5 ways Obama is using $118 million to improve the lives of women of color.

The White House has a $118 million plan to improve the lives of women and girls of color.

The White House unveiled a five-point plan in November aimed at helping women and girls of color.

The plan is part of an effort by the Obama administration to address the unique challenges facing women and girls of color, tackling topics like health care, violence, economic development, criminal justice, and media representation.

For those of us (like myself) who aren't women of color, it's easy to gloss over these challenges — so let's pay attention.


I know some people will be thinking, "Why not just have a summit about the struggles that affect all of us? Why not just all people?"

The answer to that is simple: because we're always talking about all people. If we want to find solutions, and not just platitudes, we need to look at the issues on a closer level.

Here's what the White House hopes to accomplish. It's worth listening to.

Many of these are issues that affect people of all races and genders but which make success particularly difficult for women and girls of color.

Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, shown here in a November 2013 photo, was one of roughly 40 speakers at the summit. Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images.

1. Address the racial and gender disparities that affect what kind of education our children receive.

One of the biggest issues is how school discipline is handled. Data shows that girls of color are disproportionately targeted for things like detention and suspension.

"Black girls are suspended at higher rates (12%) than girls of any other race or ethnicity and at higher rates than white boys (6%) and white girls (2%)," reads a statement on the White House's website. "American Indian/Alaska Native girls are also suspended at rates that exceed those of white students."


How do we address this? Well, one of the suggestions put forward by the Obama administration is additional funding to study the root causes in these disparities. What we do know is that when students aren't in school as the result of suspension or expulsion, they're not learning; when they're not learning, that sets off a whole chain of not-so-great things.

2. Invest in programs to end the school-to-prison pipeline.

"In 2013, black females were nearly three times as likely as their white peers to be referred to juvenile court for a delinquency offense," reads a Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention report.

Last year, the Obama administration released guidelines to support at-risk girls — in particular, to help keep those involved in school discipline or sexual abuse from ending up in prison.


3. Promote diversity in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs.

In a look at 2012 data on science and engineering degrees, minority women accounted for just 11.2% of bachelor's degrees, 8.2% of master's degrees, and 4.1% of doctorate degrees.


One of the administration's educational goals has been to help spark interest in the sciences at an early age. That's certainly a start to addressing these problems.

4. Provide programs, resources, and education to reduce unplanned teen pregnancies.

Teen pregnancies have been on the decline! Go us! However ... the White House acknowledges that "black and Latina girls remain more than twice as likely as white girls to become pregnant during adolescence." As teen mothers are less likely than their peers to graduate from high school (just half of teen moms graduate by the time they turn 22), this feeds into some of the aforementioned challenges.


While programs like those run in Colorado have been a huge success, the White House's latest move could be just as helpful. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will spend $9.75 million to ensure public health centers are up to standards — complete with accurate, comprehensive material surrounding sex ed. Oh, and they made a teen pregnancy prevention app!

5. Address the wage gap in both gender and race.

Yes, the wage gap exists. Usually, though, we just hear about the difference between what men make and what women make. The truth is that if you factor in race, it's even worse. For example, check out this chart from the American Association of University Women.


That's ... not good, and we need to do something about it. On the White House's end, the president is recommending making permanent some of the tax cuts set to expire in 2017 and pushing to bring paid family leave to the U.S. Just as big, however, was Friday's announcement that the Ms. Foundation and Prosperity Together announced a five-year, $100 million commitment to fund programs to help low-income women find success.


Can the issues discussed be fixed in a day? Of course not. But these are some real, actionable steps. And that's great.

The intersection of racism and sexism is one of those areas that seems to get left behind in much of the "American Dream"-type talks and debates we hear politicians talk about. That's what makes today so different. For one powerful day, the focus was on those who so frequently get stepped on, talked over, and pushed away from policy conversations.

The women in attendance at the summit came ready to set the agenda. Now it's our responsibility as a country to help see it through.

We should look to those like Melissa Harris-Perry, Loretta Lynch, Valerie Jarrett, and all the other women who spoke at the conference as inspiration to fight racism and sexism wherever we see it through society and ensure that future generations are offered the same opportunities as their peers regardless of race or gender.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is the first black woman to hold that office. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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