He asked how to confront his racial bias. She responded with a powerful gesture.

Garry Civitello called into C-SPAN with his heart and insecurities on his sleeve.

Civitello, a white man from Asheville, North Carolina, wanted to speak with Heather McGhee, a black woman and president of Demos, a public policy group working to promote democracy for all. But his question wasn't specifically about public policy. It was about what he could do to be a better person.

"I'm a white male, and I'm prejudiced. What can I do to change, you know, to be a better American?"


McGhee was initially caught off guard by the question but took an opportunity to respond from the heart:

"I told him thank you, and I just came up with some thoughts about how he could integrate his life and learn to have more empathy and compassion."

For Civitello and others looking to make a change, McGhee offered a few places to start. From getting to know black families to asking tough questions of himself and others.

All images via Upworthy/YouTube.

Before long, video of their brief exchange was viewed more than 8 million times.

McGhee saw a unique opportunity to build on their conversation.

She traveled to North Carolina to meet with Civitello, and the two had a positive discussion, asking each other questions and learning about their backgrounds and experiences. For both, the opportunity to grow and learn from each other was a powerful thing.

"When you get to know people, usually your fears were unjustified," Civitello said.

Regardless of our backgrounds, all of us have biases to confront.

But when we confront those insecurities head on, we can grow and change for the better. It starts with moving outside our own comfort zones and challenging norms.

"It's time for us to have a conversation with white folks and for white folks to have a conversation with each other about how it doesn't have to be a zero-sum game," McGhee said.

As Civitello and McGhee revealed, the conversations are tough but necessary.

"It's just something that we don't practice, and taking that first step is the hardest thing," Civitello told McGhee.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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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.

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