+

Haiti has always charted bold new paths in its fight for independence.

From the slave rebellion that made it its own nation — the first nation formed by slaves — to its economic struggles and fight to rebuild, the Haitian identity has been unyielding in its quest for freedom and stability.


Image by Todd Huffman/Flickr.

But political freedom and economic stability have been hard to sustain.

Immediately after kicking its French colonizers to the curb, Haiti's independence was undermined. It was required to pay a large indemnity to France or risk not being recognized by many other countries as its own nation, an action that would leave the country in a constant state of debt to France. Haiti, in search of legitimacy and security, paid the fine.

Playing by the rules didn't protect Haiti from being a pawn in the West's political ambitions.

In 1915, 330 U.S. Marines landed at Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Their arrival marked the beginning of a U.S. occupation that lasted almost 19 years. The U.S. took over the Haitian government, changed its laws, and fought a long and bloody battle in an attempt to get the Haitians to yield to its rule and protect its interests. As the United States Office of the Historian summarizes it:

"As a potential naval base for the United States, Haiti's stability concerned U.S. diplomatic and defense officials who feared that Haitian instability might result in foreign rule of Haiti. ... In 1914, the Wilson administration sent U.S. Marines into Haiti. They removed $500,000 from the Haitian National Bank in December of 1914 ... thus giving the United States control of the bank. ... President Wilson sent the U.S. Marines to Haiti to prevent anarchy. In actuality, the act protected U.S. assets in the area and prevented a possible German invasion."

The occupation ultimately failed, but the damage was already done. Again, Haiti had suffered the effects of another nation's ambitions and was left even more unstable and disparaged than before. Still, the people remained focused on their freedom.

In some regards, Haiti's history is not that different from many African nations, which have also had a long and sordid history with Western powers.

Image by Julien Harneis/Flickr.

From occupations and invasions to the division of the continent, African nations have suffered as a result of Western interests.

First, there was the "Scramble for Africa." Historian Saul David describes the mad dash for control of the African continent: "As late as the 1870s, only 10% of the continent was under direct European control ... by 1900, Europeans ruled more than 90% of the African continent."

Then, there was the partitioning of Africa during the Berlin Conference, which David explains "began the process of carving up Africa, paying no attention to local culture or ethnic groups, and leaving people from the same tribe on separate sides of European-imposed borders."

Both events were at the whim of Western powers that approached people in African countries as things to own. After centuries of suffering, those nations have taken action to unify and heal from the still-evident effects of colonial rule.

In an attempt to reclaim the African continent's resources, culture, and economic power, the African Union was founded in 2001.

The controversial and much maligned dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, led the creation of the African Union. Yes, that Gaddafi — the deposed Libyan leader who was killed on Oct. 20, 2011. While the good and the bad of his rule have been widely discussed and debated, he had a vision of a unified Africa, which would include "Caribbean islands with African populations," as stated in his 2009 speech in Tripoli.

Now, five years after his death, that vision could become a reality.

Image by Arsen.Shnurkov/Wikimedia Commons.

Haiti has expressed a bold desire to join the African Union, wading into uncharted waters in another attempt to take control.

After years of turmoil and destruction, Haiti sees its path to rebuilding — with the support and protection of empathetic African nations.

"To know where you're going, you need to know where you're from," the Haitian ambassador Jacques Junior Baril said in a recent interview with SABC Digital news. And the close cultural connection and mutual respect between the AU and Haiti is clearly evident. In 2010, former African Union chairman, Jean Ping said, "We have attachment and links to that country. The first black republic that carried high the flame of liberation and freedom for black people."

But the African Union isn't sold on the idea.

While there is potential for the formation of a "sixth region" of global delegates who will represent the African diaspora, Haiti may not be admitted into the African Union, instead remaining an observing member.

The Haitian ambassador stated, "It's not something we decided, it's a place that we earned after we fought for our independence 212 years ago. We paved the way for every other African nation to be free today, so historically speaking Haiti should have been in the AU already." While Haiti has made its intentions clear, ultimately, it's not for Haiti to decide.

Regardless of its status in the African Union, Haiti will continue to shatter boundaries, working toward the integrity and national sovereignty that they have long fought for.

Image via Chad Sparkes/Flickr.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

Pop Culture

TikTok star's surprising method for finding good Chinese food is blowing people's minds

Yelp can be a helpful tool for scoping out food joints, but maybe not in the way you think.

Photo by Debbie Tea on Unsplash

Different cultures view service differently.

Content creator Freddy Wong has a brilliantly easy way to find authentic Chinese food.

As he reveals in a mega viral video that’s racked up 9.4 million views on TikTok and 7.7 million views on Twitter, the trick (assuming you live in a major metropolitan area) is to “go on Yelp and look for restaurants with 3.5 stars, and exactly 3.5 stars." Not 3. Not 4. 3.5.

He then backs up his argument with some pretty undeniable photo evidence.

First, he pulls up an image of a Yelp page from P.F. Chang’s. With only 2.5 stars, one can tell the food is “obviously bad.” Alternatively, Din Tai Fung—a globally recognized Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant—has four stars.

Sounds good right? Wrong. In this case, “too many stars” means that “too many white people like it,” indicating that the restaurant is being judged on service rather than food quality. According to Wong, if “the service is too good, the food is not as good as it could be.”

He then pulls up the Yelp page for a couple of local Chinese restaurants, both of which have 3.5 stars. The waiters at these establishments might “not pay attention to you,” he admits, adding that they might even be “rude.” But, Wong attests, “it’s going to taste better.”

@rocketjump

Why I only go to Chinese restaurants with 3.5 star ratings

♬ original sound - RocketJump

"The dumplings here are better [than Din Tai Fung's]. I've been here," he says of the 3.5 star Shanghai Dumpling House. Considering his Twitter profile boasts a “James Beard Award winning KBBQ Gourmand'' title, it seems like he knows what he’s talking about.

So, why is this 3.5 rule the “sweet spot”? As Wong explains, it all comes down to different “cultural expectations.”

“In Asia, they’re not as proactive. They’re not going to come up to you, they’re not going to just proactively give you refills, you need to flag down the waiter,” he says, noting the different interpretations of service.

"People on Yelp are insufferable,” he continues, arguing that “they're dinging all these restaurants because the service is bad,” but the food is so good that it balances out the bad service. Hence, a 3.5-star rating. His reasoning is arguably sound—people do often give absurdly scathing reviews that in no way accurately reflect a restaurant’s food quality.

“A good Yelp review doesn’t mean it’s a good restaurant — it simply means the restaurant is good at doing things that won’t hurt their online rating,” Wong said in an interview with Today, adding that “highly rated Yelp restaurants are often those with counter service and limited menus, minimizing potential negative interaction with staff.”

He also added the caveat, “I don’t have anything against those places, but I think people who only eat at the ‘highest rated’ restaurants on online review sites are only eating at the most boring restaurants.”

A ton of people in the comments seem to back Wong’s theory.

best chinese food

100% accurate, some say

TikTok

Plus, the theory seems to not be limited to just Chinese restaurants, further implying that maybe there’s more of a cultural misunderstanding, rather than any real lack of quality.

thai food near me

No drink refills but the food is fire.

TikTok

yelp reviews, yelp

2.8 is the new 5

TikTok

One of the gifts that our modern world provides is the opportunity to truly experience and appreciate other cultures. Since food is easily one of the most accessible (and enjoyable) ways to do that, perhaps we should prioritize seeking authenticity, rather than rely on a flawed and superficial rating system.

As Wong told Today, “I hope it encourages people to go out and eat more food from not only Chinese restaurants, but restaurants representing the whole world of cultural cuisines.”

Trevor Noah announces he's leaving "The Daily Show."

Soon, "The Daily Show" will have a new face with a different style of delivering the news in a way that takes a bit of the sting away. Comedian Trevor Noah delivered some unexpected news to his live studio audience, and I'm sure I'm not the only one having some big feelings about it. Noah announced that he will be leaving "The Daily Show" in pursuit of other things, including doing more standup.

Keep ReadingShow less
via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


Keep ReadingShow less