Aziz Ansari just defended ... red-staters? Yep. And he has a point.

If you're going to paint everyone from the southern United States with a broad, red brush, don't do it around Aziz Ansari.

Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP.

The comedian, who grew up in South Carolina, recently sat down with New York magazine's Jada Yuan to promote the second season of his critically acclaimed Netflix series "Master of None."


The interview went well — except, Yuan admitted, for one moment: when she made an off-the-cuff remark suggesting Ansari's series — which follows Dev Shah, a son of Indian immigrants, and his diverse set of friends living in liberal New York City — is a love letter to the "blue states."

Her comment didn't sit well with Ansari.

Ansari doesn't like when the term "red state" is used to mean people who are backward or ignorant.

It's been his experiences as an Indian-American who grew up in South Carolina — one of the very "red states" often cited that way — that shaped his viewpoint.

As he explained to Yuan (emphasis added):

“Look, don’t say ‘red-staters,’ because when you say ‘red-staters,’ you’re saying, like, ‘dumb, racist people,’ and there are plenty of white people there who are not dumb, racist people. Maybe I’m just very quick to react when, as a culture, we try to paint this whole large group of people as one specific thing. Because that’s what, as a minority, you deal with all the time. It’s just people looking at you and being like, ‘You’re this. I know exactly what you are.’ And you’re like, ‘Shut up! That’s not me. You don’t know me.’”

Ansari's point may be obvious, but it's one we often forget in this politically charged time: simply living in a red (or blue) state says nothing more about your values than your shirt size does. Just because a state swings red or blue in an election doesn't mean that everyone living in that state or district automatically adopts the majority viewpoint.

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP.

Don't mistake the comedian's soft spot for red America as excusing harmful, dangerous rhetoric though — Ansari's been among President Trump's toughest critics in Hollywood for months.

Ansari never wanted his comedy to get political. But in the era of Trump, he couldn't stay silent.

With every anti-Muslim speech or policy proposal from the president, Ansari's own Muslim family is personally affected.

The day after Trump's inauguration, Ansari hosted "Saturday Night Live," hilariously slamming white supremacy and providing the comic relief so many of us desperately needed in that moment. Last summer, he penned a blistering takedown of then-candidate Trump's harmful immigration policies in the New York Times, in which he's quoted as discouraging his mother from going to a mosque for her own safety.

Donald Trump wants to ban Muslim immigrants like my parents, so I wrote a piece for the @NYTimes telling him to go fuck himself. Link in bio.

Posted by Aziz Ansari on Friday, June 24, 2016

Ansari is not afraid to go on the offensive and address racism, sexism, and Islamophobia in his comedy. However, the butt of Ansari's jokes are, specifically, dangerous people and ideas that are helping to keep xenophobia afloat — not every single person who happened to live in a state that went red for Trump in November.

To assume or imply that every person living in a red state embodies the stereotype of being backward or ignorant erases the work of people like Scott Shaffer, in deep-red Texas, who's been laser-focused on stopping harmful bills from passing through Congress. It ignores the people who turned out in droves in Wyoming last week wearing colorful tutus to support LGBTQ equality. It forgets the thousands of women who marched in places like Cincinnati and Tucson the day after Trump's inauguration in defiance of misogyny and discrimination of any kind.

These people of the resistance are red-staters, too — just like Ansari. That's a crucial and often overlooked point to remember.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

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