What's in a name? A personal Juneteenth story shows history's impact on the present

Doyin Richards's name has more of a story than most.

The writer, speaker and social media influencer shared a bit of his family's history that ties directly into the Juneteenth holiday and gives us a glimpse of how that history still directly impacts present generations.

He wrote on Facebook:


Doyin Richards/Facebook

"Here's my personal Juneteenth story/history lesson.

When slavery was abolished, newly-freed slaves had the choice of making a life for themselves in America or going back home to Africa. Many of my ancestors chose the latter option and moved to a place aptly named 'Freetown' which to this day is the largest city in Sierra Leone (a West African country).

As you probably would assume, slaves had their names taken from them and changed to something 'more American', like Stephen, Michael, or Daniel - because if slave owners forcibly took them from their homelands, they sure as hell weren't going to have the courtesy of learning how to pronounce their birth names.

Because of that, many newly-freed slaves in Freetown changed their names back to common surnames from the Yoruba language - like 'Adewole' for example. But here's the interesting thing - my ancestors chose to keep their slave owners' last name of Richards. But why? Nobody knows for sure, but many in my family's lineage believes it's because we had benevolent slave owners (that's the leader in the 'oxymoron hall of fame') and decided to keep it.

Fast-forward to the time when me and my two brothers showed up on earth, my dad (who was born and raised in Freetown) insisted that we have Yoruba first names to offset the slave owners' legacy that would always follow us. And with that, my full Yoruba name of Adedoyin means 'royalty' or 'son of the king.' As you know by now, I just go by Doyin.

But because I wanted to fit in so badly in my predominately white Massachusetts hometown as a kid, I let people call me 'Dwayne' instead of the proper pronunciation of 'doe-ween' because it was easier *for them*. Then I watched the classic movie 'Roots' and saw Kunta Kinte getting the shit kicked out of him by his white owners when he refused to change his name to 'Toby' and it changed everything for me. Then I knew changing my name and the pronunciation of it would be a disgrace to my ancestors who were raped, beaten and killed to keep their names just because I wanted to make some white people feel comfortable.

But to even to this day, I carry the burden of white supremacy in my own last name. Somewhere in the Deep South, there could be a racist Richards who hates everything about me, but we're considered 'family' because of our history. That's a tough pill to swallow.

I often wonder what my dad (who passed away last year) would think of what's happening right now. He would probably say something to the effect of, 'You are a leader, and leaders will be remembered by how they show up.' So I'm here, Adedoyin Richards, showing up to fight for equality - because that's what he and my ancestors would've wanted and expected. Happy Juneteenth, and I hope you continue to fight for equality in your own way today and every day. #juneteenth"

It's easy to think the history of slavery and emancipation in abstract, long-ago terms when it's not your personal family's history. Seeing how Richards' lineage has played out on two continents and how much meaning his first and last name hold is a good reminder that Juneteenth isn't just a part of our nation's story, but a deeply personal story for many Black Americans as well.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.