You Can Support Our Troops AND Not Stand For The Anthem

You Can Support Our Troops AND Not Stand For The Anthem

Kaepernick might not be great at football, but maybe he got this one right.
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Colin Kaepernick made history last football season and not because he looks exactly like Larry the Cucumber (Google it if you don't believe me). He made history because he refuses to stand for the national anthem. He explains this by saying, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

He isn't wrong. The database Mapping Police Violence estimates that police have killed at least 189 black people in 2017. And most of the time those officers are not convicted. They are given paid leave while the drama dies down. They are not fired, they are not demoted, and they are sent back to their jobs.

People are infuriated by Kaepernick's protests, and they have been very vocal about it:

But here's the thing about Kaepernick and those who follow him: their childhood doesn't matter. Whether or not they have been the beneficiaries of white privilege doesn't matter. Hell, whether or not they voted for Donald Trump doesn't even matter.What matters is that they are using their position as highly paid athletes to try and make social change happen. That's what privilege SHOULD BE: using your privilege to help those who cannot say or do these things without being severely punished for it.There's more though -- people are claiming that by not standing for the anthem, he is insulting the people who fought and died for our country. I disagree.


Our troops didn't go to war to maintain the status quo of the world. They went to war and fought and died for our country to change the status quo. In Iraq and Afghanistan, our troops were primarily there to save women and children from the reign of the Taliban and al-Qaeda where they were being raped, killed and in some cases, enslaved.

We were using our position of privilege to help those who couldn't help themselves. Sound familiar?

By not standing for the anthem, you can still support the troops. You can support the idea that our troops have been fighting, dying and serving in an attempt to make the world a better place, where the United States as a nation is using their position to help those who can't.

That's what Kaepernick is doing. He is using his position as a millionaire football player to help those who are getting killed in the streets by police simply for being black. Why are we criticizing him for that?

Cover Image Credit: ABC News

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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From Practices To Performances, Dance Teams Take Over Stony Brook University

I found a community of people who finally shared my interests that I hid for years. It's great to finally have a crew who all cares about the same thing.

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While many students at Stony Brook University like to go home or to the library on late nights, dance teams take over academic buildings around campus to practice for performances.

Practicing in places like Earth and Space Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences and Center for Leadership and Service, groups like KBS, CDT and PUSO Modern practice two or three times a week to prepare for events like Seawolves Showcase and Asian Night and for competitions like the Prelude Dance Competition.

The KBS Dance Team, a group that focuses on dancing to K-Pop and K-Hip-Hop, has performed at events on campus like CASB Cultural Carnival and Asian Night. The team even has a subgroup of some members of the team who have extra practices and experiment with different styles of music and dance.

Nicole Lombino, a KBS manager said, "I found a community of people who finally shared my interests that I hid for years. It's great to finally have a crew who all cares about the same thing."

This semester, KBS had practices twice a week and practiced for about two hours at each practice. The director and the two managers lead practice which includes presenting choreography, learning new dances, creating dance formations and cleaning members' movements to look as neat as possible before performances.

"KBS isn't a competitive team so you're not pressured to compete with anyone or beat someone else at something," Tina Ng, the current director of KBS and a member of CDT said, "You're just doing it for fun."

Many members on the team are freshmen and have never danced before being on KBS.

"Even in this one semester, I've seen them grow as dancers," Lombino said, "From the first to second performance, it's staggering how much they've improved."

Dancing on a team at Stony Brook University is more than just a club, it's a commitment. And members on the executive board of dance teams have to organize performances, make sure practices run smoothly, and serve as mentors for their teammates.

"I'm responsible for this team and my eboard and I have to share the weight and any difficulties," Iris Au, a KBS manager said. "I have to actively participate and contribute to the team, which is different from when I was just a team member."

The breakdancing club on campus, the Stony Brook Breakers, have open practices and have members that help people learn breakdancing, regardless of skill. They practice in the Health Sciences Tower and the university's Recreation Center.

Breakdancing moves like windmills, headspins and baby spins are moves that the Breakers have had to work hard to learn and are still difficult for members.

While many dance teams hold auditions to be in the group, a couple of teams hold dance workshops where anyone can attend to learn short pieces, usually between 30 seconds and one minute.

Adam Sotero, a member of the dance team Deja Vu, helped organize a workshop featuring guest teachers from PUSO Modern, Cadence Step Team and Heartbreak Crew.

"The purpose of the workshop was to engage more in the dance community and showcase everyone's different styles," Sotero said. "My favorite part about these events is engaging with other members of the dance community, whether they are old or new friends."

Apart from members of Deja Vu, over 50 people attended the workshop that was held in SAC Ballroom A. The attendees learned two hip-hop pieces and one step dancing piece.

CDT also held three workshop days two weeks ago, featuring teachers from CDT, KBS, and Outburst Dance Company. The workshops focused on K-Pop, hip-hop and urban dance.

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