Campaign Workers Unionize Just in Time for Midterm Elections

Several Democratic congressional campaigns have agreed to bargain collectively with the Campaign Workers Guild, a new union trying to organize election campaign staff in what may be a first for national politics.

The CWG announced Monday that it had secured a union contract with the campaign of Wisconsin activist Randy Bryce, the leading Democratic challenger to Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan in this year’s midterm elections.

Campaign staffers are the latest professional targets for labor organizers. While overall U.S. unionization remained at a record-low 10.7 percent, last year saw membership in the overwhelmingly non-union professional and technical services sector grow by close to 90,000 members, bringing the total number of unionized American workers to 14.8 million, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. 

The CWG’s effort is a first for congressional campaigns, which are staffed largely by contract and short-term workers operating in what are often high-pressure work environments.

“There’s no question that it’s exploitative work,” said Rutgers University labor studies professor Janice Fine, who’s worked on local and national election campaigns. “It’s premised on the idea that young people will work 24-7 in a selfless — and often dangerously selfless — way, and that culture has been passed on for generations.”

Among the issues the union said it seeks to take on are hours that approach eighty per week and wages that are below $15 an hour.

Under the agreement with Bryce’s campaign, workers will get paid time off and earn at least $3,000 per month. The negotiated contract covers eight employees and includes a third-party reporting process for sexual harassment and monthly health insurance reimbursement of up to $500, the campaign said. “Randy is a candidate who practices what he preaches,” said Bryce spokeswoman Lauren Hitt.

Additional House campaigns and one gubernatorial campaign have also recognized the CWG and are negotiating contracts, according to the union’s vice president, Meg Reilly. “We’re starting with Democratic candidates because there’s obviously an explicit disconnect between the Democratic platform and how Democratic candidates treat their workers,” she said. She declined to identify the other campaigns citing ongoing negotiations.

The CWG and its members are following the lead of progressive non-profits. Some of them, such as the Center for American Progress and Lambda Legal, have agreed to bargain collectively with their employees in recent years. Last fall, the Vermont Democratic Party, whose new executive director is a former union political director, voted to
collectively bargain with its staff, who have affiliated with the United Steelworkers Union.

CWG’s ultimate aim is a collective bargaining agreement that would cover all Democratic campaigns for local, state, and federal office and those for progressive ballot measures. 

The Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee didn’t immediately provide comment in response to inquiries about the union. In a Monday evening post on Twitter, DNC Deputy Chair Keith Ellison, a Minnesota congressman, shared an open letter from the union and said, "The progressive movement needs to live up to its values. We have to treat our organizers with respect and dignity."

The Republican National Committee referred an inquiry to the National Republican Congressional Committee, which didn’t immediately respond. Ryan’s campaign declined to comment.

CWG’s Reilly said the national Democratic Party will ultimately benefit from campaign workers who don’t burn out and instead benefit from a sustainable career. “We’re simply fed up with that argument that we should sacrifice our health, our well-being, our time with our family, in order to placate the concerns of candidates,” she said.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-12/campaign-workers-unionize-just-in-time-for-mid-term-elections

    This Swedish fitness trend combines running with picking up litter

    Image: Getty Images

    Forget about Hygge, Lagom, and Ikea’s attempt to start a twin duvet revolution. There’s a new Scandinavian trend in town. 

    This trend encourages people to pick up litter while out running. So, it’s not just good for your health, it’s also good for the environment. 

    It’s called ‘plogging’—a portmanteau of jogging and the Swedish plocka upp, meaning ‘pick up.’ 

    So hot is this new trend that fitness app Lifesum is allowing its users to log and track their plogging activity as a workout. 

    Plogging combines going for a run with intermittent squatting or lunging (to collect rubbish), which actually sounds like a pretty satisfying workout. According to Lifesum, a typical user will burn 288 calories in 30 minutes of plogging, which is more or less the same as what’s burned off while jogging.  

    As with all fitness trends, there are plenty of #plogging pics on Instagram, offering a glimpse of what this trend looks like IRL. Ploggers take plastic bags along with them so they can store the collected litter they find along their route.

    Swedish fitness app Lifesum claims it’s the first health app to allows its 25 million users to log their plogging activity. Those using the health app can log plogging as a fitness activity, in the same way that they would log running or walking, and the app will estimate how many calories have been burned. 

    Image: lifesum / rachel thompson

    Lifesum has also teamed up with the non-profit Keep America Beautiful to provide an online resource for ploggers who want to log the rubbish they’ve collected. 

    Mike Rosen, senior vice president at Keep America Beautiful, thinks plogging is a great way to encourage people to make a difference in their local environment. 

    “Plogging is brilliant because it is simple and fun, while empowering everyone to help create cleaner, greener and more beautiful communities,” Rosen said in a statement. “All you need is running gear and a bag for trash or recyclables, and you are not only improving your own health, but your local community too.”

    Plog away!

    Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/13/plogging-fitness-trend/

    Mark E Smith, founder and lead singer with the Fall, dies aged 60

    Famously fractious singer had been suffering from ill health throughout 2017

    Mark E Smith, founder and lead singer with the Fall, dies aged 60

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jan/24/mark-e-smith-lead-singer-with-the-fall-dies-aged-60

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Transhumanism Is Dominating Sci-Fi TV

    The future belongs to those who can afford it. This may be virtually true in today’s world, where surviving retirement can feel impossible, but it’s also the literal premise of Altered Carbon, Netflix’s new prestige sci-fi series. Based on Richard K. Morgan’s novel of same name, the neo-noir is set several hundred years in the future, when human consciousness has been digitized into microchip-like “stacks” constantly being swapped into and out of various bodies, or “sleeves.”

    This technology, along with innovations like human cloning and artificial intelligence, has given society a quantum leap, but it’s also sent socioeconomic stratification into overdrive, creating dire new realities for the poor and incarcerated while simultaneously producing an elite upper-class. Called “Mets”—short for “Methuselahs”—the members of Altered Carbon’s 0.001 percent have achieved virtual immortality thanks to vaults of their own cloned sleeves and cloud backups full of their stacks. It’s either dystopia or utopia, depending on one’s bank account.

    Whatever your views on the show’s plot, in which a former rebel supersoldier named Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman), on ice in a stack prison, is revived and hired by a Met to solve the murder of his last sleeve, Altered Carbon’s best quality is its worldbuilding. In the 25th century, transhumanism—the belief that human beings are destined to transcend their mortal flesh through technology—has reached its full potential, and some of its end results are not pretty, at all.

    But Altered Carbon is only the latest bit of transhumanism to hit TV recently. From Black Mirror’s cookies and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams’ mind-invading telepaths and alien bodysnatchers to Star Trek: Discovery’s surgical espionage and Travelerstime-jumping consciousness, the classic tropes of body-hopping, body-swapping, and otherwise commandeering has exploded in an era on the brink, one in which longevity technology is accelerating more rapidly than ever, all while most people still trying to survive regular threats to basic corporeal health and safety.

    These tropes have enjoyed a healthy existence in sci-fi and horror for decades, but now more than ever transhumanism is ubiquitous in pop culture, asking us to consider the ethical, personal, political, and economic implications of an ideology with a goal—implementing technology in the human body to prolong and improve life—that is already beginning to take shape.

    The Birth of Transhumanism

    A crucial fact to remember about transhumanism and the philosophies it inspired, including the ones modeled by Altered Carbon’s Mets, is that its conception was heavily rooted in eugenics. Though earlier thinkers had already produced work one could call transhumanist today, the term wasn’t coined until 1951, by Julian Huxley, a noted evolutionary biologist (and brother to Brave New World author Aldous Huxley). Julian Huxley believed strongly in the fundamentally exclusionary theory that society would improve immensely if only its “best” members were allowed to procreate. In the speech in which he first used the word “transhumanism,” he claimed that in order for humans to “transcend the tentative fumblings of our ancestors,” society ought to enact “a concerted policy … to prevent the present flood of population-increase from wrecking all our hopes for a better world.”

    While he didn’t necessarily believe the criteria for what constituted “best” should be drawn along racial or economic lines, the ideology Huxley promoted was inherently elitist. It also allowed for virtually as many interpretations as there are people, and plenty of those people, particularly those in power—especially in Huxley’s time, but also in the fictional future of Altered Carbon—did and do believe “best” means “white, straight, financially successful, and at least nominally Christian.” As a result, the concept he named ended up being primarily conceptualized in its infancy by white men of privilege.

    This, of course, didn’t remain the main interpretation of transhumanism for long. In the years following Huxley’s coinage, humans made profound leaps in technological innovation, first in computers and then in AI, which allowed more people to envision the possibilities of one day being able to transcend their organic limitations. The basic concept was easily repurposed by those whose oppression has always been tied to physical violence—notably people of color, LGBTQ people, and women.

    By the early 1980s, scholars like Natasha Vita-More and Donna Haraway had revamped the concept with manifestos that argued transhumanism ought to be about “diversity” and “multiplicity,” about breaking down constructs like gender, race, and ability in favor of a more fluid, “chimeric” alternative in which each person can be many seemingly contradictory things at once—including human and machine. (As WIRED’s Julie Muncy explains in her review of the first season, Altered Carbon touches upon but never really takes a stance on this dimension of a post-corporeal world.)

    The Future, Revisited

    As Silicon Valley boomed, so did transhumanism. Millionaire investors have poured endless cash into anti-aging research, machine intelligence companies, and virtual reality; meanwhile, the possibility of extended or superhuman life has veered even further into becoming the exclusive purview of the extremely rich (and, more often than not, extremely white and extremely male). In 1993, mathematician and science-fiction writer Vernor Vinge pegged the arrival of the singularity—the moment at which technology, particularly AI, supersedes human intelligence and either eliminates humanity or fuses with it, allowing people to finally become “post-human”—at around 2030; by 2005 futurist Ray Kurzweil was agreeing with Vinge in his now-seminal book The Singularity is Near. (The Verge has a solid timeline of transhumanist thought here.)

    Today, working organs are being 3D-printed. Nanites, while a few years off, are definitely on the horizon. And the technologies that fuel nightmare fodder like Black Mirror are becoming realities almost daily, which gives the overwhelming impression to laypeople that the Singularity, while perhaps still technically far off, is imminent.

    Add privatized healthcare, police brutality, immigration, sexual assault, and plenty more extremely real threats to people’s physical bodies—not to mention the exponential growth of the TV industry itself—and you’ve got the perfect cocktail for a flood of transhumanist sci-fi shows that give form to anxieties viewers have about both wanting to escape the physical confines of their blood-bag existences and being absolutely, justifiably terrified of what could go wrong when they actually do.

    But however uncomfortable it may be, that dilemma is not accidental. It has become necessary to understanding and surviving our current techno-political moment. Whether enjoying the ecstasy of possibility in Altered Carbon’s disembodied immortality or writhing in the agony of imagining eternity as a digital copy of one’s own consciousness, the roller coaster of emotions these shows elicit ought to be a major signal to audiences that now is the time to be thinking about the cost of pursuing technological immortality. If stacks and sleeves are indeed our inevitable future, the moral quandary won’t lie in the body-swapping itself—it’ll be reckoning with who gets to do it and why.

    Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/altered-carbon-transhumanism-tv/

    Segregation in baseball was the norm until this relatively unknown player stepped up.

    As the pioneer and historical face of desegregation in sports, Jackie Robinson experienced taunts and death threats at every point of his Major League career as the first black player admitted to the league.

    His bravery and persistence in the name of equal rights have been well-documented and honored not just in baseball history, but in the larger context of the struggle to end the disparate treatment of black citizens endemic to American institutions.

    But Robinson’s success, in no slight to his considerable achievement, came as the result of the road paved by many less-celebrated predecessors, who, through their careers in the Negro Leagues, brought a resolve and speed to the game unmatched by their Major League counterparts.

    In the shadow of Jackie Robinson’s legacy are the efforts of Andrew “Rube” Foster, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, having earned the title of “the father of black baseball.”

    Foster scoring a hit. Photo via digboston/Flickr.

    Known to few modern-day baseball fans, Foster sought to ensure that black players were given the due attention and compensation they had long been denied in “separate but equal” America.

    No individual before Foster or since has been as instrumental in legitimizing black baseball both internally and in the eyes of the fans and media. His achievements, though largely disregarded at the time, were integral in eventually affording all black players the right to play in the Major League.

    For example, Foster quietly broke a baseball color barrier almost four decades prior to Jackie Robinson, playing with a semi-pro mixed-race squad out of Otsego, Michigan. Most notably, Foster served as the star pitcher for the Philadelphia X-Giants, pitching four of the team’s five wins in a contest dubbed the “colored championship of the world” in 1903.

    In his era and in the decades following, Foster’s success on the mound was virtually unmatched. For instance, the current MLB record for most consecutive wins by a pitcher stands at 24 by the New York Giants’ Car Hubbell, whose streak ended on May 31,1937.

    Foster won 44 games in a row three decades prior in 1902.

    But as compelling as Foster’s accomplishments on the diamond were, it was his contributions to the game after his playing days that continue to endure almost a century later.

    Foster’s goal was simple: Turn the largely overlooked black baseball leagues into a legitimate, respectable, and sustainable organization.

    Before his involvement in league management, the black baseball leagues were deemed inferior — if they were considered at all. Yet Foster’s blueprint for a unified organization ushered in a new era that would prove crucial in eroding the Major League’s color barrier.

    In 1911, a great step was taken toward legitimizing black baseball as Foster negotiated a partnership with the Comiskey family of Chicago to use the White Sox ballpark for his new team.  With a premiere venue and the team’s marketable aggressive style of play, the newly-formed Chicago American Giants skyrocketed in popularity, leading his once-marginalized club to draw more fans than the neighboring Cubs and White Sox.

    Following the success of his own team, Foster immediately set his goal higher, aiming to help elevate all black players, not just those on his team.

    Foster with a white player from Joliet, Illinois. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

    In 1919, as his city of Chicago was embroiled in race riots, Foster felt a sense of urgency to unify black baseball players in one league. He wrote regularly in the Chicago Defender of the need for a league that would “create a profession that would equal the earning capacity of any other profession … keep Colored baseball from the control of whites [and] do something concrete for the loyalty of the Race.”

    Gathering the owners of unaffiliated teams, Foster held a meeting at the Kansas City YMCA and shared his vision. The next year, on Feb. 13, 1920, the Negro National League was created, with Foster serving as both president and treasurer.

    As other regions developed, they followed in Foster’s footsteps and established their own leagues for black players, serving as an economic boon not just for the players and front office, but for black communities as well.

    Sadly, Foster’s oversight would prove to be short-lived as health issues forced him to step away from overseeing the burgeoning league he had created. But that didn’t end the progress he started.

    Rube Foster plaque. Photo via Penale52/Wikimedia Commons.

    Even though Negro Leagues shuttered due to the Great Depression and lack of leadership, many teams would return under the banner of the Negro American League in 1937. It was this organization that served as the springboard for Jackie Robinson to make his legendary inroads to Major League Baseball.

    While Jackie Robinson remains a civil rights icon, desegregating baseball is an act that no one man can lay claim to. Rube Foster’s legacy may not be as well known as Robinson’s, but his efforts helped ensure equality not just for Jackie Robinson, but every black player who has played Major League baseball since.

    Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/segregation-in-baseball-was-the-norm-until-this-relatively-unknown-player-stepped-up

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg saw Kate McKinnon portray her on ‘SNL.’ Here’s what she thought.

    She’s delighted fans weekly on “Saturday Night Live” for nearly six years and stole the show as Dr. Jillian Holtzmann in 2016’s “Ghostbusters” reboot — clearly, actress and comedian Kate McKinnon has mastered the art of impersonation.

    I mean, which other “SNL” star could flawlessly pull off Hillary Clinton, Justin Bieber, and Jeff Sessions?

    *crickets*

    Exactly!

    And one of McKinnon’s especially hilarious portrayals is Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    McKinnon’s Ginsburg is spry, unfiltered, and bursting with memorable one-liners.  

    The character even generated a perfectly out there term for the 84-year-old’s fiery takedowns: Gins-burns.”

    It’s a term the realNotorious RBG” has come to love.

    Sitting down with NPR’s Nina Totenberg on January 21 at the Sundance Film Festival, Ginsburg finally answered the years-old ‘SNL’ question.

    “So, what did you think of your portrayal on ‘Saturday Night Live’?” Totenberg asked.

    “I liked the actress that portrayed me,” a smiling Ginsburg answered. “And I would like to say ‘Gins-burn’ sometimes to my colleagues.” The crowd erupted with laughs and cheers.

    You can watch the full exchange below:

    Much to the (likely) consternation of President Trump — who once said Ginsburg’s mind is “shot” and called on her to resign — it sounds like we’ll be hearing many more ‘Gins-burns’ in the months and years ahead.

    The Supreme Court justice — one of only four women in U.S. history to hold the title — just hired a slate of law clerks through 2020, dimming hopes from conservatives that she’d be retiring prior to the next presidential election. Ginsburg previously said she’ll remain on the court as long as her health allows.

    If her rigorous workout routine is any indication, that will be a while!

    Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/ruth-bader-ginsburg-saw-kate-mc-kinnon-portray-her-on-snl-here-s-what-she-thought

    Teens aren’t slowing down on the Tide Pod challenge, according to the latest horrifying numbers

    Image: mashable/lili sams

    Brace yourselves: there has been an embarrassing uptick in the number of teens eating Tide Pods.

    With a “HIGH ALERT,” the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) shared an urgent press release on the current state of Tide Pod consumption in the United States. 

    “Last week, AAPCC reported that during the first two weeks of 2018, the country’s poison control centers handled thirty-nine intentional exposures cases among thirteen to nineteen year olds,” the report read. 

    That number didn’t last long, however.  “That number has increased to eighty-six such intentional cases among the same age demographic during the first three weeks of 2018.”

    TEENS, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? 

    “We cannot stress enough how dangerous this is to the health of individuals—it can lead to seizure, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, coma, and even death,” Stephen Kaminski, AAPCC’s CEO and Executive Director, wrote. 

    Once again, this is not a joke. Do not eat the Tide pods

    This increase comes on the heels of massive efforts from Proctor & Gamble, the producer of Tide Pods, to slow the roll of this horrible trend. They’ve partnered with YouTube to remove videos of kids eating Tide Pods, and Amazon has removed those commenting online about how delicious the forbidden fruit is. Additionally, P&G released a statement to warn consumers and hired New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski to spread the word. 

    If you still feel the urge to eat one, or know someone who is going through an unfortunate Tide Pod phase themselves, take a note from AAPCC’s statement and call Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 or text Poison to 797979. 

    Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/01/25/tide-pod-eating-numbers-increase/

    Tributes paid to South African musician and activist Hugh Masekela

    Father of South African jazz, who had career spanning more than five decades, dies aged 78

    Tributes paid to South African musician and activist Hugh Masekela

    Father of South African jazz, who had career spanning more than five decades, dies aged 78

    South Africans have paid tribute to Hugh Masekela, the legendary jazz musician and activist, who died on Tuesday aged 78.

    The South African president, Jacob Zuma, said the nation would mourn a man who kept the torch of freedom alive. The arts and culture minister, Nathi Mthethwa, described Masekela as one of the great architects of Afro-Jazz. A baobab tree has fallen, Mthethwa wrote on Twitter.

    A statement from the trumpeters family said Masekela passed peacefully in Johannesburg, where he lived and worked for much of his life, on Tuesday morning.

    A loving father, brother, grandfather and friend, our hearts beat with a profound loss. Hughs global and activist contribution to and participation in the areas of music, theatre and the arts in general is contained in the minds and memories of millions across six continents, the statement read.

    Relatives described Masekelas ebullient and joyous life.

    Masekela had been suffering from prostate cancer for almost a decade. He last performed in 2010 in Johannesburg when he gave two concerts that were seen as an epitaph to his long career.

    South African social media was flooded with tributes to brother Hugh, whose career and work was closely intertwined with the troubled politics of his homeland.

    The singer Johnny Clegg described Masekela as immensely bright and articulate an outstanding musical pioneer and a robust debater, always holding to his South African roots.

    Masekela was born in Witbank, a mining town in eastern South Africa, and was given his first trumpet by the anti-apartheid activist archbishop Trevor Huddleston, who formed a pioneering jazz band in Soweto in the 1950s that became a launchpad for many of South Africas most famous jazz musicians.

    Masekela went on to study in the UK and the US, where he had significant success.

    Hugh
    Hugh Masekela with ex-wife Miriam Makeba and Paul Simon in 1987. Photograph: Phil Dent/Redferns

    As well as forming close friendships with jazz legends such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charles Mingus, Masekela performed alongside Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s.

    He returned to Africa where he played with icons such as Nigerias Fela Kuti, and in 1974 he helped organise a three-day festival before the Rumble in the Jungle boxing clash in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

    In 1976, the man who became known as the father of South African jazz composed Soweto Blues in response to the uprising in the vast township. He toured with Paul Simon in the 1980s while continuing his political engagement, writing Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela) in 1987. The song became an anthem of the anti-apartheid struggle.

    Timeline

    Hugh Masekela timeline

    Hugh Masekela is born in KwaGuqa Township, South Africa

    Masekela is born near Johannesburg to a health inspector father and social worker mother. He sings and plays the piano as a child. At 14, he sees the Kirk Douglas film Young Man With A Horn and is inspired to take up the trumpet.

    King Kong

    At school, Masekela played in South Africas first youth orchestra,Huddleston Jazz Band. In 1959, he recorded the first album by a South African jazz band alongside Abdullah Ibrahim and Jonas Gwangwa. In the same year, he played in the orchestra of hit musical King Kong.

    Masekela leaves South Africa

    The ANC are banned, and after supporting the organisation for many years, Masekela leaves South Africa for London. He then moves to New York, where he meets Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie.

    Grazing in the Grass

    By the late 60s, Masekela was living in California. In 1967, he played at Monterey festival alongside Janis Joplin and Otis Redding. In 1968, his single Grazing in the Grass reached no 1 in the US.

    Zaire 74

    Masekela returns to Africa in the early 70s, spending time with musicians including Fela Kuti. He organises the Zaire 74 concerts with US record producer Stewart Levine to coincide with the Muhammad Ali/George Foreman Rumble in the Jungle boxing title fight. In 1980, he moves to Botswana.

    Graceland tour

    Masekela joins Paul Simon for hisGracelandtour. Simons album was partly recorded in South Africa, and the tour incites protests in London due to the cultural boycott against the country.

    Return to South Africa

    Masekela returns to South Africa following the end of apartheid and the release from jail ofNelson Mandela. In 1996, he plays for the Queen and Mandela by then elected the countrys first black president during the latters state visit to Britain.

    World Cup

    Masekela performs at the opening concert of the world cup in South Africa. In 2012, he rejoins Paul Simon for a tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of Graceland.

    James Hall, a writer and broadcaster who spent time with Masekela in the 1990s, said he could have prickly personality at times due to the tension and frustration of being away from his own country for so long.

    Masekela was briefly married to Miriam Makeba in the 1960s and remained on good terms with the South African singer after their divorce. They had a wonderful friendship and were very, very close, said Hall, who co-wrote Makebas autobiography.

    Masekela refused to take citizenship anywhere outside South Africa despite the open arms of many countries, said his son, Selema Mabena Masekela, on Tuesday.

    My fathers life was the definition of activism and resistance. His belief [was] that the pure evil of a systematic racist oppression could and would be crushed. Instead he would continue to fight.

    After more than 30 years in exile, Masekela returned to South Africa in the early 90s after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison and the end of apartheid.

    In 2010 he performed at the opening ceremony of the football World Cup in Johannesburg.

    Masekela had many fans overseas. Hugh Masekela was a titan of jazz and of the anti-apartheid struggle. His courage, words and music inspired me and strengthened the resolve of those fighting for justice in South Africa, said Jeremy Corbyn on Twitter.

    Hugh
    Hugh Masekela photographed for the Guardian in 2011. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jan/23/hugh-masekela-south-african-jazz-trumpeter-dies-aged-78

    This Instagram account dedicated to fat girls traveling will give you serious wanderlust.

    Annette Richmond is fat. Annette Richmond loves to travel. Yes, these two truths can coexist.

    In fact, Richmond built an entire movement on this foundation.

    Photo via Annette Richmond, used with permission.

    Richmond works remotely and spends most of the year traveling around the globe as a “digital nomad.” When we connected, she was in Thailand, one of her favorite destinations. Richmond will spend the next eight months in Southeast Asia, based out of Bangkok.

    “Like many people, I thought I had to work a job I hated and scrimp and save for one or two vacations per year. I’ve learned that I create my own path,” she explains in an email interview. “After I received my first passport stamp, I was hooked!”

    Photo via Annette Richmond, used with permission.

    In January 2016, Richmond created the Fat Girls Traveling Instagram account.

    As a travel blogger, Richmond writes about her adventures and takes stunning photos in exotic locales, hoping to get them cross-posted on popular Instagram travel accounts. But time after time, the only photos making the cut featured thin, white women. So Richmond launched Fat Girls Traveling, where she showcases photos of fat women travelers.

    Followers are invited to tag the page to share their photos and stories. Richmond re-shares them to her 13,000 followers across Instagram and Facebook.

    🍂Fall Feels 🍁 📸FGT Member @katlynnemo 📍 Berlin, Germany

    A post shared by Fat Girls Traveling (@fatgirlstraveling) on

    As her community grows, Richmond is branching out to host fat-positive events, including her first summer camp in 2018 for fat women, called Fat Camp, where guests can talk travel, take in the outdoors, play games, and eat great food in a judgment-free zone.

    “I feel honored and humbled that what started out as a passion project has inspired so many women to travel the world,” she writes.

    📸 @somewhere_under_the_rainbow || 📍 New York City, New York

    A post shared by Fat Girls Traveling (@fatgirlstraveling) on

    “… I know that the work I’m doing is challenging the status quo and not only opening up the minds and hearts of fat shamers. But opening up the world to so many fat people who are afraid to leave their comfort zones out of fear of being ridiculed.”

    📸 @itsmekellieb || Rivera Maya, Mexico

    A post shared by Fat Girls Traveling (@fatgirlstraveling) on

    And like most women challenging the status quo, Richmond faces trolls on the regular.

    Some people simply aren’t ready to see fat women as carefree and joyful. Some try to mask their contempt with disingenuous concern, she says. Richmond and other fat-positive voices call these people concern trolls.

    “People that troll the interwebs spouting health and weight loss advice to people they don’t know and truly don’t care about it,” she writes. “People that if they were honest with themselves, would admit that seeing someone that’s fat and happy with themselves and with their bodies makes them uncomfortable.”

    📸 @kellyaugustineb @plusjones @iambeauticurve || 📍Playa del Carmen, Mexico

    A post shared by Fat Girls Traveling (@fatgirlstraveling) on

    Richmond does her best to face the disdain with love and positivity, but she admits the abuse takes a toll.

    “There have also been negatives, like cutting toxic people from my life. Calling out friends and family members who use abusive fatphobic language,” she writes. “It’s important that we remember to be kind to each other, because we’re all humans that bleed when cut and cry when feelings are hurt.”

    Photo  via Annette Richmond, used with permission.

    But nothing will keep Richmond from doing what she loves — and encouraging others to do the same.

    For anyone thinking about exploring the world, but concerned about their size, Richmond recommends traveling with vendors that support larger travelers. One airline, Southwest, even offers a second seat for free (you book and pay in advance, then get a refund). Purchasing your own seat belt extender may also ease anxiety around having a potentially embarrassing conversation with a flight attendant.

    As for fear of sticking out upon arrival, it’s bound to happen — even to smaller travelers. Keep in mind that different cultures have different standards of beauty, and try to go with the flow.

    “In Jamaica my body was embraced. In that culture curves are coveted,” Richmond writes. “It’s a different story in Asia, but for the most part I know that people here aren’t doing things to be cruel, they are intrigued by my size … ”

    📸 @avery_hungrycaterpillar || 📍 Beaufort, Sabah

    A post shared by Fat Girls Traveling (@fatgirlstraveling) on

    So if you’re thinking about traveling more — or just getting started — do what you can to make it a reality.

    There’s a great, big world out there and we all deserve the opportunity to experience it.

    📸 @mamafierceblog | 📍Gama Laugin, Secret Lagoon, Iceland

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    Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/this-instagram-account-dedicated-to-fat-girls-traveling-will-give-you-serious-wanderlust

    This boxing gym is giving the underserved kids of Detroit a second chance at a future.

    Before he became a boxing coach, Khali Sweeney walked down a troublesome path.

    He never learned to read and dropped out of high school when he was in 11th grade. Before he was even 18, he had cards stacked against him. As a result, he turned to a life of crime.

    Then one day, a few years later, he made a harrowing realization — most of the kids he knew growing up in Detroit were either in jail or dead.

    That was the moment Sweeney decided to take his life in a different direction. He taught himself to read and eventually found a job in construction.

    As he got older, he felt compelled to help kids like him have a fighting chance at a better life. So, since he had a passion for boxing, he started coaching neighborhood kids in a local park.

    “There’s no recreational facilities around here,” says Sweeney. “There’s nothing for kids in this neighborhood to do.”

    Coach Khali teaching a student at his gym. All photos via CW Black Lightning.

    In 2007, he founded the Downtown Boxing Gym youth program in Detroit — a nonprofit that empowers underserved youth through education, athletics, and mentorship.

    Before Downtown Boxing Gym was established, only 14% of the kids in the neighborhood were graduating from high school.

    But with the gym’s inception, all that changed. Thanks to their state-of-the-art facility, dedicated staff of academic professionals, and well-rounded program, 100% of the kids who’ve joined the Downtown Boxing Gym program have graduated from high school.

    That’s because one of the gym’s main goals is to offer disadvantaged kids in the neighborhood an opportunity to succeed.

    Students in the gym’s youth program.

    “The students in our program are going to school every day in a school system that’s completely broken,” explains Jessica Hauser, executive director of the gym.

    For example, according to a recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 4% of Detroit’s 8th-grade students can read and perform at their grade level, which is the lowest percentage among big cities in America. But shrinking illiteracy in Detroit is just one of the program’s goals.

    “We do everything possible to try and counter all the negative things that they’re facing in the school systems,” she says. And that starts with the gym’s motto: books before boxing.

    “If you don’t do your homework before you box, you can’t train that day,” says Chrystal Berry, one of the gym’s students.

    Thanks to tutoring that’s tailored to each student’s academic needs, kids on average see an improvement of at least one letter grade. That coupled with the daily discipline of boxing helps the kids feel more confident. It’s a strong, foundational support system that reminds them they’re not alone.

    A student in the cooking program at the gym.

    The gym has already helped change so many kids’ lives. It’s amazing what a safe space, a few teachers, and a boxing ring can do.

    The setup is helping break the destructive pattern that’s often fostered by a poor education system. It’s a lifeline for kids who may not have any other healthy outlets in their communities.

    For some, like 19-year-old Janelson Figueroa Bocachica, the program can lead to a successful career in boxing. The welterweight just signed a promotional deal with former heavyweight world champion Evander Holyfield. For others, though, boxing is simply a gateway into a world of opportunity they never thought they’d reach.

    No matter their passion, as long as they have a desire to do better and reach higher, all kids have a place at the Downtown Boxing Gym.

    Learn more about the gym here:

    The CW: Black Lightning

    He realized everyone he knew growing up was either dead or in jail. So he took action.

    For more stories about community heroes, tune in to the series premiere of “Black Lightning” on Jan. 16 at 9/8c only on The CW.

    Posted by Upworthy on Tuesday, January 9, 2018

    Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/this-boxing-gym-is-giving-the-underserved-kids-of-detroit-a-second-chance-at-a-future