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Last weekend, "Parks and Recreation" star Aziz Ansari went off the typical press junket script to tackle one of Hollywood's biggest taboos: race.

Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images.


In a Q&A session to promote his new show "Master of None," the actor and comedian used the opportunity to speak out against racial quotas on TV...

...as reported by Samuel Anderson in Vulture:

"When they cast these shows, they're like, 'We already have our minority guy or our minority girl.' There would never be two Indian people in one show. With Asian people, there can be one, but there can't be two. Black people, there can be two, but there can't be three because then it becomes a black show. Gay people, there can be two; women, there can be two; but Asian people, Indian people, there can be one but there can't be two."

There's lots more in the interview, including thoughts about white actors playing South Asian characters in "brownface," television's history of offering one-dimensional, stereotypical roles to Indian-American actors, and why "Empire" doesn't mean racism is a thing of the past.

You should go read the whole thing.

Ansari isn't the first to speak out about Hollywood's race problem.

Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images

TV mega-producer Shonda Rhimes, "Fresh Off the Boat" creator Eddie Huang, "Selma" star David Oyelowo, and many others have recently called out the TV and film industry for selling actors of color short and promoting stereotypes on screen.

The numbers back them up.

A 2014 analysis by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA found that, in 2011, non-white actors were underrepresented on film by a factor of 3:1 when adjusted for their share of the population. The same analysis also found that more than 50% of films that year featured casts that were less than 10% non-white.

Why does it matter?

Representation matters, and it matters from a very early age. When characters of color are either not represented at all or portrayed as sidekicks, buffoons, and assorted other one-dimensional stereotypes, kids internalize those stereotypes — and the notions that "That's how the world I live in sees me" or "I don't count."

It's hard to overstate the value of seeing someone who looks like you realized as a full human being on-screen. And right now, for people of color in America, that's not happening nearly enough.

What can be done?

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

Thankfully, the landscape is changing — thanks in large part to shows like Ansari's, "The Mindy Project," "Fresh Off The Boat," and "Empire," which feature characters of color who are front and center rather than tokens in the background, and three-dimensional people rather than stereotypes.

Giving creators who are people of color a chance to make entertainment is the quickest way to make the industry more inclusive. Hopefully, the success of those shows will help convince Hollywood that doing so can be a winning bet.

As for shows that aren't built from the ground up by people of color...

Inclusion should be the goal, not a byproduct of the process.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.

Earlier this month, in an interview with NPR, Lorne Michaels was discussing diversity on "Saturday Night Live" when he said something extremely revealing:

"Chris Rock called me about Leslie [Jones] ... said, 'She's the funniest person, or one of the funniest people I know, and she's either going to end up working for you or working for AT&T, so.' And Leslie was 46 and was not in any way what I was looking for, but when I saw her and she just destroyed — and she's, aside from being incredibly funny, she's a wonderful person, and lovely — and you go, 'Right, OK, you join.'"

Here's the thing. It's not like no one knew about Leslie Jones.

Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images.

Lots of people knew about her, in fact. She had been doing stand-up since 1987. She toured with Katt Williams. She was good enough that Chris freaking Rock knew about her.

But Michaels didn't.

He didn't know about her because he scouts talent from a few well-worn comedy establishment theaters — many of which predominately attract white (and male) performers. If Chris Rock hadn't gotten in his face about it, Michaels never would have known. And crucially, "Saturday Night Live" would have been not just less diverse, but more importantly, less funny as a result.

For Lorne Michaels, the moral of the story seems to be that talent is talent no matter where it comes from. And that's true! But that's not the real lesson here.

The actual moral of the story?

Look harder. There's lots of talent out there. It just might not be in the places you always look.

And if you don't snatch them up, they might just leave you behind.

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


At 1:30 am on Monday morning an AMBER Alert went out in southern Louisiana about a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia. It was believed she had been kidnapped and driven away in a 2012 silver Nissan Altima.

A few hours later at 7 am, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste, were on their daily route when they noticed a vehicle that fit the description in the alert.

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Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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