The United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that white supremacists who used social media to threaten and harass Taylor Dumpson, the first African American female student body president of American University in Washington D.C., were liable for over $700,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees.
In 2017, Taylor Dumpson was elected as American University’s student body president. The day after she was inaugurated, a hate crime targeted her on the basis of her race and gender. A masked person hung nooses around campus with bananas tied to them. Some bananas had “AKA” written on them – referencing Plaintiff’s historically black sorority.
Others read “Harambe bait,” referencing a gorilla killed at the Cincinnati Zoo as a racist and threatening comparison to African Americans. Defendant Andrew Anglin, an avowed neo-Nazi and publisher of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, then directed his white supremacist followers to threaten and harass her on social media to amplify the harm of the hate crime.
In addition to other allegations, the suit alleged that Defendants interfered with the Ms. Dumpson’s ability to fully enjoy places of public accommodation and interfered with her equal opportunity to education. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and pro bono counsel Kirkland & Ellis LLP, along with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Plaintiff.
Dr. René Revis Shingles made history this month when she became the first African American Woman inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association prestigious Hall of Fame – an honor that to date has been bestowed on only 317 of the association’s 45,000 members. Dr. Shingles – a long-time professor at Central Michigan University – became one of the first African American women to become certified as an athletic trainer in 1987. The Hall of Fame is the highest honor an athletic trainer can receive and recognizes individuals who exemplify the mission of NATA through significant lasting contributions that enhance the quality of health care provided by athletic trainers.
“While I may be the first, my goal is to ensure that I am not the last. Being an athletic trainer is about providing the highest quality of care to our patients and a tireless dedication to learning, growing and serving. That is what has been bestowed to me by my mentors, and what I hope to continue to contribute to the generations that follow,” said Shingles.
At Central Michigan University, more than 650 students have graduated under her Shingle’s tutelage. She co-authored the first book on cultural competence in athletic training and is considered a national expert on diversity and inclusion in the profession. In 1987, Shingles became the thirteenth African American woman to become a certified athletic trainer. Over the years, she has volunteered in numerous capacities with NATA, the Board of Certification for athletic training and the NATA Research & Education Foundation. For more than 20 years, Shingles has volunteered on the medical staff for the Special Olympics Michigan State Summer Games. In 1996, she was selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee as an athletic trainer for the Olympic Games in Atlanta and marched in the opening ceremonies with Team USA.
Shingles is also a founding member of the NATA Ethnic Diversity Advisory Committee (EDAC), established in 1991 as an advisory committee to the NATA board of directors, to identify and address issues relevant to the ethnically diverse populations as well as members of the profession. Shingles currently serves as a mentor both professional and personally to advance the next generation of athletic trainers. She is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
“We champion the outstanding contributions Dr. Shingles has made – and continues to make – to the profession of athletic training, as well as her commitment and passion for the profession,” says NATA President Tory Lindley, MA, ATC. “The NATA Hall of Fame recognizes the best among the best in our profession, and Dr. Shingles is truly deserving of this award,” said Lindley.
About NATA: National Athletic Trainers’ Association – Health Care for Life & Sport Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide immediate care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association represents and supports 45,000 members of the athletic training profession. Visit www.nata.org.
Three dozen Detroit kids with a parent in prison got a special day of their own Saturday, as members of a local chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority presented them with gifts and goodies arranged through a national group that focuses on redemption and healing for offenders and their families.
For the fifth year, the women of the Redford-based Tau Alpha Omega chapter of AKA hosted a Christmas celebration for children, complete with visits with Santa Claus and Paws, the Detroit Tigers mascot. Kuddles the Clown painted faces and made balloon animals for the kids.
Sorority members also purchased gifts for the children, working with their caregivers to determine what clothing and toys each child wanted most. The gifts, which the children and their families take home to open on Christmas, come with a message from the incarcerated parent. It’s a way for the children to know they’ve not been forgotten by that parent and are loved.
Doris Pickett brought two grandchildren to the party, Raekwon Mitchell, 9, and Ramiya Johnson, 5.
“They look forward to it every year,” Pickett said as the kids made crafts together before lunch and Santa’s arrival. “We’re just trying to make sure the kids have a good time.”
Asked what his favorite part of the day was, Raekwon couldn’t pick just one. “I like everything,” he said.
The sorority arranges the party and gifts through the Angel Tree program of the Prison Fellowship, a Virginia-based nonprofit that provides assistance for the families of prisoners nationwide. The group estimates there are 2.7 million children in the U.S. with an incarcerated parent.
The festive atmosphere Saturday in a banquet room at the Hotel St. Regis in the New Center area — including a meal of hot dogs, chips, cookies and other goodies — is meant to give the children an afternoon of joy. They’re given Christmas-themed pages to color with markers and colored pens, plus crafts to make gingerbread men and other decorations.
“We don’t want it to be a handout,” said Tau Alpha Omega chapter president Starlett Burrell of Southfield. “We want it to be a celebration.”
A broad coalition of women’s groups is coming together to raise awareness about sexual assault and to propel black women to be a force for getting Detroit’s languishing rape kits processed.
The coalition is named the African American 490 Challenge because it is urging black women, individually and collectively, to raise multiples of $490, the cost of processing a single rape kit. The group will kick off its efforts at a gathering Tuesday morning to be attended by leaders of several black women’s service organizations, sororities and other supporters.
Their effort buttresses the work of Enough SAID (Enough Sexual Assault In Detroit), the rape kit testing and investigation effort being led by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthyand the Michigan Women’s Foundation. Worthy has been leading a campaign to get kits tested since learning five years ago that more than 11,300 kits — the key investigative evidence of assault taken from women during a physical exam — were left unopened and untested in a police storage unit.
State, local, private and public funds have resulted from Worthy’s efforts, and donations have poured in from all over the country. The African American 490 Challenge is working with Enough SAID and plans to raise at least $650,000.
“I think this is a fabulous effort,” said Worthy, who will attend Tuesday’s meeting. “If ever there’s an issue these women should get behind, it’s this one. The support they’ll be able to amass will be essential to our success.”
About 10,000 kits have been tested since an assistant prosecutor discovered them in a police storage unit in 2009. More than 1,000 kits have yet to be tested, and money is needed to complete the investigations of those assaults, Worthy said.
Investigations of the kits thus far have revealed that more than 500 rapists were serial offenders, according to data from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.
More than 80% of victims associated with the rape kits are African-American women, according to data released by the foundation.
“They look like my mother, my aunts, our sisters, our daughters, our nieces,” said Maureen Stapleton, a local leader of the Links and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, two community service organizations tailored to African-American women.
Stapleton joined forces with civic leader Kim Trent and public relations executive Darci McConnell in spearheading the coalition. Trent was moved to action by a Facebook debate that seemed to place the blame for sexual assault on women.
“I decided I needed to do something constructive with my anger,” said Trent, a member of the Wayne State University Board of Governors. “We want to come together to say: ‘This is unacceptable, and we are black women who stand ready to make sure this never happens again, and that the women it happened to get justice.’ ”
Both Trent and McConnell said they were victims of sexual assault, and neither reported it. Trent said statistics show that the majority of women don’t report sexual assault. “Those who do deserve to have their day in court,” especially given the invasive procedure required to obtain rape kits.
“We want to make sure that people understand how serious this is, and that they don’t do what many of us did, which was to keep quiet and retreat,” McConnell said.
The coalition has begun raising money through an online donation site — crowdrise.com/AfricanAmerican490Challenge — and has gained the support of local businesses owned by black women, including two spas — Woodhouse Day spa in Detroit and Lavender Mobile Spa — that are donating part of profits to the effort.
Additionally, the group is encouraging black womens groups, book clubs and other organizations to host fund-raising house parties and other events to raise money.
“The great majority of the victims of these unsolved crimes are black women,” states the coalition’s fund-raising page. “Our mothers. Our sisters. Our daughters. Our neighbors. Our aunts. Our cousins. Our friends. Women who look and live like us. Now is the time for black women to use our voices and resources to show sexual assault victims that they have not been forgotten.”
UPCOMING SPA EVENTS
The two spas are holding fundraising efforts this month for the African American 490 Challenge are:
The Woodhouse Day Spa, 1447 Woodward Ave., which will donate 10% of its profits on Oct. 22 to the challenge. In addition, there will be a reception for supporters 5-7:30 p.m. that day. The reception is free and open to the public.
Lavender Mobile Spa will host a fund-raiser at the Westin Hotel in Southfield 1500 Town Center, Southfield, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 24.