Black History Month Fact: In celebration of love, this week’s Black History Month fact is dedicated to Marsha P. Johnson. An iconic figure both in the black and LGBTQ+ communities, Johnson was an outspoken transgender and gay rights activist as one of the most prominent advocates in the 1969 Stonewall uprising. Standing on the front lines of protests and founding many organizations and activists groups to support young gay and/or trans teens, and particularly the queer homeless youth, she became a major figure of intersectionality as a black transgender woman.
10 Things to Ask About the News
Results & Reactions: The Super Bowl LVI
This last Sunday night was the Super Bowl! The Super Bowl—one of the greatest highlights of American culture—has always been a hotspot for not just sports but also for music, business, and entertainment. In the NFL championship game that set the Los Angeles Rams against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Rams defeated the Bengals 23-20. Famous hip hop singers Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Eminem, 50 Cent, Anderson .Paak, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar performed during the halftime show, receiving lots of praise and love for what is being coined a nostalgic hip hop comeback. Rapper Eminem also took a knee at the end of his performance. The kneeling gesture is a famous act of protest against police brutality and racial discrimination established and made controversial by former quarterback Kaepernick back in 2016. There’s also been some controversy on Twitter after national broadcasts showed thousands of fans in SoFi stadium without masks in the tight-knit space, leading to questions about the safety precautions taken at the game, and what message that might send across the country.
- What did you notice about peoples’ reaction to the Super Bowl? Do you see friends and family coming together to the big screen or in loud arguments and disappointment? Do you notice violence, bitterness, or celebration? What lessons, specifically about community, can you learn from the way people engage with large sports events?
- What do the Super Bowl championships mean to America?
- With the vast amount of coverage the Super Bowl has over the world, is it the place to advocate for social and political change? Should spaces for advocacy be contained or let loose? Could bringing activism to entertainment a way to amplify or detract from its original message?
- What responsibility do large media outlets and platforms with immense national audiences have to ensure the safety of users or viewers? How might the no-mask coverage be similar or dissimilar to the Joe Rogan controversy?
Behind the Scenes: 2022 Winter Olympic Games
Beyond the flashy front of glory and gold medals, the 2022 Winter Olympic Games has also had intense political undertones beneath the surface. The U.S. and nine other countries continue to protest China’s human rights abuses with diplomatic boycotts in the 2022 Olympic Games. Since 2017, there have been reports of millions of Uyghurs—a Muslim group in northwestern China—sent to internment camps, subjected to torture, rape, and forced sterilization. In response, the U.S. State Department has labeled the atrocity a genocide against Uyghurs and the Biden administration has announced a diplomatic boycott against China. In this diplomatic boycott, U.S. athletes are still sent to compete, but no U.S. diplomats will attend the games.
More controversy arose around the 2022 Winter Olympics when 18-year-old skier, rising model, and Chinese-American, Eileen Gu, decided to represent China in the current Games. Eileen Gu was born in San Francisco, California to her Chinese mother and American father. Now that she has won gold for her mother’s native country, the issue calls into question the lines between ethnicity, nationality, patriotism and loyalty.
- What effect is the diplomatic boycott meant to have? Is it just a symbol of opposition? If so, are passive symbols of opposition without effectual action acceptable? When do abuses of power cross the line and necessitate action? To what extent are foreign abuses even relevant to our domestic goals? Is such a defiance even necessary?
- Where should an individual’s loyalty lie? In one’s nationality or ethnicity? Or is it up to an individual themselves to decide?
- What defines someone’s patriotism for those whom the lines of nationality and ethnicity blur?
- More generally, does an individual owe loyalty to their country? When does patriotism become too much (to the point of blind ignorance) or too little (to the point of betrayal or treason)?
Diplomacy in Everyday Life: Biden, Ukraine & Russia
For the past two months, Ukraine and Russia have been simmering in high tensions ever since Russia has employed over 130,000 troops along the Ukrainian border. The Biden administration has stepped in multiple times within the past few weeks to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to ease tensions. However, after many exchanges of demands and threats, there seems to be no resolution in sight, and the world fears for an imminent Russian invasion, and possibly even war, at any given moment. Recently, Biden warned that the United States and its allies would respond “decisively and impose swift and severe costs” if an invasion were to happen.
- Why do you think a consensus cannot be reached? Is it a lack of understanding, a difference in values, a history of bitterness, pride, or a lack of communication? In any disagreement, what is most important for a party to do when a consensus cannot be reached?
- How do you resolve your disagreements with others? Is it compromise, time, space, and/or empathy?
- Which is the “right” course of action: diplomacy or authoritative force? Is there a “right” course of action?
- What is the power of threats in today’s world? Do they still hold any power or leverage, or are they all just “empty threats”? What might this mean for the future of diplomacy and international communication?
- What is America’s responsibility in maintaining world peace? What is America’s responsibility to foreign countries and its allies?
Editor’s Note: Every week, BA Media intern Janus Kwong compiles a briefing document for our national media staff’s reference, a guide for thinking through the major news items we and our fellow Americans might have at top of mind. These documents don’t assert a party-line or standard; they lay out some themes and guide us through key questions, and like the best of our work, they bring us a little closer to understanding things with a spirit of goodwill, through a commitment to process. They shouldn’t be seen as fact-sheets or strategic assessments, but as reflective little guides to help us cultivate the Braver Angels Way as we approach any issue at all. We in the media team are reflecting on these questions ourselves, and we invite interested BA members to do so too, and share your thoughts with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments. -LNP