History Historical Badasses

Junko Tabei, the woman who defied gravity and gender expectations

How do you describe the view from the highest point on Earth?

Standing atop a space smaller than a tatami mat, where the blue sky seemed within reach, the 36th person to reach Mount Everest thought on this. Junko Tabei radioed her all-women climbing group at the base camp, “trying to give justice to the view from the top of the world.” 

“Silvery clouds floated around the summits of the giant peaks, emphasizing the dramatic difference between Nepal’s rugged Himalayas and the endless, mildly sloped mountains of Tibet.”

Look, I don’t do heights. Yet even I had to wonder, as I delved deeper into Junko Tabei’s story, what it would feel like to conquer the highest peak in the world. But her journey to Everest began much earlier…

Born in 1939 in a small town in Fukushima, Junko Tabei spent her childhood playing among trees in the beautiful botanical environment. She was small in stature, and considered to be a “weak child.” But when she was ten, her life changed.

Her fourth-grade teacher, who Tabei credits for introducing her to the wonders of the mountains, took Tabei and a few other students on a field trip to Nikko National Park. There, she discovered with awe Japan’s natural onsens and the chilly mountain air that remained cold even in summer. She realized that “there were many things in the world for [her] to discover.” The joy of discovering something new sparked a love for mountaineering.

Her fascination with mountains remained strong all through secondary school and afterward. Although few women attended post-secondary institutions, her father supported the idea of higher education, so Junko Tabei attended Showa Women’s University in Tokyo, and in 1962, she graduated with a degree in English and American Literature (we stan a fellow lit-lover). During this time, she also sustained a passion for music. After graduation, she started working as an editor for the Physical Society in Japan. But the mountains still called to her.

Tea time! Even though mountaineering was trending in Japan, the adventurous activity was deemed inappropriate for young women. Actually, most climbing clubs banned women, so it took her a while to find one to climb with. Even then, participating in this male-dominated sport meant having to deal with silly rumors and the like. Who knew? Apparently, Japanese climbers were the original mean girls. To this extent, Tabei recalls that “Some thought I was there to meet men, but I was only interested in climbing.”

A woman ducking her head, with the caption "Boy, are they mistaken!"
[A woman ducking her head, with the caption “Boy, are they mistaken!”], via Giphy
*Laughs in “you really thought”*

Boss-lady Tabei had no time for these hijinks, so in 1969, she formed the Ladies Climbing Club. Their slogan was “Let’s go on an overseas expedition by ourselves.”

The club stemmed from a desire to climb the Himalayas with an all-women team, and six years later, that’s exactly what they did. But it wasn’t an easy road.

More tea! This is 1970s Japan, where many believed that men belonged outside, working, while a woman’s position was in the house. So when Junko Tabei and her all-women expedition group sought funding for their Everest summit, pretty much everyone shut the door in their faces, saying something along the lines of “you should be raising children instead.” To make matters worse, it was an economically challenging time. Money-wise, most people were hedging their bets, so nobody was willing to risk funding the expedition. Why? Because they believed an all-women team would fail.

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Eventually, they got funding from Yomiuri Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, and its branch of the Nippon TV Network. Still, the members had to pull from their savings to make up the rest. Tabei funded herself by giving piano lessons and teaching English.

In late March, the group set out: fourteen climbers, including 35-year-old Junko, and a doctor. Tabei left her three-year-old daughter Noriko at home with her husband. For weeks, they made their way up the mountain, moving from camp to camp and facing various challenges. Yet things were about to get a little complicated.

On May 4, in the middle of the night, an avalanche struck. Piles of snow buried the camp, trapping Tabei and a few others in a tent, and knocking her unconscious. It took three days before Tabei could walk and move normally. At this point, the team doctor and many others were ready to call it quits, but Junko Tabei wasn’t going anywhere. Except up.

I2 days later, on the morning of May 16, Tabei and her guide Ang Tshering Sherpa set out for the summit. Six hours later, their final challenge lay before them: a 15-meter knife-edge ridge (translation: death trap), which none of the expedition reports they’d read had mentioned.

All I’m saying is: if someone makes a movie about her life story I will 100% watch it.

Crossing the ridge was one of the tensest moments of her life, but cross it they did. And at 12:30 pm, Junko Tabei climbed onto the snowy summit and beheld the breathtaking view from the top of the world. After 50 minutes of jubilation and capturing the moments, they began their descent.

Junko Tabei standing at the summit of Mount Everest
[Junko Tabei standing at the summit of Mount Everest], via Outside Magazine
Upon her return, she was hailed for being the first woman to summit Everest, but to her, “[I] just simply climbed a mountain… I did not intend to be the first woman on Everest.

After her victory, Tabei continued climbing, and in 1992 became the first woman to scale the Seven Summits. Before she died in 2016, Tabei conquered 76 peaks all over the world.

Junko Tabei’s approach to life and mountaineering was the same: “No matter how slow a person walked, they could still reach the summit, one step at a time.”

Her quiet determination deeply inspires me, and her monumental summits across the world serve to encourage adventure seekers and women who prefer to stay on the ground alike.

Read more about Junko Tabei in her biography based on her memoirs, Honouring High Places: The Mountain Life of Junko Tabeior in this adorable children’s book, Junko Tabei Masters The Mountains. 

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History Historical Badasses

Meet Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, one of Nigeria’s badass suffragettes

For stories of Black history and excellence, check out our Black History Month series. Celebrate with us by sharing your favorite articles on social media and uplifting the stories, lives, and work of Black people.

*Cue boxing announcer’s voice* In this corner, fighting against colonialism and the patriarchy, all the way from Abeokuta, Nigeria, give it up for Bere, the Lioness of Lisabi, women’s rights activist, Chief Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti!

You’re probably thinking that was pretty extra for an introduction. But trust me, this woman deserves it. Ransome-Kuti is often known for being the mother of the famous Afrobeats musician and activist, Fela Anikulakpo-Kuti. But as the first Nigerian woman to drive a car, a fierce educator and women’s rights activist, Fumilayo Ransome-Kuti is a legend in her own right.

Before (and after) becoming a mother, Ransome-Kuti achieved a lot. Born in Abeokuta as Frances Abigail Olufunmilayo Thomas in 1900, she was the daughter of a chief and dressmaker. Frances’ parents believed in the power of education, so she was one of the first girls to attend Abeokuta Grammar School. Afterwards, Frances attended Wincham Hall School for Girls, a finishing school in Chesire England. When she returned, she dropped both English names and began using her shortened Yoruba name, Funmilayo.

Now a name change probably seems pretty minor, but it was the first sign of her anticolonial stance.

[Image description: Shuri, a young woman, looking up and saying “Don’t scare me like that, colonizer!”] via GIPHY 

Let me hit you with a bit of context real quick. During the year of Funmilayo’s birth, Abeokuta and its surrounding area formally entered Britain’s rule as the “Southern Nigeria Protectorate.” Here’s the thing: the transition to British governing systems had a big impact on gender dynamics. Before that, most Yoruba kingdoms had traditional forms of government, which included a system that had both men and women-led governing bodies. Once British rule started, those traditional forms ceased, taking with it political positions for women. The British sexist beliefs meant that women scarcely held government positions, and they brought these ideals to Abeokuta. Like Ransome-Kuti herself said during her work as a political activist, “We had equality before the British came.”

So there you have it. British rule began, and women’s leadership ended.

After her short stint in Britain, in 1925 Funmilayo married Isreal Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, a fellow educator (did somebody say #couplegoals?). They had four children: Dolupo, Olikoye, Fela, and Beko. Funmilayo quit her teaching job, but she didn’t become a stay-at-home mother. In 1932, she helped establish the Abeokuta Ladies’ Club (ALC). If you’re wondering if that’s as pretentious as it sounds, you’re correct! The club was mainly for Western-educated, middle-class women, and they mostly convened around sewing, motherhood, charity, and social etiquette. However, by the mid-1940s, after helping an illiterate friend learn to read, Funmilayo realized something:

“The true position of Nigerian women had to be judged from the women who carried babies on their back and farmed from sunrise to sunset, not women who used tea, sugar and flour for breakfast.”

As the ALC became more feminist and political, Funmilayo saw that the women’s movement could not succeed without the majority of women. So in 1944, the ALC changed its name to the Abeokuta Women’s Union (AWU), with Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti as its first president. Next up? A cultural glow-up. To make the union more inclusive, the union adopted Yoruba as the language of conversation and dressed in Yoruba attire.

One of the AWU’s first movements took things to the market. As a result of World War II, women were in a particularly precarious position. As a British colony, Nigeria also suffered economic consequences, and women suddenly found themselves having to contend with food quotas and price controls from the colonial administration and extortion from local authorities, who frequently confiscated their rice. So the women’s union took action, in an Instagram-live worthy showdown which Fela (her son), described, saying:

“These women went straight to see the District Officer of Abeokuta who was a young white boy. The District Officer must have said something in a disdainful voice, like: ’Go on back home.’ To which my mother exploded: ’You bastard, rude little rat…!’[–]Imagine insulting the highest motherfucking representative of the British imperial crown in Abeokuta, Ohhhhhhhh, man! I was proud.”

Mrs. Ransome-Kuti wasn’t here to play, thank you very much.

Another major accomplishment the AWU achieved under Ransome-Kuti’s presidency was in 1947, when they fought against sexist tax laws. The colonial government paid the Alake (traditional leader) of Abeokuta to enforce a tax that charged women more than men. Sadly for him, the AWU was having none of it.

In November 1947, Ransome-Kuti led thousands of women to the Alake’s palace, singing and dancing in protest. They demanded an end to the taxation, and also used petitions and letters to argue their case. Tensions continued to escalate until 1948, when the women’s efforts led to the suspension of the tax on women. Funmilayo’s efforts in the revolt earned her the nickname “Lioness of Lisabi”. The AWU’s efforts also led to the temporary abdication of the Alake in 1949.

After those successes, Funmilayo-Ransome Kuti continued to work with the AWU and even dabbled in national politics. She traveled nationally and internationally, spreading the word about women’s rights for years, until her untimely death in 1978.

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti’s decision to include the market women in her movement is a strong reminder of the importance of an inclusive approach to gender equality: one that acknowledges intersectionality. By recognizing that progress could not be won through elitist means, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti inspired an entire generation to fight for a more equitable future.

In conclusion, we have no choice but to stan.

[Image description: Michelle Obama clapping] via GIPHY

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Celebrities Activism Gender Politics Race The World

Naomi Osaka makes a case for athlete activism

What do Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, and just about every other teen flick have in common? Jocks? And what do these jocks have in common? Nothing. Apparently that’s all they are; two-dimensional sportspeople with no substance to their characters beyond their athletic activity.

I remember thinking about this when I had to write an essay for a civic discourse class. Although the ‘dumb jock’ stereotype is a cinematic trope, the notions behind it aren’t all that far-fetched. Even in real life, many people think that athletes are nothing more than their muscle or athletic ability.

Take Naomi Osaka for example. Heard of her?

Naomi Osaka wearing a black and blue tank and blue hat during one of her matches
[Image description: Naomi Osaka wearing a black and blue tank and blue hat during one of her matches], via Danielle Parhizkaran—Reuters.
Apart from popping up on my news feed for her continuous wins at the US Open, she has also been the subject of many articles for speaking up and showing support to the Black Lives Matter movement. She has also been the subject of critics who think she should be doing the exact opposite. 

Last year in particular has seen a lot of activism in wake of the continued injustices police have committed against black people, as well as inaction in reference to the coronavirus pandemic. In light of that, many celebrities have taken to social media and other channels to make their voice heard and spread awareness. The sports world has also taken part with many athletes showing their support by staging walkouts and sitting out of games.

In August, Osaka announced that she would not be playing at one of her upcoming semifinal matches. In a social media post, she said “before I am an athlete, I am a black woman. And as a black woman, I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand than watching me play tennis…” 


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A post shared by 大坂なおみ 🇭🇹🇯🇵🇺🇸 (@naomiosaka) on

After this, the Women’s Tennis Association released a statement saying that all matches would be postponed. 

The statement, as well as Naomi’s actions, prompted a slew of mixed reactions, with some supporting the decisions to take a stance against racial injustice. Other comments expressed disappointment, saying that sports should not mix with politics.

Hmm…. Where have I heard that before?

For decades, even centuries, athletes have used their platform as public figures to protest injustice. From Tommi Smith and John Carlos to LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick, this phenomenon is nothing new. Especially considering that many of these athlete activists are people of color, whose victories as first-class athletes does not negate the fact that they or their families can be treated as second-class individuals. But despite that fact, critics still respond to athlete activism with some response pertaining to “stick to sports”. 

Sports have historically been marketed as a form of escapism, an island separate from reality. So I’m honestly not surprised when people criticize athletes for being outspoken. When an activity is viewed as an escape from the real world, its participants will undoubtedly be positioned as absent from tangible things. But – that needs to change.

Here’s the thing: athletes are humans too. And just like any other person, they have a right to speak up regarding issues, especially those that directly affect them. Just because someone plays sports for a living doesn’t mean that their entire life revolves around that. Sure, being an athlete and a public figure means that their profession is a larger part of their day-to-day existence. But that doesn’t, and shouldn’t discredit their opinion on things not sports-related.

The opinion taken by most critics about athletes like Osaka who have spoken out is part of a greater conversation about athletes and their participation in the discussion of political, social and moral issues, particularly those considered polarizing or deviate from conservative views.

However, the fact remains that there is absolutely nothing polarizing about human rights. The harmful and vicious effects of racism are real. Athletes’ support for an ongoing quest for racial justice is not a lecture. Instead, it is a consensus of support for players who are Black. Instances of police brutality and institutional racism hit close to home. If sports leagues do not stand up against bigotry during this moment of social upheaval, they never will.

When people claim that supposed social justice biased sports will no longer be a place for fans to escape polarization, they really mean sports will no longer be welcoming for racist viewers.

Athlete activism today is a powerful thing because unlike earlier times when they couldn’t speak freely to the public, social media has provided a means to communicate to millions of followers – which is no small thing. That kind of platform has the potential to raise awareness on things that truly matter.

Naomi Osaka expressed similar sentiments when an interviewer questioned her about wearing seven different BLM masks during the open. Her response: “What was the message you got? I feel like the point is to make people start talking.”

And people are talking.

I grew up playing sports; I ran track, and I loved every moment of it. But never for one minute did I think that the presence of my athletic ability meant an absence of my intellect or voice. Why should professional athletes be considered any different?

It is time that people regard athletes as more than robots, but rather humans with convictions and morals they feel obligated to uphold.


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USA The Environment Activism Race The World

Several officials have been charged for their role in the Flint water crisis

Last week, Michigan’s former governor, Rick Snyder, and several other officials were charged for their roles in the Flint water crisis. The charges ranged from misdemeanor counts of neglect to felonies of involuntary manslaughter. Snyder himself was charged with two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty; each count carries a maximum fine of $1000 and one-year imprisonment. 

The other officials charged include Snyder’s Chief of Staff, the former emergency managers, and the former Health and Human Services Director (you can find the full list of officials and charges here). The nine officials received a total of 42 counts in charges. These indictments come nearly seven years after a water source switch caused a water and health crisis in the city of Flint. Those in charge handled the situation poorly, with disastrous consequences. After years have gone by without accountability, these proceedings should come as a relief. But that depends on the outcome. 

A quick recap on what happened in Flint: In April 2014, Flint began drawing water from the Flint River. This austerity move was to temporarily supply Flint while it connected to Lake Huron. It wasn’t long before residents began complaining about the water’s smell and look. Tests revealed high lead content in the water, but the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) disputed the results. But by September, doctors found elevated lead levels in kids, and only then did the state government acknowledge the issue. 

Avoiding public water is making Flint residents sick

It turned out that DEQ didn’t treat the water to acceptable anti-corrosive standards, which was causing the lead from the pipes to seep into the water. In the following years, several officials were charged with misconduct, tampering of evidence, and violation of safe water standards. 

While officials were debating what went wrong, Flint residents were suffering the consequences. In 2014-15, there was an outbreak of Legionnaires disease; pneumonia’s more severe older cousin. The outbreak infected 90 people and killed 12. At least that’s what the state says. But reports and studies show that the effect of the poisoned water causes far more damage, and leads to health issues and deaths which plague residents years later.

What’s worse, the government only alerted Flint residents about the outbreak in 2016—after it had already happened. However, some evidence suggests that Syder may have known about the possibility of the outbreak months before it even happened. 

As for the charges? In June 2019, prosecutors dropped all charges against the officials to start a new investigation. Hammond and Worthy, the new people, said that the previous investigation didn’t pursue all available evidence; private law firms had control over what information to turn over. The new team, they said, would pursue new evidence not previously investigated. 

Basically, the investigation was getting a more comprehensive do-over. Which is a good thing. But it also meant another delay in justice for Flint’s residents. Last August, Michigan’s attorney general announced that the state had reached a $600 million settlement for parties affected by the water crisis. The settlement is designed mainly to aid the children— 80% of the budget will address claims made by minors. 

But the next day, activists and residents gathered to express disappointment about the settlement and demand more for Flint’s residents. 5 months later, residents are still speaking out against the settlement. Arthur Woodson, a Flint activist, said that adults deserve more compensation. The settlement, which only allocates about 18% of the money to adults, doesn’t cover the fact that many adults also suffered many physical and financial consequences from the crisis. 

It’s unsurprising that given the severity of Snyder’s mistakes, people expected harsher charges. On Tuesday, when the proceedings were announced, residents were optimistic that justice would be served. But by Thursday, that hope morphed into disappointment and anger upon learning that he would be facing only misdemeanor counts for actions that affected so many lives. 

From the state’s negligence to fruitless investigations, and inadequate settlements, and now this—will Flint residents ever receive their dues? And will those responsible for the crisis truly be held accountable? One can only hope.

In the meantime, we can help by uplifting the voices of the city, and working to ensure that Flint residents have clean and safe water. Mari Copeny, more popularly known as Little Miss Flint, is raising money to provide water filters for Flint and other places with water crises. You can donate here. You can also donate to the Flint Kids Fund. The fund supports programs helping children affected by lead poisoning in Flint. Donate here.

The Flint Water Crisis is far from over. And the consequences are far-reaching. These charges are a step in the right direction. So here’s hoping for more accountability and transparency in the Flint Water Crisis.



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USA Editor's Picks World News Coronavirus The World

21 wholesome and heartwarming things that happened this year

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been quite the year. I’m talking garbage trash fire kind of year. Amidst the devastating news, exposed issues, and various crises, we could all do with a dose of positivity. So I’ve gathered a number of heartwarming, wholesome, good news that’s happened this year.

1. Tattletales from Tanqueray


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2.A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny)

Brandon Stanton, the founder of Humans of New York, caused quite a stir when he shared Tanqueray’s story, where she talks about her experience as a stripper in the sixties.  After their initial meeting, Tanqueray (real name Stephanie) shared her life story with Stanton, who planned to turn her tale into a podcast. But when Stephanie’s health worsened, he shared her stories over a 32-post series named “Tattletales from Tanqueray”, to raise money for her care and trust. Let me tell you; her story has some TEA. Between wayward presidents, lost loves, and flirty celebrities, her intriguing tales delve into the intricacies of New York City’s nightclub scene. Fans rallied around her stories and raised 2.65 million dollars for her trust. Although the fundraising campaign is over, I encourage you to read her story; it’s truly remarkable. 

2. Tabitha Brown serving us wholesome content

Amid the chaos that was 2020, Tabitha Brown has been blessing our feeds with her online presence documenting her journey on a plant-based diet. From her quirky Tik Toks to her uplifting videos, Brown’s mission to spread love and light has certainly been one of the brighter parts of the year. We stan a joyful queen, and that’s our business.

3. Goats about town

As lockdown has kept many indoors, some animals have taken the opportunity to explore the undisturbed outdoors. In the town of Llandudno, Wales, the goats have taken it upon themselves to roam the streets. Want to see more of the frolicking fuzzies? Check out this thread.

4. A legend playing this uplifting song…

Yo-Yo Ma, the legendary cellist, released a new album with British pianist Kathryn Scott, titled ‘Songs of Comfort and Hope’. The album was inspired by the cellist’s quarantine performances; using the hashtag #SongsofComfort, he tweeted clips of himself playing a collection of popular songs and new tunes in a bid to uplift people during anxious times. With his uplifting tunes, Ma reached millions of people. I don’t know about you, but watching these musicians peacefully do their thing certainly puts a smile on my face.

5. Dancing in the streets

The Dance Theater of Harlem went viral earlier this year when they posted a video, showing beautiful ballerinas leaping through the streets of New York. Created for Harlem Week and the African American Day parade, the choreography features eight of the company members. Five minutes of perfection, if you ask me.

6. … and around the city

Likewise, a violinist and a ballerina decided to take advantage of Amsterdam’s empty streets. They collaborated to make a beautiful video to spread hope to others through their art. So beautiful.

7. An adorable stowaway

A saw-whet owl is being held by a worker wearing a lime green hoodie
[A saw-whet owl is being held by a worker wearing a lime green hoodie], via Reuters
When workers were transporting the Rockefeller City Christmas Tree for its annual stint, they found a stowaway— a saw-whet owl. The feathered friend, now named Rockefeller, was taken to a wildlife shelter and has now been released into the wild. After the dismal comments about the state of this year’s tree, this little cutie certainly brightened things up.

8. Senior Socials

An old man and woman standing together in front of green foliage
[An old man and woman standing together in front of green foliage]
Since lockdown began, many seniors have found themselves unable to connect with friends and family. To combat this social isolation, various programs have been started to connect seniors with volunteers on the phone. For many seniors, these calls have been a ray of light in their lonely communities. Just imagine all the wholesome conversations being had!

9. A lonely elephant is lonely no more

Kaavan the elephant's trunk, touching the trunk of another elephant
[Kaavan the elephant’s trunk, touching the trunk of another elephant], via Four Paws
Kaavan, also known as the world’s loneliest elephant, has finally made a new friend. After decades spent living alone in poor conditions, the elephant was transported to Cambodia’s wildlife sanctuary, where he’ll spend the rest of his days roaming around in a freer space, with other elephants to keep him company.

10. A new take on album art

Residents of Sydmar Care Home found some creative ways to have fun during the lockdown. Their activities manager, Robert Speker organized an activity where the residents posed for photos to recreate classic album covers. Each picture even had a personal touch for the resident, and the caretakers too part as well. The fun pictures went viral, to an overwhelmingly positive response from people. From Adele to Bowie, these seniors sure know how to have a good time.

11. Reindeer contemplating nature

If you’re struggling with deciding whether to focus on the beautiful sky or the beautiful reindeer, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone.

12. Dwayne Wade’s reaction to a proposal


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A post shared by SportsCenter (@sportscenter)

This couple in the middle of an adorable engagement got quite the surprise when an unsuspecting guest strolled by— former NBA superstar Dwayne Wade. After walking by, he joined in on some of their photos and congratulated them on social media.  Dwayne Wade’s reaction is the literal definition of wholesome.

13. These students planning a sweet surprise

@vizzywapduring these tough times it’s important to show extra appreciation! #fyp #foryoupage #zoom #dontletthisflop #college #covid #professor #thankyou♬ original sound – James Blake

The pandemic has certainly had an impact on education, with many schools opting for virtual programs. Teachers have been a large part of helping students adapt to the new learning modes. So after a semester of teaching students virtually, this class planned a sweet way to thank their teacher. Because not all heroes wear capes.

14. Time Magazine named its first ‘Kid of the Year’

Gutanjali Rao wearing a lab coat and sitting on a white cube
[Gutanjali Rao wearing a lab coat and sitting on a white cube], via Sharif Hamza for TIME
In a partnership with Nickolodeon, Time Magazine awarded its first prize from a pool of 5000 young leaders and changemakers. The winner, Gitanjali Rao, is a fifteen-year-old scientist and inventor whose work spans from combatting cyberbullying to detecting water pollution. She hopes to create a global community of young creators who will change the world. This young queen is certainly going places!

15. Italians making the best of lockdown

Earlier this year, when Italy went on lockdown, its citizens still found a way to connect joyfully with each other—through music. Neighbors turned their balconies and rooftops into concert venues, serenading others with ballads or belting out songs together. All over the country, people used the power of music to lift spirits and stay connected.

16. The first IVF cheetah cubs were born

A cheetah cub
[A cheetah cub], via Grahm S. Jones.
These cheetahs aren’t only special because they’re so adorable. They are also the first cubs successfully born via IVF. This is seen as a breakthrough for the scientific community, especially because this is the third attempt, but first success. Cheetahs have been classified as a vulnerable species, but due to habitat destruction, hunting, and other conflicts, they are nearing endangerment. This development could potentially pave the way to help the cheetah population.

17. A sweet chain reaction

The back of a car with bright tail lights going through a drive-trhu
[The back of a car with bright tail lights going through a drive-thru, via Erik Mclean on Pexels
Earlier this week, a customer at a Dairy Queen drive-through decided to pay for the customer behind him. This kind act sparked a chain of giving, where over 900 cars chose to pay for the customers behind them. People found out about what was happening and started visiting that particularly Dairy Queen just to keep the chain going.

18. The adventures of Sapphire the fairy

This heartwarming thread by photographer Kelly Victoria went viral, and for good reason. On a stroll one day, Kelly came across a fairy garden set up by a four-year-old wanting to spread some cheer. So Kelly wrote the little girl a letter, pretending to be a fairy named Sapphire. And thus began a regular correspondence that boomed into a magical friendship. This wholesome interaction is truly definitely the stuff of fairytales.

19. Good vibes

@420doggface208Morning vibe #420souljahz #ec #feelinggood #h2o #cloud9 #happyhippie #worldpeace #king #peaceup #merch #tacos #waterislife #high #morning #710 #cloud9♬ Dreams (2004 Remaster) – Fleetwood Mac

Tik Tok star Nathan Apodaca, aka Doggface, started a wave on the Internet when he posted this clip of his commute to work after his car broke down. The video went viral, starting a trend where others grabbed their skateboards and a bottle of Ocean Spray Cranberry juice. It even caught the attention of Ocean Spray’s CEO and Fleetwood Mac’s co-founder. But the good vibes didn’t stop there. Ocean Spray provided Apodaca with a new truck, filled with cranberry juice. And after fans discovered he was living in an RV, they pooled enough donations for him to put a down payment on a house.

20. This generous artist

Many artists have been negatively impacted by this year’s pandemic, which has caused a lot of independent artists to lose their income. So one artist decided to do something about it. NYC-based painter Guy Stanley Philoche spent 65,000 dollars buying over 150 works of art from friends and strangers. Artists supporting artists—we love to see it.

21. And finally, a great way to start the morning

Multi-instrumentalist Acoustic Trench and his trusty sidekick Maple have been responsible for a lot of YouTube’s most wholesome videos. In this one, he plays the kalimba while his adorable pup wanders through a field. These vibes are on point.

2020 has certainly been a challenging year, but through it, there have been some uplifting moments of kindness; between strangers and friends alike. Through the turbulent times, I hope we can all find reasons to smile.


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The Environment The World

The Goldman Prize: Meet two of its badass recipients

On November 30th, the 2020 Goldman Award recipients were honored for their efforts to preserve the planet. This award, given annually, goes to grassroots environmental activists from around the world’s regions. By honoring local leaders, the hope is to inspire everyone to create change to protect the planet. This year, award recipients hailed from Ghana, the Bahamas, Ecuador, France, Mexico, Myanmar, and France. All of the recipients have done amazing things, so we decided to delve deeper into a couple of their stories. 

Kristal Ambrose

Also known as Kristal Ocean, Ambrose’s Goldman win is the first for the Bahamas. This badass hails from Eleuthera, one of the 30 inhabited islands in the nation. She’s an environmental scientist who focuses on plastic pollution and marine debris. Ambrose was honored for her ocean preservation efforts.

Her journey towards environmental activism began after she crossed the Pacific Ocean to observe the Western Garbage Patch, after which she was inspired to start a movement back home. She launched the Bahamas Plastic Movement (BPM), a non-profit seeking to shed light on and find solutions to plastic pollution. Through this organization, Ambrose harnessed the power of engaging young people through an annual youth summer camp. It’s a tuition-free summer intensive that works to change the attitudes of Bahamian youth and help them see their part in protecting the ocean. To date, Ambrose has worked with over 500 kids to remove 5000 pounds of debris from the sea.

By using music, dance, and fashion to engage young people around environmental matters, Kristal Ambrose has helped raise the next generation of youth leaders. And it paid off. In 2019, Kristal, along with a youth delegation, visited the minister’s office. Entering his office with chants and songs, they convinced him and the government to ban single-use plastics on the island, a law that went into effect this year.

The road wasn’t always easy; in the Bahamas (and if we’re being honest, many other places), environmental activism has long been associated with white, wealthy citizens. She had to wade through expectations and prejudices to begin her meaningful work. But it didn’t stop her. Her connection to the sea motivated her to protect it, and her story is an incredible testament to the power of youth activism and engaging the next generation. 

Nemonte Nenquimo

Our next badass hails from the Waorani tribe in Ecuador. Nemonte Nenquimo, the president of her province, was honored for her activism in protecting the Amazon.

Ecuador, one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth, is home to millions of acres of the Amazon rainforest. But oil companies, loggers, and tappers pose a threat to the environment.

In 2018, the Ecuadorian Minister of Hydrocarbons auctioned off 16 new oil concessions covering seven million acres of the Amazon forest. The problem? Much of that land was on Waorani ancestral territory. The Waorani people have occupied that land for centuries, but land exploitation has caused a lot of damage to their homes and way of life as indigenous people. 

Nemonte, the co-founder of the Ceibo Alliance, an organization dedicated to fighting to defend indigenous land, culture, and territory, took action. She organized her community, met with elders, and began to fight for her land. She also spearheaded a mapping project to document the historical and actual uses of their land. 

“The government map only shows oil wells…it doesn’t show our sacred places”

Nemonte launched a digital campaign, “Our rainforest is not for sale”, and got over 350,000 signatures. She also served as a plaintiff for the court case against the government. Like Ambrose and her youth delegation, Nemonte and other members of the Waorani shut down the court with chants and songs. On April 16, 2019 the Waorani people won a court ruling protecting half a million acres of their territory. 

Nemonte and her community are still fighting to ensure the lasting preservation of their lands.

These women and their inspiring stories show the power of harnessing the community and youth for positive change. Cheers to them!


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History Lost in History Historical Badasses

N’Nonmiton: Meet the real Dora Milaje, the most feared women in history

Imagine you’re a French colonizer, preparing for war as a horde of Dahomean fighters approach. You raise your weapon, and as the group comes closer, you see that a lot of them are…. women. You hesitate. At this point, you have two options:

  1. Don’t fire because, you know, they’re women.
  2. Keep fighting anyways.

Here’s a hint: no matter which option you choose, you’re probably going to get your derrière handed to you. 

Many men faced that situation on the battlefield of the Franco-Dahomean war as they realized their enemy combatants were women: The N’Nonmiton warriors. Their hesitancy to fire on the women cost many their lives. But make no mistake: just because these fighters were women did not make them any less deadly. Not at all.

I remember watching Black Panther in theaters and being in awe of the sheer beauty of African culture being portrayed in such a positive light. But one of the standouts for me was definitely General Okoye and her wig-snatching badassery, not to mention the fierceness of the Dora Milaje in general.


Sis did not come to play AT ALL.

As it turns out, these fictional badasses were partly inspired by real-life legends: the N’Nonmiton.

More commonly known as the Dahomey Amazons (a term coined by foreign observers after noting the women’s strength and tenacity), the group was an all-female elite warrior unit from the Kingdom of Dahomey; what is today known as The Republic of Benin.

So how did this fierce team of warriors come about, you ask?

There are a few theories about that, but the most common speculation is that the N’Nonmiton initially started as the king’s bodyguards. Some of the women were recruited from the gbeto, elephant hunters. Others were selected from the third-rank of his ahosi, the wives. Either way, considering that only women were allowed in the palace after dark, they naturally became the prime candidates for protectors.

As Dahomey became an increasingly militarized kingdom, the role of the N’Nomiton expanded accordingly. But this wasn’t your average militarized combat unit. They were “for all intents and purposes, highly trained, killing machines.”

A group of women and men, the N'Nonmiton/Dahomey Amazons, in their ceremonial clothing, holding weapons
[A group of women and men, the N’Nonmiton/Dahomey Amazons, in their ceremonial clothing, holding weapons], via Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures
Think Physical Education was hard? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Training for these warriors was intense: wrestling, target practice, simulation attacks, you name it. The process for the N’Nomiton also put heavy emphasis on discipline and mercilessness. As part of the insensitivity training, the women were instructed to throw captured prisoners over a wall to their deaths. The women were also trained to withstand a lot of pain, with drills that included scaling thorned walls.

But being an elite warrior had its perks— they had access to prized goods like alcohol and tobacco. Also, since they were technically married to the king, they had a semi-sacred status, and could not be touched by any man. In fact, whenever they left the palace, each warrior had a slave girl walk in front of them and ring a bell, alerting anyone nearby to keep their distance and avert their eyes.


As the French began making their way into kingdoms, their colonization interfered with the Dahomean activity, and surprise surprise, they were not here for it.

Cue the Franco-Dahomean Wars.

The N’Nonmiton were a key part of the battles, and in addition to them being formidable foes, the French hesitancy to attack women made it even easier to defeat them. In fact, legend has it that the reason for the lack of first-person narratives from the French is that any man who met them rarely lived to tell the tale. Eventually though, even the might of these female warriors fell under the French, who had far superior weapons. That being said, the women were the last to surrender. And there are claims that they allowed themselves to be taken as wives by some of the French, then slit the men’s throats while they were sleeping. You know, just your average housewife duties.

The name N’Nonmiton or “Mino” refers to “our mothers” in Fon, the Dahomean language. True to name, these women defended their kingdom with a fierce maternal instinct (with just a sprinkle of terrifying shenanigans). Although they are commonly referred to as “Amazons”,  they actually had different names based on their role within the army. There were huntresses (gbeto), riflewomen (gulohento), reapers (nyekpholento), archers (gohento), and gunners (agbalya).

So there you have it: your typical multi-functional, if-you-come-across-them-on-the-battlefield-good-luck, extremely deadly, unit rolled up into a killing machine.

Seeing the Dora Milaje on-screen, being fierce and beautiful and intelligent Black women was so refreshing, so to know that these fictional fighters drew inspiration from real-life (albeit incredibly ruthless) warriors, is an incredible piece of forgotten history.

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World News Action Guide The World

Ethiopia’s Tigray region is in heavy conflict, and civilians are caught in the middle

Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country, has lately been a concern in the international community due to the rising violence in the Tigray region.

The Tigray region, located in the country’s northwest, had long been a dominant force in Ethiopia’s ethnic federalist system. Since 1991, Tigray played a pivotal role in usurping the military regime; the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TLPF) led the efforts, establishing a governing coalition that allowed each region autonomy.

In 2018 following anti-government protests, current prime minister Abiy Ahmed came into power. He dissolved the coalition in a bid to improve democracy; by centralizing the government and unifying the country. While doing so, he outed many Tigray politicians and power players in a move that was deemed ethnically-biased. Elections were scheduled to take place this March. But due to the pandemic, the electoral management committee opted to postpone elections.

Despite this decision, the Tigray region held its own elections in September, taking the rising tension to new heights. Both sides: the Ethiopian government and the Tigray regional leaders, declared each other to be illegitimate. Following the unsanctioned elections, the leaders cut funding to the region. 

On November 4, following an alleged attack by the TPLF on a military base, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military operation against local Tigray forces. In a televised address to the country, he communicated that he was taking action against the Tigray political party. 

On November 22, Abiy released a statement via Twitter, stating that the country’s forces were readying their final phase of action against the Tigray region. Previous phases included strengthening defense forces, removing TPLF militia, and encircling Mekelle, the Tigray regional capital. He expressly requested the cooperation of civilians.

The government has established Mekelle as the rebel stronghold and is currently in the process of sending government forces to capture the city. Most importantly, Ahmed gave the Tigray Special Forces 72 hours to surrender.

Here’s the thing: the Ethiopian military colonel has expressed that there will be “no mercy” for the Tigrayans. At the same time, Tigray forces have expressed that they are unwilling to stand down. These strong and explicit statements are worrying because their finality could lead to a longstanding conflict,  with civilians caught right in the middle of it. Many international bodies have expressed their concern over this fact because it creates the potential for international humanitarian violations.

Following an outpouring of concern by the international community regarding the safety of civilians and the possible perpetration of war crimes, Ahmed released another statement, essentially asking the international community to stand down. In the statement, he said: “While we consider the advice and concerns of our friends, we reject any interference in our internal affairs.”

Rejection of international interference places restrictions on the ability of neutral international humanitarian organizations to help any civilians caught in the conflict. Considering that the ongoing fighting has already displaced thousands of Ethiopians, this needs to change.

Also, the government placed a telecommunications blackout, making it impossible for humanitarian aid to communicate with people in the region. The Tigray region has already faced various natural disasters this year. Coupled with the impact of COVID-19, and the escalating conflict, thousands of civilians are in precarious situations. As of now, over 30,000 Ethiopian refugees have fled the region into Sudan, with the number expected to rise. 

Here’s what you can do to help:

Donate to refugee organizations:

A poster from the Ethiopian Youth Refugee Association, and their logo
[A poster from the Ethiopian Youth Refugee Association, and their logo], via Twitter
Grassroots organizations are working to provide humanitarian aid to those fleeing the war. Donate via Venmo.

The UNHCR also has an emergency relief fund. Donate here.

You can also donate to the UNICEF fund to help Ethiopian refugees in Sudan here.

Learn more about what’s happening, and spread the word:

As the conflict continues, both sides have given contradicting statements regarding the outcome of the conflict; the government says that Mekelle has been captured, but TPLF leaders claim that the struggle is ongoing. But one thing is clear: the civilians and refugees need help. So spread the word, and donate if you can.


Celebrating Maria Tallchief: the first (Native) American prima ballerina

The audience goes wild. The city center is alive with thunderous claps and boisterous cheers; it sounds like the stadium after a football game. But it is no quarterback that emerges into the spotlight. No, it’s a Firebird, a creature of flame and light, a piece of poetry in motion. It is Maria Tallchief.

Last weekend I was surfing the internet, as one does when a stunning Google Doodle caught my eye. It turned out the masterpiece was the work of three Indigenous artists, Lydia Cheshewalla, Chris Pappan, and Yatika Fields. They had collaborated to honor Maria Tallchief, the first Native American prima ballerina.

I’m a simple person: I see ballet, and I click. And Tallchief’s story is certainly worth learning.

Born Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief on January 24, 1925, she was raised on the Osage Indian Reservation. When she was three, she attended her first ballet class and started taking weekly lessons with her sister Marjorie. Before long, the instructor put her on pointe, and her mother thought the instructor was making stars out of her daughters (spoiler alert—she was not). Betty Marie also had perfect pitch, so her mother believed she was destined to be a pianist.

In 1933, her mother, Ruth Porter, grew tired of Oklahoma, and the family moved to Los Angeles. On the drive down, they stopped for gas, where an anonymous man decided their fate; Ruth asked the store attendant if he knew any good schools in the area, and he replied that there was one right in town: Ernest Belcher’s. So that’s where the family settled—a small town where they had just stopped for gas.

Under Belcher’s scrutiny, it became clear that their past instructor’s methods were, ahem, unhelpful. With her faulty techniques, it was a miracle that they hadn’t been injured.

When Betty Marie was 12, the girls started with a new teacher; the legendary Bronislava Nijinska. Tallchief credits Nijinska with putting her on the path to her destiny; she initially thought she was going to be a concert pianist, but Madame Nijinska’s devotion to ballet showed her what she wanted to do with her life.

When Betty Marie turned 17, she did the thing—she moved to New York to pursue her ballet dreams. She joined the Ballet Russe as a corps member and danced with the touring troupe. There, her superiors suggested that she Russianize her last name, and change it to Tallchieva. Tallchief refused, remaining proud of her Indigenous heritage. She did, however, agree to change her first name to Maria.

In 1944, the company took on a project with George Balanchine for a new musical. Balanchine caught Maria’s eye; a pianist herself, Tallchief was intrigued by his unique musicality. As time went on, they became friends, and Balanchine began choreographing for the Ballet Ruse, casting Maria in several important roles. didn’t think much of it, focusing instead on her developing techniques.

In 1945, Balanchine left the Ballet Russe to start a new company: the New York City Ballet. But before he left, he asked Maria Tallchief to marry him.

A girl looking shocked
[A girl looking shocked], via Giphy
Tallchief was just as shook; she had mistaken his attention for mere professionality. Nevertheless, she eventually agreed, and they got married on August 16, 1946.

Here’s the thing about their relationship; it was very much still a working arrangement, built on their passions. In Tallchief’s words: “I was his wife, but I was also his ballerina. He was my husband, but he was also my choreographer. He was a poet and I was his muse.”

Shortly after their marriage, Tallchief accompanied Balanchine on an assignment to Paris, where she danced for the Paris Opera Ballet. The French press complimented her performance, but her Indigenous background fascinated them even more.

Maria Tallchief dancing a pas de deux
[Maria Tallchief dancing a pas de deux], via Giphy
After returning to the US, Tallchief quickly rose in the new company, becoming the first prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet. And the first Native American prima ballerina. Balanchine created many roles for Maria, including Odette in his version of the Swan Lake, and many others. And of course: The Firebird.

After months of preparation, and many stress-induced practice sessions, she debuted the role in 1949, to raving reviews. Emphasis on raving:

“Then the curtain rose again, and as long as I live I’ll never forget the roar. A firestorm of applause erupted in the city center… every time the curtain went down they started calling out my name until it went up again: ‘Tallchief !Tallchief! Tallchief! Tallchief!'”

Tallchief and Balanchine were a combination of artistic perfection; her fiery athleticism and musicality was the perfect vessel for his groundbreaking choreography. Power couple, anyone?

Not really—they annulled their marriage in 1952 after falling for other people. The pair, however, continued their working relationship on amicable terms.

Tallchief remained with the New York City Ballet until 1960, but she took time off to dance with other companies. At one point, she was the highest-paid ballerina in the world, earning 2000 dollars a week. She retired from the stage in 1966 and moved to Chicago with her new husband, Buzz Paschen. There, she founded the Chicago City Ballet.

Maria Tallchief is certainly an icon; her passionate, musicality and technique changed the face of American ballet, and through it all she remained proud of her Native American heritage. A true queen.

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TV Shows Pop Culture

Remembering Alex Trebek: a roundup of 15 iconic moments

As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to watch much TV. But there were a few exceptions; every afternoon, we’d sit down and watch Jeopardy! It wasn’t long before the show’s host, Alex Trebek and his eloquent consistency became a highlight of our afternoons. Trebek has become synonymous with the Emmy award-winning show and won several awards for his outstanding work that spanned over three decades.

In March 2019, the iconic host announced that he had been diagnosed with stage-IV pancreatic cancer, prompting support from contestants and fans alike. Unfortunately, Alex Trebek died early Sunday morning, at the age of 80. In the wake of his passing, tributes have poured in from former contestants, fans, and celebrities, including Canadian President Justin Trudeau. These messages show something I can certainly attest to—Alex Trebek’s work as the heart of the show impacted the lives of millions in more ways than one.

In his honor, here’s a collection of some of his most iconic moments:

1. When he shaved his mustache and caused a national uproar

[Image description: Alex Trebek looking a mirror and shaving his mustache] via GIPHY

Trebek’s mustache has become as much of the show’s trademark as his presence. So when he shaved it on a whim in 2001, people had some thoughts. Who knew facial hair could cause this much trouble?

2. When Jeopardy! briefly became a comedy show:

The combination of James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings, and Brad Rutter is exactly the kind of chaos we love to see.


3. Getting cozy in a phone booth

Please do not try this at home. You have been warned.

4. This April Fool’s switcheroo

On April 1st, 1997, Trebek and Pat Sajak took over each other’s legendary hosting roles for the night. We love a good crossover event.

5. When he hit us with some Lizzo:

I’ll take ‘Truth Hurts’ for $800, please.

6. And threw some Drake in, for good measure

Exceptional rapping in that calming voice. It’s a vibe.

7. When he made an um, interesting, wardrobe choice

Can someone explain how he still manages to look classy?

8. Doing the actual most for the MET category

Game-show host by day, 19th-century prince by night.

9. Did I mention that he does the actual most with costumes?

Please welcome the newest member of KISS y’all.

10. This encounter, which had EVERYONE crying

I tear up every time I see this.

11. These iconic moves

[Image description: Alex Trebek dancing, via GIPHY

Just some smooth tap-dancing for your TL.

And these…

[Image description: Alex Trebek making hand gestures, via GIPHY

Alex Trebek invented the first iteration of the ‘whoa’, and nobody can tell me otherwise.

13. This savage exchange from the GOAT contestants

Did I mention I love these three?

14. An incredibly wholesome interaction with  the 2020 college champ

He really is the man.

15. And another heartwarming interaction with a contestant

Seriously! Who’s cutting onions?!

Even now, the sound of the show’s jingle will send me sprinting to my TV, ready to dedicate half an hour to watch Trebek take the stage. The show has been a huge part of many people’s lives, creating a worldwide family in the process. From pulling pranks to spitting bars, Trebek brought the show to life and inspired many, contestants and audience members alike. Alex Trebek is a cultural icon; he will forever be remembered for his timeless class, witty banter, and making it cool to be a trivia nerd. May he rest in peace.

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TV Shows Pop Culture

“The Dragon Prince” is one of the best fantasy shows nobody talks about

Let’s be honest: this quarantine has many reaching for the comforting predictability of old shows in the wake of uncertainty. So when Netflix dropped Avatar: The Last Airbender in April, it was no surprise that millions tuned in to watch an old favorite

Personally, ATLA has a special place in my heart. Streaming it now reminds me of the hours my brother and I spent playing the show on our mum’s laptop the liminal summer we moved back to Nigeria. As an 11-year old with bedtimes and TV restrictions, the show felt like a million hours long, but at 21, with the combination of stress-binging and quarantine-boredom, it wasn’t long before I watched the final end credits roll. And like many, I asked in admiration, is there another show like Avatar?

No really. Is there another show like Avatar?

That’s debatable. But when I heard that the head writer of Avatar and the actor who played Sokka had worked together on another project, I knew I had to check it out. 

I give you *drumroll* The Dragon Prince

Before you close your screen and continue scrolling through Zutara memes, just hear me out. This show is good.

The Dragon Prince takes us to the a land divided into the magical land of Xadia and the human kingdoms. When the Katolis rulers kill the Dragon King along with his egg, war threatens to loom in the land. The plot follows human princes Callum and Ezran, as they journey with a Moon elf in an attempt to restore peace to the land after discovering that the dragon egg is, in fact, alive.

One of the first things that struck me about the show was how diverse the kingdom of Katolis was. In the first episode, we see a Black king and his biracial family. And although King Harrow’s on-screen rule was very short—leading me to briefly wonder if the show was really about to hit me with the “Black dude dies first” trope—as the series develops, we get to see and understand more of the wise and caring king he was. Not to mention he has locs, which have sometimes attracted negative comments associated with being unkempt, and, well, not regal. So it was nice to see our man King Harrow disrupting that narrative.

A black man with green eyes and dreadlocks, wearing a red robe and golden crown
[A cartoon character from The Dragon Prince, a man with green eyes and dreadlocks, wearing a red robe and golden crown], via Netflix
The show also offers moral complexity—in the first episode we encounter Rayla, a Moonshadow assassin who spares the life of her first target. She later abandons her mission to assassinate our protagonists Callum and Ezran. I won’t reveal too much, but over the course of the show the writers handle the theme of moral ambiguity really nicely. They do this in part by showing many of the younger characters looking beyond the biases of their predecessors’ generational conflict, and making up their own decisions about what is right. 

This mature characterization isn’t something you often see in children’s shows (heck, even some adult shows don’t do this). It’s great watch these characters wrestle with the narratives of the past while creating their own future.

Don’t even get me started on Aunt Amaya, the princes’ aunt who is the Katolian army general. Oh, and she’s deaf. The show’s creators spent time researching with people who are deaf, as well as several organizations that raise awareness around deafness in order to create an authentic character. They also used ASL interpreters to ensure that her sign-language communications were accurate. And let me tell you, Amaya is. a. boss. 

Amaya, a woman in armor with close-cropped black hair, staring into the distance
[Amaya, a woman in armor with close-cropped black hair, staring into the distance], via Netflix
This is not a woman you want to mess with. Between single-handedly defeating battalions, to standing up to Viren, Amaya is one of the fiercest characters on the show. And fans have raved about how the portrayal of Amaya’s character in such a way that her deafness is a part of her, but isn’t the only defining thing about her .

The show isn’t perfect; the first season begins with some shaky animation (it gets better though!), and there are some arcs that could be improved. That being said, The Dragon Prince reflects one of my favorite things about fantasy and animation. When the world-building is good, you don’t have to question the feasibility of every aspect of the story. And that means that the characters, no matter appearance and ability, can be whoever and do whatever they want.

The king can have locs, a young queen can have two mums, and the general can be deaf. And nobody can say anything about it, because it’s their world.  

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