She was nice to the boy who bullied her. He still turned into a mass shooter.

Julia Suconic, hugs her friend Nathan Schoedl. Both are students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP Photos.

The first time Isabelle Robinson met Nikolas Cruz, he knocked the wind out of her and smirked as he watched her cry.

“The force of the blow knocked the wind out of my 90-pound body; tears stung my eyes. I turned around and saw him, smirking,” Robinson, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, writes in an op-ed for The New York Times. “I had never seen this boy before, but I would never forget his face. His eyes were lit up with a sick, twisted joy as he watched me cry.”

It’s a chilling picture, one made even more frightening by the fact that Robinson assumed that adults would take notice and take care of the situation. She even showed Cruz kindness. Five years later, Robinson writes, she was huddled in a closet as he took 17 lives.

Robinson’s piece isn’t a personal takedown of Cruz. Rather, it’s a reality check for those who believe that “kindness” will stop school shootings.

This is an idea that has been perpetrated by the leaders of the “Walk Up, Not Out” movement that made headlines leading up to nationwide school walkouts on March 14.

On the surface, the idea is deceptively logical: If more people were friendly to those deemed “outsiders,” gun violence would decrease and schools would become safer places.

On March 14, encourage students to walk up. Walk up to the kid who sits alone at lunch and invite her to sit with you. …

Posted by Amy Flynn on Thursday, March 8, 2018

But the reality of the situation is much different. As Robinson recounts in her op-ed, kindness is exactly what she tried to show Cruz. In eighth grade, a year after she says he physically assaulted her, she was assigned to tutor him. She did her best to push down her feelings of fear as Cruz continued to harass her.

“Despite my discomfort, I sat down with him, alone,” she writes. “I was forced to endure his cursing me out and ogling my chest until the hourlong session ended. When I was done, I felt a surge of pride for having organized his binder and helped him with his homework.”

“Looking back, I am horrified. I now understand that I was left, unassisted, with a student who had a known history of rage and brutality.”

The reason Robinson didn’t refuse the assignment? She cites a “desire to please” and to be seen as mature. “I would have done almost anything to win the approval of my teachers.”

That’s what those who believe that kindness alone is the answer are missing: that the children they’re entrusting with the task of ending violence are just that — children.

Make no mistake, Robinson isn’t against the idea of kindness. But kindness isn’t enough. And when it comes to solving issues like gun violence, students — who load up their backpacks and go to school with the expectation of learning in a safe environment — should never be the first line of defense. Nor should the blame for violence be placed squarely on those who have been victimized in school shootings.

Brandon Dasent and Tyah-Amoy Roberts, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

“It is not the obligation of children to befriend classmates who have demonstrated aggressive, unpredictable, or violent tendencies,” Robinson writes. “It is the responsibility of the school administration and guidance department to seek out those students and get them the help that they need, even if it is extremely specialized attention that cannot be provided at the same institution.”

Robinson’s story is both heartbreaking and all too familiar. A tragedy like Parkland has everyone demanding answers and seeking solutions. But too often, the conversation steers to victim-blaming, with fingers quickly being pointed at the survivors for not doing enough to prevent the tragedy. Even when, as in Robinson’s case, students actually put themselves in potential danger trying to be kind.

Asking children to put themselves in danger in the name of kindness is not the answer.

“The implication that Mr. Cruz’s mental health problems could have been solved if only he had been loved more by his fellow students is both a gross misunderstanding … and a dangerous suggestion that puts children on the front line,” Robinson states.

But then what should be done? While children are leading the #NeverAgain movement, they can’t be the only ones who demand change. As adults, we must protect them at all costs. And that means we must listen. And we must take action by recognizing that kindness isn’t the first line of defense against mass shootings — widespread gun reform is.

A sign featuring Emma Gonzalez is seen at the March for Our Lives Los Angeles. Photo by Sarah Morris/Getty Images.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/she-was-nice-to-the-boy-who-bullied-her-he-still-turned-into-a-mass-shooter

32 images that highlight the kind of movement the Parkland teens are building.

It’s been just over a week since the horrific massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, but survivors have already been busy pushing for gun reform.

Within a day of the shooting, Douglas students became cable news fixtures, many calling on Congress to restrict access to semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 used to kill 17 of their teachers and classmates.

On Feb. 17, students gathered outside the Broward County Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Cameron Kasky, Delaney Tarr, and Emma Gonzalez, among others, led the crowd in calls to reject the pro-gun narratives of groups like the NRA.

“The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and … call BS,” Gonzalez roared into the microphone in an instantly iconic speech. “Companies [try] to make caricatures of the teenagers these days, saying that all we are self-involved and trend-obsessed and they hush us into submission when our message doesn’t reach the ears of the nation. We are prepared to call BS.”

Cameron Kasky speaks at the Feb. 17 rally. Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

Delaney Tarr. Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

Emma Gonzalez. Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

On Feb. 20 and 21, students from nearby districts staged walkouts and marched down to Douglas High School for a vigil.

Many of the students came from West Boca High School, and traveled the 10 miles to Douglas High School on foot.

West Boca students Jakob Desouza and Ruth Williams hug as they gathered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 20. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

More West Boca students arrive at Douglas. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Students from Coral Glades High School, less than five miles from Douglas, staged a walk out of their own on Feb. 21.

Coral Glades students march. Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

“Stop protecting guns, start protecting kids.” Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

On Feb. 21, to mark a week since the shooting, students in  the Washington, D.C., area marched to Capitol Hill for demonstrations.

Students from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, took part in the action.

Students from Montgomery Blair High School. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

“Your child is next.” Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Hundreds of protesters, many of them students, carried signs and spoke out about gun violence outside the White House.

Signs with slogans like “We will not be next,” “NRA, stop killing our kids,” “Make America Safe Again,” and “You can silence guns but not us” were raised in public protest of the pro-gun lobby.

Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images.

Protestors march to the White House. Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images.

“Protect our lives, not your guns.” Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

“Why are kinder eggs banned but not assault rifles?” Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

“We don’t have to live like this, we don’t have to die like this.” Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

“Enough is enough.” Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

That afternoon, President Trump met with a number of families affected by the shooting in a televised event, highlighted by an emotional question from Douglas senior Samuel Zeif.

Zeif was one of few people at the event to actually raise questions about inaction on gun control, asking, “How is it that easy to buy this type of weapon? How did we not stop this after Columbine? After Sandy Hook?”

Samuel Zeif wipes his eyes after asking his questions. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Trump deflected calls for gun control, instead suggesting that we arm teachers.

Trump’s notes for the event, which included a reminder to say “I hear you,” were roundly mocked on social media afterwards. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Also on Feb. 21st, students, activists, and supporters gathered at the Florida State Capitol building to demand action.

Earlier in the week, the state’s House of Representatives voted against opening debate on new gun measures.

Douglas students, parents, and gun safety advocates march on Tallahassee. Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images.

The rally at the Florida State Capitol building. Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images.

Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images.

Students rally outside the Florida State Capitol building. Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images.

Douglas student Kevin Trejos speaks at the Florida State Capitol building. Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, students from across Broward county again gathered at Douglas High School for their largest rally yet.

Kasky addressed the crowd from atop a car, yelling into a megaphone. Later that night, he would confront Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) at a CNN town hall.

Cameron Kasky addresses area students at Douglas High School. Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

It’s easy to be cynical, to again say that nothing will change — but maybe this time is different? Only time will tell.

Let’s hope so.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/32-images-that-highlight-the-kind-of-movement-the-parkland-teens-are-building

Chuck Todd nailed why Trump’s SOTU just didn’t cut it for so many Americans.

NBC’s Chuck Todd has an issue with President Trump’s first State of the Union address.

It’s not that it was a bad speech, necessarily. It’s just that the Donald we all know didn’t give it.

Speaking on MSNBC after the State of the Union, Todd dove into why Trump’s inauthentic speech failed to deliver.

Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for SiriusXM.

“It is hard to judge these speeches because we know it’s not him,” Todd said. “It’s him reading off a teleprompter.”

“There are some things he says that sound like him totally, you know. He’ll throw in a ‘beautiful’ and an extra ‘totally.’ But you can tell he is reading it. He doesn’t own it. … I think [the Trump administration] would be better off letting him ad lib because it would be authentic. There is a missing authenticity here.”

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

After others on the panel began laughing at the thought of the president improvising the State of the Union, Todd clarified what he meant.

“You guys are laughing,” he said, grinning. “I’m being semi-serious here.”

Americans know the president as a man who jabs at political opponents using disparaging nicknames on Twitter — not a guy who genuinely wants to bring people together, Todd explained. “I’m just saying; the Donald Trump we know as a country, that we interact with every day, with his Twitter feed, with the asides and all of this — the guy that likes to give us all nicknames — that isn’t who you saw [at the State of the Union], right?”

Beyond tone, Trump’s attempts at bipartisanship also fell flat to many because he’s thrived on divisiveness throughout his first year in office.

Unifier-in-chief? Eh, not so fast.

Although the White House touted Trump’s first State of the Union as “bright and optimistic” — a means to bring parties together — the branding may not have stuck. Polling from last year found the overwhelming majority of Americans believe Trump does more to divide the country than unite it. One speech won’t flip that figure overnight.

Reaction shots of many Congresspeople in the audience showed that not everyone was impressed by Trump’s speech. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

And when it comes to the issues, Trump’s calls for unity just didn’t sync up with reality.

Trump took sole credit on job creation, shrinking the unemployment rate among black Americans, and boosting manufacturing — all signs of an improving economy that surfaced under President Obama. When it came to issues like immigration, health care, and national security, Trump played to his own base, blasting Obamacare, cheering the existence of Guantanamo Bay, and highlighting a necessity to stand for the national anthem.

“President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address was billed by the White House beforehand as a speech that would be ‘unifying’ and ‘bipartisan,'” Jonathan Allen wrote for NBC. “It was neither.”

But even if it were, would Americans buy it?

“You don’t see this Trump very often so I don’t know if it can sell anything,” Todd concluded on MSNBC. “That’s my point here. So I don’t know how much ability this version of President Trump does to persuade anybody because you don’t see it very often.”

You can watch Todd discussing his thoughts on the State of the Union at MSNBC.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/chuck-todd-nailed-why-trump-s-sotu-just-didn-t-cut-it-for-so-many-americans

Nobody gave these kids a chance until one young former inmate followed his dream.

David Lee Windecher didn’t exactly have the kind of start in life that sets a person up for success.

He grew up poor after moving to the United States from Argentina in the 1970s, and, he says, “poverty led to my first arrest out of desperation.”

“It opened the door to the darkest years of my life.”

At 13, David witnessed his first murder, and the trauma of that moment led to more trouble — joining a gang for protection. He also dropped out of high school, and experienced abuse from police officers and the criminal justice system.

At one point, David had been arrested 13 times, and spent 8 months in jail — and this was all while he was still a juvenile.

David looks at a photo of himself in his youth. All images via Upworthy.

After his last arrest in 1997, David knew he needed to change.

And it was a vision of himself as a criminal defense attorney that helped drive him to do just that.

“I would always dream about standing in front of a judge with a client standing next to me, and I would win,” he says. This dream came to him while he was incarcerated — and he took that as a sign for where he was destined to be.

“This isn’t home for you,” he told himself as he sat in a jail cell.

So, he set out to find a life that felt like home — a life of supporting incarcerated youth.

He earned his GED, graduated from college, then set his sights on law school. Out of the 50 law schools he applied to, only one gave him a chance — but that one chance was all he needed.

Today, David’s a criminal defense attorney and executive director of RED Inc., a nonprofit organization he founded in 2015.

RED stands for Rehabilitation Enables Dreams, and the organization aims to engineer rehabilitation programs so that youth don’t have to fall into the cycle of going in and out of prison for the rest of their lives.

RED founder David Windecher walks through a courthouse.

There are a lot of  factors that set formerly incarcerated youth up for failure, again and again. “I spent enough time behind bars to realize that the judicial system was wronging people because of their status,” David explains. “Whether they were poor, whether they had a substance abuse issue, a mental health disorder, an academic deficiency.”

“They were limited in resource, they were in a volatile environment — how did you expect them to flourish? It’s impossible.”

To take on these obstacles, RED pursues their mission in three parts: increasing literacy, reducing poverty, and stopping youth recidivism (which means relapse into criminal behavior).

When a first-time, nonviolent, youthful offender gets incarcerated, David says, RED’s goal is “to help them get on the straight and narrow before it’s too late.”

“Without them, I wouldn’t have a second chance,” says Brian, one of the young people in the program.

RED mentee Andree describes his rehabilitation experience.

But David takes that a step further. “Most people don’t understand, it’s not their second chance. It’s their first chance — they never even had a first chance.”

The U.S. has the highest documented incarceration rates in the world — and three quarters of released prisoners go back to jail within 5 years. In Georgia, where RED operates, the incarceration rate is 32% higher than the national average.

That’s why to improve this grim picture, RED runs workshops on topics like creative writing, money management, and civil rights. They also have events to bring communities together, like flag football games, and they host guest speakers to inspire the youth.

“Some of the speakers, it was like they were talking about what I was going through,” says Brian. “If they can do it … I can do it.”

Many young people are skeptical when they first join RED – but over time, their doubts transform into hope.

“By the end of the year, they’re all saying, wait, it’s over?” David says.

As long as he’s making a difference in these young people’s lives, David knows he’s making a difference in the larger world. High rates of incarceration and recidivism negatively influence our employment rates, economy, and community safety.

Graduates of RED’s programs pose for a photo with David on graduation day.

That means that with every young person he gives hope to, David gives the rest of us some hope, too.

He began with only a limited chance for success in life. Now, with his help, youth with the same limited opportunities can make positive contributions to our world.

“We all have a purpose,” he says. “If we don’t carry out our purpose, no one else can.”

“No one is beyond redemption or hope.”

Watch David’s story, and RED Inc. in action:

The CW: Black Lightning RED

He spent his youth in and out of jail for gang related crimes. Now he wants to stop that cycle for other at-risk kids.

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 Thursday, January 11, 2018

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/nobody-gave-these-kids-a-chance-until-one-young-former-inmate-followed-his-dream

15 real ways to thank black women for carrying the country on their backs.

After an intense, widely watched campaign, Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama’s open seat in the U.S. Senate.

It’s the first time a Democrat has held the spot in more than 20 years, and the victory cost Republicans a desperately needed seat just as the fight to pass major items on the GOP’s agenda has become particularly heated.

Doug Jones’ win was huge for Alabama — and the nation too — but as the exit poll data has emerged, it’s very clear who pushed him over the line: black people, particularly black women. Nearly 97% of black women in Alabama voted for Jones. 97%!

After Jones’ victory, social media erupted with messages thanking black women for once again carrying the Democratic party to victory.

While black women are rarely anyone’s majority, we are united, consistent, and right on time. So come election night, we tend to be thanked profusely (then promptly forgotten about) or maligned, depending on how things turn out.

But Tuesday. Tuesday appeared to be our night:

But, hey, Steve’s got a point.

While gratitude is always welcome, and appreciated, if you really want to show your appreciation for black women, do something tangible. Put another way: Show us the money.

Thank-yous and handclap emojis won’t keep the lights on or help more people of color win elections. But you know what will? Cold hard cash.

Here are 15 ways to spend your money, power, time, and resources to thank black women for carrying the political load.

1. Support black women running for office.

Yard signs. Phone banks. Field work. And, most importantly, monetary donations. No black women running for office near you? No excuses. Consider contributing to Stacey Abrams, a black Democrat running for governor of Georgia.

2. Get serious about closing the wage gap.

You’ve likely heard the statistic that women earn 78 cents for dollar a man makes doing the same job. That’s white women. Black women earn about 64 cents for every dollar. Connect with and contribute to groups like the 78 Cents Project and the National Women’s Law Center, who work tirelessly to bring about change in this arena.

3. Push for fair districting and open, easy voter registration in your community.

Not only did black women in Alabama come through at the polls, they did it in spite of roadblocks put in place to disenfranchise them. Political gerrymandering, voter ID requirements, and early registration deadlines diminish the back vote. Get involved locally and on the national level with groups fighting for full voting rights for everyone. Jason Kander’s Let America Vote is a great place to start.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

4. Help fund and build a political pipeline filled with black women.

There are three black people currently serving in the U.S. Senate, including Kamala Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants. We can and must do better, not just at the highest offices, but on city councils, school boards, and municipal positions. Groups like Higher Heights and the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women work to promote the presence of black women in all levels of government.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

5. Stop asking black women to work for free.

All work, even emotional and psychological labor, has dignity and deserves compensation. If you’re online or in a meeting and are about to ask a black person you don’t know to teach you something, share their opinion on an issue “as a black person,” or ask them to explain why some other black person in the news did or didn’t do something: STOP. Or at least, offer to pay them for their time. (And if you really need it, consider reaching out to the white volunteers at White Nonsense Roundup to perform that emotional labor instead.)

6. Support a living wage and the Fight for $15.

You know what else shouldn’t come free? Physical labor. Even working full-time, someone earning the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour) does not earn enough money to support themselves, let alone a small family. A living wage, $15/hour, would go a long way to pulling women of color working entry-level, retail, or food service positions out of poverty, and it could improve the health and education prospects for their children.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

7. Volunteer or fund “get out the vote” efforts and field campaigns in 2018.

One of Doug Jones’ keys to success was activating a large grassroots effort to reach out to communities of color — making calls, knocking on doors, putting billboards in neighborhoods often ignored. Some will (rightfully) argue he still could have done more and that the effort to get people of color involved in politics shouldn’t happen only every few years. To those people, I say: Please open your wallet or your calendar and help out. These efforts are effective, but they take time and do not come cheap.

8. Start a monthly donation to your local NAACP.

Guess who’s been doing work on the ground to mobilize black communities for a century? The NAACP. Find and fund your local unit or contribute at the national level. They’ve been doing the heavy lifting not just on political matters, but on education, civil rights, environmental justice, health care, and more.

NAACP national president and CEO Cornell Brooks joins the Rev. Joseph Darby and other local leaders for a news conference about the Charleston shooting. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

9. Listen to black women when we talk about the issues that keep us up at night — or the issues that will bring us to the voting booth.

Statistically, if you’re white in this country, you don’t have a lot of black friends to listen to. No excuses. Pick up a magazine like Essence, Black Enterprise, or Ebony. Read sites like The Root, The Grio, or Very Smart Brothas. Follow black women on Twitter. (I even made you a list.) Listen, read, take notes. The black women going to the polls are not voting to save white people or the country at large; they’re voting for what’s best for them and their families. Maybe it’s time someone asked what that looks like.

Photo by Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images.

10. Spend money at black-owned businesses.

Support black makers and entrepreneurs, authors and designers, particularly in black neighborhoods. Keeping these areas thriving and limiting gentrification will help boost black wealth; create a sense of history, place, and tradition; and keep black families together. Visit the National Black Chamber of Commerce to find black-owned businesses in your community.

11. Recruit, hire, retain, and promote black women at every level and in every industry.

Whether you’re a hiring manager or an entry-level employee, you can do your part to help black women succeed at the level they deserve. You can send job announcements to black career search accounts and hashtags run by black people like @ReignyDayJobs, @WritersofColor, or @BlackFreelance1. If you’re higher up in your role, ask leadership about their strategy to diversify at the senior level or what’s being done to make your workplace more inclusive.

12. Stop at nothing but full enfranchisement for former felons.

A law that’s more than a century old has allowed county registrars to deny the vote to thousands of former felons in Alabama, many of them black. In August, thousands of these people regained the right to vote, and many voted for the first time. Other states have not restored the vote to former felons, forever disenfranchising them well after they paid their debt to society. Find out the rules in your state and mobilize to help everyone get the right to vote.

13. Don’t sit idly by when black women are disparaged, ridiculed, or made to feel less than by powerful people and corporations.

Gabby Douglas was trying to win a gold medal and people were concerned about her hair. Leslie Jones had trolls bully her off the internet. Jemele Hill was attacked by the president of the United States. And don’t get me started on Dove. When things like this happen — to celebrities or regular black women in the media — speak up. Tell offenders (with your voice and wallet) that hating on black women is not OK.

Jemele Hill photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Advertising Week New York.

14. Give a damn about the alarming mortality rate for black mothers.

Pregnancy and childbirth are claiming the lives of black women at a truly staggering rate. In Texas, black moms accounted for just over 11% of the births but more than 28% of pregnancy-related deaths. This is a national crisis no one is talking about. So talk about it, and ask what your doctors, nurses, and hospitals are doing to protect these vulnerable women and children.

15. Like a thing? Find a black woman doing it and put money in her pocket.

Do you like movies? Stream “Mudbound,” directed by Dee Rees. Are you a foodie? Buy a cookbook written by a black woman. (May I suggest this one?). Interested in space exploration? Read this awesome book by Mae Jemison. Whatever you enjoy, black women are already there and killing it. Find them and pay them for it.

Mary J. Blige and Dee Rees discuss their film “Mudbound.” Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images.

This country was built on the blood, sweat, and tears of black women.

And yet, we still haven’t received the respect, power, and resources we deserve. Thank-yous will never be enough. Money will never be enough. But if a grateful nation ever hopes to make it right, they’re a damn good place to start.

Photo by Stephen Morton/Getty Images.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/15-real-ways-to-thank-black-women-for-carrying-the-country-on-their-backs

Bea Arthur gave big to homeless LGBTQ youth in her will. This is what came of it.

Back in 2009, Carl Siciliano wasn’t sure if his nonprofit was going to survive the throes of the Great Recession.

The Ali Forney Center, a group committed to helping homeless LGBTQ youth in New York City, was on the brink of eviction. Between paying rent, payroll, and the critical services it provided to its youth, Siciliano, director of the center, had doubts Ali Forney could run much longer.

Carl Siciliano. Photo by Michael Calcagno/Upworthy.

Then he got a phone call from the estate of Bea Arthur.

Arthur (“Maude,” “The Golden Girls”) had recently passed away. And Ali Forney was in her will.

It wasn’t necessarily shocking news — the late actor had been a supporter of the organization, giving donations to the group and using her one-woman show, “Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends,” to raise funds for the nonprofit’s work.

But Ali Forney, Siciliano learned, was at the top of her will’s list of charities.

Bea Arthur (right) attends the Emmys in 1987. Photo by Alan Light/Flickr.

Arthur left $300,000 to The Ali Forney Center.

In times as tough as they’d been, the donation was the buoy keeping Ali Forney afloat. “I honestly don’t know how we would have made it through the recession without that extraordinary gift,” Siciliano later blogged about the experience. “Bea Arthur truly meant it when she said she would do anything to help our kids.”

Siciliano stands with Skye Adrian, who has benefited from Ali Forney’s services. Photo by Michael Calcagno/Upworthy.

Eight years after her death, the folks at Ali Forney can still remember how crucial Arthur’s generosity was when times were tough. They made sure her legacy of helping homeless LGBTQ youth will live on for decades to come.

In December 2017, Ali Forney opened its doors to its latest facility for homeless LGBTQ youth: the Bea Arthur Residence.

Photo by Erin Law, courtesy of The Ali Forney Center.

Nestled in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the 18-bed residence will save and change lives, acting as a safe and nurturing environment for youth in transitional housing.

Image by Erin Law, courtesy of the Ali Forney Center.

It doesn’t look like your average shelter either — because it’s not.

Young people who stay at the Bea Arthur Residence enter a 24-month program aimed at giving them the tools they need to succeed on their own. They deserve every bit of help they can get too; most homeless LGBTQ youth were either kicked out by unaccepting parents or ran away from hostile home environments.

Photo by Erin Law, courtesy of The Ali Forney Center.

Homophobia and transphobia at home leaves far too many queer youth high and dry, and it shows in the numbers. While some estimates suggest about 7% of all youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, up to 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ. A disproportionate number of them are transgender and people of color too.

With warm beds, comfy sofas, and a kitchen to prepare meals, the residence provides an ideal space for young people to transition into stable, independent housing.

Photo by Erin Law, courtesy of The Ali Forney Center.

They benefit from a range of programs provided through Ali Forney too, like job readiness and education, health screenings, and free legal services.

These programs are vital, and Arthur understood it.

“These kids at the Ali Forney Center are literally dumped by their families because of the fact that they are lesbian, gay, or transgender,” Arthur once said.

“This organization really is saving lives.”

Photo by Erin Law, courtesy of The Ali Forney Center.

“I would do anything in my power to protect children who are discarded by their parents for being LGBT,” Arthur had said.

It’s a promise Arthur is still keeping long after she said her goodbyes.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/bea-arthur-gave-big-to-homeless-lgbtq-youth-in-her-will-this-is-what-came-of-it-2

20 things Mike Pence did while you weren’t looking and why it matters.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

With the exception of an infamous trip to see Hamilton last November and a controversy about whether it’s OK to dine with women other than his wife, we’ve heard relatively little about Vice President Mike Pence since the election. In May, CNN even ran a story with the headline, “Mike Pence’s Disappearing Act.”

He’s a heartbeat away from the presidency and seems interested in following his own political ambitions beyond this administration, so what exactly has Mike Pence been up to lately? A lot, actually.

Here’s 20 things Mike Pence has done since taking office:

1. In January, Pence and others lobbied Trump to take hard-line positions on abortion, making good on some of his anti-choice campaign pledges.

Just days after taking office, Trump signed a slew of executive orders. Among them was the reinstatement of the so-called “Mexico City policy,” restricting foreign aid from going to groups that offer abortion services.

The Independent wrote about the decision to reinstate the policy, saying that pro-choice activists “feared [Trump] would reintroduce the policy as a gift to Vice President Mike Pence, known for his staunch opposition to abortion rights.”

2. Pence has led the charge to advance Trump’s policy agenda.

You may have seen him popping up on the Sunday morning political talk shows to push Trump’s agenda items. This has especially been the case when it’s an issue where Trump himself may not appear to have a total grasp of the policy being discussed, such as health care.

3. He’s been very vocal about supporting the use of tax dollars to fund religious schools.

Under the guise of “school choice,” Pence has been a long-time supporter of using tax dollars to fund charter schools and religious schools. As governor, Pence expanded Indiana’s charter school program and opted out of the nationwide “Common Core” standards. One of the side effects of Pence’s reign in Indiana was an uptick in the number of publicly funded schools teaching creationism. Pence, himself, hasn’t given a clear answer on whether he believes in evolution.

Trump was short on specifics about education policy during the campaign. In office, he’s rallying behind Pence’s ideas.

4. In January, Pence met with anti-abortion activists at the White House and delivered a speech at the annual March for Life.

During his address at the anti-choice march, Pence riled up the crowd with a pledge to “work with Congress to end taxpayer funding for abortion and abortion providers,” along with promises to support Supreme Court nominees who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

5. Pence spent much of February selling the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court as “mainstream.”

Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat on Jan. 31. Gorsuch, who had a record as a far-right, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ judge, would face an uphill climb. That’s where Pence came in.

Rather than nominate someone who could receive the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, Trump picked Gorsuch, and Pence immediately began work urging Republican leaders in the Senate to blow up the filibuster. They eventually did, and Gorsuch was sworn in on April 10.

6. Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as secretary of education, the first time a vice president has done so on a cabinet pick.

In February, DeVos was under immense scrutiny from Democrats and moderate Republicans. The billionaire heiress had zero education-related qualifications to run the department, but she did have a history of donating to far-right causes and championing the use of public money to fund schools that would “advance God’s kingdom,” in line with Pence’s own views on education.

With Republicans Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) voting against DeVos’ confirmation, the 50-50 vote went to Pence to break the tie. He voted to confirm her.

7. In May, Pence was named the head of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

This commission was established based on Trump’s unproven and unfounded claim that there was widespread voter fraud during the 2016 election. Pence was named commission chair, with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as vice chair. Together, Pence and Kobach have begun making requests for extensive voter information from states, with many voting rights groups worried that the commission will lead to widespread voter suppression.

8. Pence invited anti-abortion activists to the White House to discuss how to merge their agenda with that of the administration.

On March 9, Pence met with anti-abortion activists to discuss what sort of provisions they would like to see in the American Health Care Act bill, later pitching it to conservative members of the House of Representatives.

9. Later that month, he would cast the tie-breaking vote to nullify an Obama-era rule allowing that Title X funds be used for family planning services.

In his eight years in office, Joe Biden never cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate. Pence, just months into the job, has broken four ties (confirming DeVos, the motion to proceed on blocking the Title X rule, the final vote on blocking the Title X rule, and the motion to proceed on the Senate’s health care bill).

Gutting the Title X rule is bad news, especially for low- and middle-income women across the country.

10. Pence has met with members of the financial industry and championed efforts to roll back Dodd-Frank consumer protections.

Shortly after taking office, Pence addressed the GOP retreat, promising to dismantle the legislation enacted in the aftermath of financial collapse and its “overbearing mandates.” In May, he spoke out in favor of Republican Rep. Hensarling’s (Texas) CHOICE Act, which would deregulate the financial markets once again.

11. In May, Pence addressed the Susan B. Anthony List “Campaign for Life” gala.

Touting the administration’s successes when it came to curtailing reproductive rights, Pence declared, “For the first time in a long time, America has an administration that’s filled top to bottom with people who stand without apology for life.”

To cheers, he would later promise to ensure that people receiving health care subsidies would not be able to purchase insurance coverage that includes access to abortion.

12. Pence played a role in urging Trump to sign a “religious liberty” executive order during a National Day of Prayer ceremony.

While the final order was viewed by many conservatives as simply being one step in the right direction and not everything they wanted, the move showed just how much pull the extremely religious vice president has over his boss.

13. Pence addressed the first-ever World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians on May 11.

The speech bolstered the administration’s narrative that Christians are the true victims of terrorism in the Middle East. The truth is that people of all faiths have been targeted by ISIS, and messages about how Christians are the most persecuted only help advance some of the inherent Islamophobia in actions such as the travel ban — which only helps ISIS.

14. At the University of Notre Dame, Pence delivered a fiery commencement address, targeting “political correctness.”

The idea that college campuses are suppressing freedom of speech is a popular talking point, especially among conservatives. Pence used his platform to stoke that fire, saying, “Far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness — all of which amounts to nothing less than the suppression of freedom of speech.”

15. In May, Pence started his own political action committee called the “Great America Committee.”

Marking another first for a sitting vice president, the formation of a PAC signals that maybe he has some larger political ambitions that go beyond the Trump administration and his role as VP. Coupled with outgoing White House press secretary Sean Spicer saying that he’d be on board with a Pence run in 2024, this is worth keeping an eye on.

16. In June, Pence was put in charge of U.S. space policy.

Pence, being someone who likely doesn’t really believe in that whole “evolution” thing and once claimed that “smoking doesn’t kill,” seems like an odd choice to dictate anything related to science. But that’s what President Trump did after signing an executive order bringing back the National Space Council.

It’s still unclear what sort of direction Pence will take, though he has made promises to put people on Mars.

17. He’s raised money for his own PAC and other political causes.

What’s the point of having a PAC if you’re not going to raise money for it, right? In July, The New York Times reported that Pence has been playing host to “a string of dinners held every few weeks at the vice president’s official residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory in Washington,” courting “big donors and corporate executives.”

18. On June 23, Pence addressed Focus on the Family, a powerful anti-LGBTQ organization, for its 40th anniversary.

Speaking about the administration’s commitment to helping “persecuted people of faith” and protecting their right to discriminate against LGBTQ people under the guise of “religious liberty,” Pence told the crowd, “This president believes that no American, no American should have to violate their conscience to fully participate in American life, and he has taken action to protect the expressions of faith by men and women across this nation.”

This is the same organization, mind you, that has called homosexuality “a particularly evil lie of Satan” and has called transgender people “mentally ill” and “like Cinderella in a fantasy world.”

19. As special elections have popped up across the country, Pence has been hitting the campaign trail in support of his fellow Republicans.

It’s not so surprising that Pence is getting out there. A little curious, however, is how little Trump has done comparatively — and how little coverage Pence’s presence has garnered. This once again shows Pence for the shrewd politician he is, able to help prop up other candidates. Trump, on the other hand, is mostly good at promoting one person: Trump.

20. Pence has been pressuring Congress to implement anti-transgender policies in the military.

Days before Trump tweeted that he was banning trans people from serving in the military, Foreign Policy reported that Pence was lobbying hard to fight back against trans inclusion in the military. Pence was reportedly putting pressure on members of Congress to hold the 2018 defense authorization bill hostage unless it included a rider barring funds being used on transition-related health care.

According to Politico, Trump was motivated to outright ban all trans people from the military for fear that the defense bill would stall and he wouldn’t receive the funding he requested for his wall. In the end, however, Pence got what he asked for and more. Though the Department of Defense is holding on implementing the tweeted policy until Trump formally submits a plan, it’s nearly a done deal.

This matters because Pence might not always be in the background.

It’s pretty clear that Pence’s political ambitions don’t end with being Trump’s vice president. With scandals rocking the White House on what seems like a daily basis — including calls for investigations and even some for Trump’s impeachment — it’s pretty important to take a long hard look at the man next in line for the position.

During the campaign, Pence’s extreme positions were largely whitewashed. His extreme anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion views were rarely talked about. As vice president, Pence has shown himself to be the man he’s always been: a smooth-talking politician with far-right social conservative views. So let’s keep a watchful eye on what he’s doing now because he might just be president one day.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/20-things-mike-pence-did-while-you-werent-looking-and-why-it-matters

Let’s break down 15 terrible excuses from accused sexual harassers and predators.

The world is currently being treated to a slow-rolling reveal of the alleged bad behavior of some of its most powerful men.

And inevitably, with bad behavior comes excuses.

It’s no surprise that prominent accused harassers and predators, once cornered, would try to wriggle out of accusations of sexual conduct and abuse. What is surprising is the variety in their attempts to justify their alleged behavior. Excuses by way of apology. Excuses by way of confession. Excuses by way of firm, uncompromising denial. All attempting to convey how they didn’t do what they’ve been accused of or that what they did do made sense to them in the moment. In some way, they’re the most revealing window into the personal, social, and cultural forces that enable their alleged misdeeds.

Excuses, ultimately, reflect our beliefs about what’s just and fair. Which raises some questions: Do any of them actually put the behavior in a context that makes it, in some distressing way, understandable? Do they ever work? And what does it say about us if we believe them?

Here are just some of the excuses we know they’ve tried:

1. I’m from a different era, and this strange, new culture is confusing to me.

To date, more than 50 women have accused Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein of engaging in a decades-long pattern of abusive behavior ranging from harassment to sexual coercion to rape. But lest “what he supposedly did” is coloring your impression of him, Weinstein wants you to remember he’s not an evil man: He’s just a recovering hippie!

“I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different,” Weinstein wrote in a statement. “That was the culture then.”

Harvey Weinstein. Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images.

Of course. Who doesn’t remember the ’60s and ’70s? Flower power! Free love! Cornering women in a hotel room and trying to force them to watch you shower! Though the millions of other people who made it through those turbulent decades without harassing or abusing anyone — or threatening them if they told anyone and then hiring ex-spies to help cover it up — might remember those decades slightly differently, Weinstein simply refuses to let the swingin’ spirit die. No matter the decade, his behavior is less “groovy” and more “galling.”

Weinstein’s excuse depends on eliding two wildly different notions: (1) That America failed to take workplace harassment and sexual abuse seriously in the ’60s and ’70s, and (2) that it was OK back then — or perpetrated by anyone reared back then — as a result. While the first assertion is undeniable, the second is self-serving nonsense. Just because a behavior was ignored, tolerated, or even encouraged doesn’t make it remotely close to excusable.

2. Hey, it’s not like I didn’t ask!

Thus wrote comedian Louis C.K. in a widely praised (and widely derided) statement confirming a New York Times report that he had masturbated in front of almost half a dozen unwilling women.

“At the time, I said to myself that what I did was O.K. because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is … true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them.”

Some might argue C.K.’s approach forgoes the most critical part of consent: waiting for a response. Still others might assert that without getting a “yes” or a “no” back, there’s no point in asking at all. Viewed that way, C.K.’s logic is baffling at best, and it’s both miraculous and frightening that he somehow got to the age of 50 believing the world works like this.

More frightening still, scattered segments from C.K.’s TV show and various stand-up specials in which the comedian acknowledges viewing masturbation as a form of control or tool of revenge suggest that he did indeed know the effect his behavior had on others — and simply didn’t care.

3. The closet made me do it. Also, I was drunk.

Ah, alcohol. Absolver of all responsibility. Whether knocking over a glass vase, texting your roommates at 4 a.m., or sexually assaulting teenagers, some men apparently believe that acknowledging that you were blasted when it happened is a one-way express ticket to Forgiveness Town. That reportedly includes Kevin Spacey, who actor Anthony Rapp says drunkenly attempted to force himself on him when Rapp was 14.

“If I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years,” Spacey wrote in a statement responding contritely to the alleged incident. Since the story of Rapp’s accusation broke, over a dozen more accusers have come forward.

Kevin Spacey. Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

To make matters worse for everyone but himself, Spacey used the space of his response to come out as a gay man — all but implying a connection between his alleged predation and his closeted sexuality. It reads as a desperate attempt to buy a modicum of sympathy at the cost of casting suspicion on millions of innocent LGBTQ Americans.

4. It’s just what guys do.

Donald Trump’s now-infamous comments about sexually assaulting women — “Grab ’em by the pussy” and “I moved on her like a bitch” — have largely disappeared down the memory hole, thanks to the steadily strengthening storm of scandals swirling around the now-president. Still, it’s tough to forget how the former reality show host became president in the first place: by managing to convince a depressing percentage of Americans that his unscripted admission was just a case of “boys being boys.”

“This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago,” Trump said in a statement following the revelations.

Was it, though? On one hand, you’ve got the producers of “Access Hollywood,” who fired Billy Bush for merely participating in that very discussion; dozens professional athletes asserting that, no, that’s not at all what locker rooms are like; not to mention the dozens of women who have come forward and accused Trump of doing pretty much exactly what he described. On the other hand, you have the word of Donald Trump, a dude who lies constantly.

Tough call, I guess.  

5. I knew it was wrong, but no one complained, so how wrong could it have been?

“Toward the end of my time at ABC News, I recognized I had a problem,” journalist Mark Halperin said in a statement responding to allegations he had sexually harassed multiple women during his tenure at the network. “No one had sued me, no one had filed a human resources complaint against me, no colleague had confronted me. But I didn’t need a call from HR to know that I was a selfish, immature person who was behaving in a manner that had to stop.”

Of course, Halperin “knew” that what he was doing was wrong in the same way that his victims likely “knew” that going to human resources to complain about their boss would get them sidelined, fired, or branded as a troublemaker. That power imbalance allows Halperin to attempt to have it both ways: pretending to take full responsibility of the allegations while slyly implying that the women he harassed share the blame for not speaking up sooner or louder.

6. I’m too old and infirm to be a threat, and it was a joke anyway.

George H.W. Bush. Photo by David J. Phillip – Pool/Getty Images.

After multiple women came forward to accuse former President George H.W. Bush of groping them while posing for photos, the elder statesman did something few accused predators have the integrity to do: He admitted it.

Still, as drafted by his spokesperson, his statement-slash-confession seemed to carry more than a whiff of an implication that his victims were needlessly slandering a harmless, disabled, old American hero:

“To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke — and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.”

And while it’s true that Bush is in his 90s and his arms aren’t as flexible as they used to be, a pat is different than a squeeze — and if someone squeezes your ass, you know. Not to mention, this explanation would appear to be contradicted by new reports that a less old and less infirm Bush was, apparently, no less inclined to grope the women (and girls, in some cases) standing next to him in photos.

7. I made them stars, and this is how they repay me?!

For some serial abusers, getting a woman her dream job apparently means assuming sexual ownership over her forever and always in exchange. Consider Roger Ailes, who reportedly made a series of unwelcome overtures to former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, even repeatedly attempting to kiss her in his office. The excuse he gave, framed as a furious denial, attempts to marshal other, generous actions as evidence to why he couldn’t or wouldn’t have engaged in misconduct.

“I worked tirelessly to promote and advance [Megyn Kelly’s] career, as Megyn herself admitted to Charlie Rose. Watch that interview and then decide for yourself,” Ailes said. As is commonly the case, Kelly wasn’t close to alone in her accusations among the women hired by Ailes. Since former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson launched her lawsuit against her ex-boss, more than 20 women have come forward with similar allegations.

For others, that imagined control extends to merely pretending to get women jobs. That was, allegedly, the longtime MO of director James Toback, who is accused of inviting over 200 women to professional meetings only to proposition and, occasionally, assault them once in private. Toback put his denial even more aggressively:

“The idea that I would offer a part to anyone for any other reason than that he or she was gonna be the best of anyone I could find is so disgusting to me. And anyone who says it is a lying c*cksucker or c*nt or both.”

8. I’m trying to be a good guy now, and I respect the hell out of women, so let’s just wipe the slate clean.

A popular excuse, especially among various left-of-center men of Hollywood and the media, mixes a nod to contrition with a subtle appeal to tribal loyalty: “I may have been a jerk once,” the argument goes, “But I’m on the right side of the issues that you care about.”

Here’s Casey Affleck’s response, who reportedly harassed multiple women on the set of “I’m Still Here”:  

“There’s really nothing I can do about [the allegations] other than live my life the way I know I live it and to speak to what my own values are and how I try to live by them all the time.”

Casey Affleck. Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images.

And here’s what Dustin Hoffman had to say after he was accused of making inappropriate and lewd comments to a production assistant during “Death of a Salesman”:

“I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am.”

And here are Leon Weiseltier’s words, who allegedly harassed multiple women of a series of years as editor-in-chief of The New Republic:

“The women with whom I worked are smart and good people. I am ashamed to know that I made any of them feel demeaned and disrespected. I assure them that I will not waste this reckoning.”

Whether that “reckoning” ever comes is often irrelevant to the alleged abuser. What matters is that enough people believe he’s an asset to whatever fight they’re fighting, leaving open the possibility that he’ll be rehabilitated by his community without having to lift a finger.

9. This is a political ploy by my enemies to ruin me.

Bill O’Reilly. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images.

When in doubt, blame those bastards in the opposition party for trying to tear you down.

“If you look at the totality, this was a hit job — a political and financial hit job,” argued Bill O’Reilly, after reports surfaced that he settled an unknown sexual harassment claim for $32 million in addition to allegations that he harassed or abused a string of coworkers during his decade-plus at Fox News.

As a naked appeal to tribal loyalty, it’s a nefarious tactic but potentially a good deal more effective than, say, trying to shame your accusers by sharing the thank you notes they wrote you for some unrelated thing or outright blaming God — two things O’Reilly for real tried to do in the wake of allegations against him.

10. This is a political ploy by the media to get clicks and sell papers.

When in even more doubt, blame the fake news for whipping up people’s anger and impairing their “objectivity.”  

“Brett Ratner vehemently denies the outrageous derogatory allegations that have been reported about him, and we are confident that his name will be cleared once the current media frenzy dies down and people can objectively evaluate the nature of these claims,” said the director’s spokesperson in a statement responding to allegations that Ratner had engaged in sexual misconduct on set.

Despite Ratner’s denial, actor Ellen Page followed up days later with a blistering Facebook post, accusing the director of outing her against her will with an unwelcome, sexually tinged comment. Ratner as of yet hasn’t respond to her claim, unmediated by the media such as it was.

11. It was the Russians!

George Takei. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

When in the most doubt, blame Vladimir Putin. As if the allegations against George Takei (which eerily paralleled a story Takei himself told Howard Stern several weeks earlier) weren’t upsetting enough, especially given Takei’s history of speaking out about the serious issue of sexual harassment, his response could not have been more bizarre:

“A friend sent me this. It is a chart of what Russian bots have been doing to amplify stories containing the allegations against me,” Takei wrote, after allegations that he had groped a fellow actor without his consent surfaced. “It’s clear they want to cow me into silence, but do not fear friends. I won’t succumb to that.”

12. But what about all the men who are falsely accused?

Of course, not all of those accused of harassment or abuse are guilty, though recent studies peg the incidence of false reports at between a mere 2% to 8%. But while the guilty category is larger by leaps and bounds, that inkling of doubt too often allows alleged harassers and predators to weasel their way into the former.

“No one wants to discourage abuse victims from speaking out, but one must bear in mind that sometimes there are people who are falsely accused and that is also a terribly destructive thing,” Woody Allen wrote in The New York Times after his daughter, Dylan Farrow, accused him of sexually assaulting her in the pages of the same paper a week earlier.

When reached for comment on the on the Harvey Weinstein allegations, Allen told the BBC he wished to avoid “a witch-hunt atmosphere” where “every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.” It’s a frame that conflates workplace flirting (potentially harassing behavior in its own right) with Weinstein’s alleged pattern of coercion and assault or, perhaps, his own by association.

13. No comment, through a lawyer.

Rather than offer an excuse, which can be its own form of admission, some alleged abusers simply choose to say nothing and hope the accusation goes away. That’s what Bill Clinton did in response to claims that he raped then-nursing home operator Juanita Brodderick in a hotel after luring her there with the promise of a professional meeting. First, Clinton’s attorney called the allegations “absolutely false.” Later, Clinton himself doubled down.

“My counsel has made a statement about the … issue, and I have nothing to add to it,” the then-president told the Washington Post.

14. I’m a sick man.

Anthony Weiner. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Of course, when the allegations become impossible to deny, some abusers see no option beyond making a full-throated, self-abasing confession. Anthony Weiner did this after pleading guilty to “transferring obscene material to a minor.”

“This fall, I came to grips for the first time with the depths of my sickness. I had hit bottom,” he said in court. “I entered intensive treatment, found the courage to take a moral inventory of my defects, and began a program of recovery and mental health treatment that I continue to follow every day.”

“I accept full responsibility for my conduct,” he continued. “I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse. I apologize to everyone I have hurt. I apologize to the teenage girl, whom I mistreated so badly. I am committed to making amends to all those I have harmed. Thank you.”

Weiner certainly isn’t the first prominent accused predator to claim to be broken. Harvey Weinstein checked himself into rehab for sex addiction after allegations against him surfaced. Kevin Spacey did the same some weeks later. Weiner himself previously had done a stint at rehab. But while Weiner’s statement completely acknowledges the scope of his wrongdoing, it nonetheless contains an excuse. In some way, it implies that the former congressman’s sickness mitigates the harm his actions caused or, at the very least, absolves him of some of the blame.

It’s evidence that even the best, most clinical excuse is substandard at best.

Which is why the most reasonable excuse might just be:

15. I have no excuse.

On Nov. 1, former NPR news chief Michael Oreskes stepped down in the wake of allegations that he had harassed multiple women on the job. His acknowledgement was direct and, notably, didn’t offer an explanation for his behavior.

“I am deeply sorry to the people I hurt. My behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility.”

Apologizing unconditionally doesn’t make it all better. It doesn’t restore the careers of the women Oreskes’ behavior likely sidelined, marginalized, or ended. And it doesn’t provide a quicker, smoother path to forgiveness. Doing so merely acknowledges what should by now be obvious.

When it comes to harassing or abusing the people who work for you, depend on you, admire you, or simply those who are around you, there is no excuse.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/lets-break-down-15-terrible-excuses-from-accused-sexual-harassers-and-predators

Trans woman Danica Roem beat her anti-trans opponent by focusing on … roads. Seriously.

“To every person who’s ever been singled out, who’s ever been stigmatized, who’s ever been the misfit, who’s ever been the kid in the corner, who’s ever needed someone to stand up for them when they didn’t have a voice of their own … this one’s for you,” said Virginia delegate-elect Danica Roem during a fiery victory speech on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Roem is a transgender woman, but her gender identity is secondary to the main issue she campaigned on: fixing Route 28.

“That’s why I got in this race, because I’m fed up with the frickin’ road over in my home town,” she said to laughter and applause during the speech, calling on the state legislature to fix existing problems rather than creating new ones.

Roem’s election makes her the first out transgender person who will be elected and seated in a state legislature. Photo by Danica Roem for Delegate.

Roem used her speech to highlight the importance of focusing on unifying issues like infrastructure, ensuring teachers get fair pay, working to expand access to health care, and finding cost-effective solutions to local problems.

“This is the important stuff,” she told the crowd. “We can’t get lost in discrimination. We can’t get lost in BS. We can’t get lost tearing each other down.”

It’s that view, that it’s the government’s job to address issues of infrastructure and public health, that set her apart from her opponent, incumbent candidate Bob Marshall. Marshall, the self-described “chief homophobe” of Virginia, is perhaps best known for introducing a so-called “bathroom bill” designed to discriminate against trans people. Seeing a politician so obsessed with his anti-LGBTQ views have his seat won out from under him by a trans woman just feels … symbolic.

Oh yeah, did I mention Roem is also a singer in a heavy metal band?

Mailers sent out by her opponent’s campaign before the election warned that “[His] defeat would signal that holding these [anti-LGBTQ] principles is a detriment to being elected.”

Hopefully, Marshall is right about that. The people who represent us in government should represent all of us, and his defeat shows many voters aren’t willing to put up with elected officials who don’t see things that way.

In a recent interview on a right-wing radio show, Marshall showed his disdain for Roem and trans people, generally:

“It is not a civil right to masquerade your fantasies as reality. … I’ve drawn a line. I’m not leaving it, because I don’t make the laws of nature but I think I understand them, at least at this fundamental level. I never flunked biology, so I’m not going to call a man a woman, period.”

If a candidate wants to run on a platform of legislating trans people out of public existence or thinks it’s OK accuse their political opponents of defying the laws of nature, that should be detrimental to their odds of being elected.

We need more candidates like Roem whose political ambitions revolve around how best to help their constituents.

This country belongs to all of us. As Roem said in her victory speech (which is excellent, and you should watch it below) with all the intensity of a seasoned politician:

“No matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship, who you love, how you identify — and yeah, how you rock — that if you have good public policy ideas and you’re well qualified for office, bring those ideas to the table because this is your America too.”

Just as it’s not enough for Democrats to simply run on being not-Trump, perhaps this is a sign that it’s not enough for Republicans to bank on voters hating the same groups as them. During the 2016 election, then-North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory ran hard on the state’s anti-trans bathroom bill only to come up short; Marshall did the same in his race against Roem.

Maybe, just maybe, empathy is winning out, and maybe people are coming to understand that the purpose of government isn’t to determine who to oppress, but how to help lift us all.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/trans-woman-danica-roem-beat-her-anti-trans-opponent-by-focusing-on-roads-seriously

Nick Offerman’s thoughts on men crying are the perfect antidote to toxic masculinity.

Actor, author, and accomplished woodworker Nick Offerman had the best response to a question about emotions in an interview with Men’s Health magazine.

With his classically masculine roles (most notably Ron Swanson on “Parks and Recreation”), handy skills, outdoorsmanship, and remarkable facial hair, many see Offerman as the very picture of classic manliness.

With that in mind, writer Sean Evans asked Offerman about the last time he cried.

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival.  

Here’s Offerman’s applause-worthy response in full (emphasis added):

“I went to theatre school. I took two semesters of ballet. I’m the sissy in my family. I cry with pretty great regularity. It’s not entirely accurate to equate me with manliness. I stand for my principals and I work hard and I have good manners but machismo is a double-sided coin. A lot of people think it requires behavior that can quickly veer into misogyny and things I consider indecent. We’ve been sold this weird John Wayne mentality that fistfights and violence are vital to being a man. I’d rather hug than punch. Crying at something that moves you to joy or sadness is just as manly as chopping down a tree or punching out a bad guy. To answer your question, I recently saw Alicia Keys perform live. I’d never seen her before and the sheer golden, heavenly talent issuing from her and her singing instrument had both my wife and me in tears. What a gorgeous gift she has. Her voice is so great. And I had no shame [about crying.] If you live your life openly with your emotions, that’s a more manly stance than burying them.

BOOM! That’s the kind of thinking we need to dismantle toxic masculinity.

And apparently, the internet agrees. The quote was shared by Twitter user @TylerHuckabee and has already been retweeted more than 31,000 times in two days.

Offerman’s words are vital, especially for men and boys who are socialized  to  believe “boys don’t cry.”

Though it may seem like a different world, gender roles and expectations have changed very little in the past 30 years, and a bias against men crying — especially in public — persists.

“That crying is a sign of weakness and a reason for shame is a lesson most males learn by the time they reach adolescence,” wrote Romeo Vitelli, Ph.D., for Psychology Today. “Whether by ‘swallowing tears’ or actively avoiding situations that might lead to crying, males actively suppress their emotions or express them in other ways that seem more suitable for their gender roles.”

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

Actively suppressing tears can lead to other physical and emotional concerns. Stifling this natural response can temporarily raise a person’s blood pressure or heart rate since the body’s fight or flight response has to work overtime to figure out what’s happening.

Not to mention, crying is almost exclusively a human trait, and it’s one of our body’s built-in mechanisms for emotional release. It also reveals our capacity to have empathy for others. When we see a sad movie, learn good news, or as in Offerman’s case, witness a remarkable talent, our bodies react with emotional, empathetic tears. That’s not weakness (or “fake”) — that’s a physiological marvel.

So take it from Offerman, a multi-faceted, talented, emotional man: Let it allllllll out.

No matter your gender, having emotions or feelings so strong you’re moved to tears is nothing to be ashamed of. Offerman is right. We should never be afraid to have a good cry when the mood strikes — no matter what Ron Swanson says.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/nick-offermans-thoughts-on-men-crying-are-the-perfect-antidote-to-toxic-masculinity