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Democracy

Georgia has suddenly become a battleground state—largely thanks to Stacey Abrams

Georgia has suddenly become a battleground state—largely thanks to Stacey Abrams

Four years ago, no one would have expected that Georgia would be a battleground state in the 2020 presidential election.

Well, not no one. Stacey Abrams not only saw it coming, she played a big role in making it happen.

The former member of the Georgia state legislature became the first Black American woman to run for governor of a state under a major party in 2018. She lost to Republican Brian Kemp by just 1.5% in a hotly contested election. Kemp, who was Georgia's Secretary of State at the time, has been accused of engaging in voter suppression, making it harder for minorities in the state exercise their right to vote. Abrams refused to officially concede the election, claiming that Kemp had a conflict of interest as the person in charge of his own election.

After the gubernatorial race came to close, Abrams took the issue of voter suppression on with gusto. She had already spent years advocating for voter rights as a lawyer and lawmaker and continued the effort by founding an organization called Fair Fight that focuses on funding and training people to protect the vote in 20 battleground states, with a special emphasis on her home state of Georgia.


One of the main strategies Abrams has engaged in is getting enough voters registered and motivated to turn out on election days any voter suppression tactics that might be employed would be unsuccessful due to sheer numbers.

"Our goal through Fair Fight and Fair Fight 2020 is to ensure that people know about the obstacles that are being placed in their way, but (are encouraged to) vote in even larger numbers to overwhelm the intention of the system," Abrams told USA TODAY.

According to USA Today, Democrats had seen potential in Georgia's changing demographics. The city of Atlanta, in particular, has drawn a more educated workforce from around the country, which also includes potentially younger Asian, Black and Latino voters. Other counties that were once Republican strongholds have also become more diverse, opening the door to Democrats, who tend to draw more non-white support than Republicans.

Abrams' focus on getting those voters registered and ready to show up at the polls has paid off. A reliably red state for decades, Georgia is now in play. But it's not just as simple as getting people to the polls. Abrams has a deep pool of historical knowledge and a keen understanding of the systems in place that make it harder for people to exercise their civic duty.

In an interview with Ezra Klein at Vox, Abrams explained that there is no Constitutional right to vote.

"The reality is that the right to vote does not exist as an affirmative opportunity," she said. "What does exist in the Constitution is the delegation of authority for the administration of elections to states, which sounds very benign until you realize that for most of American history, voter suppression has been almost entirely the construct of states.

What the Voting Rights Act did in 1965 was shatter the impermeable nature of states to say who could and could not vote. The Voting Rights Act said you could not use race — and, by 1975, that you could not use language — as a way to preclude access to the right to vote. It said that states could not take proactive steps to block the right to vote through poll taxes, literacy tests, closing of polling places — any action that would interfere with the right of people of color, or people who spoke English as a second language, to vote. In states that had a long and storied history of blocking the right to vote, no new voting laws could be countenanced without having the Department of Justice approve."

The Voting Rights Act helped get the U.S. to a place where we elected our first Black president in 2008 and again in 2012. Then, in 2013, it was gutted by a Supreme Court case that essentially removed the rule that states had to get their voter rules approved by the federal government.

"That was essentially a get out of jail free card for states that wanted to discriminate; what was different this time is that it was no longer relegated to those states that participated in voter suppression through Jim Crow," said Abrams.

"You had a proliferation across the country of voter suppression techniques that had been prohibited clearly by the Voting Rights Act. That's why you saw the rapid shutdown of polling places. That's why you saw the expansion of restrictive voter ID laws. That's why in 2020, we are seeing so many cases that essentially challenge state laws designed to restrict who has access to the right to vote."

Thanks to Abrams' efforts—among others—to ensure that more Americans have their voices heard at the ballot box, Georgia may end up turning blue. In the very least, it's now a solid purple, which is a huge accomplishment for those who have worked so hard to enfranchise voters.


Thank you, Stacey Abrams, and all the other warriors fighting for voter protection, for carrying America to the finish line of this hard-fought race.

Pop Culture

Two brothers Irish stepdancing to Beyoncé's country hit 'Texas Hold 'Em' is pure delight

The Gardiner Brothers and Queen Bey proving that music can unite us all.

Gardiner Brothers/TikTok (with permission)

The Gardiner Brothers stepping in time to Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em."

In early February 2024, Beyoncé rocked the music world by releasing a surprise new album of country tunes. The album, Renaissance: Act II, includes a song called "Texas Hold 'Em," which shot up the country charts—with a few bumps along the way—and landed Queen Bey at the No.1 spot.

As the first Black female artist to have a song hit No. 1 on Billboard's country music charts, Beyoncé once again proved her popularity, versatility and ability to break barriers without missing a beat. In one fell swoop, she got people who had zero interest in country music to give it a second look, forced country music fans to broaden their own ideas about what country music looks like and prompted conversations about bending and blending musical genres and styles.

And she inspired the Gardiner Brothers to add yet another element to the mix—Irish stepdance.

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Casette tapes, film cameras and landlines were a big part of the pre-2000 world.

There have been a few momentous changes since the dawn of the new millennium, creating an invisible line between those born before and after. The big events that forever changed culture are the creation of the smartphone, dawn of social media and terror attacks on 9/11.

People who were born in 1999 or later have, for the most part, lived in a world where they were either too young to know what life was like before these events or weren’t born yet.

That’s not to say that one era is better or worse. But, when an entire generation has no idea what it is like to go through a day without being connected to the internet, we’re bound to eventually lose any understanding of living IRL 24/7.

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Pop Culture

Man tries to correct a female golfer's swing, having no idea she's actually a pro

“My hope is that he comes across this video and it keeps him up at night."

Representative Image from Canva

A man tried to tell a pro golfer she was swing too slow.

We’re all probably familiar with the term “mansplaining,” when a man explains something to a woman in a condescending or patronizing way. Often, this comes in the form of a man explaining a subject to a woman that she already knows on an expert level. The female neuroscientist who was told by a man that she should read a research paper she actually wrote comes to mind.

Recently the next-level mansplaining was caught in the wild. Well, at a golf driving range anyway.

Georgia Ball, a professional golfer and coach who’s racked up over 3 million likes on TikTok for all her tips and tricks of the sport, was minding her own business while practicing a swing change.

It takes all of two seconds on Google to see that when it comes to incorporating a swing change, golfers need to swing slower, at 50-75% their normal speed…which is what Ball was doing.

And this is what prompted some man to insert his “advice.”

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Photo by Lisa Therese on Unsplash

The word "jumbo" literally comes from an elephant.

The evolution of language is fascinating, and the etymology of specific words can be a fun little trip through human history as well as human creativity.

Many English words are derived from Greek and Latin, but other European languages make up a good chunk of our language as well. The roots of some words can surprise us, and so can the way certain words came to be. And in some cases, what we don't know can be just as surprising as what we do.

Enjoy diving into the history of 15 words we use every day.

1. Dog

Dog is often one of the first words babies learn to say, and it's one of the first kids learn to spell. But don't let its simplicity fool you. This word is truly a mystery.

The word "dog" comes from dogca, a very rarely used Old English word, but how we started using it as our everyday name for canines, no one knows. "Its origin remains one of the great mysteries of English etymology," according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Even more interestingly, no one knows the origins of the Spanish word for "dog" ("perro"), nor do they know the origins of the Polish ("pies") or Serbo-Croatian ("pas") words for our canine friends, either. Who knew dogs were so enigmatic?

2. Nightmare

It's obvious where "night" comes from in "nightmare," but what about "mare"? Surely, were not referring to a female horse here.

Horse, no. But female, yes. Female goblin, to be precise. In Old English, mare means "incubus, nightmare, monster; witch, sorcerer." And "nightmare" started being used around 1300 to refer to "an evil female spirit afflicting men (or horses) in their sleep with a feeling of suffocation." Yikes. Thankfully, now it's just any old bad dream.

3. Jumbo

We've all seen animals named for words with certain meanings, but here we have the opposite. The word "jumbo" came from a large elephant who lived at the London Zoo. Zookeeper Anoshan Anathjeysari named him "Jumbe," the Swahili word for "chief." But his status as one of the largest African bush elephants in Europe in the 19th century caused his nickname, Jumbo, to become synonymous with enormousness.

muscular man exercising

Run, little mouse, run.

Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash

4. Muscle

The Latin word musculus means "little mouse." As hilarious as it sounds, they thought the movement of muscles looked like little mice scurrying under the skin, hence the origin. Kinda ick to think about, but also logical, so here we are.

5. Quarantine

Ah, a word with which we are all familiar, thanks to COVID-19. But do we know what it really means?

If you understand roots, you may guess that "quar" might have something to do with the number four, and you'd be right. In Latin, quadraginta means a period of 40 days. Our usage of "quarantine" to mean isolation from others comes from the Venetian policy of ships coming into port from plague-stricken countries in the late 1300s to remain in port for 40 days before letting people off. The usage to mean any period of time in isolation began being used in the 1600s.

6. Mortgage

Most of us grow up not really understanding what a mortgage is until we buy our first house, but even then, most of us don't know what the word literally means. It comes from Old French, mort gaige, literally meaning "death pledge."

HAHAHAHAHA. Death pledge. Mortgage. That's funny.

However, it doesn't mean you're tied to the debt til you die, even if it feels like it. The death part means the deal dies either when you pay it off or when you become unable to pay. Doesn't really change the fact that it feels a bit like you're signing your life away when you buy a house, though.

ball of yarn

What does a ball of yarn have to do with "clue"?

Photo by Philip Estrada on Unsplash

7. Clue

Oddly enough, "clue" comes from a misspelling (or alternate spelling from before standardized spelling was a thing) of the word "clew," meaning a ball of yarn.

The word itself comes from German, but its usage points to the Greek myth in which Ariadne gives Theseus a ball (or clew) of yarn to help him escape the labyrinth. Now we use it to refer to anything that helps us solve a mystery.

8. Nice

The word "nice" is nice and simple, right? It's the most basic word we use for "pleasant," a definitively positive word. But this seemingly simple word has been through quite the trek in its etymology.

From the Latin nescius, meaning "ignorant, unaware," it was used to mean "timid" or"faint-hearted" before the year 1300. A couple hundred years later, it had morphed to "fussy, fastidious" or "dainty, delicate." In another 100 years, it changed to "precise, careful." Tack on another few hundred years and we're at "agreeable, delightful," and from there it was only short jaunt to "kind, thoughtful."

What a nice journey from insult to compliment.

9. Shampoo

I would have bet money that the word "shampoo" was French in origin, but nope. It's Hindi, coming from the term champo, and the original meaning was "to massage, rub and percuss the surface of (the body) to restore tone and vigor." It's only been used to refer specifically to lathering and washing out strands of hair or carpet since the mid 1800s.

10. Torpedo

Literally Latin for a stingray. As in the marine animal. That comes from the root word torpere, which means "be numb," since a ray's sting can numb you. It doesn't become the word for a propelled underwater explosive until the last couple hundred years.

11. Ambidextrous

We know that left-handedness was seen negatively throughout much of human history, but even the word that means "able to use both hands equally" has a right-handed bias baked into it. The medieval Latin ambidexter literally meansliterally means "right-handed on both sides."

Isn't English fun?


Family

Mom causes a stir after saying she won't be doing yearly birthday parties for her kid

“I just don't want a bunch of people sitting around at my house all day...”

Representative Image from Canva

Are birthday parties every year required for kids?

Parents want to do right by their kids. Make them feel special, let them have fun and give them opportunities to enjoy magic before adulthood sets in. And yet, that desire can easily be suppressed by the need to keep up with the lavish events constantly seen on social media.

For many families, over-the-top activities are simply not feasible—especially ones that come year after year like birthdays. So many are going against societal expectations and instead choosing traditions that work for their unique situation. Opting for experiences over expensive gifts, for example, or having one-on-one family time instead of parties with friends.

For Marissa Light, it looks a little more like not even doing a birthday party every year.
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Science

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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