All posts by emilykelson1

The IOC will not Allow Athletes to Protest at Tokyo Games

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently announced that athletes will not be allowed to protest on medal podiums or field of play. I’m not convinced that Olympic officials have the right to make this decision. When the decision pertains to the health of athletes and the organization of events, then their word is the law. However, freedom of assembly has nothing to do with sports.

Many countries have freedom of speech, but less specify freedom of assembly. There are over 20 countries that have this particular right and all of them participate in the Summer Olympics. The officials made this decision, seemingly, in response to Black Lives Matter protests, which have grown significantly in the last year. However, consider the fact that in the last year there have been massive civil rights protests worldwide.

For example, the women’s strike protests in Poland. Since October 2020, women in Poland have been at the forefront of the fight for their bodily autonomy. I won’t say that no one in the United States is talking about this, because that’s not true. However, understandably, the strike has not been top news. When you compete at the Olympics, you’re given a rare chance to address the entire world. Think of the support that could be generated for important civil rights issues if people were allowed to use this world stage.

On a recent episode of The Right Time with Bomani Jones, Bomani Jones had this to say about the IOC’s decision, “You guys are setting yourselves up for disaster. You have decided that you are going to create martyrs.” Bomani goes on to make the point that, after someone has won the gold medal, there isn’t much for them to lose. The IOC could take the physical medal away from the athlete, but the entire world would already know that you’ve won. People are going to stand up for what is right and what is important to them regardless.

If the Olympics are being held in a country that does not allow freedom of assembly, then they can deal with their own athletes, and other countries can deal with their athletes in accordance with their laws. I recognize Olympic officials have a tough job. It has to be difficult setting rules when you’re trying to accommodate over 200 countries with different laws. I am simply suggesting that they make their lives easier and keep the decision making to athletics.

Bearded dragons are great pets. Are you a great owner?

This article from PETA, “Bearded Dragons for Sale? They—Like All Other Reptiles—Are Not ‘Pets.’” Is missing so much valuable information.

I do agree that bearded dragons are not starter pets, and they require a lot of research before committing. That is where my agreement ends, however. The tone of this article is incredibly negative and only offers you two choices. Either you don’t own a bearded dragon and you’re responsible or you do and you’re a cruel person.

They include a list of 6 bearded dragon facts. The very first one is, “Bearded dragons eat crickets. As the guardian of a bearded dragon, your life will include many trips to the pet store to buy these crickets, who will often escape into your home and chirp all night.”

For starters, obviously, if you don’t want to deal with bugs don’t get a bearded dragon. If your only issue is crickets, don’t worry. They aren’t your only option. Bearded dragons love Dubai roaches, which are higher in protein and live a lot longer than crickets. Horned worms are an excellent source of hydration and super worms are a great source of protein. Super worms can be bought in larger quantities and they’re easier to keep alive. However, if you have super worms in your bearded dragon’s diet be sure you’re keeping them hydrated because their skin can be difficult to digest.

The next bullet point on the list says that they’re illegal to own in Hawaii. That only applies to people in Hawaii and doesn’t add to the argument on either side. The next point is that bearded dragons can lay eggs. There are ways that you can deal with this and make your bearded dragon comfortable. Typically, you’ll want to provide your female with a dig box. After she lays her eggs make sure you have some yummy bugs for her and give her some space. Some females enjoy taking a warm bath after they lay their eggs. 

Next, they bring up that there are foods that are toxic to bearded dragons. There are also foods that are toxic to dogs and cats. You need to do your research. There are plenty of foods that aren’t toxic. PETA mentions not feeding them avocado. That’s fine, you can feed them squash, zucchini, bell peppers, arugula, collard greens, swiss chard, radicchio, mustard greens, dandelion greens, wild dandelions, endives, romaine lettuce, and many other leafy greens and vegetables. There are even some fruits that bearded dragons enjoy, but fruit should be a treat for special occasions. Mine loves bananas and would probably eat them every day if I let him.

The rest of the list and the article discusses issues that you could easily fix by doing your research before buying a bearded dragon. That’s really what being a responsible owner comes down to, research. Not just research into bearded dragon care but also of the place you’re going to purchase them from. Places like PetSmart and Petco don’t have a great reputation when it comes to caring for bearded dragons, but they aren’t your only option. If you live in or around the Twin Cities, Twin Cities Reptiles in Saint Paul is amazing. They treat their animals with respect, and the employees are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful.

My last warning is that owning a bearded dragon can be expensive so consider whether you can take on the financial responsibility. Bearded dragons themselves aren’t expensive, but you have to factor in the cost of the enclosure, proper lighting, food, and veterinary bills. There’s a lot to know and that may feel overwhelming, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for bearded dragons to live good lives as pets.

People with Disabilities Should be Paid (at least) Minimum Wage

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed to prohibit discrimination based on disability. However, there are loopholes that some taken advantage of. I want to specifically mention the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA provided employers with the opportunity to fill out the 14 (c) certificate which allows them to pay people with disabilities less than minimum wage.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides for the employment of certain individuals at wage rates below the minimum wage. These individuals include student-learners (vocational education students), as well as full-time students employed by retail or service establishments, agriculture, or institutions of higher education. Also included are individuals whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by a physical or mental disability, including those related to age or injury, for the work to be performed.

I do not believe in paying anyone less than minimum wage. It is not unusual to request equal pay for doing the same job. For example, 18.0 percent of people with a disability were employed in the service industry in 2020 compared with 15.4 percent of people without a disability. They may have been more likely; however, the service industry is where many people find employment. You probably either work or have worked in the service industry or someone you know has.

A few points to consider are, people with disabilities often have more day-to-day expenses than people without disabilities. Additionally, costs of healthcare are typically more expensive. Of course, all costs are dependent on the persons needs. Yet, on average, a household with an adult with a disability spends $17,690 more each year than a household without to achieve the same standard of living.

There are policies and legislation in place to try and mitigate the costs, however, according to research conducted by the National Disability Institute, “Whatever the measure of poverty that is used, individuals with disabilities are more likely to be poor than their nondisabled peers.” This implies that current policies and legislation are not effective. The first inch towards the first step is paying people with disabilities a livable wage.

Finally, people with disabilities deserve the opportunity for a dignified and productive life. They are less likely to be employed, yet, still they’re more likely to be working when they’re 65 or older. Everyone should have access to the tools they need to live comfortably. This has just been an entry level discussion of this issue. I highly encourage all of us to continue learning about this issue and support policy makers that prioritize people with disabilities.

You can use go to this link HERE to see which businesses applied for the 14 (c) certificate. If you see a business that you support on that list, consider reaching out and requesting they do not apply in the future or finding an alternative that pays all their employees a fair wage. I recognize that sometimes that will not be possible because of proximity or other barriers. However, I still urge you to check and then just think about other possible ways we can help people achieve equity.

My Rocky Relationship with Donovan Mitchell

The year is 2017, Utah Jazz fans have just been crushed by the loss of Gordon Hayward. Suddenly, this young guy explodes onto the scene. His name is Donovan Mitchell and Jazz fans think they’ve been rescued. As a Utah Jazz fan who lives in Minnesota, I’m used to being disappointed by my sports teams. When I heard about Donovan Mitchell, I was much more skeptical than other fans.

Mitchell had a good pre-draft workout and had everyone saying, “Hayward who?” A Contributor for the J-Notes on the FanSided network, Tyler Thorpe, wrote an article about how Mitchell was already a star after his first season. This issue I have with this article is the same one I constantly have with Jazz fans. They forget, forgive, and move on too quickly! This article is a perfect example of that.

Thorpe leads off by mentioning several players that Mitchell was compared to his rookie year: Allen Iverson, Damian Lillard, and Dwayne Wade. He wrote, “Those are just a few of the comparisons that Donovan Mitchell received earned over the course of his inaugural NBA season.”

This was not a comparison of their rookie years. It was just a general comparison made based on their play styles. Iverson was already retired, and Wade and Lillard had both been in the league for about a decade when Mitchell was a rookie. How can you compare him to men that have been in the league for years? And, to cross out “received” and replace it with “earned,” I’m not buying that. Mitchell simply had not been in the league long enough at that time to “earn” these comparisons.

Writing phrases like “what can’t this guy do?” and “a star is born” when the guy in question is only 21 and has been in the league for one season, seems extreme. NBA fans and the league love to put rookies on a pedestal and tear them down when they don’t meet expectations in the first couple of years. That’s exactly the situation Mitchell has found himself in the last couple of years.

Thankfully, he can tune out the press and their comments and just plays basketball. He still has off nights and can be inconsistent, but Mitchell has finally proved to me that he can handle the pressure. It’s taken time for him to find his rhythm, but maybe he is worth the hype. 

[The Utah Jazz] Don’t Get No Respect

If you couldn’t already tell, full disclosure, I am a Utah Jazz fan. Now that that’s out of the way, lets focus on the facts.

If you were looking at the NBA power rankings for the first half of the season, you would think the Jazz were the most inconsistent team in the league. Those rankings are not a good indicator of their success in the beginning of the season.

One example comes from week five power rankings. During the first four weeks of the season, the Utah Jazz, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Milwaukee Bucks were ranked in the all-time top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. What were the rankings that week? Lakers first, Bucks second, and Jazz sixth. At this time, the Jazz had the same win-loss record as the Bucks, and were ranked higher than them in pace, defensive rating, offensive rating, and net rating. Also, keep in mind that they had the third best record in the western conference, behind the Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers.

A few days after those rankings came out, Shaquille O’Neal decided to conduct a very awkward interview with Utah Jazz shooting guard, Donovan Mitchell. Shaq said, “you are one of my favorite players, but you don’t have what it takes to get to the next level. I said it on purpose, I want you to hear it. What do you have to say about that?” To which Donovan replied, “alright.”

This is something people have been telling Donovan since his rookie year, no matter how well the Jazz perform. They were on a seven game win streak and had one of the best records in the west when Shaq said that.

The Jazz didn’t let any of the noise from the media get to them. They continued their winning streak and made it 11 games in a row before losing, which is the longest winning streak in the league this season. They also clinched the first place spot in weeks 9, 10, and 11 of power rankings. Currently, they’re third in power rankings and first in the western conference. They have three wins over the second place team in the west, are still ranked in the all-time top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency and sent three of their players to the NBA All-Star game.

With all their success, you’d think they would start being taken seriously. No. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert were among the original picks for the All-Star game. They had a third member, Michael Conley, join the game after a couple other players were kicked out due to COVID-19 contact tracing. Since Conley was filling in, he wasn’t part of picking teams.

The captains for this year’s NBA All-Star game were Lebron James and Kevin Durant. Neither of them wanted Donovan Mitchell or Rudy Gobert. Not even Rudy Gobert! And he’s a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

Lebron’s reasoning? He had this to say, “I just want to say something, because there’s no slander to the Utah Jazz but you guys got to understand, just like in video games growing up, we never played with Utah. Even as great as Karl Malone and John Stockton were, we never would have picked those guys. Never.” No slander, huh? We do not live in a video game. The league needs to accept that the Jazz are a force to be reckoned with.

The Jazz are not allowed to as inconsistent as other teams, and too much weight is placed on Donovan Mitchell’s shoulders. I can remember several times the Jazz have choked during important games, and I’ve been a disappointed fan, but not this year. The Jazz are going to come in hot during the NBA finals and I think a lot of people are going to be surprised by their abilities.

Supporting all Swimmers

Anyone can swim, and yet, there is a lingering myth that claims black people cannot. This stereotype exists because, historically, access to the sport has been intentionally made difficult for black people. Access was already difficult or impossible, but when pools were finally integrated, they began being built in expensive member-ship only facilities. Swimming became an elitist, whitewashed sport. 

I have been involved with swimming for my entire life and find it disappointing that anyone would be made to feel that they were not allowed to be a part of the sport. It’s relatively low-cost and teaches you to work alone, as well as with a team.

Beyond the realm of competition, generations of people have been denied the chance to learn potentially lifesaving skills. And according to The USA Swimming Foundation, if parents did not have the opportunity to learn to swim, there is only a 13 percent chance that their child will learn.

This is likely the reason that—between the ages of 5 and 19—black children drown in pools five and a half times more often than white children. Their guardians did not have access to lessons; therefore, more children do not learn, and may not even know they have the option, and the cycle continues.   

Black Kids Swim aims to dispel these myths and break down these stereotypes. Their goal is to increase the access that black children have to learning swim techniques. However, they take it a step further than basic knowledge. Black Kids Swim wants black children to attack the water and become serious competition.

Photo: Naji Ali/Miguel Melendez

Representation matters so their website focuses on the positive and promotes the accomplishments of many young black swimmers. They offer scholarships, hold essay contests, and offer resources to families with experienced swimmers and those who are just getting started.

When you make a gift to this organization, your donation goes towards motivational content, special events, scholarships and essay contests, educational materials, and advocacy. You have the option to direct your gift to the program you believe in most and their website answers any questions you may have about current programs and giving.

In their words, “Black Kids Swim creates content to make the sport of competitive swimming exciting and inciting for Black children. We are smashing negative stereotypes, combating a legacy of fear and exclusion, promoting African American role models, and opening doors of access to swim training. We are making swimming cool for Black children.”

As someone who thinks swimming is very cool, this is a mission to which I feel connected. As someone who lives in Minnesota, surrounded by water, I know this mission is important and can save lives. I do not have children of my own, but if I did, I would feel privileged to teach them how to swim. I hope that one day all children have that opportunity.