Diversity Headlines

Queen Crescent: 'We Just Really Want to Make a Statement'

Colorlines - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 10:56
 'We Just Really Want to Make a Statement'

Throughout June, I chatted with queer and trans artists of color about their work and their inspirations. Some are well known, others aren't. But they've all got something to say about how the path toward liberation starts in the creative mind.

Despite its Jamaican roots, you don't often think of people of color when you think of punk rock music. You certainly don't think of a group of queer women of color playing this kind of music. But Queen Crescent, a new band based in Oakland, Calif., is out to change the perception of who can rock out. Composed of Andrea Genevieve (guitar, vocals), Amy Martinez (drums, percussion), Eni Loicy Pela (bass, vocals), and Melissa Vu (flute, vocals), the band sought to answer a question: What would it be like to put four women-of-color musicians obsessed with '60s- and '70s-'era heavy rock 'n' roll in a room and have them start a band?  

Their answer:  Killer riffs and paradigm shifts, according to the Indiegogo campaign the band started to raise money for its debut album. "Rock 'n' roll is eternal.  We make music how we want to hear it and we speak our truths without hesitation," the band members wrote. For the final installment of our queer artist series I talked to Queen Crescent member Andrea Genevieve about their formation, identity and creative vision.

Tell me about when you all started performing together.

I was in a band previous to this one called Purple Rhinestone Eagles and we were a three-piece. We were a band for a number of years inside of Portland and I became friends with the drummer, Amy Martinez, through her partner. ...I hooked up with Amy and she said that she had this vision of starting a heavy rock band with all queer women of color. My band had just broken up and I thought, "I'd love to do it." I'd never been in a band with that intention of having people of these identities together and making music. We jammed and it was just immediate. She and I have this amazing connection. We recruited a couple other people and our current lineup is our strongest yet. We've been a band for about a year and a half, so we're still pretty new. We've played a lot of really great shows.

How many folks are in your band right now?

Four of us. I sing and play guitar. I'm mixed race--my dad is black and my mom is white. Amy is Mexican; Melissa, our flute player, is Vietnamese and Columbian; and the bass player, Eni, is Nigerian. 

Why was forming this group important to do?

Once again, it was Amy's vision, but for me, I've been in lots of bands with lots of people with different identities. The four of us have different identities and class backgrounds [but] we just feel really comfortable with each other. There are things that we don't have to explain; there are things that we all get. I do personally know a lot of POC and women and queer folks who are in music but aren't represented in the larger music culture. We just really want to make a statement. And also, we all have really similar music interests in terms of the era we listen to and the type of music we want to play.

What would you say is the hardest thing about your craft?

The hardest thing is time. Especially living in the Bay, we all have jobs and obligations and finding time is a challenge. Also, we have so many identities in our band--queer, punk, rock 'n' roll--and one of the things that's so fantastic about what we're doing is that we can bring all of these identities together. But having multiple identities also means there's not really one scene that we really fit into. I think that's a strength, but it can also be difficult to navigate all that.

If you could talk to any queer icon from the past, who would it be and why?

I think the person that I would want to meet the most is Freddy Mercury. He was a gay man and a person of color and I would have so many questions for him as far as navigating all the spaces that he'd been in dating back to the '60s and '70s. I want to know what it was like for him as a person of color when his family moved to the U.K. and into a culture that was still relatively homogenous. I would love to geek out and get together with him.





Categories: Diversity Headlines

Comedians Use South Asian Slang to Poke Fun at Entitled Hipsters

Colorlines - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 10:44

From Arti Patel at the Huffington Post:

In a hilarious music video by Canadian YouTube comedian Superwoman (Lilly Singh) and Canadian rapper Humble the Poet (Kanwar Singh), the duo use the phrase (which basically means disapproval or "pfft" in Punjabi and other South Asian slang) to sum up the reality (and ridiculousness) of many young people today.

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Watch This Hilarious Spoof of Bay Area Activism

Colorlines - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 08:53

Who's the greenest man in America? It's not Al Gore. In this hilarious satire from Movement Generation, comedian Josh Healey pokes fun at Bay Area enviornmentalists while also highlighting some of the great work that's long been happening in communities of color.

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Get Ready for the 'Blackest Star Wars Installment Ever'

Colorlines - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 08:15
Get Ready for the 'Blackest Star Wars Installment Ever'

At least that's according to Tambay A. Obenson over at Shadow and Act, who over the weekend reported that a fourth black person, Crystal Clark, has joined the cast of "Star Wars Episode VII."

Clarke hails from New Jersey but is currently studying in the U.K., and she'll be making her feature debut alongside Pierce Brosnan in 2015's "The Moon and the Sun," an action movie based on Louis XIV's quest for immortality.

Star Wars could be Clarke's breakout role.

"The Star Wars universe has always been about discovering and nurturing young talent and in casting Episode VII we wanted to remain absolutely faithful to this tradition. We are delighted that so many travelled to see us at the open casting calls and that we have been able to make Crystal and Pip a part of the film," said producer and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

Clarke will join John Boyega, Lupita Nyong'o, and David Oyelowo, who's rumored to be involved.  

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Israeli Strikes on Palestine, Jeh Johnson on Border Crossings, and Madd Mary's 'Eff Iggy'

Colorlines - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 07:10
Israeli Strikes on Palestine, Jeh Johnson on Border Crossings, and Madd Mary's 'Eff Iggy'

Here's what I'm reading up on after the long weekend: 

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Where Do Asian Americans Fit in Fitness?

Hyphen Blog - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 07:09

Hyphen columnist Theresa Celebran Jones writes about her attempts to adapt her lifestyle for healthier living.


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UC Launches Global Food Initiative

New America Media - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 01:15
Above: UC President Janet Napolitano plants oregano in the student-run community garden at UCLA (Credit: Credit: Reed Hutchinson/UCLA)University of California President Janet Napolitano last week unveiled the UC Global Food Initiative over the course of three events across the state. The initiative... Alec Rosenberg http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Indian American Farmers Weathering Record Drought in California

New America Media - Sun, 07/06/2014 - 00:05
 Above: Yuba City, Calif., farmer Karm Bains surveyed his peach orchards in early spring, after an extremely hot winter pushed out blooms too early. Indian American farmers in this region are preparing to take a $1 billion economic hit, due to California's severe drought.... Sunita Sohrabji http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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The Disappearance of the Black Coach: African-Americans Shut Out of College Basketball

New America Media - Sat, 07/05/2014 - 00:40
Above: University of Connecticut basketball coach Kevin Ollie. (courtesy photo to Washington Informer) Just a handful of years after the tumultuous, racially charged era of the 1960s, Georgetown coach John Thompson peered over his shoulder during a game at McDonough Gym... Stacy M. Brown http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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A Dashing Return of the First Asian American Superhero

New America Media - Sat, 07/05/2014 - 00:15
Hank Chu is a Chinese American teen living in 1930′s Chinatown. He's the main character for Gene Luen Yang's comic "The Shadow Hero." Credit: Courtesy of Gene Luen Yang I'll get to the superhero in a second. But first, a... Bradley Campbell http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Muslim Stars Shining in Fifa World Cup 2014

New America Media - Fri, 07/04/2014 - 09:46
 The Brazil 2014 World Cup kicked off earlier this week with many Muslim players dotting the football landscape. Being an integral part of football, Muslim players starring in their different teams from across the globe in the month-long tournament are... The Muslim Observer http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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'This Land Is Your Land,' Las Cafeteras' Independence Day Tribute

Colorlines - Fri, 07/04/2014 - 08:12

What is freedom in a country which denies healthcare to undocumented residents, separates families via deportation, and has the highest incarceration rate in the world? That's the question Los Angeles-based band Las Cafeteras is asking this Independence Day. 

With a new video produced in partnership with the California Endowment as part of a healthcare campaign, the band of artist-organizers filmed a new 21st-century, made-in-Los-Angeles spin on the American folk song classic "This Land Is Your Land." Las Cafeteras' version, points out band member Hector Flores, includes a new line inspired by the Zapatistas: "Todo para todos y nada para nosotros." Or, "Everything for everybody, and nothing for ourselves."

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Obama’s Chickens Coming Home to Roost

New America Media - Fri, 07/04/2014 - 00:35
James Russell Lowell wrote in 1870, “All our mistakes sooner or later surely come home to roost.” The older fuller form was curses are like chickens; they always come home to roost, meaning that your offensive words or actions are... Nativo Vigil Lopez http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Independence Day: Immigrants and the Great American Experiment

New America Media - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 23:30
 Around this time last year, just before the 4th of July celebration, I wrote about comprehensive immigration reform and expressed high hopes that 2013 would be the year for sorely needed change.At that time, the Senate was on the verge... R. Mark Frey http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Obama’s Quick Fix Won’t Solve the Regional Refugee Crisis

New America Media - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 11:30
In recent months, an unprecedented surge of refugee women and children has been traveling alone to the United States to seek protection at our southern border. The vast majority are fleeing their homes in the Central American countries of Honduras,... Michelle Brané http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Migrant Children Struggle to Obtain Legal Representation

New America Media - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 11:30
Al Jazeera http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Vietnam Should Embrace Uncle Sam or Be Subservient to China

New America Media - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 11:00
Recent developments in the South China Sea (known in Vietnam as the East Sea) offer no sign of Chinese expansionism abating in this geopolitically strategic area.The deployment of a Chinese oil rig within Vietnam’s territorial waters (about 120 nautical miles... Thi Q. Lam http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Supreme Court Decision on Clinic "Buffer Zone" Hurts AAPI Women

Hyphen Blog - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 10:21

The Supreme Court's recent ruling threatens clinic buffer zones and women's access to health care.

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Vietnamese-American Filmmaker Turns Lens on NYC's 'DIY Generation'

Colorlines - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 08:53

Sahra Vang Nguyen is the daughter of Vietnamese refugees. She used her parents' story to fuel a new look at entrepreneurs in New York City. Growing up, Nguyen's parents worked at a laundromat in Boston, a fact that she was embarrassed about until she recognized how hard it must have been for two immigrant to start their own business in a new country.

Nguyen, 27, is now using her parents' story as inspiration in for her own look at entrepreneurs of color in New York City. From NBC News:

While a 2009 UCLA study on the "State of Asian-American Businesses" found that many second-generation, Asian Americans were hesitant to pursue entrepreneurship because of their parents' hardships, Maker's Lane shows a contrasting narrative. Inspired by her ambitious, driven, and motivated peers, Nguyen captures the spirit of the "DIY Generation," whose innovative use of resources has allowed a new breed of entrepreneurs to succeed. The first five episodes feature Asian-American entrepreneurs in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Despite Nguyen's effort to raise the profile of these business pioneers, studies show they remain the exceptions to the rule. Minority entrepreneurs, according to recent reports, are not well represented in the business landscape. Only 8.5% of people pitching to investors in early 2013 were minorities, and they were also less likely to receive investment (only 15% were funded). On the other side of the table, minorities represent only 4.5% of angel investors.

"Because many investors are not from a minority background, they don't fund projects that they don't relate to," Nguyen told NBC News. "Investing in minorities is a social responsibility that not everyone prioritizes. But I see my work as a media producer as parallel to that of an investor."

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Arab-Americans Tell Census, 'We're Not White'

Colorlines - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 07:21

Comedian Amer Zahr's upcoming documentary challenges how the last Census classified Arab-Americans--as white--in the hopes that the next one will be different. But he's not the only one who believes the nation's decennial count misclassifies or just plain erases their identities. According to AJA, Hispanics comprise 90 percent of the 20 million individuals who, during the 2010 Census, checked "some other race." Capturing how Americans increasingly do (or don't) identify themselves matters as the Census determines everything from the apportionment of congressional districts to the distribution of $400 billion in federal aid programs and the enforcement of civil rights laws.

In order to decrease the millions of Americans now checking the "other" box then, according to a recent New York Times article, the Census is beginning to test new categories ahead of the 2020 count. It's considering adding a Middle East/North Africa category (although, some folks are fine with "white") and perhaps combining the separate Hispanic and race questions into one. (For early results on that combination experiment, check this March Pew article.) Proposed changes are due to Congress by 2017.



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