Over the past week, I have found myself waking to a world that, quite honestly, scares me. As an American, it is quite difficult to even comprehend the level of hatred and lack of understanding and empathy for others that was displayed by the election of a President that so openly spews hatred and violence.

However, I also know that for as scared as I feel, it doesn't even compare to the fear that people in substantially less privileged positions than myself must feel right now. As a large, white, cisgender male, I face no real threat of violence (either verbal or physical), because of my outward appearance. However, these threats are very real for other people. In fact, they always have been, but now are additionally fueled, not only in America, but also in the UK following Brexit.

For me, this has raised some very important questions about how to deal with living in a world that I do not recognize anymore. As someone who writes and thinks about film, it's difficult to not also include it in how I think about the surreality of recent world events.

So, what place does film have in tackling the very prospect of existing in a world that seems so unreal, and is so abundantly hostile and violent toward groups of people simply because of who they are? How do we, as lovers and viewers of film, participate in using it as a tool to improve the world around us? We need to make a deliberate effort to support and celebrate filmmakers who belong to these marginalized groups, as well as films with better representation of them.

In an industry so directly impacted by financial returns on investments, one of the best ways we can voice our support is through our wallet. Showing that these perspectives are ones that audiences want to see is vital to improving the landscape for these films.

Audience support is incredibly important, but is only one small piece of the puzzle. For bigger change to happen, there need to be larger, institutional movement, as well. Fortunately, these ideas are starting to be seen in some very big ways.

For example, with Rogue One, the Star Wars franchise is about to release its second film in a row to feature a female lead and a racially diverse cast, which is amazing considering the franchise's abysmal history when it comes to racial and gender representation. Also, in other big news for closing the gender gap in film, Telefilm Canada, which is Canada's largest film financier, announced that it would be taking steps to ensure half of the movies they finance will be either directed or written by women, a step already taken earlier this year by the National Film Board of Canada.

However, these steps also cannot be done in a half-measured way that, in the celebration of one victory toward progressiveness and representation, allows us to turn away from those still being oppressed and denied those same things. For all the celebration that had over increased representation in Star Wars for both women and people of color (something that I literally started my tenure writing for The 405 with), there is still huge room for growth that cannot be ignored. For instance, significant representation of women of color and LGBTQIA+ people is still largely absent from the franchise.

In my opinion, one of the best ways to understand how the desire to make positive change can move from the realm of the theoretical to a more tangible one is by looking to places where this pursuit is a constant and regular process. For instance, I believe one of the best fields to look to for efforts to make real change is social work.

According to Goutham Menon, professor and director of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Social Work, a vague desire to help is not good enough. Instead, there needs to be bigger ideas.

"We try our best to push our students to think big, think outside the box, think in ways that it has never been done before -- and why has it not been done before? Let's try to do it different. So that is my main advice I give during my orientation when students come into campus for social work. 'You folks need to think big.' I mean, there are so many problems that we need to solve. We can't just be about just helping people. It has to be bigger than that."

This premise can be seen by those within the social work field that are actively working to create positive change. What is consistent between these examples, and what the film industry can really learn from, is that there are specific goals that these leaders and their organizations are pursuing.

As the close of 2016 approaches, I find myself looking out at a world that feels darker and more frightening than it did at the year's open. That said, I cannot even comprehend how much worse this feeling is for those who do not experience the same level of privilege I do as a white cisgender male.

One of the greatest powers that art of any kind holds in our world is its potential to bring about empathy and understanding. In this, film is especially powerful, as it viscerally allows the viewer to gain points of view outside their own. This is why it is important to push for and support efforts like those of Telefilm Canada, as well as films like Moonlight.

The film industry, as well as film as an art form itself, has immense power to impact people's perspectives and understanding of the world outside their usual viewpoint. If I have learned nothing else in 2016, it is that a lack of empathy and understanding is a widespread issue, and that the dangers of this are very real. Films, unfortunately, cannot change this, no matter how impactful they may be. However, they still have the potential to make an impact, especially when approached with this in mind by both filmmakers (as displayed by Moonlight's director, Barry Jenkins) and audiences from the start.

Even outside of that, by supporting those voices and stories marginalized by the open hatred and violence against them in the world right now, it sends a message that people are still listening and stand with them. The world feels cold, dark, and filled with hate right now, but film (and art as a whole) needs to be a place that transcends this and amplifies marginalized voices.