People can get pretty competitive with sports, and the World Cup is no exception.

Every four years, people from all over the world come together to watch nail-biting soccer matches. Some fans hope and pray their country's team advances to the next round for a chance at becoming World Cup champions. As a result, a lot of intense passion gets poured into every soccer game.

‌Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images‌.


With all that fervor for the game often comes criticism for players, coaches, and teams. But there's a clear line between critiquing a player and straight up abuse, and some fans don't hesitate in crossing over.

Unfortunately, Swedish midfielder Jimmy Durmaz was subject to some of that abuse.

On June 30, 2018, online trolls targeted Durmaz with racist abuse after his foul against a German soccer player ended up giving Germany the game-winning penalty kick.

‌Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand /AFP/Getty Images‌.

Soon after Sweden's upsetting loss, Durmaz — the Swedish son of Assyrian immigrants from Turkey — received an onslaught of racist epithets and name-calling. Some called the soccer player the "Arab devil," a "terrorist," and made references to suicide bombings. The trolls also went so far as to threaten his family and children.

But Durmaz refused to stay silent in the face of racism.

Durmaz said he understands that playing soccer professionally on an international stage comes with criticism. But what he finds completely unacceptable is the racially charged taunts toward him and the threats made against his family.

So, right before the Swedish team's training session on the next day, July 1, Durmaz stood alongside his coach, Janne Andersson, and his teammates and spoke up.

Photo by Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images.

"When someone threatens me, when they call me darkie, bloody Arab, terrorist, Taliban … then that limit has been passed," Durmaz said. "And what is even worse, when they go after my family and my children and threaten them … who the hell does that kind of thing?"

Durmaz then added:

“I am Swedish and I am proud to represent the Swedish national team – it is the biggest thing you can do as a footballer. I will never let any racists destroy my pride. We all have to make a stand against racism."

Photo by Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images.

After Durmaz finished making his statement, the entire team and coaching staff said two words in unison: "Fuck racism."

Though the message is short, it's powerful.

While it's important to be patient when possible and use balanced arguments to dismantle racism, sometimes there are exceptions to that rule.

Recipients of abuse don't owe their abusers civility. And sometimes it's best to beat evil by calling it for what it is. By standing alongside Durmaz, his coach and teammates helped do just that.

They refused to allow the World Cup to be used as a vehicle for racism and injustice. Instead, they reminded us what it's really about: bringing people together and celebrating our global diversity.

Most importantly, they advocated for their teammate and used their platform as world-class athletes to stand up for victims of racist abuse not just on the soccer field, but all around the world.

You can watch Durmaz make his statement here:‌‌

Correction 7/10/2018: A previous version of this story indicated Durmaz was Muslim. It has been corrected to reflect only that he is the son of Assyrian immigrants from Turkey.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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