Episode 60: Supporting Trump (boo), De-Colonizing the World Cup (yay), and Kelsey Bone is back!
On this week’s show, Shireen, Lindsay, Brenda and Jessica talk about Iranian women’s access to sporting events and why it often takes powerful men paying attention for others to care. We get into it about people in sports supporting Trump, especially this week (looking at you, Robb Stauber), and in general. Lindsay interviews previous BIAD guest and Las Vegas Aces Forward/Center Kelsey Bone about her continued kneeling during the national anthem and why it’s more important than ever to her to protest. Finally, we talk about de-colonizing the World Cup.
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, our Bad Ass Woman of the Week, and what is good in our worlds.
Intro (8:08) Trump supporters (17:29) Interview with Kelsey Bone (29:54) De-colonizing the World Cup (39:24) Burn Pile (53:45) Bad Ass Woman of the Week (55:55) What’s Good (57:39) Outro
For links and a transcript…
“Iran has made minor changes, but Iranian women still deserve a greater taste of freedom in football” http://www.unusualefforts.com/iran-women-football-stadiums/
“Robb Stauber speaks at political rally in Duluth” https://www.theicegarden.com/2018/6/21/17488046/robb-stauber-speaks-at-political-rally-in-duluth-minnesota
“Celtics Great Kevin McHale Enjoys Old Feeling Of Being In An Arena Full Of Screaming Bigots” https://deadspin.com/celtics-great-kevin-mchale-enjoys-old-feeling-of-being-1827018034
“I’ve Got Some Things to Say” by Romelu Lukaku https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/romelu-lukaku-ive-got-some-things-to-say
“Landon Donovan’s heart was in the right place, but the U.S.-Mexico soccer rivalry is too intense” http://www.latimes.com/sports/soccer/la-sp-donovan-world-cup-hernandez-20180619-story.html
“It’s time for Nike and other MSU sponsors to stop waiting and start helping Nassar survivors” https://thinkprogress.org/its-time-for-nike-and-other-msu-sponsors-to-stop-waiting-and-start-helping-nassar-survivors-479232da9233/
“Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri face fines from FIFA for celebrations in Switzerland’s win against Serbia” https://metro.co.uk/2018/06/22/granit-xhaka-xherdan-shaqiri-face-fines-fifa-celebrations-switzerlands-win-serbia-7653189/amp/
“New Jameis Winston Details Emerge; Convicted Ex-Vanderbilt Football Rapist Says Bucs QB Was Alone With Uber Driver” https://deadspin.com/new-jameis-winston-details-emerge-convicted-ex-vanderb-1827067998
“Cheryl Reeve: The mileposts on the way to 200 wins” https://highposthoops.com/2018/06/20/cheryl-reeve-mileposts-200-wins/
“Claressa Shields recovers to beat Hanna Gabriels, confronts Christina Hammer” http://www.espn.com/espnw/sports/article/23880118/claressa-shields-recovers-first-round-knockdown-defeats-hanna-gabriels
“Caster Semenya Will Challenge Testosterone Rule in Court” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/18/sports/caster-semenya-iaaf-lawsuit.html
“Girl in baju kurung impresses as football juggler” https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2018/06/380468/girl-baju-kurung-impresses-football-juggler
Shireen: Welcome to this week’s episode of “Burn It All Down”. It’s the feminist sports podcast you need. On this week’s panel, we have all-around badass, Jessica Luther. Independent writer, general slayer and author of Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape. She’s in Austin. Brenda Elsey, associate professor of history and undeniable genius at Hofstra University. She’s in New York. The indomitable and brilliant Lindsay Gibbs, sports writer at ThinkProgress. And I’m Shireen Ahmed, freelance sports writer, World Cup addict and cat lover in Toronto.
Before we begin, I would like to thank our Patreons for their generous support and remind our new flamethrowers about our Patreon campaign. You pledge a certain amount monthly, as low as $2 and as high as you want, to become an official patron of the podcast. In exchange for your monthly contribution, you get access to special rewards. And with the price of a latte a month, you can get access to extra segments of the podcast, a monthly newsletter, an opportunity to record “On the Burn Pile”, only available to those in our Patreon community.
So far, we’ve been able to solidify funding for proper editing and transcripts. But we’re really hoping to reach our dream of hiring a producer to help us with the show. “Burn It All Down” is a labor of love and we all really believe in this podcast. And having a producer to help us as we grow would be amazing. We are so grateful for your support. This week on “Burn It All Down”, we will be discussing sports support for Trump. We will talk about de-colonizing the World Cup and Lindsay has a brilliant interview with Las Vegas Aces forward/center Kelsey Bone.
But before we get going, this isn’t a burn pile. It’s the discussion at the top of show. So, I just wanted-
Lindsay: It’s a fine line.
Shireen: We’re burning in the beginning and at the end. So basically, this week we saw all over the news, which is absolutely brilliant because I can’t remember the last time Iranian woman trying to get into football stadiums was all over the news. We’re actually allowed in to watch the Iran-Spain match that, you know, Iran lost. We like to share happy news. And we’re happy to do that on this happy show, “Burn It All Down”. But we also can really … There’s a place for us to bitch about how nobody cares until Sergio Ramos tweets about it. And how people in football media, mainly whites, cis-het able-bodied men, start to notice that this is a story that might get them traction and write about it.
Although the campaign is over 12 years old, and there’s been work in grassroots and then … This is something I just wanted to bring up. And congratulations to the women in Iran. But it’s the beginning of a stop to solidify. I just wrote a piece for “Unusual Efforts” and about this, and this isn’t the end of the road. I just wanted to know what you guys thought about it as well.
Jessica: Yeah, so I think it’s, you know, it’s always a double-edged sword where you want them to pay attention. You know, we understand how the media landscape works. It’s useful when they pay attention and it brings eyeballs to the thing that you care a lot about. At the same time, it’s always frustrating that all the work of the people who don’t count as important, whose opinions and concerns don’t matter until some, you know, a white guy or a famous guy suddenly decides … It’s always frustrating and I don’t know any way around it. I just wish maybe men would pay more attention and use their platform sooner in better ways than they normally do.
Lindsay: Yeah, I completely agree. I mean, it’s completely understandable why it’s a big story now. I mean, this is the World Cup and they’re getting, you know, they’re getting into their home stadiums. And I mean, it makes sense that the story is being amplified in ways that it’s not always right now, because that’s how this works. But it’s always frustrating A) when, let me just be frank here, when white powerful men in the media act like they’re the first people to discover these stories. And that it’s a brand-new information. And when they don’t lift up the work of the people who have been on top of these stories for so long.
And frankly, it’s a way that they don’t realize. It’s weird ’cause they seem to think they’re all powerful. Always. And yet, when it comes to stories like these, they don’t recognize how important it is for them to amplify these stories and amplify the people doing the work every day. You know, there’s just no awareness of it. So it’s always frustrating. There’s a feeling of, like you said, where have you been? This has been going on. So, I always … Like you all said, there’s mixed feelings and I try and hold on to the positive ones. But something I always tell everyone when I’m talking to them and I tell myself a lot is that for all of us, and especially white people in the media, white men, white women, we have to be … Make a conscious choice to amplify the work that marginalized communities are doing on a regular basis. And this is an example where people have really failed.
Brenda: I (laughing) Sergio Ramos. I mean, I just … It’s so hard. It’s so hard because it’s gotta be Sergio Ramos, right? Like let’s be fair. If it was in Iniesta that brought attention to this, you and I might feel slightly differently, Shireen.
So, it doesn’t like a burn that it’s him. But the pictures were beautiful. It is frustrating to see like articles in the Washington Post not cite “Open Stadiums”. Not cite the work of people like you, Shireen, and many, many others. I did see that group of Iranian women wrote a letter to FIFA and that looks like an amazing moving gesture. You know? They’re really important women in the Iranian diaspora that called attention and said “Hey, you know, look at what’s going on here. Nothing happened. Everything was joyous. It just shows how crazy this ban is and how it’s unreasonable and unfair.”
So, it’s really exciting to see the pictures. I just think they’re really powerful in changing the visual culture and I hope that Iranian women that have struggled with this for so long can use it and say “Hey, look at this.” I just hope. But I heard there’s no timeline. Is that right? There’s no timeline to reverse the band actually?
Shireen: No, there’s not and I think the clarification is so that people and all the joy, they’re forgetting that this doesn’t only apply to football. It applies to all sport and FIVB is currently holding a tournament there and women were ejected. So it makes me think that move with regards to football and Azadi state in Tehran, women are going because there’s a spotlight on this issue. And when the World Cup is over, we want consistency. We want proper regulation in terms of allowing like having no ban. I don’t want women to just enter stadiums during the World Cup. That’s not the way this goes. But there’s precedent now for them going in and the winners actually crossing through those doors.
So just like Sara said, my friend, we have to see. And she’s been very measured when she says that that. But we do have to see. But to close off this issue, I totally agree with you and Sergio Ramos. And what bothered me the most is that people started making it about him and giving him cookies. Sergio Ramos will never get any cookies from me. No cookies from Burn It All Down.
Brenda: Unless we throw hard, stale cookies at his head.
Shireen: “Burn It All Down” is offering no cookies to Sergio Ramos.
Next, Jess, you want to take us to the next segment?
Jessica: Yeah, so it’s been a hell of a couple weeks here in the US around issues of immigration. And I’m sure lots of other things regarding the Trump administration, but like who can keep up with all of it. But as for immigration, the focus has been on a Trump administration policy that divided immigrant children from their parents at the border. And then held them in cages inside of giant tents. And they put some of them on planes and sent them around the country. Immigration laws and policies in this country have been destructive and harmful for a really long time now, but this is particularly cruel with young children, some of them toddlers, being involved. The children of asylum seekers, as well. What we saw then on top of this was the intersection. There was incredible reporting, you know, social media and the way people spread messages these days. And then, the ongoing hellscape that’s the Trump administration. It led to intense scrutiny on this policy to the point that Trump had to walk it back after days of saying that he couldn’t do anything about it.
In the middle of all this, Trump held a rally this week, this last week, in Duluth, Minnesota, because he really likes these rallies, apparently more than he actually likes to govern. And his audience was Celtics legend Kevin McHale. And then, one of the speakers there to introduce his brother, who’s running for Congress, was Rob Stauber, head coach of the 2018 US Olympic women’s hockey team. Middle of all this, this what this guy’s doing. And this matters for multiple reasons. First, no one associated with anything US Olympics should be sharing the stage with a man who’s happily admitted that he’s a sexual predator. Like just basic shit. Second, as recent “Burn It All Down” guest Jashvina Shah tweeted, “The head coach of the US women’s hockey national team speaking at a rally for a bigot is hugely problematic.” But also USA Hockey employs someone who used the “n” word, so I’m not terribly surprised by this. She continued “And we wonder why hockey is as intolerant as it is.” When the people in leadership positions are intolerant, chances are they’re going to pass that on.
Shaw is referring to USA Hockey hiring former NHL and international goalie John Vanbiesbrouck as assistant executive director of hockey operations in late May. In 2002, Vanbiesbrouck called the captain of a hockey team he coached in the Ontario Hockey League the “n” word. So you know, I want to ask what the fuck is going on in USA hockey, but I think it just seems like more of the same. I think bigger than that. I mean, should this association … Like should Stauber being on stage with Trump just in general, but especially in a moment like this? Like what kind of decision making is going on there? And should a person like that be in charge of a team of female athletes representing this country? What do you guys think about this?
Lindsay: I don’t think positively of it.
Jessica: Me either.
Lindsay: Sure somebody else has something better to say.
Brenda: I don’t think I have anything better to say. It’s so distressing. Kevin McHale was never one of my favorite players. And now he’s really sunk in the ranks.
Jessica: Off the list. Gone. Off the list.
Brenda: I mean, the other thing is, and I know this isn’t about sports and that’s what’s been so hard this week. And Jessica, you like alluded to it in the beginning, is there’s no safe escape from what’s happening right now. So, sports aren’t providing me the kind of escape from terrible things right now. And they never do that like 100%. But I feel like this week given what’s happened, it’s like zero percent escape. You know, it’s just an onslaught and I guess I keep going back to Melania’s jacket.
Jessica: Yeah, will you explain what that was?
Brenda: Yes. So, the back … What is the exact quote?
Jessica: I really don’t care. Do you? Yeah.
Brenda: I really don’t care. Do you?
Jessica: Was she coming here to Texas to visit children being held in the cages?
Brenda: It was both before the visit to the children’s detention centers or internment camps and after. And it just, you know, it’s one of those things where it’s not like these sports stars are in confusing places. They’re not being confused by the rhetoric here. It’s so blatant. And that’s why I think it’s just different than in some years past. You know? It’s just that jacket, the optics of it, it’s not like she’s confused that she’s going to have a million cameras on her and where she’s going.
And so, I do feel that there’s a culpability with the NHL, with some of these administrative bodies and with athletes themselves because it’s not a moment of confusion. It’s blatant human rights abuses against children.
Jessica: Yeah. And I just wanted to circle back to what we were just talking about as far as like who’s paying attention in sports media. It was, I want to say almost exclusively women who care a lot about women’s hockey who really pushed this. That was the only reason that I saw. I mean, Jess Machina was really the reason. And then I went and started looking and it was like all these women on Twitter and the Ice Carden covered it. And it was Erica Ayala who wrote it. I mean, it was just, you know, it’s one of those moments where you’re like this wasn’t news. Like no one cares, really, within sports media that the head coach of the US women’s hockey team decided of all weeks … like not that I would be okay with it at any other time, because I’m not okay with this kind of complicit, or even like, explicit backing of this administration.
But this moment in time, in particular, and like it’s not even a story in sports media. So that just like, you know, here we are again, it’s exactly what we were just talking about the front of the show.
Lindsay: This is a humanitarian, like you guys have been saying, this is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions right now. And that is not an exaggeration. And how every single person needs to be speaking out against this at every single turn. This is not a moment to step back and pretend that things are normal. So yeah, it’s worse today if you go on stage at a Trump rally and introduce him. Yes, you need to be able to answer for that. Yes, you need to make clear, I mean, you have made clear, but you need to answer difficult questions about what you believe about immigrants and about diversity and about people of color. You need to be responsible for these ideals. And honestly, you know, you shouldn’t have the prestige of being in charge with, you know, a team that represents what America is.
It’s disgusting. I’m really just kind of fed up with all this. I don’t know. Pretending that this is any other Republican administration and that this is just partisan differences. Like that’s just that’s not doing anybody any good. This is not just partisan differences. That’s not what this is. So, you know, it’s just time to … There’s no more patience. There’s no more believing the best. All the cards are on the table right now. And it’s time for athletes, coaches, everyone within the sporting community to know that they’re Americans … I mean, if they are Americans, they need to be speaking on this. They need to use their voices to help in this humanitarian crisis, not to further enable it.
Shireen: Yeah, I’m just gonna add to that as well and sort of roll off what Lindsay said about sports and the specific … This Trumpesque era that we’re in. And a lot of what I say gets back to, well, people of color told y’all, but nobody listens. I mean, in the sense that this is a humanitarian crisis. This is appalling. This is very reminiscent of ripping families apart much like, you know, happened to Indigenous communities already. So, this type of thing has already happened in the United States and Canada by colonizers who brutally separated families. In Canada, they were put into residential schools. So, this is something we’ve seen and it’s not too far off. So, the thing is, is that when you have sports communities like Dan Snyder, Robert Kraft and all these people, and now it trickles down to Mikael who I agree with Brenda, not my fav.
The reality is, is that they knew what was happening. They knew what direction we were going. This is appalling and heartbreaking. And as a parent, I’ll admit, and this is really embarrassing for me to say I couldn’t watch, or sorry, couldn’t listen to that tweet that was going around of the mother describing the pain of being separated with her child. I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t brave enough to listen to it. It broke me completely to see those photos. And, you know, but this is something that we knew there was a possibility of it. I mean I certainly … I’m not American and I certainly didn’t have high hopes or give Trump the benefit of the doubt.
And you know, so when you’ve got people that are well-intentioned … Danica Patrick, for example, I talked about this on this show, said that “Let’s see. We’re hopeful.” There’s a lot of athletes that were trying to be hopeful. But the end of the day, people in marginalized communities said this would happen and guess what? It’s happening.
Next on the show, Lindsay interviews athlete activist Kelsey Bone.
Lindsay: Yeah, I interviewed Kelsey Bone last September. This was right around the time when the athlete activism was ramping up a notch and I wanted to talk to her because she was the very first WNBA player to take a knee during the national anthem. She wasn’t in the league in 2017. But she’s back in the WNBA this year for the Las Vegas Aces. And she’s still taking a knee during the national anthem before every game. So, we caught up with her about that protest, about why she feels that it’s more important now than ever to be taking a knee. And it was just so wonderful to get caught up with her.
We’re gonna put part of the interview here in this episode. And then the rest you’ll be able to find on Patreon. We did talk a lot about also how it is playing in Vegas this year, what it’s like working, playing and mentoring A’ja Wilson, who’s been incredible. All of that part of the interview will be on Patreon for our guests who subscribe.
But here you’ll hear her talk about her protests, in particular, and about the support she’s gotten from the league.
So last time that you were on the podcast, we were talking about the fact that you were the first WNBA player to take any during the national anthem. And I know you did that during the 2016 season, towards the end is when it started. And I know you’re taking a knee this year still. When did you make that decision that you were going to continue that protest?
Kelsey Bone: Well, it’s so funny because I made the decision. I guess, I never made the decision to stop. I just didn’t play. And so, it’s so funny because right before actually, we play our first little pre-season game here. And I took a knee and my mom had a friend that was here. And he called her, and he say “You know, Kelsey …” He wasn’t aware that I’d been doing it. But he said “Kelsey really made a statement. You know, she took a knee.” And my mom and I kind of had a conversation about it. And my mom was kind of against it. She didn’t have a problem with me doing it the first time around. But she kind of was like “You know, well, maybe there’s another way you could do it. Maybe there’s …” You know. And for me, it was really simple.
What I felt when I began to kneel in 2016, it hasn’t changed. It’s actually gotten worse. So, for me, no. Nothing has changed. Nothing has happened. I’m actually, you know, in the process of starting a little group out here of inner city kids, at-risk kids, special needs kids. I have a group of ten kids, you know, they’re going to be coming to our home games. I’m going to take them to shows on the strip. I’m going to … You know, one of the plans is to sit down and give …I’m working with a guy who has his own … He runs a park and recreations department out here, but I want to sit down and have his camp, you know, meet with the police, meet with police officers here in Vegas.
Just something that … I mean I’m no Colin Kaepernick. I don’t have a million dollars to just give away to, you know, charities or anything like that. But I do want to do something more because things may not change right now, you know? We may never see the reform that we’re looking for. I mean every day now, it feels like somebody else is getting shot and killed by a police officer. And for me, I don’t even stop there anymore. I’m from Texas. You look at what’s going on with these detention centers and what’s happening with these children being separated from their families. You look at what’s going on in these high schools.
I have … Again, this all stems from me having a 16-year-old brother. My mother is a high school teacher. I don’t know how my mom and brother are supposed to be safe in a school anymore. I was personally … A couple of days before we played our first game in Connecticut, I happened to be in the mall in Las Vegas. And my girlfriend and I were walking out of the mall, a masked gunman walked in the mall. And to be one of the five people standing right there. I was the first person to see him and take off running. And to run through literally the Boulevard mall in Las Vegas, Nevada, to be running through that mall at full speed, screaming and yelling for people to get out because this man has a gun. And not just any gun. He walks in with the biggest AK-47 assault rifle, whatever it was, that I’ve ever seen in my life.
It starts becoming things that you read on TV or that you read in the newspaper and see on TV and see on social media. When it starts becoming that and it starts to affect you personally, then what? Because I never thought, you know, for as much as I protest, and I speak my mind and say all of these things about what’s going in the country, you never really think it’s going to hit that close to home. You never really think it’s going to be you, until it is.
And they later came out and said it was fate. And it was this and in all of these things. But I didn’t know that. And he did that. You know? And so, for me, you start looking and you start … It’s so much deeper for me. It’s so much more than just I see this, and I feel for these people or I sympathize with these people. No, I have a 16-year-old black male that I am responsible for. He’ll be 17 in September. He wants a car. How do I tell him we have to have conversations? It’s so funny because now they make these little pouches that you hang up in your car, and you put your driver’s license and your registration and your insurance in there. So, you don’t have to reach anywhere for anything when you’re pulled over by the cops.
Kelsey: We have to buy … My mom is like “Well, we might have to get Donovan one of those.” You look at Sterling Brown. He plays in the NBA. Who would ever think that he would be … That that could happen to him? Who would ever think that? You would think that if as a cop, you saw an NBA player or something like that, you wouldn’t do that. No, no one’s safe. No one, you know … And for me, it’s just so much bigger than just basketball. It’s so much bigger than being a WNBA player. We’re humans. We’re humans. And more so than being an NBA player, as a WNBA player, we’re even more human, where you hear more regular, you know, we’re even less sometimes protected in a sense because, at least as an NBA player or an NFL player, you still have your celebrity. We don’t all have that.
And so, to just be walking out of a mall, or to just be at school, or to just be in a movie theater, or to just be at church, let’s take the color out of it. As humans living in this country, where are we safe?
Lindsay: Right. And not for the reasons … The reasons we’re not safe aren’t for the reasons that some people in power right now like to, you know, think of it. You know? They like to demonize the black and brown bodies and say, “That’s why we’re not safe.” But in reality, that’s not what it is.
Kelsey: Lindsay, I grew up in a household with nothing but athletes. My mom’s side of the family, everybody ran track. The Olympics in my family were always a big deal. Like we cook, we watch them together, we hang out, like, you know, the Olympics are a … We watch every sport. They’re a big deal. My entire life, my pride in my country a lot of times has stemmed from that first experience with the Olympics. When you see somebody, you know, playing for their country and we win gold medals and to hear that national anthem. And I mean, at 15 years old when I got my first taste of USA basketball, oh, man. There was nothing better than being an American and to go to Thailand and Argentina and win gold medals and have the Star-Spangled Banner playing and all of those things.
I don’t feel that way anymore. I’m not proud of where I come from. I’m into politics, don’t get me wrong. I’m well aware. But it’s so hard to want to keep up and to want to know ’cause what I know for sure is that it’s not right. This started as something where I was concerned for my brother and my uncles and my dad, and you know. Now I’m concerned for me because if you would have told me at 16 that at 26, these were the type of things that I would be worried about and thinking about and concerned with, I would have laughed at you. And I’m definitely afraid to know what 36 is going to look like for me.
Lindsay: Right, yeah. At this point, it’s not going in a positive direction right now. That’s what I can tell you, yeah. Have you had any conversations …? We know that whereas I see someone like you taking a knee and protesting. I see you’re doing it for the country to make it better. Do you know what I mean? Like as a way … Is a form of patriotism, right? But we know that not everyone sees it that way. And that there’s, you know, all these false controversies. Has there been any conflicts? Or have you had any conversations about this with your teammates or with coach Bill?
Kelsey: It’s funny because I’m at the end of the line. I’m way down at the end by myself. And so, a lot of my teammates didn’t know until like yesterday that I’ve been kneeling because everybody … You know, some people pray, some people close their eyes, some people do their own thing. The lights are off and I’m at the end by myself. The only person who really knows is Lindsey who stands next to me. So what I will say that I’ve never had anyone say anything bad to me about … Not from 2016 to now. You know, the Aces have been … Our PR guy, Gigi, he came to me and he said “You know, I just want to make sure you know there could be some backlash. There could not. We don’t know how that’ll go, but we support you 100%. We fully have your back. You know, do your thing and we’re going to support you accordingly.”
Lindsay: Oh, that’s amazing.
Kelsey: Yes. For me,it hasn’t … You know, I’m not broadcasting it from the rooftops. I’m not, you know, making it anything because that’s not what it is for me. It’s a silent protest. I think it’s incredible what’s going on with Colin Kaepernick and with his case in the NFL and how that’s really playing out and the truth that we are finding out with that. And so, for me, it’s just … It’s a protest that he started that I could really get behind. And it’s something that I really believe in. And it’s something that everybody might not see it that way. And just because people don’t kneel it doesn’t mean that they don’t agree or anything like that. Everybody’s entitled to do their own thing. This just happens to be mine because it’s something that I feel, and I live, and I breathe daily.
Lindsay: You mentioned that the protest, the reason for the protest has morphed and changed a little bit. What are the three highlights that you want to make sure that do not get misconstrued about this protest? ‘Cause you’ve said … You know, you’ve touched on so many issues in this conversation. But sometimes we got to boil it down for people.
Kelsey: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Lindsay: So, what are your three bullet points?
Kelsey: I think my three bullet points with my protests are the initial concern and ’cause-
Lindsay: Which is police brutality, against-
Kelsey: Police brutality. I think that, to be honest with you, for me, that’s first and foremost. I think when that’s really one, two, and three, as far as my protest goes. Now, when I mentioned the other things that are going on, we are at this point, regardless of what you look like, we all should be protesting in some manner. But, in me kneeling and in me protesting the national anthem as it’s so eloquently put, I am doing that because people who look like me when they encounter the cops, there is always some form … There’s usually or there can be, in most cases, some form of brutality. Whether it’s warranted or not, there is a form of brutality. When that brutality happens, those cops are not being held accountable for their actions.
Lindsay: And that’s what is so often missing from this conversation. And when people throw back the well, you know, what about black on black crime? Or things like that.
Kelsey: No, because-
Lindsay: It’s the lack of accountability for the people who were doing it.
Kelsey: When Bobo kills Little Pooky on the corner, Bobo is going to jail for the rest of his life because he murdered Pooky.
Kelsey: Uh-huh. Yes. That’s what happens with black on black crime. When we kill each other, whoever did the killing is held accountable. Have you seen first for VA? They have a whole TV show about it. Okay. But when that lady cop in Oklahoma shot Terrence Crutcher, they put her on leave with pay. She got her job back. She got all kinds of things. But she murdered that man on tape.
Shireen: Moving on to the next segment, Brenda take us through de-colonizing politics at the World Cup.
Brenda: Or re-colonizing politics. I’m in the midst of my perpetual group stage crankiness. So warning because what happens is that European teams are going to eek their way out of these groups. And the African, Asian and Latin American ones will just slowly be chipped away. You know, minus Brazil, because the exception proves the rule, and Mexico just because holy shit Mexico’s amazing right now. We’d like to say that we did predict that here at “Burn It All Down”. And this all takes place … All this is taking place under the watchful eye of Vladimir Putin, Johnny Infantino and Sepp Blatter now visiting. Textbook definition of mafia just up there in their boxes overseeing this.
And football, or soccer, and we can talk about how we’re going to approach that word in the World Cup. It may have been invented in Europe, but it was perfected in South America. And let’s face it, it’s probably getting more perfect every day in Africa and Asia. And that’s why European leagues go and hunt down the talent that they do. So I have to say a little bit about colonialism and the World Cup and how it drives me bat shit crazy because in the middle of … In the beginning, it looks like things are going to be different. It really does. And I get so excited. I’m like “Oh, yes.” And of course, I’m still excited about Senegal. There’s still a lot going on.
But slowly, you know, what ends up happening is that teams who have had the kind of resources both by extracting labor from the colonies and by having, you know, a ton of cash to have real friendlies and whatnot over the years, will eventually prevail for the most part.
And then, the second part is the announcing. In the Anglo media, which is really influential, they’ve pretty much to type Latin Americans as diverse whiners and tricksters, Africans are undisciplined, but physical and rhythmic. And Asians are hardly talked about at all. So, you know, we can talk a little bit about that. But I just want to give you one example. The game, did you guys see the game of Brazil vs. Costa Rica?
Lindsay: I missed it.
Brenda: Okay, so it was two goals, extra time I was dead. I was dead. And it was a whiny match to begin with, right? And so, it was really physical and Neymar, for those of you that didn’t see it, Neymar exaggerated what may have been a foul. Right? And Devar, which is the real winner of this game, found it and they reversed it. And Marta, I just have to say Marta’s writing for The Guardian on the World Cup. So, if you’re not reading it, you should be.
Marta described it like this “Okay, the Costa Rica defender stopped the continuity of Neymar’s movement with a touch, but it was not enough to be called a penalty. Neymar didn’t try to stay up and fight against the defender, and therefore the touch was not enough to be considered a penalty.” Doesn’t that sound reasonable as an analysis? But the British clutched their pearls at The Guardian, saying “It was a turning point.” This is Barney Ronay of The Guardian “As Brazil defended a corner, Cooper’s, the Netherlands referee could be seen telling Brazil’s Captain to be quiet in a way that an exasperated father might speak to a sullen and spoiled teenager.”
And it’s got this a whole kind of colonial, you know, British rising, Empire stuff. It’s all getting kicked up here. So, I don’t know I’m just going to use that as a launching pad here. But it’s really complicated. And to see many of these stars having ties to former colonial nations like, you know, Boateng in Germany and then the two Belgian Congolese players from Romelu Lukaku and Michy Batshuayi-Atunga’s parents who are from … also from DR Congo. It’s difficult and meaningful at the same time to see these black men representing their countries, and yet still be subject to hateful racism. I don’t know. It’s a history of extraction that has gotten me all worked up. What do you guys think? Jess?
Jessica: Yeah, I don’t bring … Brenda, that was so good. I mean, I just think it’s always been really interesting to watch as soccer and Europe … Like as they … I mean, you’re watching them deal with their colonialism like on the pitch, right? The fact that, you know, I always think of Mario Batali and the hell that he has gone through in Italy, and it just … I don’t really have anything more brilliant than all those brilliant things Brenda just said about this. But it has been sort of a fascinating thing over the last couple of decades to watch these countries have to really take stock of their colonial past because it’s literally showing up on the football pitch, their most favorite place. And they don’t handle it very well most of the time. And I do feel very much for those players who have to face the brunt of that.
Shireen: Yeah. I sort of … Well, I love everything you both have said. But this idea of de-colonizing football or actually let’s even begin by recognizing what that looks like. In the last World Cup 2014, there was like I’m part of this Twitter fam, football Twitter, and Laurent DuBois actually shared a really interesting photo. If you took out the North African or West African immigrants from Teen Belgium, what would you have left? And this could be applied to Switzerland, this could be applied to France, most definitely. So, if you take that out, you know, and then it gets into this idea of who belongs where an identity, because with football and sometimes these European nations really cling to that.
Like, for example, they’ve been discussions in the last couple years in England of like high ranking managers and trainers saying they want “home grown”. What does that even mean? Because the majority of the stars in the English Premier League are not English. And you know what? That’s okay because like just this morning I actually tweeted out an article by Tony Karen, whose a friend of the show, about no England did not invent football and nobody stole it from England. Like calm down everybody. And you know, this whole idea of England been on the forefront. Like it sometimes is the bane of my existence and previously, I had never had to worry about England because there were an absolute no show on the international stage. But right, now they’re beating Panama six-one, and everyone feels like Harry Kane as the savior of football.
And it’s just making me … Here it is. I will borrow some of Brenda’s group stage irritation, but then we look back at it, too. Like the way that Danny Rose had to tell, and we talked about this on the show, had to tell his family not to go to Russia because he was worried about their safety. The way that Raheem Sterling has actually, you know, gone on record to say “I’m just helping my mom. She used to clean hotel rooms and we would get breakfast out of machine.” He was published in the Players’ Tribune. So please, mad props to the Players’ Tribune for publishing the voices of these incredible players.
Also Romelu Lukaku, who is an absolute beast, he published this really harrowing story about his life and why at six, it was important for him to, you know, do so well. And one of the most harrowing things of his piece, and he talks about this racism by these, you know, European countries, said that when he was doing well and playing Belgium, they would say, you know, “Lukaku, the Belgian superstar”. But when he didn’t do well, the media would say “Look at Lukaku, the Belgian of Congolese descent”.
So I mean, these are predictable things. Linds, you have something to add?
Lindsay: Yeah, I just wanted to kind of echo that Lukaku piece really moved me this week. I think we see it’s a way that you see racism play out is through these subtle ways. We either embrace or don’t embrace players of color within our teams and deciding when to other people and when to accept them. And that’s just such a subtle but powerful example. He also talked a lot in the piece about how many times, you know, he was taller, and he looked older when he was young. And he would have to carry his ID with him to prove that he was the same age. You know, that’s a form of racism too, of course.
And so, there is something beautiful about how the game brings people together. But at the same time, it forces you to be together and to look at the good and the bad that that brings because you have to face the fact that just the fact that everyone is standing there together competing on a pitch doesn’t mean that there’s true equality in how people are being treated. And it’s a way to examine all of that.
And as we talked before the World Cup, I think Brenda and I, you and I were talking about this in one of our previous episodes about how the kind of only way to deal with this is to kind of sit with it, right? You don’t want to ignore it. You don’t want to look the other way. You need to sit with the problems that this exposes, and the colonialism and the racism in the times that those are often one and the same.
Shireen: Moving on to our favorite segment, the Burn Pile. Brenda, would you like to go first?
Brenda: Sure, nice seat to be in. I am burning the flack that Landon Donovan received this week when he announced his support for Mexico. We’ve already talked about this week and the meaning of this week and the charge that it has and the devastation that we feel and frustration and paralysis, too. So that’s the context. We know it. There’s also something, you know, kind of crappy about the fact that Landon Donovan is like teaming up with a sponsor, Wells Fargo, to kind of, you know, get money for supporting them, but like who cares? So, before we get too excited about it.
But in his announcement he did, you know, point to why he felt as though it made sense for him to support Mexico. And the debate that ensued that followed the announcement lost a lot of the criticism about sponsorship. So, it veers into patriotic chauvinism. But basically, thing about Landon Donovan. He plays for Club Leon. He grew up in Southern California, right? Or I think so, or spend a lot of time there. He speaks Spanish. And Mexico happens to be the most popular national team in the US, even when the US qualifies. So, you know, and Donovan explicitly pointed to the terrible human rights abuses going on, you know, largely to Mexicans, not only children being placed in detention centers separated from their parents.
And you’re gonna tell me and Landon that we should root for anyone other than Chicharito because of what? The US is awesomeness? And former US player, Coby Jones told Landon “You don’t see …” Like it’s in this tweet war, whatever. “You don’t see Brazil rooting for Argentina.” It’s like Kobe Jones, you have spent no time in Brazil because that totally depends on who they’re playing. If Argentina’s playing England or Spain, you’re going to see plenty in Brazil rooting for Argentina. So like whatever. I want to just burn the knee-jerk nationalism and ignorance in response to Landon Donovan’s decision to support the most popular soccer team in the United States, which is El Tri, Mexico. Burn.
Lindsay: Yeah, I want to burn Nike this week. And honestly, I apologize in advance if I get emotional. I’m talking about this. I’ve been at a 12 on a scale of one to 10 this week. So last week, I talked about president John Engler at Michigan State University, who had written emails describing Rachel Denhollander, the first victim to come forward with accusations against Nassar as essentially a grifter, who was in this for kickbacks. The beginning of this week, 150 survivors of assault at the hands of Nassar wrote an open letter to the Board of Trustees at Michigan State University saying it’s time for John Engler to go. You need to fire John Engler.
At the same time, word came out that President Engler had tried to shut down a Student Alumni magazine new edition that was dedicated to survivors of sexual assault because he wanted to focus on the future and the positive things that Michigan State is doing. And so, he’s completely changed the editorial direction of that newspaper when he saw the color teal being used throughout the news. The … sorry, I keep saying newspaper, I mean magazine. He saw the color teal being used throughout the magazine, which is the color that Nassar survivors and allies have been using to show their solidarity. He said, “Get that teal shit out of here.” So, you have the survivors, 150 of them, putting their name on a letter calling for this man, who has no business being in this job, to be fired by the Board of Trustees. Only two of the eight board of trustees have said that they support Nassar.
I, in my frustration, started thinking why aren’t more people speaking out? Why aren’t more influential stakeholders in the Michigan State community talking about this? Why are people not marching on that campus daily? And I’m not talking to students and alumni there, or the students and professors there because many of them are speaking up. I’m talking Magic Johnson, where are you? You know? The notable alumni. This is absolutely ridiculous.
So, I called up Nike. Nike likes to do a lot of things for sexual assault survivors. And Nike happens to be the clothing apparel sponsor of Michigan State athletics. Nike back in January said that they were very concerned, that they stood by these survivors and they said, “You know, we’re closely monitoring the situation.”
So, I want to see what’s happening now. So, I contacted their media people and said specifically “Do you support the 150 survivors and their call for Engler to be fired?” Their quote to me was “We stand behind all survivors and support their voices being heard. We continue to closely monitor events at Michigan State University.” Burn. That is not acceptable. You cannot say on one breath, we stand behind all survivors. And yet, at this crucial moment, at this crucial juncture right before a Board of Trustees meeting, which happened on Friday where they did refuse again to fire Engler, you cannot say that you stand behind survivors if you are not speaking out against this man, who is antagonizing survivors on the campus. So, I just … It makes me so mad, I could talk about this for a really long time but, burn. Just burn it all down.
Jessica: Burn. Burn.
Shireen: I’m going to go next. And this is a burn about not making sports political. And this is the instruction coming from FIFA. So, I’m burning, yes again, or actually taking FIFA out of the permanent incinerator here at “Burn It All Down” and then putting them back in there because that’s where they belong. I’m just re-emphasizing.
So basically, what happened was, Switzerland played Serbia yesterday. And two players, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri are both of Albanian-Kosovar descent. Now what ended up happening was they ended up winning two-one against Serbia, and they came from behind. Serbia was up one-nothing. And then, Switzerland came back with this absolutely beautiful stunners. And Xhaka’s goal was incredible. It was a screamer. It was incredible shot that just curled and was magnificent. So that was, you know, joyous.
Immediately following his goal, Xhe did a celebration that looked like, you know, when you’re little and you make that bird gesture, which is actually the Albanian Eagle sign, which is a sign of freedom. And, you know, Serbia doesn’t actually recognize Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008. Now, the thing is both being of that descent, it was deemed … And Shaqiri did the same thing afterwards. So now FIFA has decided after Serbia basically said that … Serbia basically went and tattletaled. There were salty about their loss and said that this was unacceptable. It was a political maneuver, because, you know, remember, football can’t be political. There’s no politics in football. Although in the beginning the entire tournament, we saw Mohammed bin Salah sitting with Putin with Infantino in between and all of us wanted to throw up because that’s how disgustingly political it was.
Now, anyway, these two will be fined for that gesture, for acknowledging their home country, their homeland. And the thing is, you can absolutely represent a country and have an identity in another place. I mean, I said this that hearts and minds don’t adhere to man-made borders. It is very possible to love and live in Canada and have your heart in Pakistan. I know this, this is my existence. So, to fault someone for, in a moment of joy, who are celebrating, you know, it was so frustrating for me. And then what ended up happening was one of FIA’s assistant coaches of Serbia felt that Serbia was being wrongly persecuted just like the war criminals were at The Hague. He actually said that.
Jessica: Oh my god.
Shireen: Yeah. So, I was sitting there going, Okay, so this is a sort of a burden for FIFA but definitely a burn for that comment because I was aghast. I mean, the Massacre in Srebrenica is documented. It is harrowing. It’s just unbelievable. So, to take that and then say, you know, you can’t make football political, like burn it all down.
Yeah, so it’s like I almost want to apologize that I’m even bringing this up. I was not gonna even talk about this, but then I’ll explain why I got really mad. Okay. So, it was announced this week that Tampa Bay Buccaneer quarterback Jameis Winston would be suspended three games in this upcoming season. And this is all related to a March 216 incident when he took an Uber in Scottsdale, Arizona and according to that Uber driver, a woman, he sexually assaulted her when he groped her while they were going through a drive through.
Now, it’s possible that the suspension is not because of what he did that night, but rather that he didn’t report it to the NFL when it happened. But it’s not totally clear about all that. But either way, he’s gonna sit at the beginning of the season. And before I go on, I just want to know that the driver did report this to Uber at the time and they went ahead and suspended Winston’s account. So, the company Uber, which is pretty garbage, really good with believe the driver, right?
So, the thing was that Winston was with two other men that night, his former FSU teammate Ronald Darby, who came out in Winston’s defense once the story broke, saying that the two men were actually in the backseat of the car. So, he couldn’t have done it, right? And they did say there was a third man. He was unnamed. And so, the idea then, the implication is that the woman had confused who was in the front seat. We finally found out this week of the third person was Brandon Banks, a former football player at Vanderbilt. Banks has come forward to say that Winston had actually taken a second Uber ride that night alone and Banks’ attorney said that his client decided to come forward with this information because “It appeared that Winston was trying to lay this on Brandon.” And the NFL investigation found that Darby Ronald’s RV, the other guy, but his account was unreliable because he wasn’t with Winston the whole time in the Uber.
Okay, so some notes on this. First, this is the second time that Ronald Darby has served as a witness for Winston because he was with Winston in December of 2012, when a woman reported that Winston raped her when they were all students at Florida State. Winston was never charged or found responsible in that case, but it’s important to always note that the Tallahassee Police Department barely investigated, and it took two years for FSU to hold a Title Nine hearing about that case.
The other man, Brandon Banks, is currently in prison serving a 15-year sentence because he was one of four Vanderbilt players convicted of a June 2013 gang rape of a fellow student. In March 2016, when all of this went down, two of those four men were about to be re-tried after a mistrial where they were both convicted. Banks was out on bond awaiting his trial. Details of that case were readily available. I had written a feature about it for Sports Illustrated in early 2015. I don’t know how to explain how I felt when I was reading about this on Friday and I saw Brandon Banks’ name and I can’t even really put it into words. It was that moment where I was like I know this. I know this person’s name. I think I know it from this other case. And I did that like scrolling because, of course, the piece I was reading didn’t get around to that aspect of Brandon Banks until like midway through.
I don’t really even know … I feel like I don’t have anything coherent to say about these three men together that night and their relationship to this, whatever you know, what happened to this woman that night. I don’t have anything coherent. I just want to burn all of this. Like everything about that is just what do you even say to it? But I wanted to put all that context out there and then I wanted to burn it.
Lindsay: Geez. Good god.
Jessica: So burn.
Shireen: Burn. Disgusting.
So now we go on to some happy shout outs to incredible people. Honorable mentions this week are for Cheryl Reeve, who gets her 200th win as coach. Claressa Shields for getting knocked down for the first time and going on to defeat Hannah Gabriels to hold on to her title. Caster Semenya deciding to legally fight the “testosterone rule” of IAAF in court. Malaysian football freestyler Qhouirunnisa’ Endang Wahyudi for her amazing football juggling skills and she’s going viral. And can I get a drum roll please?
Group: [drumroll sounds]
Shireen: Oh, god.
Shireen: That’s so funny. I’m like really? Can we not get a drum roll sound? No, we love it. Baddest women of the week is South Africa’s world class wheelchair tennis player, Kgothatso Montjane, and she’ll become the first black woman to ever play the Wimbledon tennis championship. She’s received a wild card invitation to playing Wimbledon for her first grass event.
Lindsay: Yay. That’s great.
Shireen: So awesome.
Now what’s good, Brenda? Tell me what is good.
Brenda: I’m going canoeing.
Brenda: I love canoeing and it’s a canoe season for me, meaning the kids are out of school. And it’s semi-warm. So, I’m looking forward to going in the Adirondacks this coming week and forcing my children to paddle around a river.
Lindsay: Yeah, this really isn’t positive. But one of my best friends in DC is moving on Wednesday. Moving to LA. So, I just … we, if I’m a little weary this morning, it’s because we were celebrating yesterday and I’ll be helping her move this week. And so just want to say, I’m going to miss you, Crema and London. Her boyfriend London and you know just made me reflect that I happily met … I’ve been in DC for almost three years and I met some pretty amazing people and definitely sad to see a couple of them go.
But it is exciting, always exciting to see your friends move on to new things.
Shireen: Amazing. What’s good for me. World Cup, Just the euphoria and I was sitting in a restaurant yesterday with some people I love. And we were just commenting how that match between Germany and Sweden and that one moment when Germany scored an extra time and like absolutely dashed the hopes of Sweden and everyone hating on Germany, myself included. It was just that one moment that unified so many people in the world. And I was sort of getting philosophical about it and thinking that one moment literally amassed emotion from so many billions of people in the world and how it can connect us. So then, this assuring half glass, full Ahmed thinking this can really unite us in emotion and that made me feel like a thinker. So basically, I’m Plato when it comes to this kind of stuff.
Jessica: Yeah, you are.
Shireen: No. So more like Marx. But anyways, I think in addition to this World Cup frenzy and stuff, my son is graduating from grade eight this week. He bought a suit, which was very exciting because he’s like six foot three and like 110 pounds. So, it’s really hard to get him a shirt that fit. But we managed to do that. His like the shirt size is like 13 and a half with a 37 sleeve. It was like so hard to find him something but thank god we did. I’m really excited about that.
And my oldest son is had a rough week. He had a friend who suffered from heart failure and who’s 17 and was hospitalized, and as doing much better now. And hopefully, knock on wood, will be well enough, if possible, to attend the prom with his friends this week. So, I’ve gotta want two kids graduating, which is the kind of mama heartstrings being pulled. I will try not to cry at the grade eight graduation. I’m making no promises. Jess?
Jessica: Yeah, so multiple things. I really enjoy summer. I just I like the pace. I took my kid to see Kesha on Friday. And that was great. He’s getting too cool for me though, so he wouldn’t stand up and dance with me. But I did it on my own and it was wonderful. And then I wanted to mention quickly there’s two recent comedy specials that I watched. Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette, which is on Netflix and Camera Esposito’s Rape Jokes, which is available on Esposito site, which is CameronEsposito.com. They both take on how we do comedy. They’re both queer women and they’re both poignant, but they’re hilarious and they really knocked me on my ass but like in a good way. For Nanette, you definitely want tissues ready if you’re anything like me. But they’re brilliant and I really recommend them to everybody.
So that’s it for this week in “Burn It All Down”. “Burn It All Down” is on SoundCloud, but can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and Tune-In. We appreciate your reviews and feedback, so please subscribe and rate us to let us know what we did well and how we can improve. You can find us on Facebook at Burn It All Down. On twitter at BurnItAllDownPod or on Instagram at BurnItAllDownPod. You can email us at email@example.com. And check out our website at www.burnitalldownpod.com, where you will find previous episodes, transcripts and a link to our Patreon. We would appreciate you subscribing, sharing and rating our show, which helps us do the work we love to do and keep burning what needs to be burn. On behalf of Brenda, Jessica and Lindsay, I’m Shireen and thank you so much for joining us this week.