Alicia Keys released a beautiful video to get 1 million signatures for prison reform.

"Is this who we are now? Is this who we want to be?"

Those were questions first asked by superstar artist Alicia Keys in a Capitol Hill briefing on Nov. 10, 2015, about the alarming state of mass incarceration in the United States. Knowing that the "land of the free" has more people in prison than any other nation in the world, she is now asking those same questions to her millions of fans — and asking them to do something about it.


All images via Alicia Keys/YouTube.

Her new campaign, #WeAreHere for #JusticeReformNow is a partnership between her organization, We Are Here, and Cut 50, an organization that aims to cut the U.S. prison population in half over the next 10 years. The campaign is asking 1 million people to sign a petition that calls on Congress and the White House to take action now.

Keys is latest in a string of celebrities who have recently begun to shine a light on America's mass incarceration crisis. And with good reason.

The issue of mass incarceration is one that touches on so many devastating challenges within our society.

This complex issue is tied to racism, poverty, and inequality (as those who are incarcerated are overwhelmingly black, brown, and poor and receive harsher sentences for the same crimes as their white counterparts), the economy (the prison system is big business for private companies but costs the nation between $30K-100K a year to incarcerate just one person), as well as the issue that is most important to Keys and her organization: the impact of mass incarceration on children and families.

As she says in the beautiful campaign launch video:

"Too many families — and our communities — are being destroyed by mass incarceration. ... Mothers stripped of their sons, husbands, and fathers. Entire neighborhoods torn apart by the War on Drugs. And families struggling to stay together. We need policy reforms that can keep people out of prison who don't need to be there, and ensure that our justice system helps to heal communities, families, and individuals."

(It is, of course, worth noting that not only men are incarcerated. The number of incarcerated women has also increased at an alarming rate over the past decade.)

But whether we're discussing men or women, mothers or fathers, young or old, fundamentally, the root of the problem is about how society views and treats people who have committed crimes, especially nonviolent ones.

Can we really afford the social costs of throwing away countless citizens for drug addiction, desperate responses to poverty, and youthful mistakes? Or are there better, more just, and effective ways to hold people accountable and keep our communities safe?

Criminal-justice-reform advocate Bryan Stevenson, in his famous TED talk and must-read bestselling book, "Just Mercy," certainly thinks so. He believes that the only way to heal our society and end the obviously ineffective cycle of crime and punishment is to stop abandoning broken people, which is an approach that ultimately breaks more people. Instead, we must develop a criminal justice system based on rehabilitation, mercy, and solutions to the root causes of crime. But what does that look like?

What do advocates suggest we do right now?

Well, for starters, Alicia Keys' #WeAreHere for #JusticeReformNow campaign is urging 1 million people to sign a petition demanding Congress and the White House pass meaningful criminal justice reforms before the close of the year. She joins the thousands of other Americans who are asking for laws that do three things:

1. Send fewer people into a broken system that often destroys lives and separates families.

2. Invest in education, rehabilitation, and treatment rather than incarceration and punishment.

3. Address economic, civil, and social barriers to re-entry that can make it difficult for fathers and mothers to participate fully in society once they return home.

There are several bills proposed in Congress, like the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act and the SAFE Justice Act, that address some of these concerns. But public support is necessary to encourage swift action.

Check out her powerful video below and learn more about the campaign at Cut50.org.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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