Tag Archives: activism

Adam Beach calls for “Yellowstone” boycott over Kelsey Asbille cast as Native character

Usually, POC lovers of media are quick to call out moments of whitewashing. However, now comes the time when we have to police how POC actors take roles from other POC.

Adam Beach, one of the most prominent Native actors in Hollywood, is calling on people to boycott the Paramount Network’s first scripted series, Yellowstone. The show, starring Kevin Costner, focuses on Costner’s character John Dutton, who owns the biggest contiguous ranch in the country. The ranch under attack by Yellowstone National Park itself, as well as land developers and a nearby Native American reservation who, I’m assuming, see it as a threat to their way of life since the rest of the synopsis, according to Coming Soon, reads thusly:

“It is an intense study of a violent world far from media scrutiny—where land grabs make developers billions, and politicians are bought and sold by the world’s largest oil and lumber corporations. Where drinking water poisoned by fracking wells and unsolved murders are not news: they are a consequence of living in the new frontier. It is the best and worst of America seen through the eyes of a family that represents both.”

The controversy comes in with the casting of Kelsey Asbille, formerly known as Kelsey Chow, as the Native American character Monica. Asbille is half Chinese, according to Wikipedia. As Clevver writes, “the 25-year-old actress is half-white/half-Taiwanese ‘with some Cherokee ancestry.’ Others state that she was born to a ‘Chinese-Taiwanese father and a mother of English and Cherokee descent.’” Wikipedia’s entry on Asbille states nothing about any Cherokee ancestry. At the end of the day, there seems to be a question surrounding her possible Native American ancestry.

This isn’t the first time she’s been cast as a Native American, which is troubling, since her recent role before Yellowstone, a Native American character named Natalie in the acclaimed film Wind River, is probably what allowed her to secure this Yellowstone role.

According to Clevver, Beach wrote on Instagram that the Yellowstone casting was “failure in diversity.”

“I’m asking my Native Actors to stay away from this project. ‘Yellowstone’ is telling the world that there are no Native actresses capable of leading a TV show. Unless your great-great grandparents are Cherokee,” he wrote.

“I speak on behalf of all my woman Natives who work so hard to get noticed and they wake up to this,” he wrote.

#hollywooddiversity #diversityinfilm #integrity #yellowstone

A post shared by adam beach (@adamrbeach) on

Will more speak out against Asbille’s casting? We’ll see what happens as Yellowstone ramps up.

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Resist Trump’s agenda with these 15 steps

Elvert Barnes/Flickr Creative Commons

You’ve been reading the news, imagining what America under a President Donald Trump would be like, and the thought of it makes you want to do something. But what?

If Trump’s presidential win has fired you up and you’re ready to go, but you need some direction, check out this list of 15 steps you can take. You can use all or just some of these steps as a jumping off point, but on the whole, these steps will help you find a manageable way to dive into the world of social activism.

1. Don’t get sucked into the propaganda

As a journalist, I can tell you firsthand that the profession has started to decay from the inside out. It’s started years ago, but the rot is only just beginning to show. Now, I’m not saying that every journalist out there is bad and every journalism outlet is now on Trump’s payroll. But what I am saying is that the rise of the 24/7 news cycle and the “news-for-ratings” mentality has led too many news outlets to rush to be the first on a particular storyline without actually investigating it.

For instance, we’ve heard a lot about the “alt-right,” Trump’s Cabinet picks, Trump’s bad presidential policy (before he even gets in office) and there’s a very real danger of Trump possibly using the media to his advantage once (or if) he gets in office. But we haven’t really felt outrage from the media about any of these stories. Instead, they report the news, give a little emotion behind it, and then wait for the next story. Waiting to be fed like birds isn’t what the journalism industry is supposed to be. We as the Fourth Estate are supposed to be forcing those in office to hold higher standards, not wait until they feed us lies for us to regurgitate as “reporting.”

This is a bit of a rant, but what I’m saying to you is to keep your online bookmarks stocked with sites you can trust. Nowadays, a lot of the news you can use is coming from alternative sources, like Teen VogueFusionVice, The Young Turks and some staples like Al Jazeera. For the most part, The Associated Press is good to use, despite some of their previous hiccups when reporting on the alt-right. Also, I just refer to them out of habit since all journalists have had to depend on The Associated PressOther newspaper sites, like The Los Angeles Times and online news sites like Politico are also good places to find news that hasn’t yet catered to Trump’s wishes. However, if you still want to stay on top of the standards, Reading The New York Times and USA Today don’t hurt.

My list doesn’t have to be your list, though; find what fills your news void and stick with it and when choosing your news to partake, stay mindful of the story’s headline. If it tries to portray Nazis as something akin to gentle hipsters, or Trump’s antics as traditional presidential behavior, then keep that story moving and find something else to read.

2. Figure how where your activism strengths lie

Not all of us can be on the frontlines of a march, and frankly, not all of us have to be. We all aren’t one-size-fits-all, so if you don’t think you can’t handle being in the middle of a march, then don’t think of yourself as a failure. What you can do, though, is find out how to best utilize your strengths in an activist capacity.

Are you good at art? Spread your message with your paints, pens, pencils and brushes! Are you a skilled dancer? Create a moving piece based on your personal feelings about America. Are you good at poetry? Do like my sister Ashley and write a book of poems about how you want to see the world become a better place. Do you love singing and songwriting? Perform your own original song, full of your message. Like writing in general? Do like me and start a website to get your message out there. If your strengths to lie more on the side of extroversion and you want to get out there and you want to protest as loud as you can, go do that.

We need voices of all types of voices willing to use their gifts to better our society. People learn in all sorts of ways, so we need all kinds of teachers willing to put themselves out there to teach and inspire. Just because you might not be on the battlefield, as it were, doesn’t mean you can’t contribute.

3. Act on those strengths! Don’t rest your laurels!

Once you figure out what your strengths are, utilize your gifts to their maximum potential. On the one hand, you’ll be surprised where your gifts can take you. But on the other hand, if you use your talents at their max, you’ll be apt to reach that many more people. Don’t think that there’s not an audience for your gift (because we’re all hurting out here right now).

4. But do rest your laurels. 

With that said, please take some time to actually take a chill pill. If there’s one misconception about activism, it’s that the activist is always on. Activists are people too, and people like eating, going to the movies, walking in the park, and sleeping in late. Do take the time to rest yourself.

5. Take some time to actually forget about what’s going on, for the sake of your brain. 

When things get overwhelming (and they will) try to just block out the world for a couple of hours. The world will not collapse because you aren’t doing something every second of the day. What will collapse is you if you don’t take care of your mental computer. What I often do is watch cake, nail art, and DIY videos on YouTube. Find what helps you turn your brain off.

6. Speak out against bad acts if you see them happening. 

When you see someone behaving badly, such as harassing a hijab-clad woman on the street or saying something derogatory to a Latinx family in the store, do something about it. Whether that’s confronting the person outright or calling the manager to get the offender escorted from the store, find some way to help those who need your help at that moment.

7.  Block people online (and maybe in life) who only mean you harm. 

Muting, blocking, and/or reporting people online is a definite must-do for folks writing or talking about activism. There will always be those who try to refute your opinion with their racist “facts,” or try to demean you. Clearly, you don’t want to waste your energy on those trolls.

However, for some of you reading this, you might have to drop some folks in your day-to-day life. Maybe the person you thought was your friend is actually more prejudiced than you realize. Maybe you’re faced with checking your neighbors one day. These folks just might have to be left to the curb as you go on in your journey.

8. Educate those you can reach in your inner circle

Sometimes, though, the bigots in your life just might be your parents or siblings. In that case, it’s a lot harder (and way more emotional) to just excommunicate them from your life. If you feel you can reach them, try to make them understand your message. Sometimes our elders just don’t know better and just need to be shown the way; just because they’re older doesn’t mean they’re always wiser.

9. If you have friends of the same gender, race, culture, sexual orientation, etc, befriend someone of another race/culture/sexual orientation/etc.

You won’t grow your worldly perspective if you don’t actually interact with the world. The real hurdle some have to jump is if they can take their activism from the theoretical to the practical. For instance, it’s one thing to say you believe black lives matter when you’re speaking from an egocentric, “I want to be seen as the good person” view, but it’s another to say that and still harbor discriminatory thoughts that block you from not only making friends with black people, but from not seeing black people as potential threats.

Communicate with those you want to be in allyship with. Get to know them and empathize with them. Friendships with those not like you are the most potent ways of overcoming bad habits and seeing others as humans, not theories or objects.

You must have intersectionality for activism to work. This is my personal view; in today’s times, we’re more interconnected than ever, and activist groups have to work together to get major things done. Yes, people fighting for the causes of one race in particular is great, but they still need alliances with other activist groups. At the end of the day, marginalized people are all fighting for the same thing: recognition of our humanity and dignity. With our common goals, it only makes sense that we come together.

10. If you’re white and want to stay accountable, order yourself a Safety Pin Box subscription. 

If you love subscription boxes, I know of no other subscription box to help you on your journey towards activism greatness than the Safety Pin Box. The subscription, created by activist/organizers Leslie Mac and Marissa Jenae Johnson, Safety Pin Box makes white allies actually accountable in their allyship in measurable ways. The box, riffing on the idea of folks using the safety pin as a sign of solidarity, puts the actual work in allyship (whereas just wearing a pin is too easy of an out).

The monthly subscription also helps financially support black femme freedom fighters. Also, black women and black femme activists can receive a one-time financial gift from the Safety Pin Box’s Black Women Being monthly drawing.

11. Do your research. 

Part of the greatness of the Safety Pin Box is that it forces those who want to walk in the path of allyship to actually do the work necessary. This leads to my next point: everyone who wants to help marginalized people should do their own research. This includes other marginalized people researching the issues that affect other marginalized people. There’s a base understanding of white discrimination against people of color in general, but how often do we face POC discrimination of other POC head on? How often do we face marginalized people discriminating against LGBTQ people of color? Again, intersectionality is the key here. Learn about your fellow humans.

12. Donate

As millennials, sometimes money is tight; the job market still isn’t everything it could be. But if you see an organization that needs financial support and you’ve got the means, donate some of your money. It can only help strengthen the organization, which in turn can help strengthen the rest of us in the fight for equality. Some organizations include the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, The National Council of La Raza, Council on American-Islamic Relations, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, The National Congress of American Indians, the NAACP, GLSEN, Southern Poverty Law CenterRace Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation, and many others not listed here.

13. Cultivate a group of friends (in the real world or online) who will support you in your activism journey. 

Earlier, I wrote that you might have to let some people lie where they are as you continue on in your journey. Whether that happens to be the case for you or not, it never hurts to cultivate a strong support group, either in “real life” or online. Together, you can keep each other uplifted and upbeat during the tough times, and you can have someone to celebrate with during the victories.

14. Develop a self-care regimen

I alluded to this above, but I need to stay it outright; it’s important to take care of yourself as you go on a selfless journey like this. This is also advice to myself, because I often neglect certain basics of self care. But for me, self care includes remembering the goals I want to achieve in life–not just when it comes to social justice, but my career goals, relationship goals, fashion goals, etc. Remembering your goals helps you remember who you are as a human being.

Remembering what you love doing also keeps you present. Indulge in your hobbies and talents to take you out of this world and into your own personal space.

Also, remembering the loved ones in your life will keep everything in perspective. The people who love you will have your back whether the world crumbles around our feet or not. It’s their love that serves as a reminder that we are not just specks of insignificance on this planet; they remind us that we do matter, especially if we might forget that fact ourselves.

15. Remember why you’re on an activist’s journey

Things generally get tough before they get easier, and some of the most important goals in life are often the hardest to achieve. We often get fed the idea that Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, heck even Jesus, had it easy in their life’s journey. Clearly, they didn’t. Throughout their lives of service, they faced their own doubts, setbacks, and hopelessness. Can you imagine going up against injustice in the tougher political and social climates they had to face? In comparison, we have it a little easier, but not by much.

The fact is that the majority of us now facing our own “piss or get off the pot” moments when it comes to activism and we, unlike our parents and grandparents, didn’t grow up in a time in which the civil liberties we enjoy now were secure. Because of our relative softness, we might wonder if we have the heartiness to withstand the pressure that’s facing us.

This is the point in which all of us have to steel ourselves and rely on each other. We must nurture the belief we can handle the storm and prevail. Alone, we have power, but together, we have even more. We also must remember the end goal, which isn’t actually about us; right now, we’re fighting so the next generation won’t have to put up with the same BS we’re dealing with right now. We’re fighting for their futures just as much as we’re fighting for our own. That’s why the activist path is so important; if you’re willing to do what you can to make the next generation’s lives better and much closer to that ideal of “a more perfect union,” then you’re already on the way towards success.

BONUS: Want more ways to resist bigotry and make a change in America? A website called “Weekly Actions to Resist Trump” provide actionable tasks to take each week in terms of contacting government officials and donating to organinzations. Rolling Stone‘s article “5 Ways People Are Resisting President-Elect Trump” provides some of the tips given in this list, as well as more information on volnteering, contacting your representatives in government, and more. A citizen’s guide to strategic resistance called Indivisible: A Practical Guide for For Resisting the Trump Agenda,” was created by former U.S. Congressional staffers and shared as a Google doc. Ironically, it is inspired by the same tactics used by the Tea Party.

What steps do you have to offer to the list? Provide them in the comments section below!

How Standing Rock revealed America’s true potential

The Young Turks/YouTube

The protests at Standing Rock did what few believed it could; it stopped the Dakota Access Pipeline from being drilled on Lakota land.

As the Los Angeles Times wrote, the move by the Army Corps of Engineers to deny the pipeline to continue construction came as a “surprise move,” even though the fight still isn’t over (the pipeline’s fate rests with the corps’ environmental impact statement, yet to come).

However, the victory for the protesters and water protectors wasn’t the only miraculous thing that happened. Many veterans who had volunteered to act as human barricades for the protesters met with the Standing Rock Sioux elders and leaders in a reservation casino auditorium.

Wesley Clark Jr., one of the organizers of Veterans Stand with Standing Rock, wore the uniform of 7th Calvary of the 1800s, as if to symbolically forth the spirit of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, one of the many army generals who fought the Native Americans for their land on behalf of the U.S. Government. (The event also happened on birthday of Custer, another way to tie Custer’s spirit to the event.)

Clark knelt along with several other veterans to ask for forgiveness for their ancestors past crimes.

To quote Clark (via Indian Country Today):

“Many of us, me particularly, are from the units that have hurt you over the many years. We came. We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your sacred mountain. Then we took still more land and then we took your children and then we tried to make your language and we tried to eliminate your language that God gave you, that the Creator gave you. We didn’t respect you. We polluted your Earth. We’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service an we beg for your forgiveness.”

For me, this is a powerful moment and it represents a powerful shift in America’s own spiritual awakening. I’ll try not to get too woo-woo in this post, but if it happens it happens, since I’m writing about some metaphysical stuff.

I’ve always felt like there would come a time when America would have to wake up to its atrocities and go through the lengths necessary to fix them. Consciously, I didn’t think Americans would ever have the guts to get dirty and actually come to terms with the unrest that has afflicted them.

It’s now a scientific fact that trauma and other extreme emotional states can be passed down through generations. It makes a lot of sense for Clark to spiritually embody the role of Custer in this ceremony; while it may not be his line specifically, Clark’s culture has a generational weight of guilt that it has yet to fully process. That generational state must contend with the generational traumas of the first Americans as well as every other non-white group in America. With so much guilt piled up, it’s understandable to not want to face it.

However, when it is faced head on, marvelous and miraculous things like this ceremony can happen. This is where true healing begins.

This ceremony shows just how much America could achieve if it works to erase its original sins. If there could be more moments like this in our country, we will actually be doing the work of making this country great.

I believe there are more moments like this around the corner. With all of the stuff this election has stirred up, there are bound to be more moments when white Americans will ask for the forgiveness of those they’ve wronged. If and when these moments happen, America’s future will look much brighter.

What do you think about this moment? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

3 reasons to support the #SupportPOCpods movement

We’re in Trump’s America now. Whether we like it or not (probably the latter), we are now subject to the twisty-turny lies and propaganda that will emanate from either the White House or Trump Tower. As far as politics go, it might get worse before it gets better.

But when it comes to creative and informative output from podcasters? That’s a totally different story. From where I’m sitting, 2017 is shaping up to possibly be the most explosive, creative time for entertainment and media, and that feeling is no different for the podcasting arena, especially where podcasters of color are concerned.

Podcasters of color are in the unique and fortunate position to provide their listeners with points of view intrinsic to the issues facing marginalized communities in America. These podcasters report on various topics, from movies, comics, current news, and more, but these creators also give their audiences lessons in how to think outside of their current perspectives and how to understand issues intrinsic to the marginalized American experience. These podcasters don’t set out to hold their audience’s hand, but regardless, listeners intent on learning come away from these podcasts better, more supportive allies and friends.

A collective of podcasters of color have collaborated to create #SupportPOCpods, an initiative to raise awareness and visibility of podcasters of color. A #SupportPOCpods live Twitter Q&A moderated by Shaun Lau of No, Totally! will take place Friday, Dec. 9 at 12 p.m. EST.

But I’ve buried the lede enough: You want to know the exact three reasons you need to support podcasters of color. It’s pretty simple.

1. Who knows what the journalism pedigree will be like in 2017. We’ll need some facts. We’re already facing malaise from having to refute or fact-check the upcoming Trump administration’s foolishness. Imagine what it’s going to be like in 2017. With newsrooms floundering to get around the learning curve that is Donald Trump, plus 24-7 news stations looking for ways to capitalize on Trump’s antics at the expense of actual muckraking, we’ll need someone out there willing to provide a counterbalance. That’s where podcasters of color come in.

Now, it shouldn’t be left up just to the podcasters to do the work journalists are supposed to be doing; the journalism industry shouldn’t be shirking its responsibilities for a quick buck. But when it comes to you wanting to retain your sanity and knowledge that yes, someone out there sees the emperor has no clothes on, then you’d be wise to turn to podcasters of color for the real truth.

2. These voices are part of the mainstream, whether the mainstream would like to believe it. There are a lot of great podcasts out there. But how many podcasts by people of color (outside of a select few) have you seen acknowledged by the mainstream? However, these voices are some of the main ones providing platforms for and education on various social justice and cultural initiatives, such as #WhitewashedOUT and #OscarsSoWhite. These voices are the ones that are driving the conversations, so it’s ridiculous that the mainstream media routinely boxes out all but a few marginalized creators.

3. It’s just good podcasting. Look, at the end of the day, we all want to be entertained, informed, what have you. These podcasters all excel at what they do, so if you’re just a shallow listener and want something fun to listen to (no shame in that), then why not listen to the Black Girl Nerds crew interview popular movie and TV stars? Why not check out Hard N.O.C. Life to learn about the latest in geekery? What about movie criticism/humor from No, Totally!? What about some fandom talk with Nerds of Prey? The list goes on and on and on.

As LeVar Burton so famously said, “You don’t have to take my word for it”: If you don’t want to hear this from me, how about reading about #SupportPOCpods straight from the podcasters’ themselves? Check out their open letter:


#SupportPOCpods: An Open Letter From Podcasters of Color

In the aftermath of the United States’ 2016 presidential election, many white Americans are asking how a candidate so inexorably tied to white supremacy was able to secure a seat as the leader of the free world.

People of color in the United States, however, are somewhat less surprised. We’ve seen, felt, and suffered under white supremacy as long as we’ve been alive.

Discussions examining the conditions resulting in the President-elect’s ascension have largely been variations on a limited set of themes, and are often confined to the world of political machinery. Was it the relative political weakness of his opponent? The failure of mainstream media to do its job?

At a human level, however, the story is intimately familiar to marginalized people: we are the “other,” and our position within society’s hierarchy breeds condescension, derision, and hate. Regardless of other factors, it’s no surprise to us that a candidate promising to return the country to “real Americans” could appeal widely enough to become its leader.

Traditional entertainment media has played a shameful role in normalizing the passive white supremacy successfully mobilized by our President-elect. From television news to television dramas; from independent film to Hollywood blockbusters, talented people of color face nearly impossible odds when charting career paths in the industries that shape American culture.

Even if we overcome these odds and break into mainstream entertainment, we are often unheard, unseen, or poorly represented. The vast majority of our roles are written, directed, or mediated by white people. Erasure and poor representation reinforce harmful stereotypes, robbing people of color of our individual humanity, and bigotry thrives in an environment where “others” are not humanized.

Podcasting, as a medium, can provide a powerful remedy for these ills. Unlike other forms of mass media, its low cost of entry means that podcasting isn’t intrinsically prohibitive to the historically disadvantaged in this country. Podcasting provides people of color with the opportunity to circumvent existing content creation and distribution systems that privilege whiteness.

As podcasts continue to carve space in mainstream consumption habits, however, the industry’s infrastructure seems to be perpetuating, rather than resisting, the original sins of the white-favoring context of mainstream American culture.

Consider the iTunes charts, where white-dominated public radio reigns supreme, represented by shows like This American Life, TED Radio Hour, and Tell Me Something I Don’t Know. When the top spots aren’t held by public radio, they’re often occupied by the white male-dominated comedy industry, in the form of Joe Rogan, Bill Maher, Mike Rowe, or Chris Hardwick.

Consider the challenges people of color face after crossing the aforementioned low barrier of entry into podcasting. Creating a platform is easy and inexpensive, but sustainability via profitability and increased reach is often predicated on the ability to make further investment, both financially and in terms of time. People of color in America, however, are paid less and have fewer free hours than their white counterparts.

Advertisers have become a tried and true option for podcasters to monetize their content, but listenership thresholds placed on advertising consideration exacerbate this divide. Even the methods used to gather reliable listenership data are in danger of exclusionary stratification.

Podtrac, which has been around since the early days of podcasting, provides listenership metrics for free. By contrast, however, Slate’s Megaphone platform, billed as a next-generation solution for data collection as well as publishing, is restricted to networks and podcasts with average downloads of 20,000 or more per episode. For context, in September of 2015, the median number of downloads per podcast episode was around 160. Only the top 10% of podcasts reached 5,000 downloads per episode1.

The digital divide, which describes the difficulty of vulnerable people to obtain internet access, is in danger of being replicated in the world of new media. In a culture that favors whiteness, simply applying business as usual to a revolutionary, naturally inclusive medium will result in a podcasting landscape that places undue downward financial pressure on podcasters of color.

When people ask, “how could we have stopped a bigot from reaching the White House?” one answer is that we need to love each other. To love each other, we must know each other. Podcasts provide people of color with a direct, unmediated line to fellow Americans who may never hear us otherwise.

We request that podcast advertisers and curators begin making counterbalancing efforts to provide creators of color an equal chance to succeed.

To iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, and all other podcast discovery and distribution platforms, we ask that you:

  1. Create a top-level genre for independent podcasters of color, increasing ease of discovery for those looking to engage directly with people of color. This genre should coexist with, rather than replace, current genre assignments; in other words, a sports podcast by people of color should be found in both the “Sports” and “Podcasters of Color” sections.
  2. Include at least one independent podcast produced by a person or people of color at all times in highly visible promotional areas, such as the iTunes Store podcast section front page.

To any media organization creating “must-listen” podcast lists or writing stories about podcasting, we ask that you:

  1. Aggressively seek out and recognize independent podcasters of color. True to our nature as podcasters, we can be found on all social media platforms promoting our work.
  2. Recognize that podcasters of color are not a monolith, and that we exist in all genres beyond our ethnicities. If you are writing a story about a “race-neutral” podcast genre, recognize that race-neutral prioritizes a white perspective and fight this by finding a podcaster of color in that genre. People of color podcast on all subjects, including, but not limited to, our race.

To listeners, we ask that you:

  1. Help us overcome the limitations of systems that prioritize white podcasters by doing what those systems often don’t: share and promote the content you love by people of color.
  2. Keep a watchful eye on podcasting platforms and media organizations. Call them out when their content gives the impression that only white podcasters are eligible for success.

Independent podcasters of color have made, and continue to make, inroads declaring our worth via the quality, thoughtfulness, and humanity of our content. We believe that we are major contributors to a culture that can resist the normalization of overt scapegoating and bigotry. We ask the aforementioned organizations to take these actions in the hope that all of us may reverse the tide of hate by awakening empathy.

Please join us.

Signed,

Shaun Lau, Host of No, Totally!

Jamie Broadnax, Founder of Black Girl Nerds and Host of the BGNPodcast

Shannon Miller, Founder and Co-Host of Nerds of Prey

Melissa Perez, Co-Host of Nerds of Prey

Lauren Warren, Co-Host of Nerds of Prey

Cameron Glover, Co-Host of Nerds of Prey

Stephanie Williams, Curator and Host of The Lemonade Show

Keith Chow, Founder of The Nerds of Color and Host of Hard N.O.C. Life and DC TV Classics

Britney Monae, Co-Host of DC TV Classics

Karis Watie, Founder and Co-Host of Vocal Vixens

Melissa Powers, Asian Oscar Bait and True Crime Asia

Matthew Eng, Asian Oscar Bait

Dap, Host of REELYDOPE Radio

Tonja Renée Stidhum, Co-Host of Cinema Bun Podcast

Berook Alemayehu, Co-Host of Cinema Bun Podcast

Alycia Snow, Founder and Host of Hiroja Shibe’s Space Odyssey Network

Keane Roberson, Host of #AllpodcastsMatter

Esta Fiesta, Host of Poised n Polished

Kaitlyn Rose, Co-Host of Fireside Friends

Ryan Persaud, Co-Host of Fireside Friends

Allen Ibrahim, Co-Host of Fireside Friends

Berry, Founder of PodcastsInColor.com

Leonardo Faierman, writer/co-creator of Snow Daze, co-host of #BlackComicsChat

Christine “Xine” Yao, PhD, Co-Host and Founder of PhDivas Podcast

Liz Wayne, PhD, Co-Host and Founder of PhDivas Podcast

Tolu Olowofoyeku, Co-Founder of Kugali Media, Co-Host of The Kugali Podcast


You gotta support #SupportPOCpods. Your podcasting queue—and your sanity—depends on it.

Want a handy infographic to share? Spread this with the hashtag #SupportPOCpods!

 

 

VP-elect Mike Pence gets booed at “Hamilton,” internet loves it

Twitter
Twitter

As many have said online already, it’s heavy irony that Vice President-elect Mike Pence expected to enjoy a nice night at Hamilton, a show created and acted by a non-white and mixed-sexual orientation cast, despite his previous policies that went right for the jugular of LGBT and non-white people’s lives. Hamilton is already a fan favorite in America, especially on the internet, so when fans saw Hamilton‘s cast take Pence to task for his rhetoric and his alignment with Donald Trump, Twitter escalated quite quickly.

First, there’s video of Pence getting booed as he sat down:

And here’s video of the cast standing in solidarity to let Pence know about the frustrations policies and his candidate have caused much of the American public. Brandon V. Dixon is the one who addresses Pence directly.

There’s also a video of theater-goers outside yelling “F*** MIKE PENCE.”

On the whole, the internet was on the side of the protesters, however there were some who felt like Pence should just be left alone. But there were others who felt like him being booed was the least of which they feel he deserves. Check out the Twitter moment for yourself.

What did you think of the Hamilton cast booing Pence? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

Actor Rainn Wilson’s Lidè Haiti Foundation empowers girls in the wake of Hurricane Matthew

Screencap of Lidè Haiti website
Screencap of Lidè Haiti website

As Hurricane Matthew traveled over their home, the girls of Lidè distracted their worried minds with the artistic tools taught in their Lidè workshops. The days following Hurricane Matthew they continued their artistic pursuits, creating posters and other crafts to provide vital information to isolated community members. In response to the storm’s destruction, Lidè is teaching girls how to play a vital role in the health of their communities, focusing on disease prevention, educational outreach, and isolation reduction.

With an accelerated rise in Cholera cases and a concern for increasing Zika and Malaria cases, due to contaminated waterways, the girls of Lidè have learned about causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment for these illnesses. Lidè is also planning a training series to help teachers understand possible paralyzing effects of traumatic experiences on youth and how pedagogical methods can build resiliency.

Lidè is seeking donations to assist in these initiatives and efforts. Tax-deductible donations can be made here: https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/177279

The following materials are urgently needed and donations are being accepted in Los Angeles until November 20th:

* Mosquito nets
* Women’s multivitamins with iron
* Children’s chewable vitamins
* 3 iPads (used is fine)
* Art materials
* Digital cameras (must be in working condition) with 12 or more megapixel imaging

The Lidè Haiti Foundation is an educational initiative in rural Haiti that uses the arts and literacy to empower at-risk adolescent girls and help them transition into school or vocational training. It is their belief that arts education inspires personal empowerment, resilience and self-efficacy. Lidè currently serves five hundred girls in the remote Artibonite region with a staff of thirteen Haitian teachers.

#DifferenceMakers: “Star Wars: Force For Change”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out! I know everyone’s excited (especially the #Stormpilot fans: read here and here at The Nerds of Color to learn more about the popular pairing). There are tons of reasons to love the film, but now there’s one more: It’s going to give back to fans in need.

Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and Star Wars star Mark Hamill have partnered together with CrowdRise to create a new campaign, Star Wars: Force for Change. The campaign, as the press release states, “inspires people to make a positive impact on the world.” The initiative will match donations of Star Wars fans to four charities up to $1,000,000. Star Wars: Force for Change has already raised over $10,000,000 thanks to the Star Wars fanbase, and the campaign will last a full month, leading up to May the 4th (aka Star Wars Day). The four charities that are benefiting from the campaign are the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in support of UNICEF Kid Power, American Red Cross, Make-A-Wish, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Star Wars fans are some of the most generous, thoughtful, and sympathetic people I have ever met,” said Kennedy. “I am so proud of the charitable work they have done over the years and hope this month-long donation-matching campaign will go some way to express our sincere thanks for their tireless efforts.”

During the first week, the first 20 fans to raise or donate at least $500 will win a Blu-ray copy of Star Wars: The Force Awakens signed by the cast. Other prizes up for grabs will be revealed throughout the month, including an all-expense paid trip to Ireland (a trip that includes Skellig Michael, where the final scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was shot). The campaign ends 11:49 (PST) May 4. Check out the video to learn more:

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Support the charities at CrowdRise.com/ForceForChange!

JUST ADD COLOR Now Accepting Guest Posts!

Are you a regular reader of JUST ADD COLOR who would love to put in your opinion about popular issues affecting diversity in America? Are you a new reader who wants a shot at becoming a published writer? JUST ADD COLOR is now accepting guest posts!

JUST ADD COLOR is run by one person (me), and while I do my best to showcase as many issues as possible, I’m also just one person who is sometimes limited by my own worldview. A black cis woman can’t be an Asian disabled bi man or a Middle Eastern trans woman. That’s where you come in.

If there’s an issue pressing on your heart, an issue you feel has been neglected by the media, or TV and film reviews you want published for the world to see, use JUST ADD COLOR as your platform! Send me a pitch at monique@colorwebmag.com with the subject line “JUST ADD COLOR/PITCH:”XX” (with “XX” featuring the title of your post). All guest posts are unpaid, but you can use this opportunity to get your footing in the blogging world and exercise your writing skills to advance your writing career!

If you know someone who would love a chance to publish a guest post, please share this post with them! I can’t wait to read your posts!

Exclusive Interview: April Reign Discusses the Effect of #OscarsSoWhite

#OscarsSoWhite has been the headlining news topic, and with so many opinions out there about the hashtag and the movement, the one opinion that’s probably the most important to understand is the opinion of the hashtag’s creator herself. April Reign, managing editor of Broadway Black, spoke with JUST ADD COLOR about the creation of #OscarsSoWhite, the Academy’s decision to change the status quo, the fallout surrounding the new Academy rules, and what she hopes people take away from the movement.

What prompted you to make #OscarsSoWhite last year? Did you think it would find the life it has found on Twitter?

Creating the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag happened very organically, in which I was sitting in my family room watching the Oscar nomination announcements. …I was just disappointed in the lack of representation of people of color and marginalized communities, especially in the acting categories but also behind the camera [like] the directors, especially last year with Ava DuVernay for the movie Selma and just overall—directors, cinematographers and screenwriters and so forth. I…was venting my frustration at that time. The very first tweet was “#OscarsSoWhite they asked to touch my hair.” It took off, and I had no idea then—and even today—that it would be as pervasive and as international as it has become. I’m humbled by the support I’ve received and that the hashtag has received. It’s gratifying to see that the voices of so many have made a difference.

Last year, #OscarsSoWhite hit a nerve, but this year, that nerve was hit in an even bigger way. What do you think prompted the scale of the outrage we’ve seen?

I’ve been asked that question a couple of times now and I really don’t know. The only thing that I can think is that perhaps people thought that last year was just a fluke that people of color and marginalized communities weren’t represented, and when it happened this year with the major acting categories, people said, “Oh, maybe this is an issue. Maybe this is a pattern, so let’s take more of a look at the underlying statement that #OscarsSoWhite is trying to make.”

I can say that a couple of days before the nominations were announced in 2016, people were coming to me saying “We’ve seen some of the predictions as to who the nominations are going to recognize, so maybe it’s going to #OscarsSoWhite again.” …And in fact, it definitely experienced a resurgence. While I did several interviews last year and talked about it quite a bit, I definitely did not see the amount of interest I’ve seen this year, not just nationally, but internationally. I’ve done interviews with organizations in New Zealand and Australia and Ireland and London and more BBC organizations than I knew even existed. Those are not interviews I did in 2015.

How has it been to see the reactions, both good and bad, to #OscarsSoWhite?

I’m gratified by the support, and we see that the Academy has made substantial effort to address the issues underlying in the hashtag. With respect to the criticism, I have yet to see any that was well founded. …I can give you the critiques and how they’re unfounded, but none of them really held any water when you shine a light on the underlying issues. I guess because I’m so active on social media, especially on Twitter, you’re readily available for anyone to come at you with memes and criticism of the hashtag, of you, and misunderstanding of what it’s really about. I hope that I’ve handled all of that with grace and really stayed consistent with the underlying issue, which is the lack of inclusion and diversity in film.

From what I’ve seen, you’re handling it great. 

Thank you. …There are definitely some recurring themes that sort of come at me, like “You’re making this an all black thing.” No. I’ve always said it’s all people of color, it’s all marginalized communities. It’s not just a race issue, it’s also a gender issue and a sexual orientation issue and an issue for differently-abled communities to be represented.

[Some say], “If you look at the past 15 years, black people have gotten 10 percent of the awards even though they’re 12 percent of the population, so that’s roughly equal.” Well, that’s fantastic for the last 20 years, but the Oscars have been around for 80. You can’t just cherry-pick the facts to support your narrative. And even if that is true with respect to black people, it’s not true with respect to all people of color. The fact that I’m black doesn’t mean that I’m only advocating for black people. Let’s talk about the number of Hispanic actors and actresses or Latino/Latina actors and actresses, or Asian actors an actresses. This affects everyone and everyone should be included.

If you really run the numbers from 80 years forward, it’s still even taking into account [that] it was 37 years between Sidney Poitier winning the first Oscar for Best Actor as a black man and Denzel [Washington] winning it…and there’s no inbetween. I find it inconceivable that there were no qualifying performances within that 37 year span. Similarly, we’ve had one black actress with Best Actress within the entire span of the Oscars, and that was Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball. You can’t tell me that there haven’t been outstanding performances by black actresses. Even [with nominations], there were films who weren’t nominated that are fantastic, and that’s just with respect to black people. Clearly, there have been no Asian women, no Latina women, who have ever won [Best Actress]; why is that? In 2009, the first woman [Kathyrn Bigelow] wins for Best Director? It’s inconceivable to me that we are here in 2016 and we can rattle off on our fingers, with some to spare, the number of people of color and marginalized communities who have been properly [awarded] for their work.

And also with The Revenant; the film is being celebrated for having a large Native American supporting cast, but none of them are getting nominated for their work; Leonardo DiCaprio–even though it’s great how much he has spoken out on Native American issues on their behalf–is getting nominated, and not a Native member of the supporting cast.

That’s exactly right. …Hollywood is supposed to be a liberal bastion of whatever, and yet there are still some issues. I saw that Matt Damon spoke out…about how there should be more and so and so forth, but we saw how he treated Effie Brown on Project Greenlight. It’s like, but, bruh, that wasn’t even a full year ago! [He] said [on Project Greenlight], and I’m paraphrasing poorly here, something to the effect that diversity takes its point from casting, but not necessarily from who’s behind the camera. That’s what I took from it, anyway. So yeah, we want to have a diverse cast onscreen, but that doesn’t apply to who’s behind the screen, and that’s really the issue because it’s so important that these stories are told, but also who is telling the story. Who is the director? Who is the screenwriter? Who is the producer? What experiences are they bringing to this project and that was borne out this year with Straight Outta Compton. The only thing it was nominated for was Best Original Screenplay, but the screenwriters are white. So that’s an issue as well.

Something you said a while ago goes into one of my questions: Some of the conversations surrounding #OscarsSoWhite have been, unfairly, categorizing it as being  primarily focused on black actors and as a black and white issue. How do you feel about some people keeping the conversation in a binary mode of thought instead of thinking about how Hollywood portrays all minorities?

I think it’s unnecessarily limiting and I think it’s unfortunate that they can’t get out of that box for themselves because I’m not in that box. I know why they’re doing it and I’ve had brought to me “Oh, you’re being a racist.” It’s not racism to speak truth about the lack of existence of roles for people of color. Speaking facts isn’t racism in and of itself. It it is without merit because I have never made this a black/white issue.

It’s not clear to me why people think that is. I don’t know if it’s because I’m black and they can’t see past who I am and understand that I’m multifaceted, or if it’s just easier for them to think in binary terms. But that’s not what #OscarsSoWhite is about at all. Race is just one portion of it; it’s all marginalized communities, and within race, it’s not just black people; it’s definitely about Asian people. It ‘s definitely about Latinos and Latinas and Hispanics. It’s about everyone who should be represented on the screen.

After the nominations came out, Jada Pinkett Smith released a video stating how people of color should consider reinvesting in our own community and celebrating our own. Some believe the Oscars is a lost cause, seeing how it was created to celebrate white actors in particular. Some people also view the Oscars fight as minority voices vying for white validation while not uplifting (or even attending) other awards shows like the NAACP and BET Awards. What do you think of these sentiments and the fight for the Oscars?

I feel very strongly that we should support those award shows and programs that celebrate our individuality and uniqueness. I hope that one of the outcomes of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag is that more people of color and marginalized communities continue to support and support even more the NAACP Image Awards, the Alma Awards, the BET Awards, the Soul Train Music Awards versus the Grammys [in relation to music] because it’s so very important. Those award shows were borne out of the same frustration that I have; the lack of representation of the so-called “mainstream” awards, so we had to make our own. But I will also say that I think we can multitask. We can celebrate our own and still critique for better or worse the pinnacle in film. Whether you are a fry cook or a corporate CEO, you want to be recognized for your achievements amongst your peers. If the Oscars are considered to be the top of that, why wouldn’t someone, anyone, want to receive that recognition?

We also know that very often, having “Oscar-nominated” or “Oscar winner” after your name, it brings with it some benefits. It may mean that it’s easier for someone to land a role or to even to get into auditions. It may mean you can command a higher salary or get taken more seriously the next time you want to take a chance on a film. So it does matter, and if the other award shows are uplifted to the  extent that they are on the same level of the Oscars, then fantastic. That just gives everyone more opportunity to shine.

The Academy has taken the mobilization of stars and fans seriously and released a statement promising sweeping change to the Academy and how it does business. All of this came about because of the hashtag’s popularity. How do you feel that #OscarsSoWhite has brought about this change?

I’m very encouraged by the announcement that was made by Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. I appreciate that she spearheaded this issue because I know change is never easy–pushing against the status quo and something that has been in place for over 80 years had to have been difficult.  I was happy to see that the vote by the Board of Governors was unanimous; I think that’s important because it sends a message that they are serious about making changes with respect to diversity and inclusion. We’ll see how the changes are implemented and what type of pushback they’ll receive, but I still think there’s more to be done by the Academy and definitely by Hollywood.

To that point, there have been several stars old and new decrying the lack of diversity and some boycotting or standing with the boycott. Meanwhile, we’ve seen some stand against change (particularly today, with Charlotte Rampling, Michael Caine, Julie Delphy and producer Gerald Molen) and other actors and actresses who have decided to remain anonymous speak out against the hashtag and the Academy’s decision. Do you think this divide is indicative of the state of Hollywood at large? To me, it seems like Hollywood’s facade of liberalism has been taken away. 

Yeah, I think that what we know—I think the numbers are from 2012—at that time, that the Academy is 94 percent white, over 75 percent male, and the average age was 63. So even though Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs invited 300 new members to the Academy; that was 300 [versus] 6000. Change is hard, so the Academy members who, for example, have not been active in film in the last decade and have now had their votes taken away, of course they’re going to speak out. It’s a change to the life that they’ve known. But I think that when the dust settles, the Academy members was the change for the better.

Although I have been pushing for more diversity with respect to people of color and marginalized communities, this is also a benefit to the white people in the industry because it gives them more of an opportunity to interact with—and act and direct and produce with—people of color and those marginalized communities that they might not have had the opportunity to do otherwise. So I think everybody can win from this, and if it spurs more seasoned Academy members to get back involved in film so they can regain their ability to vote, then all the better, because there’s a reason why they’re already in the Academy. At some point, they were Oscar-nominated or Oscar winners, which means they’ve put out quality work. If they’ve been resting on their laurels for 30 years and come back into the Academy, even better.

The Academy gave themselves a deadline of 2020 for their changes to bear fruit; What kind of Hollywood would you like to see by then?

I hope to see a Hollywood that’s more diverse and inclusive than it is now. I think there’s no shortage of talented people of color and marginalized communities out there. I am hopeful that the Academy will proactively seek out these creatives, these artists, and welcome them with open arms because there are stories that need to be told. I think it’s important  and hope that that the Academy, in increasing its diversity, pressures Hollywood to do the same because the Academy can only nominate films that are made. So it’s fantastic if the Academy becomes more diverse. But if Hollywood isn’t doing the same and is only making the same homogeneous movies year after year and aren’t being thoughtful about who can play these roles or who should tell the stories behind the camera, then still, when it’s nomination time, we won’t see any difference even if he Academy wants to see more films that are representative of everyone in society.

That goes into my next question : What are your hopes for the Academy? The Academy’s statement gives the sentiment of the Academy wanting to lead from in front, not from behind; do you think the Academy can change the industry from the front?

I think they can. I think the Academy is large enough that they can exert significant influence over Hollywood, but it really comes down to the studio heads being willing to consider groups that don’t necessarily look like them and don’t have shared experiences when determining which films they’re going to greenlight. That’s really the issue, that those perspectives must be shared. I’m hoping that there will be a significant push from the Academy to Hollywood to make these stories a priority.

There are those out there who still have their head in the sand when it comes to acknowledging the racism of the Oscars and the Hollywood industry. What message do you have for those who still don’t see a problem with the Oscar nomination process and Hollywood in general?

…I strongly believe that nominations should be made based on merit, but what we know, at least before the announcement, is that Academy members are not required to watch the films before they vote. If that is the case, then one can not say that the nominations or the winners are based on merit. If the argument is that only the best people should get nominated, I agree. But how are we ensuring that the best people are even being seen? I encourage everyone to dive into the rules of the Academy because they’re on their website and [see] how decisions are actually made….For the first vote, you have to vote within your category, so directors only vote for directors and screenwriters only vote for screenwriters. We have one female in the director category period. We have one Asian man [Ang Lee] in the directors portion of the Academy period. Why is that? You can’t say there haven’t been qualified people, but if that’s all we see, and based on the numbers, it’s overwhelmingly older white men who aren’t viewing the films before they vote, then how can we say the votes are based on merit and how can we ensure that the best films are being seen?

…I think it’s imperative that you challenge yourself and see a movie that you might not normally see…Let’s just talk about when you get nominated…once you get to the second vote, everyone can vote for everything. You’ve got to watch all five films. If you’re voting for Best Actress, you’ve got to watch all five films and make your choice. You can’t base it on that a friend of yours told you it was a good film, or you really like their ad in Variety so you’re voting for them, or you feel like someone’s just due for an Oscar because they were snubbed in the past, so let’s vote for them now. That’s what happens. Or, you recognize the name of the person, and since you don’t know any of the other names, you just go with whom you know, and, to my knowledge, that’s what happens, because if you’re not watching the other films, then on what are you basing your vote? It has to be that. It has to be some personal reason as opposed to something unbiased based on the quality of the work. Therefore, it’s not based on merit, and that’s [the point] I’m trying to get back to. Make sure that diverse and inclusive films are being made, look at those, nominate those for the first round, and after that, go see all five within the category and choose which one you think is the best. That makes sense to me and I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t agree to that. [The votes] should always be merit-based, but make sure the net is cast wide enough so all the films that are great in that particular year get a shot at a nomination.

Happy 2016! Welcome to JUST ADD COLOR!

Welcome to 2016! JUST ADD COLOR (originally known simply as COLOR) has seen its first full year in operation, and to head into its second year, there seemed to be no better way to ring in the new year than with a brand new magazine. COLOR BLOCK Magazine aims at giving you even more quality content, available for free download.

This year, JUST ADD COLOR will give viewers tons of content, lots of fodder for discussion, and hopefully it’ll give you some new ideas for how you think about the state of race and culture in entertainment. It’s not traditionally thought of as a “civil rights” issue, but representation in films and movies is, in fact, a civil rights fight. I’d say its one of the biggest, yet most underrated, civil rights fights, and the more people we have educated about the importance of representation, the faster we as a society can move towards an future in which everyone can see a version of themselves on television.

I hope 2016 brings tons of good things to JUST ADD COLOR and COLOR BLOCK Magazine, and I hope 2016 brings tons of happiness and cheer to you, too. Happy new year!

Click the link the sidebar to read the first issue of COLOR BLOCK Magazine! If you like what you read, share COLOR BLOCK Magazine with a friend!