Today, thousands of people are telling the world why they write. What's your reason?

Today, Oct. 20, is the National Day on Writing.

Never heard of it? I hadn't either. But now that I know, I'm really, really into it.

GIF from "Glee."

The tradition was started in 2011 by the New York Times and organizations like National Council of Teachers of English, the National Writing Project, and the Teaching Channel. And every year, thousands of people take to Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #WhyIWrite to share — you guessed it — all of the reasons they put pen to paper (or, you know, fingers to keyboard) and write.

This year, they wanted people to expand their thinking beyond just essays, articles, and books. They encourage you to define writing broadly and think of everything: "song lyrics, film scripts, poems, diary entries, blog comments, infographics, social media posts, gaming, storyboards, lab reports, videos, slideshows, podcasts or lines of code."

And sure, "famous writers" in years past have had some great reasons to write:

But the purpose of the day is to remember that anyone can find joy in the art of writing.

Here are just a few of the reasons that folks have shared today.

To achieve immortality:

To challenge themselves and break outside of boxes:

To tell stories that need to be heard:

To make your presence known:

Because, sometimes, it's all you can do:

And, lest you think everyone takes writing "Very Seriously," here's one of my personal favorites:

As for me, I write because, frankly, it took a long time for me to realize that I could.

As a kid, I was an avid reader. I was one of those kids who would rather read than play, eat, or, sometimes, sleep. Books and magazines were magical, and their creators, in my mind, had special powers. Writing was special and complicated and not something I ever felt "talented" enough to do. But when I was in my early 20s, a mentor told me something that I'll never forget:

"Your thoughts and words are just as worthy of being recorded as anyone else's."

Mind blown. GIF from "How I Met Your Mother."

That was my a-ha moment in which I realized that writing wasn't a skill reserved for an elite group of studied professionals. Writing was a tool that I could use in any way that I wanted to because my thoughts and words have value. Through writing, my words can encourage someone else, and they can make a difference to someone, somewhere ... or even just to me. From thank you cards to poems to blog posts to columns, and yes, now, even my very first book, which I am working on right now, I have never stopped writing.

I hope all of you have experienced the joy and the power of writing. And if you have, hop on Twitter, use the #WhyIWrite hashtag, and share your reason with the world.

President Biden/Twitter, Yamiche Alcindor/Twitter

In a year when the U.S. saw the largest protest movement in history in support of Black lives, when people of color have experienced disproportionate outcomes from the coronavirus pandemic, and when Black voters showed up in droves to flip two Senate seats in Georgia, Joe Biden entered the White House with a mandate to address the issue of racial equity in a meaningful way.

Not that it took any of those things to make racial issues in America real. White supremacy has undergirded laws, policies, and practices throughout our nation's history, and the ongoing impacts of that history are seen and felt widely by various racial and ethnic groups in America in various ways.

Today, President Biden spoke to these issues in straightforward language before signing four executive actions that aim to:

- promote fair housing policies to redress historical racial discrimination in federal housing and lending

- address criminal justice, starting by ending federal contracts with for-profit prisons

- strengthen nation-to-nation relationships with Native American tribes and Alaskan natives

- combat xenophobia against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, which has skyrocketed during the pandemic

Keep Reading Show less

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less

Two weeks ago, we watched a pro-Trump mob storm the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overthrow the results of a U.S. election and keep Donald Trump in power. And among those insurrectionists were well-known adherents of QAnon, nearly every image of the crowd shows people wearing Q gear or carrying Q flags, and some of the more frightening elements we saw tie directly into QAnon beliefs.

Since hints of it first started showing up in social media comments several years ago, I've been intrigued—and endlessly frustrated—by the phenomenon of QAnon. At first, it was just a few fringey whacko conspiracy theorists I could easily roll my eyes at and ignore, but as I started seeing elements of it show up more and more frequently from more and more people, alarm bells started ringing.

Holy crap, there are a lot of people who actually believe this stuff.

Eventually, it got personal. A QAnon adherent on Twitter kept commenting on my tweets, pushing bizarro Q ideas on many of my posts. The account didn't use a real name, but the profile was classic QAnon, complete with the #WWG1WGA. ("Where we go one, we go all"—a QAnon rallying cry.) I thought it might be a bot, so I blocked them. Later, I discovered that it was actually one of my own extended family members.

Holy crap, I actually know people who actually believe this stuff.

Keep Reading Show less
via TikTok

Menstrual taboos are as old as time and found across cultures. They've been used to separate women from men physically — menstrual huts are still a thing — and socially, by creating the perception that a natural bodily function is a sign of weakness.

Even in today's world women are deemed unfit for positions of power because some men actually believe they won't be able to handle stressful situations while mensurating.

"Menstruation is an opening for attack: a mark of shame, a sign of weakness, an argument to keep women out of positions of power,' Colin Schultz writes in Popular Science.

Keep Reading Show less