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It's outrageous what these women are offering to do so that we can have paid family leave.

Paid leave to be a parent — lots of countries have healthy policies for it. Why don't we?

Not being able to take paid family leave places families in tough corners.

Many years ago, after a difficult night of trying to calm my asthmatic 2-year-old's respiratory cold, she took a turn for the worse. She began to have "chest retractions," which is what happens when the lungs aren't doing the work of bringing in and expelling air efficiently, so the torso muscles start actually pumping the lungs for survival.

This is what those look like. It's terrifying, and when this happens, oxygen levels in the blood can get dangerously low.


GIF from Liege Davis/YouTube.

Lack of paid family leave forces people to make terrible decisions.

I got her admitted to the hospital at about 5:00 a.m. and needed to report to my job at 9:00 a.m. I wanted nothing more than to stay by her side, but with her chronic asthma, I'd already exhausted my normal sick leave that year and calling in could have meant losing my job at the giant behemoth corporation I worked for. If I lost my job, I'd lose the health insurance she needed so desperately.

In one of the most gut-wrenching moments of my life, I called in a family member to take my place and tore myself away from her bedside to report to work, crying the entire way there.

My daughter made a recovery, mostly outgrew asthma, and I went on to work for an employer with much better paid leave policies (yay Upworthy!). But I never forgot that day and I never forgot how if we went through it, others are going through something similar every day.

America lags behind nearly every other developed nation when it comes to family leave.

An organization reporting for the United Nations found that, among 170 developed countries assessed, only two didn't have defined and guaranteed benefits for paid family leave — the United States and Papua New Guinea. A renewed effort to help America get up to par has been underway, but new House Speaker Paul Ryan has yet to make it a priority.

A new video from AmericanWomen.org hopes to change that. In the video, a bunch of famous women and men (like Mila Jovovich and Maggie Gyllenhaal) are asking, "Who do I have to ____ around here to get paid family leave for Americans?"

This video combines tons of celebrities, some shocking information about just how far behind America is with this, and a funny and surprising twist on how we can get there.

"Do I have to ____ the entire Senate? Because I will."

GIFS from AmericanWomen.org.

"I'll ____ them all!"

Everybody who has a family needs to see this! The time has come for no more heartbreaking choices for moms and dads when it comes to our families and livelihoods.

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
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It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

When people think of the Deep South, especially in states like Mississippi, most people don't imagine a diverse and accepting way of life. People always look at me as if I've suddenly sprouted a unicorn horn when I reminisce on my time living in Biloxi and the eclectic people I've met there, many of whom I call friends. I often find myself explaining that there are two distinct Mississippis—the closer you get to the water, the more liberal it gets. If you were to look at an election map, you'd see that the coast is pretty deeply purple while the rest of the state is fire engine red.

It's also important to note that in a way, I remember my time in Biloxi from a place of privilege that some of my friends do not possess. It may be strange to think of privilege when it comes from a Black woman in an interracial marriage, but being cisgendered is a privilege that I am afforded through no doing of my own. I became acutely aware of this privilege when my friend who happens to be a transgender man announced that he was expecting a child with his partner. I immediately felt a duty to protect, which in a perfect world would not have been my first reaction.

It was in that moment that I realized that I was viewing the world through my lens as a cisgendered woman who is outwardly in a heteronormative relationship. I have discovered that through writing, you can change the narrative people perceive, so I thought it would be a good idea to sit down with my friend—not only to check in with his feelings, but to aid in dissolving the "otherness" that people place upon transgender people.

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Photo from Dole
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As you sit down to eat your breakfast in the morning or grab an afternoon snack, take a minute to consider your food, how it was made, and how it got to your plate.

The fruit on your plate were grown and picked on farms, then processed, packaged and sent to the grocery store where you bought them.

Sounds simple, right?

The truth is, that process is anything but simple and at every step in the journey to your plate, harm can be caused to the people who grow it, the communities that need it, and the planet we all call home.

For example, thousands of kids live in food deserts and areas where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited. Around the world, one in three children suffer from some form of malnutrition, and yet, up to 40% of food in the United States is never eaten.

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I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

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Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

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