Fun Fact: Star Wars Day takes place on Tuesday 4th May 2021 and will be marked by new content, merchandise sales and fan celebrations around the globe.
Star Wars Day does not quite qualify as a celebration of the anniversary of the franchise, as 1977’s A New Hope first hit cinemas in the United States on the 25th May.
Based in Chennai, India, no doubt Nila M and other transgender people regularly face hardship. Inspired to become a role model, Nila created an NGO called PHARM Foundation, which aims to improve the wellbeing, education, and employment of transgender people.
During Covid, the transgender community in Chennai came together to create awareness about the pandemic. They created a 25 x 25-foot painting showing the novel Coronavirus, with spikes protruding and added a phrase that translates to:
“Stay isolated, stay aware, stay at home”.
I have always wanted to be up and about in the field, which is why I became a social worker. Every tiny act matters.”
At such a difficult time, Nila partnered with other transwomen, M Lavanya, C Kavya, Rakshika Raj, and A Afrin, to create street art while practicing social distancing. Nila also collaborated with the Chennai Corporation to survey people, door-to-door, regarding their COVID-19 symptoms. Her foundation also distributes food to those who have lost their income due to the lockdown and plans to provide 2,000 cloth masks.
If you want to help support this community survive the second wave of Covid in India, donate here to help them buy dry food rations.
Robert Putnam in his book, Bowling Alone, popularized the term "social capital", which refers to:
“the features of social organizations, such as networks, norms, and trust that facilitate action and cooperation for mutual benefit.”
The more social capital a group has, the more they are willing and able to act collectively and pursue valuable objectives. Examples of organizations include churches, bowling leagues, reading groups, the United Way—or less-structured exchanges, such as dinner with friends or chit-chat around the office coffee station or a Zoom call. Putnam, who is a social scientist, uses the name capital:
because it has value, specifically in improving the productivity of individuals and groups. The book cites research suggesting that an abundance of social ties makes it easier for someone to find a job, resist illness, cope with stress, and—just possibly—lead a more satisfying life.
Social capital is the glue that holds communities and societies together. Mutually beneficial social interactions lead to stronger economic growth, better health outcomes, and more stability. During the pandemic, more civic-minded places with higher social capital resulted in coming together and changing behavior do better than in places where people remained isolated.
Putnam also writes about bonding and bridging social capital. During the pandemic, it is better to have built more "bridging" social capital through solidarity, responsibility, and altruism. That meant linking different people across different groups for the common good. On the other hand, too much "bonding" social capital could lead to people getting too attached to one group and become clannish or tribal in a self-interest manner.
In the UK, black and mixed-race people face discrimination over their hair. Students are excluded from school, people report they've lost out on jobs and many feel ostracised at work.
Activist Zina Alfa has called for legislation in the UK to ban hair discrimination. In the US, California, New Jersey, New York and Virginia passed legislation to legally prohibit discrimination based on hairstyles such as dreadlocks, cornlocks and afros. In 2021, Unilever signed up to the Halo Code, which pledges to stop discrimination against workers with hairstyles like dreadlocks and afros.