Her history was erased from her classes. Now she's making sure it won't happen again.

Family History Day is an amazing opportunity for kids to discuss their heritage with their classmates. Most of the time.  

Michelle Morales still chokes up when she thinks of how heartbroken she felt when she came to school eager to teach her class about her Puerto Rican ties to Taíno Native Americans and was met with opposition. Her teacher insisted that her ties to indigenous culture were not real.

"That sticks with me," Morales says, "because in that moment, a history that I should have been proud of was erased."


Watch her tell her story:

XQ Luminaries: Michelle Morales

It's so important for students to have teachers who look like them, understand their culture, and most importantly, believe in them.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"My culture, my history, was never taught," Morales says. And unfortunately, she’s not alone.

It's been said that history is written by the victors, and for minority students, that means their history is often not written at all. History textbooks focus on American history as told by white Anglo-Saxon men, leading kids of color to believe they have no place in the country's narrative.

Photo via Mivka Challenge, used with permission.

When kids don't see themselves reflected in American history, it becomes more difficult to picture themselves in America's future. To empower a diverse generation of future leaders, we need youth of color to be represented and included.

Morales is on a mission to make sure kids of color don't repeat her past experiences.

As the executive officer of Mikva Challenge in Chicago, Morales helps design and implement programs that get kids engaged in making social change early on.

Photo via Mivka Challenge, used with permission.

"Youth of color do not see themselves in the larger political structure and the larger narrative of the American story," she says. "We want youth to know that they are important to the change of our society."

Through Mikva, young people are given the opportunity to become civically engaged and see for themselves that they have the potential to make positive change.

Mikva teaches kids about policymaking, electoral engagement, and community problem-solving through hands-on projects. The program was founded as an all-volunteer civic engagement project and named after former White House counsel, judge, and U.S. congressman Abner Mikva and his activist wife Zoe.

Now, Mivka is a more than 6,000-student program, working to educate a generation of young people about their nation's politics.

Photo via Mivka Challenge, used with permission.

It not only prepares them for lives of civic engagement as adults, but it shows them that there's no need to wait until they're older to get started on projects they care about.

Mikva has already affected over 10,000 youth in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

But its message isn't limited to any geographical location. The "Mikva model," as it's called, "assumes that young people deserve a voice in our democratic process, and it challenges educators and public officials to invite, and meaningfully include, youth in civic decision-making."

Photo via XQ/Mikva Challenge.

That's an initiative that every organization can — and should — implement.

As for Morales, she's focused on making the future better for the kids who come after her. "I do this for them," she says. "I do this to make things better for them. I don’t want them to go through what I have gone through and what other people of color have gone through."

Learn more at XQSuperSchool.org.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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