What the White Student Unions don't get about the recent university protests.

In early November, University of Missouri students protested over what they said was the lack of university response to racially charged incidents on campus.

Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images News.


What started with one student on a hunger strike and the football team walking out of practice and refusing to play in a show of solidarity ended with the university president resigning and the chancellor stepping down.

The students at Mizzou shone a light on racism at American colleges, inspiring hashtags like #blackoncampus and #studentblackout, as well as similar protests across the country.

Unfortunately, whenever movements like these make progress, they also bring out the deniers.

These deniers assert that there's no problem with racial equality. They're often white, they often don't have much experience being aware of their own race until now (when they are being shown their privilege). And they refuse to consider how white people denying the experiences of people of color contributes to the problem.

This is where the so-called "White Student Union" groups came in, popping up on social media last weekend.

They're here to fight the good fight (/sarcasm) against what they perceive as reverse racism.

From the NYU White Student Union (quoted by the New York Daily News):

"When people say that Students of Whiteness don't face any unique challenges or obstacles we should think about this. White students are the only group to be labeled as 'problematic' simply for existing and to have University classes dedicated to attacking their identity. This is why we are reclaiming the word whiteness and not letting the campus thought police define our identities for us."

It is a devastating to feel "problematic" because of your race, and "simply for existing." Yet whoever is behind the White Student Union groups cannot see that this is how people of color feel on a daily basis, mainly at the hands of — you guessed it — white people, whether intentional or not.

And "university classes dedicated to attacking their identity" actually were established so that students could finally learn about American history from the perspective of this country's many racial minorities — from their own cultures — rather than the default "history" classes that teach a white, often male, perspective. Many of these specialized classes exist only because of protesters like the ones demanding racial equality at Mizzou.

Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images News.

The University of Illinois White Student Union went after a larger movement.

The group stated that its purpose is to organize against "the terrorism we have been facing from Black Lives Matter activists on campus," as quoted by MSNBC.

This is the same Black Lives Matter that spotlighted disproportionate police brutality against black people around the nation. The movement that got the two Democratic presidential frontrunners to talk about racial equality. And that have bolstered the Mizzou protests, as well as other college demonstrations.

We're supposed to believe that what they're doing is "terrorism"? Peaceful protesting is not terrorism. Five people being shot by white supremacists at a Black Lives Matter protest is terrorism.

Luckily, the universities are responding in solidarity with students of color.

The University of Illinois said in a statement that it asked Facebook to remove various iterations of the White Student Union pages because of the climate of fear and intolerance they were trying to create:

"The site called for monitoring African American students, and some students are telling us they now feel unsafe."

The NYU Director of Public Affairs took issue with the school's logo being on the page, as the New York Daily News quotes:

"There is no such organization as this at NYU, the Facebook page is using NYU's logo illegally and without permission, and we have contacted Facebook to demand the NYU logo be removed."

And as NYU posted on Facebook:

"An anonymous person or group has started a 'Union of White NYU Students' Facebook page; these kinds of pages have cropped up at a number of universities that have sought to have a real dialogue about race and inclusion. There is no such organization as this at NYU. We call on all parties to contribute thoughtfully and respectfully to the discourse on race and to reject efforts to derail or distort the conversation."

What university wants its name and image associated with people who refuse to acknowledge that racism exists? Especially after the Mizzou protests? Especially after the deaths of so many unarmed black people at the hands of cops?

Maybe this is a PR move, but it's still the right one.

There is good news, though: These groups are likely fake.

After Facebook took down the University of Illinois White Student Union page, some white supremacists put out a call to arms on social media, asking people to create these pages whether they were associated with a university or not.

You can read the complete timeline on Medium, which also points out how these pages that invoke the name of around 30 American universities have almost identical language in their statements of purpose.

It's not just university administrations and Facebook who are not letting these pages stand.

Ordinary Facebook users are calling out the people behind these pages. Either they comment calling the posts "divisive," or they don't Like the pages at all, with many of the still-existing groups garnering only a few hundred Likes.

These pages may have emboldened trolls who deny the existence of racism and white privilege, but they have also motivated others to set them straight. The fight continues. Progress will be made.

And that's something worth celebrating.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via The BC Cancer Foundation

Testicular cancer typically affects men between the ages of 16 and 44 and is the most common solid tumor to occur in men of this age group. These tumors grow rapidly and can double in size in just 10 to 30 days.

The disease is potentially fatal if not discovered early and accounts for about 11%-13% of all cancer deaths of men between the ages of 15-35. An estimated 9,60 people were diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2020, resulting in around 440 deaths.

So it's incredibly important for people with testicles to check themselves regularly.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.