+
More

Anticipating tough conversations with your relatives? This hotline has your back.

Showing Up for Racial Justice took inspiration from the Butterball hotline.

If you need help with your Thanksgiving turkey, there's a hotline for that. Now there's one for your Thanksgiving dinner conversation, too.

That's the idea behind Showing Up for Racial Justice's Holiday Mobile Hotline, now in its second year. Created for white Americans who want to help fight for a more racially just society, SURJ's hotline is a great resource to have handy for potentially awkward race-related dinner-table conversations during upcoming holidays.

"We thought it up last year after hearing so many white folks really freaking out about seeing family after Trump was elected," explains SURJ co-director Heather Cronk in an e-mail. "The original idea was built on the Butterball hotline — the service provided by Butterball turkey each Thanksgiving to help folks get answers to their turkey-cooking questions."


You simply text "SOS" to 82623, and SURJ will forward some key talking points that might come up in conversation.

The goal isn't to treat this as some sort of ideological battle to be won against a sworn enemy (these are your family members, after all) but to provide you with the tools necessary to keep conversation productive by asking a question. Once you text the number, you'll be prompted with a menu of topics ranging from immigration to sexual assault.

For example, if you select the topic "Trump isn't racist," SURJ will reply with a question you can ask your relative: "That's confusing to me because I've heard Trump say things about people of color that sound racist, and he has surrounded himself with people who are racist. Are there things he's said that you disagree with?"

The whole process is quick and simple enough that you can easily just send a text during a bathroom break or under the table during a lull in the conversation.

As hard and as awkward as these conversations can be, it's important we don't shy away from them. Silence is a statement of its own.

If you have a legitimate reason to fear your family — maybe you're LGBTQ in an unaccepting household or the survivor of violence — it's totally understandable if you sit quietly and avoid rocking the boat. There's no shame in that. If that doesn't describe you, however, and you feel comfortable doing so, consider leaning into these discussions.

"Often, white folks avoid tough conversations with family in order to preserve relationships or avoid controversy — but to do so also contributes to the silence that allows white supremacy to thrive," Cronk writes. "White silence is what contributes to and excuses white supremacist violence — and even conversations as informal as dinner table banter are really important mechanisms to end white silence."

Following up on our earlier holiday hotline post, our holiday placemat has also been updated to focus on Indigenous...

Posted by Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) on Monday, November 20, 2017

It's OK if you don't change any minds at the dinner table. Just try to plant the seed of an idea.

Will some of these conversations be inconvenient and awkward? Absolutely, but the payoff can be well worth the trouble. Maybe that uncle who thinks undocumented immigrants are a drain on the economy (they're not) will leave the dinner table with not just a full belly but a fresh perspective on what it means to be American. Maybe that aunt who thinks victims of police violence wouldn't get shot if they just complied with orders (they often do comply) will enjoy a bit of nuance with her pumpkin pie.

No matter what, it's important to remember that this isn't some sort of battle that can be won by bludgeoning your relatives with a string of confrontational facts. You probably won't cause anyone to do a 180-degree turn on their beliefs. But with a little bit of care, you can help plant a few new ideas along the way.

For more information about Showing Up for Racial Justice's Holiday Mobile Hotline, as well as links to its annual Thanksgiving discussion guide and printable placemat, visit their website.

Health

A child’s mental health concerns shouldn’t be publicized no matter who their parents are

Even politicians' children deserve privacy during a mental health crisis.

A child's mental health concerns shouldn't be publicized.

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.


It's an unspoken rule that children of politicians should be off limits when it comes to public figure status. Kids deserve the ability to simply be kids without the media picking them apart. We saw this during Obama's presidency when people from both ends of the political spectrum come out to defend Malia and Sasha Obama's privacy and again when a reporter made a remark about Barron Trump.

This is even more important when we are talking about a child's mental health, so seeing detailed reports about Ted Cruz's 14-year-old child's private mental health crisis was offputting, to say it kindly. It feels icky for me to even put the senator's name in this article because it feels like adding to this child's exposure.

When a child is struggling with mental health concerns, the instinct should be to cocoon them in safety, not to highlight the details or speculate on the cause. Ever since the news broke about this child's mental health, social media has been abuzz, mostly attacking the parents and speculating if the child is a member of the LGBTQ community.

Keep ReadingShow less
Science

Dyslexic plumber gets a life-changing boost after his friend built an app that texts for him

It uses AI to edit his work emails into "polite, professional-sounding British English."

via Pixabay

An artist's depiction of artificial intelligence.

There is a lot of mistrust surrounding the implementation of artificial intelligence these days and some of it is justified. There's reason to worry that deep-fake technology will begin to seriously blur the line between fantasy and reality, and people in a wide range of industries are concerned AI could eliminate their jobs.

Artists and writers are also bothered that AI works on reappropriating existing content for which the original creators will never receive compensation.

The World Economic Forum recently announced that AI and automation are causing a huge shake-up in the world labor market. The WEF estimates that the new technology will supplant about 85 million jobs by 2025. However, the news isn’t all bad. It also said that its analysis anticipates the “future tech-driven economy will create 97 million new jobs.”

The topic of AI is complex, but we can all agree that a new story from England shows how AI can certainly be used for the betterment of humanity. It was first covered by Tom Warren of BuzzFeed News.

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 04.15.19


On May 28, 2014, 13-year-old Athena Orchard of Leicester, England, died of bone cancer. The disease began as a tumor in her head and eventually spread to her spine and left shoulder. After her passing, Athena's parents and six siblings were completely devastated. In the days following her death, her father, Dean, had the difficult task of going through her belongings. But the spirits of the entire Orchard family got a huge boost when he uncovered a secret message written by Athena on the backside of a full-length mirror.

Keep ReadingShow less

Famous writers shared their book signing woes with a disheartened new author.

Putting creative work out into the world to be evaluated and judged is nerve-wracking enough as it is. Having to market your work, especially if you're not particularly extroverted or sales-minded, is even worse.

So when you're a newly published author holding a book signing and only two of the dozens of people who RSVP'd show up, it's disheartening if not devastating. No matter how much you tell yourself "people are just busy," it feels like a rejection of you and your work.

Debut novelist Chelsea Banning recently experienced this scenario firsthand, and her sharing it led to an amazing deluge of support and solidarity—not only from other aspiring authors, but from some of the top names in the writing business.

Keep ReadingShow less