Ralph Griffith, a serial bank robber who penned a self-published book about his time in prison with Bernie Madoff, appeared in federal court Wednesday to face his fifth bank robbery charge.
Griffith spent his 68th birthday at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse, where he was ordered to remain in jail pending his trial for an alleged armed robbery of a Milwaukie Wells Fargo Bank in July, The Oregonian first reported.
The career criminal, who describes himself as the founder and executive producer of XAK Media Group, was released from California prison in August 2017 after spending time behind bars for three San Francisco bank robberies in 2003. He was also previously convicted of a bank robbery in 1985.
Shortly after his 2017 prison release, Griffith wrote a self-published book, The Real Bernie Madoff: Our 7 Years Together in Prison, about his time behind bars at a North Carolina federal prison with the former financier, who was convicted of running one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in history.
I lived with the man, Griffith said in a YouTube video about the book. After about seven years I got a pretty good understanding about what Bernie Maddoff was up to.
The 68-year-old has also written fictional accounts of his life of crime, including a four-paragraph story called The Proper Way to Rob a Bank and another involving a character who inadvertently robs a bank and a star is born.
On Wednesday, prosecutors argued that his stories about his misdeeds prove he is still a danger to the community. Griffiths defense lawyer, Mark Ahlemeyer, insisted his clients books are protected under the First Amendment.
Ahlemeyer declined to comment about the allegations to The Daily Beast on Wednesday, citing the active criminal case.
On July 26, authorities allege Griffith walked up to a Wells Fargo teller at around 10:30 a.m. wearing sunglasses, a black wig, a white surgical mask under his chin, and clear gloves. Court records show Griffith rested what authorities believed to be a black handgun on the counter before pointing it at the teller and saying, Give me the money and no one will get hurt.
After the teller handed him a stack of cash with a GPS tracker hidden inside, a second bank employee walked overand Griffith allegedly demanded money from her as well.
You too, sweetie, he said, according to a federal affidavit obtained by The Oregonian, before stuffing the cash into a grocery bag.
Griffith allegedly threw away the two GPS devices and left. One tracker was later located in some bushes with a ripped $20 bill attached, and the second was found in the middle of the street. Surveillance video caught Griffith fleeing the scene in a blue Nissan Sentra.
On Tuesday, Griffith was allegedly on his way to rob another bank when he got into a minor accident, prosecutors allege. While searching the car, authorities found multiple medical masks, wigs, and black sunglasses in the front passenger seat.
It is my belief that Griffith was on his way to conduct another bank robbery at the time of his traffic accident and arrest, FBI agent Zachary Clark reportedly wrote in the affidavit.
Griffith is currently being held at the Multnomah County Detention Center. He is expected to be back in court on Oct. 24.
I’ve heard people say that growing up as an evangelical meant they never talked about sex. This wasn’t my experience. I grew up in the thick of evangelical purity culture and we talked about sex A LOT. We just spent all of that time talking about how and why NOT to have it.
As someone who waited until I was married to have sex, I was assured that I would be guaranteed an easy and rewarding sex life. When reality turned out to be different, I was disappointed and disillusioned. Only through gradual conversations with other married friends did I realize I wasn’t alone.
I started to wonder if maybe the expectations themselves were wrong. Maybe what I’d been told or had inferred about marital sex simply wasn’t true. These ideas came from multiple churches that I attended, from my Christian school, various summer camps, teachers, parents, and books I was encouraged to read. I know that my experience isn’t universal, but I also know that it is not unique. Since I have started writing about this, I have heard from thousands of people who have shared similar stories.
Here are four of the biggest lies I was taught about sex.
1.) Any and all physical contact is like a gateway drug to sex.
Once, in high school, I attended a big Christian youth conference. One night, one of the chaperones addressed the girls: “Ladies, we have noticed some very inappropriate touching going on…”
The inappropriate touching she meant turned out to be two high school couples in the youth group holding hands. This woman was deadly serious. “I know it may not seem like a big deal to you,” she said. “But hand-holding leads to OTHER THINGS!”
I heard similar things from parents, teachers, church leaders and books. In my church, it was not unusual for people to pledge not only to save sex until marriage but even to save their first kiss for their wedding day. “Don’t start the engine if you aren’t ready to drive the car,” and other similar metaphors warned me that any physical contact was a slippery slope straight into the jaws of fornication.
On this side of things, I can honestly say that there are SO many conscious decisions you have to make between kissing and having sex. Despite what Hollywood says, clothes do not just fall off, and bodies do not magically and effortlessly fit together.
If you are committed to waiting until you’re married to have sex, there are many valid reasons to set boundaries on your physical relationship, but the fear of accidentally having sex shouldn’t be one of them.
2.) If you wait until you are married to have sex, God will reward you with mind-blowing sex and a magical wedding night.
Before my wedding night, I had been told that honeymoon sex isn’t usually the best sex. I had heard that good sex takes work. I knew that it would probably be uncomfortable at first. But what nobody ever, EVER told me was that it might not work at all. On my wedding night, my mind and heart were there, but my body was locked up tighter than Maid Marian’s chastity belt.
I entered marriage with the firm conviction that God rewards those who wait, only to find myself confounded by the mechanics. I felt like an utter failure, both as a wife and a woman. And while we did (eventually) get things working, this was hard, frustrating, embarrassing and a huge blow to our confidences.
Saving sex for marriage is not a guarantee that you will have great sex or that sex will be easy. All it guarantees is that the person you fumble through it with will be someone who has already committed to [loving] you forever.
3.) All boys think about is sex, and good girls don’t think about it at all.
As a teenager and young adult, I cannot count the times I heard something to this effect: “Boys have raging hormones and are always thinking about sex.” We girls, on the other hand, were the guardians of virtue — our own, yes, but more importantly our brothers-in-Christ. I was taught that boys would go as far as we would let them and that it was our job to keep things in check. Along with the other good girls, I gave side hugs and wore tops that covered not just my chest but my shoulders as well.
Aside from the issue of whether or not girls should be responsible for others’ thoughts, I actually think this whole idea is degrading to men as well. It implies that men are animals or that they are slaves to their sexuality. The idea that sex is such an overpowering urge for teenage boys that they cannot control it is the exact same attitude that has led some to downplay sexual assault. (After all, how can you blame someone for something they are incapable of controlling?) Like all blanket statements, it’s also damaging because it generalizes all men’s experiences and our expectations of them.
I constantly heard about how much men love sex, so when I got married, I expected that we would be having sex at least [five] times a day. This might be true for some people, but I will be honest and say that this has never been true in my marriage. But because I believed that was the norm, I immediately inferred something was wrong with me. Why weren’t we having sex at every minute that we were not eating or sleeping or working? If this is what all men want and that’s not what our sex life looks like, then I must be doing something wrong. Spoiler alert: that wasn’t true. What was wrong were my expectations, which were based on the story I had been told over and over rather than on reality.
On the flip side of this is the belief that good Christian women aren’t sexual, or even that sex is something they do as a sacrifice for their husbands. For years I was casually told that “girls don’t care about sex.” Well, as it turns out, I do. This has been a deep source of shame for me. It was supposed to be something men cared about. If I actually wanted to have sex with my husband, wasn’t that somehow unfeminine? For a long time, I felt like a freak until I started to realize that I wasn’t the only one. I just didn’t know that because no one else had ever admitted it.
Girls (even “good Christian girls”) think about sex. In fact, girls can actually (gasp!) like sex. This doesn’t make you a freak. It doesn’t make you unfeminine or unnatural. God created us, both men AND women, as sexual beings. Enjoying sex makes you a human being created by God, in the image of God, with the capacity and desire to love — physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and sexually.
4.) If you wait until marriage, sex with your spouse will be free of guilt or shame.
Many Christians have spent years — from the day they hit puberty until their wedding day — focusing their energy on keeping their sex drives in check. Then, in the space of a few hours, they are expected to stop feeling like their sexuality is something they must carefully control and instead be able to express it freely. And not only that — but express it freely with another person.
Many of us have programmed guilt into ourselves — this is how we keep ourselves in check throughout our dating relationships. And that “red light” feeling we train ourselves to obey doesn’t always go away just because we’ve spoken some vows and signed some papers.
It took me several months to stop having that sick-to-my-stomach guilty feeling every time I had sex with my husband. Not only that, in “losing” my virginity, I felt like I had lost some essential part of my identity. I subconsciously believe that my virginity was a core component of my moral character. Even though I knew this wasn’t true intellectually, I couldn’t help feeling that if purity was synonymous with virginity and sexual innocence, wasn’t I now impure? Not everyone experiences this, but for the many people who do, it’s terribly isolating. Once again we’re experiencing something our churches and communities never acknowledged as a possibility. We feel alone and broken and filled with a profound sense that this isn’t the way it’s meant to be.
I don’t regret waiting until I was married to have sex, and I’m not advocating that churches stop teaching that sex is designed for marriage. But I do think there is something seriously wrong with the way we’ve handled the conversation.
If our reason for saving sex until marriage is that we believe it will make sex better or easier for us later, we’re not only setting ourselves up for disappointment, but we’re missing the point entirely. Those who choose to wait do so because we hold certain beliefs about the sacredness of marriage and about God’s intentions and wishes for humanity, and we honor these regardless of whether they feel easier or harder. In the meantime, we in the evangelical church have a lot of work to do correcting the distorted ways we talk about sex and sexuality, especially to our youth.
CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio ― There are things that Bresha Meadows remembers about the night she killed her father and things she doesn’t. She tells me this as she slowly picks apart a chocolate chip cookie, discarding the stale edges. We’re sitting at her attorney’s dining room table in an east side suburb of Cleveland. Although Bresha is 18, she looks younger, with warm brown eyes and a slightly upturned nose, which her boyfriend playfully teased her about the first time they met. She lifts her chin when she laughs, and she laughs often. The more distressing the story she’s telling, the more she breaks into a smile. It’s a nervous habit.
Her guess, she says, is that her mind blocked out some stuff to protect her. She remembers steadily extracting the gun from under her dad’s pillow as he slept on the couch. Then putting it down. Picking it up. Putting it down. “You know when you can kinda like, foresee something?” she asked. “I sat there thinking and pictures kept flashing in my head, like my mom’s funeral casket, and then my sister and brother are old enough to move out, and it is just me and him left in the house.” Her dad had been sexually abusing her since she was 8, she said, and beating her mother for her entire life. The last thing she thought before she pulled the trigger was: It’s never gonna stop. It’s only gonna get worse. She clicked the gun and spun around like a wooden spinning top.
She was 14.
She doesn’t remember screaming, though her mother describes hearing an unearthly sound, high-pitched and deafeningly loud. When the police arrived to arrest her, she was dripping wet. After shooting her father, she bolted upstairs and jumped in the shower fully clothed. “I felt myself going into shock, so I tried to get cold water on me,” she explained. The police officers who responded, all men, allowed her to put on dry clothes before taking her down to the station, but insisted on remaining in the room as she undressed, she said.
I’d been covering Bresha’s case since 2016, but this was the first time we’d met. In court, her back was always to the public gallery. From behind, she struck a fragile figure, often visibly shaking and shifting foot to foot as she stood in front of the judge, her hands clasped behind her. In person, she was lighter, more animated, although she chose her words with a degree of caution and precision rarely observed in teens. That’s a repercussion of jail, she said. She is always bracing for something terrible to happen.
The fact that we were even having this conversation was improbable. Normally kids who kill a parent are tried as adults and go to prison for decades, even if they are victims of severe child abuse.Bresha was an outlier. Eighteen months after the shooting, she returned home to her family in Warren, Ohio. This spring, she graduated high school with a 4.0 for the year.
During one of our conversations, I asked her what she wanted from her new life. She paused and a look of confusion flashed across her face. It was the wrong question, impossible for her to answer. Her childhood was focused on survival; it left no space to dream. Recently, she purchased an old Jeep. It had a cracked windshield and an oil leak, but it ran. When she is driving, she said, she is able to capture the rare and blissful feeling of having complete control over her life.
A Childhood Deferred
The hours and minutes leading up to the shooting on July 28, 2016, were unremarkable. Jonathan Meadows, 41, drank vodka mixed with pop and yelled at Bresha’s older brother before passing out on the couch. At the young age of 14, Bresha was accustomed to this pattern. Drinking, then fighting. Her dad was prone to physical violence, she said, and his cruelty grew when he was drunk. His favorite target was her mother, Brandi, who married him when she was 19. “Most of the time he’d keep the bedroom door closed when he hit her, but if he was drunk, he’d forget and leave it open,” Bresha said. Some days, she’d come home from school to find her mother with a fresh black eye. She recalled one occasion when she was hanging out in her bedroom and heard a loud thud. She peeked her head out and tiptoed down to her parents’ room. Her mother was knocked out on the floor. “Do you remember that, mom?” she asked, turning to Brandi, who sat with her daughter during interviews in early October. Brandi shook her head no, her eyes watery. Bresha laughed nervously again.
When Bresha was little, her father used to tuck her in at night and offer up his cheek for a “zerbert,” the term for a raspberry popularized by “The Cosby Show.” She’d press her lips against his face and blow, making a silly noise. It was their special evening ritual. Later, she would come to dread bedtime. Around the age of 8, her father began molesting her, she said. He told her to keep it a secret and she did. But soon after, Bresha started asking her mother if they could leave Daddy. “She was the first one to say it to me,” Brandi said.In 2011, when Bresha was 9, Brandi had a stroke and ended up in the hospital for a week. For Brandi, the medical emergency served as a wake-up call. “I realized this is not what I want. Like, I don’t want to die here, living like this in front of my kids,” she said.
As soon as she was well enough, Brandi fled to her mother’s house in Parma, Ohio, with her three children ― Bresha and her older siblings, Brianna, now 22, and Jonathan Jr., now 24. In a protective order filed at the time, she detailed her husband’s brutality. “In the 17 years of our marriage he has cut me, broke my ribs, fingers, the blood vessels in my hand, my mouth, blackened my eyes,” she wrote. “If he finds us, I am 100 percent sure he will kill me and the children.” Sitting on the back porch of her mother’s house, Brandi opened up to one of her sisters, Martina Latessa, a Cleveland detective who knew firsthand the complexities of domestic violence. Still, a few months later, Brandi returned to her husband, a decision that she still hasn’t forgiven herself for. Once they were home, Bresha said, things deteriorated further. Her dad believed his children betrayed him by leaving, and was paranoid they’d do it again. “We wasn’t allowed to talk no more after that,” Bresha said, nodding at her mom. “If he walked in and we were talking, he’d get mad.”
When Bresha was 12, her dad raped her for the first time, she said. She hadn’t had a period yet, but started menstruating soon afterwards, which led her to wonder if the two were related. “I don’t know if that could bring a period faster,” she said, her voice trailing off. She shared a room with her sister, and her father would time his visits for when his youngest daughter was alone. At 13, she ran away to Cleveland, seeking help from her aunts. “I needed to breathe,” she said. Latessa, her aunt, was struck by how withdrawn her niece appeared. “She was rubbing her hands together and shaking and very closed off,” she said. Bresha told her that her dad’s violence was getting worse. He had strangled her mother, and threatened to shoot all of them. When Latessa told Bresha that she had to go home ― her parents had reported her missing ― she broke down crying. On the car ride back, she lay comatose in the backseat. She didn’t tell her aunt about any sexual abuse, but Latessa wondered about it after spotting cut marks on her arms. Self-injury is common among female victims of molestation, she said. Latessa made Bresha memorize her phone number and took her to the Warren Police Department so that Bresha could tell them about her father’s violence, and what it was like inside the home. Nothing came of the report, Latessa said. The police did not immediately return a request for comment.
Three months before the shooting, Bresha’s family moved houses. For the first time in her life, she had her own bedroom. Most teens crave their own personal space. But for Bresha, sleeping alone meant she was never safe from her father. She stopped sleeping and developed chronic, debilitating headaches, terrified of her father’s surprise visits. She ran away again. “Every time I left, they just sent me back. It was pointless,” she said. “You could walk through that house and you knew it, he had control, he wasn’t going to get in trouble.” One night, she was in the process of hanging herself in her closet, she said, when her friend walked in and stopped her.
Before she pulled the trigger, Bresha said, it hadn’t actually occurred to her that she would go to jail. She thought it was obvious she was acting in self-defense, and everyone would agree. Nowhere is her 14-year-old mind more evident than in this calculation. It wasn’t until she was inside the Trumbull County Juvenile Detention Center, and heard her charge ― aggravated murder ― that it dawned on her that she was in serious trouble. If she was tried as an adult and convicted, she could spend the rest of her life behind bars.
‘The Archetypal Violent Act’
Parricide, the killing of a parent, is extremely rare. Only about 50 children under the age of 18 in the U.S. kill their parents each year, according to an estimate by Kathleen Heide, a professor at the University of South Florida who was hired as an expert witness by Bresha’s defense team. Most are victims of severe child abuse. And, like Bresha, most act while their parent is asleep or otherwise incapacitated because it is the only time they believe they can fight back and win.
To a child, it’s a rational choice. “It’s when their fear level is a little lower,” said Paul Mones, a lawyer who specializes in defending children who kill their parents. But it usually dooms them in court. Under most self-defense laws, a person is only justified in using deadly force if they believe they are being threatened with imminent death or serious bodily harm, with an emphasis on imminent. There is no exception for juveniles, Mones said, although in a handful of cases, courts have allowed testimony on battered child syndrome ― a condition resulting from severe abuse ― to explain why a child might truly believe their life was in danger despite the absence of an imminent threat.
Mones, who wrote “When a Child Kills: Abused Children Who Kill Their Parents,” said that in most of his cases, his clients were charged as adults, convicted and sent to prison for at least 10 years. “There’s a strong streak of retribution against youth in the juvenile justice system,” he said. “The killing of a parent, no matter what, is still viewed as the archetypal violent act of kids, the ultimate rebellion.”
The practice of trying children as adults is commonplace in the U.S., especially if the defendant is a person of color. Bresha is Black. “We have this expression, ‘If you can do the crime, you can do the time,’ which from a developmental point of view is ludicrous,” said psychologist James Garbarino, who studies the use of violence by children. A growing body of neurological research has found that the parts of the brain associated with functions such as planning, reasoning, judgment and impulse control are not done maturing until a person is in their 20s. Kids simply think differently than adults. The Supreme Court has acknowledged this in a series of landmark decisions. In 2012, the court ruled that it was cruel and unusual to sentence a child to life in prison without the possibility of parole, because it “precludes consideration of [a child’s] chronological age and its hallmark features — among them, immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences.” Writing for the majority, Justice Elena Kagan noted that it also prevents the justice system from taking into account a child’s home environment, from which a child “cannot usually extricate himself — no matter how brutal or dysfunctional.”
In addition to their cognitive immaturity, children are also especially vulnerable to the effects of trauma. Back in the 1990s, a landmark study found a significant link between negative childhood experiences and chronic health problems later in life. Ongoing research into adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs as they are called, has found that the more ACEs a person has, the more likely they are to develop heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, depression; struggle with substance abuse; or end up incarcerated. (You can take the 10-question ACE test here.) The exact mechanism that links childhood trauma to negative health outcomes is unclear, but scientists hypothesize that it has to do with the stress response. When we feel threatened, our bodies react by increasing our heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones, such as cortisol. Learning to manage stress is a normal and healthy part of growing up. But when children are constantly stressed, it can literally shape the developing brain.
Bresha has an ACE score of 7. While extremely high, it is not out of the ordinary for girls in juvenile justice. An estimated 45% of female juvenile offenders have an ACE score of 5 or higher, according to a Department of Justice report. Like Bresha, 31% were sexually abused prior to incarceration.
For many children, you can draw a straight line between the trauma they experienced and the crime that put them behind bars. They’re not bad kids, they’re hurt ones.
The Fight Of Her Life
On Bresha’s first night in juvenile detention, she got a surprise visit from Ian Friedman, a criminal defense attorney based in Cleveland. Before they met, he wasn’t planning on taking her case. His trial schedule was full and the family couldn’t pay. But he promised Brandi, who came to see him in his office that day, that he would talk to Bresha in person before making up his mind. “My first impression was that she was a little girl who didn’t have anything, didn’t come from anything and wasn’t going to get a fair shake in the system,” he said. “I was concerned that she would get flushed down the toilet.” He took the case on the spot.
Outside the jail, Bresha’s case was beginning to go viral. A few days after the shooting, Brandi went on local television and called Bresha a hero. “I wasn’t strong enough to get out and she helped me,” she said, sobbing. The heartbreaking clip was picked up by national news outlets, including HuffPost. Latessa, Bresha’s aunt, also began speaking to reporters about the violence in the house and her niece’s recent repeated attempts to run away. By this point, Latessa was a detective in Cleveland’s special domestic violence unit. (She has said she was inspired to work with domestic abuse victims after witnessing her sister’s untenable situation.) Her clear, calm recounting of what she knew about the family lent credibility to her Bresha’s claims of self-defense. So did the account by Bresha’s cousin, Ja’Von Meadows-Harris, who described being physically and emotionally abused by Bresha’s father when he lived with them. Jonathan Meadows’ sister denies that he was abusive, and says that he was a good dad.
The racial dynamics of her case ― as a young Black girl, Bresha was more than four times more likely to end up incarcerated than her white peers ― also caught the attention of activists. An organizing collective, called #freebresha, began ginning up public support, promoting the family’s GoFundMe, organizing book drives and starting a petition to demand Bresha’s immediate release.
On the inside, Bresha was struggling. Every morning in juvenile detention, she woke up in a panic to a loud pop. It was her cell door snapping open, but to her, it sounded like a gunshot. She suffered from flashbacks to the night of the shooting, and anxiety attacks. The worst part was that she couldn’t talk to anyone about it. She was in the midst of the biggest mental health crisis of her life, and she didn’t even have a therapist, she said. When she entered the jail, her mother had to sign a form that stated “other than prescription refills and emergencies, your child will not be approved for any medical appointments while in detention.” Renae Hoso, the juvenile court coordinator for Trumbull County Juvenile Court, told HuffPost that detained youth generally have access to a licensed professional counselor, but she could not speak to any specific services provided to Bresha. Bresha, who was eventually diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, maintains that she didn’t receive needed psychiatric care while incarcerated. “I felt like there was nothing to live for,” she said. Another girl in juvie taught her to cut herself with a snapped hair elastic.
Meanwhile, she began to receive a steady stream of letters from people who had heard about her case. They sent her books to read, and encouraged her to stay positive. People thought she was brave, she said, though she didn’t see it that way. “When I think about it, I don’t think I did it because I was strong,” she said. “I did it because it was the last resort.”
Behind the scenes, her attorney, Friedman, was working hard to get her a deal. “It was terrifying the whole time,” he said. “If we made a mistake, even the slightest mistake, a little girl could end up in prison and that would alter the course of her life.” In December, he won his first victory. Four months after Bresha was taken into custody, prosecutors announced that they would not try her as an adult, removing the threat of a life sentence. The longest she could go to prison if convicted was until the age of 21. It was welcome news to Bresha, but her 21st birthday still seemed forever away. It meant she would spend the rest of her childhood behind bars, separated from her family. Being in jail was beginning to remind her of being in her dad’s house. The authorities had complete control over her life — when she ate, when she slept, whom she talked to. She felt entirely powerless. “It kind of triggered me, being in there,” she said. “I’m like, y’all don’t understand. I’ve been through this.”
As the months wore on, she sunk into a deep depression. Friedman and her family were increasingly worried about her mental state. “It was insane. You had this girl whose condition was just deteriorating every day,” he said. “To us, this was the central issue of the case.” In April, after Bresha had been in jail for over eight months, Friedman took action. He filed a motion urging the judge to release Bresha and put her on electronic surveillance pending trial, arguing that the lack of mental health services inside Trumbull County Juvenile Detention Center was akin to cruel and unusual punishment. “It was clear she had sustained some real trauma throughout her life and needed care. And here she was, sitting in jail for excess of 250 days without it,” he said. He attached study after study to his 21-page motion, showing the negative effects of long periods of incarceration on teens. “The research caused us to believe this would end with irreparable harm towards Bresha,” he said.
The motion seemed to move the needle on her case. The following month, Friedman secured a plea deal. On May 22, 2017, she pleaded “true,” equivalent to guilty in juvenile court, to an involuntary manslaughter charge. It was her 299th day behind bars. She was sentenced to a year and a day in juvenile detention, with credit for time served, as well as six additional months at a residential mental health facility and two years of probation.
On a recent morning, Bresha was debating whether people are born optimists or pessimists, or made that way by their life experiences. She was leaning toward the latter. She used to be bubbly and chatty, she said, open to talking to anyone. Now, she shies away from big crowds. When she returned to her high school inFebruary 2018, she was embarrassed to notice that she was walking with her hands clasped behind her back, a holdover from juvie. In any situation with multiple outcomes, she said, she is primed to expect the worst.
She plans to go to college and study criminal justice, but she’s not sure where yet. It will depend on money, mostly, and where she has enough family support. She might become a lawyer like Friedman, or a detective like Latessa. Or a domestic violence advocate, so she can support families like her own.
“Most of the kids just need help, you know?” she said, referring to the children she met while in juvenile detention. “They always had something behind why they were there. Not like, an excuse. But you gotta remember, a kid has a kid’s mind. We don’t have adult minds. And so it’s like, for them to incarcerate us as if we’re adults ― it just crushes us. It messes with the mind a lot, actually.”
These days, Bresha and Brandi spend a lot of time at home, just hanging out. In a way, they’re both convalescing. They got matching tattoos: a semicolon with an arrow through it. The image signifies that “the story is not over,” Bresha said. Life goes on. In many respects, she’s just like any other teen: She binges Netflix, Snapchats with her friends, and longs for new experiences, away from the trappings of her hometown. She’s never left Ohio, except for one time she was helping her mom deliver phone books and they crossed the state line into Pennsylvania. She’s never roller-skated. When we spoke, she had yet to take a plane ride, though that was about to change. This week, she is flying to Chicago to give a talk at an event for grassroots activists. It will be her first time speaking in public about what happened to her. She is nervous, she said, but feels compelled to do it. For all the other children who didn’t get a second chance like she did.
“I feel lucky, but I also feel bad, ’cause like, how am I any better?” she said. “I can’t do much, but I feel like I’m supposed to do something.”
This story has been updated with more information on mental health services at Trumbull County Juvenile Detention Center.
From grinning, eager kindergarteners to college students returning to campus, the first day of school is a universal new start — whether exciting or dreadful, or sometimes, both. For those who no longer have September to mark the passage of time, it may come with a jolting reminder of times past. Former First Lady Michelle Obama knows what feels like, and on Instagram, she showcased one of the most quintessential parts of the back-to-school experience: picture day. Michelle Obama’s 2019 back-to-school TBT photo has an inspiring message that may have students feeling a bit better about returning to class.
In the caption, Obama wroteabout “all the young people heading back to school and reflecting on my own days as a student in Chicago.” She reminisced about the things she — and all of us, really — went through as students. “I learned a lot in school—how to do my multiplication tables and structure a paragraph, yes, but also how to push myself, be a good friend, and dust myself off after a failure,” she wrote.
The post features an adorable image of the former first lady as a young student sometime in the 1970s, complete with short bangs and an awkward smile. Her plaid outfit and brooch necklace really complete the effect. It looks like a photo you’d find in a family photo book, or in your dad’s wallet. To be honest, the fact that she seems to have blinked in the photo just makes it that much more relatable.
“I believe every girl on the planet deserves the same kind of opportunities that I’ve had — a chance to fulfill her potential and pursue her dreams,” she wrote. “We know that when we give girls a chance to learn, they’ll seize it. And when they do, our whole world benefits.”
Obama made the post to her 32 million Instagram and 13 million Twitter followers on World Charity Day. She chose to tag the Girls Opportunity Alliance, which is a program of the Obama Foundation, focused on empowering adolescent girls and grassroots education leaders across the world. The post urged others to also share back to school photos and visit the program’s GoFundMe. Obama launched the Girls Opportunity Alliance almost one year ago on Oct. 11, 2018, the International Day of the Girl.
Obama herself received a formidable education. A Chicago South Side native, she attended Whitney Young Magnet High School, a public magnet school for gifted children, and graduated as salutatorian. She then headed to Princeton and Harvard Universities for her undergraduate sociology and law school degrees, respectively.
With both of her daughters off to college, Obama is now an empty nester, but she’s still taking the role of nation’s mom very seriously. She and her husband have often said their role as parents always comes first. It seems there’s no sign of her slowing down on a national level either, when it comes to getting girls healthy, happy, and on the path to taking their own back-to-school photos.
From a legal point of view, the case for impeaching Trump may well be difficult to resist. Politically, though, its a different story
The anguish that preceded the Democratic partys momentous decision to initiate impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump is not without cause. While some have celebrated the partys resolve to finally embark on a process they had been demanding for months, the situation this puts Trumps opponents in is nothing short of tragic. The reason is that it imposes contradictory demands on the Democrats, which leave them no easy way out.
On one hand, the evidence that Trump may have abused his powers in a variety of ways since assuming office is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. If these actions do indeed amount to high crimes and misdemeanors or even just a violation of his oath to protect the US constitution then it is not just Congresss constitutional right, but also its legal duty, to initiate impeachment proceedings.
What Nancy Pelosi said about Trump in her announcement yesterday also applies to Congress as a whole: Nobody is above the law. So, if crimes have been committed, they must be pursued and impeachment is the procedure specified by the constitution for this type of pursuit.
On the other hand, from a political point of view, the legal drama that is now set to unfold will most likely harm Democrats. This is not just because there is very little chance that the Republican-controlled Senate will ultimately vote to depose the president by a wide enough margin; and if that fails to happen, the whole thing may well backfire as it did for the Republicans after their failed attempt to depose Bill Clinton by impeachment in 1998.
There is a deeper reason why attempting to impeach Trump is politically counter-productive for Democrats. Up until now, the momentum in the presidential campaign was clearly on their side. Even though Trumps core basis of electoral support has proved surprisingly resilient, his opponents were on the offensive on a number of key substantive issues, ranging from healthcare to the environment, up to the economy (especially if, as seems likely, the country is now headed towards a recession, in no small part because of Trumps unpopular trade war with China).
Despite its procedural flaws and the deep disagreements it has laid bare, the Democratic primary process has so far demonstrated an ideological vitality and combativeness that hadnt been seen for decades, either within the US Democratic Party or, frankly, any other left-leaning political force in consolidated Western democracies. Now, the risk is to squander that political energy into a legal dispute over Trumps dealings with Russia and the Ukraine.
It shouldnt be surprising, therefore, that Trump has long seemed to invite the opportunity to convert this electoral campaign into a further highly-mediatized circus over his fitness for office. As has already been amply demonstrated, he is far better at personalized polemics than at actually running the country.
Nor is there any evidence that when his misdeeds become public that they will have a significant effect on his popular support. On the contrary, they may even serve to reinforce his populist appeal, by confirming the narrative that the countrys establishment and deep state are conspiring to prevent him from fulfilling his political mandate.
A cautionary example may be offered here by a figure that anticipated many aspects of Trumps political style. During the time of Silvio Berlusconis premiership in Italy, the countrys left-leaning Democratic party virtually converted itself into a party of impeachment. Although one of the many proceedings initiated against him did result in condemnation, ultimately forcing him out of office, the fact that Berlusconi was not defeated politically at the polls, but only juridically in court, meant that the underlying reasons for his electoral popularity were never dented. Thus, even after Berlusconis ouster, the country has seen a succession of populist leaders replicating important features of his political style and substance from the comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo up to the far-right nationalist Matteo Salvini.
This shows that there is a risk of legal proceedings distracting from the underlying political issues. If that happens, the US may at most get rid of Trump himself, but wouldnt necessarily overcome the broader problem of Trump-ism as a political phenomenon. To be sure, that shouldnt matter from the point of view of the integrity of the institutional system, but it is a problem for anyone who wants to replace Trumps substantive policy agenda with something better.
The only way out of the conundrum is for Trumps political opponents to hold as tightly as possible onto a conceptual distinction that is especially precarious in a country with a long history of the judicialization of politics: that between law and politics.
While, from a legal point of view, the case for impeaching Trump may well have become difficult to resist, politically, it is imperative that the Democratic party not allow this to overshadow the more substantive grounds for its opposition to him. For, what ultimately matters to electors are the concrete political alternatives that are being offered to them.
If Trump has committed any crimes, he should be tried for them according to the procedures that are in place for doing so. But this is not what Democrats should be making the upcoming presidential election about.
Carlo Invernizzi-Accetti is associate professor of political science at the City University of New York, City College.
There’s something gorgeous about high quality, well-written porn comics. They tell an immersive story about people coming together and embracing each other’s bodies through both dialogue and art. And as with any medium of porn, each artist has their own style. Some adult comics are tender, soft, and loving. Others are raunchy and horny as hell.
Either way, porn comics are hot. And the internet has tons of them.
The following article contains sexually explicit material.
Listed below are some of the best porn comics available online for everyone from anime fans to furries to queer readers. Read on for our top picks and why you should subscribe (or visit for free).
Slipshine is one of the oldest platforms on our list, and it’s also one of the best sources for cartoon porn online. Originally called OrgyMania, Slipshine started in 2001 and joinedHiveworks Comicsin 2014. Today, the site is a self-described “sex-positive porn comic publisher” promoting “positive representations of various kinks, pairings, and orientations” in its works. Subjects range from gay pairings to straight sex, and comics explore everything from BDSM to cute, wholesome lovemaking between queer women. As of August 2019, Slipshine has two weekly comics for gay men, two daily lesbian comics, and two daily bisexual comics.The site also offers a new major comic every week.
Subscribing to Slipshine grants users approximately 122 new images per month and over 22,000 porn comic pages from the site’s backlog, according to Slipshine’sFAQ. Membership plans start at $24.95 for 30 days followed by $9.95 per month.
Queer and feminist porn is growing, but it’s still a rarity in the adult content world. Filthy Figments is changing that.Featuring erotic comics created entirely by women and nonbinary people, Filthy Figments offers over 150 artists like Jen Hickman, Niki Smith, and Molly Ostertag. Comics are high quality, engaging, and cover a wide range of interests, from sex between trans and cis lesbians to demonic sapphic sex. For queer folks, Filthy Figments is an amazing LGBTQ porn investment.
To get started, Filthy Figments hosts multiple membership options. The lowest payment plan costs $16.99 for 30 days and then $8.99 recurring monthly. After joining the site, Filthy Figments members gain access to all of the site’s comics indefinitely (or until they decide to unsubscribe).
Hentai manga is more popular than ever, and Fakku is capitalizing on anime fans’ interest.Known for its wide assortment of officially licensed anime, games, and books, Fakku made a name for itself early on as an official hentai manga distributor for English-speaking audiences. Under the site’s “comics” section, users can browse through a wide assortment of anime porn, with new manga regularly added.Popular tags range from “anal” to “magical girl,” and the site caters to such niche interests as muscular women, pegging, yaoi (or male/male manga), and yuri (female/female manga).
To check out Fakku’s full manga collection, sign up for the site’s subscription service“Fakku Unlimited.” The platform offers its hentai collection for just $12.95 per month, along with access to hentai anime on demand. For a quick demo, check out Fakku’s free manga tag.
If you’re familiar with the Daily Dot’s guide to the best furry porn comicson the web, then you probably recognize Yiffer.xyz. But unlike the other websites on this list, Yiffer’s comics are completely free to read. Yiffer.xyz curates its own material in order to maintain a premium collection of furry smut, including both straight and gay furry porn comics. Pirated content is banned, assuring readers are ethically viewing all of the site’s porn. And readers can even filter for specific tags, interests, or pairings, such as “F/F” for lesbian porn or “Warcraft” for smut themed around Blizzard’s popular fantasy IP.
Thanks to the site’s fast performance, high-quality content, unlimited offering, and ad-free experience, Yiffer.xyz is easily one of the best porn comic sites available online. While it’s hard to recommend the collection to non-furries, it’s still a great model for a stellar, yet ethical, smut comic experience.
Women can shape-shift to different identities. They’re mothers, friends, CEOs… But they’re also compassionate. Strong enough to be vulnerable. And they literally have the superpower to create life. They’re amazing. To show that women don’t need fancy filters to be appealing, Instagram account womenirl has been sharing real, raw moments of their everyday life. By doing so, they’ve already accumulated nearly 150k followers, and this number is constantly growing. What’s also cool about this project is the fact that everyone can participate. All you need to do is tag your Instagram photos with #WomenIRL and you might get featured.
“I was in the waiting room at the doc office today and this lady walked in with her sleeping baby! They handed her paperwork to do & as she was sitting there trying to figure out how to hold her sleeping baby while filling out the paperwork, this man, from across the room, ask’s her if she would like for him to hold her baby while she did her paperwork!! She smiled and said that would be wonderful!! This man went over there and rocked and loved on that baby like he was his!!”
“Moms helping moms”
“Shout out to all the women who are trying.
Trying to look in the mirror more often at the gym.
Trying to get in the photo.
Trying to take off the cover up at the pool.
Trying to add more weight to the bar.
Trying to order the two piece.
Trying to speak up for themselves.
Trying to start hard conversations.
Trying to do push-ups.
Trying to allow themselves to be seen.
Trying to silence the negative self-talk.
Trying to learn.
And to accept their journey.
Even if today was hard.
I woke up this morning and I honestly didn’t feel like trying. My head was in a weird place. Already sweating, got to the gym, and felt my stomach hanging more than normal. I felt it taking up space. I felt it being noticed. And yet, more often than not, I found myself looking in the mirror.
Even in a moment of feeling defeated, I noticed myself trying.
It was simple.
But it meant everything.”
“A friend’s daughter-in-law was told to ‘cover up” while feeding her baby, so she did,’ said Carol Lockwood in a FB post that has now gone viral. “I’m SO over people shaming women for nursing,” she continued.”
“My hubby snapped this pic as I fell asleep sitting up, breastfeeding our 2 week old twins. Exhausted doesn’t fully describe this experience as I was healing from 2 types of births (Baby A vaginal, Baby B cesarean) and my body is working non-freaking-stop to make all the milk for these boys.”
“This mom *thought* she was having a third baby girl — and now the exact moment she found out she actually gave birth to a boy”
“What does a pregnancy give you? stretch marks, loose skin, weight gain, hair loss, saggy boobs? Or does it give you a baby? Both are probably true – you get both of the above, but what should we focus on? I mean… you just made a baby, you made 10 fingers and 10 toes, a tiny nose, you made a person, you did THAT. If you looked exactly the same after, it would be very rare, what’s normal is to change, so why is society shaming that change? We rarely receive comments about how amazing our bodies are after a pregnancy, what we do see, hear and read is how we need to “get back to normal”, “loose our baby weight”, “use these creams to prevent stretch marks” (sorry to break it to you ladies but you can’t prevent stretch marks to begin with) “get a boob job to “fix” the damage breastfeeding did”, “hide your scars” and on it goes. This is so sad and I feel like some of us get robbed of the joy of becoming a mother because they feel the need to start changing back to “normal” instead… I think we should bring the focus back to what our bodies have done, what they’re capable off – and be damn proud of how we look because of it ♥️ that’s where the focus should be, don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise ♥️”
“Why is it that people we haven’t seen in a while or even complete strangers ask us if we’re #married or if we have kids? I get messages from complete strangers asking about my relationship, asking when I’ll get married & asking why I haven’t got children yet as I’m ‘getting on’. It’s annoying & to be honest, it’s downright rude.
What business is it of other people? Why do they feel the need to comment on my life? I’m HAPPY and honestly, that’s all that really matters.
If you’re going to ask an old friend a question or worse yet, someone you don’t even know; let your first question be ‘HOW ARE YOU’ or ask if they’re happy or living their best life? Ask them if they’re ok? – You might be the first person to check in with them!
To all my #ladies (and men) who feel behind in life… trust me YOU ARE NOT! Although it might feel like everyone around you is getting married, having #kids or growing up… it’s just your focus. Trust me that there are equal if not more people starting new relationships, ending relationships, going back to uni, starting uni, traveling the world, throwing in their jobs or changing careers to purse what truly sets their soul on fire. There’s no right or wrong with life – you just do it the best you can & honestly as long as you’re happy that’s ALL THAT MATTERS
This is your little reminder that no matter where you are in life, you are NOT behind. You are not in front. You are not at the top. You are not at the bottom. You are exactly where you need to be. So let’s stop asking questions & making people feel inferior, let’s instead start asking how they are – because being #kind is all that really matters “
The perfect mom:” Recently someone responded to my postpartum body with these words: “disgusting, I don’t know what husband would ever want to come home to that.”
First of all, shame on her. If anything is disgusting it is those words.
Yes, my body has changed quite dramatically since my pre-baby days, as you can see. But let me tell about the woman in the top photo with the gorgeous tan lines and flat tummy. She mastered shaming her body. She had such a distorted idea of body image and struggled to understand self-love and self-care. She would look into the mirror and find everything wrong with her body and worked hard to fix it.
Then there is the woman in the bottom photo. She may not have the perfect tummy, gorgeous tan, and a stretch mark free body BUT she has more confidence than she ever has in her life. She knows the value and meaning of embracing your new body and loving yourself. She takes care of herself by reminding her of the beauty in the body staring back at her in the mirror. She is beautiful and can find strength in what some people would call her flaws. Her body is beautiful and she worked hard for exactly what it is now.
Carrying a child, let alone 3 at one time, is not an easy task. Yes, the journey came with a whole new body, but I am also a whole new me with a greater understanding of loving myself and that is a GIFT!
It takes time and daily affirmations of love and body positivity to really embrace your new body. You can change your perspective! You can find the beauty! You must have grace for yourself. And Don’t compare yourself to the old you and pick out all the imperfections in your new body. It will cause more harm than good. Instead, remember this, you’re on a journey. One day at a time, choose to see the beauty because it is there.”
“I saw a guy insult another woman for her cellulite and it really bummed me out for a second but then I remembered that women’s bodies don’t exist to please men “
“Sleep when the baby sleeps!”
“Sometimes you just have to make it work”
“No babies. No weight fluctuations. Just a girl who’s lived 30 years and got something to show for it”
“What a journey this has been! From the huge shock of learning there were three, to people’s reactions, the numerous scannings/checks and all the preparations and planning for this life-changing event,” said triplets_of_copenhagen, who documented her pregnancy before giving birth a few days ago. “Nothing like the ordinary.“
Her baby bump weighed 20 kg total and she’s so ready for the next chapter. “It’s strange to have ended up with such a big belly and it’s even stranger that it can stand out like that without falling down,” she said.
“Sometimes I hear the rare negative comment about my decision to go to school instead of being home full time with my kids.
It’s hard to not get offended at these comments. It’s hard to not question myself and question if I’m really doing what’s best for my babies.
But then I have days like today.
A full day of clinical hours, gone before they wake up, home just in time to get going again (to study) then this… My little guy running toward me, all smiles and excitement and I just know, I’m doing something right. ”
“Stop worrying so much about not looking like you’re a brand new and shiny human,” said Sarah Nicole Landry on a recent IG post. “Because you’re not. You’ve lived. Loved. Experienced. Your body in its own way will show itself through those memories. Whether you live it out shabby chic or get refinished, it doesn’t matter. Because ultimately you are something that has grown in worth, not lessened. Not one bit.”
But the blogger didn’t always feel this way—after having kids, she lost 100 pounds and struggled with body image: “I found myself faced with so much self-loathing and worked my way through that and realized I had worth,” she explains to health magazine. “Even amid the scars and stretch marks, I still had beauty. I knew that if I felt this way, others must too. So I decided to be vulnerable and put it out into the world to share.”
“A letter to my one year postpartum self, Stop hating you for thinking you have an ugly stomach and start loving you for how absolutely stunning and beautiful you were and still are for carrying and caring for you two gorgeous little humans. Stop thinking about how hard you need to work at bouncing back after baby even if at 1 year postpartum you still look pregnant and focus on your objectives at staying healthy and happy and active. Stop worrying about what others will think if they see your wrinkled stomach and start thinking about how absolutely blessed you are for what you’ve created. Be you! Be the best you, your negative energy about you and your body shows and it’s ugly. Give yourself some grace (a lot) and time (a whole lot) to heal emotionally, mentally and physically. You’re one tough mama and you’ve got this. :muscle: Embrace you today and remember that your kids adore you, in the world of so much hate let their love nurture you back to loving you! Now, tomorrow when Levi turns 1, don’t just celebrate him, celebrate your “birth” day and know that you are amazing no matter how you feel. With all the love, Your dearest self!”
“Yes, I do I have a valley of lines mapped across my belly, mountains of stretched skin left over my mid section, lightning bolts on my sides and back, all signs that I carried life inside of me…. five times!
I also have a cesarean scar reminding me that my belly was cut open twice!
My body is amazing.
My body is beautiful.
My body is powerful.
My body is strong.
My body is capable.
My body made me a mother.
My body grew a human inside.
Not everybody has that privilege.
So while society wants to sit behind a screen and label us as flawed, I am here to remind myself and all of you that to our children we are perfect. They see behind the stretched out skin, marks, and lines. They see us for who we truly are. They know our hearts and love us unconditionally. And that is all that matters.”
“The pictures of ‘perfect bodies’ you see on Instagram… don’t let them get you down,” said influencer Rini Frey. “Most of them don’t represent reality and if they do, it doesn’t mean that these bodies belong to a healthy and happy human,” she continued. “It’s just what we are made to believe, but it’s mostly not true.”
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“Here I am, nursing Miles on the ground because I’d rather J be on my back than on Miles’ face. Not posed or looking cute. Surrounded by laundry on the floor. Dishes sitting in the sink. Dogs barking through the fence with a hole in it.”
“Dear postpartum depression,
If you weren’t so ugly, I would have 10 more babies.
Dear postpartum depression,
You’ve been the toughest years of my life, to the point where I almost wanted to end it.
Dear postpartum depression,
You’re a cheat and a theif, and it’s so not cool that you’ve stole some (what would have been) very beautiful moments from me and my young family.
Dear postpartum depression,
Why do you feel the need to hit me at my most vulnerable state? Do I not already have enough to deal with at this whole thing call motherhood?
Dear postpartum depression,
You’re not welcome, and I’m here today to tell you that I’ve won! Stop trying to creep in, stop trying to make me feel like I’m nothing, stop making me feel so guilty at how I choose to mother my babies.
Dear postpartum depression,
Pack your bags, while you’re at it, pack all you’ve got cause I’m sending you to a place where you can no longer touch me.
Dear postpartum depression,
This is where we part! I survived! I’m a survivor. I’m a warrior mom!
Mamas out there, let’s recognize how to deal with these feelings and know how to treat them. I’m here to tell you, it’s not you… It’s PPD. Let’s talk!”
“It took me 4 days and several internal battles to finally decide I would post this picture. Why? because this photo was never intended to be seen by anyone, in fact, when my husband took it my first words were “OMG DELETE THAT NOW!” You see, this photo highlights so many things that are deemed “wrong” with the postpartum body.
Stretchmarks, loose skin, and a big, round belly. Surprisingly, though, none of that bothers me. The reason why I hate this picture is because it shows the giant, sagging bulge of fat that hangs off of my midsection. The “mom pouch” that makes all other mom pouches look like an ad for the perfect body. The mom pouch that I always hide behind high waisted bottoms. The mom pouch that made me hate myself for several months postpartum. This photo reminds me of that hate; how I used to stare in the mirror, rub that pouch and think “I’m hideous, this child destroyed my body”. I hated those days and this photo is a reminder of who I was before I truly loved myself.
I want to be clear, I love my body. Now, more than ever I had embraced every “flaw” and I truly love myself and how I feel. Becoming a mother helped me realize that I am made of magic and no matter what I look like on the outside, I am worthy and beautiful. We all are.
Just because I spread body positivity and selflove doesn’t mean I’m perfect. Far from it, in fact.
I still struggle with that mom pouch; yes, I wish it wasn’t so saggy and maybe just a tad smaller, but I no longer hate myself because of it. I no longer look in the mirror and call myself names or try to push it in so it won’t sag down as much.
I am no longer defined by that damn pouch.
It doesn’t hold me back anymore or make me feel inferior.
This mom pouch is a much a part of me as my arms, legs, breasts…so I have chosen to embrace it because hating it means hating a piece of myself, and that just won’t be tolerated.
Once you go down that road towards self love you realize that although you may have bad days, you are still worthy of all the love and magic in this world.”
“I am 5’6, 138lbs. I eat a balanced clean diet 85% of the week. I don’t count calories, macros or build, bulk, drop at any point during the year. I don’t binge all day Sun and starve myself the other 6 days. I don’t detox, I don’t take supplements, I don’t have a secret meal plan and I’m not obsessed with kale. I listen to my body when it speaks to me and I remain disciplined and make smart decisions throughout the whole process. I connect to my daily needs within the gym and workout according to that desire. I want to look good for a beach vacation and I will proudly admit to doing more cardio when it’s crunch time. I want my jeans to fit right. I want to be proud of my strength when the sleeves are off. I want to live a healthy life. I don’t punish myself for wanting guacamole and chips on a Wednesday night. I don’t expect one spin class to drop 5lbs. I have built a LIFE around balance and the understanding you must work hard with a level of consistency, determination and focus to get what you want and this mindset stems much beyond the walls of health and fitness. I make time and prioritize what is most important to me. I wake up with the motivation to become the best possible version of myself. I have to cut time in my schedule to get stronger and find peace within my mind. I make sacrifices. I work my ass off in the gym. You may see me eating a massive pizza with a side of boneless buffalo wings with an incredible margarita but please don’t chalk it up to having a “good metabolism” or getting to workout all day…Bc I don’t. I am still very much and will always be a work in progress. Start to change one thing today that will help you live a more balanced, happy, healthy life. Whether it’s finding time to call family on the way home or a 10 minute walk on the treadmill. Just start. Start with the understanding that it will not be easy but you are surrounded by support. Stay committed, driven and focused to whatever goal or dream it may be. Consistency is key. Never sacrifice your dreams or the things you love. Strive to find a balance on every level and what once seemed like a burden will inevitably just feel like a way of living.”
“Pro runner Stephanie Rothstein recently shared what her stomach looks like 3 years postpartum, revealing that she still has Diastasis Recti: “This is as good as it will get for me,” she says. I still have a 1 finger gap, extra saggy skin, and stretch marks.” But she’s grown to love her body for more than just looks: “My core is also the strongest it’s ever been, and the proof has been no major injuries in my hips, glute, back, and core since giving birth. This is how I look, but not how I feel. When I’m training hard, lifting, sprinting at the end of races I feel the strongest core possible. It doesn’t look the same as the women I race against who haven’t given birth, but who gives a crap. It took me a while to be comfortable in my own skin, but every time I run in a sports bra, wear crop top shirts I grow a little more confident in my postpartum body.”
“Mara Martin walked the SISwim runway while breastfeeding her five-month-old daughter and we are here for it. “I can’t believe I am waking up to headlines with me and my daughter in them for doing something I do every day,” said the model the next day. “I’m so grateful to be able to share this message and hopefully normalize breastfeeding and also show others that women CAN DO IT ALL.”
“Motherhood is not a one size fits all—what works for one family may not work for the next,” said diaryofafitmommyofficial in a recent post. “So who are we to judge another mom’s choices or reasoning?” Fed up with haters who claim she’s not doing motherhood “correctly,” she posted a list of everything she’s been called a bad mom for to make an important point: “Workout out during pregnancy.
Working out while having kids… period.
For caring about my looks and health.
Working out in Target.
Using canned goods and plastic crockpot liners.
Having tattoos and piercings.
Enjoying wine every now and then.
For letting my kids use technology.
For letting my kids have sugar and happy meals occasionally.
For not ‘covering up’ around my kids.
For running a full time business from home.
For co-sleeping with my kids.
For collecting sports cars and motorcycles aka having a hobby.
For taking time for myself.
For having abs.”
“The first and last time my precious Hazel ever nursed. I didn’t know that one person could feel so proud and so broken at the same time, right now I am a hormonal, emotional, and mental mess. Raising my arm in this picture was very difficult for me as I had to fight through uncontrollable tears: this picture meant that I would never breastfeed my Hazel ever again. I have been nursing for so long, that I don’t know what it’s like to not nurse anymore. As I looked behind the camera, Tim is crying like I had never seen him cry before, like seriously, a deep gut cry. I was her comfort, her safe place, and I hope she still finds me that way. A month shy of 2 years old, she finally has a bed in a shared bedroom with her sister. We bought Hazel her first bed, used any distraction we could come up with, snacks and new toys to keep her mind off of it. Tim has taken over bedtime completely, including all nighttime wakings. We are on our third day, and every day gets a little bit easier. The guilt I feel for not putting her to bed is so intense and I can’t wait to go back to it once she doesn’t ask to nurse anymore. Closing a chapter is painful, but I am hopeful that this new season of our lives will also be special in its own way. Through this maturation step she will not only grow more independent, but I will get a much needed break. She unlatched for the last time and sobbingly I said to Tim: ‘I did my best.’ He hugged me and responded with: ‘No. You did THE best, because you gave her your all.’ I love my family and am so thankful for such special and unforgettable moments like these. “
“One week postpartum.
I will heal slow and gentle.
I will take long hours swaying and just breathing.
I will release all expectations.
I will not hurry.
Or be anxious.
This week I will savor and trace your outline.
For I plan to remember how you feel tucked against me for as long as I live.-Mia”
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“Someone once needed to drop something off to me and asked ‘what time works for you?’ I responded with ‘anytime, I’ll be home all day.’ The comment back shocked me, they said ‘gosh I wish I was a stay at home mom so I had all the time do anything.’ That was 3 years ago and I have never forgotten those words. So let me tell you what I do with my time all day. I breastfeed my second on demand all day. Thats 109,500 mins a year (but most likely more). I breastfed my first until 3 so that’s approximately 328,500 (who yes I continued to breastfeed on demand the whole time) and approximately 164,250 with my second so far (taking only a 3 month break in between). I change diapers all day sometimes multiple times an hour. I do loads of laundry, dishes, pick up toys about 100 times a day, heal ouies with a kiss, bounce a crying baby, play dress up with a wild toddler, figure out how to make teething more comfortable, cook breakfast lunch and dinner, teach colors, numbers, letters, shapes, and words, rub backs, and take care of sick children even when I’m sick. I read about 50 books a day and help paint a multitude of pictures. I rarely sit to eat, have a break to watch tv, or simply go to the bathroom alone let alone take a shower. I’m a cook, a cleaner, teacher, ‘doctor,’ a healer, comforter, lullaby singer, mother, and wife. I have no sick days, no time off, and barely any alone time. Yes it’s exhausting and yes it’s a lot of ‘work’ but I know for me, and I think for most, wouldn’t change it for a second. Because in all the chaos and piles of laundry there are millions of moments that fulfill me more then I could every dream. There is joy in the chaos and love in the mess. It is hard for all mothers whether working or stay at home. One is not better then the other and one is not harder then the other. Working or stay at home, we are all mother working 24/7 So let’s stop assuming what a mother’s day is like and praise every mother for all the work that they do.”
Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about DoorDash’s acquisition of Caviar, which no one saw coming. Before that, I jotted down some notes on SoftBank’s second Vision Fund.
Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to email@example.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here.
Alternative funding mechanisms, like Clearbanc’s revenue share model, may be on the rise but most Silicon Valley startups still turn to venture capital to get their company off the ground. As I’ve previously said in this newsletter, VC spending in 2019 is reaching record-highs, already surpassing $62 billion. Angel investment, for its part, also continues to occupy a meaningful portion of private investment. So far this year, individual angels and angel groups in the U.S. have doled out $10 billion to startups.
Angel investors are not traditional venture capitalists bogged down by processes, quotas and fund economics. Rather, they’re deep-pocketed former operators (often) with expansive networks. For some, their capital is superior to VCs; for others, a VC’s ability to write larger checks and participate in additional fundings as their company grows makes VC the only viable option.
So how do early-stage startups decide who’s money to take (if they have that luxury)? Here’s what Jana Messerschmidt, both an investor at Lightspeed Venture Partners and a founding partner of the angel network #ANGELS, had to say: “It’s dependent on who the individual angel is, as well as who the individual partner is. In these frothier times, I encourage founders to interview investors who take a slot on their cap table with the same rigor they would a potential employee.”
What are the advantages and disadvantages of taking money from an established venture capital fund vs. an established angel investor?
Ben Ling, an early Facebook executive who spent years angel investing only to launch his own institutional venture capital fund, Bling Capital, tells TechCrunch the plus side of angel investors is that they are oftentimes less sensitive to valuations. Angels, while they can’t usually invest as much capital as a VC, tend to offer better terms and be approving of less rigid deal structures.
But being an investor isn’t an angel’s full-time job, typically. The limited amount of time an angel can give each company may be problematic for a founder seeking mentorship but a non-issue for a more experienced founder, who is simply seeking an individual passionate about her or his vision.
Given the rise in venture capital investment overall, more founders and former operators are running into wealth and opting to try on the VC hat for size. And more and more, those people are becoming professional investors with an appetite for a bigger pool of capital. Ling, as mentioned, decided last year to raise his first institutional fund, a $60 million effort, for example: “I think it’s rare for super angels to ‘beat’ firms for most regular financings but it certainly can happen,” Ling tells TechCrunch.
Presumably, that’s why he and many others (Cyan Banister, Keith Rabois, Ron Conway, James Currier) made the switch to “real” VC — to win over the best deals. As angels turn into VCs, whether your startup’s money came from one person’s wallet or an institutional fund matters a whole lot less. Just make sure you have good people investing in your company, and while you are it, make sure they’re diverse too.
That’s all for now… Onto the news.
WeWork IPO update
Bloomberg reported Friday that WeWork was expected to make its IPO filing available next week. Soon, we can all finally get an inside look at the co-working giant’s financials. A reminder, WeWork was last valued at an eye-popping $47 billion and it wants to raise some $3.5 billion in the IPO. Skeptical? Me too.
If you enjoy this newsletter, be sure to check out TechCrunch’s venture-focused podcast, Equity. In this week’s episode, available here, Equity co-host Alex Wilhelm and I discuss a new trend in venture capital: sperm storage startups. Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast and Spotify.
Airbnb announced its acquisition of Urbandoor, a platform that offers extended stays to corporate clients, earlier this week. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, though an SEC filing connected with the deal emerged Friday, indicating the deal was worth more than $80 million in what’s likely a combination of cash and stock. We’ve got all the details on the deal here.
Healthtech & VC
Now it’s time for your weekly reminder to sign up for Extra Crunch. For a low price, you can learn more about the startups and venture capital ecosystem through exclusive deep dives, Q&As, newsletters, resources and recommendations and fundamental startup how-to guides. Here’s a passage from my personal favorite EC post of the week:
“Why is tech still aiming for the healthcare industry? It seems full of endless regulatory hurdles or stories of misguided founders with no knowledge of the space, running headlong into it, only to fall on their faces. Theranos is a prime example of a founder with zero health background or understanding of the industry — and just look what happened there! The company folded not long after founder Elizabeth Holmes came under criminal investigation and was barred from operating in her own labs for carelessly handling sensitive health data and test results…”
This years was yet another triumphant moment for Marvel to plant its flag as the dominant force in the modern film industry. Disney dominates the box office, and superhero fandom dominates popular culture. Even the smallest bit of news about a superhero film can ignite social media.
If superheroes are going to dominate the monoculture, then we at least deserve satire thats as creative and interesting as The Boys. The new Amazon Prime series is the result of a partnership between comedy veterans Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and Supernatural creator Eric Kripke. The combination of Rogen and Goldbergs comedic chops and Kripkes genre expertise has yielded one of the most biting superhero parodies to date.
RELEASE DATE: 7/26/2019 CREATORS: Evan Goldberg, Eric Kripke, Seth Rogen STREAMING: Amazon Prime Television veterans join forces to create the sharp, if slightly skeevy, superhero satire MCU skeptics have been waiting for.
The Boys is an adaptation of a comic series by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson that ran from 2006 to 2008, and like the comic books, the series follows a group of human vigilantes trying to take down corrupt superheroes. Despite the age of the source material, the series has an incredible awareness of our current cultural moment and feels very much about 2019.
In a sense, The Boys is a supervillain origin story.Mild-mannered AV technician Hughie (Jack Quaid)s girlfriend dies by the hands of a superhero five minutes into the pilot.The death is needless and gratuitously graphic, like so many deaths in actual superhero fare. But unlike many innocent bystander deaths in the superhero world, this one actually serves the plot. Hughie resolves that he will become a vigilante who keeps superheroes in check.
Hughie quickly learns the dark truth about the fresh-faced superheroes who protect his world. Vought Industries (a combination of Marvel and a defense contractor like Raytheon) controls superheroes and leases them to cities across the country at high prices. The heroes themselves, led by The Seven, an approximation of the Justice League or the Avengers, are venal, carnal, and callous.
Hughie meets a mysterious Aussie named Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) who also holds a grudge against superheroes, thus beginning his literal antihero journey. He meets the rest of The Boys, fellow anti-superhero conspirators who have have their own grudges against supes.
As long as there have been superheroes, there have been superhero parodies. Hancock, Mystery Men, Kick Ass, and Deadpool have lampooned caped crusaders to varying degrees of success. Even if this is somewhat familiar territory, The Boys is a worthy entry in the subgenre because its depictions of the superhero world areso sharp, so bitter, and so grotesque.
The Boys sets a high bar for itself, trying to parody both the military-industrial complex and Hollywood monoculture at once. You get lines like, It is without a doubt a good time to be in the superhero business The branding opportunities are limitless. But you also get lines like, Allowing superheroes into national defensebasically we would be privatizing war. This broad satirical canvas allows the show to take shots at Hollywood sexism, police brutality, NDAs, Academi, neoliberal philanthropy, corporate greed, and a myriad other plagues of our modern moment.
While it excels as an ambitious satire, The Boys is also a fine superhero show in its own right. Kripke has mastered the art of writing and staging great fight sequences after a decade-plus of Supernatural, and Rogen and Goldberg have perfected mixing action and humor on efforts like Preacher and The Interview. One particularly stunning fight in the pilot involves The Boys duking it out with an invisible superhero. The production design and cinematography are top-notch, which is vital if youre trying to send up blockbuster superhero fare.
Despite allThe Boys does well, it has its limitations. The romantic angle, so vital in sustaining any hourlong drama, isnt quite there. Erin Moriarty plays Starlight, a rookie superhero who serves as Hughies love interest. She gives the strongest performance on the show, but shes sometimes saddled with thankless material.
The Boys, like most earnest superhero fare, sometimes misfires in its portrayal of women. While the show makes noble attempts to tackle #MeToo and gender discrimination in the workplace, it often fails to properly serve its female characters. Starlights sexual assault serves as superficial character development. Jokes about middle-aged motherhood feel easy and arch. One character who appears mid-season is characterized only by her perfect body and drug addiction. Generally, The Boys come off as horny, voyeuristic, and a bit sexist.
The boys club writing tendencies and gory style will turn some people off fromThe Boys. The line between parodying and embracing the problematic aspects of the superhero genre feels awfully thin at times, and the show often feels caked in blood, sweat, and semen.
Despite its blind spots,The Boys fundamentallyworks works well because it understands the symbiotic relationship between our politics and our culture. One character says in the pilot: Movie tickets. Merchandising. Theme parks. Video games. A multibillion-dollar global industry supported by politicians on both sides. But the main reason you wont hear about it is because the public dont want to know about it.
This dialogue could apply to Marvel movies or politics. People put equal faith in Captain America and Beto ORourke to save us, even though theres no saving a rotten system. For Kripke, Rogan, and Goldberg, the rot at the core of American life is pervasive, corrupting everything from the silver screen to the halls of Congress. Dousing it all in buckets of blood feels excessive at times, but its not hard to see why they want to do it.
If the prospect of Marvel movies dominating the box office from now until your unborn child graduates college, youll likely enjoy a parody as smart, funny, and acidic as The Boys. Early episodes may not do everything right, but more often than not, the show sucker-punches the superhero genre with a wink and a smile.
My son had a great grade two teacher. But he did have a challenging year as the only Black child in his class—he was beginning to question his identity. He wasn’t always happy going to school, and his teacher, as lovely as she seemed, was consistently calling me to report on what I considered trivial concerns. She said he didn’t express excitement enough, and the next time she called it was to tell me he was expressing his emotions too much. We tried a collaborative approach: talking to her, talking to him each time, but the calls continued.
Finally, we sat him down and had “the talk.” We had to tell him that his behavior had to be twice as good as his classmates’. That he had to stand extra still when it was time to line up to go out for recess and to be sure not to get too excited in class. When other kids bothered him, he should always just ignore them and never engage. Essentially, to never defend himself or raise his voice, because his teacher may misinterpret his behavior as threatening. We had to teach him to police his behavior first, before others had the opportunity to do so. We had to teach him the realities of being Black.
The very next day, after we asked our seven-year-old son to dim his light, we received a glowing report from his teacher.
Prior to this, in an attempt to address my son feeling uncomfortable in the classroom, and an overarching issue around equity in the school system, I tried to have a conversation with the school principal. I tried to talk to her about the fact that for Black children, punishments are often harsher and their behavior is watched much more closely than that of white children. We wanted to ensure that we disrupted any narrative being formed about our son—he’s a sweet, sensitive child who stops to give money to every homeless person he sees, who asks the big questions about the universe, who philosophizes about the existence of God, Santa and an alternate universe where we are all superheroes in the same breath. The principal shifted in her seat, looked at her watch over and over, alluding to the fact that she had another meeting to get to.
She denied our experience by saying that “things are better now,” and then, in what I consider typical of the heavy-handed approach applied to Black kids and parents, she decided to escalate the conversation to the superintendent without our consent or (at the very least) a courtesy call telling us what she intended to do.
When I share these experiences with white friends, they respond with shock, sympathy and sometimes anger on our behalf. There’s also guilt. Guilt that they do not have these experiences, that they love their child’s school, that their kids get to be naughty and grow freely with few consequences. Sometimes there is silence. But these are not the reactions I’m looking for. Instead of sympathy or guilt, I want action.
Here’s the truth of the matter. A white voice advocating carries more weight than a Black one. My Black voice is heard as bitter. It’s seen as stirring up trouble, as scary and threatening. It’s why people get panicked when groups of Black people hold meetings.
So please, use your voice this school year to speak up for my kids and all the kids who look like mine, because, frankly, I’m tired.
If you want to be an ally, here are seven practical things you can do to help:
1. Educate yourself on equity vs. equality
Equality means treating everyone the same, but anti-Black racism means that kids are not all on an even playing field at school. Equity is realizing that factors like race, gender and income put people in unique situations, and that we need to give them different things to make them successful. And you can help. Do some research to find out why Black experiences are different from those of other racialized groups. The world has set expectations of my son that are hugely problematic and often result in Black children disengaging from school. Lobby your school board to hire more Black teachers, which research shows will benefit your child just as much as mine. Don’t accept trite responses like “there are no qualified Black candidates.” This is simply not true and is a lazy and unacceptable response to questions of equity in 2018.
2. Order books with Black characters for your classroom
There’s no question that all kids deserve representation, and the reality is that Black kids see very little of themselves reflected in the books, shows and movies they’re surrounded by. We affirm our son and daughter constantly at home, but they spend more time at school than they do at home with us. I am tired of my daughter drawing herself as white with blond hair. So, when you are ordering from Scholastic and you see a book with Black characters, order it and donate it to your child’s library or class.
3. Ask the tough questions
I’ve already faced off with my child’s principal, who didn’t have time to discuss equity and most likely thinks I have a chip on my shoulder because I spoke the truth about outcomes for Black children and what that means for my son. I need help. I need you to go into the principal’s office and ask him or her if the teachers receive equity training, if they are trained on systemic and anti-Black racism and what that looks like in a school. Ask her if they have any Black teachers, and if they don’t, why not? Do they have a plan in place to address this?
4. Push for more than just Black History Month
While you are in that meeting with the principal, ask about Black History Month. Push to have Black history incorporated throughout the curriculum year-round. Tell them you want your kids to know about the history of people of African descent—not just slaves, but the sculptors and artists who lived thousands of years before slavery. And when it is Black History Month, advocate for it to be about more than drummers coming in for a gym assembly and a few lessons on Martin Luther King.
5. Make art class more diverse
Visit the art teacher or your child’s teacher and ask them to incorporate artists, art styles and crafts from countries other than Western ones. There are enough classes throughout the year to feature African-influenced arts and crafts at some point.
6. Teach your kids that color does matter
You can’t tell your kids to be color-blind because then you are telling them to ignore difference. You want them to celebrate difference. So teach them that Black is beautiful. Buy them Black dolls to play with. Most of all, show them Black excellence beyond sports and music. Talk to them about Black inventors, and while you’re at it, maybe mention that to your child’s teacher as well. Why not make a traffic light craft and spend a little time talking about the man who invented it? His name was Garrett Augustus Morgan and he was African-American. No, kids are not “colorblind”
7. Stay vigilant for us
Pay attention to the Black children in your child’s class and how they are being treated. Our kids are often isolated, literally boxed with tape, as happened in one Peel classroom, made to sit on separate mats or treated more harshly than other students. If you are on a school trip and you see it, let us know. If you don’t know the parents, speak to the principal and tell her you want the parents to know. Our children often can’t speak up for themselves when things happen at school. They may feel something is wrong, but they may not have the words to articulate what is happening to them. If you are there and you see something, speak up for them.