3 reasons to smile even if the world is still sexist and racist.

Two recent studies about subconscious bias really tried to steal my joy this week.

Disturbed Beyonce via "X Factor."


The first study, published in Law and Human Behavior, looked at gender bias and emotion.

The study set up a mock trial with undergraduate students where secretly scripted holdout jurors would have to explain their thinking to the participant, a fellow juror, who had already come to a different decision.

The study found that if a male holdout juror expressed anger, the participant's confidence in their own opinion dropped. But the opposite was true when a female holdout juror expressed the same opinion with anger.

Even though both the male and female holdout juror expressed the same opinion, expressing that opinion with anger undermined the woman's authority while bolstering the man's.

Angry Beyonce via "Why Don't You Love Me."

The other study, conducted by UCLA researchers and published in the journal of Evolution and Human Behavior, looked at racial bias around names.

The experiments used 1,500 mostly white participants and read different scenarios involving characters with names like Jamal or Darnell (aka black-sounding names) and Connor or Wyatt (white-sounding names).

Participants in the study overwhelmingly imagined the characters with black-sounding names as large, dangerous, and violent. Additionally, the larger in size they imagined the black-sounding character to be, the lower they imagined his financial success and social status. The results were similar when Latino-sounding names were used.

But when those same scenarios used white-sounding names, the perception was flipped; the larger a character was perceived to be, the higher their social and economic status was perceived to be.

And get this: The participants in the study were generally "left-leaning" politically. In other words, negative stereotypes of black and brown men begins at the mere mention of a name — even for my fellow liberals.

Emotional Beyonce via "Listen."

While the results of both studies were discouraging, they were also, unfortunately, not surprising. And that's pretty upsetting.

With the steady stream of news confirming what many of us already know to be true from a lifetime of anecdotal evidence (that bias is real), I'm constantly looking for things to smile about.

So here are three things that remind us that everything will be OK:

1. The demographics are shifting.

We've all heard the news that the country is slowly but surely transforming demographically. More people of color and more women in positions of leadership and power are two of the expected outcomes.

While increased numbers don't automatically mean equality, they do mean there will be a larger body of people to initiate, demand, and participate in change in all elements of society — from government to business to the home.

If I were a bettin' gal, I'd say that most of those people won't have a high tolerance for discrimination. And that's a good thing.

Running the world Beyonce via "Girls"

2. There are amazing organizations working to end implicit bias. And they have solutions.

Most people read studies like the two I mentioned above, get frustrated by them, and go on about their days. So it's heartening to know that there are people who are dedicating their lives to exposing and attacking implicit bias. They lobby, create content, and give the rest of us practical ways to help advance equality and root out prejudice in our daily lives.

One of my faves is Perception Institute. They use the latest brain research and creative media to help well-meaning people understand implicit bias around racial identity and live their values.

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media also does phenomenal work in the entertainment industry to end bias and stereotypes around women in the media.

I sleep better knowing that they are on the case.

Grateful Beyonce via "The Mrs. Carter Show."

3. Despite the harsh reality of implicit bias, it is possible for women and people of color to thrive.

Nooooo, this does not mean that because Martha Stewart and Barack Obama and Oprah "made it," bias doesn't exist. Not only does it exist, the longer it continues, the longer we are all losing out because of it — not just women and people of color, but the entire country, too.

But, as a woman of color, the only way that I can feel powerful enough to go out into the world and chase my dreams in the meantime, while we're working hard to level the playing field, is to get all existential and tell myself that despite all the subconscious biases that might be working against me every single day, I won't allow them to crush my ambition and drive.

Thanks to those who have come before us, we ladies and people have color have plenty examples of what it looks like to face the challenges of bias head on, win (while giving those who discriminated against us a hearty middle finger), and try to make things easier for those coming up next.

Confident Beyonce via "Check Up on It."

In other words, we got this.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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