Why simply living as a black man in America is exhausting.

I’m so tired. You really don’t know what I mean.

I live in a neighborhood filled with beautiful homes, but I don't feel safe admiring the architecture for too long or too obviously because eventually someone will think I’m casing the property.

I keep my hands clasped behind my back when I’m browsing in stores so employees might feel less inclined to follow me quite as closely.


I slow down when I’m walking behind someone or cross the street if it’s at night because nothing good happens when my fellow pedestrians start with the nervous over-the-shoulder glances.

I make sure to wear Columbia University gear if I have to travel, whether I’m feeling some school pride or not. I do my best not to get any bigger, not just to be healthy or feel good, but because the only thing scarier than a black man is a large black man. I know this.

Me and my parents at my 2012 graduation. Photo courtesy of Khalil Romain.

I smile and laugh, even when I’m miserable or angry, because these pinchable cheeks might save me some headaches down the line. I never raise my voice, and I never ever lose my temper in public — even when I’d be in the right to do so. I know how to manufacture joy and charm as a defense mechanism and survival tool.

I do all of this extra work, these constant calculations in the back of my head, fully aware that it’s bullshit.

It’s all bullshit because respectability politics have and always will be bullshit. If the police can gun down a 12-year-old boy in under two seconds of arriving on the scene, of course I don’t stand a chance. Body cameras and smartphone evidence still don’t get an indictment, much less a conviction, so of course what I say, how I dress, or what I do doesn’t matter. Who I am doesn’t matter. It never will, not until my life does.

I do all of these little things for the placebo effect — to feel like I have some control over what does or does not happen to me when I walk out the door. It’s not real.

In every single direct interaction I have had with a police officer, their weapon has been unholstered. I know for a fact that those conversations often begin with a gun pointed in your face. I know they’re not supposed to, and for the majority of Americans, they don’t. I know that knowing that doesn’t matter. This is the way it works.

So I’m tired. I’m tired because the nonstop mental math, which runs in the background like a computer program every single waking moment of the day, is exhausting.

The futility of turning every single one those precautions into a habit is fucking exhausting. Watching people die again and again and again for being black in public is exhausting.

Knowing that one day it will be you or the people you love — that it will be someone else’s loved ones until then — is exhausting. Knowing there will still be people who respond with "but all lives..." is exhausting.

Figuring out how to be a functional adult is hard enough. Against all odds, I have managed to carve out a teeny tiny slice of life for myself in which I’m actually happy.

Friends and me in Brazil. Photo courtesy of Khalil Romain.

I have, miraculously, made a home with a person I love with a depth and sincerity I never imagined I’d be so lucky as to share. I’m increasingly certain my cat, Langston, is getting fluffier every day. I have incredible friends and family that I adore. It would be an unimaginable privilege to give my whole heart to living these parts of my life and not always chain a portion of my mind to simply trying to survive.

I am very, very tired.

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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.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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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.