+
gilded age

“Downton Abbey” fans have been rejoicing over Julian Fellowes’ newest historical drama “The Gilded Age.” Instead of London at the beginning of the 20th century, audiences are transported to (the truly new) New York of 1882, where aristocrats Agnes van Rhijn and Ada Brook reside.

Despite the different backdrops, “The Gilded Age” has much of the same aspects as its predecessor: conflict between the ways of old and new, weighty scrambles up the social ladder and, of course, the rich emotional narratives of the privileged class.

But “The Gilded Age” does offer something that “Downton Abbey” does not, and it’s a piece of history rarely portrayed or taught, yet real and important all the same: the story of the Black elite.


Young white woman Marian Brook (played by Louisa Jacobson) is surprised when she shows up to the home of her new friend Peggy Scott (played by Denée Brown), hoping to offer her a “gift” of old used shoes. Marian quickly realizes the error of her bias. Her Black friend, daughter to wealthy and educated parents, living in an opulent home with her own staff, had want for nothing. Certainly not worn out shoes.

This picture of Black excellence–where Black men and women enjoy money and influence—rarely makes an appearance in film and television, and in general is an overlooked aspect of history. In an interview with The New York Times, "The Gilded Age"’s historical consultant Erica Armstrong Dunbar pointed out, “What does the average person know about the Black elite in New York in the 1880s? The answer is very little if anything.”

As someone who grew up not even knowing about Tulsa and Black Wall Street until well into my twenties, and still knowing very little beyond that, I’d have to agree.

Julian Fellowes aims to remedy that in his depiction of the Scott family, and considers it a duty of artistic integrity. In an interview with The Columbian, he shared “I wanted very much to make ‘The Gilded Age’ distinctively American. And I didn’t believe I could do that without having a Black narrative and a Black family alongside the others. It just didn’t feel right to, actually.”

And it seems that Fellowes has done his due diligence, not only consulting with with Dunbar, but in co-creating the show with Black writer Sonja Warfield, as well as reading books like “Black Gotham,” which traces author Carla Peterson’s family history in the prosperous, upper-class Black communities of New York. According to The Columbian, the character of Peggy is even inspired by multiple real life trailblazers of the time, including Ida B. Wells (NAACP founder), Julia C. Collins (America’s first cited published Black female author) and Susan McKinney Steward (New York’s first Black female doctor).

Historical dramas featuring affluent, high-class Black characters are so rare, even Broadway legend Audra McDonald, who plays Peggy’s mother Donna Scott, was shocked to discover her role didn’t “perpetuate the tired old stereotype.”

On The Grio’s podcast “Acting Up,” McDonald shared how “people forget that during Reconstruction, with the constitutional amendments and emancipation and the end of slavery and giving Black men the right to vote and hold office, a lot of formerly enslaved people made big strides very quickly. Blacks had their own communities in Brooklyn and what was called ‘the Tenderloin’ at the time. They needed to have businesses to serve their own communities, and so that’s how you ended up with Black pharmacists and dentists and doctors and undertakers and lawyers and all of that. We needed all these things to serve our own communities — our own thriving communities, and there was a social structure that existed within that.”

Once she read the script, McDonald was thrilled to illuminate this often hidden world, “with all of its intricacies and all of its mess.”

Intricate, indeed. And interesting, to boot. As well as a really amazing example of what can happen when empowering conversations of representation are had. I can only imagine how much more nuanced our understanding of history (Black history, in particular) would be, had families like the Scotts been a regular part of the curriculum. But thankfully, we have creators like Fellowes, who understand that historical fiction, when told authentically, can embody the spirit of those untold stories, shaping our minds and hearts here in the present.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

Grab your boost of serotonin here.

Polina Tankilevitch/Canva

Upworthy's weekly roundup of joy.

Holy moly—it's fall, y'all!

As pumpkin spice swoops in and we start unpacking our cozy sweaters and cute boots, we can practically taste the seasonal change in the air. Fall is filled with so many small joys—the fresh, crisp smell of apples, the beauty of the leaves as they shift from greens to yellows, oranges and reds, the way the world gets wrapped in a warm glow even as the air grows cooler.

Part of what makes the beauty of fall unique is that it's fleeting. Mother Nature puts on a vibrant show as she sheds what no longer serves her, inviting us to revel in her purposeful self-destruction. It's a gorgeous example of not only embracing change, but celebrating it.

Keep ReadingShow less
via LinkedIn

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


A dad from Portland, Oregon, has taken to LinkedIn to write an emotional plea to parents after he learned that his son had died during a conference call at work. J.R. Storment, of Portland, Oregon, encouraged parents to spend less time at work and more time with their kids after his son's death.

Keep ReadingShow less
popular

Woman left at the altar by her fiance decided to 'turn the day around’ and have a wedding anyway

'I didn’t want to remember the day as complete sadness.'

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

Keep ReadingShow less