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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.

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan
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Growing up in Indonesia, Farwiza Farhan always loved the ocean. It's why she decided to study marine biology. But the more she learned, the more she realized that it wasn't enough to work in the ocean. She needed to protect it.

"I see the ocean ecosystem collapsing due to overfishing and climate change," she says. "I felt powerless and didn't know what to do [so] I decided to pursue my master's in environmental management."

This choice led her to work in environmental protection, and it was fate that brought her back home to the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia — one of the last places on earth where species such as tigers, orangutans, elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros still live in the wild today. It's also home to over 300 species of birds, eight of which are endemic to the region.

"When I first flew over the Leuser Ecosystem, I saw an intact landscape, a contiguous block of lush, diverse vegetation stretched through hills and valleys. The Leuser is truly a majestic landscape — one of a kind."

She fell in love. "I had my first orangutan encounter in the Leuser Ecosystem," she remembers. "As the baby orangutan swung from the branches, seemingly playing and having fun, the mother was observing us. I was moved by the experience."

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

"Over the years," she continues, "the encounters with wildlife, with people, and with the ecosystem itself compounded. My curiosity and interest towards nature have turned into a deep desire to protect this biodiversity."

So, she began working for a government agency tasked to protect it. After the agency dismantled for political reasons in the country, Farhan decided to create the HAkA Foundation.

"The goals [of HAkA] are to protect, conserve and restore the Leuser Ecosystem while at the same time catalyzing and enabling just economic prosperity for the region," she says.

"Wild areas and wild places are rare these days," she continues. "We think gold and diamonds are rare and therefore valuable assets, but wild places and forests, like the Leuser Ecosystems, are the kind of natural assets that essentially provide us with life-sustaining services."

"The rivers that flow through the forest of the Leuser Ecosystem are not too dissimilar to the blood that flows through our veins. It might sound extreme, but tell me — can anyone live without water?"

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

So far, HAkA has done a lot of work to protect the region. The organization played a key role in strengthening laws that bring the palm oil companies that burn forests to justice. In fact, their involvement led to an unprecedented, first-of-its-kind court decision that fined one company close to $26 million.

In addition, HAkA helped thwart destructive infrastructure plans that would have damaged critical habitat for the Sumatran elephants and rhinos. They're working to prevent mining destruction by helping communities develop alternative livelihoods that don't damage the forests. They've also trained hundreds of police and government rangers to monitor deforestation, helping to establish the first women ranger teams in the region.

"We have supported multiple villages to create local regulation on river and land protection, effectively empowering communities to regain ownership over their environment."

She is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year. The donation she receives as a nominee is being awarded to the Ecosystem Impact Foundation. The small local foundation is working to protect some of the last remaining habitats of the critically endangered leatherback turtle that lives on the west coast of Sumatra.

"The funds will help the organization keep their ranger employed so they can continue protecting the islands, endangered birds and sea turtle habitats," she says.

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen. Do you know an inspiring woman like Farwiza? Nominate her today!

Photo by Vanessa Garcia from Pexels

A professor's message to students has gone viral.

If you know any teachers, you probably know how utterly exhausted they all are, from preschools all the way up through college. Pandemic schooling has been rough, to say the least, and teachers have borne the brunt of the impact it's had on students.

Most teachers I've known have bent over backwards to help students succeed during this time, taking kids' mental and emotional health into consideration and extending the flexibility and grace we all could use. But teachers have their own mental and emotional needs, too, and at some point, something's gotta give.

A college student posted screenshots of a professor's message on Twitter with the comment "someone PLEASE check on my professor." It's simply incredible.

The message reads:

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Courtesy of Ms. Lopez
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Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color.

"I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings," she says. "More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too."

Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. "That moment was life-changing for me," she recalls. "It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year."

It's also guided her teaching. Ms. Lopez says she always selects authors and characters that represent her students and celebrate other ethnicities so students can relate to what they read while also learning about other cultures.

"I want them to see themselves in the books they read, respect those that may not look like them and realize they may have lots in common with [other cultures] they read about," she says.

She also wants her students to have a different experience in school than she did.

When Ms. Lopez was in first grade, she "was speaking in Spanish to a new student, showing her where the restroom was when a staff member overheard our conversation and directed me to not speak in Spanish," she recalls. "In 'this school,' we only speak English," she remembers them saying. "From that day forward, I was made to feel less-than and embarrassed to speak the language of my family, my ancestors; the language I learned to speak first."

Part of her job, she says, is to find new ways to promote acceptance and inclusion in her classroom.

"The worldwide movement around social justice following the death of George Floyd amplified my duty as a teacher to learn how to discuss racial equity in a way that made sense to my little learners," she says. "It ignited me to help them see themselves in a positive light, to make our classroom family feel more inclusive, and make our classroom a safe place to have authentic conversations."

One way she did that was by raising money through DonorsChoose to purchase books and other materials for her classroom that feature diverse perspectives.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

The Allstate Foundation recently partnered with DonorsChoose to create a Racial Justice and Representation category to encourage teachers like Ms. Lopez to create projects that address racial equity in the classroom. To launch the category, The Allstate Foundation matched all donations to these projects for a total of $1.5 million. Together, they hope to drive awareness and funding to projects that bring diversity, inclusion, and identity-affirming learning materials into classrooms across the country. You can see current projects seeking funding here.

When Ms. Lopez wanted to incorporate inclusive coloring books into her lesson plans, The Allstate Foundation fully funded her project so she was able to purchase them.

"I'm a lifelong learner, striving to be my best version of myself and always working to inspire my little learners to do the same," she says. Each week, Ms. Lopez and the students would focus on a page in the book and discuss its message. And she plans to do the same again this school year.

"DonorsChoose has been a gamechanger for my students. Without the support of all the donors that come together on this platform, we wouldn't have a sliver of what I've been able to provide for my students, especially during the pandemic," she says.

"My passion is to continue striving to be excellent, and to continue to find ways to use literature as an anchor, depicting images that reflect my students," she says.

To help teachers like Ms. Lopez drive this important mission forward, donate on DonorsChoose.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

man and two children on grass field

When I conceived my first born, I was elated. I took four at-home tests to confirm the news, peeing on my hand four times — and on four different sticks. I rushed to the city to tell my husband, with a congratulatory card and a few goodies in a yellow gift bag. There was a pacifier, a bottle, and an adorable Big Bird brush and comb set. And I called my doctor within hours. I scheduled an ultrasound the following week. But when I told everyone else the news, they wanted to know about my unborn baby's sex. Did I want a boy, they asked, or a girl?

I said I didn't care because I didn't. I wanted a child, to be sure. A happy, healthy baby who could (and presumably would) grow to become a happy, healthy kid. But everyone was focused on colors. On labels. Would I be a dance mom or a soccer mom? Would my shower be decorated with pink balloons or blue? And while I learned at my 20-week checkup that I was having a daughter — that I would be having a baby girl — I didn't identify as a "girl mom." My daughter is 8 and I still don't. Because sex doesn't define my daughter. It doesn't dictate her interests or mine, and it doesn't affect how I parent. I treat my son and daughter (more or less) the same. Because I'm not a boy mom or a girl mom, I'm just Mom, and that's an important distinction.


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Mom gets surprise call from daughter.

A FaceTime from her daughter is the best surprise this mom could ask for. Why? Because unbeknown to her, the daughter arrived back home from college in secret. And she shared this touching impromptu reunion with TikTok for everyone to enjoy.

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