Editor's Picks Self-Care Fashion Lookbook

Here’s what those “comfy” Insta-famous sneakers are really like

When it comes to shoes – especially sneakers – you know that the look is never really that universal. You’ll see the shoes on the model, the shoes in real life, but they’ll always have a unique fit on you.

So we decided to do something different when we discovered Cariuma, and instead, had our team try them on, instead. Who better to tell the truth, right?

These six women – Deema, Yannise, Meagan, Aafiyah, Tamanna, and Tiara – are the willing testers.

Meagan (top left): I work in an office setting so I’m all heels and flats during the week and typically wear booties or flipflops (depending on the weather) on the weekends. Sneakers? Not so much. I never felt like I had the legs or style to wear them without looking a little silly. I mean, of course, I wear them to the gym, but that’s different! 

Aafiyah (top middle): I don’t really wear sneakers, choosing instead to wear boots. I always thought that I wouldn’t be able to buy sneakers that are reasonably priced and still be able to dress well. Instead, I usually choose to wear boots and my past experiences with sneakers? Nothing to write home about. 

I never felt like I had the legs or style to wear them without looking a little silly. —Meagan

Tamanna (top right): Sneakers are my everyday go-to, but finding shoes that are stylish, sustainable, and comfortable is close to impossible. In my experience, I have to compromise at least one of these factors for the rest. Because of my chronic pain, I prioritize comfort, ending up with sneakers that allow me to painlessly go through my day.

Tiara (bottom left): I’ve always been a big sneakerhead. I grew up in the South and it’s just a part of the culture there. Every year, I was always so excited to pick out a new pair of sneakers to show off to my friends. To this day, I’ll quickly grab a pair of sneakers over anything else. Comfort is a must, though, otherwise, I get plantar fasciitis, which exacerbates my flat feet and bad ankles.

Deema (bottom middle): More often than not, my carefully-curated sneaker collection can’t be used out of fear of creasing and wear. As someone who wears sneakers 75% of the time, this can be a bit of a struggle. Logical? Not really, but hey, aesthetics matter to me.

I’ve always been a big sneakerhead. I grew up in the South and it’s just a part of the culture there. —Tiara

Yannise (bottom right): I don’t remember when it became the norm, but sneakers have always been my go-to for casual footwear. If I had to choose my favorite brand of sneakers before this experiment, I’d have to say Converse. Their style has always appealed to me, and can really elevate an outfit. I’ll wear them down until they have nothing but holes in them, which I prefer anyway!

Since Cariuma’s always touting just how eco-friendly, consciously-made, and comfortable their shoes are, we definitely had to put them to the test. So we each got a pair and wore them every day for a week. Here’s what happened.

…some thoughts while waiting for the packages to arrive…

Meagan: Frankly, I was a little worried. I kept thinking, ugh they’re suede so I can’t wear them everywhere, plus I have no idea how to match sneakers to my outfits.

Deema: I’ve been a borderline sneakerhead since I wore my first pair of classic Adidas. When I discovered Cariuma, I was hesitant. Ordering shoes that were ethically sourced was something that was largely new to me. In a way, ordering the clean-cut OCA Low sneakers in Off White Canvas felt like a way to “give back.” 

Deema wearing Cariuma OCA Low Off White Canvas sneakers.
Deema wearing Cariuma OCA Low Off White Canvas sneakers.

Tiara: Before the shoes arrived, I assumed they wouldn’t work for me. Generally, canvas shoes that look similar to the OCA Low sneakers that sport the flat bottom shape are absolutely terrible for my feet. I was also worried they wouldn’t fit since my feet are wide (flat + wide feet = difficult to find cute shoes).

Deema Alawa / The Tempest Media, Inc.

The shoes we got were a variety of OCA Low and High sneakers. Sustainable and eco-conscious materials are a big part of Cariuma’s brand, and they use everything from canvas, rubber, and leather (both vegan and not) to make their stuff.

So some of us really loved getting the packages in the mail. Like, really, really loved it.

Tamanna: The first thing that caught my eye when I received the shoes was minimal packaging. I have reused, repurposed, and recycled every part of the packaging, which is rare for an international online order. 

Tamanna showing off her Cariuma OCA Low Navy Canvas sneakers.
Tamanna showing off her Cariuma OCA Low Navy Canvas sneakers.

Aafiyah: The box is bright and colorful. I love it! To this day, I still put my shoes back in the box so that I have an excuse to keep the box.

I have reused, repurposed, and recycled every part of the packaging, which is rare for this sort of order. —Tamanna

Tiara: When the shoes arrived at my door, I was so excited! I’m a massive shopping junkie, and I absolutely adored the Cariuma packaging. I know it sounds strange but I loved that the box was completely sealed. I hate when I order shoes that come in the traditional box because they’re always half-open. I’ve had instances when my shoes come all messed up. I especially liked that Cariuma sends you two pairs of shoelaces because it allows me to play around with my style a lot more. 

Deema Alawa / The Tempest Media, Inc.

…and how things went down when we threw our fresh pairs on for the first day out:

Yannise: Putting on the OCA Low Stripe Leopard Suede sneakers wasn’t difficult, and they surprisingly had some height to them (I am 5’1 and love those extra inches). Since I was going to work, I wore light blue high-waisted jeans, a gray long-sleeved top, and an oversized black jacket. Usually, I wear long socks, but this time I chose to wear ankle socks with these shoes. Big mistake.

Yannise Jean rocks the Cariuma OCA Low Stripe Leopard sneakers.
Yannise rocks the Cariuma OCA Low Stripe Leopard Suede sneakers.

Not only was it a rainy day, but the back of my socks slid off of my heel, making the commute somewhat uncomfortable. Can’t blame that on the sneakers, but definitely make sure you’re wearing longer socks if you rock the low tops (or no socks!). 

Tamanna: I got the OCA Low Navy Canvas sneakers. I was excited because they aren’t completely neutral and can bring some understated color to an outfit. On my first day, I styled them with wide pants and a colorful button-up. I love that they didn’t take away from my overall look, but were also interesting in their own right. Over the next few days, I styled these sneakers with midi skirts, jeans, and dresses. 

I styled the shoes with a metallic blue skirt from Zara and Madewell shirt and the sneakers pulled the entire look together, giving a classic edge to street style. —Deema

Meagan: When I pulled out my OCA High All Camel Suede sneakers, I couldn’t wait for daylight to try them out – I decided to go out that night. I immediately put in the brown laces (the OCA sneakers come with two shoelace colors) and was off to a winery with some friends. I combined them with jeans and a green flannel shirt. I looked cute.

Meagan rocking her Cariuma OCA High All Camel Suede sneakers.

Deema: I tried the OCA Low Off White Canvas sneakers on the spot and instantly felt relieved that I didn’t have to worry about creasing the soft canvas. The shoe’s low-cut heel and complementary off-white canvas gave the shoe texture, adopting street style’s shift to juxtaposing textures while retroactively supporting sustainable fashion. I styled the shoes with a metallic blue skirt from Zara and Madewell shirt and the sneakers pulled the entire look together, giving a classic edge to street style.

Tiara Jenkins rocking the Cariuma XXX
Tiara rocking the Cariuma OCA Low All Black Suede sneakers.

Tiara: The next morning I styled the OCA Low All Black Suede sneakers with my normal work attire: black slacks and a sweater, and took off. When I wear shoes with no support I can almost immediately feel the shock in my ankles when my feet hit the concrete, but that wasn’t the case this time! I can’t say I made it all the way to work without any twinges of normal discomfort, but they’re much more comfortable than most of my other shoes. My ankles remained supported and for me, that’s a win.

Deema Alawa / The Tempest Media, Inc.
Deema Alawa / The Tempest Media, Inc.

Now that our week with Cariuma is over, here are our main takeaways:

Meagan: I will say that the next day my butt was a little sore…strange right? I wonder if the shoes act like shape-ups and help tone my legs while I wear them? Technically, they aren’t meant for that, but that’s my belief. Honestly, these are cute-ass sneaks that match with a ton of different stuff and they are ethically-created. Plus I didn’t experience any of those first-day-of-wearing-new-shoes blisters. The price for what you’re getting? Worth it.  

Aafiyah rocking the Cariuma OCA Low cloud grey suede sneakers.

Aafiyah: To be completely honest, initially, the inner sole cushioning worried me slightly, and that I would feel it against my foot. However, it’s felt like I’ve been walking on a cloud. 

Honestly, these are cute-ass sneaks that match with a ton of different stuff. —Meagan

Since I first heard about Cariuma through The Tempest (they’re not that well-known in the UK), I was worried about how good these shoes actually were. To date, though, none of my other shoes compare to the comfort of these sneakers. Since the first day I slipped these on, they remain my go-to for whenever I have to do something for long periods of time. I’m a massive fan.

The shoes are light, somewhat airy, so it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing anything less than a cloud. —Yannise

Tamanna: I love these sneakers, and they’re going in my regular rotation! Even after my busiest days, my feet didn’t get cramps like they usually had before I discovered Cariuma. There was a break-in period for me (I mostly felt it on my ankles), but after a week, they felt like a second skin. These days, you’ll find me in my Cariumas if you run into me – so my verdict? Hell yes. 

Tiara: To my surprise, I was pleasantly comfortable in my Cariumas – but! Cariuma, if you’re reading this: in the future, I’d love to see a little bit more cushion or arch support, for those of us with foot problems. I feel like it’s possible to have cute shoes that both help out the wearer and the environment. 

[We reached out and asked Cariuma, and they stated that”our insole is completely removable and can be replaced with special insoles as needed by the wearer!”]

Even after my busiest days, my feet didn’t get cramps like they usually had before I discovered Cariuma. —Tamanna

Deema: The shoes did not disappoint. I’ve been wearing my Cariumas for over a month now, and the fact that they only get more comfortable every day makes me a die-hard supporter. The shoe’s classic look and resilience to wear and tear consistently delivers, making them one of my favorite accessories. Absolute 10/10 on quality, style, and performance. 

Yannise: The shoes are light, somewhat airy, so it doesn’t feel like you’re dragging your feet (which is a massive plus if you live in New York City). Of course, they will feel a little tight when you first wear them, just like with any new shoe. But they’re perfect for styling with any type of wear—casual, formal, dressy, etc. Overall? Ten outta ten.


So now, when you see Cariuma on Instagram you’ll know what they’re all about — and if you want a pair of your own, check out their online store. In the words of one of our fave memes:

[Image description: Shia LaBeouf in front of a green screen, saying
[Image description: Shia LaBeouf in front of a green screen, saying “Don’t let your dreams be dreams. Just do it!”] via Giphy

Seriously. Find your solemates today – before they go out of stock!

Tech Science Money Career Advice Now + Beyond

The best of The Tempest: Now & Beyond in 2018

Whether you are happily shutting the door on 2018 or gearing up to take on the year to come, now is the time to look back and remember all the good parts that got us through this year.

|t has been a year of change, resistance and innovation.

During all the political turmoil, humanitarian crises and plain shitty occurrences that 2018 gifted us. It is easy to forget that it has been a year of never seen before advances in the fields of money,  tech, science, and careers. The world is changing, and it is incredible to watch.

Here is a roundup of our favorite Now & Beyond articles that helped us survive 2018.

1. “Women have always been powerful warriors and these female Vikings prove it” b 

Women have always been powerful warriors and these female Vikings prove it

Women are usually left out of our history books, their accomplishments forgotten and their existences wiped out. We’re taught time and time again about the powerful men of the past, the warriors who fought bravely. Always assuming that women have never had a place in the battlefield. This year, through recent DNA analysis, we were able to verify that not only were female Vikings an actual thing, but they were also revered in their communities.

It’s proof that there has never been anything that a woman can’t do. Read more.

2. “All the must-see sky events you don’t want to miss in 2018″ by o

All the must-see sky events you don’t want to miss in 2018

It’s easy to admit that most of us at The Tempest are self-confessed astronomy nerds.

I mean, what is better than watching celestial objects and phenomena occur. It’s nice to know that there is something out there, some beautiful things that we have no power over. We humans cannot influence or ruin them. (For now anyway).

2018 was blessed with so many opportunities to stop and watch the universe around us.  From the Perseid Meteor shower to the blue moon, this year has shown us the beauty that lies beyond. We cannot wait to see what 2019 brings us. Read more.

3. The science behind these 7 Desi cultural traditions will blow your mind b

The science behind these 7 Desi cultural traditions will blow your mind

As a desi, who has spent most of her life in the UK, I almost forget how clever my ancestors were.

There is a perception that the west is the bank of knowledge and my people are “backward.” I’m ashamed that I spend so much of my youth ignoring the traditions my mother tried to teach in fear of being teased about them. This listicle goes through many desi cultural traditions and explains the science behind them, because yes, there is logic and fact behind these things.

From sleeping directions to bangles and mehendi, it turns out everything has a reason. Read more.

4.  Here’s how to (finally!) find the courage to follow your dreams by Arushi Tandon

Here’s how to (finally!) find the courage to follow your dreams

We can easily find a pick-me-up article on following our passions and be motivated, but then what? Well, in this piece, Arushi helps you solidify that “then what”.

Telling someone to follow their passion is great, but we tend to lack the how and an understanding of the everyday struggles that come with it. This article helps you stop and think about how to go about it, where to start, and what to do in order to actually follow your passion.

If 2018 was your year of making some groundbreaking decisions to follow your passion, then 2019 is your year to actually get things done and maybe even enjoying the journey along the way! Read more to know how you can map your path out!

5. 4 things successful people do after getting rejected by Dawn Metcalfe

4 things successful people do after getting rejected

All of us have gotten rejected somehow, whether in our careers or personal lives.

And if we haven’t, as Dawn says, we may not be reaching far enough or challenging ourselves much. And that means stagnancy and lack of growth.

Growth is amazing, but not without the struggle of rejection.  And no matter who you are, rejection sucks. Taking the time to mourn it, accept it, and learn from it before getting back into it makes all the difference. Here’s to our readers becoming better with each rejection in 2019.  Read more.

6. What they don’t tell you about entrepreneurship by Mashal Waqar

What they don’t tell you about entrepreneurship

The typical entrepreneur story seems to look like this: A cis-gendered, straight white man in a suit,  walking into a boardroom of investors with a great slide deck. After killing that presentation and wow-ing them, he is shaking hands, kicking ass, and taking names.

Yeah, let’s back up.  Today’s entrepreneur is looking less white, still a little more cis-gender straight male than it needs to, and not always all that confident and successful.

“Nevertheless, she persisted”, right? Mashal’s incredibly honesty story speaks to many women about that gut-punching thing called imposter syndrome.  Read more about what the non-traditional entrepreneur really looks like.

7. Technostalgia: Why are young people so obsessed with old technology? by Jesse Shamon

Tech nostalgia: Why are young people so obsessed with old technology?

Besides the chaos and endless stream of memes that have made 2018 what it was, another stand out trend featured nostalgia. We saw remake after remake of our favorite 80s and 90s television shows and songs, 90’s fashion trends reared its head once again, and we got a dose of technological throwbacks.

In this piece author, Jesse Shamon explores the phenomenon of tech nostalgia, and how during times of turmoil we all turned to the past for escape. Read more and explore her questions of what exactly we’re escaping from in our technological future, the answer could save us all one day.

8. Why black folk especially suffer in a for-profit, capitalistic world by Gabrielle Smith

Why black folk especially suffer in a for-profit, capitalistic world

The New Year always brings dreams of more financial stability and prosperity, but for some of us, it’s not that easy. In a capitalist world, black folk will always face challenges due to a history of slavery and our ties to our roots. Afrocentricity keeps us tied to our heritage and those old ways of life just don’t mesh well with a rigid, capitalist society. Read more on Smith’s honest and thought-provoking take on what’s normally just deemed as black laziness.

9. Michelle Obama sent me to tech boot camp and it opened up my eyes to a whole new world by Grace Wong

Michelle Obama sent me to tech boot camp and it opened up my eyes to a whole new world

I’m just going to say it, I miss the Obama’s!!! And I especially miss Michelle Obama. In this story, we hear the amazing tale of how a little encouragement pushed our author to new heights. From traveling across the world helping every community we touch, challenging gender roles in society, and taking ourselves to new heights, this piece has it all. You’ll definitely want to read more because this is the exact energy we want to take into 2019, now and beyond.

Tech Now + Beyond

Has technology ever betrayed you at the worst time and caused nightmares?

What’s the worst thing technology has ever done to you? Last year in the middle of my advanced public speaking class, my computer decided to update, which is annoying but not completely unusual. Computers always seem to have an update at the most inconvenient times.

This time, however, it took five hours to update, and then I received a “disk error” message.

war games explosion GIF by MANGOTEETH
[Image description: a series of computers explode]
Long story short, my computer never turned on again and my hard drive was completely erased. I was poor and couldn’t afford a new computer or to get my files extracted. So my roommate and I spent hours on the internet trying to build a new hard drive on her computer and download it onto my broken one.

It didn’t go so well.

I lost my school work, some of my articles for The Tempest, and every important file I’d ever saved on my computer, moreover, I was left laptopless for a month. I’m still feeling the effects today. I couldn’t access some of my older tax returns that I needed for financial aid this year. It’s like this nightmare won’t end.

Technology is great – don’t get me wrong, and is helpful in an infinite amount of ways, but sometimes it can hurt us more than help us. Even if it doesn’t hurt us, sometimes it can just be downright creepy, like Siri screaming random messages into the night, or seeing ads for a product you merely thought of that day.

It may be a dystopian ideal, but sometimes I can’t help but feel that our technology is out to get us or at least watching us very closely.

suspicious thats so raven GIF
[image description: woman chews gum and rapidly looks left and right in fear.]
So let us know if technology has every betrayed you or caused you nightmares in this anonymous survey, and you might be featured in a future Tempest fam article!

Life Hacks Editor's Picks Money Now + Beyond

These 5 tips will make applying for your student loans less scary

Getting accepted into my first choice university was simultaneously the most exciting and terrifying time of my life.

The school I wanted to attend was out of state, and expensive. I would be rejecting all the scholarships I’d earned for state schools and basically putting myself and my single father in a world of debt. Nonetheless, my father encouraged me to go. We both felt that with me being underprivileged, black, and a woman, I needed to take all the risks to give me the best chance for success. That meant going to the best school no matter the cost because, in the end, it’d be worth it.

Through my years I’ve dealt with so much strife and heartache relating to taking on student loans, but it’s taught me a lot about finances. Most people have to take on some kind of student loan to pay for our backward education system. It’s scary, I won’t lie, but here are a few things I’ve learned that could help you make the best decision for your future.

1. Fill out your FAFSA as soon as possible

typing montage GIF
[Image description: a montage of cats on laptops banging and typing rapidly]
I cannot stress this point enough. FAFSA is the free application for student aid. This includes your scholarships, grants, and federal loans. You want to fill this out as soon as possible because aid is limited and on a first come first served basis.  You’ll need your parents’ most recent tax return and yours if you work. The applications open up every year on October 1st.

Personally, I had no idea about this and learned the hard way. One year my dad took forever to do his taxes and so I didn’t submit my FAFSA until January.  Subsequently, I got so little aid that I had to pay my school $7,000 out of pocket and since I didn’t have that, I had to take a year off from school. It was scary and awful and falling behind really messed with my mental health.

2. Understand the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans

the last man on earth what GIF by Fox TV
[Image description: a woman stares in confusion mouthing “WHAT?!”]
Now, these two types of loans refer specifically to government loans.

The type you will be offered is strictly need-based. A subsidized loan is a loan where interest doesn’t start to accrue until you are out of school whereas a subsidized loan accrues interest as soon as the money is disbursed. No matter how long you plan to be in school, it’s always nice to not have thousands of dollars added to your debt, so always go for the subsidized loan if one is offered to you.

3. Ask about institutional loans

asking for a friend GIF
[Image description: man holding a mug, shrugging with a cheeky expression with the caption “asking for a friend”]
If federal loans still don’t end up covering your cost, ask your financial aid office about institutional loans. These are loaned out to you by your school and tend to have lower interest rates than banks and other private loan companies.

That $7,000 I owed to my school eventually had to be taken care of with an institutional loan, and my office helped me develop a plan for repayment after graduation that wouldn’t put a major strain on me in addition to my federal loans.

4. Choose Fixed Rates over Variable Rates

confused adam devine GIF by Apartment Guide
[Image description: man wiggles eyebrows caption: decisions decisions]
A variable rate refers to interest and the amount charged to your outstanding loan balance. The variable rate is dependent on the market and so your interest could increase or decrease and will directly affect your repayment amount each month.

So one month the market could be good and you’d pay $100 and the next month it could change to $500. A fixed rate doesn’t change and your repayment plan would stay at $100 a month unless you decide to pay extra. This is why you hear so many scary things about private loan companies like Sallie May who have variable rates and repayment is really hard on individuals.

5. Repaying your loans

poor john travolta GIF
[Image description: A person holding a wallet open to reveal another person looking around for money]
With all my financial hiccups I ended up taking significant time off from school and at one point I started to repay my student loans. It’s important to know that you don’t have to start paying immediately. Most companies give you a six-month deferment or postponement of payment. This allows you to find a job, save up, and gather your finances. Take this time to do so. Missing a payment can be really detrimental to your credit and affect you in a myriad of ways like preventing you from buying a car or home.

No matter how much you know, student loans are a scary thing. You’re never sure of what your finances will look like in the future and if you’ll be able to repay it. The only thing we can do is try to know as much as we can and continue to invest in ourselves and our future. That makes everything worth it and prevents hiccups along the way.

Movie Reviews Movies Books Pop Culture

Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is taking young adult romance to new heights through representation

In addition to Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians releasing in theaters, the movie adaptation of Korean American author Jenny Han’s book To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before will be streaming on Netflix August 17, 2018. With an Asian female-led cast this movie is making just as much of an impact as Crazy Rich Asians and I’m so excited to see some different representation on screen.

This teen romance follows the story of Lara Jean Covey or LJ (Lana Condor), a biracial Korean American teen whose seemingly normal life goes haywire when her secret love letters get sent out to five boys. This would be a nightmare for almost anyone, especially the imaginary romanticist like Lara Jean. How she overcomes her dilemma and falls in love for real is both hilarious and inspiring and will leave viewers of all ages with important lessons to take away.

Besides the inevitable love pentagon Lara Jean finds herself in, this movie is filled with gems.

First, we have the sisters’ unbreakable bond. One of the boys to receive a love letter happens to be her older sister Margot’s (Janel Parrish) boyfriend, Josh (Israel Broussard). This causes some tension between all three sisters but multiple times throughout the movie they can put their petty issues aside and stand together. As three girls growing up without a mother, their relationship and influence on each other are extremely important to them, and it shows with each sister’s actions, even the youngest bratty 11-year-old sister, Kitty (Anna Cathcart).

Secondly, the way they address loss in this movie I find really important. So often we see young adult media where there is a single parent but the effects of this are readily ignored. Both LJ and Peter (Noah Centineo), another letter recipient, live in single-parent households, one from death and one from abandonment, but neither have issues discussing their pain in an open and healthy way. I really relate to both Lara and Peter, and the solace they find in each other is admirable.

Furthermore, the subtle addressing of social issues in this movie is phenomenal. From calling out the racism in 80s movies in their disgusting portrayal of Asian characters to dealing with slut-shaming and comprehensive sex education. When older sister Margot relays to LJ that “it’s never worse for the guys” I felt like I was talking to my sister and friends. And I truly appreciate the gynecologist father who is not afraid to be open with his daughters about menstrual cycles, love, and safe sex. This movie doesn’t beat you over the head with wokeness but instead realistically portrays issues that teen girls are going through all over the world.

As to be expected when condensing a sizeable novel, the pacing of the movie is a little bit off. And you don’t get the full romantic growth that eventually buds between Lara and Peter like in the novel. Their love is still believable, however, and you root for them to figure it out.

My only criticism of the movie is a minuscule moment between the sisters that you would only notice as a book reader. When Margot comforts her sisters after the big climactic moment in the movie she says the words “Covey Girls forever”, but in the book, the sisters frequently refer to themselves as the Song Girls. It’s an important way in which they connect with their deceased mother who gave them the moniker of her maiden name as well as their Korean heritage. A lot of the moments that seemed to be cut from the movie are those that deal with the girls’ Korean identities. Maybe it’s not a big deal but the erasure felt deliberate and left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

Overall, the movie is cute and I would 10/10 watch again. It ends with a cliffhanger of another letter recipient arriving at her door, John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Burchette) which only alludes to more drama for LJ to wade through. I can definitely say he is my favorite boy of all Lara’s boys and you won’t want to miss what’s next.

What I’d like to see most in the sequel (Netflix, I hope you’re working on it right now!) and hopefully the third movie is a full embracing of the Song girls’ Korean identity. I look forward to how New Year’s will be portrayed because in the book it’s a full celebration with traditional dress, activities, and their mom’s side of the family. These elements are essential parts of the characters’ personalities and motivations, includng their dad, and it shouldn’t be erased.

USA World News The World

The “French Spiderman” story is problematic for several reasons – here’s why

Mamoudou Gassama lived a quiet life in France before his life was forever changed. Without a moment’s hesitation, he decided to commit an act of selfless bravery and kindness. Bystanders stood by recording in awe as Gassama scaled a building with seeming superhero-like powers to rescue a baby dangling from a balcony. He successfully saved this child from sure death and was welcomed with cheers and applause. Video of his act soon went viral, and Gassama was deemed as the legendary “French Spiderman.” It didn’t take long for the President of France to see the video of this young man – who wasn’t actually French, but an immigrant from Mali. To thank him for such a brave act, President Macro granted him and his brother French citizenship. While this is a worthy reward for his act of kindness, president Macron’s “gift” really sheds light on the rhetoric in which we view immigrants.

I hate to be the person to find the darkness in a seemingly beautiful story. Everyone wins here. A baby boy lives another day with his family, a man gains the citizenship he was seeking, and President Macron and the rest of the French government can pretend that they care about immigrants or black bodies…at least for a little while.

Gassama’s act was truly an amazing feat, but as millions of undocumented immigrants risk their lives to enter countries like that of France and the United States, they do so knowing they won’t be appreciated. The kind acts they do everyday go (quite literally) undocumented, as they remain unnoticed. They know that they will face discrimination (and in some cases, even violence), but they continue to endure in hopes of a better life. Sometimes, that comes with the gift of citizenship and sometimes, it comes with death. We’ve all heard the stories of undocumented house workers facing sexual assault and abuse – and as soon as they speak out, they disappear.  

Even Mamoudou was shaken with fear when he realized that his act was now public record and his truth would be revealed. Like most immigrants, he didn’t expect to be met with kindness about his undocumented status because France is particularly unkind. Immigrant children are placed in jail and people who help refugees are criminalized. CNN writer Dawn Dimowo stated my thoughts exactly when she said, “a good immigrant is not so much about being legal or illegal, right or wrong, black or white. It is about being desired.”

The “reward” itself is also problematic, as it conveys an interesting and harmful message: that immigrants must be “superhuman” to be considered human.  Immigrants are automatically met with suspicion just because they’re immigrants. The world is quick to believe that they’re “sketchy” and trying to steal something – be it food, jobs, or citizenships rather than believe that these are real people trying to survive. Immigrants have morals just like us and care about other people. It’s almost insulting to think that the world is so surprised that an immigrant would commit such a brave act, because in my eyes, of course, they would! Immigrants are built on bravery. There’s no braver act than leaving your own country to one where you will face hardship and discrimination, just in hopes of building something for your family.

Like I said, this is an amazing story and not something we get to see every day – but I also can’t ignore the uneasy feeling it gave me in my stomach. So often we focus on America’s immigration issues and racism but forget that racism is a global issue that began in Europe. And France is JUST as racist as anywhere else especially against black immigrants who are coming from the countries that they colonized and ruined, so giving Gassama citizenship was the very least Macron could have done.

Gender & Identity Life

An open letter to my natural hair

While growing up, I was appalled by your nature. At the sight of you, I’d quickly plug in my straightener to iron out whichever kinks dared to show their face. Every month and a half I’d sit under my aunties fingers as she’d apply a relaxer or the “creamy crack” to my scalp. Even when it began to burn I’d push myself to sit and take it just a little longer because I knew it would be worth it. Afterward, I’d run my hands through my silky straight strands and bask in its glory. My hands would skip over the scabs and burns on my scalp and my eyes would block out my straggly, dead, split ends because my hair was shiny and straight and that’s all that mattered.

When I moved away from home to go to college and I no longer had my aunt to relax my hair I thought, “What will I do now?” I didn’t trust anyone with my “precious” locks and despite my skill in braids, twists, and ponytails, there was no way I was trusting myself with powerful chemicals. I’d seen the process done and experienced it for years of my life, but it just wasn’t something I could do. As the months went by and I viciously straightened my roots in hope for a miracle, the natural movement began to rise around me.  YouTube gurus emerged with tales of coconut oil, and my friend with the most gorgeous hair I’d ever seen kept encouraging me to go natural.

You, my beautiful hair, had been a major part of my self-confidence for as long as I can remember. I may not have been the skinniest, or the prettiest girl growing up, but I always had great hair. There was no way in hell I was just going to cut off my hair and be…bald. I’d rather be dead.

A year went by of desperate blow drying and straightening when I realized that I was transitioning. I’d wash my hair and get a glimpse of my curl pattern and you were kind of cute. I began to binge watch natural hair gurus like crazy, naptural85, journeytowaistlength, jewejewebee, naturalneiicey, and jaemajette to name a few. I’d look at their routines and copy their techniques and each month I’d chop a little more of the straight ends off. My best friend was my cheerleader. She would send me so much information and then one day she also decided to big chop, and then I had a friend to go through this journey with. My hair definitely looked crazy during this journey, but it wasn’t so bad because I lived in a white town, they barely could tell the difference.

Two years had now passed, and I began to experience another hurdle. With each new growth, I began to love you less. I noticed that your pattern was kinkier than the girls on YouTube and Instagram. You were short and hard to manage. My wash and goes didn’t go as easy as there’s seemed to and braid outs and twists out barely lasted a day before the humidity got to them. And you were costing my college pockets a fortune. But we were too far into this now, so I kept going. All the girls said patience was the key, so I decided to be patient with you and I’m so glad I did.

This has been an almost five-year journey and one of the greatest experiences of my young adult life. My beautiful natural hair, I love you more than words can describe. I no longer groan at the process of taking care of you because it is the most relaxing part of my week. You are my therapy and self-care. Each time another black girl compliments you or asks me my routine I’m filled with glee because one day she will get to feel what I do now.  You are big, defiant, and unruly, a true reflection of me. I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of being a queen, but with you, as my crown, I can think no less of myself.

Humor Life

10 feelings we all experience as graduation approaches

Graduation is one of those events that bring a world wind of emotions. You’ve spent hours scrounging over textbooks and rapidly typing papers, you’ve gone to games or avoided them like the plague, and you’ve hopefully made some lifelong friends who helped ease your misery and sleepless nights. Near the end, everything seems to go so fast and it’s hard to process your thoughts and emotions before it’s all over. Here are a few emotions you might experience and relate to during this trying time.

1. Over it

tired mondays GIF
[Image Description: A little girl lays face down on the floor in exhaustion clutching to a merry go round that drags her in a circle.] Via Giphy
All of a sudden every final, project and paper are all due on the same day.  The anxiety of tackling the finals mountain alone is enough to make you want to give up and lay in bed. You start testing how low of a grade you can get on the last assignment and maintain your grade. C’s get degrees, right?

2. Wait…am I going to pass?

scared on fire GIF by SpongeBob SquarePants
[Image Description: SpongeBob frantically blows on surrounding fire.] Via Giphy
You haven’t slept in a week and can’t remember what the taste of real food is because you’ve been surviving off of library fumes and vending machine chips. Your coffee stopped tasting good 5 hours ago, but you’re still sipping in hopes of an ounce of caffeine to fuel your veins. This is all a result of your procrastination and now you’re not sure if you want to take that C after all.

3. Leaving it up to God

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[Image Description: A man turns towards the camera with a smile and wipes his hands.] Via Giphy
You’ve officially finished everything and can finally hit submit. You know your work could have been better and maybe you should’ve proofread your paper one more time or at least used Grammarly but it’s all out of your hands now. Sleep is on the horizon.

4. I passed!!!!!

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[Image Description: A man stares in open-mouthed surprise.] Via Giphy
When you get your finals grade back and you somehow managed to finesse the system. You’re not even sure why you ever doubted yourself because you are genius and pure perfection.

5. It’s happening!!

Ilana Glazer Subway GIF by Broad City
[Image Description: A woman starts a tap routine on the subway wearing a coconut bra and rainbow pants.] Via Giphy
You wake up on graduation day and everything feels surreal. You don your cap and gown and even though the cap is ruining your hair and your family is already driving you crazy, you are beyond excited for the show.

6. Please don’t fall

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[Image Description: A woman trips down a runway in very high heels.] Via Giphy
Whether you’re wearing heels or not, the walk across the stage is just as stressful as your entire school experience. This is your moment and you’re just praying not to fall especially with the added pressure that everyone in the crowd has their phones posed to make you the next meme of the month.

7. I’m going to miss this hell hole

the office crying GIF
[Image Description: A man is crying and saying “Thank you.”] Via Giphy
You are making it across safely, you hear the cheers of your family and friends and as you shake your dean’s hand you find that you’re getting choked up. This experience has been anything but perfect but you’ve learned so much. Thank you to all the people who’ve stood by you and supported you through the rough times and the glorious ones.

8. 1…2…3…*pose*

red carpet netflix GIF by The Paley Center for Media
[Image Description: A woman turns and poses for the cameras on the red carpet.] Via Giphy
Celebrate good time come on! It’s time to take a million pictures with your family, friends, and classmates! You know your Instagram feed is going to be flooded tonight, and since you’ll probably only wear this outfit once, you can’t let it go to waste!

9. So what are your plans after graduation?

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[Image Description: A little girl stares in disgust.] Via Giphy
Almost immediately after you walk the stage someone is bound to ruin your good mood with the infamous “what are your plans after graduation?” question. You know they mean well but it’s annoying and pressuring. I’m working on it auntie, please let’s eat!


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[Image Description: A series of cats frantically banging on computers.] via Giphy
Sadly, your aunties questions will haunt you into the night. You’ve already applied to six thousand things but what’s a thousand more if it’ll secure your future? Adulthood continues to loom over you like a dark monster in the night and you must defeat it.

After all your hard work just know that success will come, whether, in the form of more school, a job, or an internship, you got this. Don’t stress too much and be proud of all you’ve accomplished! It can be hard but try your best to take a moment and soak it all in, you did it! Happy graduation! I am immensely proud of you.

Gender Inequality

I’d never heard about Muslim women in prison – until now

I had never heard of the Muslim Women in Prison project until I watched Youtuber Dina’s Tokio’s “creators for change” series.

She chose to highlight amazing Muslim women around the world who were just living their lives as they saw fit and breaking barriers at the same time. One of the women she met up with is Sofia Buncy, who founded the Muslim Women in Prison project and they discussed all that could be done to help these women.

Before this, it had never even occurred to me that Muslim women might be prisoners or had ever broken the law in any way, even as a Muslim woman who has broken the law herself.

My outlook on my friends, my mother and Muslim people, in general, were that despite the stereotypes of terrorism, we were all just pious and perfect law-abiding citizens. Little did I know how dangerous this outlook was and how I was acting on another stereotype that aided in the oppression and misunderstanding of Muslim women.

Society has this idea that religious persons are perfect persons and religiosity and morality go hand in hand. We see outward signs of piety like a hijab, a nun’s habit, or an orthodox cassock and we expect the people wearing them to be morally strong, impeccable human beings. And while these garments often do remind the persons wearing them of their faith and their faith’s practices which can align with societal morals, they are anything but perfect.

Often if these persons are caught doing something unlawful or immoral they receive harsher judgments and are castigated.

This is the story of so many Muslim women in prison today.  Along with the same mistreatment that all women receive in prison like abuse, rape, and denial of basic human rights, these women often face language barriers, community backlash, and stigmatization, as well as discrimination from the officers who oversee them.

The worst part of it all is that when you look at the records of these women, they usually aren’t even hardened criminals.

According to Buncy, they are frequently first-time offenders, victims of abuse, and familial circumstances, and yet they are treated like the worst of the worst. It truly seems that these women are being punished for their crimes as well as for being Muslim.

They should not be held to some higher standard to then later be dragged through the mud. When a woman puts on her hijab, it is her job is to hold herself to the standard that aligns with her religious beliefs, not anyone else’s.

We do not speak for them and we definitely do not speak for God. Our job is to treat all people equally.

It’s time we start thinking of these women. We habitually forget about women in prison but Muslim women?

We don’t think of them at all.

Gender & Identity Life Inequality

These are 5 ways you can honor Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)

The best part about scary stories isn’t the suspense, gore, and unimaginable monsters coming to life, but the endings. The part where good wins over evil and the monsters are defeated only to be heard of again through storytelling. Growing up I used to view slavery and the holocaust like a scary story. I knew they were real but like all bad things, they came to an end. The monsters were defeated and ceased to exist. In my mind, there was no more racism or antisemitism and everyone lived in peaceful harmony and equal opportunity no matter their skin color or religion.

But here in the real world, it feels like there’s been a surge of antisemitism around the world. The villains are now Neo-Nazis and they are recalling a time that we must never let happen again. The Holocaust, which ended the lives of almost 6 million Jews and other innocents, is a dark stain in history that we will never forget. In accordance with the Hebrew calendar, we remeHolocaustholocaust and all those who survived such terror.

Here are a few things you can do for Yom Hashoah (Remembrance Day), to not only make an impact today but to keep remembering and fighting against hate and persecution.

1. Take part in the Mourner’s Kaddish

[Image Desciption: A photo of a woman praying near a window.] Via Unsplash
The Mourner’s Kaddish is a series of Jewish prayers that honor the dead and is extremely important in regards to the holocaust. It’s been translated into English from Aramaic and anyone can recite it or visit a synagogue to join in the prayers. This act is not only respectful of victims and survivors but shows religious tolerance that Jews often aren’t afforded in comparison to Christianity.

2. Experience history through museums

[Image Description: A photo of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.] Via the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
This is as good a day as any to visit a Holocaust museum to hear the stories of what victims endured. If you are unable to visit a museum today, still make sure you take a moment and reflect. Also, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has online interactive activities that you can read through and take part in. They include things like understanding propaganda and the dangers that come with silence and compliance, which translate well into issues we see today.

3. Engage with unproblematic media

[Image Description: A photo of books in a library.] Via Unsplash
If you’re not a museum person, there are many movies and books out there that will teach you so much.

My favorite books include:

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak that highlights the book burning that occurred in Germany during WWII through the eyes of the dead.
  • The Boy Who Dared by Susan Bartoletti is based on the true story of Helmut Hubener the youngest person sentenced to death by the Nazis. He shared anti-Nazi material after discovering the lies told by Germany while listening to forbidden radio broadcasts.
  • Schindler’s List where a Nazi is forced to face the reality of WWII and begins to rebel and save Jewish lives.
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas tells the story of forbidden friendship between a German boy and a boy in a concentration camp and exemplifies the innocence often forgotten in war.
  • Fiddler on the Roof  follows the life of a poor Jewish man and his life as antisemitism threatens everything he holds dear.

4. Tikkun Olam

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[Image Description: A photo of a Holocaust Memorial in California, U.S.] Via San Francisco City Guides
Also known as “fix the world,” and seen as a loose translation to social justice. In Judaism, it’s seen as God’s direction to help those in need. Religious persecution and genocides are still currently happening around the world and it’s important to be aware of them.

The Darfur genocide occurring in Sudan against the non-Arab population is horrific and violent. There’s also the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, where Muslims are being persecuted for their religion and constantly fleeing for safety to neighboring Bangladesh.

It may seem hopeless and out of your hands but awareness and spreading the word always makes a difference.

5. Remember why we call certain people “neo-Nazis”

[Image Description: A photo of people walking through a memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin, Germany.] Via Unsplash
In further conjunction with Tikkun Olam, remember to not exclude anti-semitism in the current conversation. We’ve been so quick to name the alt-right neo-Nazis and call them out on racism, anti-Muslim rhetoric, stupidity and bigotry and while those reasons are accurate and warranted, anti-semitism has frequently been left out the conversation. These people hate Jews and don swastikas on their arms. We have to protect the Jewish as fiercely as we protect our other allies.

The important takeaway is to remember and to learn to see the signs and take a stand before millions die.

We cannot allow history to repeat itself.

USA World News The World Inequality

On April 3rd and every other day, we are vowing to love a Muslim

April 3, 2018, and every April 3rd after that shall now be known as #loveamuslim day.

A day where we highlight religious freedom and a hopeful end to xenophobia after leaflets were spread around the East London area of the UK calling for xenophobes and racists alike to use this day to “punish” Muslims for their religious beliefs. Muslims and allies decided to strike  back against such gross hatred with the hashtag “love a Muslim day.” On this day we aim to not only to stand by Muslims and protect them against hate but also to listen. To listen to their stories and not silence their voices with our own ideas of martyrdom and allyship. Religious persecution has pervaded our globe for far too long and it’s time to put an end to it all.

This leaflet that was spread around the streets of London and sent to people’s homes indicated a system where people could commit hate crimes for points. Points that had no meaning or value but could be earned for committing hate crimes like ripping off hijabs or “butchering Muslims with knives or vehicles.” It encouraged people to not be sheep and let “them”, meaning Muslims, overwhelm the white majority while simultaneously encouraging herd behavior by following the leaflets ideology.

It can be easy to just write this off as hate speech and think that Muslims have nothing to fear, and I wish that were factual but xenophobia is a global issue and isn’t going anywhere. Just in the UK alone, rates have increased by 40% reports the Guardian and in 2017 there was an average of 38 hate crimes daily. These are terrifying numbers that only mildly highlight the pervasive nature of this issue. With Trump’s “travel” ban that clearly targeted brown countries that were predominately Muslim and real hijabi women getting acid thrown in their faces almost every day, a stunt like this is far from funny or cute.

It’s time we begin to recognize the xenophobia in our everyday lives that are pushing this rhetoric and hateful ideology. It’s in our laws, our social ideology and even our media. Like the Disney movie Aladdin that pretends to be some inclusive movie but subtly portrays Muslim dominated countries as barbaric and misogynistic. I just find it so hypocritical for us to constantly condemn Nazis for their hate but refuse to see the very same actions in our own xenophobia. Real people are dying due to their religious beliefs. This is blatant religious persecution in addition to being incredibly racist for targeting those who “look Muslim” when Islam does not have a face.

It’s tiring.

So today we stick a huge middle finger to the hate and stand with Muslims against those who only want to inspire hate and death. I know that no matter the day I will be sure to use my voice to protect those who need it most as long as I have the privilege to do so.  It’s also important to remember that the best way for you to #loveamuslim is to ensure that these acts of kindness are not just a one time thing. This should be a part of our everyday lives because Muslims are targeted every single day, whether it’s an official hate day or not. It’s also important to remember that being an ally is not your chance to speak over a narrative or claim a moment for martyrdom.

We need to step aside and let Muslims have a voice and control the narrative about their communities, all the while supporting them through it all.

The World

Fertility clinics are huge part of women’s reproductive health, but they’re ruining women’s lives

One of the toughest hurdles a woman may have to face in her lifetime is infertility. As if that’s not enough, women are inundated by society’s expectations on motherhood, while also being fed false information that ultimately serves to make them feel like infertility is their fault. Undoubtedly, this can be a devastating experience. Many women turn to alternative methods of conception,  like tracking their ovulation, trying home remedies, going to fertility clinics and trying to preserve their eggs for possible in-vitro fertilization. For many women, fertility clinics are their last hope, be it for illness, old age, and other personal reasons. 

Imagine you are struggling to conceive a child, and you decide to trust a fertility clinic to store your eggs for possible in-vitro fertilization. Now imagine that your eggs were damaged due to mismanagement and that your chances of conceiving were forever ruined or severely set back. This is the reality of hundreds of women face due to devastating annual mishaps at fertility clinics. 

Both Cleveland University Hospital’s fertility center and the Pacific Fertility center had to disclose to their customers this month that due to temperature levels and other maintenance mishaps, their eggs and embryos were at significant risk for no longer being viable. This caused a world of devastation to many families who were probably on their last resort like Kate and Jeremy Plants, who were dealing with the devastating effects of ovarian cancer. To go through something as horrific and exhausting as cancer and then to hear that your only chances of having a biological family are extirpated due to the incompetence of a company; I can’t even begin to imagine what that detriment would feel like.

Now, a class action lawsuit has been filed against Pacific Fertility Center for this heinous mishap. According to the Washington Post, one year of storage in this facility costs almost $9,000, and that’s not including consultations, medicine, lab work, and the appraisal of a healthy embryo or egg. With the sheer number of eggs that are now conceivably damaged, this maintenance error has thrown millions of dollars down the drain for these families as well as caused insurmountable pain.

While a mistake is never purposeful, this is a pretty bad one that has ruined thousands of peoples lives. From ruined eggs to fertilization mishaps and switched embryos, these accidents continue to cast doubt on clinics nationwide with helping parents conceive. They look unprofessional, thoughtless, and to be quiet honest, they look a little evil. 

I’m not exactly sure what the right solution is in order to quel tensions, help these women, and restore faith in the capailities of these clinics, but something needs to be done so that women and families never have to go through this again. Fertility clinics are essential in upkeeping the scientific progess in regards to women’s health and they should act like it. Regulations should be tightened up to avoid frequent “low-risk mistakes” from reoccurring.  All we can hope is that this class-action lawsuit will make a difference and ensue change.  While you could never put a price on someone’s body, the money won would not only force these clinics foster new and secure regulations, but it could also fund more expensive treatments for women who may still have a chance or adoption costs for those who don’t.