Hey, quick question: How are you doing? Are you hanging in there?
It’s been a rough couple of weeks, no doubt about that. You don’t need a recap; just flip on the news or check Facebook, and you’ll be knocked over by the avalanche of horrifying political developments that have taken place over the past 14 days.
But I’m here to tell you it’s not all bad! A lot of it is bad, definitely. But, somewhere scattered underneath all the rubble of alternative facts, Muslim bans, and special operations gone horrendously wrong is evidence that this world we live in is, indeed, worth the fight.
Victories big and small are happening, along with pieces of news that are just a welcome reprieve from the madness.
Here are seven awesome things that happened this week you may not have heard about.
1. An amazing federal judge in L.A. demanded an Iranian man with a valid visa be allowed into the country.
According to Matt Hamilton of the L.A. Times, Ali Vayeghan had been waiting for years to fly from Tehran to see his son in Los Angeles. He just so happened to book his journey right as Donald Trump’s already infamous executive order came down.
Vayeghan was detained when he arrived at LAX and promptly sent back to Iran by way of Dubai.
ACLU lawyers petitioned the courts and won a decision to honor Vayeghan’s travel visa, but by then he was back in Dubai. So U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee told authorities to transport him back to the U.S. immediately.
No word yet on whether Vayeghan has been reunited with his son in the U.S., but knowing there are judges out there willing to uphold the Constitution is a victory in its own right.
2. We thought this adorable frog was extinct but recently discovered it was just hiding!
Science and discovery still matter, damnit. Just ask the cave squeaker, a small African frog that hadn’t been seen for nearly 50 years.
That is until a team led by Robert Hopkins, an associate researcher with the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo, found a handful of them in Zimbabwe. The frogs had simply changed breeding sites, which made them hard to track down.
Scratching just one species off the extinct list is a major deal, and now we can work on protection and conservation for these little brown hoppers so they can thrive again one day soon.
3. A Texas mayor came out as transgender, and the support was overwhelming.
A transgender mayor of a small, red town in Texas? Sounds like a recipe for disaster, and that’s what Jess Herbst expected when she came out this week as transgender.
Much to her surprise, the reaction from her friends, neighbors, and peers couldn’t have been more supportive.
“I was hoping for tolerance, and what I’ve gotten is overwhelming support,” she said, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Read her brave, and refreshingly honest, open letter to the people of her town on the official New Hope, Texas, website.
4. A woman arrested for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband was finally released from imprisonment.
In 2010, Marissa Alexander’s husband threatened to kill her. Protecting herself and her newborn child, she fired a warning shot from a gun she owned and scared him off.
Though the bullet did not hit her husband, Rico Gray, and the fact that Gray had a known history of abusing her, Alexander was convicted of aggravated assault with a lethal weapon. She has been in prison and under house arrest ever since.
Until this week.
Having accepted a shortened sentence in 2015, Alexander’s punishment is finally, and fortunately, over. She’s now free. And though what happened to her was a travesty, her story is going to fuel the fires of anti-domestic violence workers everywhere for a long time to come.
We have a lot of work left to do.
5. The Boy Scouts are finally allowing transgender boys to join.
The Boy Scouts have not always been known as the most, er, progressive organization on the block. It took them a pretty long time to get comfortable with the idea of gay troop leaders, all the while doing a pretty poor job of handling accusations of abuse.
But, hey, this week at least, there’s some progress.
The Boy Scouts of America finally announced it would honor the gender listed on a child’s application instead of the birth certificate. This paves the way for kids who identify as boys to join.
After all, everyone deserves the chance to learn how to tie sweet knots and race wooden cars.
6. Two Republican senators vowed to vote “no” on Trump’s pick for secretary of Education.
You may have heard a little about Betsy DeVos, who is currently awaiting confirmation to become secretary of Education. In short, she is immensely unqualified for the job.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped some of Trump’s other picks from coasting their way into his cabinet.
This time, though, it seems there may be a few Republicans willing to stand up for what’s right rather than playing party politics. Both Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said they could not support DeVos in the upcoming vote.
Whether that ultimately affects her path to the job remains to be seen, but it’s at least a good sign not everyone in the GOP is willing to let Trump have his way when the stakes are high.
7. Beyoncé and Jay Z are having twins. Twins!
OK, this might seem trivial, but it’s honestly been a while since a non-Trump story grabbed the country’s attention the way Beyoncé’s Instagram post announcing her pregnancy did.
We need trivial and giddy news like this to nourish our souls.
Think about it — we used to complain, but don’t you kind of miss the days when pictures of cute puppies and all the latest Brangelina rumors ruled the internet? So do I.
Queen Bey has brought us back to that time, if only for a moment.
There’s bound to be great news next week, too. You just have to look a little harder for it these days. But I promise you, it’s worth it!