when you walked into the room just then it’s like the sun came out
Mario Balotelli is an Italian footballer who may soon become a Liverpool player. He has long been one of my favorite players, and I can’t help but think that the way his reputation in Europe is shaped by race. (Balotelli has been the victim of horrific racist chants throughout his career, but I also think institutional racism shapes media coverage and popular opinion, as pointed out here and elsewhere.)
Balotelli is certainly an unusual footballer: Once, while signing an autograph for a child, Balotelli learned the kid was being bullied, and then drove across town to confront the bully and discuss the matter with the school principal. And he is famed for his generosity, although this is often portrayed popularly as an inability to handle his money well.
He also has a reputation for volatility and immaturity, and is often criticized for getting in fights with teammates. He once threw a dart at a younger player. You hear a lot that Balotelli is crazy and/or lazy. You hear that he stays out late.
Now, I think some of Balotelli’s professional behavior has been poor, and I’m not here to defend it. But look at the way we treat white players:
Liverpool’s Robbie Fowler once PRETENDED TO SNORT THE WHITE POWDER OF THE TOUCH LINE after scoring a goal, in reference to his cocaine use.
Point being, in all the cases above (and many, many, many more) the offenses were seen as youthful indiscretions, or as hilarious examples of Boys being Boys.
Fowler is now a coach; Beagrie is now a well-respected commentator; and Bellamy is still playing. You rarely hear about his on- and off-field indiscretions, even though they’re probably more numerous than Balotelli’s. Meanwhile, Balotelli makes the news (and gets fined $200,000) for eating curry.
Those of you who follow football will begin to hear a lot about Balotelli if he returns to play in England. You will hear about how he cried after being substituted (although you might not hear that he cried because he had to sit on the bench while racist chants rang through the stadium). You will hear about how he is “wild” and “unpredictable” and “lazy.”
But watch him play. Watch how good and smart and creative he can be, how he can find paths to goal that make people call him lazy (they called Messi lazy, too, remember) when really he is just waiting, like the chess master who sees four moves ahead. Watch him off the ball, moving to reshape the opposition’s defense.
And then watch him score, turn around unsmiling, and lift his shirt to ask the immense and complicated question.
I think this is a deeply flawed way of looking at the world.
Now, I have talked about Ferguson, and I’ve talked about Gaza. (In fact, I’ve been writing and talking about Israel and Palestine for more than a decade.) But there are many important problems facing the world that I haven’t talked about: I haven’t talked much about the civil war in South Sudan, or the epidemic of suicide among American military personnel, or the persecution of Muslim Rohingya people in Myanmar.
Is that okay? Is it okay for me to talk about, say, racism in football and lowering infant mortality in Ethiopia? Or must we all agree to discuss only whatever is currently the ascendant news story? Is it disrespectful to Ferguson protesters to talk about continued political oppression in Egypt now that we are no longer reblogging images of the protests in Tahrir Square? I think this is a false choice: If you are talking about Ferguson and I am talking about Ethiopian health care, neither of us is hurting the other.
I think the challenge for activists and philanthropists online is in paying sustained attention, not over days or weeks but over years and decades. And I worry that when we turn our attention constantly from one outrage to another we end up not investing the time and work to facilitate actual change. We say “THE WORLD IS WATCHING,” and it is…until it isn’t. We’ve seen this again and again in Gaza and the West Bank. We’re seeing it in Iran. We’re seeing it in South Sudan. And we’re seeing it in the U.S., from net neutrality to Katrina recovery.
The truth is, these problems are complicated, and when the outrage passes we’re left with big and tangled and nuanced problems. I feel that too often that’s when we stop paying attention, because it gets really hard and there’s always a shiny new problem somewhere else that’s merely outrageous. I hope you’re paying attention to Ferguson in five years, anon, and I hope I am, too. I also hope I’m paying attention to child death in Ethiopia. I don’t think these things are mutually exclusive.
I really don’t want to minimize the effectiveness of online activism, because I know that it works: To use a personal example, I’ve learned a TON from the LGBT+ and sexual assault survivor communities in recent years online. People on tumblr make fun of me for apologizing all the time, but I apologize all the time because I am learning all the time, and every day I’m like, “Oh, man, Current Me has realized that Previous Me was so wrong about this!”
But we can only learn when we can listen. And when you call me a hypocrite for talking about X instead of talking about Y, it makes it really hard to listen.
At times, online discourse to me feels like we just sit in a circle screaming at each other until people get their feelings hurt and withdraw from the conversation, which leaves us with ever-smaller echo chambers, until finally we’re left only with those who entirely agree with us. I don’t think that’s how the overall worldwide level of suck gets decreased.
I might be wrong, of course. I often am. But I think we have to find ways to embrace nuance and complexity online. It’s hard—very, very hard—to make the most generous, most accepting, most forgiving assumptions about others. But I also really do think it’s the best way forward.
1000 roses on Canfield, the area which Mike Brown was murdered.
Everyone should watch this video at least once.
Everyone go watch Ashley’s amazing response to a video I made awhile back about depression and mental health stigma.
The video begins humorously as Anthony Carbajal, a photographer, dresses up in a neon bikini top and soaps up a car before being doused with ice water.
Alina Davis, a 23-year-old trans woman, and Allison Brooks, her 19-year-old partner, donned matching white floor-length bridal gowns and married at a civil registry office earlier this month.
As Davis is still legally regarded as male, the office had no choice but to hand them a marriage certificate.
The couple said officials chided them, and appeared to be violent.
‘She called us the shame of the family and said we need medical treatment … I was afraid my pussycat [an affectionate pet name in Russian] would beat the fuck out of her,’ Davis said on her VK page.
But the couple were allowed to sign the papers, meaning a gay couple in Russia are legally recognized as married – even if it’s through a loophole.
‘This is an important precedent for Russia,’ Davis said.
Russia banned same-sex marriage and outlawed ‘gay propaganda’ in 2013.
holy jesus look at these two warrior princesses
they are my heroes
YOU GO GIRLS
"Oh, you don’t wanna recognize my gender? Okay then lol guess you have to recognize my marriage"
that is amazing
"But I can do 40-inch box jumps now. Action-hero physical stuff. Jumping that high feels really good. You see a giant hillside, and you think, I wanna get up that. You see a building, you think, I could climb that. When you get in shape, the world around you becomes things you wanna jump on and climb up.”
-Chris Pratt for Esquire Magazine, September 2014 Issue