4 easy steps to be a better ally to minorities and others, in a comic.

In the early fall of 2016, French artist Marie-Shirine Yener, aka Maeril, had her first viral hit with a comic about how to stand up to Islamophobic harassment.

Maeril channeled her own experiences with street harassment as a woman of mixed Iranian, Turkish, Kurdish, and Armenian descent into the illustrated how-to guide for helping Muslims. But she also understood the irony that her voice as an ally resonated more loudly than the voices of actual Muslims who have been targeted.

"There is a tendency people have not to believe a minority group when they speak of oppression," she wrote in The Independent. "We always rely on some sort of a 'bridge' — a more familiar, non-Muslim person like me, in this situation — and I wish we didn't have to."


Maeril's first comic was meant to address the specific issue of Islamophobia. But readers realized that the lesson could apply in other situations, too.

Muslims are hardly the only marginalized group to suffer from unfair bullying, hate, or harassment. So rather than detract from or erase their unique and very-real struggle, Maeril created another illustrated how-to guide for being a better ally overall, especially at a time when hate crimes are on the rise.

"We need to protect those who don’t have the privilege of not fearing for their lives from now on," she said on Tumblr. "If we don’t have any support in the authorities, we must at least have each other, and stand strong in the face of adversity. I believe in you."

So if you want to be a better ally to people of color, people who are LGBTQ, people with disabilities, women, and others, these four steps are a great place to start:

All images by Maeril/Tumblr, used with permission.

"1. Listen. Be here for them. If they need you to escort them somewhere, do it. Don't take action without their agreement, like forcing them to report something to the police. Be open, and be ready to help."

"2. Compile emergency data. Look for useful informations concerning the minorities around you: Emergency hotlines, shelters, lawyers, therapists... You can also print your compilation and pin it in your town-hall, college campus, high school, etc."

"3. Enroll. Associations and shelters are going to be the backbone of the fight: networks & logistics they provide are vital. Consider joining one near you, or volunteering for online services and support hotlines. If you don't know where to start, reach out to NGOs to ask where you can be of any help."

"4. Educate. Share those steps with those who want to help. Tell them about what you learned: where to redirect who, the nearest trans youth shelter, a lawyer who specializes in racist hate crimes, therapists who provide accessibility solutions for people with disabilities, etc."

Across the world, people are waking up to the need to stand in solidarity with marginalized people. Lip service alone is not enough for equality.

Maybe recent events have made you aware of how many people in the world are still suffering. And maybe you're feeling a little overwhelmed by it all — you want to do your part to help, but there are just so many different words and terms to memorize and learn, all these different groups and identities to keep track of and try understand.

With so much ground to cover, it's tempting to just throw your hands up and say, "Forget it! I can't keep up! They don't need me!" But remember: A lot of people don't have that option. Their mere existence brings them hardship and struggle every day. Which is why they need your support — perhaps now more than ever.

So listen: You're gonna screw up. You're gonna make mistakes. That's OK.

But as this comic shows, if we truly believe in a better and more equitable society full of equal opportunities for everyone, then we all need to step up.

We need to do the work, learn, speak out (but not over other people), screw-up, get better, and keep moving forward, together. Let's get to it.

Courtesy of Creative Commons
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After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

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via Ken Lund / Flickr

The dark mountains that overlook Provo, Utah were illuminated by a beautiful rainbow-colored "Y" on Thursday night just before 8 pm. The 380-foot-tall "Y" overlooks the campus of Brigham Young University, a private college owned by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), commonly known as Mormons.

The display was planned by a group of around 40 LGBT students to mark the one-year anniversary of the university sending out a letter clarifying its stance on homosexual behavior.

"One change to the Honor Code language that has raised questions was the removal of a section on 'Homosexual Behavior.' The moral standards of the Church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code, " the school's statement read.

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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.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

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Public Domain

A very simple thing happened earlier this week. Dr. Seuss Enterprises—the company that runs the Dr. Seuss estate and holds the legal rights to his works—announced it will no longer publish six Dr. Seuss children's books because they contain depictions of people that are "hurtful and wrong" (their words). The titles that will no longer be published are And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot's Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat's Quizzer.

This simple action prompted a great deal of debate, along with a great deal of disinformation, as people reacted to the story. (Or in many cases, just the headline. It's a thing.)

My article about the announcement (which contains examples of the problematic content that prompted the announcement) led to nearly 3,000 comments on Upworthy's Facebook page. Since many similar comments were made repeatedly, I wanted to address the most common sentiments and questions:

How do we learn from history if we keep erasing it?

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