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What happened in South Carolina felt way too personal.

When I heard that a racist gunman entered Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston during a small group Bible study on June 17 and killed nine people, my body went cold.



Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images.

I have spent countless Wednesday nights in the chairs of a small black church, surrounded by 15 or so people — just like them.

Usually that bunch includes a handful of the church's older women, or "church mothers" as we call them. There will be one, maybe two people in their 20s who are holding down the fort for "the next generation."

Then there's the pastor, the associate pastors and deacons, and a few children fidgeting somewhat quietly on a chair next to their mother, grandmother, or auntie who brought them out after a hurried dinner, the only reason for them to ever be out on a school night.

I can imagine how a visitor could come in and sit down and be included in the group without question.

We would offer him a Bible and a seat of his choosing, as there would undoubtedly be many empty to pick from. I could imagine how, despite him not fitting in and potentially being a bit distracting, people would try to engage him in the prayer and discussion because that is what we do: welcome the stranger with love.

Congregants hold hands during a prayer vigil for the nine victims killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

So when I heard about what happened in South Carolina, I felt in my gut the terror and horror that must have ensued when said stranger turned out to be a gunman on a mission to eradicate people who share my skin color.

It all felt so familiar.

I didn't think my heart could feel any more deeply for Mother Emanuel, for the lives lost, for the loved ones left behind, for my people, and for our country...

Then I was forwarded this video from the church service at Mother Emanuel that took place just three days before the shooting.

It isn't the greatest quality (though the audio does get a bit better at 0:18), but for some reason, I couldn't stop watching it:

You see, last Sunday, Mother Emanuel celebrated Children's Sunday.

Children's Sunday in many churches is a day where the church honors its young people by both speaking directly to them and handing over the reigns and allowing them to showcase their gifts and talents during the service.

Here, the girls were dancing to a song by gospel artist Tamela Mann called "Lord We Are Waiting." The lyrics to the chorus are:

"Here in this place, we humbly bow
Our hearts are waiting, speak to us now
There is no time here, only Your presence
Show us Your Glory, speak to us now.
Speak to us now."



Why have I watched this short clip over and over again?

Because I can't get over the fact that before the week was out, just three days after these girls were recorded dancing in a service meant to show the church's support and love for them, one of Mother Emanuel's children, a 5-year-old, would play dead to avoid being murdered in the very same sanctuary.

Photographs of the nine victims killed are held up by congregants during a prayer vigil at the Mother Emanuel AMC Church in Charleston. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

This is what racism does: It infiltrates even the most sacred of spaces and terrorizes even the most vulnerable among us.

Many have highlighted the irony of such a heinous act of hate and white supremacy happening in a place of worship during a religious gathering.

But I can speak only for myself, as a black woman who claims the historic African-American legacy of being progressive, activist, and religious. The message is clear.

Racism has no boundaries, and hatred has no shame. We can use all the help we can get — divine and otherwise — as we do the work and fight to end racism forever.

These beautiful children were dancing in a place that was founded by the organizer of a slave rebellion and that served as a hub of abolitionist and civil rights activity for hundreds of years.

The steeple of Mother Emanuel AME Church. Image by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images.


They were dancing in a church led by a pastor who only a few months ago stood on the floor of the state Senate to condemn police brutality and who regularly spoke about political participation like this:

A pastor who is no longer with us. Because of hate.

The people of Mother Emanuel have been fighting hatred and racism for generations. Will we join them?

I believe that their cry for God to be with them and to speak to them was not one of religious passivity or weakness but of a recognition of the need for divine strength and wisdom to support them in the massive work that they are called to do on this earth.

That is the work that all of us who believe in freedom and equality are called to do.

More than anything, this dance from a few days before the tragic hate crime was carried out within the church's walls reminds me that hope and beauty always remain.

Each generation will continue dancing even as the fight continues.

Thank you, children of Mother Emanuel. We're all dancing — and fighting — right by your side.

Images provided by Pacifico

Making waves in the best way

True

At last, summer is here. And for many people, that means it's time for heading to the beach and maybe even catching some waves. Surfing is a quintessential summertime activity for those who live in coastal communities—it’s not only really fun and challenging, it’s also a great way to celebrate Mother Nature’s beauty. Even after a wipeout, the cool water mixed with warm sunshine offers a certain kind of euphoria. Or, you know, just hanging back on the sand is plenty fun too. Simply being outdoors near the ocean is its own reward.

pacifico quiksilver beach cleanupLet’s protect the places where outdoor adventure happensAll photos provided by Pacifico

However, it's well known that our beautiful beaches are suffering the consequences of overcrowding, pollution and littering. What was once a way of playing in nature is now slowly destroying it. And of course, this affects beachgoers everywhere. The sad truth is—without taking action to preserve all the natural joys the earth provides, we will eventually lose them.

But there is hope. Two popular brands that both have roots in surf culture have teamed up to help make trips to the beach a more sustainable pastime. The best part? You don’t have to know how to hang ten in order to participate.

Pacifico®, a pilsner-style lager originally brought to the U.S. by surfers, and Quiksilver, an iconic apparel company loved by both surfers and beach goers alike, have created a brand-new range of clothing and accessories with sustainability in mind.

Take a look below. These threads are great for all kinds of fun in the sun, without compromising the environment.

pacifico quicksilver beach cleanupsReady to make some waves

The collection launches on July 5 and includes tees and woven shirts, boardshorts, hats, flip-flops and a special beach towel and tote bag. The unique collaboration features the vibrant, colorful designs that are the hallmark of Quiksilver combined with Pacifico elements, created to make a positive impact.

Each item has been thoughtfully curated to minimize an environmental footprint and protect the outdoors. The hats, for example, are made from NetPlus® by Bureo®, a raw material created from South American recycled fishing nets. Additionally, the board shorts are made from recycled plastic bottles, and tees are made with 100% organic cotton. Pretty rad stuff, to put it in surfer lingo.

The prices on these pieces are equally rad, ranging from $28 flip-flops to $60 boardshorts.

In keeping with the sustainable ethos and protecting the places we play, Pacifico and Quiksilver will celebrate the products’ launch by hosting two beach cleanups. The first is on July 5 at Sunset Point in Malibu, California, from 4-5:30pm, and the second is on July 9th at Deerfield Beach in Florida from 8:30 – 10:30am.

pacifico quicksilver clothing lineCleaning up and looking good while doing it

Theses beach cleanups are open to anyone over the age of 21 who’s ready to have some fun while taking care of nature’s playground.

Those who can’t make it to the beach (bummer, dude) don’t have to miss out on all the fun. The new collection will be available on July 5th at www.quiksilver.com/mens-collab-pacifico. And even if you don’t surf, never plan to surf, have no desire to even be near a surfboard, rest assured, the apparel is still cool. Plus sustainable choices are always good fashion.

Our planet provides us with an endless supply of beauty and adventure. But without more mindful actions from humanity, its natural wonders will eventually diminish. Fortunately Pacifico and Quiksilver are making it easier than ever for people to enjoy the great outdoors without jeopardizing it. That’s a wave worth riding.

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


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Here are some hilarious tweets that just about every married couple will understand.

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Paul Rudd in 2016.

Passing around your yearbook to have it signed by friends, teachers and classmates is a fun rite of passage for kids in junior high and high school. But, according to KDVR, for Brody Ridder, a bullied sixth grader at The Academy of Charter Schools in Westminster, Colorado, it was just another day of putting up with rejection.

Poor Brody was only able to get four signatures in his yearbook, two from what appeared to be teachers and one from himself that said, “Hope you make some more friends."

Brody’s mom, Cassandra Ridder has been devastated by the bullying her son has faced over the past two years. "There [are] kids that have pushed him and called him names," she told The Washington Post. It has to be terrible to have your child be bullied and there is nothing you can do.

She posted about the incident on Facebook.

“My poor son. Doesn’t seem like it’s getting any better. 2 teachers and a total of 2 students wrote in his yearbook,” she posted on Facebook. “Despite Brody asking all kinds of kids to sign it. So Brody took it upon himself to write to himself. My heart is shattered. Teach your kids kindness.”

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