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#NPRreads: Leaving Guantanamo, And Why Black People Don't Call Police

#NPRreads is a new feature we're testing out on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom will share pieces that have kept them reading. They'll share tidbits on Twitter using the#NPRreads hashtag,and on occasion we'll share a longer take here on the blog.

This week, we share with you four reads.

First, one from Camila Domonoske, a producer for

You can look at Guantanamo Bay as an issue of national security, or human rights, or law, or diplomacy or politics. But these days, a few hundred former detainees are looking from a different angle: the rear-view mirror.

Here, The Washington Post spends a week with a man grappling with the twin shocks of freedom and a foreign culture: Jihad Ahmed Mustafa Dhiab. Dhiab spent 12 years in Guantanamo, was never charged with a crime and now lives in Uruguay with five other former prisoners.

This detail-rich piece is not about the legal dispute swirling around the former detainee. Instead, it's about learning a language, rediscovering technology, grappling with anger and struggling to restart a life. Toward the beginning, a bit of symbolism strung up on a coat hanger sucked me in immediately:

"The marks of a dozen years in a cell and the hunger strikes he held there show in his gaunt 43-year-old frame, his beard flecked with gray. He hobbles around on crutches, still wearing the Army green T-shirt and sweat pants given to him in Guantanamo. The infamous orange uniform — a Bob Barker brand 65-35 poly-cotton blend made in El Salvador — hangs in his closet for safekeeping."

From Juana Summers, NPR's congressional reporter:

The New York Times' Richard Fausset paints a compelling –- even heartbreaking –- portrait of Anthony Hill, the black Air Force veteran shot and killed by a white police officer on March 9 near Atlanta. He wove a narrative that speaks to the mental health challenges veterans face in this country and the unrest surrounding what Fausset describes as the "roiling movement of Americans who questioned the value that police officers place on black lives."

Fausset writes:

"Long before two bullets from a police officer's handgun tore through Anthony Hill's chest, he had tattooed it with the words of advice that his grandfather regularly imparted to him in this small Southern city: 'Be sensible.'

"Last week, Mr. Hill's relatives buried him in Moncks Corner. On their shirts and lapels, they had pinned photos of him, smiling and sharp, in his Air Force uniform. It was a wordless rebuke to the TV news images that had shown Mr. Hill as he wandered in his last moments — naked, unarmed and acting in a way that alarmed neighbors — through his suburban Atlanta apartment complex."

From David McGuffin, senior editor for NPR's Morning Edition:

As one of a small group of Indian foreign correspondents, Pallavi Aiyar sometimes finds her role a lonely one, but she also relishes the unique viewpoint she brings to her reporting:

"While Western correspondents saw their primary role as holding China's authorities to account, I saw my work in China as a way of holding a mirror up to the Indian government; as a provocation to thought and action about our own tussles with modernity and globalization."

From Carline Watson, executive producer for NPR's identity and culture unit:

It has often been noted and discussed that the first reaction of black people when confronted with possible criminal activity is to not call the police. It's not because we are bad citizens, or even because we dislike the police. We don't call because we fear that the presence of the police will escalate the situation and could end up with someone being arrested or worse, dying at the hands of the police.

That is why I read every single word of Nikole Hannah-Jones' well written essay " A Letter From Black America: Yes, we fear the police. Here's why."

Jones describes how a young friend calls the police after she hears gunshots at the beach that sent her and her friends running, but because she only got a very brief glimpse of the alleged shooter, she couldn't give a full description. It's instructive how that act of doing the right thing, of calling the police, subjects her to a series of questions that end up with the police asking her if she had something to do with the shooting. Gene Demby, of NPR's Code Switch, spoke about the attitudes of people of color toward the police following the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson last August.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
David McGuffin
Carline Watson is the Talent Development Manager for NPR News and Programming. In this role, she is the primary day-to-day point person for temporary staff in the News and Programming division at NPR.
Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.
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