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In early November, University of Missouri students protested over what they said was the lack of university response to racially charged incidents on campus.

Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images News.


What started with one student on a hunger strike and the football team walking out of practice and refusing to play in a show of solidarity ended with the university president resigning and the chancellor stepping down.

The students at Mizzou shone a light on racism at American colleges, inspiring hashtags like #blackoncampus and #studentblackout, as well as similar protests across the country.

Unfortunately, whenever movements like these make progress, they also bring out the deniers.

These deniers assert that there's no problem with racial equality. They're often white, they often don't have much experience being aware of their own race until now (when they are being shown their privilege). And they refuse to consider how white people denying the experiences of people of color contributes to the problem.

This is where the so-called "White Student Union" groups came in, popping up on social media last weekend.

They're here to fight the good fight (/sarcasm) against what they perceive as reverse racism.

From the NYU White Student Union (quoted by the New York Daily News):

"When people say that Students of Whiteness don't face any unique challenges or obstacles we should think about this. White students are the only group to be labeled as 'problematic' simply for existing and to have University classes dedicated to attacking their identity. This is why we are reclaiming the word whiteness and not letting the campus thought police define our identities for us."

It is a devastating to feel "problematic" because of your race, and "simply for existing." Yet whoever is behind the White Student Union groups cannot see that this is how people of color feel on a daily basis, mainly at the hands of — you guessed it — white people, whether intentional or not.

And "university classes dedicated to attacking their identity" actually were established so that students could finally learn about American history from the perspective of this country's many racial minorities — from their own cultures — rather than the default "history" classes that teach a white, often male, perspective. Many of these specialized classes exist only because of protesters like the ones demanding racial equality at Mizzou.

Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images News.

The University of Illinois White Student Union went after a larger movement.

The group stated that its purpose is to organize against "the terrorism we have been facing from Black Lives Matter activists on campus," as quoted by MSNBC.

This is the same Black Lives Matter that spotlighted disproportionate police brutality against black people around the nation. The movement that got the two Democratic presidential frontrunners to talk about racial equality. And that have bolstered the Mizzou protests, as well as other college demonstrations.

We're supposed to believe that what they're doing is "terrorism"? Peaceful protesting is not terrorism. Five people being shot by white supremacists at a Black Lives Matter protest is terrorism.

Luckily, the universities are responding in solidarity with students of color.

The University of Illinois said in a statement that it asked Facebook to remove various iterations of the White Student Union pages because of the climate of fear and intolerance they were trying to create:

"The site called for monitoring African American students, and some students are telling us they now feel unsafe."

The NYU Director of Public Affairs took issue with the school's logo being on the page, as the New York Daily News quotes:

"There is no such organization as this at NYU, the Facebook page is using NYU's logo illegally and without permission, and we have contacted Facebook to demand the NYU logo be removed."

And as NYU posted on Facebook:

"An anonymous person or group has started a 'Union of White NYU Students' Facebook page; these kinds of pages have cropped up at a number of universities that have sought to have a real dialogue about race and inclusion. There is no such organization as this at NYU. We call on all parties to contribute thoughtfully and respectfully to the discourse on race and to reject efforts to derail or distort the conversation."

What university wants its name and image associated with people who refuse to acknowledge that racism exists? Especially after the Mizzou protests? Especially after the deaths of so many unarmed black people at the hands of cops?

Maybe this is a PR move, but it's still the right one.

There is good news, though: These groups are likely fake.

After Facebook took down the University of Illinois White Student Union page, some white supremacists put out a call to arms on social media, asking people to create these pages whether they were associated with a university or not.

You can read the complete timeline on Medium, which also points out how these pages that invoke the name of around 30 American universities have almost identical language in their statements of purpose.

It's not just university administrations and Facebook who are not letting these pages stand.

Ordinary Facebook users are calling out the people behind these pages. Either they comment calling the posts "divisive," or they don't Like the pages at all, with many of the still-existing groups garnering only a few hundred Likes.

These pages may have emboldened trolls who deny the existence of racism and white privilege, but they have also motivated others to set them straight. The fight continues. Progress will be made.

And that's something worth celebrating.

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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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

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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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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