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John Boyega's Jedi-like approach to shutting down race-based criticism.

The Force is strong with this one (and his ability to deal with this kind of ignorance).

Over the weekend, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" hit theaters, crushing pretty much every box office record imaginable.

Maybe you had the pleasure of checking it out (but if not, don't worry, no spoilers). The film was a massive success, but underneath that was a bit of a squabble among fans surrounding some casting decisions.


A $524.9 million opening weekend! Not too shabby, eh? Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images.

Controversy surrounded the casting of one of the movie's lead characters.

Er, no, not you, BB-8. Everyone loves you.

"BB-8! BB-8! Who are you wearing!?" Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney.

The controversy was in the casting of John Boyega, seen below, in the role of Finn. In the film's first trailer, released last year, Boyega was shown taking off a stormtrooper helmet. Some fans were less than thrilled, saying that a black man shouldn't be playing the role of a stormtrooper on the basis of ... uh ... well, no basis, really. They just didn't like it.

Boyega responded with a simple statement: "Get used to it."

That, sir, is how you dress for a movie premiere! Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

In October, after a group tried to organize a boycott of the movie, Boyega struck back with a bit more force.

In an interview with V Magazine, Boyega addressed critics who had established their opinion of him based solely on the color of his skin, rather than his talent as an actor.

But in perhaps the best comeback yet to this outdated argument, Boyega let the ticket sales speak for themselves.

On "The Wake Up Show," host Sway got right to the point, asking what it's been like to be on the receiving end of baseless, ignorant criticism. Boyega's response was priceless.

GIFs from SwaysUniverse.

We need to continue to push for increased diversity in Hollywood, precisely because this type of backlash exists.

Whether you're an actor, director, writer, producer, or just a consumer of the entertainment industry, diversity is important (and yes, you benefit from this even if you're white and male). It's why diversity-driven initiatives, like that led by "Star Wars" creator George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson, exist to try to level the Hollywood playing field.

Right now, white and/or male is considered the default in just about any lead role. Just look at the backlash to the news that a black actress (Noma Dumezweni) had been cast as Hermione in the upcoming "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," even after J.K. Rowling herself said Hermione could be a woman of color.

To see a record-busting action movie like "Star Wars" being led by a black man and a woman (Daisy Ridley as Rey) is not only needed, but it's more revolutionary than anything a special effects team could even begin to touch. This kind of casting shouldn't have to be considered subversive, but right now, that's the reality we live in.

People like Boyega, bravely pushing back on hate, are helping make the world a better place for future generations of actors.

Watch Boyega's appearance on "The Wake Up Show" below.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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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.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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