By Grace Designs Is Changing The World, One Closet At A Time

By Grace Designs Is Changing The World, One Closet At A Time


Seeing the poverty and pain that consumes much of our world today has led many to take steps to help in any way they can. Thousands of non-profit organizations have started to feed the hungry, give clean water, take care of suffering families, provide jobs, and provide aid for men, women, and children all around the world. I have had the pleasure of watching two great women recognize a need in Western Africa and put their plan into motion to help bring about change. There are countless women who are unable to provide for themselves and their families due to lack of work; Kelsey and Emily have started a company in Tamale, Ghana to teach and employ women as seamstresses.

""There is unbelievable talent that simply hasn’t reached the Western marketplace due to lack of resources, technology, and knowledge. The combination of economic viability and cultural awareness spurred Emily and Kelsey to take the daunting steps of organizing a global network of suppliers, craftswomen and logistical experts to meet the niche demand of the business."

Kelsey Carlstedt and Emily Moon officially launched By Grace Designs this past January. Friends since middle school, these two decided to turn their similar passions for design and empowering women into a non-profit organization. In the midst of creating their company, both girls flew to Ghana to meet the women they would soon employ, find fabrics and designs, build their company and establish their network. They have begun to open the US marketplace to these talented seamstresses and craftswomen. Kelsey has a beautiful and selfless perspective on their brand and the mission for By Grace, "By Grace is not a charity, but a partnership of women worldwide banding together to defeat poverty. We admire the talents, fabrics, skills, and ideas found in Tamale, and we work in collaboration with our artisans to create products they are proud of and that our customers will love!"

Through their website, customers are able to purchase 100% handmade dresses, skirts, and clutches in American designs using traditional Ghanaian fabrics. With the purchase of every item, By Grace is able to employ more young women, buy more sewing machines, and work on expanding their company to new countries!

Head over to By Grace Designs to learn more about their mission and shop their beautiful clothing and accessories!

Cover Image Credit: By Grace Designs

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Parkland Students Organize March On Washington

"Students all over the country are going to be joining us because the adults have let us down."

Nikolas Cruz opened fire on teachers and students at Stoneman Douglas High School and killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine's Day. Now, students from the school are speaking out. Several told “Face the Nation” and “Meet the Press” this past Sunday that the government is letting them down. They say they are creating a national movement to stomp out gun violence.

Government polarization and the cultural divide in the United States separates the country on gun control. 75 percent of Republicans worry the government will go too far in restricting gun rights while 73 percent of Democrats fear the government will fail to do enough to regulate guns, according to NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

Five student survivors talked with CBS’s “Face The Nation” about their discontent with the government's actions towards gun regulation. One of the survivors, Emma Gonzalez, said: “People who we put into power, who should be working for us, they have us working for them. And that’s pitiful.” The teenagers are organizing a march on Washington to rally students from all parts of the country and persuade politicians to enforce stricter gun laws.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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I Love Chinese Food! Really? (PART III)

Please don't pressure me to change if you say you welcome me.

Last week I discussed how immigrants are pressured to assimilate by public policies. Now let's look from a different aspect.

Unlike the systematic language policies, popular culture encourages assimilation in a less planned way. Yet, because popular culture is more embedded in people’s daily lives, it potentially influences more people on a daily basis than public policies. This arena not only lacks accurate and positive depictions of immigrants, but it has actually been promoting the dehumanization of immigrants.

Popular media either pokes fun at exaggerated racial stereotypes or only features highly Americanized immigrant characters. For instance, in the popular CBS show 2 Broke Girls, the only immigrant character, Han Lee is a Korean American. He has an exaggerated accent, limited knowledge of American culture, short stature, and a lack of masculinity. He is the constant target of ruthless jokes from major characters, like Max Black and Caroline Channing. In other words, the audience is supposed to look down upon this stereotypical poorly-assimilated immigrant.

On the other hand, the recent ABC show Fresh Off the Boat features, in a positive light, the struggles of a Chinese immigrant family, the Huangs, to embrace their “American dream” and assimilate into American society. Incidentally, all these “immigrants” speak perfect English. The Huangs, in fact, teach immigrant viewers the way towards success – assimilation. Popular culture’s representation of immigrants, like the ridiculous Han Lee and the “hard-working” Huangs, covertly privileges well-assimilated immigrants and dehumanizes immigrants in their original form.


When I was in high school preparing for American colleges, I had an American teacher. He was very well respected among us. The ones chosen to be in his class were seen as extraordinary and promising, while those not chosen strove to fit his standard so that he might set his eyes on us. And what was his standard? Excel in English literature and AP classes.

I remember when my AP grades improved so much that this teacher, for the first time, spoke to me and even invited me to join him and his chosen students for dinner. I was so thrilled as if I had just won a lottery. In our minds, he was the epitome of America – the country we were dreaming of. Being chosen by him assured us that we could realize our American dreams.

After all, this American saw the potential in us; this must have meant something, right? And one day, the teacher suddenly decided that everyone must only speak English at school. His chosen students were terrified because being caught speaking Chinese would mean never seeing an "A" in this teacher’s class again. While for the rest of us, we felt ashamed to ever speak Chinese in his presence again.

The immigrants in America are like me and my classmates in high school. Some of them are lucky enough to be the chosen ones. They can stay and maybe even thrive without too much trouble. Their American dreams are within reach.

Others are not so lucky.

They may just manage to survive and are struggling to be recognized. But, all immigrants are bided by American rules. They must work extra hard to be chosen. America is like that high school teacher. He promised us a beautiful future in America. He said he did everything so that we may thrive in the land of opportunities.

We believed and respected him.

But this teacher did not want the real us. He wanted to change us. Most Americans said they welcome immigrants, but immigrants are expected to change and cater to American taste.

They must leave behind their own cultures and languages.

They must fill their minds with American the spirit because otherwise the “teacher” will not even set eyes on them.

Their dream of becoming an “A” student – making a good fortune and be successful – depends on the “teacher’s” favor. The way to their American dreams is to assimilate.

However, even hard work does not guarantee an “American-dream-come-true future”. I tried. I significantly improved my grades. I could talk fluently in English. The teacher finally set eyes on me. He invited me to his chosen group dinner! But he never fulfilled his promise.

Many Americans, especially in today’s political atmosphere, loudly announce their acceptance and welcoming of immigrants. Among these are my American friends, who constantly confess their love of Chinese food. Their love for Chinese food, like some Americans’ encouragement of immigrants, only extends to the Americanized versions.

Behind the mask of a “heart-warming” smile towards immigrants, America actually privileges assimilation, through constructing a desirable “model immigrant” image, systematic language policies, and ludicrous popular culture representations.

Before they ever claim to whole-heartedly welcome immigrants again, Americans should probably consider: whether they genuinely think so, or are they simply paying a lip service and welcome only Americanized immigrants?

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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