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8 Iranian women want you to know what it really means to not wear the hijab.

Back in 1979, all women in Iran were required by law to cover their hair, arms, and legs in public.

The Ayatollah Khomeini had just assumed power as the Supreme Leader of the newly formed Islamic Republic — and more than 100,000 women, along with their male allies, weren’t happy about the new rule. They took to the streets of Tehran to protest the compulsory decree.

Now, nearly 40 years later, their fight continues.


On Dec. 27, a video of an Iranian woman protesting the mandatory dress code went viral. Dubbed “the girl of Enghelab street,” stood on top of a pillar box in Tehran’s busiest street, took off her white headscarf, tied it to a stick, and waved it back and forth as cars passed by.

Original illustration by Ashely Lukashevsky.

The woman’s protest became a part of the “White Wednesday” initiative.  

The campaign, launched last summer by Iranian activist Masih Alinejad, challenges Iran's rule by asking women to publicly wave white headscarves, the color of the campaign, while bare-headed.

According to Iranian social media accounts, six women have taken part so far. Two protesters were arrested for participating, including the woman in the Dec. 27 viral video, who was later released from custody.

This online campaign has also generated a lot of media attention. This might be because typical protests against compulsory hijab over the last decade were often confined to social media.‌

This time, the protests are taking place in the "real world" — with real-world consequences and messy debates.

To some, these are brave acts of resistance because women in Iran can face hefty fines or imprisonment for failure to comply with its mandatory dress code. To others, it’s a lot more complicated.

I talked to nine Iranian women — some still in Iran — about their thoughts on the White Wednesday campaign and compulsory hijab to get their unfiltered thoughts about how they’re being portrayed in media.

1. Masih Alinejad, 41, founder of #WhiteWednesdays and #MyStealthyFreedom

‌‌

زن که باشی کم کم یاد می گیری هر طور که باشی و بپوشی جمعی فقط تو را با نگاه جنسی تحقیر می کنند. دو راه را بیشتر نداری، زا...

Posted by Masih Alinejad on Saturday, June 24, 2017

"Iranian culture isn’t as simple [or] black and white as Westerners see. It’s a mixed culture of many minorities, religious and [irreligious] people. Hijab is not our so-called ‘culture.’ It’s a part of a culture that also dances and doesn’t practice any religion [...] 40 years ago, Muslims, Christians, Zoroastrians, Bahai and Jewish believers, and men and women co-existed and had respect for people’s individuals choices in life."

"We are not fighting against a piece of cloth. We are fighting for our dignity."

"[White Wednesday] is peaceful civil disobedience and thanks to to social media, Iranian women now have a hub to find each other to organize and give support. What Iranian women are doing now is no different than what the women’s suffrage movement was in any other country in the world."

2. Misha Zand, 38, consultant and freelance writer

Image by Misha Zand

"I have difficulties assessing the scope of [these] veiled protests. At this point, it seems to be a bigger issue in the foreign media and social media than in Tehran’s streets. For instance, Radio Free Europe actually wrote: 'At least three more women ditched their head scarves again on January 30' and called the piece 'Uncovered "Girl From Enghelab Street" Picks Up Steam In Iran,' which to me is problematic. Three women is not a 'protest picking up steam.' And, I am not sure what these types of reporting are good for."

"Earlier today, I tried to read all the posts attached to the Persian hashtag and most of them were in English. Few of them were in Persian. We need more facts to conclude that this campaign is picking up in Iran."

3. Zahra Kiani, 33, lives in Esfahan

‌Image by Zahra Kiani‌

"Women's rights are an issue everywhere in the world and in Iran to a larger extent and certainly all social movements need to incorporate women’s rights in them. But my sense is that this kind of protest against mandatory [hijab] at this stage is somewhat misguided."

"I think restrictions on [hijab] is something that is going to be laxed in the next couple of years because of the high social and international pressures, just like it has gradually been laxed over the last 30 years. Even Saudi Arabia has now removed some of the obvious restrictions on women’s activities that have been in international spotlight, such as driving and going to stadiums, but do women really have better rights in Saudi Arabia now? I don’t think so."

4. Atoosa Moinzadeh, 24, journalist

🎶everyday I'm with my 🌱team🌱🎶

A post shared by Atoosa Moinzadeh (@atoosamoinzadeh) on

"It should be noted that these these women are truly putting their bodies on the line. These women are fighting for their autonomy and that shouldn't be diminished at all. However, the media needs to make sure to contextualize this against the broader history of women's issues in Iran, and sadly, that has not been the case historically with western protest coverage. If history has shown us, miniskirts and mod haircuts don’t symbolize freedom, if you look back to the way that people in rural areas were suffering under the Shah and the human rights abuses he committed under his authoritarian regime. This narrative evokes a type of whitewashing of the women's movement in Iran. It’s also important to note that the mandatory hijab is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what women and other marginalized identities are fighting for there."

5. Khadija*, 26, playwright and activist

*This source requested anonymity and is not pictured.

"It is against Islam to force women to wear the hijab because women should wear it for the sake of Allah and not for the sake of the police. A woman’s intention is not there if she is forced to wear it. It goes against Prophet Muhammad’s Hadith. Also, the Iranian government is not merciful, so is it even Islamic? After all, God is the 'Most Merciful' and 'Most Compassionate.'"

6. Sara S.G., 30, graduate student

‌Image via Sara S.G.‌

"The issue of women's rights like everywhere else is first and foremost cultural — and secondly legal. In Iran, the legal obstacles are larger than many other places, but they are not the entire story. On the cultural front, there has been a lot of improvements in the past 40 years. Since the [1979 Islamic] revolution, the overall culture has definitely improved."

"This change needs to be recognized. In western media, Iran is often portrayed as a static society and Iranian state as an absolute dictatorship, which then justifies the narrative that women need the West to liberate them from 'the evil mullahs.'"

"It's what we heard so much about Afghanistan, but what did the U.S. bring to Afghan women other than a never-ending war? This narrative undermines the agency of Iranian women and Iranian people generally."

7. Soraya Sebghati, 23, musician

‌Image via Soraya Sebghati‌

"I think for Iranian women, the White Wednesday movement is a really positive thing. Covering ones' hairline and body and (not) wearing makeup should be a choice for people to have; it shouldn't be forced on an entire country. It absolutely spreads dangerous ideas about femininity, sexuality, and shame."

"However, the neoliberal perspective on the hijab and the Middle East in general upsets me. We shouldn't strive to eliminate the hijab altogether — in my opinion, that's an issue that only Muslim people should discuss. As a person who isn't religious at all, I believe it's important to respect those who wear religious headcoverings of their own accord."

"You should have the full reign to choose between a bikini and a burkini, as long as it's your choice."

8. Anna Bas, 39, architect

‌Image via Anna Bas.

"I would like for the media to amplify the voices of millions of Iranian women. All these women face punishment for their objection to compulsory hijab. They are so brave."

"If there’s one thing I want Americans to understand, it’s this: Women in my country are not vulnerable victims. We are fighting for our basic rights, but we just need support and for our voices to be heard."

While it’s important to highlight their efforts, there’s a tendency for Western media to turn photos of rebellious Iranian women into a not-entirely accurate reflection of a dark regime.

For example, resurfaced photos of bare-headed Iranian women in the 1960s donning miniskirts — like in Business Insider and the Daily Mail — are often fetishized and used to symbolize a democratic and free Iran.  

‌‌

But in reality, at the time, Iran was ruled by an authoritarian regime since 1941 under Shah Reza Pahlavi that clamped down on dissent and suppressed political freedoms to appease the western governments that backed it. For instance, when Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh nationalized Iran’s oil supply, to the dismay of the U.K. and the U.S., the 1953 Western-backed coup's motive for attempting to overthrow the democratically elected leader was to strengthen Pahlavi's monarchial power.

Pahlavi was ousted during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. And ever since Ayatollah Khomeini assumed power, western media capitalized on his implementation of the Islamic dress code for women. As tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to fester, photos of women in long black cloaks, or chadors, were often used as anti-Iran propaganda.

As the national media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting pointed out, one of the most popular examples is this stock photo of an Iranian woman in a chador walking by an anti-American mural. That particular stock photo has resurfaced everywhere as the featured image for numerous articles — often having nothing to do with Iranian women — for The New York Times, CNN, Washington Post, and The Atlantic among many others.

In news headlines, book titles, and events pertaining to Iran, the phrase “Iran Unveiled” is ubiquitous. Seriously. Just look here, here, here, and here.

How can we productively support Iranian women challenging oppressive laws — without exploiting their imagery? Amplify their voices here and abroad.

If you appreciated getting the points of view of these Iranian women, it’s time to support them. You can do this by signing petitions that favor freedom of choice, signal boosting their commentary on social media, and supporting Iranian artists who use their craft as a form of empowerment and resistance.

But the first step is simply listening.

It should be noted that, according to Insider Gov, a public website documenting government contracts, White Wednesday campaign leader Masih Alinejad received more than $230,000 in the last three years from the U.S. State Department for her commentary and anti-compulsory hijab activism in Iran.

UPDATE 2/2/2018: A person previously mentioned in this story has been removed.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

There was a time when every other girl was named Ashley. That time has ended.

As we know, baby name trends are constantly changing. One generation’s Barbara is another generation’s Bethany. But it doesn’t make it any less odd when you suddenly realize that your very own name has suddenly made it into the “old and unhip” pile. And for many of us 80s babies…that time is now.

In a now-viral TikTok post, baby name consultant Colleen Slagen went through the top 100 girl names from 1986 to find which ones “did not age well” and were no longer ranked top 1,000 today. Such a descent from popularity would mark them as what she calls “timestamp names.”

Spoiler alert: what might be even more surprising than the names now considered old school are the names that are still going strong.


The first name that Slagen says is “officially out” is Heather. That’s right, not even cult movie fame could help it keep its ranking.

via GIPHY

Other extinct names include Erica, Courtney, Lindsay, Tara, Crystal, Shannon, Brandy and Dana. Tiffany, Brittany and Casey are also heading very much in that direction.

“My name is Brandy. The Gen Z hostess at Olive Garden told me that she’d never heard my name before and it was so unique,” one viewer wrote.

However, Andrea ranks “surprisingly high,” and Jessica, Ashley and Stephanie have survived…so far.

Gobsmacked, one person asked “How is Stephanie still in there? I don’t think I’ve met a Stephanie younger than myself at 34.”

But the biggest holdout still belongs to Jennifer. “She was a top 100 name all the way up until 2008. Round of applause for Jennifer,” Slagen says in the clip.

@namingbebe Sorry Lindsay, Heather, and Courtney. #babynames #nametok #nameconsultant #girlnames #80skid #1986 #nametrend ♬ original sound - Colleen

If your name has found its way into relic of a bygone era status, fret not. Slagen, whose name also ranks out of the top 1000, assures it just means “we are creatures of the 80's.”

Of course, while we still have baby names that become incredibly common for extended periods of time (looking at you, little Liam and Olivia), the real contemporary trend is going for uniqueness. As an article in The Atlantic notes, for most of American history families tended to name their children after a previous family member, with the goal of blending in, rather than standing out. But now, things have changed.

Laura Wattenberg, the founder of Namerology, told the outlet that “Parents are thinking about naming kids more like how companies think about naming products, which is a kind of competitive marketplace where you need to be able to get attention to succeed.”

But again, even with a keen eye on individualism, patterns pop up. “The same thing we see in fashion trend cycles, we see in names,” Jessie Paquette, another professional baby namer, told Vox. “We’re seeing Eleanor, Maude, Edith—cool-girl grandma names.”

So who knows…give it time (or maybe just a pop song) and one of these 80s names could make a comeback.

Photo from YouTube video.

It’s time to get out flexed.

When a cocky young man started showing off his muscles for the "Flex Cam" at a Philadelphia Soul arena football game, he got more than he bargained for after showing off his physique to a couple of women sitting behind him.

When the camera made its way back around, he was instantly upstaged by the superior muscles of one of the ladies he had tried to impress.


He had no choice but to sink sadly into his seat while the stronger woman flexed over his head.

PHILADELPHIA SOUL FLEX CAM SURPISE

This article originally appeared on 05.30.19

Mel Robinson making a TED Talk.

Towards the end of The Beatles’ illustrious but brief career, Paul McCartney wrote “Let it Be,” a song about finding peace by letting events take their natural course. It was a sentiment that seemed to mirror the feeling of resignation the band had with its imminent demise.

The bittersweet song has had an appeal that has lasted generations and that may be because it reflects an essential psychological concept: the locus of control.

“It’s about understanding where our influence ends and accepting that some things are beyond our control,” Jennifer Chappell Marsh, a marriage and family therapist, told The Huffington Post. “We can’t control others, so instead, we should focus on our own actions and responses.”


This idea of giving up control, or the illusion of it, when it does us no good, was perfectly distilled into 2 words that everyone can understand as the “Let Them” theory. Podcast host, author, motivational speaker and former lawyer Mel Robbins explained this theory perfectly in a vial Instagram video.

“I just heard about this thing called the ‘Let Them Theory,’ I freaking love this,” Robbins starts the video.

“If your friends are not inviting you out to brunch this weekend, let them. If the person that you're really attracted to is not interested in a commitment, let them. If your kids do not want to get up and go to that thing with you this week, let them.” Robbins says in the clip. “So much time and energy is wasted on forcing other people to match our expectations.”

“If they’re not showing up how you want them to show up, do not try to force them to change; let them be themselves because they are revealing who they are to you. Just let them – and then you get to choose what you do next,” she continued.

The phrase is a great one to keep in your mental health tool kit because it’s a reminder that, for the most part, we can’t control other people. And if we can, is it worth wasting the emotional energy? Especially when we can allow people to behave as they wish and then we can react to them however we choose.

Stop wasting energy on trying to get other people to meet YOUR expectations. Instead, try using the “Let Them Theory.” 

@melrobbins

Stop wasting energy on trying to get other people to meet YOUR expectations. Instead, try using the “Let Them Theory.” 💥 Listen now on the #melrobbinspodcast!! “The “Let Them Theory”: A Life Changing Mindset Hack That 15 Million People Can’t Stop Talking About” 🔗 in bio #melrobbins #letthemtheory #letgo #lettinggo #podcast #podcastepisode

How you respond to their behavior can significantly impact how they treat you in the future.

It’s also incredibly freeing to relieve yourself of the responsibility of changing people or feeling responsible for their actions. As the old Polish proverb goes, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

“Yes! It’s much like a concept propelled by the book ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k.’ Save your energy and set your boundaries accordingly. It’s realizing that we only have “control” over ourselves and it’s so freeing,” 60DaysToLive2012 wrote.

“Let It Be” brought Paul McCartney solace as he dealt with losing his band in a very public breakup. The same state of mind can help all of us, whether it’s dealing with parents living in the past, friends who change and you don’t feel like you know them anymore, or someone who cuts you off in traffic because they’re in a huge rush to go who knows where.

The moment someone gets on your nerves and you feel a jolt of anxiety run up your back, take a big breath and say, “Let them.”


This article originally appeared on 3.4.24

Identity

My wife surprised her coworkers when she came out as trans. Then they surprised her.

She was ready for one reaction but was greeted with a beautiful response.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

Zoe comes out to her coworkers.


Society, pay attention. This is important.

My wife, Zoe, is transgender. She came out to us — the kids and me — last summer and then slowly spread her beautiful feminine wings with extended family, friends, and neighbors.

A little coming out here, a little coming out there — you know how it is.


It's been a slow, often challenging process of telling people something so personal and scary, but pretty much everyone has been amazing.

However, she dreaded coming out at the office.

She works at a large technology company, managing a team of software developers in a predominantly male office environment. She's known many of her co-workers and employees for 15 or so years. They have called her "he" and "him" and "Mr." for a very long time. How would they handle the change?

While we have laws in place in Ontario, Canada, to protect the rights of transgender employees, it does not shield them from awkwardness, quiet judgment, or loss of workplace friendships. Your workplace may not become outright hostile, but it can sometimes become a difficult place to go to every day because people only tolerate you rather than fully accept you.

But this transition needed to happen, and so Zoe carefully crafted a coming out email and sent it to everyone she works with.

The support was immediately apparent; she received about 75 incredibly kind responses from coworkers, both local and international.

She then took one week off, followed by a week where she worked solely from home. It was only last Monday when she finally went back to the office.

First day back at work! I asked if I could take a "first day of school" type picture with her lunchbox. She said no. Spoilsport.

Despite knowing how nice her colleagues are and having read so many positive responses to her email, she was understandably still nervous.

Hell, I was nervous. I made her promise to text me 80 billion times with updates and was more than prepared to go down there with my advocacy pants on if I needed to (I might be a tad overprotective).

And that's when her office pals decided to show the rest of us how to do it right.

She got in and found that a couple of them had decorated her cubicle to surprise her:

LGBTQ, coming out, work

Her cubicle decorated with butterflies.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

Butterflies! Streamers! Rainbows! OMG!

And made sure her new name was prominently displayed in a few locations:

empathy, employment, understanding

Zoe written on the board.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

They got her a beautiful lily with a "Welcome, Zoe!" card:

coworkers, mental health, community

Welcome lily and card

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

And this tearjerker quote was waiting for her on her desk:

Oscar Wilde, job, employment

A quote from Oscar Wilde.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

To top it all off, a 10 a.m. "meeting" she was scheduled to attend was actually a coming out party to welcome her back to work as her true self — complete with coffee and cupcakes and handshakes and hugs.

acceptance, friendship, relationships

Coming out party with cupcakes.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

(I stole one, and it was delicious.)

NO, I'M NOT CRYING. YOU'RE CRYING.

I did go to my wife's office that day. But instead of having my advocacy pants on, I had my hugging arms ready and some mascara in my purse in case I cried it off while thanking everyone.

I wish we lived in a world where it was no big deal to come out.

Sadly, that is not the case for many LGBTQ people. We live in a world of bathroom bills and "religious freedom" laws that directly target the members of our community. We live in a world where my family gets threats for daring to speak out for trans rights. We live in a world where we can't travel to certain locations for fear of discrimination — or worse.

So when I see good stuff happening — especially when it takes place right on our doorstep — I'm going to share it far and wide. Let's normalize this stuff. Let's make celebrating diversity our everyday thing rather than hating or fearing it.

Chill out, haters. Take a load off with us.

It's a lot of energy to judge people, you know. It's way more fun to celebrate and support them for who they are.

Besides, we have cupcakes.


This article originally appeared on 04.08.16.

Family

A letter to the woman who told me to stay in my daughter's life after seeing my skin.

'I'm not a shiny unicorn. There are plenty of black men like me who love fatherhood.'

Doyin Richards

Dad and daughters take a walk through Disneyland.

True
Fathers Everywhere

To a stranger I met at a coffee shop a few years ago who introduced me to what my life as a parent would be like:

My "welcome to black fatherhood moment" happened five years ago, and I remember it like it happened yesterday.

I doubt you'll remember it, though — so let me refresh your memory.



It was a beautiful Saturday morning in Los Angeles in 2011, and I decided to walk my then 3-month-old daughter to the corner Starbucks. That's when I met you — a stylish older white woman who happened to be ahead of me in line.

You were very friendly and offered up many compliments about how cute my daughter was, and I agreed wholeheartedly with you. She's cute.

But after you picked up your drink, you delivered this parting shot:

"No offense, but it's not often that I see black guys out with their kids, but it's such a wonderful thing," she said. "No matter what happens, I hope you stay involved in her life."

And then you put on your designer sunglasses and left.

Meanwhile, I was like...

celebrity, racism, challenges, stigmas

That was unexpected.

GIF from "Live with Kelly and Michael."

Here's the thing: I'm not angry with you, but I want you to understand the impact you had on my life.

Do I think you're a mean-spirited racist? No, I don't. Actually, I bet you're a really nice lady.

But let's be real for a second: Your view on black dads was tough for me to stomach, and I want you to know a few things about what it's really like to be me.

1. I want you to know that we have challenges that other dads don't experience.

I know what you're thinking: "Oh boy — let me brace myself while he 'blacksplains' how hard his life is while shaming me for ignoring my white privilege."

But that would be missing the point. We all have our challenges in life, and I'm not about to bring a big bottle of whine to a pity party.

Instead, as you probably know, today's dads are trying to shed the stigma of being clueless buffoons.

nurture, unicorn, mainstream media

Kid, you're gonna love this! Wheeeee ... uh oh.

Image from Giphy.

But black dads have an additional obstacle to hurdle in that we're often seen as completely disinterested in fatherhood. Trust me, it gets old when people automatically assume you're not good at something because of the color of your skin.

Our encounter was the first of many examples of this that I've witnessed, directly or indirectly, in my five and a half years of fatherhood, and I'm sure there will be more to come.

2. I want you to know that I'm not a shiny unicorn. There are plenty of black men just like me who love fatherhood.

During the months that followed our brief meeting, I felt a need to prove that you — a complete stranger — were wrong. I needed to prove there were plenty of black men just like me who loved being dads.

I knew a lot of these great men personally: My dad, my two brothers, and many others embraced fatherhood. But could any data back up how much black dads embraced fatherhood? Because the examples in mainstream media were few and far between.

Thankfully, the answer is yes.

A few years after I met you, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 70% of black dads are likely to engage in common child-rearing activities such as diaper changing, bathing, toilet training, etc., on a daily basis. That's a higher percentage than white or Hispanic fathers.

Full stop.

This isn't about black dads being "the best" because parenthood isn't a competition. It's about showing that we're not even remotely as bad as society makes us out to be.

And outside of the CDC study, I saw firsthand how hands-on black dads are when I was thrust into the public eye, too, because a lot of them reached out to me to tell their stories.

We nurture our kids.

dads, social norms, ethnicity, privilege

Getting close to the twins.

Photo taken from the Daddy Doin' Work Instagram feed and used with permission.

We're affectionate with our kids.

fatherhood, children, family, parenting

Love is universal.

Photo taken from the Daddy Doin' Work Instagram feed and used with permission.

And we do whatever our kids need us to do.

equality, community, gender roles

Dad takes a deserved nap.

Photo taken from the Daddy Doin' Work Instagram feed and used with permission.

And none of that should come as a surprise to anyone.

3. I want you to know that I believe you meant well when you praised me for being involved in my daughter's life, but that's what I'm programmed to do.

Disneyland, fathers, daughters, ethnicity

Princess dresses at Disneyland? You bet.

Photo taken from the Daddy Doin' Work Instagram feed and used with permission.

I will always be there for her and her baby sister.

Even though I just described how black dads are different from many dads, I hope the takeaway you have from this is that we have a lot of similarities, too.

Please don't fall into the trap of saying that you want to live in a colorblind world because it makes it harder to identify with inequality when it happens. Instead, I hope you can recognize that we have the same hopes, dreams, and fears as other parents, but the roads we travel may not be the same.

And no, I don't want an apology.

But I hope when you pick up your next latte and see a dad who looks like me that you'll smile knowing he's the rule rather than the exception.


This article originally appeared on 06.15.16