HOW WHITE AMERICANS view their country — and their president — appears to be almost split down the middle. In a recent Gallup poll, 49 percent of white Americans said they do not approve of President Donald Trump’s job performance. Anecdotally, the number sounds high, and I suspect it’s because far too many white Americans have a passive, almost silent disapproval of Trump. They might disapprove, but they aren’t saying so out loud; they simply don’t use their voices, their influence, or their privilege to call Trump out the way he truly deserves.
Enter Gregg Popovich, head coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.
At a time when black athletes and even black sports reporters are being targeted by Trump, Popovich has spent much of the past year stepping outside of his normally reserved role to use his white privilege in ways perhaps no white man in sports ever has.
On Monday evening, in a conversation with The Nation’s Dave Zirin, Popovich decided to call Trump out with the clearest ferocity anyone could muster. Hours earlier, Trump had said former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush had never called families of fallen soldiers. The lie clearly incensed Popovich — himself an Air Force veteran.
Before the conversation began, Popovich said, “I want to say something, and please just let me talk, and please make sure this is on the record.” He then continued:
I’ve been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this president had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never ending divisiveness. But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families are so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words. … This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner — and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers — is as low as it gets. We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this president should be ashamed, because they know better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.
The coach then said “bye” to Zirin and hung up.
Popovich’s statement was remarkable even outside the context of the sports world. Few public figures in American life have called out Trump and those who enable him with the same ferocity.
It seems like Popovich feels he has to say these things — not just because those around Trump won’t, but because he sees African-Americans ranging from Colin Kaepernick to ESPN’s Jemele Hill paying an enormous price in their careers because of Trump and his ilk. Popovich is fully aware that to be black and call out Trump comes with a cost — a cost that being white and calling out Trump does not incur. Trump has still refused to acknowledge or mention either Popovich or the white rapper Eminem — both of whom recently lambasted the president in harsh terms.
Popovich is not wasting his white privilege, but is using it for good — and not just by critiquing Trump, but by promoting essential conversations on race. This past September, Popovich tackled the issue of race and white privilege head on.
“Race is the elephant in the room, and we all understand that,” Popovich said at a recent press conference, addressing Kaepernick and the NFL protests. “But unless it is talked about constantly, it’s not going get better.” Popovich went on:
There has to be an uncomfortable element in the discourse for anything to change. Whether it’s the LGBT movement, or women’s suffrage, race, it doesn’t matter. People have to be made to feel uncomfortable. And especially white people, because we’re comfortable.
We still have no clue what being born white means. … Yes, because you were born white, you have advantages that are systemically, culturally, psychologically there. And they’ve been built up and cemented for hundreds of years. But many people can’t look at it. It’s too difficult. It can’t be something that is on their plate on a daily basis. People want to hold their position, people want the status quo, people don’t want to give that up. And until it’s given up, it’s not going be fixed.
I don’t just love sports — I’m obsessed with sports. And I am fairly certain that no white coach or player in the history of American sports has ever spoken with such clarity on white privilege as Popovich did right there. Period.
And this wasn’t the first time Popovich waded into the issues of race and racism in America. In an obscure Black History Month interview from this past February, he leaned in. “I think if people take the time to think about it,” Popovich said about racism, “I think it is our national sin.”
“If you were born white, you automatically have a monstrous advantage — educationally, economically, culturally, in this society and all the systemic roadblocks that exist, whether it’s in a judicial sense, or a neighborhood sense with laws, zoning, education,” he went on. “We have huge problems in that regard that are very complicated, but take leadership, time, and real concern to try to solve. It’s a tough one because people don’t really want to face it.”
Popovich did not get here overnight. While he has spent the bulk of his life coaching and mentoring young black men, not all sports coaches have come this far. One thing NFL coaches and general managers have taught us is that physical proximity to blackness does not necessarily amount to understanding. On the other hand, Popovich has made a personal investment to understand what he’s talking about — he has suggested in his remarks that he spends some of his spare time reading about race theory. That may explain why it has taken so long for him to speak out like this.
However Popovich got here, his arrival is welcome.
In America, the primary voices calling out discrimination are its victims. Just as women tend to more frequently call out sexism and Muslims tend to be the leading voices against Islamophobia, the primary voices calling out racism are African-Americans. And I get that: For the objects of discrimination, calling it out isn’t merely about justice, it’s about survival.
But this is also why so little changes about the substance and systems of discrimination and bigotry in America. Until those who actually benefit most from racism, sexism, classism, and other forms of bigotry speak up and speak out, those systems are likely to remain in place. Popovich gets this. Now we need other white folks to get it, too.
Top photo: San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich during an NBA basketball game on Feb. 26, 2017, in Los Angeles.
I am at a complete loss to understand how it is in this day & age that people in the United States Do NOT Have A Right toClean Water. I do not understand how their local government officials are able to deny their poorer constituents clean water and adding insult to injury; turn off their constituents' filthy, lead-laden, toxic water when those same constituents refuse to pay for the water..... while at the same time, those same Greedy government officials allow Nestle all theClean waterit wants for basically free and then allows Nestle to turn around and sell it back to their constituents at over a 100% profit.
Nestlé pays $200 a year to bottle water near Flint – where water is undrinkable
While Flint battles a water crisis, just two hours away the beverage
giant pumps almost 100,000 times what an average Michigan resident uses
into plastic bottles
by Jessica Glenzain Detroit, Michigan
Gina Luster bathed her child in lukewarm bottled water, emptied
bottle by bottle into the tub, for months. It became a game for her
seven-year-old daughter. Pop the top off a bottle, and pour it into the
tub. It takes about 30 minutes for a child to fill a tub this way. Pop
the top, pour it in; pop the top, pour it in. Maybe less if you can get
Luster lives in Flint, Michigan, and here, residents believe tap water is good for one thing: to flush the toilet.
“I don’t even water my plants with it,” she said.
Flint became synonymous with lead-poisoned water after government
officials, looking to save money, switched the city’s water supply from
Detroit city water to water from the corrosive Flint river.
Once the city had switched, the number of children with elevated lead exposure doubled; residents reported unexplained rashes and losing hair. An unpublished study recently found fetal deaths in Flint increased by 58% during the crisis.
Suddenly, Flint was a cause célèbre. The Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders held a debate in Flint. Barack Obama visited to raise morale. Americans who could afford it started ripping out old lead pipes. Media outlets across the country started examining their own towns for lead.
Despite having endured lead-laden tap water for years, Flint pays
some of the highest water rates in the US. Several residents cited bills
upwards of $200 per month for tap water they refuse to touch.
But just two hours away, in the tiny town of Evart, creeks lined by
wildflowers run with clear water. The town is so small, the fairground,
McDonald’s, high school and church are all within a block. But in a town
of only 1,503 people, there are a dozen wells pumping water from the
underground aquifer. This is where the beverage giant Nestlé pumps
almost 100,000 times what an average Michigan resident uses into plastic bottles that are sold all over the midwest for around $1.
To use this natural resource, Nestlé pays $200 per year.
Now, Nestlé wants more Michigan water. In a recent permit
application, the company asked to pump 210m gallons per year from Evart,
a 60% increase, and for no more than it pays today. In the coming
months, the state is set to decidewhether Nestlé can to pump even more.
The proximity of the Nestlé plant to Flint’s degraded public water
supply has some Michigan residents asking: why do we get undrinkable,
unaffordable tap water, when the world’s largest food and beverage
company, Nestlé, bottles the state’s most precious resource for next to
‘Don’t seem right’
“It’s almost like a civics class for us Flint folks,” said Luster.
“You shouldn’t be able to profit off of water – it’s free. It came out
of the ground.”
Free water is not uncommon. In the US, water has traditionally been
free for companies and people to use – it’s the government
infrastructure that cleans and delivers people safe water that costs
money. The government infrastructure is what failed in Flint.
Still, in Michigan, what people have a problem with is a company
bottling the state’s water and selling it back to people who, through no
fault of their own, are completely dependent on it.
Bottled water is “a necessity of life right now”, said Chuck
Wolverton, a Flint resident. He won’t touch his tap water. He drives 15
miles outside of town to his brother’s house to shower every night,
where he often also washes his clothes. His water bill, he said, was
around $180 per month. “I don’t even give it to my dogs.”
In a state where officials denied Flint’s water was poisoned with lead; where Detroit residents choose between heat and water; where the water-borne, pneumonia-like legionnaire’s disease killed a dozen; and where gastrointestinal bugs spread among residents who lacked (or didn’t trust) water, Nestlé’s request seemed like salt on a wound.
“Don’t seem right, because they’re making profits off of it,”
Wolverton said, with several fresh cases of bottled water in the back of
“With the money they make, they could come and fix Flint – and I mean
the water plants and our pipes,” Luster said of Nestlé. “Me and you
wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”
Activists here, such as Luster, see Nestlé’s bottling plant and
Flint’s tainted water and Detroit’s mass water shutoffs as connected –
part of an “ecosystem” (as Luster calls it) meant to put water into
Nestlé had $92bn in sales in 2016, and $7.4bn from water alone. Nevertheless, the company pays nothing for the 150 gallons per minute it already pumps from the ground in central Michigan. The $200 per year is just an administration fee.
“We’re not saying give everyone a new car, a new home. We’re just
asking for our water treatment,” Luster said. “That’s a no-brainer.”
Nestlé doesn’t bicker with the price it gets water at, but it does
maintain that when it turns Evart water into brands like Nestlé Pure
Life and Ice Mountain, it is being a steward of the environment.
The company has 52 bottled water brands altogether, including some of
the best known in the world – Poland Spring, Perrier, San Pellegrino.
“Nestlé promotes sustainable water practices throughout its operations,” said the company’s 2016 annual report.
“For Nestlé Waters, this starts at the source with engagement
activities with local communities to ensure the sustainability of our
shared public water resources.”
Many people in Evart would probably disagree, and they’re hardly alone. A small town in Canada was recently disappointed that it was outbid by Nestlé
in a bid to fund a long-term water source for the town. And
environmentalists in California are watching closely whether Nestlé can
continue to pump water – for $524 – out of San Bernardino national forest on a permit that expired nearly 30 years ago.
Further, Nestlé’s annual report does not address plastic pollution: a problem piling up at one million bottles per minute
according to a Guardian analysis. Some campaigners believe plastic
pollution to be the most significant environmental problem behind
climate change. Studies have also begun to find plastic pollution in the
food chain – in fish, salt, honey, beer and tap water.
A social justice issue
Michigan’s water conflicts, with Nestlé as a new focal point, have begun to attract broad social justice campaigns.
The Rev Dr William Barber II, a powerhouse preacher sometimes
compared to Dr Martin Luther King Jr for his ability to weave together
left-leaning politics and Christian teachings, trained some of
Michigan’s local water activists in August. Many said they were directly
politicized by rolling water crises in Flint and Detroit.
“One of the reasons we’re here today,” said Barber, standing
backstage in a community college in Detroit, was “this water crisis”.
Social justice groups focused on water in Michigan have become an increasingly powerful force. Protesters pushed for public hearings on Nestlé’s permit in January. Residents in Flint agitated for continued state support in February. Activists in Detroit blocked city contractors from shutting off residents’ water, and won a reprieve when a judge dismissed charges against them.
Politicians are also entering the fray. The Michigan state
representative Tim Sneller and colleagues asked the Michigan department
of environmental quality (MDEQ) not to approve Nestlé’s permit.
“Now, I firmly support economic development in our state, and I
recognize the extent to which Nestlé Waters’ presence in Michigan has helped our economy,” Sneller said, in an opinion article
in April. “However, there needs to be a balance between the economic
benefit of Nestlé and the responsibility of the MDEQ to protect
Michigan’s environment and natural resources.”
On Friday, activists from Flint will join activists from Evart, where
Nestlé pumps water. They will be joined by groups from Detroit, where
people are having their water shut off, from north of the border, where
the social justice group Council of Canadians is based, and from
indigenous communities around the Great Lakes. Together, they want to
promote a “water summit” on “human rights and water sovereignty”.
“When it comes to water, we should be working within the government
to make that as cheap as possible,” Barber said. “Privatizing that which
the lord created is just wrong”.
Where Barber spoke, in Detroit, water still technically belongs to the city’s residents. But in neighborhoods where one in five homes had their water shut off last year, it is anything but affordable.
‘Water is not affordable to us’
Nicole Hill, a mother of three, has her water shut off every few months. It still costs “more than $200 a month”.
The first time her water was shut off, she said, “I get up, I make
them breakfast, I take them to school, I come back to wash the dishes
and no water comes out the faucet.”
That was in 2014, when 33,000 homes
in Detroit had their water shut off. She was one of thousands who were
part of a city “blitz” that shut off water to delinquent accounts. Last
year, 27,000 homes in Detroit had their water shut off.
Hill went so far as to file a class action
lawsuit to try to secure her community’s right to affordable water. She
lost in a lower court and appealed. Last year, a panel of three federal
judges ruled against her, writing: “A right of this nature is not
rooted in our nation’s traditions.”
Valerie Jean, a mother of five, bonded with her neighbors after her
entire block was cut off from water when multiple residents fell behind
on their bills. Still struggling, Jean perpetually seems to have a blue
stripe in front of her home, a kind of scarlet letter painted on front
yards by city workers to highlight a home’s water access point. That
makes it easier to shut water off.
“When they shut off a whole community, it shows water is not affordable to us,” said Jean.
Barber spoke to a crowd of hundreds in Detroit, with 11,000 more people watching online. The rally was not just about raising spirits. It was part of the Poor People’s Campaign, a “moral revival” organized by Barber and his co-chair, the Rev Dr Liz Theoharis, to train impoverished Americans to be activists.
Barber is a tall, stout man with a teeter-totter gait. He’s got hands
the size of a bear’s and builds his speeches like a fire – nurturing a
spark into a cheering, song-singing, burn-the-house-down blaze.
“The prophet said, ‘Take away your prayers, take away your sacrifice –
if you want to please me, let justice roll down like water!’”
Barber started with a cold crowd, but some were soon in tears, and
answered calls in unison – “Forward together!” Barber yelled. “Not one
step back!” the crowd shouted back.
“Not one step back!”
In April 2014, Flint switched from Detroit city water to the
corrosive water in the Flint river. Luster remembers – it happened on
her daughter’s birthday. She and her nine-year-old daughter (then seven)
quickly became sick. By July, she had collapsed at her job as a retail
manager. Even today, strange, unexplained health effects remain.
Luster, 43, has had part of her uterus removed, an unexplained
abscess taken from her left breast, and a lymph node removed from her
right underarm and back. She has lost a five-gallon bag’s worth of hair.
Now, she is a full-time organizer with Flint Rising, and is
considering law school. And almost two years after the crisis made
national headlines, Luster still does everything in her Flint home with
bottled water – cooking, washing hands, and even seemingly innocuous
tasks, like ironing. She filters bottled water to drink.
By this summer, the state of Michigan alone will have provided 157m
bottles of water to Flint and counting. Once, a news crew counted how
many 16.9-ounce bottles Luster’s household used in a day – 151. “So now you see, when I see a bottle of water, I don’t see, ‘Let me go get a drink.’”
I just wanted to go to D.C. interrupt Congress and SCREAM:
Instead I wrote the following to all of the wonderful people who voted for those assholic greedy wanking Mamzers:
Yet another info-rant from me:
All those people bitching in FEAR about having their taxes raised
because other less fortunate poor people (veterans, homeless, children,
Natives) get just a fraction of the help they need from the government
need to pull their heads-out-of-their-arses and really look for
themselves what potus 💩 and congress 🤡 are really doing w/ the budget in regards to taxes, tax-cuts, & distributions. Facts:
Oil companies are allowed to defer their tax payments without paying
Interest (like the rest of us) for up to 20 years, which not only drops
their taxes from 24% to as low as 11.7% - 3.7%, it increases the Federal
Debt (most of us pay at least 10% - 15%) Oil companies receive major subsidies from the tax-payers In 2012 the 5 largest oil companies made $104 Billion in PROFITS They receive a tax deduction for: tertiary injectants, drilling costs, & a "depletion" allowance They use "Last In-First Out" accounting; so their inventory is taxed on the oldest & cheapest priced barrels Restructuring the business into a Domestic Partnership https://www.usnews.com/…/the-surprising-truth-about-oil-and… http://www.taxpayer.net/…/understanding-oil-and-gas-tax-sub…
Then there are the banks and Troubled Assets Relief Program, where in
2008-2009 they received in actuality $14.4 TRILLION for misappropriation
of their clients mortgage monies with the $$$$ going to the CEOs &
top Administration In 2015, the banks had still not paid back the monies and had $35.1 billion in write-offs and realized losses… http://www.motherjones.com/…/real-size-bailout-treasury-fed/ http://wallstreetonparade.com/…/how-did-the-taxpayer-make-…/
Now, think about what would this country be like If the government had
all the $$$$$ they throw at the Banking & Oil Industry alone paid
back, when it was due (let's say a net 30).... Also think about your $$$$ related fears:
Why are you angry & afraid of the government when they spend tax
dollars helping PEOPLE In Need; especially the veterans, children &
the elderly: but you're not angry that the government refuses to spend
the needed money helping those people affected by poisoned water,
poisoned food, and natural disasters? Why are you Not Angry at
Clinton for negating the Glass-Steagall Act, which prohibited commercial
banks from engaging in the Business of Investments (which means using
Your money [not theirs] to make more money for themselves)? Why
are you not angry at the government spending $4.79 trillion on the
Middle East war(s) all based on our hostile take-over of the Middle
East's oil, mineral, & opiate resources? Why are you not angry that the NFL does not pay taxes & also receives billions of $$$ in subsidies?
Why are you not angry that the government uses your tax dollars to
subsidize Drug Companies but angry that they subsidize Health Insurance
for people who pay taxes? http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Glass-Steagal… https://news.brown.edu/articles/2016/09/costsofwar2 https://www.nytimes.com/…/…/stop-subsidizing-big-pharma.html Just think people, think about what is going on and where your tax dollars are actually going...
Think about what would happen if those Oil, Wall Street, & Drug
Companies would actually Pay Their Taxes (even at a rate of 20)% Think about what would happen if the government cut War Spending Stop Placing the Blame on the people in Need.... Blame your Government.