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Once upon a time, white people took every single nomination in every single acting category at the 2015 Academy Awards.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.

That's 20 acting slots, for anyone counting.


Then, the following year, a funny thing happened.

Every slot, in every acting category: white person. Again.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.

Listen, I'm a white person who has no qualms with white people winning awards. But doesn't two straight years of exclusively white actors snagging nods seem a bit ... much?

Clearly, I wasn't the only one to think so.

In reaction to the Academy's preference for a specifictype of actor, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite — coined by April Reign, managing editor of BroadwayBlack.com — was born, calling attention to the obvious inequities reflected in the nominations.

So you can imagine why the internet was waiting with bated breath for the morning of Jan. 24, 2017 — the day this year's nominations were announced.  

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Image.

Fortunately, there were some major improvements to celebrate.

Of the 20 acting nominations, seven were given to people of color — the highest number in a decade.

There's at least one non-white person in every category, with Denzel Washington ("Fences") up for Best Actor and Ruth Negga ("Loving") up for Best Actress.

Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Palm Springs International Film Festival.

The supporting categories are more diverse, particularly among the actresses, where three of the five slots went to women of color —  Viola Davis (“Fences”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”), and Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”). Davis now has three Oscar nominations under her belt, making her the most nominated black actress of all time.

In the best supporting actor category, Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) could become the first Muslim ever to win in this category, while Dev Patel ("Lion") is just the third Indian actor ever to be nominated in any acting category.

Aside from acting, other categories aren't so lily-white this year either.

Four of the best picture nominees — "Hidden Figures," "Lion," "Fences," and "Moonlight," which tells the story of a young, black gay man — feature predominantly non-white casts, while four nominations in the documentary feature category — Ava DuVernay (“13th”), Ezra Edelman (“O.J.: Made in America”), Raoul Peck (“I Am Not Your Negro”), and Roger Ross Williams (“Life, Animated”) — went to black artists, The Wrap reported.

What's more, three black writers were nominated in the adapted screenplay category — Barry Jenkins' and Tarell McCraney's "Moonlight," and the late August Wilson's "Fences" — in a category where four of the five nominations went to films with mostly non-white casts.

Filmmaker Barry Jenkins, nominated for "Moonlight." Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Don't get me wrong — plenty of groups remain underrepresented, such as Latinx and Asian artists. As April Reign told the Los Angeles Times, the Oscar nods are much "blacker" — not necessarily a whole lot more diverse — than years past.

Still, this year's nominations do feel like a breath of fresh air.

"This year’s slate of Oscars nominees highlights that, when given the opportunity, films that reflect the diversity of this country will shine," Reign said in a statement, noting she's especially encouraged to see Bradford Young become the first black cinematographer to be nominated for "Arrival," and see films like "Fences," "Lion," "Hidden Figures," and "Moonlight" get the recognition they deserve.

The reason why the Oscars tend to be so white isn't a problem that can be fixed by one year of diverse nominees.

The demographics of the Academy — made up of thousands of industry bigwigs who vote for the winners — is older, very white, and predominantly male. And this shows in which films, and which artists, are nominated.

It certainly doesn't help that even getting the chance to become an Oscar contender is much more difficult for filmmakers and artists from marginalized groups. Hollywood's more hesitant to green-light projects it believes to be more financially risky*, so films and storylines featuring people of color — or LGBTQ characters or women or religious minorities (you get the picture) — get overlooked.

*Important note: Films featuring minorities can and do make money at the box office.

The Academy has a long road ahead in diversifying its membership and better reflecting the world we live in. But it's making progress.

In 2016, after another year of white actors filled every acting slot, the Academy announced major changes in how it will be selecting new voters and managing existing ones, aiming to double "the number of women and diverse members" by 2020.

President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who has become a big proponent of diversifying the Oscars. Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for LACMA.

Although 2017 promises to be a more diverse Oscars than the previous two, one year doesn't make up for decades of underrepresentation, as Reign noted. It's important Hollywood recognizes that.

"Films that reflect the nuance and complexity of all theatergoers have been incredibly successful this year, both critically and financially," she said. "It is incumbent upon Hollywood to ensure that more stories like these are told."

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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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.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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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.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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