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.


True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

In the autumn of 1939, Chiune Sugihara was sent to Lithuania to open the first Japanese consulate there. His job was to keep tabs on and gather information about Japan's ally, Germany. Meanwhile, in neighboring Poland, Nazi tanks had already begun to roll in, causing Jewish refugees to flee into the small country.

When the Soviet Union invaded Lithuania in June of 1940, scores of Jews flooded the Japanese consulate, seeking transit visas to be able to escape to a safety through Japan. Overwhelmed by the requests, Sugihara reached out to the foreign ministry in Tokyo for guidance and was told that no one without proper paperwork should be issued a visa—a limitation that would have ruled out nearly all of the refugees seeking his help.

Sugihara faced a life-changing choice. He could obey the government and leave the Jews in Lithuania to their fate, or he could disobey orders and face disgrace and the loss of his job, if not more severe punishments from his superiors.

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Sugihara was fond of saying, "I may have to disobey my government, but if I don't, I would be disobeying God." Sugihara decided it was worth it to risk his livelihood and good standing with the Japanese government to give the Jews at his doorstep a fighting chance, so he started issuing Japanese transit visas to any refugee who needed one, regardless of their eligibility.

Keep Reading Show less