City council member cites Urban Dictionary in an official statement criticizing BLM
Photo by Gabe Pierce on Unsplash

Oh, Selah. It's been a long time, but it's clear that not much has changed.

My husband grew up in Selah, a rural town of 8,000 people scattered outside of Yakima, Washington. There was one black kid in his entire high school, who ended up leaving because they were so ostracized by the other kids. My husband was once called "white n-word" for standing up for a Mexican kid whose family were migrant workers in town. That was more than 20 years ago, but it's helpful background for this story to make sense.

There are people with diverse viewpoints even in the smallest of towns, of course, and Selah is no exception. According to the Yakima-Herald, a Black Lives Matter rally took place in the town over the weekend, attended by more than 150 people.


One attendee was a Yakima city council member, who encountered Selah city administrator, Don Wayan, at the rally. Wayman apparently made a comment equating BLM with communism, and allegedly implied that there would be no trouble at the rally because of the high percentage of Selah citizens having concealed carry permits. Reports of his statements prompted letters to the city and an official statement that Selah city council member Kevin Wickenhagen felt compelled to write in response.

You can read the whole statement here, and it's...well, it's a doozy. But I've pulled some highlights to address. (Please note, I'm copying the passages exactly as they are written, so any grammatical errors—because there are some—are not my mistyping.)

After thanking people for expressing themselves to the city, Wickenhagen wrote that he had "done some research" on Black Lives Matter, then wrote:

"It is my belief that some people participating in the march and supporting the march are without an understanding of the underlying principles of the Black Lives Matter movement."

Well that's not condescending or anything. What, pray tell, does he think people think they're supporting? We'll get to that momentarily.

"First, though, I'd like to address the accusation that Mr. Wayman was intending to intimidate the BLM protestors by mentioning many people in Selah have carry conceal permits. Everyone needs to understand, the rumors of violent outbreaks in rural areas and suburbs were quite prevalent leading up to the march. One doesn't have to look very far West to see what happens when people with unhealthy motives use a peaceful march as camouflage to instigate violence and vandalism. Selah police and Mr. Wayman would have been remis in their duty to protect the citizens and businesses had they not prepared for such a possibility."

Umm, I hate to break it to you, but the ANTIFA boogeymen that alt-right social feeds were foaming at the mouth about were never, ever, ever going to show up in "rural areas and suburbs," and especially not in Selah. Anyone in Selah who thought that was actually a possibility needs to get out of Selah more often. Good gracious.

And we're not even to the good part yet. Here we go:

"Regarding Mr. Wayman's statement about BLM being based on Neo-Marxism. Frankly, I had to do some research on Neo-Marxism. Explaining Neo-Marxism isn't an easy philosophy to explain, but I found this online in the Urban Dictionary when comparing Marxism to neo-Marxism. "Instead of the dichotomy being between wealthy and poor (ie Marxism), it is between successful and unsuccessful demographics. Neo-Marxists divide all demographics (white, black, asian, male, female, gay, straight, etc) and place them in a hierarchy of oppression as determined by how successful that demographic is." Using that statement as a basis, and reviewing BLM's own website, BLM policies fall well into Neo-Marxist philosophy. Whether or not being called a neo-Marxist is seen as a negative would all depend on your point of view."

Hoo boy. Urban Dictionary?! Really??

For those who are uninitiated, Urban Dictionary is a crowdsourced site for slang definitions, a large percentage of which are joke definitions. Seriously. Anyone can post a definition there. I could go on Urban Dictionary right now, type in "Selah" and write "hick town that wouldn't recognize a Marxist if Karl Marx himself slapped it in the face" and it would be put in as an entry.

I mean, look:

I just Googled "Neo-Marxism" and had to jump over several perfectly legitimate pages like Encyclopedia Britannica, Science Direct, and the Oxford dictionary before I got to the Urban Dictionary entry (and if you know anything about Neo-Marxist philosophy, it's easy to see that the Urban Dictionary definition is purposefully inflammatory).

And I'm not even getting into what else Urban Dictionary is commonly used for. Citing Urban Dictionary in an official statement is laughable and embarrassing, but unfortunately not surprising, all things considered.

"As to Mr. Wayman's opinion of the march sounding like Communist Indoctrination. BLM has a plan they call 'A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom and Justice,'. In that plan there are 6 core demands. The 4th core demand is, and I quote, 'Economic justice for all and a reconstruction of the economy to ensure our communities have collective ownership, not merely access.' That is a basic principle of communism. And again, if that is a negative or positive would all depend on your point of view."

Wait, is this 2020 or 1920? Did we just skip back a hundred years to the first Red Scare? Are we really still doing the whole "commies" thing? Do you really not understand why the Black community might want "collective ownership, not merely access" in our country's economy (which has been owned/run/dominated by wealthy white people for, like, ever—most of the time at the direct expense of Black people)?

Okay, one more paragraph to highlight:

"I have endeavored to pattern my view on race based on the words of Martin Luther King Jr. who dreamed his children wouldn't be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. But that attitude no longer seems to fit in with current political climate. We are told we must end racism, but the very group that calls for it, calls special attention to it. We are told we must see everyone the same, but 'all lives matter' is insensitive. The same groups that calls for the end of racism request special resources for minority programs. It is a time where stating you're not racist is immediately called into question and no amount of evidence seems to change minds, based on you're the race of the person saying it."

Aw, come on. It's like a full Bingo card of white, willful mischaracterization of race issues. Selective MLK quote? Check. Believing that talking about racism perpetuates racism? Check. All Lives Matter? Check. Affirmative Action is racist? Check. Grammatically jumbled "I'm not racist" complaint? Check.

Selah, I know you have some progressive-minded people there. But if this is what your leadership is saying in official public statements, you haven't come as far as I would have hoped since my husband's childhood.

And while it's easy to laugh at the ridiculousness of citing the Urban Dictionary, the Marxist/communist fearmongering, and the long-outdated double spaces between sentences, there are towns with leadership like this all over the U.S. That's frankly a little terrifying.

The world is moving on, folks. Even in small towns. Time to catch up.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

This article originally appeared on 07.22.15



"So just recently I went out on a Match.com date, and it was fantastic," begins Dr. Danielle Sheypuk in her TEDx Talk.

If you've ever been on a bunch of Match.com dates, that opening line might make you do a double take. How does one get so lucky?!

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date.

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date. Photo by Thinkstock.


But don't get too jealous. Things quickly went downhill two dates later, as most Match.com dates ultimately do. This time, however, the reason may not be something that you've ever experienced. Intrigued? I was too. So here's the story.Gorgeous!

Gorgeous! Photo from Dr. Sheypuk's Instagram account, used with permission.

She's a licensed clinical psychologist, an advocate, and a model — among other things. She's also been confined to a wheelchair since childhood. And that last fact is what did her recent date in.

On their third date over a romantic Italian dinner, Sheypuk noticed that he was sitting farther away from her than usual. And then, out of nowhere, he began to ask the following questions:

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

This article originally appeared on November 5, 2013


When I saw these incredible photos Angelo Merendino took of his wife, Jennifer, as she battled breast cancer, I felt that I shouldn't be seeing this snapshot of their intimate, private lives.





















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But as Angelo commented: "These photographs do not define us, but they are us."

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Police arrest man suspected of scamming an elderly woman.

There has been a rise in scams against the elderly during the pandemic. According to the FBI, American seniors were scammed for $1 billion dollars in 2020, up $300 million from the previous year.

To stay connected with friends and family during the pandemic, more seniors joined social media, opening them up to new avenues for fraud.

“The combination of online shopping and social media creates easy venues for scammers to post false advertisements,” the FBI report said. “Many victims report ordering items from links advertised on social media and either receiving nothing at all or receiving something completely unlike the advertised item.”

But when scammers came after 73-year-old Jean Ebbert in Long Island, New York, they had no idea they were dealing with a law enforcement veteran. Ebbert is a former 911 dispatcher, so she knows exactly what a scam looks like.

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