CNN recognizes social justice heroes

Wanda Butts, one of the top 10 CNN Heroes. Photo via CNN.

Things can get pretty bleak out there. And sometimes also in my head. But! It isn’t all the assassination of women government officials investigating corruption and U.S. district judges saying it’s probably okay that a Christian book publisher doesn’t want to provide contraception to its employees.

No. This holiday, I’m thankful that there are extraordinary people out there doing extraordinary things. And that the mainstream media, or at least CNN, is recognizing and rewarding them.

CNN Heroes celebrates “everyday people changing the world.” For the past five years, CNN has honored several dozen social justice workers, human rights activists, and community organizers from around the world. In a hugely pleasant surprise, women and people of color have consistently been recognized in equal numbers in the selection process. (LOOK, HOLLYWOOD, YOU CAN QUIT BEING A JACKASS.)

This year, 11 out of 25 of the Heroes are women. Of those 11 women, seven were chosen as part of the Top 10, who were awarded $50,000 grants to support their work. They include Pushpa Banset, from Nepal, who helps children of incarcerated parents live outside of prison walls; Mary Cortani, from the U.S., an Army veteran whose nonprofit helps disabled vets train their own service dogs; and Wanda Butts (pictured above), another American, who launched a nonprofit teaching minority children to swim after losing her son in a drowning accident.

It’s not often that I get excited about mainstream media doing the right thing in the right way. But CNN gets it this time. You can read more about the Heroes and vote for your favorite here. A winner, who will receive an additional $250,000, will be announced by our favorite Silver Fox on Dec. 2.

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