Dishonorable flag bearing for Team USA

Alison Macbeth-Anchor Contributor

This past Friday as Team USA marched in South Korea’s Olympic Parade of the Nations, a familiar face was missing – Shani Davis. Competing in his fifth Winter Olympics, Davis, 35, has already achieved great things. Not only is he the first African American to make the U.S. speedskating team, but he also is the first black Winter Olympian to win an individual gold medal.

While the Winter Olympics continue to be an overwhelmingly white occasion, it’s refreshing to see Team USA expanding in its diversity. Yet, Davis wasn’t there representing this diversity at the Opening Ceremony. There were rumors that Davis had training, but an earlier tweet on Thursday indicated a different reason.

When the U.S. Olympic officials announced that Davis had lost the coin flip to be the U.S. flag bearer at the opening ceremony, Davis took the opportunity to express this “dishonorable” act of Team USA on Twitter.

He included #BlackHistoryMonth at the end of his tweet with “No problem. I can wait until 2022.”

Let’s get this straight. In each of the eight Olympic federations – biathlon, bobsled and skeleton, curling, hockey, figure skating, ski and snowboarding, luge, and speedskating – Team USA members vote for their choice of nominee. If there is a tie, then a coin toss determines the flagbearer.

Davis lost a 4-4 tie to a white woman, Erin Hamlin, who is a four-time Olympian and the first U.S. woman to win a medal in the Olympic history of the luge. Is that “dishonorable”?

Last Winter Olympics it was Davis who complained about the skating suits saying it caused the U.S. speedskating team’s failure. At the same time, Davis is known for training separately from his team. Although Davis’ motivation and success are an inspiring addition to Team USA, his attitude is outshining his achievements.

I’m sorry Davis didn’t get to be the flagbearer in order to carry on the legacy of Black History Month. But Davis, please don’t pollute #BlackHistoryMonth with your complaining. The coin toss is an Olympic standard to break a tie.

It was fair and honorable – and I’m sure Davis wouldn’t be calling this Olympic decision dishonorable if he had won. Plus, who said he couldn’t be the flagbearer for the closing ceremony?

Photo courtesy of thedailybeast.com

Capitalism is racist

Derek Sherlock-Anchor Staff

The other day, a video came up that I posted a few years ago on my Facebook page of the late and amazing comedian Richard Pryor. He was being interviewed and he made a comment about what television executives are afraid he would do: stopping racism. He went on to talk about the root of racism being capitalism, in his eyes. After several viewings of that very short clip from back in the 1980’s, it got me thinking about that very same idea.

I feel that there are some merits to his theory. Prior to the birth of the middle class in the United States, poor white men and women and black men and women could be seen socializing with one another. Once the middle class was created, those same white men and women began to view themselves as superior to their once equals. This was brought up in my American History class last semester. This surprised me because it seemed like a fairly blatant beginning of American racism.

The upper class created the middle class so they could create a division between whites and people of color. This way, the upper class could continue being dominant and rule over everyone else, and we have continued to buy into this belief. Which can also be tied into class as well, but that is a whole completely different article.

How many of you have looked at someone who is begging on the side of a highway exit or saw a person sleeping in the park, and thought that you were better than them just because you’re a college student or you have a car or a job? What could we do to combat this intersectionality between capitalism and racism?

Well, that is where things can go in many different directions. We could go a completely radical way in that we destroy capitalism and establish a socialist/communist sort of society, and then over time we put an end to racism. There is also a way that is more liberal, in that we create a political party that dismantles the negative aspects of capitalism while leaving the positive aspects of it.

I personally tend to go a little more towards dismantling the whole capitalist system that we have had for years and put something in its place. The only question is, what system could go in its place? We need to destroy these social constructs, and over a few generations, we will hopefully see less racism.

Black history every month

Lauren Enos-Assistant Opinions Editor

I remember learning about the Civil Rights Movement in school growing up. It was predictable. It came around the same time every year, and we generally learned about the same people, places, and events.

It is an integral part of our nation’s history that is celebrated during the month of February. In schools especially, students learn about the contributions that African Americans have made in every sector of American life. It’s vital that we have this month set aside to recognize not only the great things that African Americans have contributed, but also to recognize their suffering at our hands.

This suffering isn’t over, contrary to what some may want to believe. Racism is very much still alive and thriving in America. And the more we talk about these issues, the more opportunities we have to work toward solutions. We start this process earlier by talking honestly with students about tough topics like slavery and segregation. This is why we need to start doing that every month, not just February.

My early education gave me a glimpse of the struggles that African Americans faced throughout the entire history of our country, but it didn’t continue that conversation. We talked about these issues of prejudice as if they had been eradicated. While it is called Black History Month, we never ventured far from learning anything other than black history. We didn’t read many books by black authors, or at least we were never told they were black. The same holds true for musicians, artists, scientists, and historians. We need to celebrate all of these black people and tell children they are black. We need to celebrate their blackness, not just tolerate it. African Americans’ influence is far and wide, much more so than I ever knew as a child.

We don’t need to wait until February to talk about the effects of prejudice, racism, and ignorance. We don’t need to wait until February to read books written by black authors or written about black characters, listen to music created by black artists, or hear speeches delivered by iconic civil rights leaders. We don’t need to wait until February to include the people that make up our country, and we certainly shouldn’t stop after that, either.

Activism in 2018––there’s still a lot of work to do

Catherine Enos-Opinions Editor

Photo couresty of Mladen Antonov via Getty Images

In the 1960s, America saw a period of rapid change. This rapid change, the Civil Rights movement, was a movement for black Americans to gain equal rights in all aspects of life. The Civil Rights was largely successful—systematic segregation was made illegal beginning with Brown v. Board of Education and “ending” with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Despite all of the changes that have happened for the better, there’s still work to be done. It’s astounding to hear someone say that they think we live in a “post-racial” society or say something like “America has made up for slavery.” It’s shocking that people can believe this in a country where unarmed black men are shot by police in questionable circumstances. And it’s shocking that the president of our country spews racial hatred regularly.

Not only is this shocking but it’s unacceptable. And that’s why people are protesting. Two prominent activist groups include Black Lives Matter and the Free Hugs Project. BLM is not strictly an activist group, but is a network of people that share the same ideals. Free Hugs Project, which is a smaller group, was founded to “de-escalate” tensions during protests.

Though the message of BLM is often vastly misunderstood by white people (BLM does not mean white people’s lives don’t matter), the activists do a great job at getting things done. They have lead successful awareness campaigns, as well as influenced important decisions. Free Hugs Project doesn’t explicitly fight for certain ideals, but does promote them through kindness.

Maybe one day, in a perfect world, all of the wonderful things that these organizations do will go recognized and racial issues will see a decline. Sadly, that day doesn’t seem like it’s arriving any time soon. Until that day, it’s important that people continue to fight for justice.

I don’t know who you are, Scott Gibbons, but stop emailing me

Catherine Enos-Opinions Editor

Photo couresty of wordpress.com

Why can you unsubscribe from one of your professor’s emails but not from Scott Gibbons “sportsblast” newsletters? This is the burning question on everyone’s mind at RIC, or at least on my mind. There is nothing more irritating than unsolicited emails, especially emails that you don’t care about and can’t unsubscribe from. Yet RIC allows an overwhelming amount of newsletters to go out to students that inundate their inboxes and bury important emails that are for actual academic matters.

I attend college because I want a degree—everything else is secondary. Newsletters that go out a few times a month have a sufficient amount of information for students (even if they want to be more involved and know more than I do) and provide a lot of information about all of the things going on on campus. And there is an option to unsubscribe to those if you really are not interested in anything on campus.

Being uninterested in school events is okay. A large percentage of our students at RIC are commuters and have jobs off-campus. Many of us simply do not have extra time to spend on campus doing non-academic things. It’s also okay to feel the opposite way– attending on-campus events can be fun sometimes.

My issue is not school sports. I think it’s great that administration is so supportive of and enthusiastic about school sports and athletes. But maybe there’s such a thing as too enthusiastic. Just searching the name “Scott Gibbons” on my Outlook account has 21 hits since Nov. 1, and 3 of those have been sent out in the first 8 days of the month.

Maybe a better platform for this constant regurgitation of information would be Twitter or Facebook. They could easily promote it in the Student Activity briefs and that way, people that are interested can see this information when they want to see it. Or, maybe they could make the emails less frequent and perhaps unsubscribe-able.

Dunkin Donuts forging a greener path

Lauren Enos-Assistant Opinions Editor

Dunkin’ Donuts just announced that it will be phasing out its polystyrene cups by 2020. Dunkin’ is the second largest coffee chain in the world, (matadornetwork.com) meaning it probably has a fairly large contribution of waste to the world’s landfills.

Polystyrene foam cups aren’t recyclable or biodegradable, so it’s best to eliminate their use as much as possible in favor of more economically-friendly alternatives. By taking initiative to remove the cups from their stores, Dunkin’ is showing that they care about the environment, just like their customers. Hopefully, Dunkin’ is only the first of many to make the change to more environment-friendly packaging.

Dunkin’ isn’t just the one of the major coffee chains in the United States, but around the world. Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Costa Coffee and even McCafe all dole out coffees to customers all around the world, each and every day. That’s a lot of cups! Not all of them use the foam cups, but I’m sure that they could improve their packaging to be more environmentally-conscious in some way. Dunkin’ has another great initiative that allows you to bring a reusable mug and get a coffee for just ninety-nine cents.

With more people becoming aware of the dire situation our environment is in, the more they want environmentally-friendly products. Consumers may be more likely to buy Dunkin’ products knowing that they are trying to be more environmentally-conscious. Hopefully this is the case and will start a chain reaction. Hopefully customers start bringing their business to Dunkin and other conscious chains for their more environment-friendly products. Other companies will try to appeal to the growing community of consumers that are concerned about the environment.

It would only benefit businesses to make changes towards recyclable products, and I hope Dunkin’ Donuts’ initiative demonstrates this so other companies can follow suit.

Do you have a phone charger I could borrow?

Derek Sherlock-Anchor Staff

Picture it: Gaige Hall, Monday afternoon, sitting in math class. I realized my cellphone’s battery was extremely low and I didn’t have my charger. I searched for one, but since I have an odd charger, finding one was nearly impossible. That is the reality for some of us commuters.

We sit in classes all day, some might even work on campus, and don’t have the opportunity to leave campus until late at night. Sometimes we forget our phone chargers and we’re stuck with a dead phone on the drive home, which could be dangerous. Last year, there were a few cell phone charging stations throughout campus, which was very convenient. The one in the Donovan Dining Center was removed last semester. Now the library is the only building that has one of these stations, to my knowledge. Maybe it’s time for RIC to bring these charging stations to more than just one building.

Having them in all of the buildings will ensure that if a student forgets their charger at home, they can charge it in case of emergencies. The same could be said for residents. Maybe they find themselves over on East campus for a class or they’re working out and their phone is dying. These charging stations could be used in a pinch so that they are able to have a phone to use on their way back to their dorm.

In some of the busier buildings, such as Gaige, Donovan, or Adams Library, we could have charging lockers. These mini lockers could have multiple charging cables for a variety of different phones, and would only require a small payment of a dollar or two. That way, you can have your phone charging in a locker and only you have the key. This would ensure that no one else is able to take your phone while it’s charging. I know I am not the only student on this campus who didn’t think their phone would die, so they didn’t bring along their phone charger. Honestly, this will help so many students from asking around, searching for a charger, only to be able to charge it for 5 minutes before having to run to their next class.

Rhode Island College needs to bring some more charging stations or charging lockers to campus. Not only for someone to charge their phone to then post on Facebook, but also for someone to be able to make a phone call in case there is an emergency.

Separating the work from its creators

Ariella Jeter-Anchor Contributor

Throughout modern history, sexual harassment and assault has been a topic most people undermine the seriousness of, or just completely ignore altogether. Recently, many women have been speaking out against their offenders, especially well-known ones including Harvey Weinstein, James Franco, Paul Haggis, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Andrew Kreisberg, Ed Westwick, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey and even Ben Affleck.

These accusations bring up an important question: can one still enjoy works of art that contain or are created by these accused abusers? The simple answer to this question would be no, but considering this not a simple question, there is no simple answer.

I guess it all depends on the person. I, myself, have never truly been sexually harassed or assaulted so I am not familiar with the trauma that comes with it. I would most likely be able to sit down and watch Matt Lauer on the Today Show and be okay with it. I would probably think about how I do not support him being on the show or how wrong I think he is for doing what he did, but it would not anger me as much as it would anger someone who has actually been in a victim’s shoes.

If I were a sexual assault victim or knew someone who was, I could never watch “The Today Show,” or any piece of work created by a perpetrator again. It would fill me with anger and I would be baffled by the injustice.

I think the way we treat well-known males who commit a sexual assault/harassment act in America is actually disgusting and degrading towards women. Their money, power and status gave them a pass to do whatever they’ve wanted for years. They are regular people who deserves the same punishment as anyone else regardless of their status. These assaulters have caused people physical and emotional pain.

So, can one still enjoy works of art that contain/created by these accused abusers? I don’t actually know. I wish the answer was a complete and positive no, but in today’s society, even with the fight for equality justice, some people really just do not care. In their eyes, who that actor, director, etc is portraying is not the person who made the assault.

The trouble with Tinder

Samantha Scetta-Business Manager

Graphic courtesy of worldvector.com

Throughout high school and college, many teachers and professors will inevitably drill the importance of “networking” into young minds as if it is the root that will grow the bountiful plants of your entire future. Networking is a great way to advance your career and make academic connections, but as far as dating goes, we should leave our networking skills for the office.

Networking has spilled into the game of dating, and we match with each other using online algorithms in a similar way we match into our best fit graduate program or job.

The trouble with Tinder and similar online dating platforms is that instead of experiencing the sometimes awkward and messy encounters with a prospective partner, a computer program does it in a much “simpler” and calculated way. This forced matching system completely erases some of the best parts of getting to know each other naturally, which can lead to relationships lacking in depth and intimacy.

Of course, there is only so much we can learn about another person from a social network. After chatting online for a couple of days, the person we meet in real time might be nothing like we expect, because online social media profiles tend to force us to make judgements about people that we have yet to meet based on the image they want to present. Unlike other popular dating websites, such as eHarmony or Match.com, Tinder is much quicker and accessible to any person interested in quick flings or even a life partner for absolutely zero dollars down.

Tinder is less profile-centered and more image centered, making the atmosphere largely looks-centered, which is why it is incredibly popular with college students looking for a purely sexual relationship. Even if one is looking for a relationship solely centered around sexual interactions, Tinder ruins the fun of searching for a partner and practically shoves one down your throat with each swipe of the finger.

Like much else in our modern world, dating has become watered down and artificial for those that use online networks to find partners. Swiping, matching, and chatting is definitely more convenient than approaching someone and asking for their number or giving them a compliment, but nowhere near as meaningful.

The case for safe injection sites

Catherine Enos-Opinions Editor

Philadelphia recently announced that they plan to open safe injection sites, which is an area that offers clean syringes and supervision by trained naloxone administrators to people with addictions. Following this announcement, the Rhode Island Medical Society decided that it was time to explore the idea to open one of these sites in our own state.

Already, people have been quick to judge. One of the most common things opponents of this say is “why are we paying for an addiction, which people can control, when there are people dying of cancer (or another deadly disease) that they can’t control?” Why do people feel the need to pit two illnesses against one another? Addiction may start with one decision, but it’s not a lifestyle that someone consciously chooses. To say that addiction is a choice is a very misinformed perspective to take. Yes, it’s wrong that people have to pay outrageous bills for their cancer treatment, but if the state can pay a small cost to save people’s lives, it’s not an opportunity we should brush off so quickly.

Typically, syringes cost less than a dollar. And naloxone, the medication that can reverse an overdose, costs around $30 (goodrx.com). If both of these are readily available for addicts, it could save their lives. In addition, it could save taxpayers a great deal of money. If an uninsured drug user goes to the emergency room to treat an overdose or some infection/disease they contracted from using a non-sterile syringe, this could cost a couple thousand dollars. Clean syringes and naloxone are cheaper in the long run. On top of the syringes and trained professionals, it’s possible that these sites could also offer resources to help addicts kick the habit.  

Ultimately, the government will need to do more to open rehabilitation centers, which America is sorely lacking in. Until we learn how to deal with the rampant opioid crisis, safe injection sites are the cheapest and most effective alternative in reducing drug-user related deaths.