Eyes Open #15

CHSBLMJune82020-28

Welcome to the latest puzzle in my ongoing series, Eyes Open, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights protests.

In previous Eyes Open puzzles, I’ve put a spotlight on important figures, both well-known and obscure, who have affected history in crucial ways. These influential individuals, and their efforts, deserve to be celebrated and remembered.

But one thing I try never to forget is that, just outside that spotlight, however bright or flickering, there are so many nameless, faceless people that also contributed to the cause.

How many Black Panther Party members can we name who helped feed their communities? How many grassroots organizers that went door to door? How many supporters offering water bottles to people marching? How many nurses and carers tending to them after violent responses? How many drivers that helped shuttle people to the polls? How many signatures on vital petitions? How many people carrying those clipboards and pens?

Volunteers that number in the thousands, protesters that number in the tens and hundreds of thousands, voters that number in the millions.

We don’t know those their names. We wouldn’t recognize their faces. But they have all helped change the world.

The subject of today’s puzzle will probably never be known on a national or global stage. I didn’t know his name before reading this article a friend shared with me. You probably don’t know his name yet.

But to the people he stood up for, to the people he represented, to the people he helped, to the people he championed, he was everything. He made a small part of the world a better place for everyone. His legacy is one of bravery, kindness, and selflessness. That’s something we can all aspire to.

I hope this puzzle serves to both engage you as a solver and encourage you to learn more, not just about this “unapologetic fighter for truth, transparency and justice,” but the many people like him in your own community and elsewhere.

[Click this link to download a PDF of this puzzle.]

If you have suggestions for more topics for me to cover in future puzzles, please let me know. If you’re a person of color and you’d like to share a puzzle of your own, or to collaborate with me on a puzzle, please let me know.

If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, and you have ideas, please let me know. If you’re a trans person, or a non-binary individual, and you feel underrepresented in puzzles, please let me know.

I would like this to become something bigger, but hopefully, this is at the very least a start.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for standing up, speaking up, and fighting the good fight.

Support LGBTQIA+ people.
Believe women.
Black lives matter.

Eyes Open #14

CHSBLMJune82020-28

Welcome to the latest puzzle in my ongoing series, Eyes Open, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights protests.

After an arduous year where so many lost so much — friends, loved ones, beloved idols and cultural icons, jobs, opportunities, faith in government, faith in people — we all hoped 2021 would be different.

While there are some reasons to be optimistic, it’s hard not to despair that this year will be more of the same. It’s particularly hard when those who inspire us are taken away.

The world lost a woman of incredible strength, class, and character this week. A woman who not only dictated how she would be represented, but how she would represent people like her. A woman whose career spanned seven decades and epitomized what it meant to stand up for what you believe in.

In preparation for this puzzle, I have read some incredible articles dedicated to her memory, and they use words like “purposeful and pioneering,” and it’s impossible to disagree. In particular, I must recommend this heartbreakingly wonderful piece by LZ Granderson that encapsulated so much of what I wanted to say, and in far grander, more eloquent fashion.

She was, and will continue to be, iconic. An inspiration to so many, at a time when inspiration is desperately needed.

I hope this puzzle serves to both engage you as a solver and encourage you to learn more about this amazing woman.

eyes open 14 image

[Click this link to download a PDF of this puzzle.]

If you have suggestions for more topics for me to cover in future puzzles, please let me know. If you’re a person of color and you’d like to share a puzzle of your own, or to collaborate with me on a puzzle, please let me know.

If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, and you have ideas, please let me know. If you’re a trans person, or a non-binary individual, and you feel underrepresented in puzzles, please let me know.

I would like this to become something bigger, but hopefully, this is at the very least a start.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for standing up, speaking up, and fighting the good fight.

Support LGBTQIA+ people.
Believe women.
Black lives matter.

Eyes Open #13

CHSBLMJune82020-28

Welcome to the latest puzzle in my ongoing series, Eyes Open, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights protests.

An important historic moment in Georgia was sadly overshadowed by violence in the nation’s capitol, provoked by the inflammatory rhetoric of the outgoing (but, unfortunately, not-yet-gone) president.

It was a moment a long time coming for Georgia. After years, decades even, of voter manipulation, outright discrimination against certain members of the population, and electoral conduct that made many sick to their stomach, a dedicated and organized movement was born to flip the Senate, and it centered on two Senate races in Georgia.

Voters turned out in droves to determine the fate of not only their state, but the entire government for the next few years, and it was a moment as amazing as it was gratifying.

stacey abrams

One particular woman has received well-deserved praise for her role in making this moment possible. Through speeches, fund-raising, hard work, and incredible resolve, she won the day for many.

But she did not do so alone. Many women of color contributed to this amazing moment, and today’s puzzle is dedicated to several of them.

This 21×20 grid is unusual not only for its non-standard size, but also for its presentation. I have purposely grayed out most of the traditionally black boxes so that the ones that remain spell out a suitable visual representation of what these women achieved.

I also purposely surrounded those black squares with the names of these women and some of the organizations they run, hoping to recreate in puzzle form exactly what these women and these groups did: they surrounded and protected Georgia, even as they helped flip it.

I hope this puzzle serves to both engage you as a solver and encourage you to learn more about these inspiring women and the causes they serve.

eyes open 13 image

[Click this link to download a PDF of this puzzle.]

If you have suggestions for more topics for me to cover in future puzzles, please let me know. If you’re a person of color and you’d like to share a puzzle of your own, or to collaborate with me on a puzzle, please let me know.

If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, and you have ideas, please let me know. If you’re a trans person, or a non-binary individual, and you feel underrepresented in puzzles, please let me know.

I would like this to become something bigger, but hopefully, this is at the very least a start.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for standing up, speaking up, and fighting the good fight.

Support LGBTQIA+ people.
Believe women.
Black lives matter.

Eyes Open #12

CHSBLMJune82020-28

Welcome to the latest puzzle in my ongoing series, Eyes Open, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights protests.

Over the course of the last year, we’ve discussed many important topics, delved into historic moments, and done our best to educate ourselves and our readers on crucial social issues.

For this crossword, though, I wanted to refocus on those groups on the front lines that inspired this puzzle series in the first place. There are a huge number of brave, selfless individuals out there organizing and advocating for people of color, for women’s rights, for non-binary gender representation, and for LGBTQIA+ causes. And these organizations, advocacy groups, and charitable foundations deserve a spotlight.

I will definitely return to this topic in the future to highlight groups for women’s rights and LGBTQIA+ causes, but for today’s crossword, I opted to focus on groups that work to better the lives of people of color. They are generous, bold, endlessly kind defenders of decency, civil liberties, and representation, and the work they do is immensely important.

Although the names or abbreviations of only eight organizations appear in this grid — we have posted links to each below the puzzle grid link — there are many more that merit attention. Please click this link to see a tremendous list of charities and organizations compiled by New York Magazine working on behalf of people of color.

As one year closes and a new year begins, we wanted to offer some well-deserved attention to hard-working groups and individuals who deserve our respect, our esteem, our support, and our heartfelt gratitude.

I hope this puzzle serves to both engage you as a solver and encourage you to learn more about these groups and the causes they serve.

[Click this link to download a PDF of this puzzle.]

Charity links:

If you have suggestions for more topics for me to cover in future puzzles, please let me know. If you’re a person of color and you’d like to share a puzzle of your own, or to collaborate with me on a puzzle, please let me know.

If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, and you have ideas, please let me know. If you’re a trans person, or a non-binary individual, and you feel underrepresented in puzzles, please let me know.

I would like this to become something bigger, but hopefully, this is at the very least a start.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for standing up, speaking up, and fighting the good fight.

Support LGBTQIA+ people.
Believe women.
Black lives matter.

Eyes Open #11

CHSBLMJune82020-28

Welcome to the latest puzzle in my ongoing series, Eyes Open, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights protests.

Sixty-five years ago today, the first large-scale demonstration against segregation in the United States began in the capital city of Alabama.

Four days earlier, a woman who would become synonymous with the civil rights movement, boarded a bus after a long workday. She and three other people were soon ordered to vacate their seats because the Whites Only seats were already full.

She refused.

Some historians — and individuals who wish to downplay this woman’s role in history — will tell you she was tired, or that there was no greater spirit of resistance embodied by this act of refusal. But no, this was one act of protest in a life filled with important, poignant choices. In fact, not only was she a member of the local chapter of the NAACP, she was its secretary.

The protest began in earnest on December 5th, the day this woman would be tried in municipal court. Flyers began circulating. On December 5th, approximately 40,000 black bus riders — the majority of the city’s bus riders (about 75%!) — abandoned the bus system. Instead, carpools were organized by black leaders, and the city’s African American taxi drivers reduced their fares to 10 cents for African-American riders — the same price as the bus.

This woman is an icon, but she’s not the only woman who deserves praise for stepping up against unfair treatment in this way. Two other women — one nine months earlier, one fifteen years earlier — both refused to be treated like second-class citizens on segregated buses.

On this anniversary, I wanted to shine a spotlight on all three of these brave, determined women, all of whom deserve our respect, our esteem, and our heartfelt gratitude.

I hope this puzzle serves to both engage you as a solver and encourage you to learn more about these events and those names that are often overshadowed by a single, still very deserving figure.

eyes open 11b grid pic

[Click this link to download a PDF of this puzzle.]

If you have suggestions for more topics for me to cover in future puzzles, please let me know. If you’re a person of color and you’d like to share a puzzle of your own, or to collaborate with me on a puzzle, please let me know.

If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, and you have ideas, please let me know. If you’re a trans person, or a non-binary individual, and you feel underrepresented in puzzles, please let me know.

I would like this to become something bigger, but hopefully, this is at the very least a start.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for standing up, speaking up, and fighting the good fight.

Support LGBTQIA+ people.
Believe women.
Black lives matter.

Eyes Open #10

CHSBLMJune82020-28

Welcome to the latest puzzle in my ongoing series, Eyes Open, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights protests.

A week ago, after days of anxiety-inducing uncertainty, a new president-elect was confirmed, alongside the first female vice president-elect in the nation’s history, a woman of color who will inspire countless people (and has already inspired an entry in this series).

Less than two weeks ago, voters went to the polls — and many others had already mailed in their ballots — and some historic candidates were elected (but not nearly enough). At a time when it feels like the country is on a tipping point in so many ways, to see deserving people put themselves forward and then succeed at taking office is a marvelous experience.

One of those historic candidates appears in today’s puzzle, is pictured below, and is now the highest ranking transgender official in United States history.

us state senator sarah mcbride

Today’s puzzle is meant to celebrate her and other elected officials who represent the LGBTQIA+ community, not only serving as advocates for a constantly embattled and persecuted group of underrepresented individuals, but standing as shining beacons of possibility, visibility, and change. They are trailblazers, people who fought the good fight, came out victorious, and proudly worked even harder to fulfill those duties with honor, integrity, and diligence.

There are five noteworthy names that appear in this puzzle. We hope that in years to come, we can return to this subject and make a much larger grid with many more names to celebrate. For now, this will have to do.

I hope this puzzle serves to both engage you as a solver and encourage you to learn more about these intrepid individuals who are boldly pushing outward the boundaries of representation in this country.

eyes open 10 puzzle grid

[Click this link to download a PDF of this puzzle.]

If you have suggestions for more topics for me to cover in future puzzles, please let me know. If you’re a person of color and you’d like to share a puzzle of your own, or to collaborate with me on a puzzle, please let me know.

If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, and you have ideas, please let me know. If you’re a trans person, or a non-binary individual, and you feel underrepresented in puzzles, please let me know.

I would like this to become something bigger, but hopefully, this is at the very least a start.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for standing up, speaking up, and fighting the good fight.

Support LGBTQIA+ people.
Believe women.
Black lives matter.