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A short documentary takes a look at what it's like to grow up black in America.

"I want people to know I'm perfectly fine, and I'm not going to hurt anybody or do anything bad." — Maddox, 10 years old

A short documentary takes a look at what it's like to grow up black in America.
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Open Society Foundations

A new documentary explores what it's like to grow up black in America.

Joe Brewster and Perri Peltz released "A Conversation About Growing Up Black" earlier this month via The New York Times. The short documentary, just over five minutes long, provides insight into just some of the many unique challenges and fears black boys must face.

Several interview subjects brought up the issue that's been on everyone's mind: police violence.

17-year-old Malik touched on the topic, discussing how it hurts him that violence or abuse might come from the people who are supposed to protect him.


Clips by The New York Times.

Jumoke, also 17, brought up that he feels like he and other young black men are being "hunted" by police.

Another struggle brought up in the video is that black men are often more likely to be seen as a threat to strangers in public.

Miles, 13, describes a time he was walking home with a classmate. "I was walking home from school with this one white girl and we had just gotten off the bus," he says. When they were almost home, they approached a crowd of black children who'd also just gotten out of school. The girl turned to Miles and said: "Oh, let's cross the street. There's a group of black kids. I don't want to run into them."

25-year-old Marvin talks about one of his teachers, who made him take off a wristband because "it looks gang-affiliated." And he discusses what it's like to have the world see him as a potential threat.

Racism in society takes many forms and is far more subtle than many people realize.

I am white. Because of that, I'm never going to know what racism feels like. I can't say, "I know how that feels" because I don't. I can't.

What I and others who have benefitted from institutional racism can do is to start listening. We can start sharing the stories of men and boys like Miles, Jumoke, Malik, and Marvin.

Because as Bisa, 17, explains, understanding the hows and whys of racism is a complicated process that young men like him have to deal with from a very young age.

And Maddox, just 10 years old, already knows that society unfairly expects him to grow up to be a threat.

No one should have to grow up like this or go through life like this.

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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.