Richard Rodriguez Talks About the American Dream for Immigrants

Richard Rodriguez Talks About the American Dream for Immigrants

In the aftermath of 9/11, noted Latino essayist Richard Rodriguez became fascinated by how people’s spiritual relationships turn deadly. Last year he published “Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography,” a book that explores his own complex relationship with religion. And last week, on the 13th anniversary of 9/11, he spoke with Sandy Close, New America Media’s executive editor, about hope, politics and immigration in America. 

If there’s a new American Dream, how does it differ from the traditional one?

The immigrant Dream, the foreign Dream, is as gaudy, as magnificent and as romantic and impractical as it always was: “I will go to America and become a millionaire, and marry a blonde woman, and have children who are six feet tall.” That Dream is still alive.

Those who were born in America, including children and grandchildren of immigrants, have diminished our Dream. Some of us have become stuck. We work two jobs, we rent an apartment, we don’t have a car, we see no movement in our lives. What’s the American Dream to us? 

Some Americans downgrade our vision of the Dream out of good motives. We don’t want a big car that guzzles gas, we want a small car, an electric car. We don’t want a huge American Dream because we realize how much it costs [n]ature. We’re downgrading our version of the American Dream and we resent those who come to America with their gaudy ambition.

Read more at New American Media

Viola Davis Talks Colorism and the Mammy Roles in Hollywood

Viola Davis Talks Colorism and the Mammy Roles in Hollywood

Viola Davis is ready to stand in the spotlight on her own terms. The actress was profiled by New York Times Magazine on Friday ahead of the debut of her new ABC series “How to Get Away With Murder.” In it, Davis talks candidly about her experiences as a black actress in Hollywood, noting that this starring role is her first big opportunity to be more than a marginalized character. That includes her starring role in “The Help,” which earned her an Academy Award nomination in 2011.

“I have been given a lot of roles that are downtrodden, mammy-ish,” Davis told the Times. “A lot of lawyers or doctors who have names but absolutely no lives. You’re going to get your three or four scenes, you’re not going to be able to show what you can do. You’re going to get your little bitty paycheck, and then you’re going to be hungry for your next role, which is going to be absolutely the same. That’s the truth.”

Davis will star in the new series as Annalise Keating, an attorney and law professor with lots savvy and sex appeal. “I don’t see anyone on TV like me in a role like this. And you can’t even mention Halle Berry or Kerry Washington,” she told me, referring to two African-American stars with notably lighter skin.”

Read the whole profile in New York Times Magazine

‘Orange is the New Black’ Adds Another Black Corrections Officer

'Orange is the New Black' Adds Another Black Corrections Officer

Actress Marsha Stephanie Blake will play Litchfield’s new corrections officer in the third season of “Orange is the New Black.”

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Details on Blake’s character are being kept under lock and key, but she will recur as a new corrections officer on the third season of the Taylor Schilling starrer.

Blake, whose credits include Django Unchained and Girls, joins a cast of fellow commanding officers including Pornstache (Pablo Schreiber), Bennett (Matt McGorry), Caputo (Nick Sandow), Fischer (Lauren Lapkus) and Fig (Alysia Reiner), among others. The latter two were seemingly written out during season two.

The new season’s premiere date hasn’t been announced. 

L’Orange’s Video With Rapper Blu for ‘Need You’ is Gorgeous

L'Orange's Video With Rapper Blu for 'Need You' is Gorgeous

Producer, poet and musician L’Orange just released a new video with Blu for the track “Need You” from her album “The Orchid Days,” which dropped a while back. It’s gorgeous and dreary and perfect for a song about love.

CBS Pulled Rihanna’s Performance Before Baltimore Ravens Game

CBS Pulled Rihanna's Performance Before Baltimore Ravens Game

It wasn’t long ago that Rihanna was the most high-profile victim of domestic violence in America. That fact wasn’t lost on CBS, which aired Thursday night’s NFL matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, or the millions of fans who tuned in. The network decided against broadcasting the singer’s pre-recorded performance before Baltimore’s first game since video emerged showing former Ravens running back Ray Rice brutally punch his now-wife, Janay. 

CBS also dropped a comedy segment that was set to air, replacing it with a report about Rice from “CBS This Morning” anchor Norah O’Donnell. “It’s important to realize we are not overacting to this story, but it is as big a story as has faced the NFL,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told Sports Illustrated. “We thought journalistically and from a tone standpoint, we needed to have the appropriate tone and coverage. A lot of the production elements we wanted in the show are being eliminated because of time or tone.”

(h/t Mashable and Bustle)

Watch: Thundercat’s New Video for ‘Tron Song’

Watch: Thundercat's New Video for 'Tron Song' Play

Stephen Bruner, the musician better known as Thundercat, is back with a new video for the track “Tron Song.” The experimental bassist’s clip is super weird. But it’s Friday, so why not?

(h/t Potholes in the Blog)

Puerto Rican Artist Ricardo Mulero Leads 9/11 Memorial Exhibit Team

Puerto Rican Artist Ricardo Mulero Leads 9/11 Memorial Exhibit Team

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum has become one of New York City’s most sought-after tourist spots since it opened last May. At the center of it is an exhibit that was spearheaded by Puerto Rican artist and New Yorker Ricardo Mulero, who led a team of artists, architects and engineers in arranging the artifacts of that fateful day in history.

Mulero previously worked at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and at Freedom Park in Pretoria, South Africa, but this project was unique. “Unlike any other history project that I have worked on, it was something that I had been part of,” Mulero told NBC News. “That became kind of interesting.”

You can see images of the exhibit over at NBC News

Report: South Asian Americans Still Under Attack 13 Years After 9/11

Report: South Asian Americans Still Under Attack 13 Years After 9/11

It’s been 13 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but South Asian-Americans are still under suspicion and under attack, according to a report released this week by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).

The report argues that xenophobic political rhetoric and hate violence against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab communities has continued since the harrowing days following the attacks. Researchers collecting almost 160 examples and pointed to previous data that showed:

  • More than 80 percent of the instances of hate violence researchers uncovered were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. 
  • In 2012, half of Americans reported discomfort with women in burqas, mosques in their neighborhoods, or Muslims praying in airports.
  • More than 90 percent of xenophobic political comments were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment.

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But there’s hope. The report juxtaposes these facts with the reality that populations of people of color generally, and South Asian-Americans specifically, are growing. That’s become a crucial component in building an infrastructure to help deal with critical moments like the Oak Creek tragedy and the Boston Marathon bombing. “There are also numerous examples of “better practices” from government and community leaders, organizations, and media who played an essential role to shift the narrative in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing to allow for an effective investigation and reduce backlash,” researchers wrote.

Read the full report here

Actor Terry Crews Speaks Out About Ray Rice, Domestic Violence

Actor Terry Crews Speaks Out About Ray Rice, Domestic Violence

There have been plenty of celebrities who’ve said cringeworthy things about domestic violence in light of the Ray Rice video that surfaced this week, but actor Terry Crews isn’t one of them. The start of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” opened up to “Entertainment Tonight” about growing up in a household where his father regularly beat his mother:

When I saw the video, I was immediately taken back to my childhood,” he said. “This is the way I grew up. I used to watch this happen over and over again. It was a post-traumatic-stress experience for me. I used to watch my father hit my mother in the face and watch her go down and there was some things that just affected me more than I don’t think anyone could realize.

Crews also called out the NFL’s culture of violence.

I mean it’s weird because you think of how this cult pact works and there are always ways to get back in—especially in the NFL. I’ve seen major transgressions done and people still play. The NFL culture, the sports culture, has decided that they are more valuable than women.

He continued:

I’ve heard people laugh about keeping their pimp-hand strong and keeping her in control so that she knows her place. But think about how evil that is for one man to think that he’s actually more valuable than a woman, because as a human being your worth is immeasurable.

Read more at The Root.


Stevie Wonder Blasts Ferguson’s Mayor and Announces New Tour

Stevie Wonder Blasts Ferguson's Mayor and Announces New Tour

Stevie Wonder is angry, and he’s taking his passion out on the road. The singer and songwriter announced a new fall North American tour that will highlight his Grammy-winning 1976 album “Songs in the Key of Life” and a new album, “Through the Eyes of Wonder.” But during the announcement, he also blasted the political leadership in Ferguson, Missouri:

“I don’t know if the mayor has blinders on,” Wonder said in an interview Wednesday. “But to say that he didn’t know that there was a racial or cultural problem in the city is unfortunate.”

As Zo points out at Okayplayer, Wonder’s words are significant given the five decades he’s spent composing a soundtrack to life in black America. “Whether it be in Ferguson or [Vietnam], on police brutality or environmental crimes, Mr. Wonderlove has always managed to spread the implicit virtues of his name (wonder and love, of course) through his brilliant display of musicianship and a voice that should be cryogenically frozen so that future generations can bear witness to its clarity and tenderness.”

The new tour is set to kick off November 6 in New York and continue in 10 more cities before ending in Oakland in December. 

(h/t Billboard)

Watch Janelle Monáe Perform ‘The Power of Yet’ on Sesame Street [VIDEO]

Watch Janelle Monáe Perform 'The Power of Yet' on Sesame Street [VIDEO] Play

Janelle Monáe paid a visit to Sesame Street this week and performed “The Power of Yet.” It’s all about the power of perserverance. 

Viola Davis: ‘After a While You Get Tired of Being the Third Girl From the Left’

Viola Davis: 'After a While You Get Tired of Being the Third Girl From the Left'

Academy Award winner Viola Davis is preparing for the series premiere of her new ABC show “How to Get Away With Murder” and spoke to BuzzFeed about making the transition from film to television. In the new show by network darling Shonda Rimes, Davis stars as criminal law professor Annalise Keating, and it’s exactly the type of role the actress was looking to play. “After a while you get tired of being the third girl from the left,” she told BuzzFeed:

You feel like you want a role that’s going to be worthy of your talent,” she said. “And that’s why, when [How to Get Away With Murder] came along, I’m like, ‘OK, I want those types of roles. I want the flashy roles. I want to be No. 1 on the call sheet.’ I feel that I’ve worked long enough and hard enough that I deserve that. Yes, in film, you do get a lot of supporting roles, as an actor of color. You do. And I feel like, now, I want the flash!”

The new show premieres on September 25th.

Before Aziz Ansari Became a Comedian, He Was a College DJ

Before Aziz Ansari Became a Comedian, He Was a College DJ

Long before Aziz Ansari earned acclaim as a comedian, he was just another college student who admired the likes of DJ Q-Bert, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist. He even tried his hand at DJing. He recently chatted with Nardwuar about his short-lived career.

(h/t Okayplayer)

TAGS: Aziz Ansari

NBA’s Luol Deng: ‘I’m Proud to Have A Lot of African in Me’

NBA's Luol Deng: 'I'm Proud to Have A Lot of African in Me'

Thanks to some good reporting by Yahoo! News’s Adrian Wojnaroski, we now know that Atlanta Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson’s black-fans-are-bad-for-business e-mail surfaced as part of an internal investigation into racist comments made by several members of the team’s front office. The more upsetting comments came from Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, who said that NBA All-Star and South Sudanese player Luol Deng had “a little African in him” in reference to his not being perfect

Not in a bad way, but he’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell you counterfeit stuff out the back,” Ferry said.

Deng issued a public statement on Tuesday to say that he doesn’t just have “a little African in him.” He has a lot, and he’s damn proud of it:


These words were recently used to describe me.  It would ordinarily make any African parent proud to hear their child recognized for their heritage.

I’m proud to say I actually have a lot of African in me, not just “a little”. For my entire life, my identity has been a source of pride and strength. Among my family and friends, in my country of South Sudan and across the broader continent of Africa, I can think of no greater privilege than to do what I love for a living while also representing my heritage on the highest stage. Unfortunately, the comment about my heritage was not made with the same respect and appreciation.

Concerning my free agency, the focus should purely have been on my professionalism and my ability as an athlete. Every person should have the right to be treated with respect and evaluated as an individual, rather than be reduced to a stereotype. I am saddened and disappointed that this way of thinking still exists today. I am even more disturbed that it was shared so freely in a business setting.

However, there is comfort in knowing that there are people who aren’t comfortable with it and have the courage to speak up. In the same way a generalization should not define a group of people, the attitude of a few should not define a whole organization or league.

Ultimately, I’m thankful to be with an organization that appreciates me for who I am and has gone out of its way to make me feel welcome.


Livestream: American Policing of Black Bodies With Jelani Cobb

Livestream: American Policing of Black Bodies With Jelani Cobb

Ferguson is still on the minds and hearts of activists across the country. While that municipality’s city council meets for the first time to discuss the prospect of a police oversight board, black activists, writers and academics are still organizing around the national implications of Michael Brown’s murder.

This evening the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is hosting a livestreamed discussion on how American policing impacts black bodies. Contributing to the discussion are Khalil G. Muhammad (director of the Schomburg Center); Jelani Cobb (historian and journalist); Claudia De La Cruz (founder of Da Urban Butterflies); Darnell L. Moore (activist and co-organizer of Black Lives Matter); and moderator Joel Diaz (education associate at the Schomburg). There will also be a special reading by writer Akeema Zane.

The discussion starts on Tuesday, September 9 at 6:30pm EST. You can watch above. 

(h/t New York Public Library)

Beats Celebrates Serena Williams’ U.S. Open Win With Moving New Ad

Beats Celebrates Serena Williams' U.S. Open Win With Moving New Ad

Just before Serena Williams won her 18th Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open last weekend, Beats celebrated her athletic prowess with a new commercial that’s pretty great. It features a track called “Black Unicorn” by 2 Chainz f. Chrisette Michele and Sunni Patterson.

Watch Alexander Wang Talk About His Journey in Fashion

Watch Alexander Wang Talk About His Journey in Fashion

Alexander Wang’s new athletic wear-inspired line is making waves at New York Fashion Week, as Callie Beusman describes at Jezebel. The Chinese-American designer, who was named creative director of Balenciaga in 2012 and been dogged by allegations of using sweatshop labor, is establishing himself as a heavy hitter in the fashion world. It’s worth taking a look back at this interview with Vogue in which Wang talks about starting his own brand in college and balancing the demands of life and work. 

Orange is the New Purple? Dascha Polanco Debuts New Hair at Fashion Week

Orange is the New Purple? Dascha Polanco Debuts New Hair at Fashion Week

“Orange is the New Black” star Dascha Polanco is turning plenty of heads at New York Fashion Week thanks to her gray and lavender hair. Behold:

Baltimore Ravens Player Speaks About Janay Rice’s Revictimization

Baltimore Ravens Player Speaks About Janay Rice's Revictimization

Baltimore Ravens defensive back Chris Canty had one of the more powerful statements on violence against women when he spoke to the media following Ray Rice’s dismissal from the team.

“I was in shock,” Canty said when he first saw the video. “My first thoughts were, ‘I don’t think it’s appropriate to show it on television.’ You have to think of the victim, Janay, in this situation. To force her to re-live that physical and emotional abuse is wrong, it’s absolutely wrong, and some media outlets have chosen to air it regardless of her feelings. I’m not sure if they reached out for her consent, but it’s wrong.”

Read more and watch video on

Dave Zirin wrote at The Nation about the problem with re-playing Janay Rice’s assault in the media:

No one cares that she is now going to have to relive this incident over and over again. No one cares that the world has now become privy to what may be the most humiliating moment of her entire life. No one cares that she’s basically now being used as a soapbox with otherwise apolitical NFL commentators using her prone body to get on their high horse and safely blast the league. There is video, and those who never raised their voice publicly about the axis of domestic violence and the NFL before are now bellowing the loudest.

Read more at The Nation.

Janay Rice on Domestic Violence Video: ‘Reality is a Nightmare’

Janay Rice on Domestic Violence Video: 'Reality is a Nightmare'

Janay Rice, wife of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, made her first public comments since TMZ leaked video of her brutal assault in an Atlantic City elevator last February.

In a statement on Instagram, Rice wrote:

“I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend. But to have to accept the fact that it’s reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that hte media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his a** of for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific. THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!”

Rice’s Instagram is private, but several screenshots of her statement have been circulating this morning.*

*Post has been updated to reflect the removal of the screen-grab of Janay Rice’s private Instagram account. 



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