The NBA's amazing response to North Carolina's bathroom law is a really big deal.

The NBA just issued an ultimatum for North Carolina.

Photo by Shawn M. Haffey/Getty Images.


Unless the state repeals or significantly revises its anti-LGBT "bathroom law," the league plans to yank next year's All-Star Game out of Charlotte.

Steph Curry. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

The law, passed in March, requires transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender as listed on their birth certificate, and it revoked several municipal LGBT protection ordinances.

Yahoo News broke the news:

"Without any movement by state legislators in North Carolina to change newly enacted laws targeted at the LGBT community, the NBA is pulling the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, league sources told The Vertical.

The NBA is focused on the New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center as the host for All-Star Weekend and the All-Star Game on Feb. 19."

And this is a very big deal — not only because of the pressure it puts on North Carolina, but because of how sports reflect our shared values.

American lives and breathes its sports. It's our weekly drama, our intergenerational glue, and our watercooler conversation. It's one of the few things that unites us by class, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.

Over 110 million of us watched the 2016 Super Bowl, for example. 30 million tuned in to the last game of this year's NBA Finals.

Our sports often decide whether something is largely right or wrong.

When Arizona refused to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1990, the NFL pulled the Super Bowl out of the state.

Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images.

"I think it would be an affront to our public and our players if the game was played there," Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman said at the time.

The message to black Americans was clear: "You're a part of us. And we'll stand up for you."

But progress on LGBT issues within the leagues has been slow. For a long time, the NBA had a spotty record of punishing anti-LGBT abuse on the court.

Rajon Rondo. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

When Kobe Bryant confronted a referee with an anti-gay slur and refused to apologize, he was fined heavily but not suspended.

When Rajon Rondo hurled the same slur at a gay ref last year, the league suspended him for one game.

However, lots of folks have changed their hearts and minds, which has led the leagues to take baby steps toward inclusion.

Last year, when Indiana passed a law that made it easier for businesses to refuse to serve LGBT customers, activists called on the NCAA to pull the Final Four out of the state. The league issued a statement opposing the law.

Still, they let the tournament go ahead.

By actually taking the All-Star Game away from North Carolina, the NBA is sending a clear message to LGBT Americans.

The NBA holds a moment of silence for victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

"You're part of us. And we'll stand up for you."

And that message says something about us, too...

Rick Welts, president of the Golden State Warriors, attends San Francisco's Pride parade with the 2015 NBA championship trophy. Photo by Josh Edelson/Getty Images.

We're changing. Slowly. But for the better.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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