Two weeks ago, I wrote about some of the players from the University of Wisconsin’s basketball team who have become outspoken advocates about race and justice, often to their own detriment.
The New York Times profiled three of them here.
One of the athletes, Bronson Koenig, grew up in Wisconsin, a member of the Ho-Chunk tribe. He’s just published a beautiful essay about his trip to camp with the protestors at Standing Rock earlier this fall. It’s worth a read.
Koenig made the trip before his senior year and basketball season began, not sure of what he’d find:
“I didn’t know many people at the camp, but something was compelling me to go. My brother, Miles, our good friend Clint Parks and I made the drive from Madison in 14 hours, with the flag of our Ho-Chunk tribe flying from our trailer. Even though there were over 300 tribes represented in the camp — some from as far away as Florida, Alaska and even South America — I immediately felt a connection. It was hard to describe. Way out there on the prairie, far from home, I felt a sense of comfort.
I’d come to join the protest, and also to give a free clinic for the local kids. As a college basketball player, I felt that it was the best way I could show my support for the protests. One of the greatest things about the game is that wherever you go, you can ball. On reservations, there’s almost always a game of “rez ball” happening.”
When he showed up, around 50 kids were waiting. “I’d never played basketball surrounded by police and blockades,” he wrote. A later indoor clinic pushed the limit of the gym at Standing Rock High School to capacity. “Then a kid, maybe 13 years old, raised his hand and asked me, “Did you have any Native American role models growing up?” He hadn’t. And his emotional reaction to the question caught him off guard.
Koenig bears witness to the work the protestors are doing with the tender fierceness of an activist in the making. But he also takes the time to sort through what his own success, as nascent as it is, means to others who are leading different lives. It relates to his struggle to understand his own history and mixed-race identity.
“My whole life I’ve had friends and classmates ask me the most basic questions about my heritage. Did I wear feathers? Do my parents run a casino? One high school classmate even admitted that he didn’t think Indian reservations still existed,” he wrote. He felt like a minority within a minority. “Not Native enough. Not white enough. Like a stranger in two lands. I’m still struggling with that feeling. It’s one of the reasons I went to Standing Rock.”
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|Reuters has built an algorithm to verify breaking news on Twitter|
|The tool announced this week, is called Reuters News Tracer, and has been in development for two years. It analyzes tweets in real time, filtering out spam, and clustering them into topics, then generating a short summary of the information. It also assigns a credibility score to each cluster, which is derived from a variety of factors.|
|Addressing the HIV epidemic among African Americans|
|More than 44% of all the people diagnosed with HIV in the U.S. are African American, making it a persistent epidemic hiding in plain sight. Two old theories as to why this is – that a significant population of black men are on the“down low,” or closeted bisexuals, or homophobia within the black Christian church – have been debunked with data. The real reason is limited access to treatment and health education. One doctor, Leandro Mena, is trying to turn that around.|
|Black people more likely to be killed in police chases than white people|
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The Woke Leader
|Why are Asian Americans missing from the mental health conversation?|
|Frances Gonzales works in the suicide prevention and mental health field; she also suffers from persistent depression. Most of her first-generation Asian-American family works in medicine, but her choice to focus on mental health shocked her family. She writes candidly of the stigma associated with depression, and of needing help for unseen maladies. “We didn’t have the phrase ‘mental health’ in our vocabulary growing up,” she writes. “Life, especially life in a foreign country, was understood to be an obstacle-ridden prospect.” But hard work and God’s grace only get you so far. (Note: this story talks about suicide ideation.)|
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|Abdul-Jabbar has written a pointed opinion piece on how Trump’s election has enabled the elevation of white supremacist behavior, and the related normalization of racist and misogynist attitudes. He suggests vocal and strategic action – starting with Trump’s cabinet and advisers: Legal challenges, laser-focused boycotts, and information campaigns. “We need a new civil disobedience in the American tradition of Thomas Paine, Henry David Thoreau and King,” he says.|
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|Writer Vanessa Willoughby throws some elbows in an essay that helps reveal some of the simmering anger people of color feel when well-meaning white people say things like “I don’t see color,” or believe that racism is solved when nobody used the “n-word” anymore. “These good white people had never seen or experienced racism and, thus, thought it had ceased to exist,” she says of her New England neighbors. “Good white people believed Trump was more of a joke than a threat.” That joke has now been empowered and enabled by complacency and apathy, she says.|