Dominant culture in much of the U.S. has long romanticized grand, antebellum-era plantations as a throwback to a bygone era, conjuring up images of Gone With the Wind romanticism while glossing over the heinous slavery that took place on them.

Plantations, with their mansions, tree-lined driveways and well-kept grounds might make a visually stunning backdrop for an event, but the whole slavery reality gives "stunning" a whole new meaning. Ignoring that reality—which people have done for decades—produces pretty pictures, but when you fully acknowledge the horrible history of the ground you're standing on, it's hard to feel okay about using a plantation as a party venue.

When Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively held their wedding at Boone Farm, a South Carolina plantation, in 2012, they were likely looking through a fairly typical white American (or in Reynolds' case, white Canadian) lens. But in an interview with Fast Company, Reynolds expressed profound regret for their wedding location choice.

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When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

Within just a few hours of finding out the news, I was being bombarded with ads for baby gear, baby clothes and diapers on Facebook, Instagram and pretty much any other site I visited — be it my phone or on my computer.

Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

When online advertising seems to know us this well, it begs the question: are our phones listening to us?

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