The protests she went to looked nothing like they did on TV. So she brought her camera.

A stranger raised his voice and threw a middle finger her way. Patience Zalanga froze.

This was not the first time someone had reacted violently to her presence. And it likely wouldn't be the last.

Zalanga is a badass photographer.

A black woman and long-term resident of St. Paul, Minnesota, Zalanga recently moved to the St. Louis metro area. But when she heard about the shooting of Philando Castile, she hopped in a car and went back home.


Not just to mourn. Not just to protest. But to stand side by side with her community, and celebrate strength in blackness without apology.

Naturally, she brought her camera, too.

All photos by Patience Zalanga, used with permission.

Zalanga has worked as a photographer for the last four years. But she didn't always use her camera for activism.

"It wasn't until two years ago, when Ferguson happened, that I decided to use my camera for ... purposes other than taking head shots," she said.

Zalanga arrived in Ferguson about a week before the grand jury announced their findings. During that first visit, she said, she was too worried for her safety to bring her camera.

"I was really scared that [the police] would confiscate my camera ..." she explained, "I was really worried ... I would be a target."

Eventually, she returned home to Minnesota. But hours after she got home, the grand jury announced they would not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Zalanga and her friends were watching it on the news when they decided they should go back. And this time, Zalanga took her camera, too. She wanted to document the real action — the stuff no one was seeing on the news.

Over time, Zalanga has become bolder and more confident about her storytelling.

She's gone from not bringing her camera at all to standing on the front lines of the action to record history.

"When I take pictures, it's so weird, but white men just have this track record of them getting up in my face and being super bold," Zalanga said. "I'm [5 feet 2 inches] ... and I only have a camera, that's the only weapon I have on me. And yet they feel very, very compelled to intimidate me with their bodies, with their language."

The man you read about at the beginning of this piece got upset when Zalanga started taking pictures at an impromptu demonstration at a hair salon. She says he jumped out of his chair and immediately got in her face.

"In that moment, my heart was racing. Everything went in slow motion," she said.

But while the experience felt lonely, Zalanga wasn't alone.

"All of a sudden, I had 10 black people surrounding me," she says. It was the other demonstrators, standing by her side. As always, her community had her back.

Now, Zalanga sees herself as an activist as well as a photographer.

"When I made the decision to start documenting, at first I was doing it for everyone," she said. "But I feel like through my photography ... my style has somewhat changed, and it's definitely more ... centered on black people."

She often shoots in black and white to draw parallels between the contemporary struggles of black Americans and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

"For me, it's important to shoot in black and white because it really forces you to pay attention to the subject and what's happening."

The photos here were taken in July 2016 during protests outside the Minnesota Governor's Mansion in St. Paul.

While residents and community members were decidedly heartbroken about the death of Philando Castile — "There was a lot of frustration, a lot of rage, and a lot of anger," Zalanga said — events at the mansion have been altogether peaceful.

And for Zalanga, capturing these moments in the movement is more than a passion or a profession — it's a duty to humankind.

She hopes her work will serve as an archive, capturing not just moments of pain and struggle, but celebration and joy. Through her work, Zalanga says she is signal boosting a narrative we all need to hear.

"That's the main reason why I do what I do," she said. "I'm really curious about what pictures are going to be put in history books," she said.

And we can all do our part to pay attention, really listen, and share the stories and images coming out of places where this movement is taking shape every day. History is happening right this minute, and we can all do our part to ensure traditionally underrepresented voices are at the center of it.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

Keep Reading Show less
True

2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.