What people of color feel when you say their anger isn't justified.

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.

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"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

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Dr. David McPhee offers advice for talking to someone living in a different time in their head.

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The Alzheimer's Association offers tips for communicating in the early, middle and late stages of the disease, as dementia manifests differently as the disease progresses. The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers advice for talking to someone with various forms and phases of dementia. Some communication tips deal with confusion, agitation and other challenging behaviors that can come along with losing one's memory, and those tips are incredibly important. But what about when the person is seemingly living in a different time, immersed in their memories of the past, unaware of what has happened since then?

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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!