Month: November 2017

Linda Sarsour explains to GQ how anyone can be an activist

Did you know you are an activist? Or at least you could be. It’s much simpler than you think.

GQ sat down with Linda Sarsour, one of the leading activists today and co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington. Sarsour, who was interviewed as part of GQ’s feature on NFL player-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick, said how anyone can become an activist simply by saving your money, giving your time, and honoring your own gifts.

Give your time

If you feel like you have a particular cause that speaks to you, find a way to volunteer.

“…Find a local organization that works on that particular issue. And find an hour of your time–even if it’s an hour a month, two hours a month, four, depending on what you can give–that you actually make it a priority to go meet people at this institution, have some conversations,” said Sarsour. “That’s the first thing, just being connected to an institution or an organization helps you stay convicted and makes you feel like you’re a part of something.”

Give a little, give a lot

Don’t think you have to give tons of money to a cause for it have a positive effect. Even if you can only afford a couple of bucks a month, that money can add up.

Sarsour gave the example of how we all casually drop $5 on a coffee at Starbucks. She said that if we took those $5 and saved them over a month to $20, that $20 could go a long way.

“Imagine if you gave that $20 every month to an organization that works on ending violence against women, or supports undocumented immigrants, or provides resources and services to people with disabilities,” she said. “If 20, 30, 40 of us in a local community gave that to an organization in a month, we might be able to help them pay their electric bill. Or maybe pay the phone bill. Or pay the rent even, in some towns. So the idea is to never underestimate your individual power and the individual impact you have.”

Don’t underestimate your impact

Too often, people don’t attend events because they think they won’t be able to add anything or they think their voice doesn’t matter in the long run. If you think you won’t be missed from a huge march or other event, think again. Sarsour said that every person counts and that every person has an impact.

“…I say to people: “1 + 1+1+1 is mass mobilization.” Every person counts in this movement. Every dollar counts in this movement; every hour you volunteer counts. We oftentimes have underestimated our individual power.”

Sarsour gave the example of how people think they can’t be like her or her activist partners and fellow Women’s March co-chairs Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez. But in actuality, she said, people don’t realize exactly how many individuals support activists like her in her work. People who are good at branding, marketing, social media, writing, video production, concert production, and more all lend their talents to making events like the Women’s March huge successes.

“So the idea of an ‘activist’ has to be redefined. An activist is anyone who cares about something and has a talent that they’re willing to put toward that thing. So anyone can be an activist. Anyone can support the work of the movement.”

Read the full article at GQ.

Get to know Frank Waln, the Lakota rapper-activist changing hip-hop

If you don’t know Frank Waln, you need to know him. The Sicangu Lakota rapper and activist has given voice to the voiceless and educated fans with his timely, moving, and politically sharp lyrics. He’s also put his words to power by working with The Dream Defenders in Palestine, fought against the Keystone XL pipeline, and regularly promotes his activism through his Twitter account. Understand Waln better by reading his own words about his music, his politics, and his message to fans old and new.

On his latest EP, The Bridge:

“The world is hungry for Indigenous voices and stories right now. This album [The Bridge], like all Indgenous art, holds centuries of Indigenous stories, personal and universal. I made this project for myself and other Indigenous people like me who need honesty, vulnerability and healing in their lives.”

On the historical background of his song, “Treaties”:

“As an Indigenous producer and songwriter, center the voices of Indigenous elders in a song is a great way to show my audience who I learn from, and to share knowledge directly from the source. Thhis song is as relevant now as it was hundreds of years ago, when the U.S. government was breaking its treaty rights. It’s happening right now with the Dakota Access and Keystone Pipelines being built onto treaty land.

How can the United States call itself the greatest country in the world when it won’t even honor the treaties that founded this country? I hope this song spurs every American citizen who hears it, Indigenous or not, to pressure our government to follow its own laws and honor its treaties. This song is about justice.”

The song that started his hip-hop journey:

“…[W]hen I was seven or eight, I fell in love with playing piano. I started teaching myself how to play keys. So, I would say, my dedication to music started at the piano when I was seven or eight. Eminem was my introduction to hip-hop. But then, when I heard the Nas song “One Mic” that’s when I decided I wanted to be a rapper. That’s really when I devoted myself to hip-hop.”

On hip-hop’s resonance with Native Americans:

“Hip-hop resonates with a lot of people of my generation, whether they be in a city or on a reservation. I was thinking about this a lot lately. When I was growing up, the representations of Natives that we saw on TV were nothing like what we were living. Nothing like our reality. It was always, like, these savage Indians of the past. Very stereotypical. The media we saw, the artwork that we saw, the images in mainstream media that we related to the most, were hip-hop. Those artists were telling stories that definitely related to things we were going through, and are going through on the reservation.”

Describing his activism:

“What I’m doing – the ideology and worldview that I’m using to approach what I do – is older than the word and concept of an “activist.” I’m just Lakota. That’s why I care about my people. That’s why I care about the earth. That’s why I care about the water. That’s why I care about my community. That’s why I care about people around me. That’s why I devote my gift of music and why I use my platform to protect those things. Because I am Lakota. That’s how I was raised by mother, and my aunties, and my community. That’s what I’m taught in my culture and in my ceremonies. A lot of time Native people get pinned as activists, but really we’re just being Native. I’m just living my life, and trying to live my life in a way that my ancestors and elders and my parents and my culture raised me.”

Listen to The Bridge and “Treaties” on Soundcloud or just scroll below. You can download both from Waln’s Bandcamp page. 

Quotes taken from Waln’s interviews with RPM.fm (1,2) and Playboy. 

Hari Kondabolu breaks down “The Problem with Apu” for Vulture

Hari Kondabolu wants you to realize why The Simpsons character Apu is a problem.

His documentary, The Problem with Apu, aims to show Simpsons fans why their favorite Qwik-E-Mart store owner is much more than just a funny character. For many, Apu is a figure embedded with offensive racial stereotypes about Indian-Americans and Indian immigrants, compounded by the fact that the voice of Apu, Hank Azaria, is putting on a stereotypical Indian accent.

Vulture’s Malika Rao (who also appeared in the documentary) interviewed Kondabolu about the film, his opinions on Apu, the struggles he had with making and editing the film, and what the conversation about Apu means to the bigger issues of representation for Indian-Americans and POC in general.

On figuring out how to to explain racism to the uninformed:

“It was fun to make a movie and to interview so many people, but the actual heart of the issue, it was a 101 course. I honestly wanted to call it Seriously? I need to explain this? Because we all know this. It’s obvious. But I had to educate people. There’s a part of the film where I had to be reminded, this is going to mainstream America. This isn’t a film that’s in festivals. I need to explain basic ideas. I really need to explain minstrelsy? I really do? And I’m like, yeah, I do. This stuff used to be called “inaccessible” though. We’re at least in the era where it’s now mind-blowing.”

How Apu represents America’s deep-seated racism:

“The issue isn’t so much the character. I’m a 35-year-old man. It’s not an offensive thing, it’s a little insulting, especially when I was a kid. To me, it’s like, how did that happen, how does that still happen, how do we keep doing it? It’s not like it’s over. We still think about representation, we still think about erasure or one-dimensional representation. This is a classic example, but it’s one example. Apu is grandfathered in. It’s like a fossil in nectar, you know what I mean? It’s a great example for us to see because it’s both then and now. Times have changed, but ultimately for me it wasn’t just about Apu. It’s really about where we are as a culture and the fact that racism isn’t a singular thing. It’s a virus. It mutates, and every era, it changes.”

The one part Kondabolu wished he put in the documentary:

“There’s this one anecdote we didn’t put in that kills me. I did some research, and Peter Sellers and Satyajit Ray knew each other [Editor’s note: Peter Sellers starred in The Party, in a role Hank Azaria has compared to Apu; Ray created The Apu Trilogy, the famous Bengali series that the Simpsons’ Apu got his name from.] Ray wanted Sellers to be in his first attempt for a film, called Alien. They hit it off. Then Ray saw Sellers in The Party and was horrified. I just met this man. This is what he thinks of me? And the voice he uses. Peter Sellers has a monkey pet in the movie. The monkey’s name is Apu, and that’s not a coincidence, especially during [the time of the release of Ray’s Apu Trilogy]. I hear that story and I think about Apu, the cartoon character. You take [Ray’s] main character and give him this voice you know he would hate. The fact that [Apu the monkey] wasn’t squashed — this is what happens when you don’t squash it. It doesn’t look the same way, but it still survived.”

On how racism and representation affects all people of color:

“There’s a history of how people of color are used and how their bodies and images are monetized. Any South Asian in this country has faced it considerably easier [than black people]. When we talk about big moments, we talk about 9/11. You’re being held by law enforcement, seen as a threat. Black people deal with that every day. So it’s from this large legacy, but it’s not the same.”

Make sure to read the full interview at Vulture.com. The Problem with Apu is now streaming on TruTV and Amazon TV, Amazon Fire, iTunes, Roku and other streaming services.

Starz and NBC go full-throttle on diversity in new TV commitment and development deals

NBC and Starz have given TV fans tons of be excited about in the coming months. Check out the list of new shows we can expect to see in the near future.

Starz signs on for two shows featuring Latinx casts

According to Variety, Starz has two shows featuring Latinx casts in the works. The first, Vida, follows two sisters as they learn secrets about their family and themselves.

“‘Vida’ follows two Mexican-American sisters, Emma and Lyn, from the Eastside of Los Angeles who couldn’t be more distanced from each other. Circumstances force them to return to their old neighborhood, where they are confronted by the past and shocking truth about their mother’s identity.”

Vida‘s showrunner will be Tanya Saracho, and Alonso Ruizpalacios will direct the premiere. The show will star Mishel Prada, Karen Ser Anzoategui, Chelsea Rendon, Carlos Miranda, Maria Elena Laas, and Melissa Barrera. Sexual diversity will also be a feature of the show; Ser Anzoategui is a non-binary Latinx/Chicanx actor, artivist and playwright, and Laas’ character on the show, Cruz, is described as an “enigmatic lesbian who has a checkered history with [Prada’s character and one-half of the show’s main sister character leads] Emma.”

The second show, Family Crimes, seems much more generic in the sense that it’s about a well-tread storyline–Mexican organized crime. The show, created by David Ayer, focuses on a woman who has to learn to live a new life.

…[T]he project follows a young Latina who is forced to reinvent herself when the federal government closes in on her family due to their ties to organized crime in Mexico. She must learn to navigate the web of deceit and danger in the criminal underworld in order to survive.

NBC redirects focus on diversity in new projects

According to the Hollywood Reporter, NBC has committed to a family drama created by Sleepy Hollow co-showrunner Albert Kim.

The story is being described as a “multicultural soap” as well as a modern-day Anastasia story of a woman who grew up in the U.S., unaware of the wealth and status she is set to receive.

The project…revolves around a family-owned Korean electronics corporation that is rocked when its CEO dies on the eve of launching their American subsidiary, with his will revealing the existence of a previously unknown heir. Kim based the original concept on Korean chaebols, multinational business conglomerates like Samsung that are run by single ruling families that often go through succession drama.

Her initiation into a family she never knew about “ignites a Shakespearean battle for power amongst her newfound siblings in the Los Angeles-based drama.”

Kim will executive produce the show with Dan Lin under his Warner Bros. Television-based arm, Lin Pictures.

Kim’s show will feature a nearly all-Asian cast, and incredibly enough, this isn’t the only show NBC is committing to that highlights diversity both behind and in front of the camera. According to NBC News, NBC has committed to a legal drama that would star the first Sikh lead in American network television.

The show will be co-executive produced by activist, filmmaker and lawyer Valarie Kaur and based on a concept by her husband Sharat Raju, an NBC Emerging Directors Program alumnus.

According to Kaur, the idea, which she and her husband worked on with their friend Tafari Lumumba, would feature “a band of law students in a renegade law clinic, fighting the good fight.” The show is being produced under America Ferrera’s new production company. Ferrera and Kaur’s relationship began when Ferrera featured Kaur on several panels for NBC writers rooms and showrunners, which led to This Is Us featuring a Sikh character in the show.

NBC has also put into development Love After Love, sold from Kaptial Entertainment and Universal TV. According to Deadline, The show is written by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen and based on the Argentinan series Amar después de amar otherwise known as ADDA.

An extramarital affair is exposed in a car crash that leaves the man in a coma and the woman missing–soon to be found dead of a gunshot wound. As their spouses try to piece their lives back together, police struggle to solve an ever-deepening mystery. Think The Affair/Unfaithful meets How to Get Away with Murder.

What do you think about these shows? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

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Danielle Brooks’ capsule collection for Universal Standard hits the minimalist sweet spot

High-impact, minimalist fashion is one area that plus size fashion hasn’t gotten right yet. So often, the focus is on accentuating hips and boobs, when some people just like utilizing clean lines and color (or the lack of) to create a fashion statement. Enter Universal Standard, Danielle Brooks and their collaborative Tria collection.

Universal Standard is probably the only inclusive fashion brand that’s addressing the lack of minimalist style for plus sizes, style that is usually geared towards smaller ladies. Brooks loved this about the company, and decided to go with them for her first capsule collection.

“The reason I chose Universal Standard to be the first company that I design for is because they symbolize the fact that all women, no matter their shape or size, want and deserve to wear beautifully made, fashion forward clothing. They stand for everything I believe in,” she said to PeopleStyle.

For the collection, Brooks, designed three pieces with a particular brief in mind: “If you could design three pieces that you always wished you had in your closet, but could never find, what would they be?”

Brooks decided on an upscale pair of overalls, a shirt dress, and an oversize cowl sweater.

Universal Standard/Instagram
The Brooks Overalls | $120

“The overalls were a no brainer. For years I have looked for a pair of overalls that weren’t too baggy in the crotch, that presented some type of wow factor and that weren’t too long in the body. This one will be sure to satisfy every woman who has felt like me,” she said.

Universal Standard/Instagram
The Danielle Shirt Dress | $110

“The shirt was inspired by one of my fashion icons, Solange Knowles,” she said. “Too often, I’m not able to wear the cool unique statement pieces that I see because they never run in my size. This piece will have people asking you, ‘excuse me, where did you get that?!”

Universal Standard/Instagram
The Dani Sweater Dress | $190

“With this [sweater], you are able to dress it up, dress it down, wear it off the shoulder, and even rock it as a chic hoodie. It’s what every woman will be looking to wear for fall,” she said. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which piece would you love to own? Talk about it in the comments!

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How DACA affected the mental health of undocumented young adults

A rally in support of DACA outside of the White House.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Elizabeth Aranda, University of South Florida and Elizabeth Vaquera, George Washington University

“I am getting this wonderful education. I have a job. I fit in. At the same time, I feel at any moment that can change. I don’t think that most Americans live with that thought that anything can change [in] just one minute… My biggest fear is me getting deported or DACA being terminated and I go back to being here illegally.” –“Leticia”

“Leticia,” a pseudonym, is now 21. She came to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of eight. She is just one of the many undocumented young adults we have met in the course of our research.

With President Donald Trump’s reversal of an Obama-era executive order known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Leticia’s worst fears seem to be coming true. It is now up to Congress to pass legislation that would grant “Dreamers” legal status. In the meantime, these youths’ dreams and aspirations are once again stalled, with another deadline and six more months of uncertainty, and thus, fear and anxiety.

Together, we have been researching the lives of immigrants for 26 years. Up until 2012, undocumented youth like Leticia found themselves with few options for making their aspirations a reality as they became adults.

This changed with DACA. The program granted certain undocumented youth temporary reprieve from deportation that could be renewed every two years, and identity papers such as driver’s licenses and social security cards. This gave recipients the ability to legally apply for a job or admission into institutions of higher education.

Since DACA passed, youth like Leticia have been able to further their education and obtain jobs and health insurance along with being granted many other rights. Our research demonstrates that DACA has enabled youth and young adults not just to work toward building their own futures, but also to find peace of mind – something that, until then, was unfamiliar to them.

Personal trauma and emotional well-being

Participants in our studies commonly discussed chronic feelings of sadness and worry. Their mental health statuses were precarious prior to DACA. Most did not know they were undocumented until a caregiver told them, usually in late adolescence. To them, finding out about their undocumented status proved to be a source of personal trauma. Their status disrupted their dreams and eroded the trust they had placed in their families, friends and social institutions.

Some participants admitted that, prior to DACA, they had thought about suicide. Feeling hopelessness because of their undocumented status, a few had harmed themselves or even attempted suicide. According to news reports, at least one young Dreamer ended his own life as a result of this anguish.

We found that one way that undocumented youth coped with feelings of isolation was to join immigrant organizations and to volunteer in immigrant advocacy activities. The social connections they developed in these groups fostered relationships that supported them in times of despair.

Then, DACA brought relief and improved their mental health. These youth shared with us that they were more motivated and happy after Obama’s executive order. As Kate, one of our participants, told us, DACA “has gone a long way to give me some sense of security and stability that I haven’t had in a very long time.” Even with DACA, these youth maintained their involvement in organizations to help “give back” to their communities.

Almost 800,000 youth trusted the government with their “fingerprints” and other personal information when they applied for DACA. In return, the two-year reprieve from deportation lifted the constant, everyday fear of existence that characterized their lives. These mental health gains, in addition to the fruits of all of their hard work over the past five years, are now threatened.

The road ahead

These young adults are thoroughly vetted and are either well on their way to or already contributing in significant ways to their communities and the country. Alonso Guillen, to cite just one recent example, lost his life while rescuing victims of Hurricane Harvey. Many have contributed to the U.S. economy – 5.5 percent of DACA recipients have started their own businesses and 87 percent are employed.

With the demise of DACA, these youth may feel that the trust they placed in government has been betrayed. In our research, before Donald Trump was a presidential candidate, we often heard participants expressing fear that DACA may be temporary – but it was always hypothetical. One of our participants, “Mariposa,” said she was “on the list,” and worried that the U.S. government would know exactly where to find her if DACA should end.

If our research and the history of social activism of Dreamers tells us one thing, it is that these youth are resilient. The U.S. is their home, the only place they consider home, and where they want to stay and contribute.

The ConversationOur work shows that being part of organizations that support immigrants is crucial to promoting a sense of social and emotional well-being. These organizations, at least, may continue to provide spaces where youth can come together and feel like they belong. Meanwhile, Dreamers can only hope Congress can find a solution that will help them trust once again in America’s institutions.

Elizabeth Aranda, Professor of Sociology, University of South Florida and Elizabeth Vaquera, Director of Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute, George Washington University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Pirelli dips “Alice in Wonderland” in melanin for its 2018 calendar

Pirelli has outdone themselves this year with their exclusive Pirelli calendar. The pity is that none of us plebians can get a copy.

This year, the innovative automotive and cycling tire company used Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as its inspiration and, in a stroke of genius, the company decided to use an all-black cast.

The cast, ranging from entertainment and fashion figures to social activists, were styled by Edward Enninful (now serving as British Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief) and shot by English photographer Tim Walker.

The cast includes (according to the press release):

Adut Akech as The Queen of Diamonds; Adwoa Aboah as Tweedledee; Alpha Dia as Five-Of-Hearts-Playing-Card Gardener; Djimon Hounsou as The King of Hearts; Duckie Thot as Alice; Jaha Dukureh as Wonderland Princess; King Owusu as Two-Of-Hearts-Playing-Card Gardener; Lil Yachty as The Queen’s Guard; Lupita Nyong’o as The Dormouse; Naomi Campbell as The Royal Beheader; RuPaul as The Queen of Hearts; Sasha Lane as The Mad March Hare; Sean “Diddy” Combs as The Royal Beheader; Slick Woods as The Madhatter; Thando Hopa as The Princess of Hearts; Whoopi Goldberg as The Royal Duchess; Wilson Oryema as Seven-Of-Hearts-Playing-Card Gardener; Zoe Bedeaux as The Caterpillar.

When I saw these photos, I certainly saw shades of traditional fashion styling, but I also saw veiled, if unintentional, callbacks to late ’90 music video filming techniques, such as the slight fish eye lens, Hype Williams-esque quality some of the images have, the boldness of the costumes chosen, and the sheer attitude that jumps from the images. Here’s some images from the calendar, posted to Pirelli’s Instagram page (click picture to see image on Instagram):

Couldn’t Pirelli lift their “not for sale” rule on their calendars just this once? I know tons of us would love to own this one. Go to pirellicalendar.pirelli.com to learn more.

What do you think about these pictures? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

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Zendaya tackles colorism in “A White Lie,” the true story of the first black woman to graduate Vassar

Zendaya’s latest project is going to be, I think one that defines her career in the best way possible.

According to Shadow and Act via Deadline, Zendaya will star in and produce A White Lie, based on the psychological thriller The Gilded Years, a novel by Karin Tanabe.

Tanabe’s book is based around “the true story of Anita Hemmings, a light-skinned African American woman” who is the daughter of a janitor, but due to her skintone, is able to pass for white to attend Vassar College in the 1900s. According to Shadow and Act, Hemmings is “treated as a wealthy and educated white woman and sparks a romance with a rich Harvard student.”

Along with Zendaya, Reese Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter will produce through Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine production arm. The script is being written by Monica Beletsky.

This is a really exciting project to see from Zendaya. We haven’t seen much commentary on skintone, colorism, and skin privilege coming from Hollywood productions–the highest profile movie commenting on colorism is An Imitation of Life, made in 1934 and remade in 1959, which focused on a young woman who resented her black mother, a maid, and lived as a white woman only to meet personal tragedy. Pinky, released in 1949, also dealt with colorism and a light-skinned woman who passed as white to live a life of privilege. With Hollywood’s new wave of creators and actors, it’s heartening to see Hollywood projects beginning to tackle the under-explored nuances of racism, colorism, and privilege in America.

What do you think about Zendaya’s new film? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

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