A few weeks ago, my husband, son, and I were in a minor car accident.

We made it out without any physical injuries, and our car was largely unscathed. The other car, which hit us from behind, had its hood smashed in. We all pulled to the side of the road and tried to figure out what to do. A man who was driving by with a tow truck stopped, as well.

“Should we call the cops and get a report?” the man who hit us asked.


“You can try, but they won’t come. They don’t come out here,” the man with the tow truck replied.

“Let’s just exchange insurance info for now,” my husband suggested — we’d had a long day.

They pulled out pens and paper while I paced next to the scene in an effort to console the frustrated toddler I was carrying.

“There go two cops right there,” the man in the tow truck noted. There were two cop cars stopped at a red light on the other side of the intersection where we had crashed.

“Should I wave him down?” the man who hit us asked.

“You can try if you want. They’re not gonna stop,” said the man in the truck.

The light turned green and the cops started driving toward us.

Both men tried to flag them down. The first officer got closer until his car was directly next to the scene. He looked at us — he saw the curled-up hood of the car, saw the men, saw me, saw my baby. He flippantly fixed his fingers into a peace sign and drove away. The second officer drove by behind him without breaking her gaze from the road. I was baffled.

“What the fuck?” I said to my husband. “Did you just see that shit?”

“Doesn’t surprise me,” he said.

“I told y’all they wouldn’t stop,” said the man with the tow truck. “So do you want me to tow your car to my shop?” he asked, turning back to the man with the damaged car.

I stood silently, in awe. I don’t know how to silence the part of me that is shocked every time my humanity is erased, no matter how many times it happens. I know what to expect, and still, I expect to be regarded with respect and decency. The reality I’d experienced seemed entirely possible in this country’s climate and completely unfathomable, simultaneously.

We eventually got back in the car and drove off. It was then that I noticed myself shaking.

“You OK?” my husband asked, making sure I wasn’t hurt in a way I hadn’t noticed sooner.

“Yeah, but I’m pissed about that officer. It’s infuriating that he not only didn’t stop, but that he went out of his way to make sure we knew he didn’t give a fuck about us. How can you drive past a pregnant woman, her baby, and a beaten-up car, and not stop to check in? Can you imagine if we were all white? If I were a young white mother in need?”

“Yup.”

“And thank God none of us were hurt, but what if we were? What if I had hit my belly, or something was off with Miles? The officer had no way of knowing we didn’t need emergency assistance. Flagging for help implied that we needed it. He decided we didn’t deserve it, or that he didn’t care enough to help us. Miles is 17 months old and he’s just had his first experience with an officer not giving a fuck about his life.”

“Yeah. Wow. Fuck.”

Now, before any of you reply that “not all officers” are like this, I want to say that there shouldn’t be a single officer comfortable enough to behave this way (or worse). The officer didn’t hesitate to do what he did. He knew that under our current system there would be no consequences for disregarding my family’s humanity. And that made me justifiably mad as hell.

I’m mentioning this anecdote because I keep getting comments and emails from white people about my anger, about my bitterness, in regard to racial injustice.

I’m urged to accept the reality that sometimes my children and I are going to experience racism, and to make peace with the life we have. I’m told that it’s merely a matter of perception, that the world isn’t as threatening to me as I perceive it to be, that if I let go of my bitterness, I’d find a better reality for my family and myself.

I don’t buy it. I don’t believe that those comments are made in my best interest, but rather out of a discomfort with their own feeling that they’re on the receiving end of my anger. I think if they reformed their desire to quell my anger into a desire to quell the system that caused it, we’d all be better off.

My anger is functional. My bitterness is rational.

If I am not outraged at the injustices faced by myself, my community, my children, who will be? If no one is outraged at my suffering, who will demand change? Yes, the fire that injustice stirs in me burns me. I suffer a lot of anxiety; I often feel despair; it’s difficult for me to enjoy many things. But my suffering has roots in societal trauma — trauma I am working to heal, work fueled by the same fiery anger that sometimes eats me up.

Fire builds and it destroys, as does my anger. My anger sparks a fierce determination in me, an urgent commitment to creating change. My anger is a maternal instinct — a fury that charges me to protect my children and to protect myself from the experiences that threaten our emotional and physical well-being.

And even when my anger exists in situations of injustice where it doesn’t fuel anything but my own suffering — where there’s literally nothing I can do to change what’s making me mad — it’s still a perfectly natural reaction to what I’ve experienced. What does shaming me for feeling do?

Your discomfort with witnessing my pain doesn’t give you any right to tell me to feel less.

My anger, my bitterness, and my despair are valid reactions to trauma. Hell no, I don’t want to live in them constantly. It feels like shit. I’ve learned to selectively turn my mind off for the sake of survival. I have to regularly in order to create time and space for joy in my life. But the only functional way to eradicate these reactions is to eradicate the root — all else is a numbing, a demand that I don’t experience the natural human reaction to being dehumanized.

If you don’t know what it feels like to personally experience racial trauma, please stop policing our responses to it.

Listen. Don’t lecture. Practice compassion. Practice reflection without commentary.

If my anger, bitterness, or sorrow makes you uncomfortable, focus on what you can do to help heal the social issues that contribute — and I’ll focus on healing myself.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

This article originally appeared on November 5, 2013


When I saw these incredible photos Angelo Merendino took of his wife, Jennifer, as she battled breast cancer, I felt that I shouldn't be seeing this snapshot of their intimate, private lives.





















The photos humanize the face of cancer and capture the difficulty, fear, and pain that they experienced during the difficult time.

But as Angelo commented: "These photographs do not define us, but they are us."

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

A group of around 20 moms gathered at a Boston area high school to vent their frustrations loudly.

The pandemic has been hard on everyone, but there are certain groups of people who have faced particularly intense challenges these past two years. Healthcare workers? For sure. Teachers? Definitely. Parents? Um, yes.

Moms specifically? Yesssss.

It's hard to describe how hard navigating the pandemic with kids has been. Figuring out childcare when schools and daycare centers shut down, managing kids' remote or hybrid schooling, constantly making decisions about what's safe and what's not, dealing with the inconsistency and chaos of it all, weighing risks with who is vaccinated and who isn't—none of it has been easy. Many parents are also raising kids with mental, emotional, behavioral or physical challenges that have only been made harder by pandemic life.

Keep Reading Show less

Police arrest man suspected of scamming an elderly woman.

There has been a rise in scams against the elderly during the pandemic. According to the FBI, American seniors were scammed for $1 billion dollars in 2020, up $300 million from the previous year.

To stay connected with friends and family during the pandemic, more seniors joined social media, opening them up to new avenues for fraud.

“The combination of online shopping and social media creates easy venues for scammers to post false advertisements,” the FBI report said. “Many victims report ordering items from links advertised on social media and either receiving nothing at all or receiving something completely unlike the advertised item.”

But when scammers came after 73-year-old Jean Ebbert in Long Island, New York, they had no idea they were dealing with a law enforcement veteran. Ebbert is a former 911 dispatcher, so she knows exactly what a scam looks like.

Keep Reading Show less