Politics The World

Trump’s underwhelming response to Puerto Rico’s hurricane recovery is motivating people to take action

Weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands with catastrophic winds and flooding, the federal disaster response remains glaringly slow.

More than 90 percent of Puerto Ricans still remain without power, and clean water and basic supplies are also running scarce. Even after a visit by Donald Trump weeks after Maria tore through the island, little is known about the tangible, long-term objectives in disaster relief, except the president’s apparent ability to chuck rolls of paper towels into crowds of hurricane survivors.

President Trump also said that he would “wipe out” the island’s debt in light of Maria’s destruction, but this statement was quickly scaled back by the White House. Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, told CNN said that Puerto Rico would have to “figure out how to fix the errors that it’s made for the last generation on its own finances.

Much of the infrastructure in Puerto Rico has been destroyed beyond repair because of the unfathomable strength of the hurricane. According to a University of Delaware scholar Tricia Wachtendorf in an article by The Atlantic, the destruction of the island’s built environment has turned navigating impact zones and positioning supplies into a grave challenge.

With fuel shortages, debris and damaged roads that are keeping truckers from delivering supplies to the countryside, officials on the island are finding it difficult to efficiently and safely distribute supplies to all of their people. As seen immediately after the storm, the island’s power grid also failed, ceasing communications within the island and making distributing supplies a logistical nightmare.

More than a week after Maria, President Trump finally waived the Jones Act, which requires goods shipped between U.S. ports to be transported by American vessels, but only for 10 days. Although the waiver recently expired, the White House has already announced that it does not intend to permanently exempt Puerto Rico from the act, even though recovery efforts in Puerto Rico will persist for months, if not, years.

Although the federal response to the destruction on the island has been less than sympathetic and urgent, countless individuals are taking matters into their own hands to aid the people of Puerto Rico.

New York City has been leading remarkable relief efforts to support the 3.5 million citizens of the island, collecting 23,800 cases of feminine hygiene products, 12,800 cases of diapers, 8,800 packs of batteries, 3,600 cases of baby food and 1,200 first aid kits since Hurricane Maria struck, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office in a Patch article. Almost 160 New York City employees from the Fire Department, NYPD and the Office of Emergency Management, among many more, are also currently in Puerto Rico to help with relief on the ground.

Mexico has also recently offered its assistance to Puerto Rico, pledging to ship 30 tons of water and mosquito repellent to the island, as well as a team of experts to help address the electrical damage caused by the storm.

Despite incessant criticism from President Trump himself, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz has been on the ground since Maria tore through the island, offering hands-on aid for the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, wading through flooded streets with megaphone in hand to distribute supplies and help rescue survivors herself.

Volunteers across various college campuses are also participating in “mapathons” to help mark a clear digital path for aid on the island, as originally reported by PBS NewsHour. Groups like American Red Cross and FEMA are using OpenStreetMap, an open-source mapping platform, to help navigate Puerto Rico amid damaged roads and buildings.

Celebrities have also been crucial megaphones in aiding hurricane relief efforts. Lin-Manuel Miranda recently orchestrated and released a Puerto Rico relief song called “Almost Like Praying,” which includes an impressive roster of artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Luis Fonsi, Marc Anthony, Rita Moreno, Gina Rodriguez, and many more. Proceeds from the song will benefit The Hispanic Federation’s Unidos Disaster Relief Fund.

The people of Puerto Rico need as much as assistance as they can possibly get. Although the recovery and rebuilding efforts will no doubt be arduous and long term, there are a plethora of ways you can make a difference.

Staying plugged into what’s happening in Puerto Rico and making noise about it on social media or other public platforms will be crucial for awareness and recovery. Demand for more action from your representatives, especially in pushing for legislative action that can contribute to recovery, such as permanently exempting Puerto Rico from the Jones Act.

According to Buzzfeed, the Puerto Rican government released a list of emergency supplies currently needed on the island, such as bottled water, canned food, towels, baby formula, first aid kits, blankets, pillows, and many more. Check out the full list here. Keep an eye out for donation drives at a location near you as well to drop these emergency items off.

The First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, created a fund called Unidos por Puerto Rico (United for Puerto Rico) to aid those in Puerto Rico affected by both Hurricane Irma and Maria. It has pledged that all of the proceeds will go toward helping survivors. The Hispanic Federation’s Unidos Disaster Relief Fund will also go toward those affected in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

The Tempest Radio Mixes Audio + Visual

U.N.I.T.Y.: The Feminist Hip-Hop Mix

Hip-hop is a movement of resistance, so it’s no surprise that feminism has found its rightful place within the art form. But too often are conversations surrounding hip-hop dominated by men and focused on masculinity. People often hold the perception that hip-hop is inherently misogynistic, but contrary to popular belief, there are women in the game that are shaking up the status quo and embracing the idea that hip-hop is a space for powerful female artists.

The U.N.I.T.Y. Feminist Hip-hop Mix is taking inspiration from the notorious and unapologetic feminist Queen Latifah anthem and is asserting that women are multifaceted and powerful. These tracks are embracing femininity, body positivity, heritage, sexuality and self-love, and are reminding us that women are dynamic in all layers of their identities.

Check out these hip-hop anthems that challenge the idea that hip-hop can’t be inherently feminist and empowering:

1. Brujas || Princess Nokia

‘Bruja’ is Spanish for witch, and Princess Nokia is unapologetically letting you know that she’s proud of her Afro-Latina roots in brujería and the feminine power she derives from it.

2. Werkin’ Girls || Angel Haze

Angel Haze is proud of her work, and this rapid-fire track is a declaration to make sure no one stands in the way of her success. To anyone that’s fighting to do what you love, this song is for you.

3. Lose Control || Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott loves her “cute face, chubby waist,” and she wants the world to know. This song is the ultimate anthem for unabashed body positivity.

4. Shoop || Salt-N-Pepa

This classic Salt-N-Pepa track is the ultimate anthem for positive female sexuality. If you need a reminder that there’s nothing shameful about sexual pleasure, then put this song on blast.

5. Girl Gang || Leikeli47

This track is all about reclaiming “girl power” and is reminding folks that women keep persevering and coming out as champions at the end. Leikeli47 is giving the world a not-so-gentle reminder “that we run the atmosphere.”

6. Doo-Wop (That Thing) || Lauryn Hill

This song is the ultimate reminder that you are valuable, enough, and don’t deserve to be undercut by anyone. Just remember to respect yourself and take nothing less from others. As Lauryn Hill puts it: “Don’t be a hard rock when you really are a gem. Baby girl, respect is just a minimum.”

7. U.N.I.T.Y. || Queen Latifah

This Queen Latifah track is the ultimate feminist hip-hop anthem, notoriously calling out street harassment, domestic violence, and being called a “bitch” or a “ho.” U.N.I.T.Y. is all about empowerment, solidarity and respect, because we know we’re not standing one second for misogyny.

8. Big Bad Mamma || Foxy Brown

This song is all about self-love and being your bad-ass self. Foxy Brown puts it best: “Love yourself, put no one above thee. Cause ain’t nobody gon’ f*** me like me.”

9. Reality Check || Noname

This low-key track from up-and-comer Noname is a reminder that you’re more powerful and grounded than you think you are, so don’t be afraid to seize opportunity.

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Gender Race Inequality Interviews

This one-woman force of nature is creating space for Asian Americans, one episode at a time

Journalist Amy Lieu is no stranger to this. Although she’s worked for a slew of diverse platforms like NBC Asian America, SoCal Connected, and El Segundo TV, Lieu is taking media representation into her own hands by spearheading her original one-woman multi-platform talk show, #AmyLieuPresents.

She is shaking up the status quo by centering it on a community she sees so often erased from mainstream media narratives: Asian Americans.

We spoke to Amy Lieu about building her own talk show from the ground up, the need for diverse and accurate Asian American representation in media, and how she wants to use her platform to empower Asian Americans and women.

The Tempest: What inspired you to create #AmyLieuPresents?

Amy Lieu: Growing up, the images I saw in movies and TV of Asian Americans were almost always Kung Fu fighters, foreigners, prostitutes or nerds, with women as sexual objects or side characters.

I want to change that. I want to see more positive, normalized characters for Asian Americans and stronger female roles. That’s why I created the #AmyLieuPresents Talk Show.

In your show’s description, you include that it’s from an Asian American woman’s perspective—why do you think this perspective so important?

This perspective is so important because diversity is important. Media should reflect various races, ethnicities, and cultures, not one monolith. When there are different voices in media, it helps fight against oppression. I feel strongly about marginalized communities [like] Asian Americans and women because that’s my background. I’ve even had people tell me that they resonate with my show because I represent them.

You’ve interviewed a diverse array of Asian American guests over the course of your show, but who has been your favorite and why?

If I had to choose one, it would be with my mother about her experience as a refugee of the Vietnam War. My mom recounts how she endured a treacherous boat ride to a refugee camp on Bidong Island. Her boat was attacked by Thai pirates, [who] were very real and had bandannas across their heads with swords and guns. Conditions in the Bidong Island refugee camp in Malaysia were also grueling.

The interview was in the Chinese dialect, Teo-Chew or Chiu-Chow, which originated from Guangdong, a province in Southern China. There is a diaspora of people all over the world [who] speak this dialect.

My mom’s interview had an outpour of positive feedback from the Teo-Chew community. I plan to create more content and videos in Teo-Chew with her. I want to represent this part of my heritage and preserve the dialect.

What do you think makes #AmyLieuPresents different from any talk show out there right now?

I think what makes #AmyLieuPresents different is that it’s grown organically and built from the ground up—all from one person’s dream and passion to change the world. I think it’s rare to find a show that focuses on empowering women with an Asian American perspective. A lot of the dominant voices I hear are from men [who try to] portray women or even Asian and Asian American women.

It’s time to hear from the ladies.

There’s also the historical and pervasive erasure of Asian and Asian American voices and stories in Hollywood. It dates back to the 1930s, when Luise Rainer played the Chinese female protagonist of “The Good Earth,” to present day where Emma Stone was cast in “Aloha,” Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell,” Zach McGowan in “Ni’hau,” – the list goes on and on.

I want to advocate against this with my show.

#AmyLieuPresents is also from a millennial perspective and uses digital platforms and social media to connect with its audience. I developed an Empowerment Quotes project, in which I hope to use the power of words to inspire others.

I use quotes, usually by women or about women, from various people I admire, and tailor them into the color theme of my show, which uses the bright and uplifting colors: teal and magenta. I’ve recently been invited to speak about them at the local Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library.

How do you see #AmyLieuPresents growing within the next few years?

I want the show to explore more topics related to Asian Americans and women. I’d like to have each episode centered around a topic, [like] double eye-lid surgery among Asian American women and expanding that to plastic surgery among women in general. I saw that my mother’s interview on her refugee experience garnered a positive reaction, so I’m thinking about developing a series on refugees in the future.

Something else that I want to speak out more about on my show in the future is bullying and mental illness. I was bullied as a child, which led to stress and anxiety and wanting to be liked and accepted by others. I want to use my show’s platform to explore these topics and help others.

What’s your advice to Asian American women looking to create their own unique media platforms?

I would say times may get tough, and you might question and doubt yourself, but don’t give up. There are different ways to achieve your dreams.

Sometimes people think there is just one certain way to get to a goal, but if you just do what you feel passionate about, other avenues start to come up, and routes and dreams can pivot. You are your own meter.


You can watch #AmyLieuPresents here. You can also find Amy Lieu on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Politics The World Policy

Here’s what you need to know about your rights as a DACA recipient

The Trump Administration recently announced that it will terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that protects an upward of 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors from deportation.

Effective immediately, no new DACA applications will be processed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). But how the administration will end the program on a large scale remains unclear.

Although the fate of almost a million DACA recipients remains dire, rest assured that whether you’re a DACA recipient or not, you still have unalienable rights and protections under the U.S. constitution.

Here’s what you need to know about DACA provisions and your rights as a recipient in this disorienting time:

1. You can still apply to renew your DACA or work permit by October 5, 2017.

Any current DACA and work permits will remain valid until their expiration dates, but if your work permit or DACA is set to expire by March 5, 2018, you must apply for a two-year renewal by October 5, 2017, according to Here To Stay.

Any permits that expire after March 5, 2018 without an application for renewal before October 5 will not be renewed.

If your work permit expiration date is approaching, your employer may request for an updated permit but cannot terminate you, place you on leave, or change your work status until after it expires, according to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.

2. Your Social Security Number (SSN) is valid for life.

Even if your work permit or DACA approval expires, your Social Security Number (SSN) will always be valid. An SSN is important for accessing things like education, housing and banking, so be sure to to apply for a SSN while your DACA status and work permits are still valid.

3. If approached by ICE or law enforcement, you have the right not to speak.

If stopped by ICE agents or law enforcement, you have the right not to speak to anyone or answer any questions under the fifth amendment.

If ICE approaches you at your home, they must have a signed warrant by a judge in order to enter. If they cannot present you with a valid warrant (it must have the correct name and address on it), then you are not obligated to let them in.

4. You have the right to legal counsel if detained.

You can simply state, “I need to speak to my attorney,” according to the National Immigration Law Center.

No one can force you to sign anything either without your attorney present, and you can refuse to do so until you get access to legal counsel.

5. Carry a “Know Your Rights” card with you.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center provides a “red card”, or a “Know Your Rights” card, for undocumented folks to assert their rights when facing ICE agents or law enforcement. The card says that you wish to remain silent and speak to a lawyer.

Make sure to carry a card like this with you at all times in case you are stopped by law enforcement. You can download and print a copy of the ILRC’s card here.

Love Life Stories

I lost my best friend the moment our lives fell apart – and it still breaks my heart

Mental health struggles have formed the backdrop of my life, whether I was coping with my own mental unwellness or was watching my loved ones go through their own struggles.

I put my mental well-being on the back burner because I sincerely believed the well-being of the people I care about mattered more. In ways, I conflated my self-worth with my ability to provide emotional labor the people I love.

This pattern spilled into my friendships, but not always in the most healthy ways. One of the most intimate friendships in my life so far, although rewarding, ended up being the wake-up call I didn’t realize I needed.

The beginning of this friendship happened rapidly.

She felt like a soul sister. The next thing I knew, we were spending tons of time together, texting every day, and a couple months down the road, we were sharing all the emotional baggage we’d been carrying with no inhibitions. I felt a profound connection to her. I would do literally anything for this person. She is one of the most resilient people I’ve ever met, but she carried deep trauma. Our profound friendship made me want to help her carry it.

I wanted her to know she wasn’t alone.

I did my best to be her go-to confidant, and she did the same for me. I was there for the good times, the bad times, the break-ups, and the existential crises. But months later, when she had been experiencing an abnormal amount of emotional distress, I received an unsettling message.

“I can’t do this anymore,” she texted.

I called her immediately, and she told me that she felt worthless and invaluable for so many reasons. She then alluded to taking her life. I was trembling. I tried to stay strong because I felt responsible for being her voice of reason, but after hours of pleading with her to change her mind and go home, I broke down in ways I never had with her.

She was stunned, but she promised me she would hear me out.

She disappeared the next day but when I eventually found her, she told me again that she wanted to take her life. I told myself that I had to get it together and assure that she was safe. I made sure she got home that night, but the following day my mental health was in shambles — more than I admitted at the time and more than I ever revealed to her.

I couldn’t eat, I had to skip classes and work, and a friend eventually took me in to take care of me because I was such a mess. I kept repeating to myself “get it together” because I thought that if I were an unwavering pillar for her, I could take away her anguish.

I wasn’t ready to accept that I nearly lost someone I loved not just once, but twice.

I carried on like everything was fine, but I didn’t know how to articulate that I needed space to heal. I was supposed to be her confidant after all — how could I possibly abandon her?

As time went on, I subconsciously found myself putting space between us. The last time I saw her, it felt like we were strangers. The air between us was cold and distant, and in many ways I accepted it. Just like that, this friendship we cultivated ended as fast as it began.

I convinced myself that I was an awful friend because of the fate of our friendship. I felt like I failed her and didn’t deserve her friendship because I couldn’t give her unlimited emotional labor. I was scared to reach out to her again, but at the same time she also never reached out to me.

It was heartbreaking.

But after years of soul-searching, I learned that I couldn’t possibly be there for her in the ways she needed because I needed so desperately to heal.  I couldn’t be strong for her because I couldn’t even be strong for myself. I appreciate the adage “you can’t pour from an empty cup” because it best captures the act of giving emotional labor to others.

If you have nothing left in your metaphorical “cup,” then what can you give to others?

My value as a human being and friend is not intrinsically linked to my ability or inability to take care of others. Unlimited, one-sided emotional labor isn’t healthy. It’s okay to take a step back and give yourself space to heal. It’s okay to practice self-care and acknowledge your mental health. Self-care and boundaries matter when supporting loved ones.

Some days I wish we established these boundaries at the beginning of our friendship because I like to think we would still be friends today if we had. But I know now that I’m not a bad friend if I don’t have the capacity to support someone.

Needing to heal is completely human, and I’m learning not to feel shame from it.

Gender & Identity Life

My immigrant parents want me to live out the American Dream. What if I don’t succeed?

When he arrived at my freshman university orientation, my dad was beaming with pride.

For weeks before move-in day, he had been telling his friends and our neighbors that he and my mom were about to take me to my first year of college. I was excited for this new chapter in my life, but he was on an entirely different level.

Neither of my parents attended traditional universities, so when my siblings and I were accepted it was a big deal, especially for my dad.

[bctt tweet=”They wanted to find a different kind of opportunity for our families and future generations.” username=”wearethetempest”]

My mom and dad’s families immigrated from the Philippines to the United States when they were both kids. When U.S. immigration laws were relaxed, there were immense job opportunities for Filipino nurses, an opportunity my paternal grandma jumped at.

My dad made sure to tell us about the struggles he and his family faced as immigrants in the United States. When they arrived, they lived in a one-bedroom apartment in New York until they could afford a place of their own. My grandma was forced to work odd hours at two different jobs for financial stability.

But he wanted a different future for my siblings and me.

My family always held healthcare professions in high esteem. So many of my family members were nurses or doctors in the Philippines, and for a while, I thought I would be pigeonholed into the field. Even though I have immense respect for healthcare professionals, I never wanted to be one.

Instead, I wanted to be a writer.

[bctt tweet=”Since I was a kid, I’ve had a penchant for storytelling.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Since I was a kid, I’ve had a penchant for storytelling. You would always find me scribbling away at a sketchbook or writing short stories on my computer. I knew I wanted to change the world through storytelling, but whenever I expressed the slightest interest in making a career out it, my dad would dramatically retort with, “you’ll starve and live in poverty.”

As much as I wanted to pursue this non-traditional path, I took my dad’s words personally. I wanted to prove to my family that they did not immigrate in vain. I had internalized that it was my obligation to “do better,” as my dad so often put it.

I started my first year in college on the pre-med track, because I was trying to live up to my familial expectations.

But my first semester academically was miserable. I got a C- in an introductory chemistry course and was on the verge of failing pre-calculus. Although I eventually dropped out of the pre-med track, I was so obsessed with making my dad proud that I pursued nursing instead, which once again, I hated.

[bctt tweet=” I wanted to prove that my family did not immigrate to the United States in vain.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I tried convincing myself that this was what I wanted because this was what my dad wanted for me. I joined health organizations and I even watched Grey’s Anatomy in a haphazard attempt to get excited about the field.

I fell into a deep bout of depression later that year. This new chapter of my life had turned into a period of dread, and I hated myself for it. I felt utterly confused, misguided, and unfulfilled. I wanted so badly to make my family proud and assure them that their struggles as immigrants were not forgotten, but I did so at the expense of my own happiness.

I turned things around when I realized that I couldn’t live in a constant state of doubt and discontent anymore. I needed to listen to my intuition, which was pointing me to journalism. So I started seeing a therapist, writing for the school newspaper and taking journalism courses. Eventually, I officially declared myself a journalism major, which was one of the best decisions I had ever made for myself.

[bctt tweet=”My dad somehow knew that a career in healthcare was never in the cards for me.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I didn’t tell my dad that I changed my major until my last year of college. I was terrified to tell the person who made me feel guilty about my choices that I was pursuing the very path he’d warned against. It wasn’t until a car ride with my dad when he asked me point blank what I was studying.

With more confidence than I thought I was capable of, I told him the truth.

I like to think my dad eventually accepted that the healthcare field was never in the cards for me too because he didn’t freak out. Maybe years of me living independently softened him, but in his stern yet understanding way, he simply said “okay” and asked what he could do to help. In that moment, I knew my non-traditional career path didn’t change how proud he was of me for simply following my own path.

[bctt tweet=”Instead of feeling guilty for my life, I now feel empowered.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I’m preserving my family’s legacy by carving my own path for myself that will afford me my own version of success and happiness.

I’m so grateful for my diaspora roots and my family’s sacrifices, and this will certainly influence my perspective as a journalist. But instead of feeling guilty for what I’m pursuing in my life, I now feel empowered and self-assured by it.

Love + Sex Love

8 ways to help your partner if they have depression – and take care of yourself

Experiencing depression is overwhelming, and when you’re in a relationship it often further complicates things.

When entering a serious relationship, I feared how depression would affect me and my partner. I worried about being burdensome with my needs or struggles, especially when I fall into what feels like an abyss of depression.

But something important my partner has taught me is that I don’t have to walk this path alone, and he can help me carry the weight.

While supporting your partner through depression shouldn’t replace them seeking professional help when necessary, your compassion can make a positive impact on how they cope with trying times.

Based on my own experiences, here’s what you can do to support your partner and assure them that they’re not alone:

1. Listen

I often feel isolated and alone when depressed, so it’s comforting to hear my partner ask what he can do for me.

Whether it be a hug or a sounding board, my partner assures me that I am valued and heard. Simply listening to your partner talk about their feelings or what they might need from you can make all the difference.

2. Help them do the hard stuff… and the simple stuff

Sometimes motivating myself to do seemingly simple tasks becomes impossible when I’m depressed. On days where I can barely take care of myself in the most basic ways, the extra push from my partner matters. Little reminders from him to eat or make my bed helps me add a little bit of structure to days that seem like a blur.

Even offering assistance with the little things can make getting through seemingly arduous tasks all the more manageable.

3. Educate yourself about mental illness

Trying to understand what your partner is going through when they’re depressed can feel challenging, especially for those who haven’t experienced it. Although you might not fully understand the extent of their struggles, it doesn’t hurt to do your own research.

Whether through the Internet or a mental health professional, it can also provide you with comfort to get a better idea of what your partner is experiencing.

4. Send them words of affirmation

I often tend to diminish my self-worth and value, so it means a lot when my partner tries to uplift me by reminding me that I’m valued and loved.

Whether it’s a quick phone call, a voicemail message or text, let your partner know just how wonderful they are.

5. Give them space when they need it

Although your instinct might be to be there for your partner as much as possible, giving them space can be just as helpful. Sometimes I can’t even muster the energy to form coherent sentences, so talking it out with my partner becomes more frustrating than anything.

In these instances, it’s more helpful to mull over my thoughts and feelings so I can better articulate them.

6. Celebrate their victories – even the tiny ones

When you’re dealing with depression, it’s important to count all your victories, even the small ones. My partner is fantastic at reminding me to count each victory as they come along, even the things I find trivial. I often dismiss things like crossing things off my to-do list, seeing a therapist, or making small efforts to be healthy, but my partner is quick to applaud me for things that I’ve struggled to do in the past.

He makes sure I focus on every victory.

7. Send them things that will make them laugh or smile

Obviously funny videos aren’t the solution to coping with depression, but sometimes it’s nice just to smile or laugh. One of the things I appreciate about my partner is how he’ll send me a stream of puppy videos or memes that will make me laugh. It’s no “cure” for my depression, but the fact that I can take a pause to laugh or smile makes all the difference in hard times.

8. Take care of yourself and know your boundaries

More than likely you’re not a mental health professional. At the end of the day, you might not have the tools or know-how on what to say to your partner or how to make them feel better, and that’s perfectly okay. Establishing these boundaries, although hard, is completely necessary.

Remember not to conflate your ability to support your partner with your ability to “cure” them. No matter how much we’d love to snap our fingers and make everything better, we can’t. All we can do is do our best to help. Seeing your partner struggle can be hard on you too, so take it easy on yourself. Your mental health matters too.

Although depression can be overwhelming, showing your partner that they are loved, valued, and not alone can help them overcome what seems like the impossible.

Policy Inequality

This unprecedented anti-immigration bill will separate families and hurt the economy

With each passing day of the Trump Administration, immigrants and aspiring green card holders are holding their breath as the fate of the U.S. immigration system continues to stand on shaky ground. With the recent introduction of an unprecedented anti-immigrant proposal on the Senate floor, immigration policy in the U.S. is looking poised to be turned upside down.

Recently Donald Trump announced his support of the RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) Act, a conservative bill that is aiming to slash legal immigration to the U.S. in half by 2027.

We’re breaking down the unprecedented bill to explore what the act entails, how this proposed system will function, and who it will affect.

What exactly is the RAISE Act?

This proposal has been introduced to the U.S. Senate by conservative Senators Tom Cotton (R-AK) and David Perdue (R-GA). The bill would cut legal immigration to the United States in half, making the system significantly more selective by qualifying higher skill, education, and income levels.

The legislation would also cut off refugee admissions at 50,000 per year, and it would altogether eliminate the international visa lottery.

The goal of the bill is to significantly decrease the influx of legal immigrants to the United States and increase the ratio of immigrants with high income and desirable skills according to lawmakers. The Senators purport that this bill will stimulate the economy and create more job opportunities for Americans.

How will the proposed immigration system work?

Under the RAISE Act, green card applicants will be evaluated by an immigration points system. Applicants would need at least 30 points to be eligible to apply for a visa, which would take into consideration each applicant’s age, education level, English-language skills, job offer salary and investments. The system would also put an emphasis on special accolades such an Olympic Medal or Nobel Peace Prize.

TIME recently created an interactive quiz in which users could see if they would be able eligible to immigrate to the United States under RAISE Act qualifications, and surprise: It’s remarkably hard to reach the 30 point minimum.

The conservative lawmakers behind the bill seem to favor applicants from ages 26-30 who have a doctorate degree, are fluent English speakers, have a starting salary of almost $160,000, or are looking to invest about $1.8 million for a new commercial enterprise in the U.S. Those most disadvantaged are children, the elderly, non-English speakers and those with lower education or salary levels.

Who and what will it affect?

The bill, if passed, will ultimately amend the Immigration and Nationality Act, which in 1965 abolished immigration quotas based on nationality. Also called the Hart-Celler Act, the measure dramatically changed the racial makeup of the United States.The act not only made the nation not only more diverse, but it also provided the U.S. with immigrant labor that filled in the gaps of the American workforce.

The RAISE Act opts for a merit-based system, neglecting any prior immigration goals of reuniting families in the United States. Enacting this bill will make it significantly harder for Asians, Africans, Latin Americans and Middle Easterners to come to the U.S. legally, and will keep immigrant families separated.

Time and time again has immigration also proven to be good for the American economy. The U.S. economy gravely depends on immigrant labor for economic growth, especially since Baby Boomers are aging. There are also 5.7 million job openings in the U.S. today, countering conservative sentiment that jobs are few and far between, and that immigrants are “stealing” American jobs.

In fact, restricting immigration will only lead the nation to low rates of economic growth, according to Global Economist Bernard Baumohl in a Washington Post article.

If immigration doesn’t actually hurt the economy like conservative lawmakers purport, what is the RAISE Act other than a guise to enforce nativism and xenophobia? Enacting this bill could potentially reverse these demographic changes, tear families apart and potentially destroy the fabrics of American society.

Race Inequality

I’m Asian American, and I’m tired of being used by white supremacists for their agenda

The Justice Department has opened up an investigation into a discrimination suit brought up by a coalition of Asian American organizations against Harvard University. In an attempt to challenge its affirmative action policies, the coalition is claiming that the university discriminated against Asian American applicants in the admissions process.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court has time-and-time again affirmed that it is constitutional to consider race in the higher education admissions process, this investigation is conjuring up long-standing animosity against education policies that uplift communities of color, who are historically disadvantaged in American institutions.

Here’s what’s alarming about the Harvard suit, advised by Edward Blum, a leading anti-affirmative action advocate and lead counsel for Abigail Fisher in her suit against the University of Texas – Austin: It isn’t fronted by white plaintiffs—Asian Americans are the faces of it.

Even though affirmative action has benefited communities of color, including Asian Americans, the community is still divided over its stance on affirmative action. Jarringly, the amount of Asian Americans who said they supported affirmative action policies dropped from 63 percent in 2014 to 52 percent in 2016, according to an article from Above The Law.

Anti-affirmative action proponents argue that the race-conscious policies ultimately hurt Asian Americans. Cory Liu, executive director of Students for Fair Admissions, said in the Above The Law article that “antiquated racial categories should not be used to determine our destiny,” asserting that all Americans have equal rights and “deserve an equal opportunity to attend the school of our dreams.”

However, Asian Americans affirmative action advocates like Jenn Fang of Reappropriate contend that race-conscious education policies ensure that all students have “equal opportunity to receive quality higher education” and support racially diverse classrooms, which promote cognitive development, analytical problem-solving and teamwork.

We can’t forget how Asian Americans have been historically used as pawns to uphold white supremacy. The idea of the “model minority” was constructed in the 1960s to uphold racial hierarchy, painting Asian Americans as the “good minorities” versus the supposedly “bad minorities” like Black Americans, who have a complex history of being disenfranchised in the U.S.

This suit painfully reinforces the model minority archetype. It paints the Asian American plaintiffs as stereotypically “model” students, who lost out on a spot at the university simply because of affirmative action policies.

Asian Americans—it’s 2017. Why are we still playing into this racial dichotomy that we know is indisputably false? We need to remember to not look at Asian Americans a monolith. There are Asian American groups beyond East Asians who are grossly underrepresented in college admission and undoubtedly benefit from affirmative action, such as Hmong, Lao, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Burmese, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students.

Let’s not conflate white, anti-affirmative action advocates’ supposed interest in the needs of the Asian American community as actual concern—we’re simply pawns in an attempt to resist policies that actually benefit Asian Americans and communities of color. Asian Americans are shamelessly used to prove that affirmative action is discriminatory, but this is nothing more than a fallacy to erase the struggles of Black and Brown folks, and those of underserved Asian Americans.

Beyond our own community, we need to stand in solidarity with communities of color that benefit from affirmative action. Let’s remember that the road to affirmative action, in which Asian Americans have undoubtedly benefited, was built off the backs of Black activists during the Civil Rights Movement. Although not the be-all and end-all to ensure racial justice, affirmative action is a step toward righting the wrongs imposed upon Black and Brown folks to disadvantage them throughout the fabrics of American society.

Ignoring affirmative action’s history in opening doors for marginalized communities not only upholds racial hierarchies, but it also plays into the hands of white supremacy. The goal of affirmative action is to ensure that all Americans have an equal opportunity to institutions that were once out of reach for communities of color. If affirmative action measures were to end, acceptance of Black, Latinx and Asian American students would be gravely affected.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

My fear of commitment wasn’t the real issue – losing myself was

I’ve always revered the strong, independent woman archetype because of my upbringing.

Growing up, I often felt powerless and small, so I became determined to be the one in control my own destiny as I entered adulthood. Witnessing and experiencing some of the injustices imposed upon my family, I wanted to make sure that never happened to me or anyone else.

I knew that I ultimately wanted to change the world (I still do, in fact), but in my journey to do that, I also believed that I had to walk this path alone so no one could hurt me — especially a romantic partner.

I made a commitment to myself to put my aspirations first because of the negative preconceptions I had formed around relationships, especially as I witnessed how they affected my loved ones.

Instead of focusing on relationships that could potentially disempower me,  I wanted to focus on learning, growing and being a better person so I could better achieve my ambitions.

I was satisfied with situationships because they’re low maintenance. Serious relationships take time, patience and vulnerability, and I didn’t believe I had the capacity to give this to anyone.

That was until I met my current partner.

The beginning of our relationship was dizzying.

We started talking literally a month before I was about to graduate college, and within that short span of time, I quickly grew to like him—a lot.

Next thing I knew, we went on our first date, were calling each other boyfriend and girlfriend, meeting each other’s parents, and a few months down the line, saying I love you.

I felt a mix of emotions throughout the beginning of our relationship. As cliche as it may be, I never knew I could feel this much love for someone, but at the same time, I felt like I was losing a degree of control being in an intimate relationship that I so often feared.

I was adamant about carefully treading the serious relationship territory because I didn’t want to lose my sense of self, but I had felt myself gravitating toward that despite my greatest defenses.

A month and a half after we started dating I moved to Washington, D.C. for an internship with a newspaper. Even though this was an exciting step in my career, I felt homesick and missing my partner was a huge component of that. I sometimes found myself thinking that I needed to head back home so we could be together.

I felt weak and dumbfounded by these thoughts because this was exactly what I’d feared when I entered a serious relationship. Was I really thinking about skipping out on this amazing opportunity because of a guy?

I was also worried because I was unsure if our lives would ever be able to truly converge. I felt like we were on two radically different paths career-wise and that a healthy relationship wouldn’t work amid that.

I recall one conversation we had where he essentially asked me about every dream and aspiration I hoped to achieve within the next 10 or so years.

I gave him the full rundown: I wanted to become a successful journalist, change the conversation around social justice in the U.S. on a mainstream scale, travel the world, write my own book, study Asian American studies, and ultimately change the world.

He was in awe but in the best way possible.

Not only did he acknowledge these ambitions, but he also respected them too. He was never afraid of these ambitions or thought they would somehow tear us apart. His utmost concern then and now is that he does what he can to help me reach these goals.

Here’s what I learned since being in this relationship: Your personal and professional lives aren’t two distinct entities that can’t coexist. And my partner has been more instrumental in me flourishing in both areas of my life than I ever could have imagined.

I thought that letting someone into my life so intimately would disempower me, but now I see that being in a relationship shouldn’t strip me of my personal ambitions. In fact, being in a healthy, loving relationship allows these ambitions to grow and flourish.

Over the past two years since we started dating, he’s never failed to remind me that I know exactly what I want, even when I lose sight of the big picture. Although I might fight him on it because I’m stubborn as hell, he has never ceased to be my sounding board, my biggest cheerleader, and the kind of support I never knew I needed.

Being in a serious relationship doesn’t mean that I have to give up any degree of my ambitions. I know I am the powerful woman I once aspired to be, and my partner respects and cherishes that. There is no divide here: only acceptance, love, and support.

Race Inequality

Lawyers of color matter, and they’re taking social media by storm to let you know

Communities of color are facing dire disparities within the American criminal justice system, dealing with profiling, mass incarceration and police brutality in alarming and violent ways.

Not only are the marginalized dealing with law enforcement that disproportionately targets people of color, but they’re also facing a legal system that’s dominated by white people, often unfairly disadvantaging the most vulnerable.

This crisis inspired attorney Yolanda Young to coin the slogan #BlackLawyersMatter, which has since turned into a powerful social media movement for aspiring Black lawyers. Born from a report from Lawyers of Color, Young found that Black criminal and civil clients have better outcomes when working with Black attorneys.

Working in alignment with the values of #BlackLivesMatter, Black Lawyers Matter is encouraging Black law students and lawyers to engage in the legal profession to fight for racial equity in the U.S. legal system. Alarmingly only about 4 percent of lawyers in the United States are Black, according to the American Bar Association.

These statistics couldn’t be more alarming for recent graduates like Candace Spencer from the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law.

Spencer is troubled by the lack of Black lawyers in the U.S. today. She said Black people are more likely to be arrested than White people for the same crime, and that they are also more likely to receive harsher sentences. She also found it sobering to realize that her predominantly white cohort was a reflection of the legal profession itself.

As the president of her school’s Black Law Student Association, Spencer said she felt responsible for promoting and supporting the success of Black students. Spencer’s position underscored her responsibility to her community and the importance of using her legal skills to assist her community, which ultimately inspired her to engage with #BlackLawyersMatter.

“#BlackLawyersMatter takes #BlackLivesMatter a step further for me as a woman of color and soon-to-be lawyer,” said Spencer. “Our lives matter and they matter in whatever context we choose to place ourselves.”

Black lawyers aren’t alone in their fight for racial equity in the legal system. Latinx law students like Southwest Florida-native Jasmine Brito are fighting to change the justice system as a #Lawtina.

For Brito, #Lawtina is a reminder of the importance of Latinx representation in the U.S. justice system.  The immigration stories of her parents, who were once undocumented, her extended family and community are what ultimately inspired her to become a lawyer.

As Brito puts it, #Lawtina very much encompasses her identity today. Being a #Lawtina is more than just a clever hashtag for her—it also means using her profession to advocate for the Latinx community and issues that have affected her loved ones.

Latinos in the legal field are severely underrepresented, making up only 4 percent of the profession as well. There are even fewer Latinas in the field, making up an alarming 1.2 to 1.3 percent of the profession. While the origin of the Lawtina hashtag is unclear, #Lawtinas across the nation are adopting the name into their social media posts to let people know that they exist and aren’t going anywhere.

Representation matters, especially in the criminal justice system. Thanks to the digital age, lawyers of color and law students are as ubiquitous as ever. They’re strategically using social media to empower their communities and inspire young people of color to pursue a career in law.

People of color are showing us that they’re formidable through any sphere of society, even the criminal justice system. These aspiring lawyers of color are giving hope to communities of color that this system will one day be equitable and just as it promises to be.

Race Inequality

This tarot deck is empowering Asian Americans to confront mental health in radical ways

Mental health in the Asian American community is a crisis that’s been ignored for far too long.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that Asian Americans disproportionately experience suicide and suicide ideation at higher rates than any other racial group. Asian Americans are also less likely than white individuals to seek help for their mental health issues, with Asian American women being even less likely than Asian American men to do so.

As an Asian American woman acknowledging my own mental health struggles, this reality couldn’t be more salient.

I was 16-years-old when I finally accepted the word “depression” after years of denying I was experiencing symptoms of it. Mental health was never uttered at the dinner table or in family conversations, so I was afraid to talk to my parents about what I was experiencing.

When I started experiencing more depressive episodes, I felt shame from something I perceived as a weakness. When my sister was going through her own mental health struggles, my dad urged us not talk about it to anyone outside the family, so I conditioned myself to believe silence was okay.

The reality is that Asian Americans are simply not having the conversations we need to have to examine the intersection of mental health and race in our everyday lives, and this is hurting our community in alarming ways.

But Lawrence-Minh Bui Davis and Mimi Khuc from the Asian American Literary Review (AALR) are fighting to change how Asian Americans are approaching their mental well-being. In fact, they want to challenge existing approaches to mental health in the U.S. and adopt an approach that is rooted in community healing.

The Asian American Tarot: A Mental Health Project is decolonizing mental health and illustrating the unique experiences and mental health struggles of the community through a self-representative deck of tarot cards.

Born from a Kickstarter campaign and a nod to fortune-telling and spiritual practices in Asian communities, the goal of the 22-deck tarot cards is to show that Asian American life is multifaceted and is not a single-story narrative. It includes card archetypes such as the model minority, the adoptee, the refugee, as well as others that highlight sexuality, gender, and motherhood—to name a few.

Approaching the Asian American experience as a multifaceted experience is important in addressing mental health in our community. In order to better understand the community’s struggles, we must be cognizant of both individuality and intersectionality.

The goal of these cards is to also start critical conversations on Asian American life and shed a kind of light on mental health issues in the Asian American community that’s never seen before. Self-care and compassion are important to our mental wellness, but community care is just as radical of a practice.

The Asian American tarot deck is a part of a special project by the AALR called “Open in Emergency: A Special Issue on Asian American Mental Health.” This special issue seeks to unpack what wellness, unwellness, and care actually looks like in the Asian American community. Contributing writers, artists, scholars, teachers and survivors seek to answer this question with the project: What does care look like on a community level?

The box not only includes the deck of tarot cards, but it also includes a collectively woven tapestry of experiences that reimagines community care and healing, an Asian American edition of a “mock” DSM (with alternate understandings of wellness and unwellness), a pamphlet on postpartum depression, and intergenerational mother-to-daughter letters.

Asian American Studies programs and courses across universities are now utilizing the issue to engage the academic community in a national conversation that challenges and grows how we understand mental well-being. So far, 10 professors at nine universities have already pledged to participate in the teaching program.

This project is a reminder to the Asian American community that we don’t have to be silent about mental health or alone in our struggles with it. The Asian American community is resilient, and the more we understand the complexities of race, identity and mental health, the better we will be able to heal ourselves and support our community.