We spoke to the Muslim comedian who had a flight with Eric Trump. Here's what he learned.

Like most comedians, Mo Amer has included jokes about Donald Trump in his act for months.

The Muslim American stand-up comedian, whose family fled Kuwait during the Gulf War, has built a career in comedy by offering his unique comic perspective on the American experience.

Comedian Mo Amer. Photo courtesy of Mohammed Amer.


During his recent global comedy tour, Amer has referred to Donald Trump as "the world's most successful publicity stunt" and has even expressed a desire to catch a little bit of that fame and notoriety for himself.

"I just wanted a little bit of the juice!" Amer explains over Skype.

In a surprising turn of events, Amer got a lot more than that — a whole gallon of it.

While boarding a plane to Scotland, Amer was seated next to none other than Eric Trump, The Donald's second son.

"Sometimes God just sends you the material," Mohammed wrote in a Facebook post that has since gone viral.

Hey guys heading to Scotland to start the U.K. Tour and I am "randomly" chosen to sit next to non other than Eric Trump....

Posted by Mohammed Amer on Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What could've been several hours of awkward silence turned into a relatively honest and open conversation, Amer says. And the conversation began with a hot-button issue too.

At the very least, Amer explained, he felt a responsibility as a comedian and as an Arab American Muslim to talk to Trump. "I just took a moment and sat down and introduced myself," Amer says.

The first thing they discussed was Donald Trump's infamous "Muslim registry" program, which would require Muslim Americans to register in a database. Not only is the plan openly racist, but it's uncomfortably reminiscent of Nazi-era registration programs imposed on Jewish people during WWII.

Donald Trump with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who said Trump's administration is working on a Muslim registry. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

"That registry thing? We're not doing that s**t," Amer says he told Eric Trump, bluntly. Trump had a laugh and, according to Amer, responded, "Don't believe everything you read."

While President-elect Donald Trump has never exactly used the words "Muslim registry," he has said that he would absolutely require Muslims to register and that, "There should be a lot of systems. Beyond databases. I mean, we should have a lot of systems."

To be clear, however, the calls for a Muslim registry have been publicly supported by a key member of the Trump transition team as well as a Trump surrogate who, on live TV, cited Japanese internment camps as precedent for the program.

All in all, it's not an invalid concern for Muslim Americans like Amer to have about what their lives might look like under a Trump administration.

Amer says he and Trump discovered they had more in common than they thought.

Trump was en route to his golf course in Scotland. "I used to love golf," Amer explains. "I was massively addicted at one point."

They also talked comedy. "He talked about stand-up; he loves stand-up," Amer says. "He found out I was touring with Chappelle and he was mentioning some of the Chappelle sketches that he liked."

Mo Amer (right) with comedian Dave Chappelle (center.) Photo courtesy of Mo Amer.

Overall, Amer says, it was a comfortable experience. "He slept comfortably the whole time," says Amer. "We only talked for like 30-40 minutes before the plane took off."

Amer walked away from the experience with a new appreciation for the value of a good conversation.

"I think people are undervaluing how important the interaction is," Amer says, explaining that because the conversation was focused on things they have in common, it never got tense.

While Eric Trump and Mohammed Amer no doubt have different views and vastly different life experiences, for a half-hour, they were able to honestly connect and develop tentatively mutual respect for one another.

"Having a really good conversation with someone you potentially have fear for… It’s really really important," Amer says. "Sometimes it helps a lot. Take opportunities to be thoughtful."

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

via Pixabay

Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
True

Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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