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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This year more than ever, many families are anticipating an empty dinner table. Shawn Kaplan lived this experience when his father passed away, leaving his mother who struggled to provide food for her two children. Shawn is now a dedicated volunteer and donor with Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee and encourages everyone to give back this holiday season with Amazon.

Watch the full story:

Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

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A 2015 survey conducted by the National Union of Students found that 60% of respondents turned to porn to fill in the gaps in sex education. While 40% of those people said they learned a little, 75% of respondents said they felt porn created unrealistic expectations when it comes to sex. Some of the unrealistic expectations from porn can be dangerous. A study found that 88% of porn contained violence, and another study found that those who consumed porn were more likely to become sexually aggressive.

But now the thing that breaks those unrealistic expectations… might also be porn? Pornhub has launched a sex education section.

The adult website's first series is simply titled, "Pornhub Sex Ed" and contains 11 videos and is accessible through the Pornhub Sexual Wellness Center. The section also contains articles, some showing real anatomy and examples in order to bust myths people may have picked up on other portions of the website.

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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.

There are creative, romantic proposals, and then there's this one.

Lee Loechler recently proposed to his girlfriend, Sthuthi David, by taking her to a packed theater to see her favorite movie, Sleeping Beauty. Little did she know that Loechler had spent six months altering the animation of the film's most iconic scene, changing the characters to look like the couple themselves and altering the storyline to set up his Big Question. And that's only the beginning.

Watching David's face during the scene change is sheer delight, as her confused look proves that she has no clue what is about to happen. The set-up is great, but the magical moment when Loechler's illustrated self tosses the engagement ring to his real-life self? That's when we all toss up our hands and say, "OKAY, man. You win at proposing. Everyone else must bow before you now."

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While many of us have understandably let the challenges of 2020 get under our skin and bring us down, a young man from Florida was securing his place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Chris Nikic became the first person with Down syndrome to complete a full triathlon.

For the majority of people, a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride or a 26.2 mile run would be difficult on its own. The Ironman competition requires participants to complete them all in one grueling race. In a statement, Special Olympics Florida President and CEO Sherry Wheelock called Chris "an inspiration to all of us." She continued, "We are incredibly proud of Chris and the work he has put in to achieve this monumental goal. He's become a hero to athletes, fans, and people across Florida and around the world."

Nikic's journey to become an Ironman started off as a challenge far less lofty. He and his father, Nik, created the "1 percent better challenge." The idea was to keep Chris motivated during the pandemic and beyond. According to The Washington Post, the idea was for Chris to improve his workouts by one percent each day because he "doesn't like pain" but loves "food, videos games and my couch." The plan was to keep building strength and stamina while keeping his eye on the grand prize of completing a triathlon. Nik told the Panama City News Herald, "I was concerned because after high school and after graduation a lot of kids with Down syndrome become isolated and just start living a life of isolation. I said, 'Look, let's go find him something to get him back into the world and get him involved,' so we started looking around and we were fortunate that at the same time Special Olympics Florida started this triathlon program, and I thought, 'What a great way to get him started, get him in shape and get him to make some friends.'"


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