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When Shila Burney's 17-year-old son Michael leaves the house, she insists that his phone's GPS is turned on.

Burney trusts her son and his friends, but she doesn't make this request lightly.

The Burneys are black. As a mother of a black son, Shila worries about the strangers and situations Michael may run into that he can't control. If something goes wrong, she says, "How quickly can I get there — to him?"


When the Atlanta-area mom of four speaks about motherhood, there's a passion and protective fierceness in her voice.

"Everyone thinks just because we're strong, black women, we walk around emotionless," Burney says. "That is not the case. We care deeply about our kids. We'll do anything in the world for them, and we don't want anybody else hurting them."

The Burneys. Photo used with permission.

We often only hear from black moms after their children are lost to senseless acts of violence.

It's frequent and unsettlingly repetitive. A shooting. A grieving mother. Brief outrage. A call for peace. Another hashtag. A grim reminder of a family torn apart.

It's happened 95 times this year so far.95 black people have been killed by police in 2017.

We hear this pain too often: "Our family will never be the same; the kids will never be the same," said the mother of Jordan Edwards, a 15-year-old killed by a police officer outside Dallas this May. It happened again with the families of Quanice Hayes,Tony Robinson, and Laquan McDonald.

There was also Richard Collins III, a black college senior and would-be second lieutenant in the Army who was stabbed to death by a stranger just days before graduation. Even though she'd never met him, the news of Richard's murder shook Burney to her core, and not for the first time.

"All those emotions start coming again," she says.

With Collins' murder, many parents saw in him their own children of color — bright, driven, talented — and wonder how they can possibly protect them.

Police and the FBI are investigating the killing of Collins as a possible hate crime. The suspect, Sean Urbanski, was a member of a racist Facebook group. Photo by U.S. Army via Associated Press.

"I've never sat down with my kid and explained to them anything about the police, because to me, they weren't supposed to have any interactions with the police," Burney says. She tells her children to be good kids, to do what they're supposed to do. "You may get stopped for a ticket, but I had no rules for when you get stopped. 'Be respectful' — that's all I had."

When Burney heard of Sandra Bland's death, all that changed. She wept, imagining her own daughter alone, at the mercy of an aggressive police officer with no way to protect herself. Burney raised her kids with the guidance of "be respectful." Now, respect didn't seem to matter.

Photo by iStock.

There's a difficult push and pull that black moms live with: wanting their kids to be kids and, at the same time, protecting them from a society that doesn't always love them back.

Sheila Higginson is white. Her husband, Felipe, is black. She struggles with the same fears for their two teenaged boys in Brooklyn.

"I want to make sure they're aware of the hatred ... that there are people who truly don't want them to exist," says Higginson. She wants her sons to believe they're special, that they can be anything they want. But it's not that easy.

"There's a group of the world that sees them as young, teenage, black boys and sees: threat," she says. "That's a really sad thing to have to tell your kids."

Sheila Higginson's husband, Felipe (left), and sons Kai (center) and Jake at a Mets game. Photo via Sheila Higginson, used with permission.

Raising and parenting a child of color in America requires emotional intelligence, labor, and grit that's rarely acknowledged.

It's talking to children about why they can't go out with their hoodies up or du-rags on. Explaining why hair or dress codes at school may be written to disproportionately punish them. Practicing how to respond to police officers or authority figures when they're out with their friends. Discussing why some people may see them as a threat, even if they're only in middle school.

These are conversations most white families will never have. Each one is exhausting but necessary.

"You have to kind of shatter the snow globe," Higginson says. "As a mother, you have to support your kids through that moment of disillusionment with the world. But I really felt unprepared for this level of it."

The Higginsons at a party. Photo via Sheila Higginson, used with permission.

"Growing up in Brooklyn ... my kids were in a bubble," she says — disconnected from some of the worst kinds of racism in our country. But lately, that's changed.

After the election of President Donald Trump, things have gotten harder.

"It wasn't a daily thing. Right now, it is. It's so shocking that it's here. In Brooklyn. It's mind-boggling," she says. She's seen a rise in racist vitriol in her neighborhood, especially against Mexicans and recent Muslim immigrants.

Protesters near Trump Tower in Chicago. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Both moms have hope that things can improve, but only if we start listening to one another.

When white families get media coverage day after day when something happens to their children, Burney feels frustrated. Black parents hurt too, but their stories are often under-covered and under-considered.

"We have stories; our stories need to be told. Don't forget us," she says, the protective passion of a fierce and loving mom, in a world hostile to her children, stirring in her voice again.

People join mothers from around the country who lost their children to police violence to protest in front of the Justice Department at the Million Mom March in 2015. Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images.

Right now, children of color — particularly black children — are under attack from all sides. If one child hurts, we should all feel it.

"Every single mother shares this feeling of wanting their kids to feel safe and protected and able to just be kids," Higginson says. "How can you be a mother and not understand that? How can you be a mother and not understand we're saying our kids areunsafe, not just feel unsafe. Are unsafe."

A candlelight vigil for Jamyla Bolden in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2015. Bolden, 9, was killed by a stray bullet from a drive-by shooting while doing her homework in her home. Photo by Michael B. Thomas/ Getty Images.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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