A group of NBA players opened the ESPYs with a bold statement about violence.

They called on athletes to use their voices to bring attention to violence.

Professional athletes hold a unique position within our culture.

Their job, in its most basic sense, is to be really, really good at a game. For this, top players make tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars. Sounds pretty good, right? They're also idolized by men, women, and children around the world, giving them another form of currency at their disposal: influence.


Fans swarm Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper for autographs before a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 24, 2015. Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images.

For a long time, athletes were loath to use that influence when it came to anything even remotely political for fear of losing endorsement deals.

In the early '90s, the Democratic Party asked NBA superstar Michael Jordan to to support former Charlotte, North Carolina, Mayor Harvey Gantt in his bid to unseat Sen. Jesse Helms. At the time, Helms was one of the loudest voices in opposition to the proposal of making Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday and had a knack for antagonizing black members of Congress by singing "Dixie," a song about longing for the days of slavery, in elevators.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Wrong. Jordan, who attended the University of North Carolina, decided not to show support behind Gantt. His reason? "Republicans buy shoes, too."

Jordan wears a pair of his Nike Air Jordan sneakers before a 1995 game against the Orlando Magic. Photo by Allsport USA/Allsport.

This isn't to say all athletes are apolitical in their public appearance. One of the most famous athletes of all time, Muhammad Ali, bucked that trend. For example, Ali protested the Vietnam War by refusing to join after being drafted.

But with an increased focus on police brutality, some stars are becoming more willing to use their social currency to raise awareness.

After the death of Eric Garner, a black man who died in a chokehold performed by a New York City police officer, a number of NBA players wore shirts reading "I Can't Breathe," which were Garner's final words.

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers wears an "I Can't Breathe" shirt during warmups before his game against the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 8, 2014. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Following the shooting of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, St. Louis Rams stars Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, and Chris Givens entered their Nov. 30, 2014, game against the Oakland Raiders doing a "hands up, don't shoot" pose.

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images.

The WNBA's Minnesota Lynx donned practice shirts honoring the lives of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the five police officers killed in Dallas.


On July 13, 2016, four of the NBA's top players — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul — opened the annual ESPYs award show by calling on their fellow athletes to take action.

“The events of the past week have put a spotlight on the injustice, distrust, and anger that plague so many of us,” Anthony said in reference to the killings of Sterling, Castile, and the Dallas police officers. “The problems are not new, the violence is not new, and the racial divide definitely is not new. But the urgency to create change is at an all-time high.”

“Enough is enough,” Wade added. “Now, as athletes, it is on us to challenge each other to do even more than we already do in our own communities. And the conversation cannot — it cannot — stop as our schedules get busy again. It won’t always be convenient. It won’t. It won’t always be comfortable, but it is necessary.”

NBA players (left to right) Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James speak during the 2016 ESPYs. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

That same day, Anthony penned an opinion piece at The Guardian titled "We athletes can no longer remain on the sidelines in the struggle for justice."

Why is it important for high-profile athletes to take up the cause? Because they have the power to keep the conversation going.

"What we can do is start [to] bring a continuous awareness and keep this conversation going," Anthony writes. "We can’t keep riding on this merry-go-round where tragedy happens, it’s all over TV and social media, everybody talks about it, then in three and four days it’s over with."

As for the rest of us — those of us who aren't professional athletes — we can help, too.

While it certainly helps to have millions of adoring fans hanging on your every word, most of us don't have that — and that's OK. What we can do is just as important. We, too, can refuse to let these instances of tragedy be forgotten. We, too, can use social media to keep this conversation front-of-mind among our friends and family. We, too, can fight for a world where black men aren't gunned down by police officers and police officers aren't gunned down by a sniper. The world, as it is, is only temporary. It's what we do next that really matters.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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