LeVar Burton calmly explains the truth about 'cancel culture' to Meghan McCain

If you're one of the millions who grew up watching LeVar Burton celebrate literature and literacy on Reading Rainbow, you know what a national treasure he is. The actor has been a hot topic of conversation on social media since the passing of Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, as many feel that Burton would be the most fitting host to step into Trebek's shoes.

LeVar Burton is a natural educator, and his soothing voice makes even the tough lessons easy to swallow. Here's hoping that's the case for the folks who constantly decry "cancel culture" when Burton calmly schooled Meghan McCain on why that term is a "misnomer."

Speaking with Burton on The View, McCain brought up Dr. Seuss Enterprises' decision to discontinue publishing six books that feature racist imagery. "What do you think of that decision and about the cancel culture surrounding works of art or artists that are controversial?" she asked.


Burton said that he had just done a video voiceover for the Suess Foundation, reminding people that Dr. Seuss is more than just a company that pulled a few books from circulation.

"That man, Theodore Geisel, is responsible for generations of wholesome, healthy, wonderful, imaginative, creative content for children of all ages, and so I think we need to put things in perspective," he said.

"In terms of cancel culture, I think it's misnamed," he said. "It's a misnomer. I think we have a consequence culture, and that consequences are finally encompassing everybody in the society, whereas they haven't been, ever, in this country."

LeVar Burton schools Meghan McCain on 'cancel culture' www.youtube.com

"So I think that there are good signs that are happening in the culture right now," he added. "And I think it has everything to do with a new awareness on people who were simply unaware of the real nature of life in this country for people who have been othered since this nation began."

If people whose voices have been silenced or ignored are finally heard, and their concerns are finally taken seriously, and the result of that is things being changed or removed, is that really "cancel culture" or is "good things happening in the culture" as Burton says? While there are legitimate discussions to be had about how to address problematic works, the discussions themselves are a step forward. And the fact that there are finally consequences for language or actions that are hurtful to people who are already marginalized in society is a good thing.

(It's also a little hard to take people seriously when they complain about 'cancel culture' in one breath and then call for boycotts of businesses that defend voting rights, sports that allow players to exercise their first amendment rights, schools and workplaces that teach anti-racism, etc., in the next.)

Burton also spoke with Whoopi Goldberg about what it meant for him to act in Star Trek: The Next Generation after growing up seeing the original television series. The original Star Trek series was groundbreaking for showing one of the first interracial kisses on TV, and its racially diverse cast made a deep impression on a whole generation. Burton said that having Nichelle Nichols, the Black actress who played Uhura, on the bridge of the Enterprise "meant the world" to him.

"What it said was when the future comes, there's a place for us," said Burton. "And that's a huge message to send. I believe it's difficult, if not impossible, to grow up with a healthy self-image unless you can see yourself in popular culture."

Oh, and by the way, LeVar Burton WILL be guest hosting during this season of Jeopardy! so dreams really do come true.

Thank you, LeVar Burton, for being a voice of reason and wisdom in a time when we desperately need both.

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."