtual, or mobile device. Proactively identify and rapidly resolve problems to ensure excellent customer service and workforce productivity.

Application performance management: Leverage application performance management and monitoring to gain real-time visibility into the end-user experience, infrastructure and applications. Diagnose application performance problems down to the offending code, SQL, web service, network, or system resource.

Network Performance Management: Monitor, troubleshoot, and analyze what’s happening across the enterprise network environment. With end-to-end visibility and actionable insights, users can quickly and proactively resolve any network-based performance issues.

Speaking of coming together, this latest release also sports noteworthy integrations between SteelCentral Portal, SteelCentral Aternity, and SteelCentral AppInternals. Sargent added.

“This integration means that SteelCentral users can now incorporate the device-based view of end user experience providing IT and business executives with a single-pane-of-glass view of IT performance and its impact on end users,” he said in a statement.

Further, the integrated workflow between SteelCentral Aternity and AppInternals provides an integrated monitoring system for the entire end user service and allows IT to rapidly troubleshoot business-critical applications across devices and applications. According to Sargent, this results in a one-stop-shop for the variety of teams involved in Digital Experience Management, from end user services, to app developers and operations, to IT and business executives.

In the new release, Riverbed is also introducing a new integration between NetProfiler and NetIM that helps network managers understand the impact of network infrastructure on network performance.


RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

How not to travel anywhere

TRAVELLING can work in opposite ways. It can come as wanderlust that gives one a feel of new horizons befitting a seeker. Or it can be a temptation to contaminate new climes with hidebound habits. Mirza Ghalib prescribed the first route in the 19th century. The second way has been popularised by Narendra Modi.

Hasad se dil agar afsurda hai, garm-i-tamasha ho/ Ke chashm-i-tang shaayad kasrat-i-nazara se va ho. That was Ghalib’s prescription. A good antidote to suffocating ennui or chashm-i-tang, he said, could be kasrat-i-nazara, the expansiveness of new things to see, new people to meet, new ideas to ponder. Marco Polo and Ibne Batuta would have warmed the cockles of Ghalib’s heart. T.S. Eliot captured the Urdu poet’s advice succinctly: “Oh, do not ask, ‘What is it?’/ Let us go and make our visit.” The lines from Eliot’s much-critiqued poem — The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock — have nudged many towards nirvana.

Modi’s apparent insecurities with his identity — or his search for one, as his constantly changing attire reflects — can be seen in loudly choreographed cultural assertions. This obviously was not the case with the more confident Nehru and others who preceded him, not even with A.B. Vajpayee who Modi grudgingly respects.

Modi’s avoidable complexes have found him distributing copies of the Bhagvad Gita to visitors even as he makes bold claims to insights into India’s hoary past. Come to think of it, the pope, whose job it is to proselytise, doesn’t offer free copies of the Bible to his visitors. If anything, world leaders who come to the Vatican to confer with him would not miss the opportunity to visit the Sistine Chapel and be awestruck by Michelangelo’s work of art. Modi, though, would derive greater pleasure from securing an easy sanction from the ruler of Abu Dhabi to build a temple in the oil-rich emirate.

Would Modi visit the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in New York, a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the US?

Ghalib, to return to the master of cultural assimilation, memorably set off on a journey to colonial Calcutta from his modest perch in Mughal Delhi. En route, he composed an amazing tribute to the majesty of Benares and its Hindu populace, and their reverence for River Ganga. Savour an excerpt from Qurratulain Hyder’s translation of Chiragh-i-Dair or ((temple lamps):

May Heaven keep/ The grandeur of Benares/ Arbour of bliss, meadow of joy,/ For oft-returning souls/ Their journey’s end./ In this weary Temple-land of the world/ Safe from the whirlwind of Time,/ Benaras is forever spring,/ Where autumn turns/ Into the touch of sandal on their foreheads/ Springtime wears the sacred thread/ Of flower-waves/ And the splash of twilight/ Is the crimson mark of Kashi’s/ Dust on heaven’s brow.

We’ve seen snapshots of Modi’s engagements with his Indian fans abroad. Had he gone to New York to gain first-hand knowledge about a multicultural city instead, the prime minister would have visited the streets of Harlem with Savona Bailey-McClain. The African-American art curator and historian would have walked him through the evolution of the district. Ghalib described British vengeance when they flattened the old city of Delhi after 1857. Modi would now learn that the British also burnt down the district of Manhattan (centuries before the advent of Osama bin Laden) in their pursuit of George Washington’s ragtag militia.

Savona, if she found any curiosity in him, would escort Modi to Harlem’s Schomberg Centre, currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Black Power movement. Visitors here delve deeper into the heterogeneous and ideologically diverse global movement that shaped black consciousness.

Would Modi visit the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in New York, a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world? Marie’s Crisis is a piano bar in the vicinity. Its main room is wedged below street level, so that you descend into it as you would to a secret rendezvous. All the men and women of varied sexual orientations can be found in the evenings singing everything under the sun — and utterly tunefully too. What they would not sing is any remotely patriotic song — a lesson for the zealous South Asians.

The inimitable pamphleteer and documentary-maker Michael Moore is currently appearing on Broadway in a play about himself. It is called The Terms of My Surrender, a 90-minute one-man show mostly about how to get even with Donald Trump’s ideology of hate and racist violence. Moore announces to each packed show how he keeps a seat in the balcony for the president of the United States. We recommend he keep a place for Mr Modi too.

“How the hell did this happen?” Moore’s opening gambit sets the tempo for the absorbing monologue. The audience goes into raptures. Moore reasons how things may not be as bad as they look. The president, the vice president, the supreme court, both houses of Congress belong to the rivals. “But we have the majority.” Moore’s optimism flows from the actual headcount, which gave the Democrats a majority of the votes while the electoral college robbed them of victory — a message for the needlessly disheartened on how to bring down a Nixon.

Ghalib would enjoy the planetarium in New York. “Our sun is an ordinary star, just one among hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy,” a plaque reminds us tersely. “As the only star we can observe in detail, it provides a basis for our understanding of all stars.”

The message unwittingly summarises Ghalib’s own fulminations: Hasti ke mat fareb mein aajaaiyo Asad/ Aalam tamaam halqa-i-daam-i-khayaal hai. The universe deceptively fits into a single hole of the fisherman’s net that resembles the mind, said the poet. The Big Bang occurred 13 billion years ago. And 3.8bn years ago, life took root on Earth. How ancient is religion or any nation, including Mr Modi’s?

The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2017

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

A Navajo Woman’s Death Highlights Increase of Police Violence Against Native Americans

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, but the problem is that with people who have mental-health issues, that’s going to escalate any paranoia that they have.”

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?”


“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.”

African American Attorney on Removal of Confederate Statues: Only Way to Say ‘Never Again’ Is When You Remember

15 Aug, 201715 Aug, 2017

Marc Little came to Washington, D.C. recently in his capacity as the vice president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE) think tank to talk to reporters and the public about supporting President Donald Trump’s agenda of helping inner cities through job creation, school choice, and public safety.

But the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, changed his plans. Little — who is also a pastor, attorney, and author who lives in Los Angeles — joined his colleagues at the National Press Club on Monday to defend Trump against attacks by the left, who blamed the president for the violent protest and counter-protest on Saturday over the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

A protester and two law enforcement officers died on Saturday, the former after the woman was hit by a car driven deliberately into the crowd, and the police after the helicopter they were riding in crashed.

“This whole idea now of pulling down statues and changing the names of schools and cities as if we can bury the cemetery of our past,” Little told Breitbart News. “You can’t.”

In fact, Little said, the past is what makes America what she is today.

“That’s what makes us who we are — the good, the bad, and the ugly — makes us who we are,” Little said, adding that the country has learned from its mistakes, including the “scourge” of slavery.

A good analogy, Little said, would be to consider shuttering the Holocaust Museum in the nation’s capitol because it is too painful to recall the deaths of millions of Jews and others at the hands of the Nazis.

“I’ll take it from my Jewish friends — never again,” Little said. “And the only way you can say ‘never again’ is if you remember what you’re talking about.”

As of April, the Southern Poverty Law Center documented that 60 Confederate symbols have been removed or renamed in the United States since 2015, Reuters reported.

And more removals are planned.

“Undeterred by the violence over the planned removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, municipal leaders in cities across the United States said they would step up efforts to pull such monuments from public spaces,” Reuters reported.

“Officials in Memphis, Tennessee, and Jacksonville, Florida, announced new initiatives on Monday aimed at taking down Confederate monuments,” Reuters reported.

Tate installation invites art fans to make their own ceramic masterpieces

Art fans will be able to create their own ceramic masterpieces as London’s Tate Modern museum hosts a new ceramics “factory”.

The temporary attraction entitled FACTORY: the seen and the unseen is an installation by artist Clare Twomey, opening next month as part of the return of the Tate Exchange.

It will take over the museum’s Blavatnik Building with a 30-metre production line, eight tonnes of clay, a wall of drying racks and more than 2,000 fired clay objects.

Clare Twomey's Dudson Factory.
Clare Twomey’s Dudson Factory (Tate/PA)

Over two weeks, visitors will have the chance to learn, make and exchange clay items such as jugs, teapots and flowers before joining a factory tour delving into how communities are built by collective labour, celebrating the relationship between human and machine innovation.

Now in its second year, the theme of this year’s Tate Exchange is “production” and it will showcase artists’ work examining the museum’s role in various type of production from a range of viewpoints.

It will run until January before joining with a number of other organisations – including Tate Liverpool and The Royal Standard artist-led gallery – to continue the theme with further projects.

Schemes in the works so far include artists BBZ’s exploration of non-binary black artists in the UK and politically-charged group Cooking Sections’ creation that devises new systems for producing and consuming food.

Collect – international art fair
Twomey’s previous Everyman’s Dream exhibition saw her display 1,000 inscribed ceramic bowls at London’s Saatchi Gallery (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The overall Tate Exchange theme aims to fit into the museum’s general plans for the year, including the upcoming Picasso exhibition, which looks at the famous artist’s period of production during the great Depression.

Tate Learning director Anna Cutler said of the interactive scheme, which saw 200,000 people take part in activities in its inaugural year: “We were overwhelmed by the generous public response to Tate Exchange in its first year.

“It became a civic space in which the public got to share their ideas, thoughts and opinions.

“We are indebted to the work of the associates who generated extraordinary programmes and took on the task of an open experiment with great skill and verve.

“In our second year we will look at the theme of production and dig even deeper into debate and the nature of exchange.”

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