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Adults have described slum life, but these kids' versions are much better.

These kids might be growing up in tough places, but they don't want you to feel sorry for them — they want you to see their dance moves.

Adults have described slum life, but these kids' versions are much better.

When it comes to seeing images of people in developing countries and war zones, we're all used to seeing "more of the ugly," said filmmaker Adam Sjöberg. But when he traveled the world, visiting Cambodia, Colombia, Uganda, and Yemen, the kids he met didn't want to focus on that.

The kids didn't want to talk about their hardships — they wanted to show off their dance moves.

So Adam shot a film about it. But he didn't just put their cool breakdancing skills on tape. He gave the kids the mic.



It grew into "Shake the Dust," a documentary that shows how breakdancing has changed the lives of children and teens living in poverty across four different countries.

On the streets of Kampala, Uganda, 12-year-old Karim Lokwa works hard at his breaking skills, even though his thumbs are conjoined on one hand. He's also the film's narrator.

He opens the film by saying:

"We have been told that the life of the street is all about survival. But we are doing more than just surviving. Our dream is to change the slums. "

"Hip-hop doesn't belong to any of our traditional cultures, but hip-hop brings us together as a family," added B-boy Abramz Tekya, the founder of Breakdance Project Uganda (B.P.U.).

"We know we can't dance our way out of poverty, but breakdancing fills our hearts with hope."

That's just one of the things Karim explains in the documentary. The filmmaker, Adam, broke down why their global connection with hip-hop is so strong. In an email interview, he told me:

"Many of the characters in this film have no real family to speak of ... but they all had such resilience. Breaking and hip-hop gave them power, reminded them that they have dignity. ... Without education, without my prompting, without any resources, they just see their world as having potential."
— Adam Sjöberg

And these talented hip-hop devotees aren't just talking about change — they're all about changing lives.

In Uganda, orphan Kaweesi Mark is the founder of Break-Fast, one of the largest breakdancing competitions in East Africa. He's also the finance chair of B.P.U., whose mission is "to engage young people in elements of the hip hop culture to build leadership skills and promote social responsibility."

Another B.P.U. member, Kibuuka Mukisa Oscar, who was raised alongside his four brothers by a single mom, helped shoot "Shake the Dust." Afterward, he "took a massive risk for a Ugandan — he got a micro loan for a nice camera. He began shooting on his own — obsessively," says Adam.

And it's changing lives. The 22-year-old now has shows in Europe and was recently profiled on The New Yorker's Instagram feed.


Kibuuka Mukisa Oscar @kibuukaphotography is 22 year-old photographer from Uganda. He documents Hip-Hop culture in Uganda. Kibuuka grew up with a single mother and his four siblings in Kampala. "Doing photography has made it possible for me to support my family, I am able to help my mother and pay my brothers school fees," he says. Kibuuka started doing photography through a youth program called Breakdance Project Uganda and he later started a visual arts program teaching photography and graffiti to kids. His slogan is "Just give a smile to the world." Kibuuka's trip to Addis Foto fest @addisfotofest was made possible by the Goethe Institute and the Moving Africa Program. " It's amazing for me to meet other photographers like Russell Fredrick @rfrederickphoto that documents culture in Brooklyn, and that inspires me with my own work because I am also documenting culture." Photo by @malinfezehai #uganda #ethiopia #addisphotofest #photographer
A photo posted by New Yorker Photo (@newyorkerphoto) on

As Adam readied for the L.A. premiere of "Shake the Dust," he was proud of the respectful story that the documentary tells.

"Because positivity isn't actually that hard to find when you look for it."
— Adam Sjöberg

My feelings exactly. Word. Up.

To see a free preview of the vibrant film "Shake the Dust," click the "watch trailer" tab below:

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Wikiimages by Pixabay, Dr. Jacqueline Antonovich/Twitter

The 1776 Report isn't just bad, it's historically bad, in every way possible.

When journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones published her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, some backlash was inevitable. Instead of telling the story of America's creation through the eyes of the colonial architects of our system of government, Hannah-Jones retold it through the eyes of the enslaved Africans who were forced to help build the nation without reaping the benefits of democracy. Though a couple of historical inaccuracies have had to be clarified and corrected, the 1619 Project is groundbreaking, in that it helps give voice to a history that has long been overlooked and underrepresented in our education system.

The 1776 Report, in turn, is a blaring call to return to the whitewashed curriculums that silence that voice.

In September of last year, President Trump blasted the 1619 Project, which he called "toxic propaganda" and "ideological poison" that "will destroy our country." He subsequently created a commission to tell the story of America's founding the way he wanted it told—in the form of a "patriotic education" with all of the dog whistles that that phrase entails.

Mission accomplished, sort of.

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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.