Great ResignationDiversity and InclusionCompensationCEO DailyCFO DailyModern Board

raceAhead: What’s Next For The Rescued Thai Soccer Team?

July 10, 2018, 7:16 PM UTC

The world is enjoying something rare today: A collective sigh of relief.

Jubilant follow-up stories are starting to emerge from Thailand, after twelve young soccer players and their intrepid coach were rescued from what appeared from the outside to be an impossibly terrifying labyrinth.

It was a tremendous victory for the hastily assembled global team of experts, who, despite the opposing forces of time, language barriers, and weather conditions, managed to hack together a solution that delivered. That only one life was lost is both a tragedy and a miracle.

But this particular story from Jim Pollard, a writer for Australia’s PerthNow, paints an even richer story of Moo Pa, the Wild Boars football team, their coach, and the communities surrounding Mae Sai, who supported the rescuers with meals, freshly laundered kits, and prayers.

Many are poor but determined, keenly aware of the unique difficulties that surround them, from poverty and violence to drug traffickers and local turf wars. But plenty, like Ekapol Jantawong, the extraordinary coach who went in search of the missing boys, are also immigrants, undocumented “stateless” persons, with no clear place in the world.

Jantawong, 25, seemed to know where to look when the kids turned up missing. They were always filled with a quest for adventure, so as teens tend to do, they ignored the seasonal warning sign and ventured into Tham Luang, the mysterious cave they knew so well.

Jantawong, once trapped himself, is credited for teaching the team to meditate to help them stay calm during their entombment. It was a practice he learned as a boy monk, living in a Thai temple after his Burmese parents died. The “stateless orphan,” as he is still called in Thai media, then moved closer to Mae Sai and befriended the boys, who seem to be just younger versions of his own football-crazed self.

They are, in many ways, his family.

One team member, Adul Samon, 14, is in a similar predicament. He’s become famous for the short video showing him speaking with the British rescuers who were the first to discover the group. Samon, a sweet-sounding kid who speaks Thai, Burmese, Chinese, and English, is from Wa state, an area in northern Myanmar known for its drug trade. He’d been sent to Thailand by his parents, hoping to turn his fortunes around.

It is a familiar story in the region, according to Pollard:

The desperation of poor parents to get their children a decent education in these parts is sometimes quite remarkable. I visited a centre for hill-tribe kids about an hour south of the Tham Luang cave nine years ago run by a former architect from the Gold Coast. David Stevenson said carloads of children were sometimes “dumped” at his centre in Mae Suay, Children of the Golden Triangle, even if he said they had no room. He had close to 300 Akha and other hill tribe kids at that time, with the older kids often cooking and caring for the younger ones.

Samon is excelling in school, plays guitar, and of course, is obsessed with soccer. But according to Pollard, he is one of 400,000 registered stateless people in Thailand, a situation that has gotten the attention of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “With no birth certificate, ID card or passport, Adul cannot legally marry, get a job or bank account, travel outside the province, own property or vote,” he explains.

And he can’t legally travel to attend the World Cup, the lovely reward offered to the boys from FIFA officials if they just stuck it out. (They’re not well enough to go, but still.)

But a different form of rescue may be on the way. The Thailand government has vowed to end statelessness by 2024. In fact, several “service points” have been opened in schools in the Chiang Rai district where most of the team seems to live.

This story comes at a time when the U.S. is grappling with one of the most alarming migration crises in modern memory, with children forcibly separated from their asylum-seeking parents and vulnerable migrants trying to survive the sudden change in conditions at our own border.

While it has been encouraging to watch the global community root for those amazing kids trapped underground, it would be so much better if we could also find real ways to root for them in the light of day.

And I mean everyone who seeks salvation – the tired and poor, the endangered and stateless. If only they didn’t so often have to risk their lives to have a life, only to find themselves entombed in caves we made for them.

On Point

A California prosecutor who called for Maxine Waters to be shot is placed on leave Michael Selyem leads the Hardcore Gang Unit at the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, so one would assume that a certain amount of trash talk comes with the job. Still his recent disturbing, often racist, comments on social media about Michele Obama and Mexican people among others have caused a public outcry. But his response to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) urging for protests against President Trump finally got him placed on leave. “Being a loudmouthed c#nt in the ghetto you would think someone would have shot her by now,” he wrote. Selyem was placed on leave after a report in the San Bernardino Sun newspaper triggered a cavalcade of complaints. The district attorney’s office has assigned someone to review Selyem’s cases and is asking the public to come forward to share stories of bias.Washington Post

Opinion: Calling for civility is ruining business
Calls for civility, now so popular in political circles, do harm first and foremost to your efforts to build more inclusive workplaces, says tech veteran Valerie Aurora. “In my experience, calls for ‘civility’ in tech companies are most common in response to an employee objecting to bias against a marginalized group,” she begins, ticking through a laundry list of examples. The problem? The person with the legitimate issue is usually isolated, reprimanded, or fired. She has some excellent tips to consider, but here’s one good reminder: Civility is only one of your company’s core values. “When you catch an employee embezzling company funds, do you worry about offending them by cutting off their access to the company bank account?”

Legacy admissions muddy efforts to diversify campuses
Socioeconomic diversity in university admissions is a noble goal, but the clear preference for the children of alumni are making those goals much harder, according to the Wall Street Journal. By way of example, Georgetown admits legacy students at twice the normal rate as non-legacies; they're admitted at four times the normal rate at Princeton. Many of these schools have signed on to a plan put forth by Bloomberg Philanthropies called the American Talent Initiative, a pledge to increase low-or moderate-income applicants. The case for legacy admissions is a surprisingly contentious one. Cornell’s president has said legacy admissions ensure “a Cornell family that goes on for generations.”
Wall Street Journal

There is more to the Latinx experience than the immigration debate
National Geographic attempts to take the heat off of the hot-button immigration issue with a well-reported and beautifully packaged story about how the country-wide need for labor is shifting the demographics of towns big and small. Many Latinx families and communities are thriving in spite of President Trump’s political rhetoric -- consuming goods, serving in local government, and building connections in ways that belie broader demographic fears. Writer Hector Tobar, who is the son of Guatemalan immigrants, also helps break down the complex identity issues facing the “Latinidad” in the U.S., many of whom often prefer to be known by their country of origin, rather than broader terms that don’t reflect the true diversity in race and culture that reflect their experiences.
National Geographic

The Woke Leader

Don’t miss: Nanette on Netflix
It’s a simple set-up for a big finish. Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby’s one-woman show filmed at the Sydney Opera House has all the ingredients for a standard laughfest- a disarmingly introverted host, a knack for the conversational anecdote, deftness with a surprise ending. But Gadsby has in many ways upended the notion of comedy with her confessional-not-confessional. As a gay teen in rural Australia, where homosexuality was illegal until the 1990s, many of her coming of age stories are not even close to funny. So halfway through her set, she abandons the cloak of self-deprecation and begins to tell a deeper truth. “You learn from the part of the story you focus on,” Gadsby says in her special. “I need to tell my story properly.” It is not to be missed. On Netflix, a terrific interview with the artist is below.
The Paris Review

Study: Future teachers are already biased
We know about the research --  teachers disproportionately punish students of color for the same behaviors as their white peers, for example. But new research from North Carolina State University and published in the journal Contemporary Educational Psychology shows that the incoming generation of teachers isn’t any better prepared to address their biases. The tests they used were fascinating, and Gizmodo spent some quality time with the researchers. Overall, study subjects were more likely to interpret images of black boys as angry and girls as out of control and “unladylike.” Still, the researchers remain optimistic. “If we don’t even know that we’re doing this, then we can’t change,” said one. 

Arizona’s Confederate monuments are actually pretty new
There are some six Confederate monuments spread around Arizona, and recent calls to have them removed have revealed a difficult history and a nasty divide. While Arizona was not an official Confederate State, one territory in Arizona was briefly pro-Confederate during the Civil War. But these monuments to the Confederacy popped up in the many years after the end of the war, one as recently as 2010. They were erected by Confederacy-loving Southerners, who relocated in droves to Arizona after WWII and brought a nostalgia for the old plantations with them. “It wasn't until the mid-1950s that Confederate heritage groups became a significant presence in Arizona,” explains this piece in the Phoenix New Times. “It was hardly a fringe movement: When the Civil War centennial rolled around in 1961, Arizona recognized the anniversary by flying the Confederate flag over the State Capitol.” And they’re not kidding around. A small skirmish known as The Battle of Picacho Pass now has more monuments and markers to it than the number of troops killed in the fight.
Phoenix New Times


No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.
Warsan Shire