Why you aren't acting in real life like the hero in your favorite movie.

Just look around.

Sit-ins and occupations. Marches, rallies, and protests. People demanding the release of video showing an unarmed teen being killed by a police officer. A national #StudentBlackOut on hundreds of campuses presenting administrators with student-created racial equality demands. On Harvard's campus, portraits of black law professors were vandalized. Politicians and public leaders have been accused of secret Ku Kux Klan membership. And a nationally televised benefit concert brought celebrities together to fight the epidemic of racism, commit to peace, and stand with the communities that have been devastated by hate crimes, mass shootings, and police brutality.

And all of that was just in the past two weeks.


Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for A+E Networks.

What's happening all around us doesn't just sound like a movement. It actually sounds kind of ... like a movie.

You've probably seen this type of movie before and know it well: the classic "fight the power" tale. One where a charismatic leader or group of downtrodden but strong and brave "everyday people" rise up to take a stand against the powers that be. "Norma Rae." "Selma." "Mandela." "The Shawshank Redemption." "Les Misérables." Even "The Hunger Games." We all have our fave.

And when we watch those films, most of us pick sides, standing and cheering in solidarity with the "good guys."

Image from "Les Misérables" by movieCax/Flickr.

So, why does it seem like so many people — people who love those movies — can't see that we're all living in an epic blockbuster resistance movie right now?

Why isn't everyone tingling with excitement, cheering the slogans, joining organizations, and loudly standing on the "right side" of history?

Why doesn't everyone see that from University of Missouri's campus to Yale's, from the protests in Ferguson and Baltimore to the "die-ins" in Miami and Chicago, there is a real-life history-making movement happening, demanding equality, justice, and an end to every -ism that remains hidden in plain sight?

Why do some people refuse to recognize that today's Black Lives Matter movement and all of its connected struggles — the DREAMers working on immigration reform and the Fight-for-15ers fighting for a living wage — are the civil rights movement of today?

Why don't they recognize that today's Kendrick Lamars and John Legends are yesterday's Aretha Franklins and Marvin Gayes, creating a bold, unapologetic soundtrack for change?

And why don't they see the leaders of today, brilliant activists and strategists like Patrisse Cullors, Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez, DeRay McKesson, Tiq Milan, Tamika Mallory, Rashad Robinson, Alida Garcia, and Nettaa, in all their femaleness and malesness and queerness and multi-faithness and multi-racialness, as the Dr. Kings and John Lewises and Ella Bakers that they really are?

Photo of Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez, and Tamika Mallory. Used with permission from NYJusticeLeague.

The simple answer is, of course, because life is a bit more complicated than the average movie.

See, in the movies, the story is straightforward. It's easy to tell up from down and right from wrong. Thanks to adept writers and our position in the audience as external observers, we are able to see all parties and perspectives clearly.

We know who The Leader is. It's our main character, our underdog. And the supporters are The Good Guys.

We know who The Villain is. He's probably embodied by one individual, and that person is nothing like us. The villain is a caricature whose values are so despicable that any respectable person today would outright reject them.

We know the story formula too. We know the turning points in the plot, when the breakthroughs happen. We know that the heroes will hit their lowest moment and everything will seem lost, but the crescendo of music followed by a dramatic speech signals the confrontation. These things tell us that this is a Moment to Remember, after which nothing will ever be the same. And goodness will win.

If only real life were so simple.

Scene from "Selma" via BagoGames/Flickr.

In real life, the characters don't have good guy/bad guy labels. Roles aren't clearly defined. Villains can be complicated abstract systems of power rather than scowling individuals, while heroes don't announce their presence with sweeping shots of the city and a helpful title card.

Most importantly, in real life, there is no audience with an external gaze. We cannot step outside of our lives to see the part of the long arc toward justice we're living in. We can only see where we are in the moment. Standing here in present day, it's hard to see the future history books as history is being made all around us.

In the movies, we have the luxury of hindsight. We know exactly what the demands were. A writer can look back at the tangled messiness that was a 10-15-year movement and simplify its far-reaching, ever-evolving goals and demands. They will be conveniently uttered by one character in a pivotal moment. A montage would probably flash across the screen with a simple unifying goal around which the entire plot revolves.

In real life, there are numerous goals and multiple strategies. There is give and take and dissent. Movements are multi-organismic, with many parts and strains. Just because you cannot always google "tell me what today's civil rights movement wants" does not mean that there aren't brilliant, politically savvy people all over the country organizing and fighting for clear outcomes at every level — county, city, state, and federal.

But perhaps the deepest, most intimate reason we don't always recognize revolution in real time is that in the movies, social upheaval confronts, challenges, and breaks up a world that is usually foreign to us as an audience, one that we can distance ourselves from (think Panem in "The Hunger Games"). We see the contours of a harsh, immoral, unjust system clearly because we do not see it as our system. It is a system of the past (or a faraway future) and we have no tangible attachment to it. As a result, it's disruption costs us nothing.



Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

In real life, on the other hand, revolution disrupts the world we live in right now — a world that, while not perfect, many have learned to navigate and build a life in.

The imperfect systems that exist are the systems that many good people have found a way to survive in and, in some cases, benefit from. And those same people who might cheer for the factory to be shut down, or the police chief fired, or the king overthrown, while watching a movie, might not want to pay the inconvenient cost of disruption when it happens at their child's school or to their brother-in-law the officer or on the streets outside their door.

There are, of course, those who denigrate today's movement because they are desperately clinging to values of hatred and fear. Those may really think and behave like villains.

Others, though, embrace willful obliviousness simply because it is too scary to challenge the system that pays their bills or keeps them employed or makes them feel some semblance of safety and security, even when it clearly doesn't for so many others.

But there is one more group: Those who just don't believe that what they are seeing today, with its tweets and hoodies, is as serious as the movements of yesteryear.

To them I offer this simple truth:

Revolution never looks like what we think it will.

Not only does it not look like the movement that came before it, the kicker is that oftentimes what you might think radical change should look like — a new president, perhaps — with all of its pomp and circumstance, doesn't even come close to the type of revolution that movies are made of.

What does, though, is the kind of uncomfortable, unapologetic, persistent action and organizing in the three years since Trayvon Martin was killed, led by everyone from kids in hoodies, to athletes, to gay men and trans women, to bold young writers like Darnelle Moore and Dr. Brittany Cooper, to students drowning in debt, to people who shut down highways and who shout down presidential candidates to get their voices heard.

Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images.

Just like in the movies, people really are being killed while corrupt leaders get richer and more powerful. People are putting their lives on the line and making themselves vulnerable while hate speech still flourishes and is defended in the name of "free speech."

And just like in the movies, young people, black, brown, white, gay, and straight, descendants of slaves and immigrants and hippies alike, are working together to create a new, more just reality for themselves and future generations.

In the words of activist Shaun King:

"If you EVER wondered who you would be or what you would do if you lived during the Civil Rights Movement, stop. You are living in that time, RIGHT NOW."

Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images.

So here's my question to you: When the movie based on this moment in history gets made decades from now, what character will you be?

The character passing a bowl of potatoes over dinner, shaking your head at the "unruly activists" as peaceful protesters march outside your door?

The one sitting in a high-rise corner office drinking a latte, bemoaning the youth's "lack of strategy and smarts" as victories are being won day-by-day on campuses and in state houses?

Or maybe the one in the pew on Sunday morning praying for peace and order while holy righteous battles are being won in the streets outside the church's doors?

Not me.

I want to be on the right side of history. I want to be on the side of messy disruption wherever it may be found.

I want to show the movie to my future kids 20 years from now and proudly point and say, "That was mommy, my love. And she was one of the good guys."

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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