Month: September 2016

Latino Horror to Get Center Stage at Chicago’s Cine-Iconoclasta


It’s nearly time for some horror, am I right? Halloween’s just around the corner, and if you’re in Chicago, you’re in for a gory treat.

Comfort Films is hosting a Mexican horror event called “Cine-Iconoclasta,” presented by Mexican horror and fantasy director Ulises Guzmán. The event, which runs through Sept. 14-16, will feature the Chicago premiere of Guzman’s 2011 horror documentary ALUCARDOS Retrato de un Vampiro (ALUCARDOS: Portrait of a Vampire), as well as screenings of some of the best short fils from the Feratum Film Festival and the Chicago premiere of 2014’s Mexican horror anthology México Barbáro. Guzmán will be in attendance for every night of the event, as well as producer Harumy Delmira Villarreal.

The event is free, but a $5 donation is suggested.

The three-night event will be held at both by Comfort Station and La Catrina Cafe. You can learn more about “Cine-Iconoclasta” at ChicagoNow as well as at the event’s Facebook page.

Are you going to get your scare on and attend “Cine-Iconoclasta”? Are you excited about seeing some new horror? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

Christian Siriano Reps the Plus-Size Women at New York Fashion Week

Fatalefashion/YouTube screengrab
Fatalefashion/YouTube screengrab

The New York Fashion Week would have been business as usual if it wasn’t for Christian Siriano. The designer, already known for embracing various body shapes through his Lane Bryant partnership (the fall line is coming out they day of this post) and through dressing actresses like Leslie Jones as well as First Lady Michelle Obama, has taken his commitment to body inclusion to the next level. This time, for his Spring/Summer 2017 runway show, he cast five plus-size models to the catwalk.

Check out the social media buzz (and the full show!) for yourself:

Simply put, this kind of fashion show is life-affirming. No hyperbole; as a plus-size woman myself, it truly is life-affirming. For too long, fashion has been in the narrow “must be stick-skinny” box, when 1) women have never only been one size and 2) the majority of women are now within the 16-18 size range. The fact that fashion designers, on the whole, have dedicated themselves to this narrow definition of beauty is mind-boggling, especially when some of the women in their lives, I’m sure, aren’t size 0.

Tim Gunn, design educator, author, and personality from Project Runway, wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post during NYFW. He took the fashion industry to task for “turn[ing] its back on plus-size women.”

I love the American fashion industry, but it has a lot of problems, and one of them is the baffling way it has turned its back on plus-size women. It’s a puzzling conundrum. The average American women now wears between a size 16 and a size 18, according to new research from Washington State University. There are 100 million plus-size women in America, and, for the past three years, they have increased their spending on clothes faster than their straight-size counterparts. There is money to be made here ($20.4 billion, up 17 percent from 2013). But many designers—dripping with disdain, lacking imagination or simply too cowardly to take a risk—still refuse to make close for them.

Gunn also calls certain designers out by name who have said, in so many words, that they didn’t want plus-size women wearing their clothes because they felt plus-size women were ugly.

Enter designers like Siriano, who has taken the opportunity of dressing an underserved market head-on.

When ELLE Magazine asked Siriano as to why more designers don’t make plus-size clothes, Siriano’s comments seemed to echo Gunn, seeming to allude to the fact that some designers just might not want to put in the time commitments to dress women who aren’t sample size

We know the importance of creating inclusive collections. So why can’t more designers make great plus-size clothes?

I think they can. I just think it’s a lot of time and a lot of work. The thing is, if you’re a designer, then you want to constantly push yourself and your designs. When we make a new collection, we’re changing shapes, we’re changing patterns. We get a dress on a model, and it’s our first time seeing what the dress really looks like a woman’s body. And even with traditional fashion models, where it’s their job to be a certain size and a certain proportion, you have to make adjustments once you see your clothes on a real live person. Now imagine doing that with more sizes, more proportions. You really have to play with every piece. So timing is a big part of it. You have to make the time. But having said all that, we made it work. We found the time and we put in the effort because being a label that different women can wear is really important to us.

So the trick is having the time?

Honestly, I think the “trick” is you have to really want to do it. You’re embracing more of the world. Which is great. We’re all in this together, you know? And the models in the show who are “plus size,” they’re not in a special place, they’re now wearing differently styled outfits. They’re just beautiful girls who are in the show, like normal. Everything’s normal. That’s how it should be!

(From my point of view, it sounds like he’s simply saying they’re lazy.)

Gunn is right; there’s a lot of money to be made here, and Siriano, the most successful Project Runway alum because of his business acumen, certainly has his business sense attuned to this void and is using it to differentiate himself and endear himself to a larger part of the market.

But that doesn’t mean his shrewdness is something to balk at. There is still a thoughtfulness to Siriano’s decision to cater to a wider selection of body types. As he’s said himself, he likes dressing women of all sizes and wants every woman to look and feel beautiful. If he just wanted to make money, he could do like Target and make plus-size sacks. But he’s actually giving women choices, style, and a voice in the fashion world. Siriano is allowing plus-size women to feel like they do matter in fashion and that they do deserve to feel beautiful. Simultaneously, he’s giving his fellow fashion designers the middle finger, daring them to what he’s doing for plus-size women. It’s a challenge that I hope more fashion designers take up. As Gunn says in his op-ed, “Designers, make it work.”

What do you think of Siriano’s NYFW showing? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

“Moonlight” Shines a Light on Black Masculinity and Sexual Identity

"Moonlight" poster. A24
“Moonlight” poster. (A24)

The buzz right now is for a film named Moonlight. The film, the second for writer-director Barry Jenkins, tells a haunting tale of a boy named Chiron whose battle throughout life is coming to terms with his identity as a gay black man. That identity is complicated by merciless taunts at school and a home life surrounded by drugs and hard drug dealers.

The film looks like it’ll become one of the most important films of the latter half of 2016 and into 2017, and rightfully so. When popular culture thinks of black men, they often think of them as how they are presented in Moonlight; as gangbangers and drug dealers. But in Moonlight, even those characters—including the main character, who later becomes a drug dealer himself in Atlanta because that’s all he’s known and that’s probably how he feels he can best hide himself and fit in—have a tenderness and humanity that is often denied them by society and, consequently, by other forms of media.

Collider’s Brian Formo touches on this topic in his review, writing in part:

Yes, Moonlight is important for its message of not just acceptance of homosexuality within black communities, but also an embracing of boys and who exist outside of that hardened world, and how masculinity has many different expressions, sexually and otherwise. But Jenkins’ script casually drops many lines about how a character’s time in juvenile detention or jail—or even a funeral—to show how constant incarceration is in their community. ‘When I was in jail’ is said as casually as ‘when I was in middle school’ like it’s just a natural progression of growing up. This is not something that is hammered home but it’s an important and sad portrait that runs parallel to our race conversations today of the over-imprisonment of black Americans and a lack of inroads to leave communities through better opportunities.

The constant denial of black male homosexuality is constantly regurgitated in TV, movies, music, and even magazines; OUT Magazine is featuring the film’s lead, Trevante Rhodes, in its feature spread about Moonlight, but this also is one of the few times OUT Magazine has even featured a black man as a feature story. Just taking a look at their main page, you won’t find much intersectionality; Frank Ocean and Pres. Barack Obama are the only black men that has been prominently featured recently on the site; the rest are articles about black women and white gay men. Even then, one has to wonder if the black women being touted are being celebrated for their catchphrases and antics and for some readers to pull “YAAS QUEEN”-esque appropriation tactics, and not for the sake of true intersectionality.

However, black American culture as a whole has a lot of work to do when it comes to accepting our LGBTQ men. Individually, we all have our different ideas about accepting the sexual spectrum. But on the whole, there is still the stigma that black LGBTQ men face when it comes to being accepted by certain members of the family or by society itself. The idea that the black man is only supposed to be a “workhorse,” a racialized Übermensch and hypersexual fetish, is something that Americans have got to exorcise from their thinking.

From where I’m sitting, black Americans seem to carry that fetishized idea of the black man as a deep wound that we’ve now grown attached to without realizing it. In many ways, black Americans have held onto things we shouldn’t because we know that the things we hate are something the only ways we’ll be accepted by society. Colorism, for example, is wrong, but many still hold onto colorism because of the leverage they can gain from it. Masculinity, something that had been both denied from black men and exaggerated in others’ perceptions of black men, is a thorny subject, and the ability to finally live in masculinity as freely as they possibly can is something many black men take very seriously. But for some, they believe that freedom is at risk due to other types of masculinity, including the masculinity of gay black men. The gay black man is thought of as a threat, as being something that will once again deny other men their right to be men in their own image. That’s completely illogical thinking, though. Moonlight is showing us the loss, confusion, and lack of identity many gay black men feel, and the film wants to ask if the cost of invisibility is too high (answer: it is).

It is comforting to see that Rhodes felt this part was his to play. Rhodes, being a straight man, never hesitated from the role and, in fact, found a lot of his past self in it. As he told The Hollywood Reporter:

“…[W]hat resonated with me is that at a younger age I struggled with identity because I didn’t know myself. I knew who I wanted to be, and I knew what I wanted the world to think I was, but I didn’t know who I was. I think everybody at some point goes through that…The fact that [Chiron] was homosexual just added to the beauty of the story for me.”

And, as he said to OUT:

“Our country is shit right now. Being a black person in America right now is shit, being a homosexual in America right now is shit, and being a black homosexual is the bottom for certain people. That’s why I’m so excited for people to see Moonlight. I don’t feel like there’s a solution for our problems, but this movie might change people. That’s why you do it–because you feel like you’re doing something that matters. This is someone’s story.”

He also told OUT about how he saw how much trouble his friend, who is gay, had when he was trying to find himself.

Rhodes certainly stands as a man other men, particularly some black men, should pay attention to and learn from.

In closing, here’s Rhodes in his own words as well as Moonlight’s trailer:

What do you think about Moonlight? Give your opinions in the comments section below.

Other reviews:

Moonlight is a Heartbreaking Portrait of Often Overlooked Lives | Vanity Fair

‘Moonlight’ Review: Barry Jenkins Delivers a Mesmerizing Look at Black Life in America | IndieWire

On “Tyrant”: Its Cancellation and Its Importance in Pop Culture

FX (Facebook)

Tyrant, a surprise FX hit, has been cancelled after three seasons. Tyrant started out as a rough show for me, to be honest, but it has grown into one of the most delightfully subversive and thought-provoking shows on television for me. I’ve also been able to get to know some of the cast members on a personal basis, and while it’s always cool to say “I know that person on TV,” it’s even more rewarding to be able to help them promote the show and learn more about their acting processes. In short, Tyrant has become a very important part of my life on a personal basis, so I’m truly sad to see that it’s gone.

The importance of Tyrant goes beyond just my own personal stake in the show. Tyrant provided its viewers with a much more multifaceted look at the Middle East. Granted, there were times when individual episodes or individual scripted moments of characterization could have not represented a character or characters in the most well-rounded light. But as a whole, the characters of Tyrant presented a microcosm of individuality. There are Western-aligned characters like Fauzi and Halima. There are characters who create their own space in society, like Leila. There are criminals like Ihab. There are despots like Jamal and, to be frank, his brother Bassam. There are people trying to find themselves, like Ahmed. There are idealists like Rami. Basically, just like in America, there are people who fit every mode of life. There is no one monolith of the Middle East, and I appreciate Tyrant for showing that, especially in its later seasons.

Related: Monique’s Tyrant recaps for the Entertainment Weekly Community Blog 

Tyrant also provided a space for Middle Eastern actors to showcase their talents. Actors like Moran Atias, Alexander Karim, Ashraf Barhom, Cameron Gharaee, Sibylla Deen, Fares Fares and others aren’t normally on our TV screens and for no real reason. Yet, on Tyrant, we can finally see these actors portray characters that we either identify with or love to hate. Tyrant could (and should) be used as a platform for these actors. As I’ve written last year in my article, “The Next Omar Sharif: Why Finding the Next Middle Eastern Hollywood Star is Easier Than We Think”:

Tyrant has become one of the few places on television, if not the only place right now, where people can view Middle Eastern characters on a primetime show each week. The show could also act as a platform for many of its actors who are still looking for mainstream success…[T]he show’s stellar second season could be the true jumping off-point for the show’s stars and for other shows who want to follow in Tyrant‘s path.

Overall, Tyrant brought a new points of view into the homes of Americans each week, and the loss of Tyrant, a show with a predominately brown cast, will once again open up a void in media representation. Surely, TV producers and creators should be creating more shows about Middle Eastern characters and/or American characters of Middle Eastern descent. Tyrant shouldn’t be the only one holding down this responsibility. But Tyrant performed a very specific task for many Americans, which was creating a safe space to explore different experiences of Middle Eastern life.

Cameron Gharaee, who played Ahmed, spoke to me for the (sadly finished) Entertainment Weekly Community Blog about the importance of the show around this time last year. I’ll end the article with part of the exchange we had.

Seasons one and two featured a lot of references to real-life events like the Arab Spring and the fall of certain Middle Eastern regimes. There’s also the fact that this is an American show about Middle Eastern characters on an American network, which hasn’t happened in a long time, to be conservative about it. What do you think about Tyrant‘s influence in America? Do you think it’s helped open some minds about Middle Eastern people and ridding people of stereotypes?

We’re probably able to unveil some things in culture that maybe America doesn’t understand, or maybe they haven’t seen before. For me, the key to this show is just literally pulling the curtain back and saying, “This is what’s going on, this is what’s happening. You can take it in pieces … and see what it is that you like.” The great thing about a show like this, just from an actor’s standpoint, is just having these faces onscreen. You don’t see a lot of these characters. Usually it’s just a terrorist or just someone screaming into a microphone. I think what’s great about this show is that these are people too.

A lot of Americans don’t know about the Middle East, yet they have strong political views on things—but these are people too, and they have struggles. It makes it an even playing field for everyone, and it’s going to open a lot of doors, hopefully. Especially with the show doing well and people enjoying it, it can open the door for more shows. I think that’s what this is; it’s a bridge to testing the waters and saying, “Look, these shows are entertaining, these people do have an interesting culture.” It’s rich and colorful, and they have really amazing personas. The personalities of the culture are very fascinating … it’s a beautiful culture. I think this is a bridge to open that door for more stories to be told—and that’s all you can really hope for.

I have it on good authority that the Tyrant team is currently shopping the show around to other networks, and I certainly hope they succeed, because a show like this, and the messages it has given its audience, are too important to miss.

What did you love about Tyrant? What network do you hope it goes to? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

Rami Malek Proves Why He’s The GOAT in ELLE’s September Photoshoot

Cora Emmanuel and Rami Malek pose for ELLE Magazine. (Azim Haidaryan/Elle Magazine/screengrab from
Cora Emmanuel and Rami Malek pose for ELLE Magazine. (Azim Haidaryan/Elle Magazine/screengrab from

Rami Malek is a personal favorite around these parts, and his latest interview/photoshoot for the September issue of ELLE Magazine, he proves once again why he’s a low-key thought leader as well as a stellar actor.

In the interview, Malek talks about how he relates to his Mr. Robot character Elliot. His relationship to the character is much less about the self-important vanity of acting a meaty role (that kind of sentiment is  something I’ve personally heard from an actress when discussing her role on a formerly popular show a few years ago) and more about how Elliot reflects a darker side to Malek’s past thinking and personal flaws.

“Look at me. I’m an actor who’s been struggling for a while, and there have been moments where I don’t think I’ve been the greatest in my personal life because I’ve sometimes taken my professional goals too seriously. So when I do things that aren’t as altruistic as I want them to be, I have to take inventory of myself, the way Elliot does when he starts to see the ramifications of his actions. He’s an unexpected hero in that way.”

It’s rare when we hear actors or actresses discuss their shortcomings in a way that’s genuine. Usually, too many of the acting set discuss their flaws in a self-congratulatory, humblebrag way, as if being proud of how “special” their flaws are makes them “just like us” while still using those same flaws to showcase how much “better” they are than the rest of us. When you read Malek’s words, you can tell he’s not talking about himself in a way to say “I’m better than you because I’m more perfectly imperfect than you.” He’s discussing past regrets like a person who has matured over time, and that makes him even more relatable than he already was. A lot of us can identify with feeling like there’s not enough time to make your dreams happen, of wanting to rush things to get to where you think you should be, of taking yourself too seriously. I know I can certainly identify. It takes a surprising lot of maturity to admit when you haven’t been as grateful or as well-meaning as you aspire to be, and Malek reflects that maturity in his answer.

It also helps that it seems like he’s not an actor who trips off of being famous. He still seems like a normal (yet immensely talented) guy. A guy who can take smoking-hot pictures. Just eat your heart out as you look at the top screenshot; there’s more where that came from in the actual ELLE article. (Of course, it goes without saying that model Cora Emmanuel takes a good photo too.)

Malek’s star is on the rise; Season 3 of Mr. Robot has already been ordered, and Malek is getting ready to promote Buster’s Mal Heart, an indie film he’s starring in. Once again, he’s taking on a cerebral mind-bender of a character who is lost out at sea and in the wilderness, but recalls a former life as a family man. The film, which is expected to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is already expected to be a must-watch in the indie circuit, and it’s going to be exciting to see just how well this film does. You can take a look at the trailer right here.

What do you think about Malek and his regular-guy approach to Hollywood fame? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

#RepresentYourStory: Shaun Lau of No, Totally! on Overcoming Self-Hate


“The worship of whiteness as a person of color requires and encourages self-hatred.” Does this statement resonate with you?

This is part of the personal story of Shaun Lau, creator of podcast site “No, Totally!”, a site that actually was the genesis of this #RepresentYourStory project.

As I’ve written on the #RepresentYourStory page, this project started as a thought after I was on an episode of Shaun’s podcast. On that episode, I talked about my own struggles with identity and race. My struggles were more about not feeling accepted and/or exoticized by other black people around me, leaving me feeling unsupported despite my deep-rootedness in the black experience. Shaun’s story, on the other hand, is of facing internalized racism.

Shaun’s story isn’t unusual; there are many people out there who have had to come to terms with their own feelings of self-hate and the ways in which they relate to themselves in a society that praises whiteness.

What is interesting is that there are parallels between our two stories; while our own journeys might have started at different places, the feelings of ostracism, loss, and the desire to have a sense of identity are very much the same. The desire to feel “normal” is something that drives a lot of us, and that desire manifests in many forms.

Read Shaun’s story, and if you identified with him, leave a comment and share it on Twitter and Facebook. Also, take a listen to my episode of “No, Totally!” and share it with your friends if it resonated with you!

Family members sometimes call me a “banana,” because an Asian-American who consumes white American culture as readily as Asian culture is often seen as inherently treasonous; like a banana, you’re yellow on the outside, but white on the inside.

The name never bothered me, to be honest, but finally understanding, years later, the reason it didn’t bother me was horrifying: I took “banana” as a compliment because it meant that my “true self” was white, and I didn’t see a problem with that. To be brutally honest, I secretly exalted in the knowledge that any kind of inherent whiteness made me automatically better than the rest of my family.

Nothing I encountered until my thirties challenged this internalization of white superiority, which is a kind of decaying of the soul. The worship of whiteness as a person of color requires and encourages self-hatred. I remember going to movies, identifying with the white protagonist, and then experiencing massive deflation at seeing my Asian features reflected in the theater’s gigantic glass doors on the way out. I’ve blamed myself for not being white with nearly every breath I’ve ever taken.

The process of scrubbing white worship from my psyche over the past few years has exposed its converse: condescension towards my Asian background, upbringing, and culture. Accepting that my estrangement from any kind of Asian-American community has been my fault is a work in progress, and untangling all of it without falling into old, familiar habits of self-hatred is a puzzle I’m nowhere near solving.

If I could relive my life, I’d do everything I could to recognize that culture is deeply personal. The ethnic boundaries around different cultures in a country as diverse as the United States are malleable, in my opinion; it’s well within our power to respect where we come from while engaging with cultures that aren’t historically our own. I wouldn’t be so quick to believe that expertise in American culture requires a kind of monogamous, Eurocentric engagement. I’d know that any culture requiring self-destruction, self-hatred, and self-erasure isn’t worth obeying in the first place.

Do you want to participate in #RepresentYourStory? Share your story of self-acceptance at, or fill out the #RepresentYourStory questionnaire! Read more about #RepresentYourStory here

Three Reasons Why You Should Care About the North Dakota Pipeline Fight

Map of the pipeline question. Credit: Wikipedia
Map of the pipeline question. Credit: Wikipedia

Have you heard about the battle between the North Dakota Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the federal government over the North Dakota pipeline? Probably not since it hasn’t been covered by the news—the 24-hour news cycle is spending most of those 24 hours on Trump antics. However, there’s a serious news story behind the North Dakota pipeline standoff, and it’d be worthwhile for you to know about it and care about it.

First, a small intro (with news gathered from the New York Times):

• The North Dakota pipeline is “a $3.7 billion project that would carry 470,000 barrels of oil a day from the oil fields of western North Dakota to Illinois, where it would be linked with other pipelines.” According to Energy Transfer, the pipeline could create 8,000 to 12,000 construction jobs, but it won’t create as many permanent jobs as one would think. The pipeline could also create millions of dollars for the region’s economies.

• While there are many who are for the pipeline, there are just as many who are against it, including the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, who have been protesting the pipeline for weeks in a field owned by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Others against the pipeline are some farmers in Iowa, whose land the pipeline would go through.

• Of course, those behind this and other pipelines state that pipelines are safe. But as the New York Times states, “pipeline spills and ruptures occur regularly.” The paper cites Inside Climate News, stating:

“In 2013, a Tesoro Logistics pipeline in North Dakota broke open and spilled 865,000 gallons of oil onto a farm. In 2010, an Enbridge Energy pipeline dumped more than 843,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, resulting in a cleanup that lasted years and cost more than a billion dollars[.]”

Certainly, you are encouraged to learn more about this issue for yourself. But because you have the jist, let’s discuss why you need to care about this.

1. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is fighting for their right to exist freely. The pipeline isn’t just going to be built to traverse multiple states; the land it would be built on is sacred land that should be respected. The tribe has stated that the land the pipeline would run through “traverses ancestral lands–which are not part of the reservation–where their forebears hunted, fished and were buried. They say historical and cultural reviews of the land where the pipeline will be buried were inadequate.”

The construction of this pipeline only echoes the centuries of cultural and environmental destruction Native Americans have experienced. Marcus Patrick Ellsworth for MTV writes about some of the most recent offenses:

“Tribal lands have long been exploited for the gain of others. Several tribes in western states still have to cope with a legacy of illness and irradiated land from uranium mining during the Cold War era; the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming has had its groundwater contaminated by years of dumping wastewater on reservation land. Because so many communities have been affected by lackadaisical protection from toxic industries, groups like the Indigenous Environmental Network support campaigns to stop oil drilling and move us toward clean energy alternatives.”

One of the older examples, though, is the very monument that celebrates Americanism and Manifest Destiny, Mount Rushmore. The Black Hills, on which the monument is carved, is sacred to the Lakota Sioux and was part of their territory due to the Treaty of 1868, states PBS’s American Experience. But once gold was found in the mountain, the government forced the Sioux to give up the Black Hills. The monument was later constructed between 1927 to 1941.

The insult of Rushmore to some Sioux is at least three-fold:

1. It was built on land the government took from them. 2. The Black Hills in particular are considered sacred ground. 3.The monument celebrates the European settlers who killed so many Native Americans and appropriated their land.

2. The environmental effect of the pipeline could be catastrophic. As alluded above, the environmental problems aren’t being sincerely thought about when it comes to the long-term effects of this pipeline.

One of the worries the tribe has is what could happen if the pipeline breaks and leaks into the nearby Missouri River. Iyuskin American Horse for The Guardian writes how “pipeline construction [tears] its way toward the waters of the Missouri river which flow into the Mississippi, threatening to pollute the aquifer that carries drinking water to 10 million people.” He also writes how the pipeline has already altered the landscape by machines “[clawing] through the earth that once held my relatives’ villages” and how the pipeline violates treaties between the government and tribal governments.

“…This pipeline poses threats strikingly similar to those posed by the now defeated Keystone XL, but has received a fraction of the attention from mainstream media and big environmental groups. On 26 July, we were surprised to learn that the North Dakota permits were approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers to run the pipeline within a half-mile of our reservation. My tribal leaders have said that this [was] done without consulting tribal governments, and without a meaningful study of the impacts it will have. This is a violation of federal law and, more importantly, of our treaties with the US government- the supreme law of the land.”

3. What affects the Standing Rock Sioux affects all of us, so we should care. The way America has set up its hierarchy, too many of us feel like what affects the Native American population doesn’t affect the rest of us. However, what affects them affects us. We all live in the same country, and if a community receives poor treatment and is put at an environmental risk, then that same environmental risk is something we all should worry about.

If a pipeline did affect the Missouri and that damage flowed into the Mississippi, the longest river in the United States, then it’d be more than just the Standing Rock Sioux who’d be receiving poisoned water; it’d be people from the south westward,  about half or more than half of the entire country. That would be millions to possibly billions of dollars spent on cleaning up the Mississippi as well as millions or billions more spent addressing the health of those affected. Even more money would be spent working on repairing the damage to the wildlife. The effects of such a catastrophe could be felt for years or even decades. Remember that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 is still affecting the gulf region in many ways today.

We should all stop for a second and consider supporting the Standing Rock Sioux who are leading the fight against the pipeline. They have already bled for it; the least we can do is say “I support.”

Related articles:

North Dakota pipeline turns violent after cultural sites destroyed | The Guardian

Photos Show Why the North Dakota Pipeline is Problematic | Buzzfeed

#NoDAPL | Twitter

ReZpect Our Water

Jackie Chan To Receive Lifetime Acheivement Oscar

Jackie Chan in 2015's "Dragon Blade." Lionsgate/YouTube screencap
Jackie Chan in 2015’s “Dragon Blade.” Lionsgate/YouTube screencap

Who doesn’t love Jackie Chan! Well, guess what? He’s finally getting an overdue Oscar!

Chan will receive an honorary lifetime achievement Oscar for his body of work. That body of work includes classics like The Legend of Drunken MasterRumble in the Bronx, and of course, Rush Hour. His resume also includes uncredited roles in many films, including the Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon. Disney fans might know Chan was the singing voice for Shang in the Chinese release of Disney’s Mulan (indeed, Chan has a singing career that goes all the way back to the ’80s).

Also being honored is Anne Coates, Lynn Stalmaster and Frederick Wiseman. According to the press release, the four legends will receive their awards during the Academy’s 8th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, November 12, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center.

“The Honorary Award was created for artists like Jackie Chan, Anne Coates, Lynn Stalmaster and Frederick Wiseman – true pioneers and legends in their crafts,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.  “The Board is proud to honor their extraordinary achievements, and we look forward to celebrating with them at the Governors Awards in November.”

After making his motion picture debut at the age of eight, Chan brought his childhood training with the Peking Opera to a distinctive international career.  He starred in – and sometimes wrote, directed and produced – more than 30 martial arts features in his native Hong Kong, charming audiences with his dazzling athleticism, inventive stunt work and boundless charisma.  Since “Rumble in the Bronx” in 1996, he has gone on to enormous worldwide success with the “Rush Hour” movies, “Shanghai Noon,” “Shanghai Knights,” “Around the World in 80 Days,” “The Karate Kid” and the “Kung Fu Panda” series of animated films.

Congrats to Chan! As a celebration of Chan’s acting career, let’s take a look at one of Chan’s finest moments: WB’s Jackie Chan Adventures. 

What’s your favorite Jackie Chan movie? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

The Sikh Coalition’s Photography Exhibition, The Sikh Project, To Debut

The Sikh Coalition (Facebook)
The Sikh Coalition (Facebook)

If you’re in New York Sept. 17, check out a very special photography exhibit. The Sikh Coalition is debuting their first ever Sikh photography exhibition in the U.S!

The exhibition, “The Sikh Project,” is the result of a partnership between The Sikh Coalition and British photographers Amit and Naroop. As The Sikh Coalition states, the exhibit captures “the beauty of the Sikh faith and the depth of the Sikh American experience.” To quote the site:

As we reflect on 15 years since 9/11 and commemorate the 15th anniversary milestone for our organization, we believe it’s an important moment to celebrate the Sikh experience and identity. The Sikh Project includes 38 new portraits of turbaned men and women that embody the diversity of the Sikh American community and recognize the challenges and triumphs of what it means to be Sikh in America.

According to the exhibit will feature 40 portraits of Sikh women and men who come from all walks of life. The goal of the exhibit is to challenge what viewers preconceived notions might be of Sikhs and the turban in general, which has been linked to Islamophobia. The event will also act as an anniversary commemoration of The Sikh Coalition, which, as states, was created after 9/11 to address the discrimination and xenophobia Sikhs in America were facing.

As Saupreet Kaur, the executive director of The Sikh Coalition, told

“As we commemorate the 15th anniversary for our organization and reflect on the Sikh American experience 15 years after September 11, 2001, particularly during this period of heightened divisive rhetoric and hate backlash, we feel that the moment is right to highlight the beauty of the Sikh faith and the strength of our collective spirit, and to do so in a way that further educates the broader American public….Our aspiration is to spark conversations across the country about what it means to look like an American, and to humanize communities who are too often regarded as ‘other.’ There is no better means of opening hearts and minds than through the arts.”

The event is free to the public and will take place Sept. 17 through Sept. 25 at 530 Broadway, New York, NY 10012 between 10am to 8 pm, with extended hours on weekends. For groups of 25 or larger, email To learn more about the event, visit and You can also learn more at the Sikh Coalition’s Facebook page.


“Magic: The Gathering”: Saheeli Joins WOC Planeswalkers Kaya & Narset

Art: Jeremy Jarvis for Magic: The Gathering/Wizards of the Coast
Art: Jeremy Jarvis for Magic: The Gathering/Wizards of the Coast

Having become a newly-minted fan of Magic: The Gathering, it’s a great opportunity to dive into the types of representation the company is striving towards. In case you’re wondering, my new fandom of the company stems from the fact that I am the consultant on Magic: The Gathering’s first black female Planeswalker, Kaya, Ghost Assassin. Instead of rehashing the particulars of how Kaya positively affects Magic’s representation mission, check out these links explaining the character and the process I took when providing notes.

There are other people of color out there who might not have given a second thought to Magic: The Gathering, quite frankly, because in communities of color, games like Magic are often labeled as “white people stuff.” That idea comes from how fantasy at large is treated; it’s usually a free for all for white characters to exist in a world devoid of racial/ethnic diversity. But to its credit, Magic is doing their best to meet the challenge of diversity in fantasy head on. Not only is Kaya one of their newest Planeswalkers, but they also are aiming to represent the multitude of players out there with characters who reflect our world. One such character that I’m really excited about is Saheeli.

Here’s the official bio of Saheeli:

On her home plane of Kaladesh, Saheeli is a famous inventor renowned as the most brilliant metalsmith of her time. She’s best known for the bewitchingly lifelike artifact constructs she crafts out of gleaming iridescent metal. From the smallest insect to the largest elephant, Saheeli has an uncanny ability to replicate any creature she sees, capturing the essence of its life in her metal creation. Admirers, collectors, and investors flock to see her designs, spending hours gazing, enraptured by her artistry.

Her innate, effortless talent has made her the envy of many fellow inventors, especially lifecrafters who look to her both for inspiration and as a formidable rival. Saheeli doesn’t shy away from competition; when it comes to defending her hard-earned reputation, she is fiercely cutthroat. But when not in contest, she’s wholly supportive of the efforts of other inventors, happy to share advice, a kind word, or an encouraging smile. She thrills at the prospect of innovation, and basks in the creative spirit that surrounds her in Ghirapur. Her bright, optimistic personality draws others to her, and her genuine, thoughtful nature resonates with her fans, who hail from all corners of Kaladesh.

Saheeli’s talents extend beyond what the people of Kaladesh realize or understand. She’s a Planeswalker with a powerful magical command over metal. She can access seemingly endless threads of metal, which she can then weave into one of her creations. And once created, Saheeli’s magic allows her to compel her metal constructs to do her bidding. Thanks to her abilities, she’s never at a loss for an artifact companion.

So, what’s the excitement about Saheeli for? Well, for starters, she’s one of the few women of color in the cast line-up. At present count, there are two other women of color—Kaya and Narset. Another character worth noting in this group as an adjacent member is Tamiyo, who is a member of the moonfolk.  The moonfolk’s culture and the moonfolk’s plane, Kamigawa, are loosely based on Japanese culture. In fact, Magic admits this in their description of Kamigawa:

Reminiscent of sengoku-era Japan, this plane contains two symbiotic worlds: the utsushiyo, or material realm, and the kakuriyo, or kami spirit realm. Each kami was a divinity, and the way to happiness was to honor these gods and live by their ways. The inhabitants of Kamigawa were content with this life of devotion. Then the unimaginable happened. Their gods turned on them.

Naturally, the small amount of women of color (and people of color of all genders) is an issue, but Magic is well aware of this issue and are actively working to correct this as best they can. The increase in representation of women of color in the Planeswalker series is something that is encouraging and seeing how serious Magic is about representation, I’m quite certain there’s more coming down the pike towards this end. Saheeli is a welcome addition to the list of women Planeswalkers.

Secondly, she’s the first Planeswalker that is repping for South Asian culture (to my knowledge): From what I’ve seen and researched, there hasn’t been another Planeswalker that has focused on South Asian representation. Just like with Kaya, Saheeli touches on a section of the Magic audience that hasn’t seen them in Planeswalker form. Also like with Kaya, what Saheeli represents is empowering.

Thirdly, seeing Saheeli cosplayers warms my heart. This particular cosplay took place during PAX West, which featured Kaladesh, Saheeli’s plane, and the Kaladesh Inventors’ Fair.

It’s going to be great to see even more Saheeli cosplay (as well as Kaya cosplay!)

Welcome to the Planeswalker family, Saheeli!

What do you love about Saheeli and Kaladesh? Give your opinions in the comments section below!