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It’s been about three weeks since Nikolas Cruz stormed into the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 rifle and killed 17 people.

The Parkland shooting placed student survivors center stage in the latest national debate about gun violence in America. After a series of brave demonstrations and town halls demanding accountability from the NRA and lawmakers, a group of senators are actually reintroducing a bipartisan bill to curb gun violence.

The “Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act,” also known as the “No Fly, No Buy” bill, is sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). The bill was first introduced in 2016 — by Senate Democrats — after Omar Mateen, who was on the terrorism watch list for 10 months and was still able to purchase a firearm, opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando.


Now, in response to the Parkland shooting, the bill is making its way through Congress once again. The legislation in question would prohibit people on the Transportation Security Administration’s “No Fly” list from buying a gun. At first glance, the bill sounds reasonable — right?

Photo via Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

But here’s the thing: The bill would not have prevented Cruz — or any other recent mass shooters — from purchasing his firearm and subsequently unleashing bloodshed.

While lawmakers reintroduced the gun control measure in response to the backlash from  the shooting, the bill does not apply to Cruz since he was never on a no-fly list.

In January, according to the New York Times, the FBI received word that Cruz had purchased a firearm and had been discussing about plotting a school shooting. The anonymous tipster told the FBI through a hotline that Cruz has a desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts.” But rather than forward the tip to the Miami FBI office, the bureau ignored it and failed to investigate Cruz.

And since Cruz was never investigated, he was not referred to the Terrorist Screening Center where it holds the no-fly list database. This is hardly the first time either.

Jared Loughner, the man who shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, was not on a terrorism watch list. Adam Lanza, who killed 20 children in the Sandy Hook shooting, was not on the terrorist watch list. Dylann Roof, who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, and Robert Dear, who opened fire at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, were also not on the list.

Photo via Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

And not only does this bill miss the real troubling factors of mass shooters, it's racist.

Instead of devoting time, resources, research and programs addressing domestic violence, toxic masculinity, and white supremacy, (which are all common threads with a long list of white mass shooters in the last four decades) the bill gives credibility to an inherently racist and reckless list that encompasses more than 1.5 million names within the last five years without proper screening and investigation.

It also disproportionately targets people of color. It historically targeted notable civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, and Malcolm X. The ACLU has released statements condemning that the majority of individuals in the list are either Arab, South Asian, and/or Muslim — many of which are law-abiding U.S. Citizens. In fact, Dearborn, Michigan, which is one of the most populated Arab neighborhoods in the country, was second — only behind New York City — for the city with the most names on the watch list. One of the people from Dearborn on the list is a 7-month-old baby.

But more than just being racist, the No Fly, No Buy bill strengthens the false belief that the people listed in the list are there for reasonable suspicion or are probable national security threats. It adds further stigma and suspicion on our fellow neighbors — who happen to have darker skin, come from a different country, and/or worship in a different way — without any effective measure to end gun violence.

Photo via Win McNamee/Getty Images.

One bill is never going to end mass shootings.

A gun control bill is like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet hole. It takes a lot more than just introducing a bill. It requires more citizens like Cameron Kasky, a student survivor for the Parkland shooting, to demand lawmakers like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to promise to never accept financial contributions from the NRA. It also requires lawmakers to actually agree and act on that promise.

To end gun violence, law enforcement authorities must place a lot resources into researching and investigating trends of domestic violence and white supremacy. They must also take reports of domestic violence and extremism seriously, not only when it’s perpetrated by a brown and black person. It requires judicial powers to review the legal framework on domestic violence, right-wing extremism, and white supremacy.

But the onus also falls on all of us too. We must continue to take the ills of toxic masculinity seriously and start productive conversations on the matter. We must be active, vocal, and strong in combating the ills of xenophobia, gendered-violence, and white supremacy. And if you can’t do that, then one of the most helpful ways to assist in the fight is simply through donating funds to organizations like the Brady Campaign and signal boost activists like Stoneman Douglas student survivors like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg. They’re effectively taking a stand for something our previous generations failed to do.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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When I was younger I used to think I was dying or that I would get kidnapped by a random stranger, but I kept it to myself because I thought something was wrong with me. I thought that telling people would confirm this fear, so I kept it inside my entire life until I was an adult and learned it was part of ADHD and other disorders, such as OCD and PTSD. But it doesn't have to be part of a disorder at all—a vast amount of people just have intrusive thoughts, and a Twitter user, Laura Gastón, is trying to normalize them for others.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


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As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

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