Look at how differently a Mississippi newspaper covered stories about Black and White suspects

We've been hearing about racism much more frequently the past several weeks, but it's not because racism just appeared. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Racism is sewn into the fabric of America and it doesn't always look like overt racism. In fact, it doesn't even always look like the microaggressions that we feel or see on a daily basis. The language we use is filled with racism that we don't even realize or see. I like to call this "sneaky racism." It's sneaky because it is spoon fed to every American from birth through death, and if you aren't made aware so you can look for it, it will pass right by you, creating what's known as implicit bias.

Implicit bias is something that we have little control over. It's that snap judgment or quick tug in your belly that you equate to intuition or just feeling like you have a better understanding of a situation than you actually do. It's subconscious in nature and we often don't even know it's happening.

In American media, we are fed these biases through our television programs, movies, books, newspapers, and news networks. It's everywhere, and in order to truly get rid of racism and lower the rate of fatal police shootings of unarmed Black people, we need to seek out and eliminate sneaky racism. The type of implicit bias I'm referring to implies that Black and brown people are inherently dangerous.

Implicit bias is a vicious cycle that Americans are caught in and the first step to breaking the cycle is recognizing it when you see it. A great example is this image of a newspaper page from Mississippi, shared by Orlando Jezebel. The caption reads, "Does anyone else see it. Take all the time you need. #BLM."


Immediately I noticed the disparity between the two headlining stories. I'll break it down in case it's not immediately clear.

The photo of the white man is very small, and looks to be a school photo of some sort. His headline is tiny and he's in the side margin of the paper. The writer of that piece continually refers to the man as a "teen" throughout the article, which technically is correct as the suspect is 19, but in contrast, Black teens and children are often referred to as men and women in articles (even 12-year-old Tamir Rice was referred to as "the Black male" in an interview with the officer who shot him). This particular man is also accused of murder, but you almost wouldn't know that by the size of the story in comparison to the other headline sitting flush with this one sharing the same front page.

In the larger photo, we see a Black man who was accused of burglary. Throughout this article the man is referred to as a suspect. The article does not use a school photo, which I'm sure is somewhere publicly as most photos are nowadays; they chose to use an obvious mugshot with him donning an orange jumpsuit.

The way implicit bias is displayed in these articles is blatant if you know to look for it. It may not seem like it's a big deal, but language matters. By using the term "teen" when describing the white suspect, you are humanizing him and providing him more innocence than the Black suspect. Teens are impulsive and make mistakes. They're easily forgiven their flaws in the name of a second chance due to a teens inherent naivety.

When you use the term "suspect" it conjures the image of someone that is guilty, or likely guilty. It invokes a feeling of wrong doing with little benefit of the doubt. It's also peculiar that the story on the burglary took up more of the page than the murder. This is also a play on our psyche, making the Black suspect appear more dangerous than the white suspect. Our eyes will automatically be drawn to the larger photo and headline. A school photo versus a mugshot also aids in altering our emotion for the white suspect, though he was the one accused of murder.

These things are sneaky. I would wager that the editor likely didn't even notice the disparity. These biases are present in movies and television shows with Black and brown characters who are typically portrayed as maids, drug addicts, drug dealers, thugs, gang members, or someone who generally just needs help to navigate life because they're somehow doing it all wrong until their fairer skinned counterpart comes to save the day. This problem is starting to be somewhat counteracted with more Black and brown writers being hired to shape some of our favorite shows, but the implicit bias is pervasive, and even Black writers can be guilty of the same biases as white writers since we have all been eating from the same media spoon our entire lives.

As the world continues to wake up from its long slumber and actively works to become anti-racist, I have hope that we can work together to call attention to these biases in media and fix them.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."