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Kirstjen Nielsen will leave her position as secretary of homeland security, “Little” hits theaters, and a new video series from The Lily:
This Thursday, be on the lookout for the first episode of our new video series, “Nora Knows What to Say,” on IGTV, Facebook and Twitter. Every week, Nora McInerny, host of the podcast “Terrible, Thanks for Asking,” will lend Lily readers advice on everything from how to discuss mental illness on dates to how to tell family members about surviving sexual violence.
In a recent article in the Columbia Law Review, two George Washington University law professors, David Fontana and Naomi Schoenbaum, argue that many sex-discriminatory roles are set during pregnancy. The paper, titled “Unsexing Pregnancy,” points out that gender equality laws do not yet extend to pregnancy, which courts assume “is a biological event that is almost exclusively for women.” This perpetuates the notion that women belong in the home, the authors argue, while men are free to advance their careers. In reality, the nine months of pregnancy “encompass a range of carework,” they write, and expectant fathers can do more to balance out the burden placed on mothers, from buying car seats to quitting smoking.
“Federal and state governments spend billions of dollars each year subsidizing women devoting themselves to carework during the pregnancy, and encouraging men not to do so,” the authors write. “However far we want to go forward toward sex equality in the future, we have to start further back at the pregnancy itself in considering when sex inequality begins.”
In a tweet Sunday, President Trump announced that Kirstjen Nielsen will leave her post as secretary of homeland security. He also said that Kevin McAleenan, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner, will replace her. Nielsen, who was selected for the job by White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly in 2017, traveled to the border with Trump last week amid a surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
It was not immediately clear whether Nielsen resigned or if Trump fired her. One senior administration official told The Washington Post that Nielsen “did not go with the White House with the intention of resigning.”
Lauren Miranda, a math teacher at New York’s Bellport Middle School, was put on administrative leave earlier this year after a male student obtained a topless selfie of her. Then, last week, the school board fired Miranda in a closed-door meeting; Miranda’s lawyer claims that administrators told her she couldn’t keep her job because the photo made her a poor role model for students. Now, Miranda, 25, is suing the school district for $3 million, claiming gender discrimination.
According to the claim, the photo was taken in 2016 and sent to another teacher in the school district whom Miranda was dating at the time. Miranda said she never posted the photo anywhere and did not know how the student obtained it. At a news conference, Miranda defended the photo and said her lawsuit mattered to girls who have had their own photos shared without their consent. “What message are we sending to them?” she said. “To roll over when your picture gets exposed without your permission or consent? So how am I now not being a role model to them?”
Joy Buolamwini, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher, launched various tests on facial-recognition software after she noticed it wasn’t detecting dark-skinned faces. Her research has found that artificial intelligence created by major companies, including Amazon, had much higher error rates in classifying the gender of darker-skinned women than lighter-skinned men. These discrepancies can carry serious implications, including how self-driving cars detect pedestrians with darker skin tones.
On Wednesday, a group of AI scholars defended Buolamwini’s work and called on Amazon to stop selling its facial recognition technology to police. (Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
For the first time since it started issuing nutritional guidelines in 1980, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Agriculture Department will provide evidence-based recommendations for pregnant women, infants and young children in 2020. That comes amid new research that found that the period from conception to 24 months plays an important role in a child’s future health. While it’s unclear what the specific 2020 recommendations will be, nutrition policy specialists say they’d like to see a preference for breast-feeding over formula and a diet for young children that is mostly plant-based and low in sugar, salt and fat.
University of North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell, one of the most well-known figures in the sport, is under investigation for allegedly making racially offensive remarks and trying to force players to compete through injuries, according to people with knowledge of the probe. The university announced last week it put Hatchell and her staff on paid leave “due to issues raised by student-athletes and others” and hired an outside law firm to investigate.
The Post reports that, at a meeting with university administrators, parents raised concerns about a comment Hatchell allegedly made in which she suggested her players would get “hanged from trees with nooses” if they didn’t improve, as well as reports that she tried to get her players to engage in a “war chant” to “honor” the Native American ancestry of an assistant coach.
• Baylor University defeated reigning national champion Notre Dame University, 82-81, in the NCAA women’s basketball championship Sunday night.
• On Tuesday, two female employees filed a lawsuit against Walt Disney Co., alleging the company pays women less than men doing the same work.
• Former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot won Chicago’s mayoral election, becoming the city’s first black female and openly gay person to hold the position. She defeated Toni Preckwinkle in the closely watched race, which featured two black women vying to succeed outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
• After several more women alleged they had interactions with former vice president Joe Biden that made them uncomfortable, Biden released a video Wednesday in which he said he would be “more respectful of people’s personal space.” In an address to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers on Friday, Biden referred jokingly to the complaints, saying he “had permission” to hug Lonnie Stephenson, the president of the union.
• The House passed legislation Thursday that reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, even as the National Rifle Association and most House Republicans opposed it, saying it would restrict gun rights.
Marsai Martin is only 14 years old, but she’s the face and brains behind “Little.” Directed by Tina Gordon, the film — in which high-powered tech mogul Jordan Sanders, played by Regina Hall, is transformed into her younger self — hits theaters Friday. Martin stars as the mini-mogul, whose assistant April (Issa Rae) helps her navigate the new situation.
But Martin doesn’t only act in the film; the idea behind it also originated with her. She told Essence magazine that she came up with the concept after watching Tom Hanks’s 1988 comedy “Big”; she later began pitching it to producers and studios. Martin, known for her role on “Blackish,” is also credited as an executive producer on the film, making her the youngest ever on a blockbuster movie.
“You don’t really see a 14-year-old girl creating her own stuff and actually making it into theaters,” she told Essence. “That’s why you have to start working with people that will trust you and will believe that you can do it.”
Michelle Woo is an artist and art historian based in Los Angeles. She’s also the director of For Freedoms, an artist collective, where she project manages large-scale exhibitions and provides curatorial advice. The group has an exhibition on view at the ICP Museum in New York City, titled “For Freedoms: Where Do We Go From Here?” The exhibition explores the role of art and visual representation in American civic life in the wake of the 2018 midterm elections. This week, we asked Woo to fill in the blank.
National Park Week is coming up. To celebrate the occasion, parks across the country will host special programs and events — and all entrance fees will be waived on April 20. In the throes of spring, and with Earth Day on April 22, there’s no better time to appreciate all that nature has to offer. Find the park closest to you here. (I only wish I could visit them all.)
—Lena Felton, Lily multiplatform editor
*Have an idea for a news-inspired baiku? Send us your creation at lily [at] washpost [dot] com, and you might see it in the next Lily Lines. We follow 5-7-5.