+

Christopher Rashad Green came home from work the night of Aug. 15, 2016, to find a letter from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe waiting in his mailbox.

"When I sit down on my bed ... and I open it up, I’m not going to lie to you, I was so proud and thankful at the same time," Green says.

Christopher Rashad Green. Photo via New Virginia Majority.


After his 2013 release from prison, where Green was serving time for a burglary conviction, he devoted his life to activism. Green dove into a project reclaiming a set of African-American remains discovered at the bottom of a Richmond-area well and joined a campaign to raise the minimum wage.

Still, there was one tool for making change he longed to reclaim that he had lost when he was locked away: the right to vote.

The letter from the governor gave it back to him.

"Immediately, I called my mother," he says.

It was like a weight had been lifted from him.

Virginia is one of four states that permanently bars convicted felons from voting — even after they've completed their sentence and probation.

Green is one of 156,000 Virginians whose voting rights have been restored by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a record-setting number, beating the previous mark set by Florida Governor Charlie Crist from 2007 to 2011.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.

"Restoring their voting rights once they have served their time does not pardon their crimes or restore their firearm rights, but it provides them with a meaningful second chance through full citizenship," McAuliffe said in a statement.

Green was one of 200,000 Virginian "returning citizens" who were initially granted their right to vote via a blanket order from McAuliffe in April 2016  — an action that was overturned in court after a challenge by state Republicans.

The ruling stripped Green and others — who were briefly able to register to vote — of their franchise again.

In response, McAuliffe's administration began a massive effort to restore voting rights to citizens one by one.

Some applied via an electronic form. Others were identified by a data operation in collaboration with law enforcement, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, and other state agencies. Once it was determined that a returning citizen had been released from all forms of supervision, an individual grant order was prepared, signed electronically by the governor, and mailed out.

An attorney for Virginia Republicans argues before the state Supreme Court. Photo by Joe Mahoney/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP.

"I think people tend to think these are all terrible, awful people who are rapists and murderers, and they’re not," Kelly Thomasson, Virginia's secretary of the commonwealth, whose office is responsible for restoring civil rights to eligible citizens. "If you steal an iPhone, you will be convicted of a felony. The larceny threshold in Virginia is $200."

It's a rare victory for a demographic that's often overlooked by policymakers, and it took Virginia nearly a year to individually restore 156,000 people's voting rights.

A study by the Sentencing Project found that 13% of adult black men are disqualified from voting due to a felony conviction.

These men account for nearly 35% of all voters nationwide barred from voting.

"We see the high levels, where people commit acts of misconduct and egregious things, and they’re forgiven," Green explains. "They’re given second chances whether because they have money, prestige, or fame. But those at the bottom, those like us living in the trenches, we’re not worthy of redemption?"

Photo by Bill Tiernan/The Virginian-Pilot via AP.

The Secretary of the Commonwealth's website is now home to testimonials from re-enfranchised voters from all walks of life — some from residents who regained the right to vote after decades barred from casting a ballot.

"I have goosebumps right now talking about it because even though I’ve been doing this job for three-and-a-half years, hearing those stories never gets old," Thomasson says.

For years, Green says he was cynical about the political process — and the inattention to poor and minority communities from those in government.

"Our communities aren’t getting what we need, and no matter how good our elected officials are and how much they care about the community, you see the disparities. You see the inequity," he says.

Christopher Rashad Green, displaying his voting rights grant order. Photo via New Virginia Majority.

Now, he's determined to put his newfound voting voice to use. Next month, he will leaving his job as a cook in Virginia Commonwealth University's cafeteria to become an organizer with New Virginia Majority, registering some of the same voters who recently had their rights restored.

In the meantime, he plans to continue advocating for the causes close to his heart — Fight for 15, Black Lives Matter, and civil rights for former felons — in his work at the House of Delegates and now, finally, at the ballot box.

"It can work," he says. "I've seen it work.”

Pop Culture

She bought the perfect wedding dress that went viral on TikTok. It was only $3.75

Lynch is part of a growing crowd of newlyweds going against the regular wedding tradition of spending loads of money.

Making a priceless memory.

At first glance, one might think that Jillian Lynch wore a traditional (read: expensive) dress to her wedding. After all, it did look glamorous on her. But this 32-year-old bride has a secret superpower: thrifting.

Lynch posted her bargain hunt on TikTok, sharing that she had been perusing thrift shops in Ohio for four days in a row, with the actual ceremony being only a month away. Lynch then displays an elegant ivory-colored Camila Coelho dress. Fitting perfectly, still brand new and with the tags on it, no less.

You can find that exact same dress on Revolve for $220. Lynch bought it for only $3.75.
Keep ReadingShow less
Images provided by Pacifico

Making waves in the best way

True

At last, summer is here. And for many people, that means it's time for heading to the beach and maybe even catching some waves. Surfing is a quintessential summertime activity for those who live in coastal communities—it’s not only really fun and challenging, it’s also a great way to celebrate Mother Nature’s beauty. Even after a wipeout, the cool water mixed with warm sunshine offers a certain kind of euphoria. Or, you know, just hanging back on the sand is plenty fun too. Simply being outdoors near the ocean is its own reward.

pacifico quiksilver beach cleanupLet’s protect the places where outdoor adventure happensAll photos provided by Pacifico

However, it's well known that our beautiful beaches are suffering the consequences of overcrowding, pollution and littering. What was once a way of playing in nature is now slowly destroying it. And of course, this affects beachgoers everywhere. The sad truth is—without taking action to preserve all the natural joys the earth provides, we will eventually lose them.

But there is hope. Two popular brands that both have roots in surf culture have teamed up to help make trips to the beach a more sustainable pastime. The best part? You don’t have to know how to hang ten in order to participate.

Pacifico®, a pilsner-style lager originally brought to the U.S. by surfers, and Quiksilver, an iconic apparel company loved by both surfers and beach goers alike, have created a brand-new range of clothing and accessories with sustainability in mind.

Take a look below. These threads are great for all kinds of fun in the sun, without compromising the environment.

pacifico quicksilver beach cleanupsReady to make some waves

The collection launches on July 5 and includes tees and woven shirts, boardshorts, hats, flip-flops and a special beach towel and tote bag. The unique collaboration features the vibrant, colorful designs that are the hallmark of Quiksilver combined with Pacifico elements, created to make a positive impact.

Each item has been thoughtfully curated to minimize an environmental footprint and protect the outdoors. The hats, for example, are made from NetPlus® by Bureo®, a raw material created from South American recycled fishing nets. Additionally, the board shorts are made from recycled plastic bottles, and tees are made with 100% organic cotton. Pretty rad stuff, to put it in surfer lingo.

The prices on these pieces are equally rad, ranging from $28 flip-flops to $60 boardshorts.

In keeping with the sustainable ethos and protecting the places we play, Pacifico and Quiksilver will celebrate the products’ launch by hosting two beach cleanups. The first is on July 5 at Sunset Point in Malibu, California, from 4-5:30pm, and the second is on July 9th at Deerfield Beach in Florida from 8:30 – 10:30am.

pacifico quicksilver clothing lineCleaning up and looking good while doing it

Theses beach cleanups are open to anyone over the age of 21 who’s ready to have some fun while taking care of nature’s playground.

Those who can’t make it to the beach (bummer, dude) don’t have to miss out on all the fun. The new collection will be available on July 5th at www.quiksilver.com/mens-collab-pacifico. And even if you don’t surf, never plan to surf, have no desire to even be near a surfboard, rest assured, the apparel is still cool. Plus sustainable choices are always good fashion.

Our planet provides us with an endless supply of beauty and adventure. But without more mindful actions from humanity, its natural wonders will eventually diminish. Fortunately Pacifico and Quiksilver are making it easier than ever for people to enjoy the great outdoors without jeopardizing it. That’s a wave worth riding.

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


Being married is like being half of a two-headed monster. It's impossible to avoid regular disagreements when you're bound to another person for the rest of your life. Even the perfect marriage (if there was such a thing) would have its daily frustrations. Funnily enough, most fights aren't caused by big decisions but the simple, day-to-day questions, such as "What do you want for dinner?"; "Are we free Friday night?"; and "What movie do you want to see?"

Here are some hilarious tweets that just about every married couple will understand.

Keep ReadingShow less