Sriracha, Tabasco, Tapatio, Cholula – what do you know about those famous hot sauce brands? That they’re hot? Delicious? Painfully good? In this week’s MIXLY Perspective, we plumb the fiery depths for an important lesson about hot sauce and diversity.
Check out this trailer for a new Keanu Reeves vehicle, based (believe it or not) on an actual Japanese legend, and due out this coming December.
The movie may or, perhaps more likely, may not turn out to be good. What caught our attention about this trailer though, much more than the low-budget CGI or action film clichés, was that first line, when the man with the full-body tattoo asks for a “half-breed.” The half-breed is Keanu’s character, and given the feudal Japanese setting it’s an obvious assumption that he’s playing what might today be more politely referred to as a hapa.
Happily, this is not an instance of the common and uncomfortable practice of casting white actors as people of color, a modern phenomenon uncomfortably analogous to historic traditions like blackface and yellowface. Keanu Reeves really is a hapa – his father was of native Hawaiian and Chinese descent. There has been plenty of commentary decrying the tendency to give similar roles to white actors. For us, 47 Ronin raises a different question. Why is it so unusual for a hapa actor like Reeves to play a hapa character?
Most of the media coverage of Nina Davuluri’s historic Miss America win has focused on the racism it’s revealed here in the United States. Despite our near-obsession with the ugly world of Twitter racists, we were intrigued by this article that asked a different question about another kind of prejudice. In the face of pervasive colorism, would the relatively dark-skinned new Miss America ever have a shot at being Miss India?
Sesame Street Adds a Character
Sesame Street, beloved children’s show and champion of diversity (where else do black people, white people, Jewish people, red monsters, Snuffleapagi, big birds, and grouches all co-exist so harmoniously) continues that tradition with their 44th season, adding Puerto Rican native Ismael Cruz Cordova to the cast as Armando – and part of a special emphasis on Hispanic heritage.
Have you ever heard an Asian person’s eyes described as “alond shaped” and wondered what the heck kind of almonds the other person was talking about?NPR brings us the history of this weird cliché.
Invisible Man Banned in North Carolina
A North Carolina County has banned Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man from school libraries. It’s easy to see that there might be an ugly racial dimension to the decision, but this author’s inner English major is still too busy cringing from the school board’s reasoning that the classic novel had no “literary value,” was “a hard read,” and was “too much for teenagers,” to consider any wider implications.
Integration of University of Alabama Sororities
To end this on a positive note, we have the encouraging follow up to a story from last week’s roundup. Following a bit of a scandal over allegations that alumni and school officials had blocked black applicants, the school announced plans to more thoroughly integrate their Greek system. Just fifty years too late, guys!
Two friends have traveled together to a new city, and are wandering the streets looking for somewhere to eat. One is a self-proclaimed “foodie,” the other is no such thing, but does harbor an appreciation for quality consumables. At some point during the search the two pass a local franchise of a national chain of Chinese fast-food, well-known for its signature dish – orange chicken. Friend number two suggests stopping for lunch, the foodie is appalled, labeling the chain “inauthentic” and suggesting a nearby food truck as a more palatable alternative. The food truck is eventually located, and the two friends gorge themselves on burritos, topped with sour cream and salsa and filled with Korean-style barbecue short ribs and kimchee.
The scenario is as puzzling as it is likely. Why would the foodie reject the “inauthentic” orange chicken for a hybrid meal authentic neither to the Korean cuisine from which it derives its content, nor the Americanized version of Mexican cuisine (itself of dubious authenticity) from which it derives its form?
We’ve been big fans of the Fung Bros. for a while. Comedy duo and real-life brothers David and Andrew Fung talk and rap about some very important subjects about a variety of subjects, with some of their favorites being Asian food, Asian stereotypes, and their majority-Asian adopted hometown, the Los Angeles-area San Gabriel. We could extol the virtues of the Fung Bros. and their clever, insightful humor all day, but since the vast majority of their content is available on YouTube we thought we’d do one better and bring you the best of the Fung Bros.!
Last night Nina Davuluri, Miss New York 2013, was crowned Miss America 2013, making her the first American of Indian descent to win America’s most popular beauty pageant.
Naturally, large swaths of the country couldn’t allow such an achievement by a person of color to pass without racist, ignorant commentary on social media. News being what it is, much of the media’s coverage has focused on the rearing of racism’s ugly head. Buzzfeed, as usual, was quick to the punch, with an article entitled “A Lot of People Are Very Upset That An Indian-American Woman Won The Miss America Pageant.” It includes a sampling of racist tweets reacting to Nina’s win. It’s easy to dismiss the reaction as the ramblings of a discontented and uneducated fringe, but in the latest rash of racist tweets, this author sees the evidence of larger and more alarming trends.
Not-so-fun fact, there hasn’t been a black girl in a University of Alabama Greek sorority since 2003. There’s not much question that it’s a discrimination issue, with entrenched racism enforced by alumni and even the school. But now, things might be changing. Check it out.
Diversity in Brewing
No one’s shocked when Southern sororities turn out to be racist, but did you know that the beer industry also has a diversity problem? Our colleagues at NPR try to figure out why.
How Society Shames Trans Women
There’s been a lot of to-do lately about Hot 97 DJ Mister Cee’s admission that he received oral sex from a transgender woman. This essay, written by an openly transgender woman, asks a more important question about the “scandal”: why should it matter if a man is attracted to transgender women?
Sikh Captain America
A Sikh man dresses up as Captain America, complete with beard and turban. Thought-provoking and whimsical.
Finally, something funny for your Friday. While this may strike most as little more than a hilarious takedown of the much-maligned hipsters, we saw a critique of a far more obnoxious “trend” – white privilege.
Incredibly, Casey Jones, better known by the hip hop moniker Casey Veggies, is only twenty years old. This may not strike some people as particularly noteworthy. There are, after all, plenty of twenty year olds in the world. However, there are far fewer twenty year olds who have been founding members of an internationally famous hip hop collective, started their own clothing line, or been co-signed by the likes of Mac Miller, Roc Nation, and music industry legend Sylvia Rhone. Casey Veggies has done all of these things. By the time he graduated high school, Casey had released multiple mixtapes, including his debut Customized Greatly Vol. 1 at the age of 14, founded the aptly named and highly successful clothing brand Peas & Carrots International, and helped found Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. Today, he is working on his debut studio album and continues to grow both the Peas & Carrots and Casey Veggies brands. We caught up with Casey at his Inglewood studio to talk about why diversity excites him, how he’s a dreamer, and why you should travel abroad.
Last week, the MIXLY team had the chance to take an after-hours tour of one of our new favorite spots – the Craft and Folk Art Museum here in Los Angeles. We came for a look at two specific exhibits, one featuring the work of acclaimed African American artist Sonya Clark, famous for exploring issues of history and identity in the black community through the motif of hair. The second exhibit we had the chance to check out, titled “This Is Not a Silent Movie: Four Contemporary Alaska Native Artists,” displays work by four Alaskan natives of indigenous descent – Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Susie Silook, Da-ka-xeen Mehner, and Nicholas Galanin. Their work explores the suppression and appropriation of American Indian culture, biracial identity, and a variety of other important topics. However, as much as those two exhibits spoke to everything we’re all about here, we stayed for the museum’s philosophy and mission both of which are undeniably, for lack of a better word, MIXLY.
They, like us, “believe that a peaceful, sustainable world community is possible, and that its possibility begins with the acknowledgement and celebration of our common humanity.” That inspiring message is more than just words in a press release – it’s reflected in the museum’s exhibits. Art that showcases the culture, history, and, indeed, humanity of various peoples illustrates not only how much we all have in common, but also how much we have to share with and learn from each other. In our opinion CAFAM is doing more than any other museum in Los Angeles right now to celebrate diversity and to prepare its visitors for a future that will, with any luck, be as beautifully diverse as the art CAFAM displays.
Click through to see more photos from our behind the scenes look at the Craft and Folk Art Museum, and to learn more about planning your own visit to the site!
For those of you who have been following the adventures of the MIXLY team in Shanghai, Pack Your Bags contest winner Ryan Bunma and MIXLY correspondent Tarik Ross Jr., we’re pleased to announce that both young men have returned from their trip abroad safe, sound, and excited to share their adventures with us and our readers. Today we’re excited to be able to publish Tarik and Ryan’s first reports of their time in Shanghai. Check out their reflections, and stay tuned for more, as well as the Pack Your Bags video series, which will chronicle the week Tarik and Ryan spent in China!