A girl quit chess for a very sad reason, and America Ferrera is not having it.

Let's get real: Actor America Ferrera is a badass.

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The Critics' Choice Award.


When she's not batting down sexist, racist interview questions and inspiring students to let their voices be heard at the ballot box...

Ferrera chats with students in Nevada about voting. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

...she's nailing acceptance speeches at fancy award shows.

Like, for instance, at the Eleanor Roosevelt Global Women’s Rights Awards, put on by the Feminist Majority Foundation on May 9, 2016, in West Hollywood.


Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Ferrera was one of four women honored at the event for having "contributed greatly to advancing the human rights of women and girls" across the U.S. and world.

And rightly so.

Her acceptance speech touched on several points — most notably, the importance of role models, particularly for women and people of color:

"It’s not easy out there for most of us who don’t look like the one thing you are supposed to look like in [the entertainment] industry — to find roles that honor our intelligence and our humanity and our passion, and our real-life roles," she said, according to BuzzFeed.

Ferrera shared a personal story about a young girl whose telling experience is a tough one to forget (emphasis added):

"I was moderating a conversation once among young women, and there was something that a young girl said that has really stayed with me. She stood up and she asked one of our panelists ... 'I was on the chess team. I was really good. But I was the only girl on the chess team, and it felt hard to be there, so I quit.' And I haven’t been able to shake that. Because if we can’t get our young girls to stay in the room for the chess team, how are we gonna get them to stay in the room to be leaders in business, leaders in politics, leaders in medicine, leaders in science?"

Ferrera gets it. Because we have to do a better job at showing girls they can be whatever they want to be — not just talking the talk.

Glass ceilings still exist in far too many places (even if most have a few cracks in them). And for women of color, sometimes that glass can feel more like concrete.

Women are underrepresented in most science and math fields. They're far outnumbered in business leadership positions. The entertainment industry Ferrera touched upon? Yeah, it's overwhelmingly controlled by powerful, old white guys. And although there's a record number of women in the U.S. Senate, that figure is still inexcusably low, at just 20 out of 100 available seats.

Elizabeth Warren is one of the 20 women in the U.S. Senate. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

Sure, progress is happening across many of these fields but way too slowly. One recent study, for instance, found it will take another century for women to have equal representation in top positions of corporate America. (The big culprit? Gender bias.)

We have to get better at fighting back against sexism in the workplace and on our TV screens and make sure every girl knows there's a seat for her at whatever table she wants to sit at.

It shouldn't matter if it's the chess club or the White House — women should have more role models showing them that yes, they can. And it's on all of us to make it happen.

Let's take a hint from Ferrera — who'd been "a tiny Latina in California with an outsize dream that nobody really saw as possible for [her]" — and make sure every kid can see a glimpse of their best future selves in the world around them.


Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for AOL.


Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less