We don’t need to tell you that March was a heavy news month. From the ongoing war in Ukraine, to states passing laws targeting the LGBTQ+ community. But there were some positive moments along the way. Like the NCAA women’s tournament (finally) getting March Madness branding. And Marvel introducing its first Muslim superhero. Let’s reflect and embrace ‘em.
The moment she’s been wading for. University of Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas became the first trangender swimmer to win an NCAA Division I title. After finishing first in the 500-yard freestyle. She’s also the first trans athlete to win a Division I title in any sport. Thomas used to swim for Penn’s men’s team. And has faced harsh scrutiny from critics — even from fellow swimmers — for participating in female swimming. They claim she has an “unfair advantage” because Thomas (who was assigned male at birth) went through male puberty. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Thomas said, “I don’t look into the negativity and the hate. I am here to swim.” And she sure did. Pushing through the rough waters and coming out with the victory.
This year’s women’s NCAA tournament officially had the “March Madness” branding. For the first time ever. Yep, you read that right. The term has previously been reserved for promoting the men’s tournament.
Another first: The women’s tournament also had 68 teams competing — four more than in years prior. And the games beginning the tourney will be called the “First Four,” as is tradition in men’s March Madness. These changes have put the ladies one step closer to equality with the men's league. But there's still more work to be done to balance out the playing field…err, court.
Locate your supersuits. Marvel recently released the trailer for its live-action series, “Ms. Marvel.” And debuted its first Muslim superhero, Kamala Khan. She’s a Pakistani-American high schooler played by Iman Vellani. Her character grapples with racial microaggressions, teenage angst, and — surprise — superpowers. And Ms. Marvel has already had a big impact on the communities she represents, with an outpouring of support for the South Asian representation. Catch the show on Disney+ on June 8.
Pixar’s latest animated film, “Turning Red,” highlights a very cringey period in most of our lives: puberty. And all of the panda-monium that accompanies it. The film premiered on Disney+ on March 11. And features Meilin “Mei” Lee, a Chinese-Canadian teenager played by newcomer Rosalie Chiang. Which is a big deal, since “Turning Red” is the first Pixar feature to have a female Asian lead. And the first to be directed solely by a woman (shoutout, Domee Shi). Plus, Shi was supported by a woman-led team. Who run the world?
March 25 was a big day for streaming services. Lizzo’s “Watch Out for The Big Grrrls,” season two of “Bridgerton,” and book-turned-TV show “Pachinko” all came to the small screen. And put a premium on diversity. Lizzo’s show promotes body positivity (per usual). And called on plus-sized talent to audition for her backup dancing group. Season two of “Bridgerton” continues its racially diverse casting. Featuring two Indian actresses in leading roles. And "Panchicko," which follows a Korean family across four generations, puts geographical diversity in the spotlight.
“CODA” brought home Oscars for best picture and best supporting actor. Big achievements in their own rights, but also for the Deaf community as a whole. The movie follows Ruby Rossi, who is the child of deaf adults (aka, CODA), as she juggles family obligations and her dreams of being a singer. Most of the core roles were played by deaf actors. Like Troy Kotsur, who became the first deaf man to win an Oscar in acting.
"This is dedicated to the Deaf community, the 'CODA' community and the disabled community," Kotsur signed, during his acceptance speech. "This is our moment.”
Watch “CODA” on Apple TV+.
Ariana DeBose’s Oscar win was another major first. The “West Side Story” actress became the first Afro-Latina and openly queer actor of color to win best actress in a supporting role. In her acceptance speech, she thanked the movie's director Steven Speilberg. And Rita Moreno, who originally played the role of Anita in the ‘60s.
Australian officials have approved a drug that claims to cure a form of malaria in children. It’s called tafenoquine. And in 2018, the FDA approved it for people 16 and older. Now, Australian regulators have given the ‘thumbs up’ for a potential treatment for kids two to 15. Australia's approval is paving the way for more countries to follow suit. And could potentially save thousands of children from dying of malaria every year.
The hotline you didn’t know you needed is here. Thousands of people have been calling PepToc for pre-recorded pep talks — given by kids. It was created by students at West Side School in California as a small project. But quickly made headlines nation-wide attention. So whether you’re feeling frustrated, mad, or just need some encouragement, call 707-998-8410. Try not to smile, we dare you.
Another month, another set of stressors. But these headlines are here to soften the usual sting of your newsfeed. Share with a friend to spread the love.
PS: The Walt Disney Company is a minority investor in theSkimm
Skimm'd by Macy Alcido, Maria McCallen, and Kamini Ramdeen-Chowdhury
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