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After two weekends successfully dodging spoilers, my wife and I finally had a chance to see "Get Out."

Written and directed by Jordan Peele of "Key & Peele" fame, "Get Out" tells the story of Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a black, 20-something photographer who accompanies his white girlfriend (Allison Williams) on a trip to meet her parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) for the first time at their family home. What should be a potentially awkward but innocuous visit becomes anything but, as Chris quickly realizes something sinister is going on.

From left to right: Keener, Whitford, Williams, Betty Gabriel, and Kaluuya.  Image via "Get Out"/Universal Pictures.


Before I go on, I should mention that I'm black, and my wife is white. We met nearly six years ago, and I was warmly welcomed into her family.

Immediately, however, "Get Out" reminded me of a pivotal moment that happened early in our relationship.

I had joined my wife's extended family for her cousin's high school graduation in eastern Kansas. Rows and rows of mostly white teenagers sat in folding chairs at the 40-yard line of the football field, while their mostly white parents waved and peered at them through zoom lenses.  As we waited for the ceremony to begin, I played a game I often play in moments of intense whiteness (folk concerts, theme trivia nights, farmer's markets, etc.). I call it "Find Another Black Person," and depending on where I am, it's much harder than it sounds.

That day in Kansas, I didn't see any other black people.

I've played this game for years without ever really thinking much about why I play it. After seeing "Get Out," it clicked: This harmless game is more than just a way to occupy my impatient mind — it's a safeguard. In a sea of white people, I look for a lifeboat. And "Get Out" reminded me that maybe I'm right to.

Logan (Lakeith Stanfield) and Chris (Kaluuya) meet at the party.  Image via "Get Out"/Universal Pictures.

"Get Out" is unsettling, suspenseful, witty in just the right places, beautifully shot, and well-acted. It's fantastic.

The rest of this story will have spoilers, so if you haven't yet seen "Get Out," get out.

As I watched the film — from its title theme, "Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga," a song in Swahili that loosely translates to "listen to the ancestors," to the tears streaming down Chris and Georgina's faces when they were in the "sunken place" — something stirred loose in me. Scenes of Chris dodging microaggressions from all sides while Rose gaslit him without abandon felt familiar — yet horrifying — on the big screen.

I'd say it couldn't have come at a better time, but to be honest, we've needed a film like this for years. It was frightening for the same reason a stadium full of white Kansan parents and their children left me looking for a familiar brown face — sure, nothing bad will happen ... but it could.

Whitford and Keener.  Image from "Get Out"/Universal Pictures.

To put it plainly, "Get Out" left me shook. I needed to talk about it immediately, and thankfully, I had a car ride home with my wife to do so.

I needed to digest what I'd just seen. "Get Out" was certainly no ordinary film. The way my heart lodged firmly in my throat when I saw the red and blue lights approach our hero in the final scene, only to be saved by his trusted black friend, his lifeboat? I saw my worst fears play out on the silver screen. It was just too real.

The sunken place is terrifying. Image from "Get Out"/Universal Pictures.

While my wife and I are an interracial couple, we're also both women, so my experience watching and reflecting on "Get Out" isn't quite the same as what Chris experienced.

I was nervous when I met my wife's white parents for many of the reasons Chris was nervous in the movie. Did they know I was black? What was I walking into? But, as a black woman, I also had the privilege of coming to my future in-laws' front door without the burden of more than 150 years of assumptions and lies about violent black masculinity, hypersexuality, and predatory behavior (especially as it pertains to white women). It doesn't mean I rang their bell without worry or fear, but as a woman dating a woman, I know I didn't shoulder the burden of history as black men in heterosexual interracial relationships do, and I recognize that.

Chris (Kaluuya) and Rose (Williams) get comfy.  Image from "Get Out"/Universal Pictures.

When we got in the car, I turned to my wife. I knew we'd watched "Get Out" differently. How could we not?

I needed to know if in watching the film, she saw me. Not just a character in a horror film, but me, her wife, who faces fear, isolation, and anxiety about racism every single day.

We discussed the film in-depth the whole way home, but there was one part of our conversation that stood out to me because, in that moment, something clicked — for both of us:

Me: "When do you think about being white?"
Her: "When racist stuff happens."
Me: "What do you think when racist stuff happens?"
Her: "I feel bad."
Me: "You feel bad for whom?"
Her: "For whom? The victims of racism. I feel guilty."
Me: "You feel guilty after racist things happen. Did you feel guilty after watching the movie?"
Her: "Yeah, maybe a little. Yeah. It's so extreme though, you know?"
Me: "Yeah."
Her: "It kind of got out of the range of like, 'realistic racism,' I guess. Once we got into brain transplants, we're obviously outside of a realm. I feel like I felt more guilty when they were doing other stuff, the minor stuff ... that turned out to be major."








That right there — the conclusion she drew — is an important one.

Whether we're talking about Hollywood horror or real life, racism is never just small stuff. It may start with small things, like being followed around a store, having your hair stroked by strangers, or people assuming you grew up in poverty. Before long, it becomes voter suppression, subpar medical care, limited economic opportunities, and poor public schools. One racist misdeed begets another, and it all starts "innocently" enough.

Chris (Kaluuya) greets guests during the party.  Image from "Get Out"/Universal Pictures.

Punishing experiments on black soldiers like the Buffalo Soldier bicycle mission, the Tuskegee syphilis trials, the stripping of cells from Henrietta Lacks — these things don't happen all at once. They happen when a group of people is not seen as fully human by society. That's when these small things cross into what my wife called the "realm of the impossible" — a realm that black people in particular know from history is actually very possible.

That's the frightening reality I grappled with while watching "Get Out," and, while it didn't leave me screaming in the theater, it definitely keeps me up at night.

I adore my wife, and I know the feeling is mutual. But I was black long before I met her, so even as our families blend, my blackness won't.

My blackness is non-negotiable. It's not a hobby or a casual interest. I won't get bored with it one day and shove my blackness in the attic. It's here. Always. It's with me at work, at home, when I'm driving, and when I'm in a crowded football stadium watching a high school graduation.

Thankfully, my wife recognizes and appreciates that. But even on her best day, she won't know what it's like to feel so out of place, to look out into that sea of white faces and need a lifeboat. She can't. No white person can. But in that theater, for 103 minutes, a surprising and innovative movie helped her get a little closer to understanding what that's like. That's more important to me than she'll ever know.

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.”

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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


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