Skimm'd while breaking down the racial wealth gap

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Skimm'd while breaking down the racial wealth gap

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Quote of the Day

"Pizza and vodka's her favorite" – What actress Jennifer Love Hewitt revealed about Betty White. Can we come over for dinner?

They See Me Roving

The Story

NASA's making history.

Tell me more.

Yesterday, NASA made its ninth landing on Mars when a US rover (hi, Perseverance) touched down on the red planet for the first time in about 10 years. And after a nearly seven-month journey, spanning nearly 300 million miles, the spacecraft made it through the nerve-racking "seven minutes of terror." And NASA scientists erupted in fist pumps and cheers.

Seven minutes of what now?

Terror. (We have chills too.) It refers to the time it takes for the rover to enter Mars' atmosphere and begin the landing process. But since the planet is millions of miles away, communication between the rover and Earth is about as fast as dial-up in the '00s. Because of this lag, the rover says 'I'm the captain now' and lands itself. And NASA scientists get their patience tested.

Sounds like a nail-biter…

Well, it's not called 'seven minutes in heaven.' Perseverance weighs a little more than one ton (think: the size of a small car) and was coming in hot at about 12,000 miles per hour. Once the rover reached Mars' atmosphere, it dropped its protective capsule, went into a brief free fall, deployed its parachute, and was slowly lowered to the planet's surface. And like any good kid, Percy phoned home after landing – even sending back pictures of Mars' dusty landscape. But this rover is queuing up its own Mars firsts.

Like what?

It will be the first rover NASA has sent to the planet to look for signs of ancient life. Perseverance landed in the Jezero Crater, a 28-mile-wide basin that researchers believe was once filled with water. In the rover's two-year mission, it aims to find organic molecules and potential signs of microbial life. It'll also provide the first recordings of sound on Mars. If that wasn't enough, Perseverance will help NASA achieve the first flight on another planet. The rover brought a four-pound helicopter (hi, Ingenuity) in its suitcase. After Percy drops off its travel companion on Mars' surface, it'll be up to Ingenuity to stay warm and charged so it can make its 20-second historic flight.


Finally, 2021 has given us something to celebrate. The Perseverance rover is the latest step in the human obsession with the red planet to learn more about its history. And could bring scientists closer to getting human explorers up there to see Mars for themselves.

And Also...This

Who's addressing the elephant in the chat room...

Robinhood. Yesterday, CEO Vladimir Tenev showed up virtually in front of the House Financial Services Committee to address its roles in the GameStop saga. Quick recap: GameStop stock exploded last month after a message board on Reddit encouraged people to buy the struggling stock as a way to stick it to hedge funds that were short-selling it. Then Robinhood stepped in and stopped everyday people from purchasing the stock claiming market "volatility" but let established investors and hedge funds trade. The move had people saying 'hey that's market manipulation.' Now, lawmakers are looking into whether Robinhood and other brokerages skirted federal regulations. Robinhood said it had to stop trading to protect itself and its users. But critics are saying that trading shouldn't be decided by a select few.

  • Owning up: Tenev acknowledged that the company made some mistakes, but didn't explain what he meant by that.

What's raising alarms…

This report. Yesterday, the CDC said that the US life expectancy dropped to its lowest since World War II. In the first half of 2020, life expectancy on average dropped from 78 years to 77. But it affected racial minorities even more. The average life expectancy for Black Americans dropped nearly three years (down to 72) and two years for Hispanics (down to 79). The CDC said this is in part because of the COVID-19 death toll, but the drop could be larger since this report only counts for half of the year. And while COVID-19 cases in the US have dropped recently, they were much higher last month – soon after vaccines began to roll out.

  • The waiting game: The US is still awaiting more info on the effectiveness of approved vaccines when it comes to COVID-19 variants. But a recent study has shown that both Moderna and Pfizer's vaccines could be less effective in protecting against the contagious South Africa strain.

Where people are still struggling…

Texas. The state is still reeling from record-breaking extremes that have frozen pipelines, roads, and left millions of people without electricity and heat. As of yesterday, 340,000 homes were still reportedly without power as another storm hit the state. But the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said it's getting to work and turned the lights back on for over 2 million people. Still, officials are urging Texans to boil their water as pipes froze and water treatment plants are without power. All of this is bringing attention to...

  • Elected officials who can't read the room pt. 1: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been getting backlash for fleeing Houston for Cancún, Mexico, while millions of his constituents are left struggling. Yesterday he came back to just about the fanfare one would expect (see: #FlyinTed, #FledCruz).

  • Pt. 2: The mayor of Colorado City, TX, quit this week after telling residents in a Facebook post that the city owes them "nothing" and that "only the strong will survive." Bye.

Who's got people looking into beauty standards…

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

Thing to Know

Laughing Yoga

A practice that combines deep breathing, stretching, and forced laughter. Think: in through the nose and out through the mouth, but make it giggly. As in, ommm-mg this is fun.

Laughing yoga was originally developed in India in 1995, but it's catching on in the US. Probably because it can help you manage stress and even boost your immune system. Athleta's Elation Printed Tight is exactly what you wanna wear for your next session...or, you know, for regular yoga or just walking from your bed to the couch. Made of buttery soft fabric with gentle compression, these leggings are now available in sizes XXS-3X. Check 'em out.

Black History Month

This Black History Month, we're taking stock of the areas in our society where systemic racism still persists. And the people and orgs working to change that.

Today, we're looking at the racial wealth gap, and what three women in the finance world are doing to help close it. Read what they had to say about their work. One thing you can do to help? Shop from businesses that give back to BIPOC communities, too. Here are a few of our faves that do just that.

Skimm Reads

"The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation" by Anna Malaika Tubbs

In this new nonfiction read, you'll get the story of Berdis Baldwin (James Baldwin's mom), Alberta King (MLK Jr's mom), and Louise Little (Malcolm X's mom). It's a celebration of Black motherhood and a portrait of three incredibly strong women who've been erased from the history books.

Pssst: We rounded up all the essential books to read this Black History Month. Check 'em out.


Here are today's recs to help you live a smarter life…

1. The best masks for double-masking (and how to do it properly). Because science says two are better than one. This list has everything you need to protect yourself. Time to layer up.

2. A champagne subscription so there's always bubbly on hand. The Sip sends three mini bottles of high-end (but affordable) sparkling wine to your door 6 times a year. And Skimm'rs can get $5 off their first box with code SKIMM5. Celebrate good times, come on.*

3. Better, more affordable car insurance. This company is helping bring insurance into the modern age. So you can file claims instantly, pay easily, and keep proof of insurance on your phone. Yes, please.*

4. Smart products that'll reenergize your sex life. This list has a truth or dare game for you and your partner, a flexible vibrator, and a water-based lube. It's time to start exploring.

5. A better way to wash your hair. This female-founded brand makes cruelty-free, zero-waste shampoo and conditioner bars. So you can say 'bye' to plastic bottles and filler ingredients (liquid shampoo can be up to 90% water). Psst...Skimm'rs get 20% off.*

PS: Like what you see here? Make sure you're signed up to get more picks like these in your inbox every Monday. We've got exclusive shopping recs, streaming ideas, life hacks, and more.

*PS: This is a sponsored post.


It's Black History Month so to celebrate we're recognizing Black leaders and Black-owned businesses & organizations for doing great things in their community. Want to nominate yourself or someone you know? Tell us here.

Building a team...Tamara M (GA) & Deanna B (CT). They're the co-founders of Diversify Dietetics, a nonprofit that provides a community for students, professionals, and educators dedicated to increasing ethnic and racial diversity in the nutrition and dietetics profession. Learn more.

Gifting change...Marjorie L (CA). She recently launched Picnic Weather, a feel-good jewelry brand with a mission to make fashionable earrings out of sustainable materials. As a Black-owned and woman-owned business, they're trying to combat an industry that's dominated by fast-fashion waste. Check it out.

(Some) Birthdays...theSkimm's Alexandra Napoli (NY), theSkimm's Becca Litt (NY), Lynne Madorsky (IL), Jaime Patel (CA), Trevor Noah (NY), Rob Ross (NY), Nicole Cook (CA), Ben Preziosi (NY), Sondi Stachowski (NC), Alexis Suib (NY), Allison Barber (VA), Rachel Novosad (CA), Courtney Kiolbassa (TX), Danielle Combs (MA), Katharine Stoate (KY), Jessica Mancini (NY), Sasha Williams (FL), Abi Rychtik (WI), Laura D'Angelo (MA), Caitlin Brey (KY), Becca Warczak (MN), Sherin Harrington (CA), Leah Arpano (MA), Ashley Aune (MN), Nicole Hopley (NH).

Skimm More

On this week's episode of "Skimm This," we spoke to a meteorologist and two Skimm'rs in Texas about the winter weather breaking across the South, and what it's been like living through power outages in the bitter cold.

And if you're looking for other smart ways to spend your time…

  • Listen to our news podcast "Skimm This" for clarity on the biggest stories of the week.

  • Tune in to our career podcast "Skimm'd from the Couch" for tips to build your resume.

  • Subscribe to our "Skimm Money" newsletter to keep up to date with your wallet.

  • Sign up for our "Press Pause" newsletter for curated shopping, reads, and entertainment recs.

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  • Download our app to get it all in one place.

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Skimm’d by Kamini Ramdeen, Mariza Smajlaj, Clem Robineau, and Julie Shain