These moments in a black mother's life show exactly why we need to do better.

1. Let's say you and your 4-year-old son live in Los Angeles.

You enjoy your life there. Your friends; your family; the balmy, sunny weather; how you meet people of all shades, sexual orientations, and genders. There is no judgment. Difference is normal.

The only thing your graduate degree prepared you to be is a college professor. But competition for jobs is fierce in Los Angeles, so you apply for five professorships around the country. After three rounds of interviews, you are offered an assistant professorship in a faraway Midwestern town that is, you learn after a quick internet search, not nearly as diverse as L.A. But you say yes to the job.


The first thing you do is look up all the preschools in the area. You call and ask about their educational curriculum; they all sound great. Then you ask, of course, if they have any black students. You do not have the luxury of not asking this, of not being direct. You have to know that your son will not be the only person in his school who looks like him. You know from your own experience the dangerous vulnerability of being the only one.

Of the six schools you call, only one says that they have any black students — five children out of 150. None of the schools have any permanent, full-time black teachers on staff. You think of the ramifications of this. Studies (and plain common sense) have shown that children do better when they can see older role models who look like them and that teachers of color are necessary for development and growth.

2. When you arrive in your new city, you realize this is the first time in your life you have seen Confederate flags waving proudly.

You knock on the doors of neighbors to prospective houses to see how they'll react to you. With the help of a queer couple who has befriended you, who did this same thing when they first moved to the town, you learn how to read clues to see which of your new neighbors will be allies, what spaces you can count on to be safe.

This is the essence of straight white privilege: to not have to worry that your neighbors will be violent toward you because of the color of your skin; to not have to assess each neighborhood for signs of racism or homophobia to make sure you and your children will be safe.

3. When you pick up your son from preschool, his hair is full of dirt and leaves.

The white assistant teacher tells you that the staff raked piles of leaves for the students to jump into. But they could not comb your son's hair because the texture of his black hair is too different, too coarse. You tell her you comb his hair every morning and night just fine. There is a pause, and then the teacher wanders away.

You remember how, as a child, your father told you the teachers at Sunday school refused to comb your hair or change your diapers because they didn't want to touch black babies. You thought things had changed since then. You guess you were wrong.

4. On the playground, you and your son are playing in the sandbox.

An older white girl, about 11 years old, begins to play with your son. You comment to her mother how well her daughter is playing with your son; she is so considerate, you say. The mother tells you her daughter is good now, but she used to have problems with the coloreds. Your brain stutters; you tell yourself she meant colors. So you ask what problem she had with colors — painting? Drawing?

The girl's mother tells you the problem was with colored people. The girl's father, you see, is very racist, and the girl picked it up from him. She, the mother, had to work to stop it and tell her daughter that the coloreds were just like them. Why, even her best friend is black. You are stunned into silence. You have never been called "colored people."

You wonder if you should explain to this woman exactly what's wrong with what she just said; if you should spend precious energy educating yet another white person about racism just to get them to treat you like a person.

You realize to survive here you cannot hold on; you must learn to let go. But you can't. How these people see your skin is the difference between whether they will choose to pull the trigger or to holster their gun. These things are life and death.

5. At home, your son says another teacher told him if he washes his brown skin, he will grow lighter and not be black.

You are livid. You want to throw things. You still feel the weight of hearing comments exactly like this when you were a child over 30 years ago. You thought things would be different by now.

You think of all the things you want to say to the employees at the school. But you know if you rage, they will get defensive. This is the bitter pill black people must swallow; you cannot express your emotions because you have to protect the feelings of the white people involved in the situation. Otherwise they will shut down, and you will accomplish nothing.

No, you must always be the bigger person. You must be the one to explain to the director and the teacher why such comments are unacceptable, explain that they need diversity and inclusivity training for both the teachers and the students. It is your job to lay out, step by step, why things like this cannot be said — why things like this can never happen again.

Even after all of that, the preschool director refuses to enact any changes in the school program. You cry. You dry your eyes. You pick yourself up and advocate for your son again. You create a three-part plan for diversity and inclusion and present it to the school. After a week of emailing and prevarication, they agree to hold a diversity and inclusion seminar. You realize this will be the next 12 years of your life.

6. But you know that talking to schools about diversity is different from schools actually having diversity.

A friend tells you that a fight broke out at her son's school and the teacher walked over to the only black boy and said, "The next time you cause trouble, boy, I'm going to call the police on you." The boy was 6 years old. The school never bothered to tell his mother.

You have seen this story repeated all around the country. Sometimes, the black baby is handcuffed or jailed; sometimes beaten, sometimes killed. For black children, the school — no, the preschool to prison pipeline is very real.

You thought you could protect your baby through your presence. You have gone to every school function. You talk to all the teachers and parents. You want them to know there is someone paying attention to make sure your son is treated equally.

But still, it is happening; your vigilance is not enough. Only when equality becomes truly universal — not just in laws but in small interactions, in classrooms, in neighborhoods — will your son ever actually be safe.

This story originally appeared in Dame Magazine and is reprinted here with permission.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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