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Tracee Ellis Ross didn't win an Emmy. But she won our hearts and made history anyway.

The underrepresentation of minorities on television is still a big problem, but there's hope.

Tracee Ellis Ross was nominated for a 2016 Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series.

Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP.

Ross was nominated for her role as Rainbow Johnson in "Black-ish," an ABC sitcom about a self-aware and non-stereotypical black family. Ross' character — the matriarch of the family — is half white.


This nomination for Ross marks her first Emmy nod. But most importantly, this is the first time a black actress has been nominated in this category in 30 years. The last black actress to be recognized and nominated for her work in a comedy series was Phylicia Rashad in 1986 for playing Clair Huxtable on "The Cosby Show." But she didn't win; Betty White took home the prize that year.

2016 seemed poised to be Ross' year.

Which is why it was a surprise when Ross lost to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who accepted her fifth consecutive Emmy in that category for her role on "Veep."

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

It's not that Dreyfus doesn't deserve it — "Veep" is an incredible piece of media. But why not spread the love? It would've been an amazing moment of recognition for black actresses all over America.

And it also would have helped us talk about the larger problem at hand: a lack of diversity in Hollywood.

The underrepresentation of minorities on television is still a big problem.

A UCLA study on diversity in Hollywood found that out of 825 roles in broadcast scripted programming, only 9% of them went to black actors during the 2013-14 season. All minorities combined accounted for only 20% of those 825 roles.

Ross' nomination was not only symbolic, it was also necessary.

In the late 1980s, the Huxtables on "The Cosby Show" were seen as a "new" type of black family (especially following portrayals on shows like "Good Times" or "Sanford and Son"). The Huxtables were an upper-middle-class family, which is something that was rarely shown on television at the time. The dad (played by Bill Cosby) was a doctor, and the mom was a lawyer.

But that was 30 years ago, and things have changed quite a bit since then. Now "Black-ish" seems to be carrying on the "Cosby Show" torch but in a more realistic, relatable, and modern way. During this season alone, the show has tackled police brutality and a number of other serious issues. They use comedy to start important conversations in people's living rooms, and that's incredibly important.

The cast of "Black-ish." Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images.

Progress is happening: This year's Emmy nominees are the most racially diverse ever.

It means the landscape for non-white actors is widening, and more people are being given opportunities to show what they can do, like Ross. Plus, Ross' family was so proud, her mom, Diana Ross, even took out a full-page ad in The Hollywood Reporter congratulating the star.

"Women playing a nuanced role in life has been happening for eons, but on TV it’s been few and far between," Ross has said about her role on "Black-ish."

"In 2016, we’re still trying to get the wife role to match who we are in life, which is people who are many things, not just wives."

So while I wish Ross had taken home the Emmy this year, I can't wait to see what else she has in store. Congrats, Tracee!

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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It can be hard to find hope in hard times, but we have examples of humanity all around us.

I almost didn't create this post this week.

As the U.S. reels from yet another horrendous school massacre, barely on the heels of the Buffalo grocery store shooting and the Laguna Woods church shooting reminding us that gun violence follows us everywhere in this country, I find myself in a familiar state of anger and grief and frustration. One time would be too much. Every time, it's too much. And yet it keeps happening over and over and over again.

I've written article after article about gun violence. I've engaged in every debate under the sun. I've joined advocacy groups, written to lawmakers, donated to organizations trying to stop the carnage, and here we are again. Round and round we go.

It's hard not to lose hope. It would be easy to let the fuming rage consume every bit of joy and calm and light that we so desperately want and need. But we have to find a balance.

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