The most important part of 'Rogue One' was an unexpected and subtle one.

Stop me if this sounds familiar.

Women are usually objectified and sexualized in major motion pictures.

People of color are usually the villains, terrorists, drug dealers, and criminals in major motion pictures.


Films usually consist of white men making all the decisions.

Historically, in movies it’s been the white guy calling the shots, faltering briefly, recognizing his wrongs, and eventually saving the day while teasing a sequel dependent on box office returns. Or sometimes, if there's a female lead, she’ll need strong males to help her see the way.

J.J. Abrams was happy to break this trend in last year's "Star Wars" installment, “The Force Awakens."

John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac. Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

In an interview at Comic-Con last year, when asked about the diversity in "The Force Awakens," Abrams said, "It’s important that fans see people who look like themselves in films."

Legendary franchises like “Ghostbusters” and “Star Wars” have taken huge steps forward not just in gender-neutral and colorblind casting, but in offering the spotlight to women and people of color.

That breaks barriers in Hollywood and proves it’s OK to not follow the homogenous checklist that has permeated Hollywood for decades.

“Rogue One” broke further from this tired formula and gave us new hope.

Slight spoiler alert. There's a moment in the film when the main cast of “good guys” is traveling, at hyperspace, in a beat-up ship that just barely made it out unscathed after witnessing a catastrophic event. As they barrel their way to an imperial base on Planet Eadu, the camera slowly pans across to show the newly formed team. The face of the resistance is not unlike the face of those struggling for equality today. The richness of the diversity is a palpable jolt of hope for all minorities everywhere.

Image courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

A main cast of people of color and a woman leading the way is a powerful scene to see.

Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones, leads the whole movement, with a team consisting of Cassian Andor (played by Mexican actor Diego Luna), Chirrut Imwe, the blind warrior (played by Chinese legend Donnie Yen), Bodhi Rook (played by Riz Ahmed, who is of Pakistani and Indian descent), and Baze Malbus (played by Chinese actor Jiang Wen) after leaving a meeting with another main character, Saw Gerrera (played by African-American Forest Whitaker).

There's no sexual tension to exploit. There are no stereotypes, drug deals, racist themes, religious tropes, or anything else that we’ve come to expect from Hollywood over the last 100 years since “Birth of a Nation” came out.  

Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera. Image courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

But why is this important?

It’s important because like the "Ghostbusters" casting inspiring little girls, it does innumerable wonders for children of color. They see their races and ethnicities finally represented in Hollywood, and not in a negative light.

It's important because it shows we belong, even despite the adversity that women and minorities face.

Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso. Image courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

It’s important because it shows that a woman doesn’t need to be placed in a metal bikini to appeal to a target demographic, spawning thousands of horrid Halloween costumes.

The diverse cast in "Rogue One" shows that despite the challenges women and minorities face on the regular — and, as of Jan. 20, 2017, are likely to face even more often — that we can make strides and show the world, as we’ve tried to do since the beginning of recorded time, that we belong, and that we can also do what the typical white hero has done on the silver screen.

It shows that we’re on the right path but still have a ways to go.

Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen. Image courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

There's progress being made outside film franchises too. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (the U.K.'s version of the Oscars) recently announced that as of 2019, films will not be eligible for any awards unless they're diverse and inclusive in front of and behind the camera. It may not be progress at the speed of light, but that clunky, beat-up ship will get there eventually.

"Rogue One" is billed as the prequel to "A New Hope,"  but for millions of minorities watching it on the big screen, this is their new hope — not just on the big screen, but in the real world we're living in.

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A sanitation worker near Kansas City, Missouri is inspiring others with his kind act that was caught on camera.

Billy Shelby, 50, was collecting trash when he witnessed Opal Zucca, 88, fall trying to bring her bin back to her house. So for the last 10 months, he's been doing it for her to make sure it never happens again.

Zucca's daughter, Colette Kingston, found out what Shelby was doing thanks to video from her mother's Ring surveillance camera. Inspired by Shelby's big heart, Kingston shared the video on Facebook, which shows the man holding Zucca's hand and chatting with her as they walk up her driveway.

[facebook https://www.facebook.com/colette.kingston/videos/10157439423166067/?__xts__[0]=68.ARAscWKURe6rWEKLRnQ_5sWIi4WcZIEEKnOrHMI_SQdqBABzCvAx0424B00HLADEN7jv-T000f7zbTnxj07wUCSwjlkiZ9YynvDvr3Pl3VbTgtFldJtZyQZLQucNcqefmGbsCe8poRbKaZ4mSRnDh1iibGs_Bbt5yOvcUzGuuhobKnTBWC3HQ44qBGL-1gPut0ppiODGWE4Bh5mRlfIDi8RNZKI4Ag&__tn__=-R expand=1]

"God bless you as always, darling!" Shelby says to Zucca. "You're looking good. That hair! You got it down!"

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If there's one thing that unites us all, it's the inevitability of death. That may sound morbid, and it's not something most of us care to think about, but our mortality is something every person on Earth has in common.

However, ideas and beliefs about what dying means are as diverse as humanity itself. So when someone manages to nail a universal truth about death, we pay attention. And when someone does so in a way that touches us deeply, we share it as a way to say, "Look at this gorgeous evidence of our shared human experience."

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via Lyft

One of the most under-reported challenges to lifting people out of the cycle of poverty is transportation. The vast majority of American cities are car-dependent and jobs are increasingly moving towards suburban areas. This puts the urban poor in a terrible position, with many jobs out of town and inaccessible without a car.

A recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia detailed the problem, saying:

"In nearly every discussion held … access to reliable transportation was discussed as a necessary component of economic mobility and quality of life. Many residents in northeastern Pennsylvania — especially lower-income or elderly residents — couldn't access employment, were missing doctor's appointments, couldn't get their children to child care, and couldn't participate in social, religious, and cultural events, all as a result of the lack of transportation. Residents from the region who did not own a car were stuck — literally and figuratively."

As part of a $50 million commitment to "improve our cities through transportation infrastructure, donated transportation, and sustainability initiatives" ride hailing app Lyft has launched a new program designed to help low-income people overcome their transportation obstacles.

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Lyft's Jobs Access Program aims to close short-term transportation gaps related to employment access and job training. It will provide people with free rides to job interviews and, if hired, free transportation to and from work until their first paycheck.

"We know that for the unemployed, reliable transportation to a job interview or to the first few weeks of work can mean the difference between successful, long-term employment and lost opportunities," a Lyft spokesperson told Upworthy.

via Lyft

Lyft aims to help immigrants, refugees, the formerly incarcerated, people with disabilities, and low-income workers or unemployed people living in low-income areas through the program.

"There's so many different types of candidates we're aiming to help," Mike Masserman, Lyft's head of social impact and former executive director for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy under the Obama Administration, told Fast Company.

"One example is the 18- to 24-year-old person who might be going to their very first job, or doesn't have a way of getting to their job interview . . . In some cases, folks are taking four different buses to get to work."

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The program is available in over 35 markets throughout the U.S. and Canada via Lyft's partners, including: United Way and 211, The USO, Goodwill, National Down Syndrome Society, Year Up, Generation, #cut50 (Dream Corps), The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, and Upwardly Global.

Lyft will provide ride credits to the nonprofits to distribute among their clientele as they see fit.

"We really defer to our nonprofit partners on that," says Masserman. "They're the ones that understand their constituency base the best."

Those who are interested in the Jobs Access Program and aren't currently affiliated with any of the aforementioned nonprofits can reach out to the United Way via it's 211 help number to learn more about their eligibility.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg is famous for her workouts. When the documentary RBG came out, the trailer started with her pumping iron (or rather, hand weights). In 2017, her personal trainer, Bryant Jonhson, even wrote a book about her, entitled The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong ... And You Can Too! And when she did her fitness routine with Stephen Colbert, he struggled. The 86-year-old Supreme Court justice still gets her reps in, even after her recent bout with pancreatic cancer. Like that's going to stop her?


Stephen Works Out With Ruth Bader Ginsburg youtu.be


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