The ‘DuVernay Test’ Is Like the Bechdel Test, But for Race

The term was coined after the premiere of The Birth of a Nation at the Sundance Film Festival.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Joining the Bechdel test as a measure for representation onscreen is the DuVernay test, named after Ava DuVernay, director of the critically acclaimed 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. biopic Selma.


Newly coined by New York Times writer Manohla Dargis, the DuVernay test measures whether a film portrays “fully realized” African-Americans and other minorities who have their own plotlines, motivations, desires, and actions that are not informed by white characters. Dargis points to The Birth of a Nation, a film about slave rebellion leader Nat Turner’s life that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, as an example.

The DuVernay test arrives in coincidence with growing national debate on the film industry’s treatment and inclusion of people of color, especially in light of the #OscarsSoWhite criticism of the nominations for the 88th Academy Awards. But it’s no surprise why Dargis chose DuVernay as the inspiration for the test; DuVernay is one of Hollywood’s leading black directors, and she has openly criticized the term “diversity” as a simple check in a box for some filmmakers.

“I feel it’s a medicinal word that has no emotional resonance, and this is a really emotional issue,” DuVernay told The New York Times. Rather than calling the lack of representation an issue of diversity, she called it a “belonging problem” that further excludes and disenfranchises already marginalized communities.

DuVernay was excitedly surprised by the test, sharing her reaction on Twitter.

The Bechdel test, which was conceived by comic artist Alison Bechdel, is a similar measurement of character actualization, but for women. If a film depicts two women having a conversation that is not about a man, even once, then it passes. It seems like a no-brainer, but a surprisingly large number of films—especially those produced by major studios—fail.

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National Tell a Joke Day dates back to 1944 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was having a meeting with Vice-President, Henry Wallace. The two men were tired and depressed due to the stress caused by leading a country through world war.

During a lull in the meeting, Wallace said, "Frank, to cheer you up I have a joke I'd like to share."

"Let's have it, Henry," Roosevelt replied while ashing his cigarette.

"Why did the chicken cross the road?" Wallace asked. "Not sure," Roosevelt replied.

"To get to the other side," Wallace responded.

Roosevelt laughed so hard that the bourbon he was drinking sprayed out of his nose and onto the floor of the oval office.

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The joke was so funny, and did such a great job at lightening both their moods, Roosevelt proclaimed that every year, August 16 would be National Tell a Joke Day.

Just kidding.

Nobody knows why National Tell a Joke Day started, but in a world where the President of the United States is trying to buy Greenland, "Beverly Hills, 90210" is back on TV, and the economy is about to go off a cliff, we could all use a bit of levity.

To celebrate National Tell a Joke Day, the people on Twitter responded with hundreds of the corniest dad jokes ever told. Here are some of the best.

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Two thousand-year-old seeds were discovered inside a pottery jar during an archaeological excavation of Masada, a historic mountain fortress in southern Israel. It is believed the seeds were produced between 155 B.C. and 64 A.D. Those seeds sat inside a researcher's drawer in Tel Aviv for years, not doing anything.

Elaine Solowey, the Director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura in Israel, wondered if she could revive the Judean Date Palm, so in 2005, she began to experiment. "I assumed the food in the seed would be no good after all that time. How could it be?" Solewey said.

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Delta says that there has been an 84 percent increase in animal incidents since 2016, thanks in part to the increase of ESAs on airplanes. Last year, Delta airlines banned pit bulls and pit bull-related dog breeds after two airline staff were bitten by the breed while boarding a flight from Atlanta to Tokyo.

"We must err on the side of safety. Most recently, two Delta employees were bit by a pit bull traveling as a support animal last week. We struggled with the decision to expand the ban to service animals, knowing that some customers have legitimate needs, but we have determined that untrained, pit bull-type dogs posing as both service and support animals are a potential safety risk," Delta told People regarding the new rule.

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This miracle worker is Liam Beach, a 19-year-old animal management graduate from Cardiff, Wales. A friend of his dared him to attempt the shot and he accepted the challenge.

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The Great American Rail-Trail, a bike path that will connect Washington state to Washington, D.C., is over 50% complete.

The trail is being planned by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit that is working with local governments to make the dream a reality.

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