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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.

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.

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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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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Get to know about Kris Wu, the first Chinese artist to reach No. 1 on iTunes

Rapper, model, and actor Kris Wu is making waves in America as the first Chinese artist to reach the top spot on the US iTunes charts with his single DESERVE, a collaboration between him and Travis Scott.

Wu, who moved to Vancouver as a kid, has blown up since his time in K-pop boy band juggernaut EXO–he’s starred in xXx: The Return of Vander Cage and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, reps Burberry as the brand’s first non-British global ambassador, and is killing it on Weibo and Instagram, among other accolades. He’s also only 26 years old.

I-D’s Taylor Glasby interviewed Wu about his big iTunes recognition and where he sees entertainment going as it relates to representation and his own brand. Here are four key takeaways from the interview.

On reaching #1 on US iTunes:

“I always want to be the pioneer when I do things..if I hit the Billboard top 100, I’ll be the first Chinese male artist to do it, I think. I’d treat my entire team to a vacation!”

On the responsibility of being a trailblazer for Chinese artists in America:

“I want to set an example to the youth but at the same time, this is me, this is what I do. I say I want to be a pioneer but some things just happen, then they work out and I get more ambitious, and there is responsibility. It doesn’t get so big like, I’m representing the people of China…no way. But I want to make my fans and myself proud.”

On befriending  fellow xXx star Vin Diesel:

“When I first met him on set, I was a little scared, like is he gonna be cool with me? But he was super nice and ever since then we’ve been close. You wouldn’t imagine that we’d be gaming at home, like on internet games all night. Every time I come to LA, he tells me to come over and chill. He gives me advice, he introduces me to good people. We’re like family now.”

On Asian representation in Hollywood: 

“You know what, recently I actually had an offer for a lead male in a Hollywood movie, and not an action movie. I can’t tell you what it is because I said no to it–I don’t have any time and I’m doing music–so yes, I do see it happening. Not in the next ten years, but the next two or three. Five max.”

Make sure to read the entire interview at I-D.

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Exclusive Interview: “Charcoal” writer/director Francesca Andre talks colorism

Francesca Andre has a message for everyone with her short film, Charcoal. The main theme of her film is about colorism and its damaging effects on the black diaspora. Her two main characters go through a journey of self-acceptance and self-awareness, and that journey is something Andre hopes is replicated in her viewers.

I’ve had the chance to speak with Andre recently about her film (which you can learn more about in a previous article and the trailer below) as well as her opinions on how colorism affects us. I also asked about the Dove ad that sparked controversy, and how we can heal as a people from our societal wounds. Andre offers clear insight into her own journey towards healing and how we can continue the process of healing in our own lives. Here are highlights from that conversation.

Charcoal can be seen at the Yonkers Film Festival Nov. 3-8.

The inspiration for Charcoal:

Colorism is something that has impacted my life at a very young age. It’s very common in Haiti—it’s not white people versus black people, it’s really lighter skin versus darker skin. At a very young age, I was made aware of that. When I was probably five years old, I received a dark-skinned doll. When I took it home, people started making fun of the doll, saying the doll is ugly. My mother being brown-skinned, my grandmother being lighter-skinned, and my grandfather and my father being darker skinned men, people just made comparisons to the skintones.

Colorism and the lasting effects of racism in the black diaspora:

We’re still dealing with the consequences [of racism] as a people when it comes to economic empowerment, how we are being perceived and anything else—colorism sits right in there. It’s still affecting us, we’re still dealing with it, it’s not a thing of the past. We’re still healing from it. Those of us who are aware and are making a conscious decision to talk about it. You can’t really talk about racism or the advancement of us as a people and not talk about colorism.

Here in America, [the Dove colorism ad] was a mainstream brand that everyone can see, but you have some smaller brands, when you go to Caribbean markets that are selling [similar] products. You have women making skin-bleaching lotion and selling it to other women. I guess for some people here, it’s not as blatant as it is in other cultures—if you go to CVS, you probably won’t be able to find it, right? But it’s happening. It never went away, at least from my experience; as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve always known about these products.

Even thinking about “good” hair,the hair is not closer to our hair texture. It’s something closer to European hair texture. But when you look at our hair and the versatility of our hair, to me it’s like, really good hair! It took me a long time to reprogram myself, my thoughts, and redefine what “good” hair was for me to access [my hair] and accept it, love it, and embrace it…I don’t have any problems with it now.

Francesca Andre

On how to heal from colorism:

I do feel like we need to start having conversations, and an important part of that is the healing part of that. I think you will see that you’ll find more women going natural more than ever. Here’s what’s fascinating: how so many black women did not know their hair period because they just haven’t been dealing with their hair…they did not know how to take care of their hair; it’s been processed. When they find out what products work on our hair and what they can do to make their hair do this and that. Again, it’s knowledge and healing and more women are stepping out. It’s not a strange thing now to see a black woman with natural hair in the workplace. There was a time when this wasn’t a thing. Now, more people are going natural, embracing it and being unapologetic about it. I feel like we’re going forward. Even with skintones, too—[online campaigns and phrases like] “My melanin’s poppin’,” #BlackGirlMagic—we are healing collectively. I hope the men are using those terms as well; I hope the men are healing because they are also victims of colorism. I hope that we as a people stop the vicious cycle.

…First of all, I think [the first step to healing is] knowing what colorism is. Many people don’t even know what colorism means. It really starts the conversation. It’s hard to change beliefs, but one way we can do that as a people is to talk—ask [about it] and dialogue. Increase representation [in the media] to make women more confident in who they are and how they look. As an artist and storyteller, the way I [change] people is including it and showing it, talking about it and not pushing it away…Whenever I see a girl with natural hair, I tell them “I love your hair” or “I love your twists”; I make it my job to remind them because all the messages they are receiving are the opposite.

How Charcoal can start viewers’ journeys toward self-acceptance:

I think there’s a universal aspect to it. I hope people feel inspired and hopeful. I hope people find some sort of healing or be the beginning of that journey. We all can relate to pain, and the characters go through that, but we can see how they overcome that.♦

This interview has been edited and condensed.