Skip to content Skip to footer

Humanity is at Code Red but how can creatives help?

Humanity is at a Code Red status…

On August 9, the IPCC released its Sixth Assessment Report. The latest report details the critical state that our planet is facing right now. It’s an urgent warning.

The IPCC’s first warning, which successfully predicted the pace of global warming, started three decades ago. The second warning in 1995 noted that climate change was largely caused by human activities.

Fast forward to 2007, the IPCC published its Fourth Assessment and used the word ‘unequivocal’ to point out that humans were the main reason to global warming.

Image via Uniter Nations.

Seven years later, the Fifth Assessment came out. But this time, a harsh reality was revealed: “Greenhouse gas emissions were higher than ever, causing an unprecedented acceleration of climate change’s impacts.”

Humanity is at Code Red.

According to the 2021 report, the situation of our planet has gotten even worse. Climate change is altering Earth’s natural systems at every breathing moment. We can just tell from the extreme weather events that happened around the world this year.

Over the past three years, 91 authors from 40 countries gather information from more than 6,000 scientific studies and created the most recent IPCC report. Their research led them to a mutual conclusion that “every fraction of a degree of warming has grave consequences.”

The most important and practical goal right now is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees instead of 2 degrees.

The 0.5 degree of difference is small in number, but it’ll be a life savior to many people; As the report points out, a fewer number of people will be exposed to climate-related risks such as flooding, food scarcity, superstorms, deadly heat, and widespread disease.

A fewer number of people will be susceptible to poverty by up to several hundred million by 2050.

humanity code red
PHOTO CRED: abcnews.

What is happening right now?

Now, let’s recall the disastrous natural events that happened in summer 2021. In later June, western Canada was under a “heat dome.” The phenomenon caused scorching temperatures when hot air is trapped by high-pressure fronts.

As Canada suffered from high temperatures, the U.S states of Washington and Oregon were also affected. The exact amount of death is not yet known but at least several hundred.

Europe was hit by devasting floods after torrential rains in mid-July. Villages in Germany and Belgium were severely destroyed, leaving at least 209 people dead and dozens missing. The damage also expanded to Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Let’s also not forget the raging wildfires in the American West. The “Bootleg Fire” in Oregon, according to Firepost, “has burned the equivalent of the city of Los Angeles in vegetation and forests.” The blaze feeds on it and rapidly spread to the neighborhood areas. Across the state of California, wildfires have been an ongoing series.

The wildfire season started in the middle of an ongoing drought and low rainfalls and reservoir levels. The number of fires burned outpaced the 2020 season, making itself the largest season in California’s recorded history.

Outside of the U.S, natural disasters also struck heavily. In July, the central city of Zhengzhou, China, was flooded because of an unprecedented downpour that was a year’s worth of rain in just three days. Streets, road tunnels, and subway systems were overwhelmed with muddy water.

Natural disasters like floods and wildfires don’t just happen; they are the consequences of the increasing global warming situation and excessive human activities.

TikTok creatives who talk about environmental issues

Do you know TikTok is also a place where a lot of environmental activism happens? Indeed, TikTok is often associated with trends, funny videos, and relaxing content. But climate activists nowadays are taking humanity’s code red status seriously.

Philip Aiken, aka Phil the Fixer, defines himself as a redneck eco-socialist on his TikTok profile description. His videos, however, are not about cute animals or cool life tips & tricks. Instead, he talks about repairing soil sequesters carbon, boosting biodiversity, cleaning and restoring water supply, and making food more nutritious.


Repairing soil sequesters carbon, creates biodiversity, cleans and restores water supply, and makes food more nutritious. #soil #climatechange #mashup

♬ Trend Mash Up – Phil the Fixer

Against a backdrop of mashup viral sounds, the creator fully executes his creativity while addressing the existing environmental issue. Aiken intends to create more green spaces and most importantly, he hopes to cultivate positive influence and recruit more people to join his action.

“I am NOT a soil scientist. I’m an engineer, activist & creative who is just passionate about soil.”

Philip Aiken, Phil the Fixer

Aiken also co-founded EcoTok on TikTok and the Intersectional Environmentalist on Instagram during lockdown. Both platforms set off to create a resource hub where people can talk about social + environmental issues and justice.

Also, check out other climate discussions like #ForClimate and #globalwarming as well as creators like Climate Diva and Carissa and climate.

Campaigns fighting against our code red status

Besides influencers promoting environmental awareness on social media, companies, and brands have also developed bigger campaigns to cultivate more systematic activism.

Founded on the first Earth Day in 1970, EARTHDAY.ORG is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement.

With its mission to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement, EARTHDAY.ORG has already expanded its positive action to 192 countries.

The organization has conducted multiple impactful campaigns such as The Canopy Project, The Great Global Cleanup, Artists for Earth, Foodprints for the Future, and etc.

At the end of the day, EARTHDAY.ORG urges people not to underestimate their own influence and power; It believes that an individual yields impact as a consumer, a voter, and a member of a community that can unite for change.

The message of We Don’t Have Time campaign is as straightforward as its name, urging humanity to take action on our code red status.

It is activism for changemakers who want to generate constructive decisions for climate change. Its goal is to influence businesses, politicians, and world leaders and apply their power and influence to motivate more people and create meaningful transformations.

Check out anti-Ocean pollution-related campaigns such as Surfers Against Sewage, Polar-Ice, and green spaces campaign Trees for Cities to see creative environmental approaches.

How can we make use of social media?

In an article by Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu in 2020, she talks about how Millennials and Generation Z are becoming the active populations that discuss environmental issues on social media.

Keywords like #moss, #biodiversity, and #native biodiversity scored 84.4M, 12.6M, and nearly 800,00 views on TikTok just in 2020. This year, the numbers have already climbed up to a jaw-breaking 217.7M, 25M, and 1.3M views.

code red climate change
Image via Council of Europe.

The power and influence of social media upon younger users are undeniable. In the age of technology, we are all avid content consumers. However, it is a code red moment for humanity to change.

Our time is a booming era of content creation. Social media platforms have already proved to us that every person can be his or her own content maker and influencer.  

Right now, we need more voices that speak the issues. Instead of watching other creatives address environmental issues and increase public awareness, you can join the creative wave to make a difference as well.

That way, more efficient changes will eventually take place.

But where does the Delta Variant leave poor creatives?

As the summer is slowly winding down, the Delta Variant is increasingly spreading throughout the nation. According to CNN reports, “More than 98% of US residents now live in an area with a “high” or “substantial” risk of Covid-19 community transmission — up from only 19% a month ago.”

We witnessed the economic impacts of COVID-19 in 2020, now with the Delta Variant wave where does that leave low-income communities in America? 

Not to mention freelancing creatives

Will the Delta Variant dish out similar hardships?


The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ “The COVID Hardships Watch ” report mentions “millions still report that their households did not get enough to eat or are not caught up on rent payments.”

 According to the report, a little under 28 percent of adult renters said it was difficult to cover expenses back in early July. A over 14 percent of adult renter households said they weren’t caught up on rent while over 7% of them said they do not have enough to eat. 

The Urban Institute, released a report last month called the “2021 Poverty Projections: Assessing the Impact of Benefits and Stimulus Measures” which projects the poverty outcomes this year. 

The report stated that “ The projected poverty rates are lowest for children (5.6 percent), higher for adults ages 18 to 64 (8.1 percent), and highest for people age 65 and older (9.2 percent).” 

The report included the radical disparities among Black Americans, Latinx, Asian Americans Pacific Islander, AAPIs. The report also mentions that “The combined [governement] benefits have the largest impact on children, reducing their projected 2021 poverty rate 81 percent relative to what it would be without any benefits (from 30.1 percent to 5.6 percent).” 

Will that stimulus check ever hit the same way again?


The stimulus package was the thing that kept many Americans afloat last year. There hasn’t been much talk on Capitol Hill of another stimulus check although many states are putting back COVID restrictions as well as some schools going back to virtual after a Covid-19 outbreak. 

The Center on Poverty & Social Policy at Columbia University has been tracking US poverty rates Monthly. The most recent update to this was in May it was over 10 percent for those with COVID relief resources, while it was over 15 percent for those who did not receive the resources. 

poverty rate graph
Figure 1

These were the monthly numbers before these recent major spikes of the delta variant in the U.S. If the number continues to rise and another shutdown comes our way, the key things to keep us float by are these government-issued resources.

Many Americans are still struggling through the pandemic and the predictions for this upcoming don’t look too promising. 

The U.S Census Bureau created the Household Pulse Survey which is in week 34 as of recent. This survey was created, “To produce data on the social and economic effects of coronavirus on American households.” This weekly survey captures real-time data on the experiences Americans are having in this pandemic. 

Are the stats are stacked against lower-income communities?

employment income covid
Figure 2
Figure 3

The average American household income in 2019 was $64,324 per year.

As you can see in Figures 2 and 3 those who are making less than $50k per year, the working class, are the ones that are ones experiencing income loss and worried about mortgage payments. 

Understanding how COVID-19 impacts low-income communities it is clear, that this Delta Variant can lead to another wave of Americans in economic distress.

Low-income Americans are the most vulnerable population to not only the virus but to the many levels of hardships, that this pandemic has brought us. They are the people that will be impacted the most by this Delta Variant, and who are experiencing the brunt force of economic destitution.  

As college life tries to return to normal, it couldn’t be more uncertain

Just when we thought the return to college life in the fall was looking rather “normal,” hurdles continue to haunt the future. Plain and simply: the uncertainty surrounding college life makes for a harrowing experience for returning students and especially college freshmen.

Most universities seem to choose their bottom line over the well-being and education of their students. And with difficulties in organization and planning from many colleges, students, especially those that live on campus, are the ones that suffer. Here are the questions universities and students should be asking themselves as the fall semester approaches.

Mask or no mask?

With states lifting all Covid-related safety restrictions earlier this summer, going back to classes in person was looking bright and easy.

Colleges requiring the vaccine for their students to return to campus made it seem like masks would be long gone in classrooms and school halls. But after barely a few months free of face covering, the rising cases due to the Delta variant continue to cause concern.

Indeed, the prospect of a screen-free, mask-free return to classes was rather invigorating for those registering for in-person courses. If not a little overwhelming, after hiding behind those things for over a year, entering a classroom with a visible smile on your face sounded unheard of up until recently.

But just as excitement reached its peak, it’s nerve-wracking to feel like it could all crumble back down.

Housing or no housing?

In spite of disappointing changes to what returning in person might look like, students remain eager to go back. But yet another challenge is arising for colleges that rely mostly on their on-campus housing option: space.

While last spring enrollment rates declined, this year the opposite phenomenon occurred, leaving colleges on a bit of a limb. Truly the uncertainty around college life right now could not be much more severe.

From study abroad restrictions to delayed graduation times following the pandemic, students are returning to campus in greater numbers than colleges anticipated.

This means hopeless waitlists even for students embarking on their senior year and pursuing their thesis who absolutely need to attend classes in person. For students attending colleges where the off-campus living options are scarce and for those on financial aid, the uncertainty is draining.

While some institutions prove to be rather unresponsive, others are trying everything they can to accommodate as many students as possible. And they are doing so in rather surprising ways.

Middlebury College in Vermont is offering up to 50 percent discounts on their room and board rates if students opt for college housing that is further away. Meanwhile, Dartmouth is simply offering $5,000 to students who decide to opt-out of dorm-living.

But after feeling alienated from an environment that once felt or should have felt like home, students’ desire to be where they are meant to be is hard to shake. The enthusiasm of returning to in-person classes, and to life in general, is palpable, making these complications disheartening.

Reconnecting amongst college life’s uncertainty

Whatever way we look at them, these months continue to be a rollercoaster of hope, frustration, disappointment, and back around.

Grateful as ever for the things that are falling back into place, we need to hold on tight. This year has proven to be a challenge in all shapes and forms, and even though it isn’t over, it doesn’t mean that what is to come can’t be better.

When climate justice intersects with economic rebellion, the world changes

Climate change often affects the people embedded in poverty in the most, resulting in disastrous and unjust effects for people who are already the most vulnerable. But climate justice is a glimmer of hope in a sea of despair, and economic rebellion may be the key to unlocking a new kind of future…

Despite being scattered across the globe, too many countries share a sense of unrest. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen many economic protests in countries including, but not limited to: Haiti, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Lebanon, and Iraq. These remonstrations represented issues such as income inequality, scarcity of resources, corruption, power outages, water shortages, and more.

Although the groups in these countries protest for their own distinct reasons, they all demonstrate ways in which climate justice and economic justice are interrelated. Climate change disproportionately impacts low-income communities as well as countries struggling with poverty. Recent protests in Iran and Cuba are reminding us of this phenomenon. 

First, what’s going on in Iran?

People have been protesting in many cities across Iran as electricity blackouts have become pervasive. According to BBCthe government attributed these blackouts to severe drought and high demand, as many were relying on air conditioning for the hot summer. 

There have also been objections to water shortages, and thousands of people working in Iran’s oil industry are protesting minimal pay and unacceptable working conditions. With all these issues and challenges presenting amidst the pandemic, many are questioning the Iranian government. Some are even calling for “death to the dictator.”

As climate change contributes to drought, power outages, and more, one can understand how these issues can exacerbate economic differences between high- and low-income communities.

Those with less money have fewer resources to cope with these issues. These climate and economic injustices are increasing tensions in Iran, which we are seeing in Cuba right now as well. 

Why are people protesting in Cuba?

On July 11 in San Antonio de los Baños, Cubans saw the beginnings of their first major protest in over 60 years. That protest has since spread throughout many cities in the country, including Havana. People have taken to the streets to protest declining living conditions. They are calling an end to the communist regime. Here are the basic facts: 

Accessibility to basic goods and services has been limited, COVID infections have surged, and tensions have been high as the economy took a hit from covid. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, “the Cuban economy contracted more than 11% last year” due to a drop in tourism and remittances from Cubans living abroad. The Cuban economy couldn’t withstand this loss of income. 

Moreover, Cubans have been waiting in line for hours for food items or to ride the bus. And, like Iran, electricity outages have become widespread. It may not be obvious, but climate change has undeniably contributed to this scarcity of resources.

As individuals in Cuba, Iran, and other countries struggle and fight for their ways of life, we can see how a fight for economic justice is also a fight for climate justice. 

How are climate change and poverty connected?

All over the world, we are seeing the effects of climate change. Sea levels are rising, weather patterns are shifting, cities are losing power, and bouts of extreme weather are jeopardizing lives. It’s clear that we need to find solutions fast. Climate justice is spurring a lot of current protests, but what does this have to do with low-income communities? 

Climate change disproportionately affects low-income communities and developing countries. These groups tend to experience increased exposure and vulnerability to the effects of climate change. 

For example, Mercy Corps reports that extreme weather events such as droughts, wildfires, and hurricanes tend to hit these vulnerable communities the hardest. Their food sources and way of living become compromised, exacerbating issues of hunger and poverty across the world.

Moreover, Joe McCarthy writes in Global Citizen:

“As global temperatures and sea levels rise, as the oceans acidify and precipitation patterns get rearranged, people living in poverty are the most severely impacted. Since climate change affects everything from where a person can live to their access to health care, millions of people could be plunged further into poverty as environmental conditions worsen.”

Joe McCarthy

In other words, climate change exaggerates economic disparities, and vulnerable groups with limited resources only become more vulnerable. These climate conditions disproportionately affect developing countries for similar reasons. 

Christina Chan, director of the World Resource Institute’s Climate Resilience Practice, tells Global Citizen:

“The world’s poorest communities often live on the most fragile land, and they are often politically, socially, and economically marginalized, making them especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.”

Christina Chan

What can climate justice look like, and how can economic rebellion help solve poverty?

It’s no wonder why tensions are high in countries taking the brunt of climate change, COVID, and poverty. And the U.S. embargo on Cuba certainly hasn’t helped. The inhabitants of these countries deserve our support, not economic strangling that hurts lives.

You can read more about how to help the people in Cuba right now on Travel and Leisure here.

Another small way to help communities vulnerable to climate change and economic ruin is to prioritize eco-friendly habits. Find out more about how to go green here.

These may be small steps to take toward a just and healthy world, but every step counts. When economic rebellion is a necessity, climate justice may be served. We just have to keep educating ourselves and working to ensure a more just future.

What NYC flooding reveals about the future of the great metropolis

At the start of the month, a viral video of New Yorkers waddling in waist-high water due to massive flooding in NYC was shared all over social media. The viral video with thousands of views and comments on Twitter and Instagram, had a wide range of comments.

Some comments shared their disgust at the murky waters, vowing to never enter, opting to walk or take an expensive Uber. While others voiced their confusion on the city’s crumbling infrastructure.

NYC is not prepared for major flooding

Photo credit: Angela Weiss via Getty Images

Instagram user, Kdridan, commented,  “This is an example of how overpriced our city is to live in with poor infrastructure.”

His comment received over 1,000 likes, along with 71 replies with others agreeing with him.

In a recent NYT article, the subway water problem was attributed to global warming. The ancient and outdated NYC subway system is not meant to accommodate heavy storms, a climate change phenomenon.

Global warming isn’t only causing issues in the subways, the air quality of the city is being affected as well.

Just this week a TikTok video was created, showing viewers a hazy NYC sky caused by wildfires. The user, bagshopnyc, captioned the video, “Today while billionaire Jeff Bezos went to space, NYC experienced the worst air quality in 7 years due to wildfires 2,500 mile away.”

Accuweather announced, due to the wildfires, the air quality index in the city was at a dangerous level, advising citizens to limit outdoor exposure. The AQI reached 137, the highest level this year, which could cause breathing issues, and throat irritation, especially to sensitive individuals.

Exposing New Yorkers to danger

Not only is the smoke in the air dangerous, but so is flood water. Users on social media made jokes about not wanting to dip into the dirty water but weren’t aware of how toxic floodwater actually is.

Alex Petrovnia, a hydrologist specializing in infectious diseases, shared an important thread informing how dangerous the water is in NYC.

“If water reaches a certain level these flows will back up and combine. Meaning, sewage will mix with stormwater and floodwater is a combination of these…In fact, death and disease from sanitation concerns AFTER a flood are often deadlier than the flood itself,” he tweeted.

NYC flooding sparks criticism of capitalism

Under his tweet, discussions ensued on the working class not having a choice to avoid the subways despite flood water being dangerous. For some, they can’t afford to miss a day of work no matter the weather conditions.

The conversation then turned into one about capitalism, and how it could be dangerous to the middle class. Everyday people can’t control global warming, but are forced to face the consequences head-on since they live in a capitalist society. The very capitalism that directly contributes to global warming.

Under the thread, Twitter users questioned why the city doesn’t step in within these situations, suggesting the mayor give everyone a day off, especially if there are any harmful effects with the mode of transportation.

On Instagram, users underneath the viral New Yorkers subway video shared the same resentment toward capitalism.

“This is what capitalist infrastructure collapsing around us due to climate change looks like and the US will handle it like COVID…leaving the poor to suffer and pay the price,” says user whitesaucenohotsauce, his comment receiving over a hundred likes.

So where do we, and the city, go from here?

Even with mass social media attention, there has been no immediate action to prevent flooding in the subways.

The City reports that the MTA repairs meant to protect from intensive weather have not been finished.

For now, New Yorkers have to remain cautious during wild weather, and try their best to avoid fatal situations.

Caribbean cryptocurrency: A brand new age is here

As Bitcoin proceeds through regulatory phases, Caribbean nations are casting a wide net in the cryptocurrency space. Nations close to the Caribbean like El Salvador are disruptors in and of themselves. The reason being, they are not waiting around for a mass adoption of Bitcoin. Rather they are driving the trend toward widespread acceptance.

Far from a gimmicky ploy, Bitcoin has granted real solutions for impending problems. Problems such as global economy disillusionment and remittance fees arise in areas that are unbanked meaning their money has no backing. Cryptocurrency plays a role by providing a solid and equal playing ground where all can participate, especially important in the Caribbean today.

Caribbean countries symbolize forward-thinking mechanisms and laid-back luxury

Digital wallet apps have emerged mightily in nearby Caribbean countries such as El Salvador.

In El Salvador, the “Nuevas Ideas” collective proposed Bitcoin adoption in 2017. Clearly, this nation wants to address the deficit in electronic payment infrastructure. They have developed a Bitcoin Beach Wallet which is extremely similar to the Satoshi system.

caribbean cryptocurrency
From a distance, cryptocurrency looks promising. (via Yunus Yildiz)

Bitcoin yields several beneficial outcomes for Caribbean countries

Some opportunities that arise with mobile money solutions include employment and financial inclusion.

Mobile money solutions are high speed, high volume, and often complement the existing financial structure. These cryptocurrencies address Caribbean subregion necessities in the areas of technology and innovation. By nature, these solutions decrease reliance on centralized authorities.

caribbean cryptocurrency
Seize your window of opportunity before it escapes. (via Claudia Altamimi)

Many people have launched the process of jurisdictional arbitrage. This means they are trying to ditch governmental rule over their actions and finances, altogether. Many have applied for a second passport to avoid capital gains taxes on their crypto holdings.

Since Bitcoin is viewed as property, the IRS has begun to ramp up efforts to track digital currency and offshore assets linked to non-compliant taxpayers. In response, many have gravitated toward citizenship by investment programs in the form of international financial centers that act as tax havens.

What does cryptocurrency offer for the Caribbean?

Certainly, Bitcoin in the Caribbean poses quite the disruptive possibility to the current Fiat system. It allows a bidirectional flow to and from economies via peer-to-peer interconnectivity. It recognizes risk and encourages innovation.

“Fiat money relies on the backing of governments to ensure the acceptance of its currency as legal tender. It has value, in part because Governments require that taxes be paid in legal tender, and this ensures that there will always be a demand for it. Money is thus widely considered to be a creation of governments, but the commercial banks also play an important role in the process of money creation.”

Shiva Bissessar (U.N. ECLAC Studies & Perspectives)

Cryptocurrencies represent inclusivity and proactive engagement. Some Caribbean (or nearby) countries ripe for cryptocurrency picking are Trinidad & Tobago and Suriname.

These countries possess a competitive advantage due to lower existing energy costs in the region due to thriving hydroelectric plants.

caribbean bitcoin
Bitcoin operates on distributed ledger technology. (via Executium)

It would behoove several Caribbean nations to consider a mass adoption of cryptocurrencies. The reason being, it embraces the unbanked and rural communities that could use an update to pick up the pace. It would encourage intra-regional trade creating a circular flow that might sweep throughout countries.

Crypto would help disparate economies diversify and stimulate themselves. It might also reduce the cost of remittance fees for international transfers. There is hardly any downside to cryptocurrency usage. Try it out!

Love Black bodies: Why organizations must stop discriminating

The International Swimming Federation banned Soul Cap from The Olympics. The cap maker sells tailored swimming caps specifically designed to protect voluminous, Afro-texture hair in swimming. The news of Soul Cap being banned was shocking, especially because the decision technically denied the promise that all athletes have equal access to appropriate sports gear in this grand event. What it also tells us is the world needs to love Black bodies much more than it does currently.

Why doesn’t the world love Black bodies?

Soul Cap being banned sparked heated conversations on social media. The center of the conversation quickly extended to the discussion of Black bodies in sports. The Black body is often underrepresented or rendered invisible. The Black female body, furthermore, is additionally judged and criticized.

From Alice Coachman, Althea Gibson, Debi Thomas, Laila Ali, Serena Williams, Simone Biles to Sha’Carri Richardson, the physiques of Black female athletes have been constantly questioned in the public eyes.

The most frequent concern is whether their bodies look right or appropriate in athletic performance or competition.

Why can’t we just love Black bodies for the beauty they hold?

If having an additionally muscular female body is not normal, and curly Afro-textured hair is not natural, why does society even bother to promote the ideas of diversity and inclusion on social media? To Black female athletes, the lack of representation and support and the absence of equality are the norms.

The harsh and dehumanizing cultural messages

Black female athletes have been facing unrealistic societal expectations over the years. Some in society make sure that they are never good enough for mainstream social standards.

love black bodies
PHOTO CRED: Lawrence Jackson. Professional softball player AJ Andrews participates in a panel discussion on Black female athletes at Morgan State University on Nov. 13. 2018. (Caption via The Undefeated)

Professional softball player AJ Andrews shared that she has been called ‘manly’ and ‘too big.’ There are always some people commenting on her unfeminine physique because of her muscles.

“The cultural conversation surrounding black female athletes has shifted in part from what women have to look like to participate to what they have to look like to be endorsed.”

Amira Rose Davis for The Undefeated.

Competing while black and female on the tracks, fields, and courts of America is never easy. Black female athletes have either been criticized for their looks and for showing too much aggression on the field. Too aggressive, too masculine, too powerful, the public feels intimidated by their presence.

love black bodies
PHOTO CRED: Hannah C. Price. Kayla Cohen, a graduate student in sports business at Temple University, and an accountant for the Philadelphia Flyers, says her time as a field hockey player was brief because she was told she was too aggressive. (Caption via The Undefeated)

Kayla Cohen, a graduate student in sports business at Temple University, used to be a field hockey player. She recalled the time playing against a team that was predominantly white girls in high school.

While playing aggressively out of pure passion, she was told to calm down by each girl on the opposing teams while exchanging high-fives. Cohen never played with the same intensity again and she quit the team the following year.

Living up to a feminine standard

It’s hard to be a female athlete of color because people will pay additional attention to her identity and appearance rather than her skills.  Lynsey Jae Grace, athletics coordinator at the Community College of Philadelphia, talks about the paradox of presenting a feminine look while doing a masculine sport on the field.

hannah c. price
PHOTO CRED: Hannah C. Price.

“When I run, I’m aggressively running. When I’m high-fiving or slapping. I’m aggressively doing it. Why can’t I just be me? I’m Lynsey Jae Grace, a child of the most high god, fearfully and wonderfully made. I’m me, but we get pigeonholed.”

Lynsey Jae Grace for The Undefeated.

Living in a predominantly white society, Black women feel the pressure to fit in the mainstream beauty standard. Society has pressured them into pursuing a noticeable feminine body, but has constantly ignored their struggles.

We may not know exactly how Black female bodies are perceived and discussed on the field at sports events, but social media has already presented a rather straightforward portrait.

A year ago, Vogue dropped its August cover featuring Olympic champion gymnast Simone Biles. The image was shot by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz. While beautifully and professionally done, the image received critical feedback from the public.

The photograph did not compliment Biles’ beautiful athletic build. Instead, many argued that her dark skin was not shot in the appropriate lighting and styling, leaving her skin looking “flat, washed out, and muted.” The lines and curves of her muscular back were somehow softened and purposely feminized.

Love Black bodies no matter what

Simone Biles’ back shoot is very similar to that of Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis’ Vanity Fair’s July/August cover in the same year. Davis’ cover is shot by Black photographer Dario Calmese.

Gordon's scourged back
Image via Dailymail.

Calmese, however, intended to recreate the image of Gordon’s “Scourged Back” through Davis’ back, later revealed by The New York Times. The photographer also explained his true intention to rewrite narratives for Vox.

 “Not only around slavery, but also the white gaze on Black bodies, and transmuting that into something of elegance and beauty and power. It’s about replacing the images that have been washing over all of us for centuries, telling us who we are and our position in the world and our value.”

Dario Calmese for The New York Times.

It was an interesting move to use Black beauty as a reminder of Black pain. Certainly, Calmese captured the power and beauty of the Black female body through his lens. However, simple imagination could hardly recreate the weight of history and violence. I wondered if there were other layers of meanings in Calmese’s photograph.

Calmese didn’t intend to create a glamorous moment for Davis. He wanted it to be a moment that was rich of “underexposed and somber” in its own authenticity.

Davis is sporting natural hair sitting high and blocking a big portion of the magazine’s name. Her pose was so dynamic and confident, which echoed well with her words on the cover of the magazine; “My entire life has been a protest.”

It’s not up to us to define

Photographer Dana Scruggs became the first Black woman to photograph an athlete for ESPN’s “The Body Issue” in 2018. Scruggs shared her position as the first Black female photographer in many of her work opportunities.

She pointed out how the industry’s limited acceptance of Black talent and creatives led to the lack of representations and portraits of achievements of Black women in general.

“I really want to see Black women get opportunities to portray other Black women. When people talk about women in photography, they’re not talking about Black women. When people talk about Black people in photography, they’re not talking about Black women, or Black femmes either.”

Dana Scruggs for Vox.

Intentional feminization of the Black female body is not glamorization, but an inconsiderate process that shows a lack of depth and representation. Furthermore, creating rules that make it harder for Black women to thrive, such as the banning of Soul Cap, is discriminatory and gross.

“She’s too muscular as a woman” or “Her dark skin doesn’t work for this lighting” are such ridiculous excuses society uses to dehumanize the Black body. We are all different, and we should celebrate that.

Rejecting Black bodies that do not align with mainstream and white-centric beauty standards is such an immature way to look at Black womanhood. Love Black bodies, not just today, but every day.


What is considered safe and smart travel? We found out

Over the past few months, more people have become vaccinated. Besides, as the daily infection rate is gradually under control, people are certainly feeling more comfortable and open with travel again. But the real questions are, “Where will people go?” “When will people go?” Safe and smart travel is easier said than done.

Just the thoughts of leaving home and finally going on a trip sound exciting. However, it is not always so easy. At the present time, in most countries, traveling is still under various restrictions. Open travel where everything is abundantly comfortable is not always here at the moment.

People, additionally, are more aware of public health issues and more prompted to take precautions to assure personal safety in the first place.

safe and smart travel
Image via Healthline

So where do people want to go?

This is a good question. After working from home and having a staycation for more than a year, people just want to get out and see the world that they have missed out on. We know.

But now that most places are re-opened, where will people go? Do they travel domestically or internationally? Additionally, what kind of transportation do they take? What kind of precautions do they take for the crucial goal of safe and smart travel.

Early this year, Chris M. Walsh did a travel survey on 452 avid travelers (ages between 18 and 65) who live in America.

According to the results, 30 percent of respondents described their preferred destinations are national parks and mountains, 24 percent said beaches while 22 percent said big cities. At the same time, 60 percent of respondents said that they would travel by car, 34 percent voted for a plane.

We can clearly see that people were more inclined to go on road trips and head to places that have fewer people in general.  

safe and smart travel
Image via Fifty Grande

But safe and smart travel isn’t always easy

International vacation might still sound a little iffy since different countries have different policies in their travel industries for visitors.

However, domestic travel has definitely become more convenient and less restrictive for Americans. Because of the pandemic, according to the NPS, a total of 237 million visitors made their way to the national parks in 2020. The number of visitors will likely increase drastically this summer.

The most-visited national parks are Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Rockey Mountain National Park, Zion National Park, Yellowstone National Park, etc.

The parks have been so overcrowded this year that some visitors even got turned away because the parking lots were hitting their limits. Camping and lodging sites are also overbooked as well. Check out the best hotels for kids in Washington DC.

When will people travel?

Figuring out when to travel is perhaps even a tougher job than deciding where to go. There are a lot of things to consider before going to places nowadays. We get that.

Traveling is not as simple as it was before the pandemic. We can’t just buy tickets and fly to any place we want. Before setting up the leaving dates, we will also need to check out the local Covid-19 policies.

For example, are travelers required to provide a negative Covid testing report 2-3 days before they arrive? Do travelers need to be quarantined when they arrive? Are face masks required in local public spaces? These are all questions travelers must ask before traveling, which, obviously, is new.

Additionally, local infection rate, as well as personal vaccination status, are the other factors people should think about as well. When you want safe and smart travel, this is the type of legwork that must go in beforehand. But it’s almost always worth it in the end.

What is safe and smart travel going to look like going forward?

open comfortable travel
PHOTO CRED: Seb Agresti.

A lot of people have already started traveling again. Not being able to travel for a year unquestionably bottles up people’s desire to travel again even more. Planning a new trip is a way to cope with reality while still having an intention to reclaim normalcy.

There are several reasons for the booming travel industry this year. The pandemic indeed ‘immobilized’ people, but at the same time, led to many great deals that have never happened before. For example, flight tickets, hotels, and Airbnb are much cheaper than usual. The overall travel expenditure can be really low in some cases now.

However, because people have also other things to worry about on their minds, they don’t just take off because everything becomes less pricy. Now, it’s up to the industry to give potential travelers a push to make them take action. Prospective travelers need to know that their travel can be comfortable and open to all of their wishes.

Tourism is back, but the Coronavirus isn’t leaving

More and more people have got their vaccinations. Yet, even though the vaccine does give us a layer of protection, is it really safe to say that we are 100% protected now?

The original strain of Coronavirus is slowly conquered due to medical breakthroughs, but new threats also start to emerge. Recently, a new Delta variant has invaded and rapidly expanded.

However, the majority American public seems to be still unaware of the severity of this new variant and what it can do to our health. Based on the available scientific reports out there, the Delta variant is more deadly and transmissible. Moreover, vaccinated people can still contract the new variant and transmit it to other people.

Therefore, we should definitely be more careful if we want our travel plans to be as comfortable and open as possible. The current vaccine is not a panacea; no vaccine can fully protect against any Covid-19 variant.

You never know if who you interact with daily has already been in contact with the Delta variant. It’s always good to be a bit more cautious since we should all know better that we are the only ones responsible for our own safety.

7 fun hobbies to try today even if you’re too busy…

No matter how busy you are in your day-to-day life, it is important that you take time for yourself as often as you can, and a great way to do that is to take up fun hobbies.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of options for hobbies, and this list aims to make a few suggestions as to what your hobby could be. By the end of the list, you might be tempted to try one, two, or all of them! 

1. Sewing

This is a great hobby for a number of reasons. For one, you can fix toys and clothes that your little ones manage to damage. Plus, the process is so rhythmic that it becomes soothing in itself.

Finally, sewing is a wonderful way to bleed your stress into what you’re doing and something that accompanies a movie or TV show very well.

2. Crocheting

Crochet is a lovely pastime and a brilliant way to cool your nerves. The systematic approach to the hobby is incredibly soothing, and there is something so satisfying about a hobby that produces something tangible at the end.

What better way to destress than to crochet a cute little soft toy for your little ones to play with? Plus, regular crochet is great for your hand strength and dexterity.

3. Pottery

Much like crochet, pottery is particularly lovely because of the interesting little creations you can make due to practicing your hobby. You’ll quickly find yourself improving and making mugs, bowls, and all sorts that you can use around the house, all while destressing and taking time to spend with yourself.

4. Playing a Musical Instrument

When it comes to fun hobbies, music is an absolutely wonderful thing, and playing a musical instrument yourself is a really lovely goal. Learning has to start somewhere, though, and that means you need to start making time to pick up an instrument and practice.

Regular practice can help you to filter out stress, and as you improve, you will be able to see your progress, which can be a wonderful reminder of how far you’ve come.

5. Gaming

Playing games is a wonderful way to bring down your stress and escape into a short reprieve away from all your motherly responsibilities.

Whether you like to play online games, like online casino games, single-player games like Mass Effect, or even online multiplayer games, these short escapes are a brilliant way to recharge and bring your stress levels down.

6. Writing

If you find comfort in words, then keeping a journal or writing stories can be a great way to relax and center yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Keeping a journal can even be a great way to keep track of your day-to-day life, which is something great to look back on in years to come. 

7. Painting

Finally, painting is another brilliant way to let your stress out while you create something. The process can be complicated, and often a piece can take many hours to complete, but as you practice, you will clearly see your improvement, which is a truly special feeling.

Fireworks accidents are a Fourth of July tradition, but do they have to be?

On July 5th, 2021, news broke that Mattis Kivlenieks, the backup goaltender for the Columbus Blue Jackets, died at a Fourth of July party because of a fireworks accident. It was reported from multiple sources that he was accidentally struck in the chest by a firework mortar, which ultimately led to the Latvian-born player’s demise. He was only 24 years old.

For some, this incident sparked the conversation we seemingly have every single year…

Why do we allow these fireworks accidents to keep taking place?

Why do we light fireworks if we all know they are dangerous and lead to accidents? Sure, 4th of July fireworks are a tradition that spans generations.

But every year we are bombarded with new stories and reports that people misuse fireworks and cause significant damage. Simultaneously, consumer fireworks become legal in more places every year. 46 out of 50 states allow for firework sales and use of some kind. 30 out of 50 states have next to no restriction on what kind of fireworks consumers can buy and use.

Yet fireworks remain destructive in more ways than one. They annually cause personal injury, significant property damage, and they are also harmful to the planet.

Personal injury like that of Mattis Kivlenieks

The tragic story of Mattis Kivlenieks is not the first instance of fireworks causing injury and death. It’s not even the first time a professional athlete was injured or killed by fireworks.

On July 4th, 2015, NFL defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul lost three of the fingers on his right hand from mishandling fireworks. He has since become an influential advocate for firework safety measures. Injuries to hands and fingers are most common, but eye-related injuries are also common and could result in permanent vision loss.

In 2020, The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that fireworks caused around 10,000 injuries to American consumers that required an emergency room visit.

Furthermore, 73 percent of said injuries occurred during the period of June 21, 2019, through July 21, 2019. It should also be noted that 18 firework-related deaths occurred in 2020, which was a 50% increased from the year before.

Fireworks accidents cause property damage

According to The National Fire Protection Association, fireworks cause an estimated 1,300 reported structural fires per year. The average amount of fires caused by fireworks amounts to 43 million dollars worth of property damage annually.

On July 5th, it was reported by Fox 7 Austin that fireworks were the cause of a fire that damaged three homes in the city. The damage is estimated to be worth over 250 thousand dollars.

That is an insane amount of liability stemming from just a single incident. It is true that the majority of property damage caused by fireworks does not total nearly that much. But, it’s very possible that you may be on the hook for thousands of dollars worth of damage if you misuse fireworks.

It is also important to remember that your insurance likely won’t help you if you damage someone else’s property with fireworks. Depending on the firework restrictions of the state you live in, you may not even be covered if you damage your own property with fireworks.

The most important thing to remember is that fireworks accidents are not anomalies. Rather, they are far too common in the United States.

The environmental impact

Finally, it is important to remember that fireworks can cause harm even if handled by professionals.

Fireworks, especially grand firework shows, have been proven to be harmful to the environment. Fireworks release gasses and metal particles upon detonation that contribute to air pollution.

According to a peer-reviewed study, air pollution sours up 42 percent between July 4th and July 5th as a direct result of firework use. Some of the particles released by fireworks never go away. Instead, they become permanent parts of the atmosphere that will be breathed in forever.

This pollution is harmful to people and wildlife in the short term, and then also in the long term. Firework displays are typically held in grassy, open areas where wildlife live.

They are also held over large bodies of water containing marine life. Wildlife is adversely affected by these displays, as breathing in, or directly coming into contact with these chemicals can be lethal.

Honestly, let’s stop it

Firework are dazzling, they are fun, they’re are festive, and they’re part of American tradition. However, they are so dangerous and harmful that it is hardly worth warranting their use and legality.

Every year, especially on Independence Day, people hurt themselves or others. People destroy their property and other people’s property. People further their destruction of the planet for their own selfish festivities.

Perhaps it’s time for technology to take control of our festivities. In China, drone light shows have become an increasingly popular way to celebrate occasions. They are captivating, and also most importantly, harmless to people, animals, and our planet. Maybe it is time for this to be adopted in the United States.

Whether drones do or do not end up being utilized, it is important to realize fireworks aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. We encourage people to not use firework personally, particularly when with many people.

It is best to leave firework use to professionals. If you do end up using them personally, then please be careful. If you hurt yourself, someone, or something else, don’t say we didn’t warn you. Rest in peace Mattis Kivlenieks.