Last year's #OscarsSoWhite problem was bad. This year, it's even worse.

On Jan. 14, the 2016 Oscar nominations were announced.

There are plenty of talented actors who deserve a round of applause. Leonardo DiCaprio, for instance, is up for Best Actor for his work in "The Revenant," right after snagging the Golden Globe this past weekend. Jennifer Lawrence and Brie Larson are also nominated for the top prize in the actress category, fresh off big wins at Sunday's Globes.

Congrats!


Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images.

These thespians deserve a slap on the back, no doubt. But there's a sad reality about the acting categories as a whole:

Not even one person of color was recognized with an acting nomination this year, and it wasn't due to a lack of superb performances to choose from.

Take a moment to let this fact sink in: Every single nominee in all 20 acting slots this year is white. In other words, not one person of color is nominated for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, or Best Supporting Actress.

Many feel as though actor Idris Elba was snubbed for his role in "Beasts of No Nation." Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.

Don't get me wrong — the nominees are some seriously talented folks. Cate Blanchett? Mark Ruffalo? Bryan Cranston? Kate Winslet? These people are known for their powerhouse performances, and they have the acting chops to prove it.

But when you look at performances by actors of color that didn't make the cut — Idris Elba in "Beasts of No Nation," Will Smith in "Concussion," Michael B. Jordan in "Creed" (just to name a few) — it's hard not to wonder ... how could not even a single slot across all 20 be given to a non-white person?

Are you experiencing déjà vu? The exact same thing happened last January.

The 2015 Academy Awards was of historic proportion; for the first time since 1997, every acting category slot had been filled by a white person (sound familiar?). This prompted the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to go viral, as social media erupted with outrage. I mean, it was 2015, after all ... how could that happen?

Welp, the Academy has outdone itself.


In fact, the 2016 Oscar season somehow shaped up to be even less diverse. Last January, at least "Selma" — a film that highlighted the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement — snagged a nod for best picture, even as the film's star, David Oyelowo, was snubbed for his performance as MLK. Not one movie in the running for best picture this year features a person of color as a protagonist. Many believe the critically acclaimed blockbuster "Straight Outta Compton" was straight up snubbed.

A comment from Oyelowo last year about his snub and the types of roles performed by people of color that get recognized is particularly striking now, given the context of this year's lack of diverse nominees (emphasis added):

"Generally speaking, we as black people have been celebrated more for when we are subservient, when we are not being leaders, or kings, or being in the center of our own narrative driving it forward. ... We have been slaves, we have been domestic servants, we have been criminals, we have been all of those things, but we've been leaders, we've been kings, we've been those who change the world. And those films where that is the case are so hard to get made."

Of course, who should and shouldn't be nominated for what is certainly debatable — 100 people could have 100 different reviews after watching the same movie. But the fact there were many more films featuring non-white actors and stories of Oscar-potential this year that got completely overlooked paints a disturbing picture.

As Vox's Todd VanDerWerff pointed out, "It's so much harder to suggest that 'maybe the Academy just didn't like it,' when 'it' applies to a whole swath of movies and performances."

So, what's the problem here? Why is the Academy overlooking black and brown actors and stories?

It's easy to forget that the Academy is not, like, some Hollywood higher power that announces the best actors and films based on its divine authority. The academy is made up of (overwhelmingly white, older, male) humans.

Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.

As The Los Angeles Times reported in 2013, the Academy's membership is a whopping 93% white and 76% male. Also, the average member is in their early 60s.

All things considered, it makes sense that the actors and storylines that resonate most with an audience of people who mostly look like grandpas in Disney Channel sitcoms would be — yep, you guessed it! — white actors telling white people's stories.

Will the Academy's top choices ever accurately reflect America's demographics? There's certainly reason to hope.

Even though the Academy itself isn't entirely to blame — more movies created by people of color that cast people of color would help diversify an all-white nominee list — it realizes its way of selecting top performances needs changing.

That's why, in recent years, the Academy's accepted a larger and more diverse pool of new members, as The Hollywood Reporter noted, hoping to begin chipping away at the racial and gender imbalance.

It'll be a process, though — with more than 6,000 Academy voters and an annual new membership figure that stays in the low hundreds, it'll take time for a truly diverse voting body to form.

So here's to hoping the 2026 nods are a lot less white than the 2016 ones.

In 2015, Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price had a life-changing epiphany.

Price, who founded Gravity with his brother in 2004, was out hiking in the Cascade Mountains with his friend, Valerie. She told him her landlord had raised her rent by $200 and she was struggling to get by on her $40,000 a year income. Price, who was making $1.1 million a year as CEO of Gravity, was struck by her story. Not only did he feel for Valerie—a military veteran working two jobs and barely making ends meet—realized that some of his own employees might be facing similar struggles.

And they were. One employee frankly told him his entry-level salary was a rip-off. Another employee had secretly been working at McDonald's outside of work hours to make ends meet. So Price decided to make a drastic change by investing in his employees.

He researched how much money the average person would need in order to live comfortably and settled on $70,000 a year. In one fell swoop, he dropped his own salary to that amount, while also making it the minimum salary for anyone who worked at Gravity.

The move drew media coverage—and dire predictions from pundits. On Fox News and other conservative outlets he was called "foolish," a "socialist" and a "lunatic of lunatics." Rush Limbaugh called the company policy "pure unadulterated socialism" that was "going to fail" and should be a case study in MBA programs on how socialism doesn't work. Talking heads predicted that his employees would end up in the welfare line.

Six years later, Price has proved the haters wrong—by a lot.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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