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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich takes on Trump and racism in a powerful speech.

It's time we had some difficult conversations as a country.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich takes on Trump and racism in a powerful speech.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has a bone to pick with President Donald Trump's attitude toward politics and sports.

An outspoken critic of Trump, the five-time NBA champion coach laid into the president during a press conference on Monday, critiquing his "childishness" and "gratuitous fear-mongering." This came after a weekend in which Trump uninvited the NBA champion Golden State Warriors from the White House and raged against NFL players protesting police violence.

"Our country is an embarrassment to the world," Popovich added, referencing Trump's antics during his first months in office.


Popovich didn't stop there.

He brought the conversation back around to the real topic at hand: race and racism in America.

"Obviously, race is the elephant in the room, and we all understand that," he said, shrugging off the idea that if we simply stop talking about racism that it'll somehow just go away.

"There has to be an uncomfortable element in the discourse for anything to change, whether it's the LGBT community or women's suffrage, race, it doesn't matter," he said. "People have to be made to feel uncomfortable and especially white people because we're comfortable."

"We still have no clue of what being born white means," he said.

Using a (what else?) sports metaphor, Popovich explained that being born white is like having a head start during a 100-meter dash. While there's no guarantee the head start means you'll win the race and while your hard work you put into training for the run shouldn't be discounted, it's still a head start. There shouldn't be any harm in acknowledging the advantage you were given.

"[White people] have advantages that are systemically, culturally, psychologically there," he explained. "And they have 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. Until it's given up, it's not going to be fixed."

Popovich's metaphor is a spot-on example of what exactly the oft misunderstood phrase "white privilege" means.

Replying to Sports Illustrated's tweet about Popovich's comments, one person remarked, "Hey Pop, where do I cash my 'congrats on being white' check? Don't think that came with my birth certificate, I must've gotten ripped off." The tweet was a classic example of what happens when white people are asked to consider their position and what their whiteness means in the world.

Poet Remi Kanazi responded brilliantly: "You cash it whenever you're pulled over by a cop, in a store not being followed, at an interview for a job, or trying to get an apartment."

No person should have to worry about being shot by the police, treated with suspicion, or discriminated against in the workplace because of the color of their skin. Right now, in America, white people don't have to worry about that. Non-white people do. The goal in the fight for racial justice isn't to bring privileged groups down, but to lift oppressed groups up. It's about finding the same starting line in the metaphorical 100-meter dash.

Watch Popovich's comments on race below:

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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