Every week, she sings in a prison. And the crowd of women go wild.

Live-recording your first music album in a prison might seem like an unusual decision.

Not for singer Naima Shalhoub.


All images via AJ+.

Every week, Naima comes to the San Francisco County Women's Jail to hold "music sessions." For one hour, she sings her heart out to the incarcerated women.

Strong, empowered, talented, compassionate — these are all things you can tell about Naima when she goes up to perform in front of the county jail.

Watching her sing and play the guitar is quite the thrill.

But what's more thrilling for her? Hearing the reactions from the incarcerated women she's with. In an interview with AJ+'s Dena Takruri, Naima recounted some of the beautiful feedback the women have given her:

"Thank you for being my hour of freedom every week.'"

"My peace and freedom.'"

"I came into class not feeling great, feeling discouraged, and now I'm a lot better. And I feel I can get through my day. And somehow, even with the struggles and me missing my kids, I feel like there's hope."



There are three main things Naima hopes all people can take away from her album:

  1. The ability to critically think and ask themselves, are our systems restorative and transformative? Do they really allow for rehabilitation?
  2. The power of music in the act of healing and restoration.
  3. For people to feel heard and for the message to resonate.

Without further ado, give her a listen. Her singing is beautiful, and so is her heart.

If you're inspired by her and her music, feel free to spread her message and energy around.

Also, stay tuned to her upcoming album, "Borderlands," which will be released in summer 2015. Bonus! 50% of proceeds from it will go to re-entry programs for incarcerated women.

Want to learn more about restorative justice? Here are just a couple of resources to get you started.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less