NBA player Kyle Korver wrote a must-read essay on what he's learned about white privilege in America.

Kyle Korver's thoughtful essay on race—and his role as a white man in today's America—is a must read.

Utah Jazz basketball player Kyle Korver is making waves with his Players Tribune essay in which he lays out what he's learned about race and racism and his personal role in it all.

Korver starts with his reaction in 2015 to finding out that the NYPD had arrested his black teammate and friend, Thabo Sefolosha—and broken his leg in the process. Sefolosha was eventually found not guilty on all charges and the city of New York paid him $4 million in a wrongful arrest settlement.


Korver describes how his initial response to news of the incident has gnawed at him:

"On the morning I found out that Thabo had been arrested, want to know what my first thought was? About my friend and teammate? My first thought was: What was Thabo doing out at a club on a back-to-back??

Yeah. Not, How’s he doing? Not, What happened during the arrest?? Not, Something seems off with this story. Nothing like that. Before I knew the full story, and before I’d even had the chance to talk to Thabo….. I sort of blamed Thabo.

I thought, Well, if I’d been in Thabo’s shoes, out at a club late at night, the police wouldn’t have arrested me. Not unless I was doing something wrong.

Cringe.

It’s not like it was a conscious thought. It was pure reflex — the first thing to pop into my head."

So begins Korver's deep dive into his own unconscious biases, his burgeoning awareness of his own privilege as a white man, and his growing understanding of the racism so many of his teammates and other people of color constantly deal with. His essay represents a thoughtful, honest example of the kind of self-analysis white Americans need to undertake to uproot the racism enmeshed in our country's foundation.

It really needs to be read in its entirety. Slowly. Without a lens of defensiveness or fragility, if possible.

Korver doesn't say anything about racism that black people haven't said forever. But seeing the journey of a white American's consciousness may help others on their own path.

In a perfect world, all white Americans would listen when chorus after chorus of black Americans tell us how they experience racism. In a perfect world, the voices of people of color would be listened to, heard, and believed.

Obviously, we don't live in a perfect world. Hopefully, Korver's voice will reach people who need to see an example of what learning to be an ally looks like. Perhaps his eloquent explanation of how his understanding has evolved will help other white Americans ask themselves hard questions about their own privilege and racial blind spots.

For example, Korver points out how simply having the ability to ignore or blow off race issues is a form of privilege that many of us don't think about. White Americans have the choice to opt in or out of grappling with racism. People of color have no choice but to deal with it, day in and day out.

Korver also explains that subtle racism—the kind we see all the time but don't always recognize—needs to be tackled just as much as blatant racism:

"As disgraceful as it is that we have to deal with racist hecklers in NBA arenas in 2019? The truth is, you could argue that that kind of racism is 'easier' to deal with.

Because at least in those cases, the racism is loud and clear. There’s no ambiguity — not in the act itself, and thankfully not in the response: we throw the guy out of the building, and then we ban him for life.

But in many ways the more dangerous form of racism isn’t that loud and stupid kind. It isn’t the kind that announces itself when it walks into the arena. It’s the quiet and subtle kind. The kind that almost hides itself in plain view. It’s the person who does and says all the 'right' things in public: They’re perfectly friendly when they meet a person of color. They’re very polite. But in private? Well….. they sort of wish that everyone would stop making everything 'about race' all the time.

It’s the kind of racism that can seem almost invisible — which is one of the main reasons why it’s allowed to persist."

Again, this is the same thing black folks have been saying over and over and over again. When are we going to listen?

Predictably, Korver's essay irked defensive white folks who ironically prove his point. But most responses have been enthusiastically supportive.

Some people just aren't going to get it, no matter how well all of this is explained. Cue the "white guilt" (which is directly addressed in the essay, by the way) and "no such thing as white privilege" (literally the point of the essay), along with "enough with the victimhood" and "SJW-virtue-signaling-PC-nonsense" commenters.

But thankfully, those voices are being drowned out by the ones that matter most. And yes, some voices actually carry more weight in discussions about racism—namely the people who live it, day in and day out.

LeBron James, Korver's former teammate on the Cleveland Cavaliers, shared his essay with the comment, "Salute my brother!! Means a lot. And like you said I hope people listen, just open your ears and listen."

Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat offered a simple "Thank you."

Speaker and writer Exavier Pope praised Korver for the example he is setting:

As did Chicago Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks:

These issues need to be brought to light over and over again until everyone who needs to see them starts seeing them. As writer Doyin Richards wrote when he shared the post on Facebook, "This article from Kyle Korver (a white NBA player) is phenomenal and should be required reading for all white people."

Seriously, let's all read the essay. Twice. Then let's get busy doing the vital work that needs to be done.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."