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.

Terence Power / TikTok

A video of a busker in Dublin, Ireland singing "You've Got a Friend in Me" to a young boy with autism is going viral because it's just so darn adorable. The video was filmed over a year ago by Terence Power, the co-host of the popular "Talking Bollox Podcast."

It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

"But I recently made TikTok and said I'd share it on that and I'm so glad I did now!" he continued.

Keep Reading Show less
True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

via Pexels and @drjoekort / TikTok

Gay sex and relationships therapist Dr. Joe Kort is causing a stir on TikTok where he explains why straight men who have sex with men can still be considered straight. If a man has sex with a man doesn't it ultimately make him gay or bisexual?

According to Kort, there can be a big chasm between our sexual and romantic orientations.

"Straight men can be attracted to the sex act, but not to the man. Straight men having sex with men doesn't cancel somebody's heterosexuality any more than a straight woman having sex with a woman cancels her [heterosexuality]," he says in the video.

Keep Reading Show less
via Ken Lund / Flickr

The dark mountains that overlook Provo, Utah were illuminated by a beautiful rainbow-colored "Y" on Thursday night just before 8 pm. The 380-foot-tall "Y" overlooks the campus of Brigham Young University, a private college owned by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), commonly known as Mormons.

The display was planned by a group of around 40 LGBT students to mark the one-year anniversary of the university sending out a letter clarifying its stance on homosexual behavior.

"One change to the Honor Code language that has raised questions was the removal of a section on 'Homosexual Behavior.' The moral standards of the Church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code, " the school's statement read.

Keep Reading Show less