Things That Matter

Cheerleader Wins $145,000 Settlement After She Was Booted From Team For Taking A Knee

Back in 2016, American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick made waves and history when he protested against racial injustice and systematic oppression. During the United States national anthem, the star football player took a stand against the injustices by taking a knee. The act of protest set off a wave of similar acts with athletes from other sports including soccer, baseball, basketball and ice hockey taking similar actions. The acts of protest have not only sparked debate about using sporting events to highlight social issues they’ve also sparked talks about patriotism and respect. Moreover, they’ve also caused lawsuits.

College cheerleader, Tommia Dean, recently received a $145,000 payout after she was punished for her silent protest back in 2017.

The now 21-year old had been a cheerleader for Kennesaw State University, Georgia and had been inspired by  Kaepernick’s similar protests and decided to take a new during a game. In response to her protest, her university banned Dean and four other cheerleaders, known in the media as the ‘Kennesaw Five,’ from the football field during the Star-Spangled Banner for the next two games.

Dean hit back at the college who has recently been ordered to pay her $145,000. The school was found to have violated her right to protest. For the payout, the Georgia Department of Administrative Services will have to write Dean a check for $93,000 and another one to her attorneys for $52,000.

According to Marietta Daily Journal, “Dean listed KSU’s then-President Sam Olens as a defendant in the civil suit, alongside Scott Whitlock and Matt Griffin who worked for the KSU athletics department at the time.”

The agreement, which was signed by Dean and representative of the Georgia state department says that “a compromise has been reached… The intent of this agreement is to buy peace of mind from future controversy and forestall further attorney’s fees, costs, or other expenses of litigation, and further that this agreement represents the compromise, economic resolution of disputed claims and, as such, shall not be deemed in any manner an admission, finding, conclusion, evidence or indication for any purposes whatsoever, that the KSU defendants acted contrary to the law or otherwise violated the rights of Dean.”

In her lawsuit, Dean accused her school of violating her rights.

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That melanin glow 🖤💁🏾

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Speaking about her decision to protest, Dean told WXIA-TV in Atlanta that at the time, she had felt moved to take action through protest. “Before we went out on the field, we all prayed. Together, we all prayed. I felt like this was something I needed to do here, in Cobb County, as a Kennesaw State cheerleader.”

The issue escalated when the local sheriff publicly slammed the cheerleaders for their act of protest. Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren said at the time that t his wife cried when she first saw the protest. “We were both shocked to see such a lack of respect for our flag, our national anthem and the men and women that serve our nation, Neil Warren wrote in an opinion piece published by Marietta Daily Journal.  Dean claimed in her lawsuit that Warren and former state Rep. Earl Ehrhart were racially motivated in making sure that the school kept her and the other four cheerleaders from taking part in national anthem protests.

As Massive Protests Sweep Latin America, Here’s Why Mexico Has Been Able To Avoid Them So Far

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As Massive Protests Sweep Latin America, Here’s Why Mexico Has Been Able To Avoid Them So Far

Joaquin Sarmiento / Getty

2019 will be remembered as the year in which Latin America was swept by a wave of protests, mostly led by young people who are fed up with the status quo and right-wing governments.

Chile has been taken over by a massive wave of protests that has encompassed not only the capital of Santiago, but also places such as Valparaiso. These protests are not only attended by young activists, but also by unions, lay people and basically anyone who wants to speak out against neoliberal economic policies and conservative politics that have turned the police force known as carabineros into a repressive entity.

In Colombia, social unrest reached unprecedented levels in the capital of Bogota and even became deadly when a young activist was killed, which led to further protests against police brutality. Ecuador has also experienced mass protests and the most vulnerable, particularly indigenous groups, have unjustly suffered the consequences. 

Just like when Middle Eastern countries protested in what was collectively known as the Arab Spring in the early 2010s, Latin America seems to be at a turning point in which change seems inevitable and the polarization in society when it comes to cultural, political and social issues is at its highest.  

But Mexico has escaped this wave of protests even if it has been historically a highly politicized society… perhaps the ghost of 1968 is still lingering.

On October 2 1968, a few weeks before Mexico City was due to hold the Olympic Games, a crowd of students was massacred by the army in the infamous Masacre de Tlatelolco. This event, in which police and military forces acted with brutality and impunity, has defined political life in Mexico for decades. Even though protests are numerous, they are smaller in size and generally a one-off occurrence rather than a long and sustained effort. This might be due, in part, to the internalized fear of State repression. 

Contemporary Mexico suffers from a gross divide between rich and poor, and also corruption that is endemic to politicians and public servants. So are people not fed up? 

As the Mexicanist points out, poverty rates in Mexico surpass 40% and are only second to Honduras in the region. At the same time, the rich in Mexico are super rich, perhaps only comparable to the elites in countries such as Singapore, the United States and Britain. Corruption runs rampant in every level of government and the private sector basically does anything it wants if its pockets are deep enough. The government led my AMLO has made the fight against corruption its main policy, which in a way is a preemptive attack against dissent.  

So why has Mexico escaped mass protests? A weak opposition and a new semi-leftist government.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador addresses supporters after receiving the staff of command from indigenous people during the AMLO Fest at Zocalo square in Mexico City, Mexico December 1, 2018. Picture taken December 1, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

There are several reasons why the wave of protests that has caught fire throughout the region. The first and perhaps foremost reason is that the AMLO led government is barely a year old and so far it has been rather centrist in its political approach. The decades-long fear that an AMLO-led government would lead Mexico into a situation akin to Chavez’s and Maduro’s Venezuela.

Added to that, the opposition, mainly embodied by the conservative PAN, is in total disarray. The presidential campaign of Ricardo Anaya divided PAN-members and caused the balkanization of the party, whereby different factions emerged. Added to that, this party and the legacy of its last president, Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, has been scrutinized for the past few months and critiques reached a boiling point when Genaro Garcia Luna, who led Calderon’s war against the drug cartels, was arrested in the United States for allegedly receiving bribes from the Sinaloa cartel.

So centrist AMLO government + weakened opposition: a lid on social unrest. A very, very provisional lid, however. 

AMLO’s discourse resembled the demands of protesters in South America… and he has a 60% approval rate.

If we were to place the Mexican president in the political spectrum compared to his counterparts in Colombia and Chile, he would be to the left… the extreme left. The anti neoliberal flag that protesters wave in South America is one that AMLO has been waving for decades. Now, this is on a discursive level so far: it might be to early to tell, but early indications from the AMLO presidency lead many to believe that he is not as leftist as he seems. But the discourse is working when it comes to appeasing social unrest similar to that experienced in South America, as Mexicanist explains: “The Mexican president’s criticisms of the neoliberal model, its harmful effects on popular welfare and his “perverse vocation for corruption” are in tune with the narrative of the movements of indignant Latin Americans. Also, the harangues against public-private corruption and the system of privileges that has been forged in Latin American-style capitalism.”

Added to this, Lopez Obrador enjoys a comfortable 60% approval rate even though he lost 10-15% in the past year due to pressing matters such as the violence that the country has experienced in 2019, the most savage year on record, among other challenges and mistakes that have defined the new administration. 

Another Sexist Man Has Mocked The Feminist Protest Movement Sweeping Latin America By Dressing Up As A Victim

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Another Sexist Man Has Mocked The Feminist Protest Movement Sweeping Latin America By Dressing Up As A Victim

@Melocontunfacho / Twitter

For the past several years, women — mostly in Latin America — have been fighting for the rights of women. And not just for the rights of abortion and health care, but fighting literally for their lives. Femicide — violence against women — is a real and serious problem in this country. It points to the countless women that have died, been raped, and assaulted at the hands of men and nothing is done about it. What makes this matter even worse is that some men are stupid and senseless enough to make fun of it. 

On Dec. 16, a new college graduate thought it would be funny to mark this big occasion by dressing up as a victim of femicide. 

If you wanted proof about the “men are trash” movement, you need to look no further than Tomas Vidal who grated from the International Commerce at the 21st Century University in Argentina. This dumbass, and there is no other way to describe him, wore the signature green bandana that femicide victims wear and their supporters. His sign read, “the fault was not mine.” 

The school was not pleased with his actions. In fact, they were quite mad. 

“From the reproachable action during the celebration of the graduation of the student Tomás Vidal yesterday, the authorities of the 21st Century University have summoned him to notify him, that he has started immediately a summary that will establish the responsibilities and sanctions that correspond, depending on his behavior, contrary to the values that this institution promotes and represents, it will not allow any demonstration or behavior that threatens women, equal rights, peaceful coexistence between citizens and respect for differences.”

Furthermore, the school has him to resubmit his final assignment and to take a gender course before he leaves the university. 

People on social media were not pleased by his actions either. And they let him know exactly how they felt. 

One woman said that she not only blamed him for his dumb actions but those that enabled it to happen. “Tomás Vidal is NOT an isolated case. Behind this costume is a friend who created it, one who created it, one who laughed and one who saw and fell silent. One of the most fundamental elements of sexist violence is male complicity, and in this photo, we have its description.”

Another woman on Twitter wrote, “Can you imagine losing a sister, friend or daughter in a femicide and then see the publications of the tomboy Tomas Vidal mocking, does not happen for feminism or not, what kind of person can celebrate deaths of women impaled, raped, burned, dismembered?”

Yeah, we’d like to know how his mother feels about her son’s actions. 

Women around the country are saying “enough” to the violence against women and that “not one more” woman should be harmed. And it’s not a laughing matter.

According to a United Nations report last year, more than 50,000 women are killed by intimate partners or family members around the world. But there is some improvement going on, at least in Latin America and that’s in large part to the many protests about the issue. 

Angela Me, Chief of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told NPR last year that in 18 “Latin American countries have established the criminal offense of femicide, the killing of a female because of her gender. This is a clear signal that this is not acceptable.

In addition, many countries have adopted laws, such as restraining orders, to help protect women from intimate partner violence. They are also providing training for police and prosecutors to heighten their awareness of these issues.”

Here’s another lesson for Tomas Vidal. Perhaps he should learn this dance and maybe his soul will be awakened with kindness and empathy. 

Something is clearly mentally wrong with Vidal for him to think it was okay and funny to make fun of a movement that is addressing a serious problem in the world. 

READ: The Murder of a Teen Mom By Her Boyfriend is Raising a Discussion Around the Prevalence of Femicide in Abusive Relationships