#ThankYouMattDamon uses laughs to make a vital point about whitewashing.

"The Great Wall" has all the makings of an epic action blockbuster.

It had a massive budget. It attracted a global audience (at least on paper). And it boasts one of the biggest Hollywood stars on Earth, Matt Damon — which, ironically, may have been part of its great downfall.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.


Aside from the onslaught of poor reviews — "If ever a film was made with more money than sense, this is it," film critic Kenneth Turan wrote for the Los Angeles Times — "The Great Wall" is taking heat for its questionable casting decisions.

"The Great Wall," a film set in 11th century China, stars Matt Damon as the hero who saves the day. And that's more than a little cringeworthy.

There weren't a lot of Europeans in China during the Song dynasty (to put it lightly), so, even for a film whose premise hinges on conquering supernatural beasts, Damon's starring role seems a little too far-fetched for many audiences.

From a historical perspective, the absurdity of Damon's character reflects the film industry's terrible habit of whitewashing: casting white actors in roles that were created for people of color. (See: Emma Stone portraying Allison Ng in "Aloha," Jake Gyllenhaal as Dastan in the "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," and dozens and dozens of other films.)

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

If all races were seen frequently and fairly on screen, and if actors of color were cast more often in roles that aren't defined by the color of their skin, maybe whitewashing would be less of a problem. But that's not the case. Last year, researchers at at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that women, minorities, and LGBTQ people were severely underrepresented among the over 21,000 characters and behind-the-scenes workers it analyzed in its study.

Unsurprisingly, the internet was not about to let Damon off the hook.

On Feb. 16, 2017, the day before the film's release, the hashtag #ThankYouMattDamon started trending, sarcastically thanking the star for his role in "The Great Wall" and all the other things he's contributed to Asian history and culture.

The trending phrase — created by comedian Jenny Yang — reached far and wide.

If it seems like the internet really has it out for Damon on this issue, it's because of his recent mishaps when it comes to speaking up about diversity.

In December 2016, Damon compared the casting criticisms of "The Great Wall" to fake news, then proceeded to defend the film by confusing whitewashing with race-bending (when white actors wear makeup to appear as a different race).

That came after a 2015 episode of HBO's "Project Greenlight," in which Damon caused a few jaws to drop for interrupting successful producer Effie Brown, a black woman, to explain to her how diversity works.

Except he got it wrong: "You [promote diversity] in the casting of the film, not in the casting of the show," he told her, trivializing the importance of having people of color working behind the camera as well as in front.

Eesh.

Although whitewashing may seem like a trivial issue — particularly in the uncertain era of President Trump — we shouldn't overlook its effect.

Not only does whitewashing sideline actors of color, limiting and typecasting the roles available to them, it prevents stories from marginalized groups and characters from being told authentically to a wider audience. And when people of color are represented on screen — like in recent films "Hidden Figures" and "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," for instance — it makes a big difference to the people watching.

The diverse cast of 2016's "Hidden Figures." Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

#ThankYouMattDamon laughs aside, actor Constance Wu captured the seriousness of whitewashing in "The Great Wall" — as well as creating narratives that solely celebrate white men as the heroes — in a viral post last summer.

"We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world," Wu wrote. "It’s not about blaming individuals. Rather, it’s about pointing out the repeatedly implied racist notion that white people are superior to [people of color] and that [people of color] need salvation from our own color via white strength."

Let's hope Damon's somewhere taking notes right now.

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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.

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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.

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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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"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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