What 2 powerful women taught us this week about telling the truth.

This week was a banner week for women standing up and, as the saying goes, "speaking truth to power."

On Sunday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren gave a passionate speech on racial equality at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute. Her remarks offered a bold defense of the Black Lives Matter movement and went further than any high-profile, mainstream politician's have before to support the modern-day civil rights activists who are, in her words, "fighting for their lives."


Photo of Cecile Richards by Mark Wilson/Getty Images. Sen. Warren by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood Federation for America President Cecile Richards testified before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. The five-hour-long session was Richards' chance to defend the vital women's health organization that some in Congress are seeking to defund. It was long and hard but a tour de force performance in grace under fire. And Richards never wavered.

Together, they gave a master class in how to tell the inconvenient truth. Here are three lessons they taught us:

1. Have confidence when the facts are on your side — and share them.

When you're standing up with a strong argument, it helps to know the facts and, as tedious as it may feel, educate your audience on them. Does it mean you'll ultimately convince them? Maybe not. But it helps to start with the basics.

Sen. Warren's speech was basically CliffsNotes for the history of the American civil rights struggle and structural racism in the areas of economic policy, policing, and voting. It gave her impassioned support the grounding it needed with a side dish of "I probably know more about this than you do, so let me school you a bit."

Richards was no different. She patiently responded to every unfounded claim and attack with facts about women's health generally, reproductive rights specifically, and Planned Parenthood repeatedly. Richards wasn't just there because of what she felt or believed. She was there because of what she knows to be true.



2. Sometimes, it will feel like you're standing alone.

Cecile Richards' testimony was difficult to watch. Time and time again she was interrupted, accused of lying, and aggressively questioned as the panel of mostly male Congress members interrogated her about the value and worth of her work — and ultimately, as a woman, her health and rights. Even Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Democrat from Virginia, called out the rampant "disrespect and misogyny."

Richards sat, head held high, one woman against the world, fighting for humanity ... OK. Got a bit carried away there. But it was a pretty serious setup. And it couldn't have been easy being the lone target of all of that ire and anti-woman sentiment.

Sen. Warren's environment, on the other hand, wasn't as physically isolating. But she too was standing alone in a field of mainstream politicians who have, until now, given timid, tepid, and downright contrarian responses to black Americans' simple call for human rights and justice. For her to stand up and speak without a lot of public allies took a boldness and authenticity that is not popular among her peers.

3. People will have your back.

When you're standing alone and telling the truth on behalf of people who otherwise aren't being heard, it's highly likely that those people will make sure you actually aren't alone.

Cecile Richards may have been one woman sitting in that room. But online and off, thousands were standing with her. Literally. #IStandwithPP and the first ever National Pink Out Day engaged men and women of all ages, races, and backgrounds to publicly stand behind the core truth of her testimony: Planned Parenthood is necessary and good. They were her chorus as she spoke for them.

And the response after Warren's speech was no different. Black Lives Matter activists and anyone who has been working hard to end discrimination and inequality praised her for her boldness, her depth, and her willingness to say what they already know to be true: that America still has a long way to go in ensuring true equality. And in the meantime...

We live in a world that has made it pretty darn hard for those in power to say what needs to be said.

But even for the the rest of us, telling the truth isn't always easy, especially in the face of those who challenge or threaten what you believe in. These brave women not only showed us how it's done, but they empower us to do it ourselves with authenticity, dignity, and grace.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

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