Casey Affleck dropping out of the Oscars should motivate us all.

A lot has changed in just a year.

Last year Brie Larson presented Casey Affleck with the Oscar for Best Actor, and it was ... uncomfortable.

Just a year earlier, Larson had won the Oscar for her powerhouse performance in "Room," playing a woman who was held kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and forced to live in captivity with her young son. Hers was a moving performance that reflected a lot of Larson's own advocacy work for victims of sexual harassment and violence. But then she was asked to present one of acting's top honors to Affleck, who had been sued on multiple occasions for sexual harassment years earlier.

The audience erupted in applause as Affleck's name was announced and he took the stage — with one very notable exception: Larson. After offering Affleck a polite hug, she stood off to the side, motionless. In a pre-#MeToo, pre-Time's Up environment, her reluctance to follow the unspoken rules of being a presenter was a statement in itself.


Larson stands still as Affleck takes the stage in 2017. GIF from Oscars/YouTube.

"I think that whatever it was that I did onstage kind of spoke for itself,” she told Vanity Fair when asked about whether she was trying to make a statement by not clapping. "I’ve said all that I need to say about that topic."

Since then, a lot has changed in Hollywood — and Affleck will be absent from the Oscar stage this year as a result.

It's Academy Award tradition that the previous year's Best Actor winner presents this year's Best Actress award (and the past Best Actress presents Best Actor). But Affleck, who was scheduled to present, will not be in attendance when Hollywood gathers for the show on March 4.

Deadline reported that "Affleck did not want to become a distraction from the focus that should be on the performances of the actresses in the category and that is why he made the proactive move," calling it "a no-win situation."

Affleck accepts Best Actor during the 2017 Oscars. Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images.

Thanks to the activism of the past year, actors like Affleck are finally being held accountable for their actions.

It's proof that, when journalists, witnesses, and survivors speak out, they have the power to change the world for the better.

Without Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey's bombshell New York Times exposé detailing megaproducer Harvey Weinstein's history of sexual assault and harassment, and without some of the brave actresses willing to go on record for it, it's hard to imagine that the #MeToo movement would have taken off the way it has.

In a world without the #MeToo movement (which was founded years ago by Tarana Burke, but given fresh life post-Weinstein), it's easy to picture Affleck on stage this year, again receiving cheers from a complicit audience. It's easy to imagine his past sexual harassment suits being brushed off as ancient history, or for audiences to be urged to separate the artist from the art; it's easy to picture a culture that has continued to laud the likes of Roman Polanski or Woody Allen treating Affleck the same way.

Tarana Burke poses with Affleck's "Manchester By the Sea" co-star, actress Michelle Williams at this year's Golden Globes. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

But activists, journalists, and regular, everyday people helped change that. Continued pressure and momentum can help reshape culture in powerful ways. The fact that Casey Affleck will not be on stage is a reminder that we can make the world a better place if we use our voices to advocate for a more just society.

In a world where cynicism and despair often win out, stories like these might just lend a little hope.

#MeToo demonstrators. Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.

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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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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

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.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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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.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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