Wingspan Portfolio Advisors - A snapshot in Corporate Corruption, Abuse, and Racism

"They've taken off their robes, and now they sit in corner offices in business suits;
however they still think THE SAME"
"For they WILL be evil people. For plain human people, both power and money can corrupt. For corporate "people" with no innate sense of fairness and no instilled morality, the corruption is a certainty."

Be careful about the employment you take. Especially in Texas. A state known for Oil, Cowboys, Start-ups and Crooks.

A bad employer can do more than hurt you emotionally, financially, or cripple any other career prospects. A truly bad employer can make you withdraw from the Job Market entirely. The experience one gains from working with a ruthless and cutthroat employer can leave one permanently scarred.

I speak from experience. More people should speak from experience. I had over several years of work experience when during a period of unemployment after a layoff, I heard about a small company in Carrollton, TX which was hiring for Bank of America as a third party vendor. That small company was Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, located at 4100 Midway, Suite 1110, Carrollton, TX 75007. After interviewing for a position with the company I was hired on the spot.

The first few weeks working at Wingspan felt ok. The work was not too difficult and the management told us constantly we could become permanent with hard work. So we worked hard. All of us. However, in a short time, I began to notice what I felt were very unethical business practices by the company. I was instructed to lie on more than one occasion when speaking to Bank of America customers regarding loan documents. Management was non supportive and were at times outright racist against the African American employees. I, along with others, started to notice many white employees being hired permanent whereas the black employees were not even though their work was of high quality. Management also became openly hostile to black employees as well.

I left the company feeling disillusioned with Corporate America.

The last few days I worked at the company and I saw the warped mentality and lack of ethics of managers who treated the blacks with such contempt and back-handedness; and it became so depressing I didn't know if I could ever work for another company again.

I had a realization that Corporate America is the white man's domain. It is his world. We only play in it. For the first time in my life I understand the importance of African Americans to become entrepreneurs in higher numbers than we are currently. We will never be treated as complete equals working for white people in traditional corporate America. No matter our work ethics, values, education or experience we will always be pushed to second tier. I became resentful of corporate America and to this day liken Corporate America to crooks and crony capitalism.

It took months of health issues from the stress from the job, dealing with the racist comments such as when one of the managers referred to the black employees as "roaches" openly and to one male employee in particular as "nigger". When you experience that you will never get over it. It will mold your perception of white people, especially Southern Rednecks in positions of power, forever.

That is why I wrote this blog. Don't let white people no-matter what titles "THEY" give "THEMSELVES" take your dignity. Stand up for your dignity. At the end of the day they may take your job, but don't let them take your dignity.

Disclaimer: As we live in a litigious society where Freedom of speech is often threatened and the wronged are "intimidated" into silence, let me add that the views contained within this article and Blog (all posts) are based on the  experiences and observations of the writer and others who have chosen to come forward to let their voices be heard. All comments, descriptions, headings referencing the personal character of Blog subjects and any other subjects on this blog, are based on the personal opinions, experiences and observations of the Blog Writer and other Third Parties who contributed. You are not expected to accept my word as "Hard Fact", but to read and make up your OWN MIND. In the Words of Fox News "I Report and You Decide".

This blog is a personal, informal blog where I converse in a casual conversational tone with you, the reader, as I would a friend being informed of my experiences. Again, all statements are based on my "personal Experiences", and please be reminded that as they are personal experiences, they are factual to me, but you, the reader, are meant to be informed of my experiences and left to decide on your own accord.  

Thank you for reading. 

If You Want Career Advancement, Don't Work For Wingspan Portfolio Advisors

Unless you're not a minority.

Only a favored few can advance at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors. I witnessed this when I would see people, overwhelmingly whites, with no education or experience, advance quickly ahead of minorities who had both the education and mortgage experience. No one really would say anything out of fear of losing their jobs. Justin Belter and Melanie Pellegrino had all power in determining who would move ahead to that next promotion.

I can remember applying with many of my highly qualified minority coworkers for position openings that would become available. One day after clearly being very impressed with my qualifications, the HR Director at the time (Wingspan has gone through several) went specifically to Mr. Belter's office to get his "permission" to promote me. I had never seen anything like that. Isn't HR suppose to make those decisions going off of qualifications? Why didn't the HR Director at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors see something wrong in white males, who consistently had far less qualifications than black employees for the positions they were being awarded, say something? Because he would have been terminated. Good Ol'boys are called Good Ol'boys because they are expected to go along with the program. They benefit as well as everyone in their clique. At the end of the day the HR director of a small, micromanaged company like Wingspan, where the managers are 99% white males, southern born and bred, wanted to keep his job as well. So he simply "followed orders" and overlooked the qualifications of so many hardworking minority candidates who he knew never had even the remotest chance of moving up at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors.

33 year old "Senior VP" Justin Belter
at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors

 I also can't understand why anyone would send the intimate pictures of himself with his spouse smoking "guda" and drinking and getting SLOBBERED back to their boss, the EVP Jason Dickard? I have never seen anyone so close to their boss where they would post this kind of a picture to be seen not just by the EVP Jason Dickard but by ALL STAFF..

Photo Removed as my dignity will not allow me to show the poor woman in such a drunken state.





Way To Keep "It Classy",  Mr. Senior VP..
Why Put Your Wife Out There Like That?

We Could Have Done Without Seeing Your "Gut" dude.. Geez.
Wingspan Sure has high standards in promotions.. 
Is There a Labor Shortage of VP's?

Now who all wants to bet that if a black employee, ANY BLACK EMPLOYEE, at Wingspan would have sent pics of himself and his wife getting wasted like this to our managers, the VP's, that we would have automatically been rewarded not just with one promotion, but two all the way up to a SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT. Damn Near Overnight.

And who all wants to bet that if a black male, had managed to knock up his wife their would have damn near been a public company broadcast to cheer the guy on? Nah.. It wouldn't have happened. While "WE" were busy trying to keep our damn jobs, the white males of Wingspan were living the LIFE. While "WE" were being threatened, harassed and Terminated over any minor issue, The white males were clearly not held to the same standards. There was a serious double standard. 

This is where white privilege comes into play. In Corporate America, white corporate leaders look at younger white male employees as "Sons". There is an race based "affinity" there and because of this they are quicker to excuse errors, character flaws and lapses in judgment and open doors of economic advancement that would not be opened to fellow black employees. Black employees are simply viewed as "employees". The procedural aspect as it pertains to write ups, terminations, evaluations, etc. are mostly for "black employees". The white boys get "babied". They get away with much more. Far more than black employees would ever hope to get away with simply because of their white skin. 98% of Corporate Leaders in this country are WHITE MALES. They simply want people who look them sitting beside them in positions of power at the decision table. For wrong or right, this puts white males at an automatic advantage in corporate America. The "Affinity Advantage". Where everyone in leadership looks mostly like them. And desires them to share their positions of power with.
There are numerous studies on the internet and off which reinforce what I am saying. The power structure in this country has always been exclusively white and male. This creates a tremendous advantage for those starting off who are white and male. They are quickly trusted to handle greater responsibility than those who classify as minorities. Simply because they "Resemble" the existing power structure. That's why you can have scenarios where black employees are told if they leave work without permission they will be terminated, whereas white employees can leave work without permission and not face termination. The rules apply to both. However, they are only enforced with black employees.
For all of the purported "racial progress" we have supposedly made in this country, all one has to do is take one look at the board rooms and corporate leadership across this nation and they will realize America still has a long way to go. These positions are still overwhelmingly filled with WHITE MALES. I'm tired of being offered lower pay and lesser responsibility because I am a black minority than white males with the same and often fewer qualifications than I. Like Malcolm X said they say "go to school and get a degree" and when you get the degree they say "you're over-qualified". And without the degree they say "you're under-qualified". It's like you're damned if you do and damned if you don't if you're not a white male. Justin Belter started off with no experience, had average work quality and in a few years time was made Senior VP. From the pictures posted you can see how he spent a lot of his time. This is WHITE PRIVILEGE. Edward Snowden, the NSA Leaker and high school dropout, who managed to score a job making $122,000 a year with only his GED has NOTHING on this man when it comes to WHITE PRIVILEGE.

During my employment at Wingspan, the white males would literally walk in off the street, get hired (sometimes without even valid ID's), hung over from the night before, bitch all day about how inept management was, leave without permission early which for blacks would be terminable offenses, and HR, Justin Belter, Melanie Pellegrino and Jason Dickard would consistently take these guys and try to groom them for management. These same guys who honestly could have cared less about the job. That was the mindset of Wingspan Portfolio Advisors.

I would observe my white male coworkers not only bitch and moan about management, but become openly hostile with management and they would be coddled. I would observe the quality of their work and see how many people would have to work to correct their work, and yet they kept their jobs and had promotions ready for them if they wanted them.

I would see white employees who had trouble doing the job go under training one, two, and up to three times until they would be transferred to an easier position or have a position created for them. These opportunities were never afforded equally to black employees.

The Human Resources clerk at the time was a black male and he had access to the pay scale of all employees. He stated he became so disgusted at the enormous pay disparity he resigned. He said he simply couldn't work at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors anymore making less than white guys who had less experience and who had just started to work there.This is what many employees did. They just quit. The few who dared to complain had their days numbered. They would quietly be dismissed.

There was not just a little double standard at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors. There was an enormous double standard at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors. This was whispered about in circles by the black employees. We could see what was happening. However, many of us simply wanted to keep our jobs and Wingspan was the type of company that if you complained of racism, they would find a way to terminate you. For any reason. Justin Belter did this to other employees. He watched one black female until she came to work late one minute and he walked over and terminated her employment. On the spot. She had been a good worker. But she had taken exception to the way Melanie Pellegrino had yelled at her and she was tired of the verbal abuse. This was all it took to remove her. This showed the rest of us that we were not expected to have any dignity while working at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors.

These guys were extremely dirty. Very underhanded and cut throat and racist. They held racist biases against blacks, were uncomfortable working with blacks, and were suddenly, thanks to Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, in powerful positions where they managed black employees and where they could act out on their biases and prejudices and wield undue influence in the lives of their black employees. There was a LOT of verbal abuse. Racist jokes. With blacks being referred to once by Melanie Pellegrino as "roaches" and of course Justin Belter calling a black male coworker a "Nigger" forcing the guy to storm out the building.

Yet these guys were promoted. They were white males in Texas and of course they could do no wrong. No one can tell me that there is not a double standard in Texas. Blacks are at the bottom of the Totem Pole when it comes to Promotions, Hiring, Pay, etc. I know that there are good companies out there, however, I do strongly believe that what I experienced while working at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors is reflective of the work experience of many minorities, especially black minorities, who work in the state of Texas. I initially thought that Dallas would have been different. If this is as "good as it gets" in Texas, then I might as well get the hell out because I can't imagine being someplace where the racism is any worse.

I was wrong to believe that the lone one or two black faces in management, that you will find at any company in Texas or otherwise, meant that the company was inclusive of blacks. This is often not the case and these "lone rangers" who have been selected to grace the offices of management at these companies are usually just "Tokens". Tokens to be propped up before a court to show that the company can't possibly be racist. In Wingspan's case there was Kevin Conn. Yet Wingspan was very racist and unbelievably it was usually Kevin Conn they went to and ordered to perform very questionable terminations and other employment related matters when it came to the black employees. This earned Kevin Conn the reputation of a "Snake" in black circles.

I never did get comfortable working under Justin Belter, Melanie Pellegrino or Jason Dickard, because these guys would look at me and other black workers like a deer looks at Headlights. They were clearly uncomfortable working with black people. I now believe, looking back, that they had honestly never really been around blacks. They seemed very uncomfortable and would stand at a distance and stare at us.

I would often see Jason Dickard as well, walking the floor, with a scowl on his face, looking side to side, from black employee to black employee. This too made me very uncomfortable. But I labored on. The black employees of Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, I can honestly say, put forth five times the work as white employees, who were largely nonchalant and laid back. They would play. They would joke with each other. They would come to work out of dress code all the time. And we would later hear that they had been promoted. There would be no fan fare. Just whispers.

The racism at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors was "insidious". It was deeply rooted. Sometimes overt. Very subtle. The constant promotions of the lesser qualified white candidates would be whispered about. This was done on purpose. The company knew what it was doing. This hurt a lot of black employees deeply. Probably more deeply than the pay disparity which was also taking place at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors. I can honestly say that on this one, HR was complicit in the racism because every white employee that started at Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, many of them right out of college, working alongside black employees who also held college degrees and had years of mortgage experience as well, started off at a much higher pay rate than what we were earning.

These white employees were open about their salaries. They must have thought we all were making what they were. They were naive. Or maybe they weren't and they simply didn't care about the company being sued because of the pay disparity.

The problem with the HR Director going directly to Mr. Justin Belter, who was in his mid 20's at the time, far younger than many others he "managed" who also happened to have far more experience than he did in "everything" pretty much was that Mr. Belter was friends with several of the white males and he was uncomfortable with blacks. Justin Belter also had a reputation for being openly hostile to black employees, even referring to one black male as a "Nigger" forcing the guy to explode and quit on the spot. This resulted in many of the individuals getting promoted, as stated above, having less qualifications than blacks. Some of these people could barely speak a coherent sentence.

At Wingspan Portfolio Advisors my white coworkers were consistently moved ahead of me, and not just me, but many other minorities with relative ease. The position I had applied for with several other highly qualified black candidates went to a white G.E.D. recipient who had a criminal background, absolutely no mortgage experience and who "enunciated" like she was educated in the back of a Barn; and to boot she had an absolutely awful attitude. She was argumentative with everyone and nasty with everyone. Go Figure.. She won out for the promotion over several minority candidates who had more qualifications than her in every category one could imagine.

This is what we experienced working as black employees for Wingspan Portfolio Advisors. SHEER RACISM. 

I take it that very small, redneckish companies work far different than the much larger established ones where one's merit, experience and education holds more weight.

After Being Allowed to Play God with the Career Advancements of many of his higher (than himself) qualified minority subordinates, this guy jet sets off to a beach in Mexico.. When the vast majority of minorities working for Wingspan were without vacation time, sick time, health insurance and where we were constantly threatened if we missed "One Day" of work we would be terminated. Yet this guy starts with all the rest of us and because he is one of the "FEW" white guys working at Wingspan at the time, he is essentially quickly promoted to be an Overseer of all the rest of us who were even more highly qualified than he was..


If you are one of the JP Morgan Folks out of Florida, Welcome to the Texas Way of Doing Business.
Wingspan Portfolio Advisors is again, a "very" small company where the management team are all related and very insulated from policies, rules and procedures other team members down the chain have to follow.

For the HR director to essentially overlook my qualifications, so that my lesser (than myself) qualified manager could pick and choose which "favorites" would get promoted showed that you cannot expect fairness at this company.

No matter the lies they consistently give in those meetings they have every 15 minutes which are often about nothing, where they often repeat what they said in the meeting 15 minutes prior; don't believe a word of it. These guys can't be trusted to do what's right. It's just a bunch of classless rednecks parading around as cultured and educated individuals and this couldn't be farthest from the truth.

My Racist Company Fires Minorities. What Can I Do About It?

by CBSNews

Dear Evil HR Lady, I work for a small family business where HR functions are handled by accounting and the department manager. I manage a very small workforce that contributes a great deal to the bottom line. I have recently conducted interviews for a position that is soon to be available. The problem is that the best candidate is a minority, and the owners of the business are racist. They are not overtly racist, they just put the microscope on every minority I hire, especially minority women. My direct supervisor is not a member of the family, but everyone else above me is. I feel that I would not be helping this candidate to hire her since I can guarantee that I will be asked to terminate her before her probationary period ends for "unsatisfactory performance." If I do not hire because my higher ups are racist, then am I guilty of discrimination? I have decided to hire the most qualified person, who is a minority, but I can count the calender days until I am instructed to terminate. What do I do?

Well, this is a sticky situation, isn't it? If the economy were humming along at full speed, I'd tell you to forget about these losers you work for and find a new job. Employers who don't treat their employees fairly soon end up without any good employees, because the good ones leave. That will happen to these people eventually, but in a bad economy, it's easier to keep people who normally wouldn't put up with you. However, I would start looking for a new job anyway because this isn't a place you want to be associated with.

But for the here and now, you need to take control of the situation. Your department contributes to the bottom line. That means other people are dependent upon your work for their paychecks. That gives you some leverage. Let's use it.

First, you need to have clear, objective, quantitative measures for success. This is a critical point. It needs to be established, in writing, what is expected of the new hire. Personally, I'm a fan of SMART objectives. These are objectives that are:

S--Specific M--Measurable A--Achievable R--Relevant T--Time Frame

Once you've written these up, get them approved by your boss and (to be safe) your boss's boss, who is part of the racist family. You need to have their approvals in writing, so that when the time comes you can effectively defend your new hire. Be careful with the SMART objectives: Make sure they're what you want to live and die by, because you'll have to do just that.

With the SMART job objectives in hand, go ahead and make an offer to your best candidate. Go over the details with her and explain that in the past many people have been terminated during the probationary period. Explain that these objectives are new, that they are designed to make sure everyone is on the same page, but again, that other people have been terminated during the probationary period. (And not that you asked, but I really dislike probationary periods. Having a probationary period says, "There will become a time in which you are no longer an at-will employee," but we'll deal with that some time in the distant future.)

To be fair to the candidate, you need to let her know that there is a possibility she'll be terminated. This is especially important if she's leaving another job. Explain that this is not going to be an easy job and that the family sometimes has a hard time accepting outsiders.

Then bring the candidate on board and work with her to make sure she meets the SMART objectives. If the powers that be want to fire her, you'll have solid evidence in your little hand that she has met all of the objectives. When they say, "But it's the probationary period, we can fire anyone at any time," you can say, "Yes, that's true, but this function is critical for the bottom line of the company. If I terminate someone who is clearly meeting the objectives we all agreed on, it's going to look like racial or gender discrimination. If she sues, we'll most likely lose, because how would we defend ourselves? Terminating her would be a poor business move, since she is meeting all the objectives."

Using the "we" form instead of "you" will help soften the blow that you're telling these people they're racist idiots. In fact, they probably won't pick up on it. All you're saying is that it "looks" like discrimination. If they still insist that she be terminated, this is where you need to draw your line in the sand. You need to refuse to terminate the person.

If the family wants to terminate, fine. But, don't you dare be the one who delivers the news. Why? Because often a defense in discrimination lawsuits is that the company can't possibly be racist/sexist/ageist/whateverist because the same person who hired did the firing. The argument is that if there were a problem with illegal discrimination, the person never would have been hired in the first place. Don't give them the opportunity to hide behind you.

I realize that this opens you up for termination. This stinks. But remember, you're a strong contributor to the bottom line. Remind them of that. Stand firm. Don't give in to the temptation to do something wrong to preserve yourself. Sometimes, you've just got to do what's right. News Link
Wingspan Portfolio Advisors Blogspot

Wingspan Portfolio Advisors Sued For Discrimination, Retaliation & Abuse of Its Black Employees

Denny et al v. Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, LLC

Plaintiffs:Roslyn Denny  and Bonita Winslow 
Defendant:Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, LLC
Case Number:3:2011cv01094
Filed:May 24, 2011
Court:Texas Northern District Court
Office:Dallas Office
Presiding Judge:Sidney A Fitzwater
Nature of Suit:Labor - Other Labor Litigation
Cause:28:1332 Diversity-Employment Discrimination
Jurisdiction:Federal Question
Jury Demanded By:


Access Link Below For More Information:

Andreza Skipworth Fired After Reporting Racial Discrimination By Rhode Island Board of Elections Director Robert Kando


Andreza Skipworth
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Andreza Skipworth, confidential secretary to Board of Elections Executive Director Robert Kando, has been fired — an action she claims is directly related to an unresolved discrimination complaint she filed against Kando last year.

Skipworth, who has been Kando’s secretary since 2006, said she was notified of her termination through a phone conversation with Kando on Jan. 16. No reason for the decision was given, nor did she ask what motivated the decision, she said.

Skipworth returned to the Board of Elections on Tuesday to clean out her office. Kando has not responded to a request for comment.

On Oct. 28, Skipworth filed a discrimination complaint with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights against Kando and the Board of Elections. In the complaint, she alleges that she has been denied a raise because she is black. Kando is white. She provided examples of people she described as less experienced employees who were not black and received raises.

Skipworth’s salary was $43,472. She said she has not received a raise since a cost-of-living increase in either 2010 or 2011.

The Commission for Human Rights said it does not comment on the existence of complaints.

The Board of Elections discussed Skipworth’s complaint in the executive session of its board meeting on Jan. 15, a day before Skipworth was fired. No public votes followed the executive session.

Kando responded to the allegations in a nine-page affidavit on Dec. 19. In it, he documented several problems with Skipworth’s performance and asserted she did not deserve a raise.

Among the issues, he noted that Skipworth circulated an “uncomplimentary email” written by an unidentified board commissioner to Kando “in an attempt to embarrass me.” He also suggested that Skipworth deliberately attempted to delay payments to candidates from the state’s matching public funds program in the 2014 election “in an effort to publicly embarrass the board.”

In the final line of his response to the commission, Kando went on to suggest that Skipworth should be fired.

“I have knowledge and information concerning other incidents of Ms. Skipworth’s unprofessional demeanor and poor job performance. Her misconduct is sufficient grounds for termination of employment,” Kando wrote.

“The only reason why Mr. Kando is now raising complaints about my disposition and inadequate job performance — most of which have been over exaggerated or fictional — is because he cannot come up with any other way of defending his bigoted actions,” Skipworth wrote on Jan. 7 in a response filed with the Commission on Human Rights.

Skipworth said she has had discussions with the commission since her termination regarding whether another charge of retaliation can be added to her existing complaint or whether she should register a second complaint.

“I just want justice. I’m not interested in money. I want my job back, and I want an apology for being mistreated,” Skipworth said in a phone interview.

In Kando’s affidavit, he stated that Skipworth was the “only minority person” who was interviewed for the job. He said he told her she would not be a union employee and she would “lack the opportunity for advancement possibilities.” He stated that he did not deem Skipworth to be the most qualified person for the job, but decided to give her the job anyway.

It's Time To Regulate or Ban Temporary Staffing Agencies

I would have never come to this conclusion before I moved to Texas but now I am certain that Temporary Staffing Agencies should either be heavily regulated or banned all together. There is just too much abuse. I don't come to this decision lightly. I have come to this decision after years of experience with staffing agencies and after years of hearing the horror stories of many others, either indirectly from news reports or from first hand recounts. 

What is a temporary staffing agency? A temporary staffing agency is an 'indirect' employer who finds 'employees' to cover either long term or short term work assignments at a corporation. Why do they SUCK? They suck because they provide an Employer an easy convenient way to get around providing benefits to employees and they open the door to all sorts of labor law violations. This is why many major corporations love hiring them. They do the permanent staffing now for most major corporations. 

Employees of Temporary Staffing Agencies have far less job security than actual employees. They often are vulnerable to all sorts of abuse and exploitation. Very often their wages get stolen. Since corporations are so good at pitting temporary staffing agencies against one another to extract the lowest costs for finding workers, the agencies are moved to find inventive and creative ways to skim extra money off the top of the already rock bottom low pay their workers earn. Some temporary staffing agencies I have seen charge upwards of $150.00 to run background checks and drug screens. These agencies charge these high amounts not just to recoup the costs they pay (which they often charge off on their end of year tax forms) they also look to make a PROFIT. A profit from workers already being paid at or a little above minimum wage. To me this is obscene. It may not be illegal but it really should shock the conscious of the American Public. That's IF the American public actually "Had" a Conscious, at least here in Texas.

Many Temporary staffing agencies have side agreements with the corporations to keep workers in the positions for YEARS. There is a widely held belief that after you work 90 days  they have to bring you on permanent. That's a complete bullshit lie. I have known many people who have remained in temporary staffing positions for 10 to 15 years during my life who have NEVER been offered a permanent position. EVER. 

The Temporary staffing agency workers often do not get Sick time, vacation time, personal leave, or Holiday pay. The vast majority don't. I would say probably around 98% of temporary employees in Texas do not get this kind of pay.

Many Temporary Staffing workers have to fight to get paid at all. Many times the checks from the actual corporation to the agency are slow coming and workers are usually paid out of 'reserve' agency accounts. Many agencies have very few reserve funds set aside and when the check from the corporation is slow coming the workers do not get paid.. AT ALL. There are multiple problems with the checks they are told. Their hours are significantly shorted. They are lied to repeatedly, etc. etc.

This is a completely unregulated industry that really exploits the shit out of the worker. 

Another thing that is find very distasteful is that Temporary Staffing agencies ALLOW for racial discrimination. I have a friend that works at one here in Texas who recently confided to me that Employers, well, HR Clerks and Directors and Company Recruiters, often request workers  BY RACE. Yes. This is BLATANTLY ILLEGAL but they are allowed to do it. The agency knows its illegal but they also know the contract can easily go to another agency so they say NOTHING. 

This adversely affects BLACK AMERICANS because as my friend confided in me the corporations never request black workers. Only white or Hispanic workers. 

Many major U.S. Corporations have permanently outsourced the hiring of their employees to Temporary staffing agencies. Its not unusual to find large operations where all of the managers and executives are "permanent employees" and they have thousands of lower level employees they supervisors who are ALL CONTRACT OR TEMP WORKERS.

Having to work for Temporary Staffing Agencies also place the employees personal information, such as their social security numbers and birth dates, everything needed to steal someone's identity, in jeopardy. Why? Temporary Staffing Agencies are looser with this information. Many lack the necessary protocols to even keep this information safe. I have been 'IN" Temporary Staffing Agencies where the recruiters and employees yelled out entire social security numbers. To a room full of people. 

America is turning into a Temp Nation. This is NOT GOOD. The American Dream is fading away quickly for so many people. How are Americans expected to buy all of these high priced products with bottom basement pay? 

By taking on more and more DEBT. That's how.

It's all about the guy at the top making a windfall. Everyone else be damned. That is the mindset of the modern day corporation. 

It's no longer "We rise or fall together". It's "Everyone will get tossed to save my (CEO) a$$". 

America is starting to truly suck. For the Middle Class and Poor. 

. . . .

Don Grady, former NIU Police chief, Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Allowed To Proceed

Judge Harry Leinenweber, in a 26-page decision, has allowed for the civil rights lawsuit of Don Grady, former NIU Police chief, to proceed.

Grady attorney Michael Fox said this decision allows him to acquire more information to move the case forward, including depositions and testimony of the people involved.

“We actually get to sit people down under oath and ask them questions, we get to see documents, we get to subpoena documents, we get to require production of documents,” Fox said.

The lawsuit was filed on Feb. 19 against members of the Board of Trustees, former NIU President John Peters and several other administrators. It claims Grady faced racial discrimination, retaliation and denial of due process.

Grady’s employment was ended in February 2013 after being placed on paid leave in November 2012 when Judge Robbin Stuckert ruled there was purposeful hiding of two witness statements by the NIU Police Department in the case of Andrew Rifkin, a former police officer who faced charges of sexually assaulting a student.

After his termination, Grady said the disciplinary action taken against him was “worse than other Caucasian employees who were involved in more serious misconduct,” according to Leninweber’s decision, alluding to the NIU employees involved in the Coffee Fund, where employees sold university-owned scrap metal for personal gain.

Grady is seeking reinstatement, back and front pages and punitive damages, among other things.

Texan Chris Rincon Fired From Job After Posting Racist Online Language About The Obamas

Chris Rincon's not worried. The Employers Love Racist White Trash out in Texas. He'll Fit Right In On Most Work Sites. I'm Sure Wingspan Portfolio Advisor's Is Attempting To Contact Him Right Now. 

Original Article Posted By Joshua Fechter on

Chris Rincon, a former car wash worker in Houston, was fired from his job after racially disparaging comments he made about the First Family on Facebook found their way onto a Tumblr page dedicated to making people who publish racist remarks online lose their jobs.

Users on the Racists Getting Fired (and Getting Racists Fired!) blog post screenshots and photos of people who make racist comments online along with contact information for that person's place of work.

Readers are then encouraged to repeatedly contact the person's place of work and urge their employer to fire them, but discouraged from harassing the individual and their family.

That's what happened to Rincon, who posted a fake story to his Facebook page in December about Malia Obama getting pregnant and proceeding to use racial epithets to describe her and her family after commenters told him the story was fake.

"We just like talking shit about the (racial expletive)," Rincon posted.

When called out for using the racial slur to describe the First Family, Rincon defended himself by saying the said slur was not an expletive.

"Also, I'm a red neck so please no the tallest tree in my yard loves obama (sic)," Rincon said in a comment.

Rincon, whose cover photo on his Facebook page showed an assault rifle and the words "Come and Take It" emblazoned on a Confederate flag — was later fired after the blog post was published.

Rincon told BBC that he did not deny using the word, but was really bothered by the situation "because I'm not the only person who has views in this aspect."

"It made me lose my job," Rincon said. "I have a three-year-old kid that I'm trying to support ... They're basing (their views of) a person off of one post instead of actually knowing the person."

Texas GOP Celebrates MLK By Crying Discrimination While Gutting The Voting Rights Act

Oh Texas.. Can't You Do Any Better?
Republished From Addicting Info Website
Leave it to those insane right-wing Republicans in Texas to celebrate Martin Luther King Day and the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act in the most offensive way possible.
The Nonprofit Quarterly reports that five white Republicans from Dallas County, TX sued their county for discriminating against white people and violating their voting rights.
In what seems an odd way to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, five white residents of Dallas County, Texas, sued the county for violating the voting rights of white people. The suit was filed on the plaintiffs’ behalf by the Dallas-based Equal Voting Rights Institute, charging that, “Like something out of the bad old days, a southern electoral body [is] playing naked racial politics, intentionally using its power to minimize a dissenting race’s political sway.”
These people have a lot of nerve, considering that (a) President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law because Southern States systematically and violently denied black people their right to vote; (b) a recent wave of discriminatory voter ID laws in Republican-led states are once again denying blacks — along with seniors, others of color, college students, and low-income people — their right to vote; and (c) the Republican-led Supreme Court upheld these voter ID laws and gutted Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act that so many fought for.
Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is crucial to the law that Martin Luther King pushed to get passed, and which he ultimately paid for with his assassination. Others got beaten, killed, and murdered so all Americans would have the right to vote, as shown in the movie Selma. But without requiring a review process for all election law changes by states with records of past voting rights violations, the law is toothless. Although voter ID laws aren’t as blatantly discriminatory as the kinds of tests and intimidation blacks were once subjected to, they still prevent people from voting.
The Atlantic dug into the Supreme Court ruling and dug up a chart that they found “astonishing.” The chart — shown below — reveals the Voting Rights Act’s dramatic success. Once the barriers to voting were removed, the gap between white and black election turnout shrunk to between 0.9 and 4 percent in six southern states.
chart voter participation in 1965  -- before the voting rights act -- and in 2004 inthe wake of the Supreme Court Decision in June 2013.
Despite the Voter Rights Act’s obvious success, the Republican-led Supreme Court gutted it anyway.
That chart makes you wonder how anyone could actually look at these numbers and still gut the Voting Rights Act.

Featured image: Composite with Selma march and Martin Luther King photos via Stanford University’s King Web; Ferguson Police photo by Alex Wroblewski via the Sun Times; and Ferguson protesters image via NBC video screen grab.

Texas Leading The Charge For The "Right To Discriminate"

In less than 24 hours, the Supreme Court will hear a case that will define the future of decades-old legal protections against discrimination by landlords and banks against renters and homebuyers. The decision could have far-reaching consequences for the battle against housing policies that discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, disability, and other protected characteristics. And that, in turn, would have profound implications for efforts to ensure fair and unbiased policing in places like Ferguson and New York City and throughout the country.

Passed in 1968, the Fair Housing Act is one of the major legislative victories of the civil rights movement. It has helped rid our country of the most overt forms of housing discrimination, such as building single-race housing developments and using lending maps that demarcated black neighborhoods as mortgage-free zones.

But discrimination hasn't gone away – instead, it has subtly morphed, preventing us from creating truly diverse communities.

The most harmful contemporary instances of discrimination can take several forms. Sometimes policies that are neutral on their face interact with entrenched segregation – typically the vestiges of prior intentional discrimination – to reinforce exclusionary policies. For example, zoning regulations that prevent the construction of mixed-income housing in overwhelmingly white areas often have the effect of excluding non-white families. In other instances, policies create conditions where individual landlords or mortgage brokers apply ingrained stereotypes or implicit biases to treat individuals differently based on race, even if that was not the intent of the underlying policies. And, of course, discriminatory policies are sometimes the product of outright racial bias that a perpetrator knows better than to broadcast explicitly so that the intention to discriminate remains disguised.

The FHA's most effective provision for addressing these contemporary forms of discrimination is a legal rule that has held sway for 40 years – the idea that unlawful discrimination is not limited to cases where a plaintiff can prove that a defendant acted with conscious intent to discriminate. Instead, the FHA recognizes the idea of "disparate impact." Under the disparate impact approach, a practice constitutes discrimination if it disproportionately harms a protected class – like racial minorities – and the defendant – typically a landlord or bank or municipality – didn't need to use that practice, or could have done something different that would have avoided the discriminatory effect.

The disparate impact approach has been indispensable in rooting out housing discrimination precisely because it identifies and confronts discrimination that results from hidden, unconscious biases and practices that perpetuate the effects of past, intentional discrimination. But in the case currently before the Supreme Court,Inclusive Community Partners v. Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the state of Texas has asked the justices to rule that disparate impact claims are not available under the FHA. The case involves a challenge to Dallas' system for allocating low-income-housing vouchers in a way that reinforced patterns of residential segregation.

As many advocates and observers have argued in anticipation of this case, the disparate impact standard is crucially important to guaranteeing fair housing opportunities and diverse communities (for examples, see here, here, here, here, andhere). One of the reasons that objective is so important is that there is often a profound connection between discrimination in housing and discrimination in other areas of American life. It's well-established that where you live determines in large measure what opportunities you'll have and how you'll be treated.

Policing is a prime example.

Recent activism across the country, propelled by widespread outrage over repeated instances of police killing unarmed black men, has aimed at reforming racially biased policing. Events in Ferguson actually underscore how housing segregation can lead to racialized policing, in all its tragic dimensions. The racial landscape of the St. Louis region didn't occur naturally. Rather it was the product of decades of efforts to impose residential segregation, enforced through a brutal cocktail of federal, state, and local policy as well as private acts of discrimination.

Indeed, a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute provides a nuanced history of those programs of discrimination. In depressing detail, it describes the many layers of governmental and private actions that erected often impenetrable boundaries separating communities based on race. The tragic killing of Michael Brown has helped to expose racialized policing in predominantly black areas, including data showing that police in Ferguson were twice as likely to search blacks as whites after initiating a stop, even though whites were far more likely to be found with contraband.

The connection between racialized space and racialized policing shouldn't be surprising. Intensive residential segregation very often leads to concentrated poverty, a lack of municipal services, and failing schools – all of which contribute to an increase in certain crimes while also breeding stereotypes about disorder and criminality. These dynamics contribute significantly to the biased policing in predominately black or Latino neighborhoods. At the same time, the existence of identifiably black and white spaces leads to unfair targeting of minority individuals who happen to be in predominately white neighborhoods, especially the nonwhite residents of neighborhoods.

None of this is unique to St. Louis. For example, a recent ACLU study on Boston's stop-and-frisk policies found that "a neighborhood's concentration of Black residents drives the rate of police-civilian encounters." In other words, even after statistically controlling for crime-related factors – including neighborhood crime rates – preliminary expert analysis of the Boston Police Department's own data found that the racial composition of a neighborhood predicts how many police encounters will take place there. A statistical analysis submitted to the court as part of the challenge to New York City's stop-and-frisk program found similar patterns.

And that brings us back to the future of the Fair Housing Act. The FHA has for decades provided the most powerful legal tools available for dismantling residential segregation. It has done tremendously important work, but that work is not done. When it comes to addressing housing discrimination in its current forms, the disparate impact standard is an absolutely indispensable tool. It smokes out covert intentional discrimination. More profoundly, it allows courts to carefully scrutinize policies that perpetuate patterns of segregation to determine whether they can be justified.

Removing this pillar of civil rights law would set back equal housing opportunity in dramatic ways. It would also set back the movement to reform bias-based policing at exactly the wrong moment.

A Federal Judge Has Ruled Texas Cannot Challenge The U.S. EEOC's Guidance On Criminal Background Checks

A federal judge has ruled that the state of Texas cannot challenge the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) guidance on criminal background checks because the state is not presently at risk of being penalized for refusing to adopt the policy. You might recall that this suit was filed last November by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a legal action which challenged the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) “enforcement guidance” that limits the use of criminal records during the hiring process.  
Those who conduct employment background checks should read on to learn why this case was so important, but why you shouldn’t despair over the ruling.
The suit claimed that EEOC guidelines unlawfully limit the ability of employers – including the State of Texas and its agencies–from excluding convicted felons from employment. The complaint challenged the Commission’s statutory authority under Title VII to improperly “bully” the State and its agencies at the expense of the safety of Texans. As my colleague Angela Preston highlighted last November, the compliant asked the federal court for the following relief:
  • A declaratory judgment that the State of Texas and its agencies are entitled to maintain and enforce state laws and policies that absolutely bar convicted felons – or a certain category of convicted felons – from government employment;
  • A declaration that the EEOC cannot enforce its guidelines against the State of Texas – and an injunction that bars the EEOC from issuing right-to-sue letters to persons seeking to pursue this type of discrimination charge against the State of Texas or any of its agencies;
  • a judgment holding unlawful and setting aside the EEOC’s hiring guidelines.
This suit was the first, and so far only direct challenge to the EEOC’s controversial criminal background check enforcement guidance, which went into effect in April, 2012. 
While the case wasn’t able to move forward, the ruling didn’t even address the legality of the guidance.  The judge simply said that the state couldn’t challenge the EEOC unless they were at risk of facing penalty for not complying with it.  Unfortunately, it looks like we’re going to have to wait for insight from the courts until an entity (private or public employer) has been sued for alleged non-compliance.     
I might be wrong about this, but I don’t see EEOC poking the bear by going after a state for non-compliance.  States tend to have the resources and political will to see these things through.  My guess is that they will continue to go after private employers who could spend millions fighting the allegations but might not have the will or resource to challenge the constitutionality of the guidance.

Winnipeg, Canada's Most Racist City

“Oh Goddd how long are aboriginal people going to use what happened as a crutch to suck more money out of Canadians?” Winnipeg teacher Brad Badiuk wrote on Facebook last month. “They have contributed NOTHING to the development of Canada. Just standing with their hand out. Get to work, tear the treaties and shut the FK up already. Why am I on the hook for their cultural support?”

Another day in Winnipeg, another hateful screed against the city’s growing indigenous population. This one from a teacher (now on unpaid leave) at Kelvin High School, long considered among the city’s progressive schools—alma mater to just about every Winipegger of note, from Marshall McLuhan to Izzy Asper, Fred Penner and Neil Young.

Badiuk’s comments came to light the day Rinelle Harper—the shy 16-year-old indigenous girl left for dead in the city’s Assiniboine River after a brutal sexual assault—spoke publicly for the first time after her recovery. She called for an inquiry to help explain why so many indigenous girls and women are being murdered in Winnipeg, and elsewhere in Canada.

Badiuk’s comments came while the city was still reeling from the murder of Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old child from the Sagkeeng First Nation who was wrapped in plastic and tossed into the Red River after being sexually exploited in the city’s core.

They came after Nunavummiuq musician Tanya Tagaq, last year’s Polaris Music Prize winner, who complained that while out to lunch in downtown Winnipeg where she was performing with the city’s ballet this fall, “a man started following me calling me a ‘sexy little Indian’ and asking to f–k.”

They came the very week an inquest issued its findings in the death of Brian Sinclair, an indigenous 45-year-old who died from an entirely treatable infection after being ignored for 34 hours in a city ER.

They came in the wake of a civic election dominated by race relations after a racist rant by a frontrunner’s wife went viral: “I’m really tired of getting harassed by the drunken native guys” downtown, Gord Steeves’s wife, Lori, wrote on Facebook. “We all donate enough money to keep their sorry asses on welfare, so shut the f–k up and don’t ask me for another handout!” The former city councillor and long-serving, centrist politician didn’t bother apologizing. He lost, but not because of this.

For decades, the friendly Prairie city has been known for its smiling, lefty premiers, pacifist, Mennonite writers and a love affair with the Jets. Licence plates here bear the tag “Friendly Manitoba.” But events of last fall served to expose a darker reality. The Manitoba capital is deeply divided along ethnic lines. It manifestly does not provide equal opportunity for Aboriginals. And it is quickly becoming known for the subhuman treatment of its First Nations citizens, who suffer daily indignities and appalling violence. Winnipeg is arguably becoming Canada’s most racist city.

But indigenous activists believe Tina Fontaine’s death also marked a turning point in race relations; that, for perhaps the first time, the brutalization and murder of a 15-year-old was not dismissed in Winnipeg as an “Aboriginal problem.” Ironically, from the fall’s horrific events, a sense of unity has begun to emerge. Even Thelma Favel, who raised Tina, believes her niece did not die in vain. Meaningful change will not come easily, but all this holds the promise, however faint, of a more hopeful future for the city.

Thelma, who never misses the suppertime news, tried to strike fear into the hearts of her nieces, Tina and Sarah Fontaine. She’d show them TV programs on murdered and missing indigenous women, clip newspaper articles. “It’s not safe out there for Aboriginals girls,” she’d caution.

In the end, even she was unable to protect Tina. On Aug. 17, the girl’s remains were pulled from the Red River’s murky waters near the Alexander Docks in downtown Winnipeg. The murder of the 15-year-old was only the most recent, horrifying example of the violence faced by Winnipeg’s indigenous community—a world apart from white Winnipeg. Police divers discovered her by accident: they were searching the Red for the drowned remains of Faron Hall, the Dakota man dubbed the “Homeless Hero” for twice saving Winnipeggers from the river that eventually took his life.

Tina’s body was found in the same spot where, in March 1961, the remains of Jean Mocharski were found—the first cold case from Winnipeg in a new database of murdered and missing Aboriginal women. The 43-year-old mother of seven had been beaten and stabbed. Like Tina’s, her murder remains unsolved. “We value dogs more than we do these women,” says indigenous playwright Ian Ross.

Thelma, an eloquent mother of three, and her husband, Joseph, had been caring for Tina and Sarah since they were three and four, when their father, Eugene, was diagnosed with lymphoma. (Their mother had left the girls as babies.) Eugene had been raising the girls on his own in Winnipeg, where he worked at a tire plant. He knew the girls would be better off with Thelma, his aunt, who had helped raise him.

In a handwritten note dated Nov. 21, 2003, which still hangs in a simple wooden frame in Thelma’s living room in Powerview-Pine Falls, about 100 km northeast of Winnipeg, Eugene signed over temporary custody of Tina, his “little monkey,” and Sarah, whom he’d lovingly nicknamed “chubby.” Tina, a beautiful wisp of a girl, flourished at École Powerview after Thelma pulled her and Sarah from their reserve school. Math was her favourite subject. Her boyfriend was deaf; the pair communicated by texting.

Eugene was a constant presence. He never missed Christmas or a birthday. But he never had the chance to bring them back home to Winnipeg. He became addicted to his pain medication and the alcohol he was using to cope. On Oct. 31, 2011—just shy of the four months doctors told him he had left to live—Eugene was beaten to death in a dispute over money.

Tina was left deeply scarred. “Two people were killed that night,” says Thelma. Last spring, Tina ran away twice to Winnipeg to visit her mom—a relationship Thelma encouraged, feeling the girl needed another parental bond after losing her dad. In early July, she allowed Tina to visit her mom in Winnipeg for a week: it was her reward for excellent grades that June. The night before she left, the family gathered to pray and ask for protection, as they do every night. The next morning Thelma gave Tina $60 and a calling card. “If things don’t work out, use the calling card and I’ll come get you,” she said.

When Tina didn’t come home, Thelma reported her missing to police. Little is known about what happened to her in the weeks after that. She cut off her long, black hair. Her family believes she began using drugs. Friends say she was working in the sex trade to earn money. She was failed repeatedly by agencies meant to protect her.

On Aug. 8, police came across Tina in a roadside stop: she was in a vehicle with a male driver who was allegedly intoxicated. He was taken into police custody. Officers let Tina go, even though she was listed as a high-risk missing person. A few hours later she was rushed to Children’s Hospital after being found passed out in a core-area back alley. Her family was not notified she was in hospital. When she woke, Child and Family Services placed Tina in a downtown hotel where she was allowed to walk away. (In March 2014, the average number of kids in city hotels was 65, up from 17 two years earlier. The bloated system simply cannot cope with the huge number of children in care in Manitoba. Almost 90 per cent of children in foster care in Manitoba are Aboriginal, the highest rate in Canada.)

Tina was last seen on Aug. 9, shortly after 3 a.m., by a new friend. “I want to go home to Sagkeeng, where I’m loved,” she told her. The friend says Tina was approached by a man who asked her to perform a sex act. Eight days later she was pulled from the river, identified by a tattoo on her back bearing the name of her father, Eugene.

On a recent frigid weekday afternoon, a 14-year-old Aboriginal girl, coming off a high after huffing gas, told Maclean’s none of her girlfriends have changed their behaviour in the wake of Tina’s murder, laughing at the suggestion. She’d known Tina. Her friends know Rinelle Harper. “That’s never going to happen to us,” she said. Within days, Winnipeg police would announce another missing Aboriginal girl last seen in the North End. She is just 14—missing more than a month.

Since Tina’s death, Thelma has refused to leave her tidy home on Louis Riel Drive. “Every time I leave the house I feel like I’m having a panic attack.” She can’t forgive herself for letting Tina go to Winnipeg. “It’s like somebody ripped your heart out of your chest. To this day, it’s like they’re stomping, stomping, stomping on it.

“They treated her like garbage, wrapping her up in a bag and throwing her into the river,” she says. “She wasn’t garbage. She was my baby.”

Tina’s story cast a spotlight onto the shameful state of life for many Aboriginals in Winnipeg, where disdain for poor, inner-city Natives has long bubbled just barely beneath the surface. When measuring racism, social scientists tend to rely on opinion polling and media analyses. Last year, for example, Winnipeg recorded the highest proportion of racist tweets of the six Canadian cities known for high levels of hate crime, according to data collected by University of Alberta researcher Irfan Chaudhry. (Manitoba recorded the second-highest rate of hate crimes last year, after Ontario, according to a recent report.)

It is difficult to isolate Winnipeg or even Manitoba in opinion polling, which tends to group the Prairie provinces (Manitoba and Saskatchewan) together. But from them, a deeply troubling portrait of the region emerges. In poll after poll, Manitoba and Saskatchewan report the highest levels of racism in the country, often by a wide margin.

One in three Prairie residents believe that “many racial stereotypes are accurate,” for example, higher than anywhere else in Canada. In Alberta, just 23 per cent do, according to polling by the Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration (CIIM). And 52 per cent of Prairie residents agree that Aboriginals’ economic problems are “mainly their fault.” Nationally, the figure drops to 36 per cent.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan also report the highest number of racist incidents, according to polling conducted by the Association for Canadian Studies and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. In the last year, nine in 10 Manitobans reported hearing a negative comment about an indigenous person. [tweet this] That’s compared with six in 10 in New Brunswick, according to that poll.

Generally, when groups interact, there is a correlating drop in prejudice as understanding grows, says Jack Jedwab, executive vice-president of the Association for Canadian Studies. But in Manitoba, where 17 per cent of the population is Aboriginal—the highest proportion among provinces, and four times the national average—and where 62 per cent reported “some contact” with indigenous people in the last year, the opposite appears to be true. Just six per cent of people in Manitoba and Saskatchewan consider Aboriginal people “very trustworthy.” In Atlantic Canada, 28 per cent do.

Just 61 per cent of Prairie residents said they would be comfortable having an Aboriginal neighbour, compared with 80 per cent in Ontario, according to a recent CBC/Environics poll; and just 50 per cent would be comfortable being in a romantic relationship with an indigenous person, compared to 66 per cent in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

This was a particularly bizarre result, says Niigaan Sinclair, who teaches Native studies at the University of Manitoba; after all, he adds with a chuckle, one in two Manitobans has indigenous blood. In the end, we are who we think we are. Culture defines identity.

In Manitoba, the problem appears to be getting worse, not better, at a time when the Aboriginal population is the fastest-growing in the province. The province registered a significant decline in its opinion of Aboriginal people in the last five years. Just 13 per cent of Manitobans have “very favourable” views of Aboriginal citizens, the lowest share in the country, and down from 32 per cent in 2007, according to CIIM data.

So what explains the unusually high degree of discrimination? To Sinclair, it is no coincidence that Manitoba was the only province founded in violence. The failed indigenous uprising headed by Metis leader Louis Riel led directly to the even bloodier Northwest Rebellion 15 years later, creating generations of animosity. But the playwright Ian Ross believes this discrimination is largely borne of fear—“that Indians are getting something you don’t have.”

Earlier this fall, Robert Falcon-Ouellette, director of the University of Manitoba’s Aboriginal focus programs, hit the Grant Park Shopping Centre in Winnipeg’s south end to hustle for signatures for his mayoral nomination form. The 37-year-old was a late entrant to the election. He’d cobbled together a campaign staff—idealistic political neophytes he knew from academia and activists he’d met at last year’s Idle No More rallies.

It was an ugly entry into politics. “I know you,” a shopper told Falcon-Ouellette, approaching him shortly after he arrived at the mall. “You’re that guy running for mayor. You’re an Indian,” he said, pointing a finger at Falcon-Ouellette. “I don’t want to shake your hand. You Indians are the problem with the city. You’re all lazy. You’re drunks. The social problems we have in the city are all related to you.”

Michael Champagne, left, holds weekly rallies in the North End; Jenna Wirch’s life has been filled with suicide, sex work and foster homes. (Photograph by John Woods)

Comments like these were the reason Falcon-Ouellette—who lost his mayoral run but is currently seeking the Liberal nomination for Winnipeg Centre, a riding long held by the NDP’s Pat Martin—chose to enter politics last summer. “I want to change perceptions,” he says. “I have my Ph.D., two masters’ degrees. I was in the army for 18 years,” says the Cree academic, who ties his long, chestnut hair in a tidy braid. “No matter what I do—for some people it will never be enough.” Initially, Falcon-Ouellette was written off as a fringe candidate. But his campaign took off when he outed Winnipeg as a city divided by colour, “opening a door on the soul of the city,” according to local reporter Sean Kavanagh.

Shortly after, the Winnipeg Free Press released poll results showing that 75 per cent of Winnipeggers consider the city’s divide between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal citizens a “serious problem.” (Nationally, Manitobans are most worried by a rise in racism: 65 per cent, versus 48 per cent in neighbouring Ontario.)

In the end, Falcon-Ouellette finished third. Winnipeg chose Brian Bowman, an urbane, boyish-looking privacy lawyer over NDP veteran Judy Wasylycia-Leis by a wide margin. In the days after the election, Bowman was anointed the city’s first Metis mayor by local media, although his heritage came as a surprise to most Winnipeggers.

Bowman, in an interview with Maclean’s shortly after his swearing-in, took pains to downplay talk of a racial divide in the city: “Racism affects many communities around the country,” he said. “I don’t like the tag—‘divided.’ It predisposes that everyone in different groups thinks a certain way. That’s just not the case.”

In light of recent events, many in the city’s indigenous community were furious to hear this from the new mayor. “It’s heartbreaking and insulting,” says Charlie Fettah, one half of the indigenous hip-hop duo Winnipeg Boyz. “You’d have to be blind, deaf and dumb to not see the divide. If Bowman is just going to come in singing Kumbaya, he’s the wrong mayor for this crucial juncture.”

Winnipeg is physically divided by the CP rail yards, which cut the primarily Aboriginal North End from the rest of the city. North End Winnipeg looks nothing like the idyllic, tree-lined, middle-class neighbourhoods to the south. It is the poorest and most violent neighbourhood in urban Canada. Many white Winnipeggers have never visited. To Falcon-Ouellette, a Calgary native who moved to Winnipeg from Quebec City, it is “Canada’s greatest shame.”

The neighbourhood is home to two of the country’s three poorest postal codes—the median household income in the North End is $22,293, less than half that of the wider city at $49,790. The homicides that plague the city, earning it the nickname “Murderpeg” and the country’s highest rate of violent crime, are a primarily North End phenomenon. On a recent visit there, a Selkirk Avenue clothing store—one of few remaining businesses on a strip crowded with social service agencies and boarded-up storefronts—was closing for good. The area had simply become too dangerous, the store’s owner explained.

One in three North End residents drop out of school before Grade 9, leaving huge swaths of young residents wholly disconnected from the labour market. One in six children are apprehended by Manitoba’s Child and Family Services. Girls as young as 11 or 12 routinely work the stroll. On North Main Street, traffic slows to a stall when intoxicated residents stumble across the street. Solvent abuse is as common as alcoholism here, and rising. Even in December’s cold, kids as young as nine clutch gas-soaked rags; some have begun stuffing them directly into their mouths for a more powerful high.

“I used to tell myself I wouldn’t live to see my sweet 16,” says 24-year-old Jenna Wirch. “I was sure I was going to die before then.” Both Wirch’s sisters committed suicide when they were growing up. Four of her closest friends have also died by suicide. One hung herself in an alley using her dog’s leash. She was 11. Wirch’s mom put her to work in the sex trade before her 10th birthday. She ran away at 11, then bounced between the street and a long list of foster homes. One was a crack house. Two friends were stabbed to death in front of her, one with a machete. This is a North End childhood.

The area’s hospitalization rate for violence is almost seven times that of the wider city. Within a year, roughly 20 per cent of youth treated for violence will be back in hospital seeking treatment for another injury, says Carolyn Snider, an ER doctor at the core area Health Sciences Centre. “If that same number was quoted for stroke or heart attacks or many of the other conditions we treat, there would be uproar.” Snider, who trained at the country’s two largest trauma centres in downtown Toronto, says she was utterly unprepared for the degree of violence she encounters daily in Winnipeg. Much of the violence is committed within the Aboriginal youth community itself. Thetwo accused of the November assault of Rinelle Harper are Aboriginal. Just eight per cent of Aboriginal women are killed by strangers; the majority are murdered by their spouses or boyfriends (40 per cent), family members (23 per cent) or acquaintances (30 per cent).

Jon C, of the Winnipeg Boyz, calls theirs the “bruised generation”: two generations removed from residential schooling but still reeling from its effects. “My grandmother went to full-time residential school—the ones who were beaten and brainwashed,” he says. “My own mother never lived with her; she never learned how to look after me and my sister, to nurture us.” He remembers sitting through wild, all-night parties as a toddler. “I remember my eyes just burning because there was so much smoke.” He stole food to stave off hunger as a boy. For a while his bed was a sheet on a cement basement floor.

It’s this sorry state of affairs that leads many in the city to look down on the Aboriginal population, or to dismiss the North End as a Native-only problem.

Tyler Henderson, a 28-year-old Ojibway nursing student at the University of Manitoba, says he feels racism every time he walks out his front door. Henderson says Winnipeg police stopped him 15 times last year. “You fit the description,” police tell him when he asks what he did wrong. Once, police claimed he’d pulled to a stop a few inches beyond the stop line. “It makes me mad,” he says. “But there’s nothing I can do.” Some young indigenous men are stopped twice per month in the inner city, according to University of Manitoba criminologist Elizabeth Comack.
Photograph by John Woods
Rosanna Deerchild, a local indigenous writer and broadcaster, says that every few weeks she is harassed. “Someone honks at me, or yells out ‘How much’ from a car window, or calls me a stupid squaw, or tells me to go back to the rez. Every time, it still feels like getting punched in the face.”

That’s just a reality of having brown skin in Winnipeg, says Jacinta Bear, who manages the North End Hockey Program. The youth program subsidizes registration fees for indigenous youth and gathers used equipment loaned to players for the season. “Our team has heard it all,” says Bear, whose husband, Dale, has coached the midget team for seven years. “Even opposing coaches and refs call our kids ‘dirty little Indians.’”

“Just keep smiling,” she tells the kids. “Don’t give them the reaction they’re after. There’s something not right in their lives and they’re taking it out on you.” Bear, 34, whose two sons both play for the Knights, takes pains to explain incidents like these are becoming less frequent. Still, these are “heartbreaking lessons” to teach eight-year-olds.

The problem is far more insidious than childish taunts. A few years ago, the federal government investigated claims that indigenous Winnipeggers were being denied housing due to discrimination. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation pulled together a random survey of Aboriginal renters. The results were damning. One in three told the CMHC that after showing up to visit an available suite they were told it had “just been rented.” More than 30 per cent felt they had been driven to neighbourhoods in the core, where the poverty rate and the incidence of crime more than doubles the wider city and jobs are scarce.

To Bartley Kives, the city’s top columnist, white privilege in Winnipeg isn’t about getting the best jobs or promotions. “It means not being worried your daughter is going to be raped and killed because of who she is.”

Winnipeggers engage in a bizarre “dance,” says city author and educator Joanne Seiff, who moved to Winnipeg in 2009 with her husband, a genetics professor. They are “aware and sensitive to race—as long as the person isn’t Aboriginal.” In 2009, shortly after arriving from Kentucky, she attended a neighbourhood potluck. There, some guests launched into a “scary diatribe” against the city’s indigenous population. Ironically, she adds, the conversation had actually begun when guests began lecturing her on the racism African-Americans face in the U.S. South. In polite society in the Peg, no one would dare speak ill of gays, Jews or blacks. But that’s not yet true of Aboriginals. Ross calls it “the final domino.”
Photograph by John Woods

The North End Hockey Program subsidizes registration fees for Aboriginal youth; its founders also hope to open a cooking school. (Photograph by John Woods)

Tyler Henderson visited Montreal recently. He felt like a weight had been lifted. Police ignored him. No one eyed him suspiciously walking down the street at night. He felt free.

Institutions are meant to be colour-blind. Last month, Manitoba released its report into the 2008 death of Brian Sinclair. The 45-year-old had sought treatment at the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) for a blocked catheter. Sinclair was Metis, with a host of health and social issues and a past history of substance abuse. He’d lost both legs to frostbite on a bitter February night the year before. His landlord had locked him out.

Although Sinclair initially spoke to a triage aide at HSC, he was never formally registered and was not seen by a nurse. As his condition deteriorated, he vomited repeatedly. Still, no hospital staff checked on him or asked if he was okay. A janitor who mopped up his vomit placed a silver bowl on the floor in front of his wheelchair. On four separate occasions concerned patients asked staff to check on him. None did. Finally, a security guard was prodded into checking on him by another patient. By then, 34 hours after arriving in hospital, Sinclair was dead. Rigor mortis had set in.

Many staff testified they’d believed Sinclair was homeless or intoxicated or “sleeping it off,” and not in need of care. Despite this, judge Tim Preston ruled last February that the inquest would not explore why those assumptions were made, nor how they might be avoided. The inquest would strictly focus on reducing wait times and hospital overcrowding. At that point, Sinclair’s family walked out. In December, they slammed the inquest as a wasted opportunity. “Stereotypes are at the root of why Brian was ignored for 34 hours,” said Brian’s cousin Robert Sinclair. “Those stereotypes have not gone away.”

Don Marks, a Winnipeg writer, recently visited an ER with an indigenous friend. They’d dropped a painting, and the broken glass had cut his friend. “Aw!” a nurse exclaimed in greeting them. “Have we been drinking and fighting again?” The nurse’s assumptions were harmless, says Marks, who edits Grassroots News, an Aboriginal newspaper. “But this was someone responsible for treating Native people in our hospitals. We all know racism exists in our health care system.”

Several Aboriginals told Maclean’s of occasions where they felt they were not treated fairly or quickly enough because of who they were. One, who had lacerations to his face, arms and skull, estimated losing one litre of blood while waiting up to three hours for treatment in a Winnipeg ER. He was given a towel to contain the bleeding. He believes he should have been seen by a physician immediately and might have, had he not been yet another young Aboriginal injured in a stabbing.

Understaffing and clogged waiting rooms cannot explain Sinclair’s death. The ER was fully staffed the day he died. Fully 17 staff members admitted seeing that he was there. And almost every angle of Manitoba’s well-documented wait-time problem had already been explored by government studies and media reports. To many Winnipeggers—at least to Aboriginal ones—this was yet another whitewash.

A few years ago, an inquest was held on the murders of two Aboriginal sisters who’d called Winnipeg police for help five times to their North End before they were fatally stabbed. Operators believed the women were intoxicated; police responded to the initial call, but didn’t return again for several hours. By then it was too late. An inquest into their murders blamed “poor training.” Racism and stereotyping were not considered.

Photograph by John Woods

Robert Falcon-Ouellette, director of the University of Manitoba’s Aboriginal focus programs. (Photograph by John Woods)

Other Western cities celebrate their First Nations heritage. Salish art covers the hoods of Vancouver’s police cars, strip malls, even its pothole covers. The Vancouver Canucks wear a Haida whale on their jerseys. Fin, their mascot, beats a Haida drum; and the team’s player of the game dons a Haida hat. Major indigenous art installations dot the city (the inukshuk at English Bay became the symbol for the Vancouver Olympics). The city’s airport houses the country’s most impressive collection of indigenous art, including Bill Reid’s Jade Canoe, once depicted on the $20 bill. In downtown Vancouver, a new public museum devoted to northwest coastal art recently opened. All of this is strikingly absent from Winnipeg, the indigenous heart of the continent, despite a flurry of new public buildings.

In September, roughly one kilometre downstream from the site Tina Fontaine’s body was discovered in the Red, the $351-million Canadian Museum for Human Rights opened at the Forks, the sacred confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. The 12-storey mountain of concrete and stone houses just two exhibits addressing indigenous abuses.

At the museum, a treaty encased in glass is described as an act of friendship. There is no mention of the reality for Natives who agreed to its terms and resettled to reserves; there, they were barred from even leaving without apartheid-style “passes.” They slowly starved as the bison they relied on were wiped out. All this happened in the museum’s backyard.

“Colonialism didn’t just impact Aboriginal people,” says Perry Bellegarde, the new national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. “It forever changed the way the European population on the Prairies would see Aboriginals as a problem, never a partner.”

It is no coincidence that on a huge range of metrics, the indigenous community is faring worse in Manitoba than any other province. Manitoba, for example, has the worst school attendance record among Aboriginal youth of any province or territory. And just 28 per cent of indigenous Manitobans living on reserve graduate high school, fewer than in any other province. An Aboriginal boy in Manitoba is more likely to end up in prison than graduate.

The province imprisons a higher proportion of its indigenous population than apartheid South Africa did its black population. Sixty-five per cent of inmates at Stony Mountain Penitentiary, a medium-security prison just outside Winnipeg, are indigenous, the country’s highest Aboriginal incarceration rate measured by jail. An indigenous Manitoban born tomorrow is expected to live eight fewer years than a white boy born in the province.

These are neither Aboriginal nor white problems, says Kives: they’re a Winnipeg problem. “Until everyone in the city understands that the health and well-being of the rapidly growing indigenous community is inextricably linked to the health of the city overall we have a big problem.”

In the next decade, one in three kids entering kindergarten in Manitoba will be Aboriginal, says Jamie Wilson, treaty commissioner for Manitoba. All those kids are going to enter the workforce, he adds. That cohort has the potential to shape the future of the province. To Wilson, the question is simple: does Manitoba want to create a skilled, educated workforce or an army of underemployed, undereducated indigenous youth dependent on government assistance and services? It’s an increasingly urgent concern when roughly 70 per cent of new jobs require some postsecondary education.

Wilson grew up shuttling back and forth between his northern Manitoba reserve and the beach: both his parents earned doctorates from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Ten years ago, after serving as a Special Operations Ranger in the U.S. Army, he returned to Opaskwayak Cree Nation, just outside The Pas, to serve as director of education.

He couldn’t keep qualified teachers on reserve. He doesn’t blame them: “If they drove a mile down the road to teach at a school in the provincial system, they’d earn $10,000 more per year.” The problems of underfunding have been well documented: federally funded reserve schools receive 40 per cent of the funding that non-reserve schools do, amounting to a per child gap of $2,000 to $3,000. Many reserve schools don’t have libraries. One in three doesn’t even have running water.

But since Tina Fontaine’s murder, the ground has suddenly begun to shift in Winnipeg. A vigil held in her memory was “one of the most remarkable and massive in Winnipeg’s history,” according to Niigaan Sinclair, who called it a “turning point” in ethnic relations. He’d never seen so many white faces at an Aboriginal event before. “Winnipeggers, for perhaps the first time, saw Tina as their own.”

“Somehow, she opened people’s eyes—[people] who’d been trying so hard to keep them shut,” says social activist Noëlle DePape.

The city certainly does not want for organizations trying to help indigenous Winnipeggers. But a new generation of remarkable young activists is taking matters into their own hands. Meet Me at the Belltower, a one-time rally to take back the North End, has become a weekly call to action: every Friday, families and young people gather at the Selkirk Avenue belltower in the heart of the North End to demonstrate against violence. The event was launched by Michael Champagne, a dynamic, 27-year-old TED Talk veteran never seen without at least a half-dozen young acolytes. Champagne is like the Pied Piper of the neighbourhood, empowering a generation of indigenous kids.

Every Sunday, Althea Guiboche, a Cree mother of seven known as “the bannock lady,” can be found feeding 300 hot chili and bannock meals on North Main. The Bears, meanwhile, are building on the success of the North End Hockey Program and hope to launch a program for teen girls and a cooking school for at-risk indigenous youth later this year.

Two months after Tina Fontaine’s vigil, almost to the day, Winnipeg elected Bowman mayor. Just before his official swearing-in, on Nov. 4, Bowman made a last-minute addition to his speech. He chose to open by acknowledging that council had gathered “on Treaty 1 land, and in the traditional territory of the Metis Nation,” a simple, but deeply moving nod.
Photograph by John Woods

Photograph by John Woods

It has become tradition when delivering a speech in Vancouver to acknowledge and give thanks to the Coast Salish, whose traditional territories cover the city; but this had never been done at Winnipeg City Hall before. The incoming mayor, a Jets fan who arrived in office with little but a game-used Mark Scheifele stick (he was scared his kids were going to put it through the living room window if he left it at home) was uncharacteristically emotional and choked up delivering the message.

“I see a real opportunity right now—with the level of engagement over these very serious and difficult issues—to make a difference,” Bowman told Maclean’s. “If my own family’s heritage can assist in building bridges in various communities in Winnipeg, then that’s an opportunity I fully intend on leveraging. I want to do everything I can.”

A month later, on Dec. 5, the city’s police chief, Devon Clunis, delivered more surprising remarks, calling on Winnipeggers to engage in a “difficult” conversation on the city’s ethnic divide. He asked residents to recognize white privilege, suggesting their “affluence” resulted from historic inequity. “Some people simply feel indigenous people choose to be a drunk on Main Street or they choose to be involved in the sex trade. No. We need to have those specific conversations—and try to understand why those individuals are living in those conditions.”

To Jamie Wilson, after Tina Fontaine’s death it was like “you couldn’t deny it anymore”—the racism, all the problems. He believes Winnipeg has begun confronting these head-on. “Right now, we’re stuck in a trap. We’re going to have to acknowledge it. Or it will forever hold us back.”

“Tina did this,” says Thelma Favel. “Tina opened even the government’s eyes. It had to take my baby to die for people to realize there was a problem—and there still is.”