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49ers’ Arik Armstead Uses Platform to Promote Racial Justice

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Arik Armstead speaks during a media availability for the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game, in Miami on Jan. 28, 2020. (Wilfredo Lee/AP file)
Arik Armstead speaks during a media availability for the NFL Super Bowl 54 football game, in Miami on Jan. 28, 2020. (Wilfredo Lee/AP file)

Standard NFL press conferences are starting to see a change in tone due to certain players. One San Francisco 49ers defensive end (DE) is going to start using the podium to spread awareness of the social issues plaguing the US. DE Arik Armstead will instead decrease talk about what goes on the field and shift the focus towards what’s happening off it.

What We Know:

  • As he’s promised since August, Armstead has talked about social issues over the past weeks. He recently spoke on hate crimes and challenged people to see how prejudice against minorities can be reduced. Another topic he’s hit on is inequality in education. He noted a statistic that schools with a high percentage of Black and Latino students “get less funding per capita” than mostly white schools.
  • Messages such as these are what Armstead plans to talk about during weekly media sessions to spread awareness of what’s wrong with present-day America. Before taking questions on football, he will highlight various social justice issues he’s studied upon.

“I was trying to find ways to push the needle, educate people with my platform,” he said. “I feel like that’s my responsibility and my duty as a citizen is to continue to be a better part of society, add value to society and the people around me.”

  • He went onto say how by playing in the National Football League, it gives him the opportunity to use the platform as a means of communication to people that look up to him and care about what he says. With this mentality, he has decided to use his voice for many positive things, while trying to advocate for social issues and educate.
  • According to the Associated Press, Armstead isn’t the only player that has attempted to tackle these discussions off the field. The Tennessee safety Kenny Vaccaro, has also made it clear to members of the media that he will not talk about the sport during conferences. Instead, he wishes to also speak on the surrounding issues of social justice that have made a powerful statement this year.
  • Much like Armstead, many of these players go above and beyond that. For example, the 49ers DE is also heavily involved in working on community projects that back up important social justice issues.
  • Through the appropriately named “Armstead Academic Project,” located in the Sacramento area where he grew up, he has pledged to give back to the community on his part after signing a five-year $85 million contract this offseason.

Within this initiative, Armstead launched a “Storytime with Arik Armstead” reading program and created several creative writing workshops for elementary school students. Other things he’s done for students are donating money for education, provide Internet access, raised money to buy Chromebooks, and even give healthy snacks to hundreds of kids going through online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Javier Garay is Media & News SVCS Intern at UnmutedCo. He is currently enrolled in the University of North Georgia seeking a bachelor's degree in Film/Digital Media with a concentration in Media Studies. Javier writes for Black News Alerts (BNA) along with social media management for both BNA and BossFM, and is a part of the BNA Daily Podcast Team.

Coronavirus

Judge Blocks Trump Plan to Cut Food Stamps for 700,000 Adults

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Food stamps recipients doing a big once-a-month shopping trip on the day their monthly SNAP account is re-funded. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Food stamps recipients doing a big once-a-month shopping trip on the day their monthly SNAP account is re-funded. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A recent motion by the Trump administration was aimed at making it more challenging for certain demographics to receive government aid known as food stamps. In a 60 plus page document, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of D.C. shot down their effort of what seemed to be a blatant disregard of how a move like this would significantly impact so many Americans during a time of the pandemic.

What We Know:

  • The ruling follows the Trump administration’s nearly yearlong effort to change and reduce the amount of people who rely on food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The proposal was originally made during a time when the U.S was in the middle of economic prosperity and record low unemployment rates before the events of this year. The new rules in the plan would have greatly limited access to the program.
  • As the story goes, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a once-booming economy to a grinding halt and placed millions of Americans into the unemployment line. Numbers continue to look grim as roughly 25 million adults are still without jobs and are currently claiming unemployment benefits. The unemployment rate as of September is sitting at nearly 7.9%, almost double of what it was in February.
  • In Judge Howell’s ruling, she stated that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the organization in charge of SNAP, had remained usually quiet on how many people would have been affected by the administration’s rule change as the pandemic continues to plague the nation. She cited that the number of people signing up for SNAP has risen 17%, about 6 million new recipients, since May.
  • The rule change has been called “a vivid illustration of this relentless ideology that’s not informed by the economic realities of people, whether they are in the pandemic or not in the pandemic,” by Stacy Dean vice president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “The judge called them out for trying to steamroll through policy with seemingly no effort to incorporate feedback” on concerns from states and other groups.
  • Howell also noted that the Trump administration had failed to give any reasons as to why the food stamp requirements needed to change. It targeted many “able-bodied adults without dependents,” meaning all adults ages 18 to 49 who don’t have children or family members with disabilities.
  • This demographic of adults are typically limited to three months of food stamps within a three-year period unless they acquire employment or happen to be enrolled in a worker training program, but most states are allowed to shelve those requirements.

Under the proposed rule, states would be required to prove that certain counties had unemployment rates of at least 6% in order to waive the restriction. This change is what prompted the Urban Institute to estimate that roughly 700,000 people would have been kicked off SNAP, although that number could be much greater now since the date of that last report.

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Headlines

Man Hangs Off Side of Chicago’s Trump Tower for 13 Hours before Being Taken into Custody

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Close up of the man hanging off the Trump Tower on North Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL on October 19th, 2020. (Image via FOX 32 Chicago)
Close up of the man hanging off the Trump Tower on North Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL on October 19th, 2020. (Image via FOX 32 Chicago)

The Windy City woke up to a peculiar incident Monday morning, a man clung to a rope off the Trump Tower in Chicago for more than 13 hours. His action was driven by the motive to have an audience with President Trump. Authorities have since taken him into custody.

What We Know:

  • Early reports say the yet unknown man, who is estimated to be in his early 20s, was first discovered dangling off the side of the high rise at around 5:30 p.m. local time on Sunday. The Chicago Police Department (CPD) stated he was hanging near the 16th-floor landing of Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago.
  • According to a tweet by Chicago police spokesman Tom Ahern, the situation in the morning was handled peacefully by negotiators and the suspect in question is safe and in custody, no injuries or further incidents occurred. Ahern’s Twitter thread later said Commander Patricia Casey, Cmdr. Sean Loughran, Cmdr. Jill Stevens and Negotiators later addressed the media from Trump Hotel on Wabash.
  • Other details revealed by Detective Hector Matias was that the man was in possession of a knife and even threatened to cut the line at one point if police tried to help him up. The Chicago police negotiator told reporters that the scenario was “extremely challenging” to deal with and it was certainly something to take their time with and have patience.

“There’s different tactics in our toolbox that we utilize and I think today we probably utilized every single one of them,” he continued.

  • The over half-day standoff with the man came to a close when police were finally able to come to a conclusion with the victim and resolve the incident which could have gone south quickly. Soon after police talked him into surrendering, they pulled him up to the landing where officers waited to give him a helping hand.
  • One of the three officers who were there at the spur of the moment stretched their hands out to secure the man and then a few other officers came in to quickly take him into custody. Chicago Police Cmdr. Patricia Casey praised her officer’s effort in caring for this man.

“They were patient and kind and spent hours dealing with this distraught man who was in apparent crisis, saying that he had many social issue that he wanted to discuss with reporters,” Casey stated. “What could have been a tragedy ended up as a situation that was resolved without incident.”

Major details about the entire event have not been released by the CPD. Among the various questions many people still have, such as why he was hanging there, what he wanted to speak on, he got there in the first place, the only thing known at this point was the man’s strong desire to speak with Trump. Police have also not shared what concessions were made to talk the man out of hanging off the building.

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Election 2020

Contrast and Takeaways from Between Trump and Biden Dueling Town Halls

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Joe Biden participates at an ABC Town Hall event at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, as President Trump participates in an NBC News town hall forum with a group of Florida voters in Miami on Thursday. (Image via Reuters)
Joe Biden participates at an ABC Town Hall event in Philadelphia, as President Trump participates in an NBC News town hall forum with a group voters in Miami, Florida. (Image via Reuters)

For the first time ever, two presidential contenders for the White House didn’t meet on a stage for a presidential debate. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden held two simultaneous Town Halls late Thursday, which ended up showing stark differences between the two.

What We Know:

  • Starting with the Biden Town Hall, he demonstrated a certain level of solidity despite Trump’s insistent description of his rival as someone who has “intellectually diminished”. Trump continues to stand his ground on what he thinks of his opponent and has revealed that he would rather tone it down than switch opinions.
  • Due to the Town Hall’s more relaxed environment, Biden was able to be free of debate restrictions and speak his mind completely. He spent a majority of the hour and a half event laying out a greater context for his thoughts on various controversial topics. One said topic he seemingly wasn’t able to hit harder on during the last debate was the “Green New Deal”. He explained how at this point, his differences in tackling climate change compared to the plan were because he’s just not convinced that harmful emissions can be reduced at the rate the proposal is insisting it will.
  • However, he later stated that the economy would need time to move away from fossil fuels, and proceeded to dive deeper into what he looked into and what would be in store for environmental restoration under his administration. “We can do things like pelletize all the chicken manure and all the horse manure and cow manure and they can be — and take out the methane and use it as fertilizer and make a lot of money doing it,” he said.

  • Something that stood out over his rival Trump, was that instead of persuading voters that his plans are the “right ones,” the result of his performance during the event reassured many followers and those who were skeptical, that he’s mentally capable of running a country. Disproving what Trump has been feeding his audience, without valid evidence, that Biden (Sleepy Joe) is suffering from mental impairment such as dementia.
  • Despite stumbling over some words every now and then, there wasn’t a significant moment where the 78-year-old candidate seemed distracted or lacked a firm memory regardless of his past policy battles as vice president or a senator.
  • Moreover to President Trump, as always, attention-grabbing was not one of his weak points. The Republican crowd seemed eager as always to hear what the incumbent had in store for them. Much like the previous debate, Trump managed to repeatedly interrupt moderator Savannah Guthrie in the same fashion he would have against a rival or past moderator Chris Wallace. He did appear a bit easier going and less tense than when he appeared on stage with Biden just last month.

As a reminder of the last debate, Trump tried to steamroll over Biden and Wallace, with one of the biggest moments of the night where he was asked to denounce white supremacy. The “Proud Boys,” a violent misogynistic hate group, were told by the President of the United States to “stand back and stand by”.

  • Overall Trump’s own comments were to blame for the stark difference in content both Town Halls provided. The difference in substance started when Trump ended up making the event more about his own actions and financial matters, which centered more attention on him the past year, rather than focusing on real policy matters. Ever since his comments on the requirements for Supreme Court nominees, it led many groups such as Democrats, the media, and even Republicans who oppose Trump to believe Judge Amy Coney Barrett was compromised.
  • Trump stated there was no discussion between him and the Supreme Court nominee regarding any precedents prior to her nomination. Another topic he showed restraint in and declined again was his call for overturning Roe v. Wade. In showing reluctance on the matter, he brought up the fact that if he were to reiterate these points, it would come off as him creating an image of trying to sway Barrett.
  • What was clearly left untouched was his attempt to win back the support and votes of all the woman he’s seemingly forgotten about over his past term and that he would rather see Roe v. Wade stay in place. Trump also described the allegedly $400 million in debts he possesses, which he reassures viewers is “a very small amount of money”. Trump made us aware that many of these debts are due soon and did not specifically deny overseas debts.

Other topics such as COVID-19 and QAnon were touched on lightly, so if that wasn’t enough for viewers, the two candidates still have one final debate on their schedule before the big day on November 3. It will take place on Oct. 22, just a week from the Town Halls, in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s reported that one of Guthrie’s colleagues, White House correspondent Kristen Welker, will be the moderator for this final round.

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