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Have you ever been convicted of a felony?

That's an uncomfortable question to have to answer. Especially if you're trying to get a job. And having to respond by checking a box "yes" or "no" — without much room for additional information — doesn't seem fair.


Image via the City of Baton Rouge.

If you disclose a criminal background to a potential employer, it's hard to know whether it was held against you.

Unless, of course, you get the job, which is unlikely for former convicts, according to a study by Princeton and Northwestern universities. It's a problem that could affect millions, as over 600,000 people exit prison every year.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

As part of a broad plan to stem mass incarceration, President Obama is asking federal agencies to hold criminal background inquiries for later in their hiring processes to avoid potential discrimination. But the president is not alone on the issue.

A growing number of political leaders want to "ban the box" by removing the question from job applications.

Laws banning the box have passed in 19 states and over 100 cities from every nook of the country. They're known as "fair chance" laws.

Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for ColorOfChange.org.

The idea isn't to get rid of a safeguard. Employers still have the right to run background checks. Banning the box just levels the playing field for folks with criminal pasts who want to rejoin the workforce but are likely to be dismissed solely because of their pasts.

These laws are passing with strong support from Democrats and Republicans at all levels of government.

At the municipal level, for example, New York City's fair chance law passed in a landslide, and the Louisville, Kentucky, city council passed a law without dissent.

And at the state level, the Nebraska legislature unanimously passed a fair chance law in 2014, making it the first "red" state to take the action. Just months later, GOP presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie signed a fair chance hiring bill into law in New Jersey.

“Everyone deserves a second chance in New Jersey. Today, we're banning the box." — Gov. Chris Christie. Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images.

City officials in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, are among the latest to join the ban-the-box movement. In one of the highest-crime cities in the country, many Baton Rouge residents face hiring discrimination because of their criminal records.

City council member C. Denise Marcelle sees fair chance laws as an important way to change the trend by opening doors for ex-cons to make a living without crime.

Photo by the City of Baton Rouge.

A federal "ban the box" bill — the Fair Chance Act — has been introduced by a bipartisan group in Congress.

And a bizarre alliance of lobbies agree on the issue. Among them are the NAACP, the ACLU, and — wait for it — the Koch brothers.

Banning the box has also surfaced in the 2016 presidential race, particularly among the candidates for the Democratic nomination. Hopefully issues like it — ones that are plainly about doing what's right — can pierce the static and keep us focused on what's really at stake when we're choosing our leadership.

Here's a lighter take on banning the box by "The Daily Show" that sheds a little more light on why it's gaining so much support:

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.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


At 1:30 am on Monday morning an AMBER Alert went out in southern Louisiana about a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia. It was believed she had been kidnapped and driven away in a 2012 silver Nissan Altima.

A few hours later at 7 am, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste, were on their daily route when they noticed a vehicle that fit the description in the alert.

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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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