'I take it personally': NFL star chokes up responding to Trump's attacks.

President Donald Trump's divisive comments on the NFL protests are making national headlines, but to Miami Dolphin Michael Thomas, the remarks hit close to home.

Michael Thomas. Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Sirius XM.

Speaking to reporters from the locker room on Sunday, Thomas — who has knelt during the national anthem before games — responded to Trump's claim that a "son of a bitch" like him should be fired for refusing to stand.


Over the past several months, many players have kneeled during the national anthem in a peaceful, silent protest to draw attention to racial injustice — namely, police brutality targeting people of color — since former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling last season.

"As a man, as a father, as an African-American man, as somebody in the NFL who’s one of those 'sons of bitches,' yeah I take it personally," Thomas told reporters. "But at the same time, like I said in my Twitter posts, it’s bigger than me."

"I got a daughter; she’s going to have to live in this world," Thomas told reporters, holding back tears.

"I’m going to do whatever I got to do to make sure she can look at her dad and be like, 'Hey, you did something, you tried to make a change.'"

Thomas' emotional response shows how deep the president's remarks have cut and why more athletes are now stepping up — or, rather, kneeling down — to spark change.

Controversy surrounding the NFL protests boiled over this past weekend, after the president waded back into the world of political activism in pro sports.

Trump set off a firestorm Friday night at his rally in Alabama, claiming NFL athletes who sit or kneel during the protests should be fired. The following morning, he slammed Stephen Curry for planning to skip his team's potential White House visit after winning the NBA national championship in June: "invitation is withdrawn!" the president tweeted. LeBron James jumped into the foray to defend Curry shortly thereafter, calling the president a "bum."

Trump's bombastic remarks prompted a wave of players to kneel on Sunday. According to NPR, roughly 200 NFL athletes protested as "The Star-Spangled Banner" played before their respective games.

Several Detroit Lions players kneeled during their game on Sept. 24, 2017. Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images.

Critics have slammed Trump for stoking a fire solely to enrage his base while ignoring other dire issues.

"He wanted a reaction; he got that reaction," Michael Steele, former Republican National Committee Chairman, told NBC News. "It’s very disappointing — the same level of stuff we get from the president that doesn’t advance a genuine conversation but polarizes people into camps."

Meanwhile, dilemmas are playing out on the national and global stages — the GOP's unpopular Graham-Cassidy health bill, relations with North Korea, devastation in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria — with little leadership or comment from the president.

"It just amazes me with everything else that's going on in this world, especially involving the U.S., that’s what you’re concerned about, my man?" Thomas noted to reporters on Sunday. "You’re the leader of the free world — this is what you’re talking about?"

It appears so.

Several years ago, you wouldn't have known what QAnon was unless you spent a lot of time reading through comments on Twitter or frequented internet chat rooms. Now, with prominent Q adherents making headlines for storming the U.S. Capitol and elements of the QAnon worldview spilling into mainstream politics, the conspiracy theory/doomsday cult has become a household topic of conversation.

Many of us have watched helplessly as friends and family members fall down the rabbit hole, spewing strange ideas about Democrats and celebrities being pedophiles who torture children while Donald Trump leads a behind-the-scenes roundup of these evil Deep State actors. Perfectly intelligent people can be susceptible to conspiracy theories, no matter how insane, which makes it all the more frustrating.

A person who was a true believer in QAnon mythology (which you can read more about here) recently participated in an "Ask Me Anything" thread on Reddit, and what they shared about their experiences was eye-opening. The writer's Reddit handle is "diceblue," but for simplicity's sake we'll call them "DB."

DB explained that they weren't new to conspiracy theories when QAnon came on the scene. "I had been DEEP into conspiracy for about 8 years," they wrote. "Had very recently been down the ufo paranormal rabbit hole so when Q really took off midterm for trump I 'did my research' and fell right into it."

DB says they were a true believer until a couple of years ago when they had an experience that snapped them out of it:

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True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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Two weeks ago, we watched a pro-Trump mob storm the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overthrow the results of a U.S. election and keep Donald Trump in power. And among those insurrectionists were well-known adherents of QAnon, nearly every image of the crowd shows people wearing Q gear or carrying Q flags, and some of the more frightening elements we saw tie directly into QAnon beliefs.

Since hints of it first started showing up in social media comments several years ago, I've been intrigued—and endlessly frustrated—by the phenomenon of QAnon. At first, it was just a few fringey whacko conspiracy theorists I could easily roll my eyes at and ignore, but as I started seeing elements of it show up more and more frequently from more and more people, alarm bells started ringing.

Holy crap, there are a lot of people who actually believe this stuff.

Eventually, it got personal. A QAnon adherent on Twitter kept commenting on my tweets, pushing bizarro Q ideas on many of my posts. The account didn't use a real name, but the profile was classic QAnon, complete with the #WWG1WGA. ("Where we go one, we go all"—a QAnon rallying cry.) I thought it might be a bot, so I blocked them. Later, I discovered that it was actually one of my own extended family members.

Holy crap, I actually know people who actually believe this stuff.

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Images via Canva and Unsplash

If there's one thing that everyone can agree on, it's that being in a pandemic sucks.

However, we seem to be on different pages as to what sucks most about it. Many of us are struggling with being separated from our friends and loved ones for so long. Some of us have lost friends and family to the virus, while others are dealing with ongoing health effects of their own illness. Millions are struggling with job loss and financial stress due to businesses being closed. Parents are drowning, dealing with their kids' online schooling and lack of in-person social interactions on top of their own work logistics. Most of us hate wearing masks (even if we do so diligently), and the vast majority of us are just tired of having to think about and deal with everything the pandemic entails.

Much has been made of the mental health impact of the pandemic, which is a good thing. We need to have more open conversations about mental health in general, and with everything so upside down, it's more important now than ever. However, it feels like pandemic mental health conversations have been dominated by people who want to justify anti-lockdown arguments. "We can't let the cure be worse than the disease," people say. Kids' mental health is cited as a reason to open schools, the mental health challenges of financial despair as a reason to keep businesses open, and the mental health impact of social isolation as a reason to ditch social distancing measures.

It's not that those mental health challenges aren't real. They most definitely are. But when we focus exclusively on the mental health impact of lockdowns, we miss the fact that there are also significant mental health struggles on the other side of those arguments.

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