Do What You Can: One Woman’s Essay on Race and NFL National Anthem Protest

Browns sculpture
Sculpture at the Cleveland Browns’ stadium. Photo by Erik Drost. Used under Creative Commons license CC BY 2.0. Original at https://flic.kr/p/WNpLuF.

Happy Friday, everyone.

Local NPR is abuzz with people discussing this weekend’s planned bigot rallies in San Francisco (Saturday) and Berkeley (Sunday), and with counter-protesters’ plans.

In the spirit of thinking about using our agency in the ways that feel possible, here’s a brief essay by Erica Harris DeValve, who graduated college a couple months ago. Her husband, Seth, plays football for the Cleveland Browns. He made headlines this week for kneeling in a prayer circle with his African-American teammates during the national anthem. (Seth DeValve is white).

Harris DeValve’s essay for Very Smart Brothas is entitled, I’m Proud of My Husband for Kneeling During the Anthem, but Don’t Make Him a White Savior.” It’s a beautifully written essay whose title captures its main point. You should read it anyway for the clarity of her voice and her point, as well as to be reminded that this is the voice of an approximately 22-year-old woman and the actions of her 24-year-old husband. People of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences levels are working with their friends and acquaintances to embody their values.

Anyhow, here’s Harris DeValve, who says this and more better than I can.

I am grateful for the widespread support and praise that Seth is getting for his actions, but I would like to offer a humble reminder that a man—a black man—literally lost his job for taking a knee, week after week, on his own. Colin Kaepernick bravely took a step and began a movement throughout the NFL, and he suffered a ridiculous amount of hate and threats and ultimately lost his life’s work in the sport he loves.

We should not see Seth’s participation as legitimizing this movement. Rather, he chose to be an ally of his black teammates. To center the focus of Monday’s demonstration solely on Seth is to distract from what our real focus should be: listening to the experiences and the voices of the black people who are using their platforms to continue to bring the issue of racism in the U.S. to the forefront. Seth, as a white individual, never has and never will truly have to feel the weight and burden of racial discrimination and racial oppression. No white person does or will. But all white people should care and take a stand against its prevalence in this country.

What I hope to see from this is a shift in the conversation to Seth’s black teammates, who realistically have to carry that burden all the time. I am discouraged by this idea that acknowledging and fighting against racism is a distraction that must be stored away in order to be a good football player. I wholeheartedly reject that narrative.

Black players in the NFL cannot just turn their concern on and off in order to be able to focus more on football. White players shouldn’t, either. Racism is a day-to-day reality, and I hope that, instead of holding Seth up on a pedestal, the response will be to do what he did: listen to the voices of the black people in your life, and choose to support them as they seek to make their voices heard.”

Read the rest of Harris DeValve’s essay here.

You should really check out Very Smart Brothas whole site. Here’s a searing article from last week: How Trump Ruined My Relationship With My White Mother.

 

Notes After Charlottesville

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Ella Baker portrait by Robert Shetterly. Courtesy of Americans Who Tell the Truth. Found here by Small Stones.

The Ella Baker Center is re-publicizing this post from 2013: Ella’s Song: “We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest Until it Comes”.

We found the words of the post comforting. As the author notes,

The song is an anthem, a meditation on the ultimate lesson of the freedom fight passed down generationally by Ms. Ella herself that is meant to be spoken boldly out loud or under one’s breath as the situation demands to empower both purpose and resolve.

Here is a video of the Sweet Honey performance:

We are also proud to share the news that some of Ézé’s pictures from this past weekend are helping folks understand the hatefulness of the white supremacists. (We featured his work and words here).

Here’s one of his pictures that’s been picked up by the AP. The man pictured is accused of killing Heather Heyer, the protester who died.

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Ézé is on Instagram here. Below is a screen grab of another of his photos from the past weekend.

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Finally, here’s a recent article from The Atlantic: Why the Charlottesville Marchers Were Obsessed With Jews. While the hatred is multi-faceted, so, too, is the pushback.

With love from us to you.

Real Warm Fuzzies: Tiny Paper Wins Pulitzer

It’s as good a day as any for a straight-up, feel-good (re)post.

From Poynter.org, here’s a backgrounder and interview with a small-town newspaper editorialist, Art Cullen, who just won a Pulitzer prize. Tiny, family-run newspaper wins Pulitzer Prize for taking on big business.

First, the background:

If you know Art Cullen, it’s not exactly a surprise to learn his initial words upon watching the livestream of the Pulitzer announcements and learning he’d won for editorial writing.

“Holy shit,” he yelled out to his brother, John, the publisher of the family-run, 10-person Storm Lake (Iowa) Times.

The only surprise was that there wasn’t a longer string of un-family-like adjectives or adverbs.   …

[Cullen] won for editorials that confronted the state’s most powerful agricultural interests, which include the Koch Brothers, Cargill and Monsanto, and their secret funding of the government defense of a big environmental lawsuit. His “tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing” were quite self-evident if you’ve seen his labor (which actually spanned two years, though he won for last year’s efforts).

The paper in question is The Storm Lake Times, described in the Pulitzer citation as “a 3,000-circulation twice-weekly newspaper in Storm Lake, Iowa, pop. 10,000, in rural Northwest Iowa.” Click here to link to the editorials for which the prize was awarded.

Here’s an excerpt of Poynter’s interview with Cullen, by James Warren. The take-away? Local journalism matters. It’s not a novel take, but the Pulitzer payoff drives it home. We hope it reminds you and your students that story-telling and journalism are worthwhile.

What would you like to think are the most important points you made in the editorials?

It’s all about transparency in the funding of the environmental lawsuit (defense). We took on the state’s biggest agricultural players and said their donations should be made public. The biggest players: the Koch brothers, Cargill, Monsanto were all conspiring to fund the defense of the (Buena Vista) county.

We found out they (elected officials) had met with Monsanto executives and Koch executives. My son, Tom, did most of the reporting. And he tracked down how the Agribusiness Association of Iowa was working with the Iowa Farm Bureau to funnel the secret donations to the country.

We cried foul and worked with the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. They wrote several letters saying these were public records under Iowa law. They wouldn’t release them, but they shut down the fund. It’s all a matter of transparency in government financing.

How has being in a small place fueled your passion? Is it easier or harder when arguably there’s greater accountability since, well, you may run into people whom you write about on the street?

I lost some friends, but some people don’t understand us, why we would badger county supervisors so that their sugar daddy went away. I said, “Because it wasn’t right.” We felt the public deserved to know who’s paying our bills. We did a lot of groundbreaking news reporting and my son (who’s 24) did most of the heavy lifting.

We’ve spoken before about your work on immigration, especially right after President Trump’s controversial executive order. Is the confusion and fear that we’ve talked about in the Storm Lake area when it comes to immigration still the same?

Things have calmed down. The police chief (Mark Prosser) has calmed things down. He arrives in his police uniform at public forums and says, “We’re not arresting you just because you are undocumented.”      …

What, at first blush, does this recognition say about the people like you, laboring in more isolated environs, busting their asses to survive and believing as you do in journalism?

Journalism really matters, and good journalism is being done all across the country.

Any final thoughts?

Yes. Put in a plug for the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. They are broke and have little support.

(Lady Liberty image courtesy of Pulitzer.org website)

Migra Watch

Witness, Accompany, and Advocate During ICE Raids

ICE

This is a personal post. Yesterday, I, Eva, participated in the first post-election event that made me feel potentially useful — beyond marching, phoning, or attending a meeting. I am sharing in case you want to look for similar opportunities. The event was a 2-hour training to be a witness to ICE immigration raids.

Community groups in Santa Clara County, California, are setting up a rapid response network that will have its soft launch this week: a hotline for undocumented immigrants, and their family and friends, to call if ICE shows up at the door. A dispatcher will answer the phone, guide the caller through his/her rights, and text a network of citizen-witnesses who will come to the site of the raid to document it.

Here’s how my event was advertised:

Come learn how you can be a rapid responder so that we can respond to calls from community members concerned about immediate ICE actions throughout Santa Clara County.

The Rapid Response Network aims to expand the community’s capacity to monitor and document ICE operations in real time. We will support the process of gathering evidence used to free someone from ICE custody. We will expose the intimidating and unconstitutional tactics ICE uses to detain immigrants.

Please invite others to attend to help us build the Rapid Response Network we will launch very soon with many partners and volunteers, like you!

I’ve now been trained to be a citizen-witness, with basic knowledge of how to comply with ICE directives while recording the encounter on my phone and documenting the unfolding events. How many agents? What did they say? From which agencies did they come? Badge numbers. Vehicle license plates. And more.

The attorney who helped train us recommends US citizens serve as witnesses because we’re at lower legal risk than immigrants. It’s also something white people can usefully do, with more possible roles if you speak Spanish (I don’t).

I was trained through an event organized by PACT-San José. If you live in Santa Clara County, you can go to their events calendar to sign up for a training. In the event of a raid within 2-5 miles of your address, you’ll receive a text asking if you can come document it. Even if it takes you a while to arrive, it’s helpful. We learned that raids in the Bay Area have been 3 to 6 hours long.

I’m told San Mateo, San Francisco, and Alameda Counties have similar networks. I did some online searching and found the San Francisco Rapid Response Network and another in Brooklyn, NY. The PICO website appears to be a place to hunt for more area networks (I started on their press release page).

Morning Reading: Vetting the News

Learning to assess sources has always been critical. In the age of the internet, it became even more important. And today? Absolutely imperative.

Here’s some material that we’ve found that can help both students and educators develop this vital skill.

From Common Sense Media, a guide directed at parents and guardians that also includes a list of tips for older kids.

Older kids especially might enjoy learning tricks to spot fake news. Here are a few things to watch for:

  • Look for unusual URLs, including those that end with “lo” or “.com.co” — these are often trying to appear like legitimate news sites, but they aren’t.
  • Look for signs of low quality, such as words in all caps, headlines with glaring grammatical errors, bold claims with no sources, and sensationalist images (women in bikinis are popular clickbait on fake news sites). These are clues that you should be skeptical of the source.
  • Check a site’s “About Us” section. Find out who supports the site or who is associated with it. If this information doesn’t exist — and if the site requires that you register before you can learn anything about its backers — you have to wonder why they aren’t being transparent.
  • Check Snopes, Wikipedia, and Google before trusting or sharing news that seems too good (or bad) to be true.
  • Consider whether other credible, mainstream news outlets are reporting the same news. If they’re not, it doesn’t mean it’s not true, but it does mean you should dig deeper.
  • Check your emotions. Clickbait and fake news strive for extreme reactions. If the news you’re reading makes you really angry or super smug, it could be a sign that you’re being played. Check multiple sources before trusting.

From NPR, Steve Inskeep presents A Finder’s Guide to Facts. This article is appropriate for high school and above, and it presents a thesis ready for analysis and debate (emphasis ours):

Are we really in a post-truth era? Somebody on the Internet said so. Many people,actually…

But let’s properly define the problem. History and experience tell me it’s not a post-truth era: Facts have always been hard to separate from falsehoods, and political partisans have always made it harder. It’s better to call this a post-trust era.

There’s also a thorough list of questions for readers to ask themselves when approaching a source, including “Does the news source appear to employ editors?” and “Did the writer engage with anyone who disagrees?” And there’s room for student discussion here, too: for example, does every issue deserve to have both sides presented? Should we dismiss sources without editors immediately, or just proceed with additional caution?

 

Messages of Solidarity

Marching for hope and fellowship

A little more on Saturday’s marches: Invariably, each person marches for his/her/their own reasons. That’s okay; we don’t have to, and won’t, agree on every issue.

We were struck by the hopeful note many marchers struck at the San José, California march, with lots of statements of core values and of fellowship. Here are a few we loved:

(All pictures by Eva for .smallstones.)

The signs say:

  • Love is greater than fear.
  • Strong Together.
  • I’m marching for dignity and civil rights. No exceptions.
  • Respect existence or expect resistance.
  • Love, not hate, makes America great.
  • We all belong here. We will defend each other.
  • Our lives begin to end the day we become silent.
  • There is nothing more urgent than freedom.
  • Peace, not prejudice (in Arabic, Russian and English). Listen. Respect. Friendship. Equality.

Women’s March 2017

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photo via A Mighty girl

The Women’s March on Washington and Sister Marches both nationally and worldwide blew away expectations, with millions total coming out to march.

Here are some of the first resources we’ve found that can help contextualize, celebrate, and spark conversation about this historic event.

A Mighty Girl has an exhaustive collection of reader-submitted photos of marchers, focusing on girls.

Blogger Angry Asian Man has a reader-submitted collection called When Angry Asian America showed up to march.

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photo via Angry Asian Man

The Tab has a feature story on three girls from Chicago who raised $2,000 to join the Women’s March DC.

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photo via The Tab

The girls told us they want to respond to Trump’s victory politically – starting this week

Aisat: The day after the election, my robotics class all decided to spend the session talking about what had happened. We all said ‘This is our country, we have to take it back. We’ve started a GoFundMe to go to the Million Woman March in Washington. Five of us are going – we’ve raised $2000.

Up next: what to do next, and how to help students continue to create change.