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A Football Player Hit His Wife On Video. America Saw It. And Now America's Telling Her What To Do.

There is certainly a lot of speculation going on about Janay Rice. She's spoken her piece through ESPN, and of course I have formed my own sense of what is going on with her situation. But I'm not here to tell you my opinion on that. Because she spoke her piece. Who am I to tell her (or the rest of you) she's wrong? Here's what I am going to tell you.

A Football Player Hit His Wife On Video. America Saw It. And Now America's Telling Her What To Do.

I'm a domestic violence survivor.

I see a lot of well-meaning pundits, even some I fiercely admire, booking shows and writing think-pieces on what the underlying messages and themes are in the communique Janay Rice distributed. Most of them are concerned people saying she's in denial.

I'm here to implore you all to STOP saying Janay Rice is in denial.

On top of the trauma of the originating attack and all of the confusing, heart-rending choices that come after an attack, we are stealing her narrative. We are taking a thing she is hoping to regain control of right now — the public's perception and her own definition of who she is — and we are co-opting it for our own points. We are further victimizing the (at-least-at-one-time) victim. We justify it because it seems like such a great opportunity to raise awareness for other survivors. I agree with that tactic when it comes to media-shaming abusers.


It absolutely turns my guts when I see us dissecting the survivors' hard-won attempts to regain control of their own lives and the public's perception.

I even hesitate to write this piece because in imploring you to stop, I'm becoming a part of it.

So let me not focus on her story. Let me focus on what I know myself.

When I was struggling to leave my abuser, I was facing two parallel struggles. Depending on what kind of day it was, I was looking at one or the other:

The Illusion That What I Was Doing Was Being Strong For My Family's Sake

  • On the good days, I could tell myself the struggle was keeping our relationship together — being there and being unwavering in my commitment to a troubled man, helping him get through it. I could see the desired outcome in my head: us, years later, happy and healthy and triumphant after all the challenges. I didn't see myself as abused or weak or in denial. I saw myself as a strong woman standing steadfastly by a man in turmoil who I loved. This is the shared struggle, one an abuser helps maintain by telling the victim it's the thing they're both working toward.

The Realization That The Illusion Was An Illusion And I Needed To Save Myself And Kids

  • On the bad days, that illusion would shimmer, and I could see a glimpse through the break in it that there was a much more real struggle behind it — a struggle that was mine alone, not shared with my abuser. It was the struggle for the truth about myself, about my worth, the struggle to regain my hold on objective reality outside our shared struggle.

Sometimes I would see that and it would be clear for a day, maybe two. My friends could reach me then — they could see I had a chance to get out.

And just like that, the illusion (that my commitment to a troubled man could have a happy ending) would be back. I craved the illusion, and my abuser knew it. After a couple of days of entertaining what realities and hardships lay beyond the illusion, I *wanted* him to bullshit me. I wanted to bullshit myself.

My friends, however, did something very different. What they did for me during that time was crucial. My best friend was actually a domestic abuse counselor. There was so much she could have barraged and cornered me with. She KNEW so much about abusers' patterns that she could have pinned me with the truth. She didn't. She probably knew that if she did, it would just strengthen my illusion that it was my abuser and me against the world, and make me protective of him. My friends did the very best thing they could. They didn't beg me to see how wrong I was to revert to the illusion. They just loved me. They just supported me. And they waited until my next glimpse of reality. When it came, they listened, helped me, and took me seriously even though I'd been down this road before. They didn't say, “No, we've already gone through this with you, and you're just going to go back to him in a day or two." They came to get me and help me every time I tried to leave, without judgment, without hesitation, until I was finally strong enough to do it for good.

Whatever you think about Janay Rice, you might very well be right. But you can't do anything for her, so let her have her process in peace.

Let her own her damn story.

There will be one of two outcomes. She will leave her abuser or she won't. And you don't have any say in that, no matter how much you think you know.

"But Angie," you may be saying, "I care very much and it pains me to see this happening and not be able to do anything about it."

If this case being in the media woke you up to domestic violence in a way that you hadn't been attuned to before and you feel strongly about it, I guarantee there are people within a stone's throw whose lives you CAN affect. There are things you can do:

  • Take a training course and volunteer for a hotline.
  • Become a volunteer at a shelter.
  • Be better equipped from what you've learned so you can be the very best ally possible in case you have a friend or family member who someday needs your help.

But there is nothing useful in stealing Janay Rice's narrative from her on top of everything else she's dealing with.

“Our duty is to be useful, not according to our desires, but according to our powers." — Henri F. Amiel

Here is ESPN reporter Jamelle Hill's discussion of her interview with Janay Rice:

To watch the original ESPN coverage and read about Janay's experience in her words, you can go over to ESPN.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Wikiimages by Pixabay, Dr. Jacqueline Antonovich/Twitter

The 1776 Report isn't just bad, it's historically bad, in every way possible.

When journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones published her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, some backlash was inevitable. Instead of telling the story of America's creation through the eyes of the colonial architects of our system of government, Hannah-Jones retold it through the eyes of the enslaved Africans who were forced to help build the nation without reaping the benefits of democracy. Though a couple of historical inaccuracies have had to be clarified and corrected, the 1619 Project is groundbreaking, in that it helps give voice to a history that has long been overlooked and underrepresented in our education system.

The 1776 Report, in turn, is a blaring call to return to the whitewashed curriculums that silence that voice.

In September of last year, President Trump blasted the 1619 Project, which he called "toxic propaganda" and "ideological poison" that "will destroy our country." He subsequently created a commission to tell the story of America's founding the way he wanted it told—in the form of a "patriotic education" with all of the dog whistles that that phrase entails.

Mission accomplished, sort of.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.