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People are ready to throw down for an adorable little girl who just wants her pencil back

This article originally appeared on 01.31.20


As the nation helplessly watches our highest halls of government toss justice to the wind, a 2nd grader has given us someplace to channel our frustrations. In a hilarious video rant, a youngster named Taylor shared a story that has folks ready to go to the mat for her and her beloved, pink, perfect attendance pencil.


Instagrammer @tabgeezy shared a video of her daughter telling the story of how she put her perfect attendance pencil—the pink one that she had legitimately earned—in the classroom box of pencils to be sharpened. But when she went to retrieve it from the sharpened pencils box, all she found were plain yellow pencils. That's because Lizzie—who, by the way, had not earned a perfect attendance pencil because she had gone to CANADA—was using it. And not only that, but Canada Lizzie then lost Taylor's pencil in her desk, and her teacher was no help.

You have to hear Taylor tell it to understand why this travesty of justice has gone viral.

If you think this pencil battle is of no consequence whatsoever, think again. People on Twitter got hold of the video, and folks are rallying behind Taylor as if that pink pencil is our democracy and Taylor and Lizzie are the House and Senate.

"Lizzie" was trending on Twitter as people called out the little girl who went to CANADA and then dared to take Taylor's perfect attendance pencil.

There were some shout-outs to Taylor's classmate who understood what that pencil meant to her.

But Taylor's teacher certainly wasn't getting any love.

Twitter's collective reaction even started getting its own GIFs.

People had so. many. feelings. about baby girl getting back her pencil, about the way her mom and teacher dismissed it as "just a pencil," and about poor little Lizzie who probably still doesn't understand what all the fuss is about.

Why do we care so much? Adorableness aside, we're all a little burned out on politics and the methodical dismantling of our country's checks and balances, so maybe getting charged up over an adorable little girl's pencil injustice somehow feels cathartic.

Hope you get your pencil back soon, Taylor. We all need a little glimmer of hope that justice can, indeed, prevail.

All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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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.

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