Time moves fast in New York City, and I guess the same is true for culture phenoms. It’s been a little over two years since Linsanity swept through the Big Apple, and recently Sports Illustrated put New Yorkers to the test to see if they still recognized Jeremy Lin, the man who finally brought excitment to the Knicks. They parked him on a bench and waited. See what happens next.
Grammy-nominated Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux joined forces with Palestianian emcee Shadia Mansour in the new song and video “Somos Sur,” which dropped earlier this week.
“‘Somos Sur’ is about the importance of resistance, not only in Chile, but around the world,” Tijoux told Rolling Stone. “Global resistance movements, whether in Latin America, Africa or the Middle East, are fighting against the same patterns of violence that have repeated themselves throughout history. Which means many of these groups share a similar set of demands. We are asking for a free Palestine just like we’re asking for an independent Wallmapu in Chile, without police control.”
The Los Angeles Library’s “Shades of LA” photo archive contains more than 10,000 images of black, Latino and Asian-American families throughout Southern California dating back to the early 20th century. Here, librarian Kathy Kabayashi explains the very deliberate process of gathering so many images from people’s private archives.
Long before he became “The Man,” Aloe Blacc was an MC with the well-regarded underground duo Emanon. While he’s devoted the past eight years or so to singing, Blacc says that he does miss rapping and is working on new music with producer Exile. Check out his interview with Okayplayer.
Ruby Dee, known as one of American drama’s leading ladies and the woman who helped integrate daytime soap operas, has passed away at 91. She was one of the preeminent artist-activists of her generation, a role that she summed up recently on the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.
Beyoncé has a new scandal on her hands, and this time it involves her child’s hair. There’s a ridiculous Change.org petition called “Comb Her Hair and while its creator, Jasmine Toliver, says that it started as a joke, it’s gotten more than 2,000 signatures already.
Like, seriously. This is a thing. Behold:
As a woman who understands the importance of hair care. It’s disturbing to watch a child suffering from the lack of hair moisture. The parents of Blue Ivy. Sean Carter A.K.A Jay-Z and Beyoncé has failed at numerous attempts of doing Blue Ivy Hair. This matter has escalated to the child developing matted dreads and lint balls. Please let’s get the word out to properly care for Blue Ivy hair.
Since the Internet has decided that it’s important to comment on the hair stylings of a toddler, let’s resurface Jamilah Lemieux’s piece at Ebony on this from back in January:
Either way, I think the most troubling issue with the recurrent “oohgirldiduseeblueivyhair” mess is that we refuse to see a little happy Black child as just that: a little, happy Black child. And in the court of public opinion, Black children are rarely afforded the protection due to children. (A rare exception: Mitt Romney’s little chocolate grandson, who was only defended in order to denounce Melissa Harris Perry.) We treat them like little adults. And while there isn’t some massive outcry about young Miss Carter’s hair, the fact that there is negative chatter about her hair every time she’s photographed is quite disheartening.
Black hair doesn’t need more policing.
Diane Guerrero plays tough-girl Martiza on “Orange is the New Black.” She recently caught up with Vanessa Erazo at Remezcla to talk about her experiences on the show and the perception that her character is perpetuating stereotypes about Latinas in America.
I auditioned for Devious Maids and I wanted the part so bad. I honestly thought, what a clever idea. And, I hear those concerns about perpetuating stereotypes. But, the reality is that a lot of Latinos in America do have a lot of these jobs. I think the way that Devious Maids is portraying it; they have a lot more going on than has been portrayed in films and TV in the past. Also, I think, one of the main characters is actually a lawyer and she is undercover trying to exonerate her son or trying to get her son out of jail or something. Although, I do understand those concerns but I think it is a great thing to show this side of us, a postive side. But, I also expect Latinos to be shown in another way. In like, the lawyer, the doctor, the professional, the one who has help instead of being the help. I also want to see those roles come to life. I think they are showing strong women who work hard and that there is nothing wrong with these jobs. So yes, I don’t have a problem with that.
The same thing goes for Orange is the New Black. People might ask: what do you think about Latinas being portrayed like this or people of color being portrayed like this? I go: it’s true, but this is just a side of us, just like it is a side of white folks or black folks. It is just a story being told. Now, after this, I certainly expect [different roles] — I’ve been seeing a lot more women of color in comedy and in other things coming out.
Dave Chappelle sat down with David Letterman on Tuesday ahead of his upcoming shows at New York’s Radio City Music Hall later this month. It was Chappelle’s first appearance on the show in 10 years, and it looks like he’s in good enough spirits to poke fun at his departure from Comedy Central.
I first experienced Shizu Saldamando’s work at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center a couple years ago. I immediately recognized the figures in her work — the queer couples embracing, the twentysomethings at house parties. It represented the California that I know, love and grew up in. And it’s increasingly representing the rest of the country, too.
Check out this video of Saldamando explaining her work.
If you live in New York City, your closest and most intimate relationships may be with the city’s millions of rats. They’re in the streets, on the subways, and occassionally in your apartment. But one place they’re not? Kara Walker’s exhibit at the Domino Sugar Factory.
It’s quite an achievement considering that the exhibit is made out of 160,000 pounds of sugar and is left uncovered overnight in a dilapidated 158-year old sugar factory. What’s their secret?
Lots and lots of poison, according to Claire Voon at Hyperallergic.
Last year, according to Two Trees [the development firm that’s demolishing the factory in order to build residential condos] representative Marina Trejo, the firm began spraying the site and laying poison as well as rodent traps to prep for demolition. Signs warning of these dangers still hang on the factory’s exterior, visible to all. Every visitor also has to sign a waiver before entering the hall, but this implementation is universal to all construction sites rather than specific to this warehouse-turned-art space, or even Kara Walker’s work. Furthermore, the document is not pest-oriented, using the catch-all phrase of “chemicals” to cover the perils of rodenticides and pesticides on site, along with more boilerplate construction hazards like asbestos.
Read more over at Hyperallergic.
Clement Hanami is a Japanese-American artist who happened to grow up in East Los Angeles. It’s an experience that he says typifies the generations-long cultural exchange between Asian and Latino communities in California, one that the rest of the world is now paying attention to thanks to sweeping demographic change. But for Hanami, his bicultural experience informs his life — and his art.
Hanami’s recently gotten a lot of attention in West Coast art circles for his “Lowrider Rickshaw,” an object that stands as a symbol of cultural exchange between the two communities. Hanami reimagines the rickshaw’s Japanese origins by decking it out in classic Chicano lowrider style with chrome wheels, hydraulics and a sound system.
“Identity is something that’s inside of you. You really don’t examine it in full, it’s ingrained into you,” Hanami told Carren Jao at Artbound about his increasingly brazen rickshaws, which he says are meant to be a lighthearted take on Asian-American and Chicano culture. “They’re meant to be humorous in that we can look at our culture and identities and understand that there are similarities in how we look at each other.”
Shonda Rhimes was Dartmouth’s commencement speaker this year and had a lot to say about work and activism. While noting that she hates giving speeches, Rhimes took time to address the graduating class of 2014 at her alma mater on how they can make themselves useful:
Oh. And while we are discussing this, let me say a thing. A hashtag is not helping. #yesallwomen #takebackthenight #notallmen #bringbackourgirls #StopPretendingHashtagsAreTheSameAsDoingSomethingHashtags are very pretty on Twitter. I love them. I will hashtag myself into next week. But a hashtag is not a movement. A hashtag does not make you Dr. King. A hashtag does not change anything. It’s a hashtag. It’s you, sitting on your butt, typing on your computer and then going back to binge-watching your favorite show. I do it all the time. For me, it’s “Game of Thrones.”
Volunteer some hours. Focus on something outside yourself. Devote a slice of your energies towards making the world suck less every week. Some people suggest doing this will increase your sense of well-being. Some say it’s good karma. I say that it will allow you to remember that, whether you are a legacy or the first in your family to go to college, the air you are breathing right now is rare air. Appreciate it. Don’t be an asshole.
There’s been lots of talk, and some meaningful interventions, in the discussion about the lack of racial diversity in children’s literature. But if you’re looking for something more direct like, say, a list of recomended children’s books by and about kids of color, you’re in luck. Aly Seidel at KQED’s MindShift blog came up with a list of 25 recommendations, some of which are listed below:
The Boy Who Didn’t Believe in Spring by Lucille Clifton
King Shabazz gets tired of everyone telling him that “spring is right around the corner,” so he and his friend Tony start turning street corners to chase this elusive spring — after putting their caps on backwards to show they mean business! (Find the book here. Ages 3-5)
Bravo, Chico Canta! Bravo! by Pat Mora and Libby Martinez
A multilingual mouse and his family live upstairs in an old theater. They love to go to the plays and shout “Bravo!” when the curtain falls. But when Gato-Gato, the theater cat, finds them, Chico Canta must use his gift for languages to save his family. (Find the book here. Ages 4-7)
Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami
Arun can’t wait for his little sister to come home — she’s been adopted all the way from India. But India is far away and Asha’s adoption frustratingly takes nearly a year. While waiting for their newest addition, Arun and his family find ways to welcome Asha into their hearts, even if she isn’t in their home. (Find the book here. Ages 4-9)
Brush of the Gods by Lenore Look
“Brush of the Gods” is about Wu Daozi, a famous seventh-century Chinese artist. The author imagines Wu Daozi as a young man trying to learn calligraphy, but when he sits down to write, he creates beautiful paintings instead! An imaginative tale that thoughtfully brings life to one of China’s master painters. (Find the book here. Ages 4-8)
The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve
As winter comes to Virginia’s reservation, she can’t wait for the charity boxes from the East, full of coats for the winter. However, her parents expect her to put other people’s needs before her own and she is devastated when her classmate takes the rabbit fur coat that Virginia wanted. This is a story about selflessness and the spirit of Christmas. Winner of the American Indian Youth Literature Award. (Find the book here. Ages 5+)
See the entire list over at KQED’s MindShift blog.
There’s a massive diversity gap in children’s literature. Long a unique concern among educators and parents of color, the problem bubbled to the surface of national conversation earlier this year when Walter Dean Myers wrote about it in the Sunday Edition of the New York Times. According to those researchers at the University of Wisconsin, of 3,200 children’s books published last year, only 93 were about black people.
Robert “Tres” Trujillo is trying to change that dismal reality. The San Francisco-based illustrator has launched a Kickstater campaign to raise $10,000 for his first children’s book “Furquan’s First Flat Top,” a bilingual Spanish and English story about a young boy’s first trip the barber shop with his father. Trujillo writes about his inspiration on fundraiser page:
I want to reflect some of the children and families I see; I love children’s books and think diverse stories like this one need to be seen. As a parent, I understand the importance of encouraging reading at an early age, and this book will be in both Spanish and English, as I know the positive impact it can have when children are exposed to more than one language. Lastly I think it is important to show a loving relationship between a father and his son.
Because sometimes white privilege is just so ridiculous you can’t help but laugh.
Producer Amerigo Gazaway dropped the second installment of his popular Marvin Gaye and Yasiin Bey mashup late on Friday. In a chat that I had with him last month, the 26-year-old from Nashville noted that this part of the series would double down on the political messages of both artists. It’s available for free at Bandcamp.
Over at Revolt, Gazaway said that he also wanted to lift up Marvin Gaye’s overlooked accomplishments as a producer.
I wanted to build this side from more of Marvin’s original production work. He was doing a lot of what we do now, in terms of looping and pulling samples from other pre-recorded sessions decades before hip-hop made it common practice to do so. This also gave me the room to feature other artists—such as Chuck Berry, The Temptations, Talib, etc., and re-present those classic Mos Def verses in new context.
R. Kelly’s teenage son Jay has been outed as trans, and some folks in the media don’t know how to handle it. Jay, who’s 14 years old, looks to have been outed by bloggers who picked up the news from his Facebook page. According to Atlanta Daily News, Jay’s mother, Andrea, has been supportive of his transition, but R. Kelly has yet to speak publicly on the matter.
Let’s put the side, for a moment, the efficacy of stalking a teenager’s Facebook page and focus on the way the news has been reported in the media. In short, it’s been horrible. Kat Callahan wrote up a pretty good summary over at Jezebel about the whole situation and takes aim at Naturally Moi, a site that’s ostensibly aimed at women of color but seems to not get trans issues at all, whose coverage typifies how Jay’s gender identity has been covered by the media.
In an article titled “R. Kelly’s Daughter is Now a Boy,” the site lays out Jay’s transition this way:
Now, Jaya has reportedly decided that she just wants to be known as Jay. The child also doesn’t want to be pretty anymore, she would prefer to be handsome. She is part of the latest trend in the “Transguy” culture, where young people are choosing to claim whatever gender they identify with the most.
As Callahan writes over at Jezebel:
I’m also not fond of the verb used here “choosing” nor the implication that “transguy culture” is some kind of youth trend. If Jay is a trans boy, he probably didn’t choose to be (oh, he might have, that’s part of that more genderfluid narrative), but unless you have a quote from Jay saying so, this is a really dangerous narrative to reinforce. For the vast majority of transgender individuals, especially those who identify as strictly binary, there is no choice involved. Gender identity develops and it simply is. There may be a period of slow recognition (or there may not, plenty of us knew when we knew, and we were small children at the time), or there may be a period of internal struggle to be open about who we are, but the narrative of “choosing” and “trend” really trivialises the fundamental nature of gender identity.
If you’re still looking for a way to connect the second season of “Orange is the New Black” to the real world, here’s your chance. The show was filmed at Riverhead correctional facility in Suffolk County, NY, where, true to a plot-line in the show, there’s an actual sewage back up.
That’s just one of the reasons why the New York Civil Liberties Union has launched a campaign called #HumanityistheNewBlack. “While the women in OITNB face miserable conditions and abuse, it’s nothing compared to what real people experience in the jail where they film as well as other jails in Suffolk County, New York,” the group wrote in a press release.
Ruth Margalit wrote at the New Yorker that the show doesn’t stray too far from reality when it comes to the disgusting conditions in which incarcerated women are housed:
As I reviewed about a dozen of the inmates’ handwritten grievances, provided to me by the N.Y.C.L.U., a pattern quickly emerged: the water is undrinkable, the inmates write; the stench rising up from the sewers is revolting; they feel sick. Many refer to what they call the “Ping-Pong bathrooms”—a term that is explained in a complaint filed in 2011 by a fifty-year-old man: “The next cell backs up into mine, when I wake up throughout the night there’s feces and urine in my toilet.” He adds, “I’ve complained to officers number of times.” Another inmate writes, “I am constantly being exposed to other inmates human bodily waste I am in cell #9.” A third inmate states, “I have been drinking the water here and came to realize it’s the problems I having with throat, stomach and lung.” Another complains of “rashes and hard skin on my back and feet from the water in the shower.” His complaint ends with a request: “I wish to seek help from medical please as soon as possible.”
Audra McDonald won her sixth Tony Award on Sunday for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” and gave the night’s most moving acceptance speech. In it, she said thats she’s standing on the shoulders of many brave and courageous women including Lena Horne, Maya Angelou and, of course, Billie Holiday.