A pro-life and a pro-choice protest collided. There was singing and hugs.

On Jan. 21, millions of women across the country and world marched for equality. But not all of them agreed on what that meant.

Kate Munger, a 67-year-old Bay Area resident, had been asking around to find out what kinds of demonstrations might be going on nearby when she got wind of the Walk for Life West Coast, a massive march against abortion rights that takes place every year in San Francisco.

This year, the Walk for Life and the Women's March happened on the same day.


Photo by John Gress/Getty Images

Munger says she is strongly pro-choice, but abortion rights haven't always been her primary passion. Still, she saw this sharp coincidence as a powerful opportunity to practice democracy.

Munger, a lifelong singer and founder of the Threshold Choir, called up all the vocalists she knew and asked if they'd be willing to help her confront the Walk for Life ... with song.

She imagined meeting the opposition head-on with "blessings and songs." She wanted to fiercely oppose their ideas while also upholding their right to campaign for their own issues.

Still, it took Munger a while to commit to the idea. "It sounded too dangerous," she says. "It sounded too challenging."

Many of her friends agreed. But in the end, she found 11 singers willing to join her.

On the day of the march, Munger and her fellow singers traveled to San Francisco by ferry and began with some vocal warmups.

After a little practice — and steeling themselves for the confrontation ahead — the group took its place. They began to sing as thousands and thousands of pro-life activists bore down on them.

For hours, they hardly stopped to take a breath, let alone utter an antagonistic word. The 12 women simply sang, while holding a sign that said the rest:

"We don't agree with you AND we uphold your right to your beliefs in our democracy."

GIF via Ellen Silva, used with permission.

Munger says it wasn't easy to maintain composure. "We were two lines of six women being bored down on by literally hoards of people. At times it was really scary."

Most of the Walk for Lifers didn't pay any mind or didn't seem to get the message. But the few that did? Munger says "that made all the difference."

Photo by Emma Silver/KQED, used with permission.

According to an article by Emma Silver for KQED, one marcher stopped to hug Munger and the other singers before continuing on.

Others appreciated an opportunity for peaceful disagreement. That's really what Munger's demonstration was about, even more than abortion.

Though it was about that, too.

"I think we need to exercise our democracy, practice our democracy, not take it for granted," she says. "I don't feel that Donald Trump [and his administration] are showing any respect for democracy."

She's right. With so many people actively dismissing or criticizing protest efforts following the election, it's fair to wonder if the very pillars of our society are at stake.

And if they are, the voices of women and people of color are at the greatest risk.

Kudos to Munger for exercising hers without drowning out others in the process.

More

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture