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At first I found myself singing along, then I realized just how messed up the lyrics were.

As a self proclaimed film and TV buff, I'm always excited for awards season. But when the nominations for the 2015 Oscar awards were revealed, I couldn't help but notice one glaringly obvious trend. At first I thought I might be seeing things, but then I heard a Taylor Swift parody that summed up exactly how I felt about the 2015 Oscars.

At first I found myself singing along, then I realized just how messed up the lyrics were.

So what exactly did I notice? Well, let's take a look at the 2015 acting nominees.

Best actor in a leading role


From left to right, Steve Carell, Michael Keaton, Eddie Redmayne, Bradley Cooper, and Benedict Cumberbatch

Best actress in a leading role

From left to right, Marion Cotillard, Rosamund Pike, Felicity Jones, Julianne Moore, and Reese Witherspoon

Best actor in a supporting role



From left to right, Robert Duvall, Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke, J.K. Simmons, and Edward Norton


Best actress in a supporting role


From left to right, Patricia Arquette, Emma Stone, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, and Keira Knightley

As you can see, some of Hollywood's best and brightest stars have been nominated for the year's top acting honor. And while I can't deny my love for Meryl Streep, Robert Duvall, and Marion Cotillard, the lack of diversity in the 2015 nominees is incredibly disappointing. Not ONE actor or actress of color? And then there's the Best Director nominees, which are completely male-dominated. Now don't get me wrong, we shouldn't be handing out award nominations based on gender or the color of one's skin. I'm also not suggesting that any of these stars are underqualified. There's a lot of talent in this bunch!

But the Academy Awards' lack of diversity says a lot about the state of Hollywood. And although it's "just entertainment," how marginalized people (which includes women and people of color) are portrayed in Hollywood and other forms of media has an effect on how they're perceived in the world. Studies have also shown that diverse representations in media not only promote tolerance but also can improve self esteem. Sadly, it's not just the 2015 nominees that lack diversity. Take a look at this infographic that breaks down the Academy Awards' makeup over the past 87 years. It's not pretty.

Strangely enough, I've been known to capture my feelings (both good and bad) through song, so when I stumbled upon this Taylor Swift parody on the sad state of the 2015 Oscars, I couldn't help but think, "I wish this wasn't so truthful, but damn it, it's so, so good." Take a look at the video below, which hits on a number of Hollywood's problems, including diversity and sexism on the red carpet.

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Considering it's a parody of Taylor Swift's hit "Blank Space," it's obvious why "Blank Slate" is an automatic head-bopper. But it's the lyrics that really drive home why this parody is so spot on.

"Read about it in a magazine
Ain't it funny just how white
The year's lineup always ends up being
So hey, let's pretend
That racism is at an end
Grab your remote and my hand
We can be colorblind just for the weekend." — "Blank Space Oscars 2015 Commentary"





When you look at the numbers, along with firsthand accounts from women and actors of color in the entertainment industry, it's hard to deny that Hollywood still has a lot of work to do. Thankfully, creative people like Melissa Silverstein (the genius behind this Taylor Swift parody) are committed to calling out Hollywood and encouraging them to do better.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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One little girl took pictures of her school lunches. The Internet responded — and so did the school.

If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

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Norton

This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

It's not a stretch to say the kids in this video are on the cutting edge. Some of the results he talks about in the video at the bottom are quite impressive.

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