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Date: Friday, 30 Mar 2012 20:02

Hello Mutineers. Long time no talk. ;-)

But before the sentimentality, some important business - the last ever San Francisco Bay Area Meetup is tomorrow

  • Where: UPDATED LOCATION:  The Liberties in the Mission/Dolores area  (we outgrew Udupi Palace)liberties.jpg
  • When: UPDATED TIME - 2:30 - 6:30pm -- we'll be lounging for a while so feel free to drop in, share a pint or 2 and listen/tell stories
  • Who: friends past & present, old bloggers, current bloggers, guest bloggers, grizzled comments flame war vets, lurkers, and riff raff of various stripes
The Facebook event is here.

So what can I say that hasn't already been (quite ably) said by my fellow bloggers?
Quite a bit, I think.   

Back when the blogosphere was young, and desi blogger ranks were very slim (my first personal blogpost was Sept 29, 2002 & first SM post was - an internet lifetime ago), a few kids had an idea for a group blog covering the news & commentary that was less covered.

The medium was new, the excitement was high, and our target market was ripe for a new vehicle for expression, debate, and community.   And thus the Sepia Mutiny was born & acquired a life of its own.   Over the years, I've met perhaps 100 new people through the blog and it's cemented at least a few, new, lifelong friendships & acquaintances.   I know several of my facebook friends better by their handles than by their official Facebook names.  And common ground forged by the blog has been responsible for more than few random run-ins literally across the world  (one anecdote - while on a  biz trip in London, a particularly astute, regular reader I'd never met before saw me crossing the street & shouted out).

As Abhi noted, in the almost 10 yrs since SM was born, a lot has changed.   Whereas back in the day we'd post an shout-out if a Desi had so much as a speaking line in a televised commercial, now it's common to find them in regular roles in top 10 sitcoms.  Is a Desi romantic lead far behind?   Perhaps in another 10 yrs.   Or maybe not. http://www.nbc.com/smash/about/character-bios/dev/

The angst ridden ABCD's of >10 yrs ago have given way to a new generation of Desi's who merit the "C" less and less with each passing year.  An interesting 4 yr snapshot of that fast forward evolution can be seen comparing 2003's Where's the Party, Yaar to 2007's Loins of Punjab)

The broader blog universe has changed dramatically as well.   And, of course, so have we the mutineers - I term I judiciously use to cover both the bloggers & the readers.    As 20somethings, most of us were single, had all the time in the world (though we didn't fully appreciate it at the time) and were often just establishing our careers --> factors which contributed individually & in their own unique ways to our "drive" to blog & comment.   As 20s gave way to 30s (and in my case, late 30s, gulp), life has a way of getting in the way of even the most enjoyable hobbies.

My ~500 Sepia Mutiny posts are here.  And, over at my (languishing) personal blog, I've pulled together some pointers to my favorite Sepia Mutiny posts over the years - 1, 2, 3, and 4.  hile I tended to cover econ & current events, many of my favorite posts from back in the day focused on "hidden history" -- did you know that the Nazi's promised Stalin full reign over India if he'd help defeat the Brits?  Or how seemingly simple, but utterly economically profound issues like "Title" to land get established?   And on a completely different note, how can we ignore the phenomena that's Finnish Bhangra?

Hitting some of those links, reading the entries, and in particular, reading the comments provide a pretty fascinating (and occasionally embarrassing) trip down memory lane.   How vehemently we argued, how sure of ourselves we were, and what a product of our times we turned out to be.   How much more we know now and how much of the stuff we knew then, we've now forgotten.   And we're not even that old yet  ;-)

So, thanks for the fun, camaraderie, memories, and vibrant discussion - and I'm sure we'll cross paths as we witness & conquer new domains.  And if you're in/near the San Francisco area, swing by the Liberties tomorrow & share a drink as we kick off those new adventures.

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Author: "vinod (vinod@vinod.com)"
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Date: Monday, 05 Sep 2011 05:11

We are upgrading our blogging platform from MovableType to WordPress. This means that some of the older bookmarks, rss feeds may not work as is. Please update your feeds and bookmarks to the new links.

The new blog site is linked here

Thank you for your patience during this transition.

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Author: "chaitan (hello@chaitan.com)" Tags: "Blog"
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Date: Monday, 05 Sep 2011 05:08

DJ Anjali and Incredible Kid.jpg

I got a beat-thumping BBQ friendly labor day mix for y’all for this #MusicMonday a little early. Coming from The Incredible Kid, the other half to Seattle based DJ Anjali.

Incredible Percussion in Panjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Farsi and Hindi by The Incredible Kid!

Beginning with incorporating Asian Drum and Bass, Reggaeton, and Meren-Rap songs into his late ’90s house party sets, The Incredible Kid built his reputation igniting Portland, Oregon dance floors with the incendiary urban sounds of international dance music. In late 2000 The Kid introduced DJ Anjali to the dancing masses, and the two spearheaded the Bhangra and Bollywood scene in Portland through their Andaz night, still running strong since its debut in July of 2002. [anjaliandthekid]

If in Portland, be sure to check DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid. Upcoming shows listed here.

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Author: "taz (nobody@sepiamutiny.com)" Tags: "Music"
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Date: Sunday, 04 Sep 2011 17:57

islamaphobia poster.jpg Next Sunday marks the ten year anniversary of 9/11. Unbelievable that it’s been ten years already and unbelievable that there is a whole generation of South Asian American youth that don’t remember what life was like before this day. It’s irrefutable that the events on that tragic day have strongly shaped the narrative of being a South Asian American.

People from across the country are getting together to remember, reflect, and dialogue in their own ways this week. Design Action Collective’s Sabiha Basri is designing a series of political poster to commemorate the anniversary (image above); Wajahat Ali and the Center for American Progress released a report last week called Fear Inc. collecting data on the root sources of islamophobia; The Sikh Coalition created on online video narrative platform to crowdsource stories at Unheard Voices of 9/11; The Asian American Literary Review has released a narrative publication with contributions from Sonny Singh, DJ Rekha, Vijay Prashad, Purvi Shah, mutineer Amitva Kumar and many, many more; McSweeney’s published an oral history book from the Voices of Witness series called Patriot Act: Narratives of Post 9/11 Injustices; and SAALT has the An America for All of Us campaign, an effort to unite policy makers, politicians, and community leaders under one pledge for equity for all.

View List of 9/11 Ten Year Anniversary Events Compiled by South Asian Americans Leading Together, SAALT in a larger map

Additionally, SAALT has also put together an amazing national resource list of upcoming 9/11 events that will be going on this week. This map is also being crowdsourced so that you can add your own local events as well. Be sure to check it out to see what events are going on in your neighborhood.

I’ve listed just a few of hundreds of things going on this week. We’d like to hear from you - if you have an event, project, collaboration, or story remembering 9/11 that you think would interest the mutinous crowd this week - please list it in the comments below.

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Author: "taz (nobody@sepiamutiny.com)" Tags: "In Memoriam"
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Date: Friday, 02 Sep 2011 19:38

The stories shared by commenters and bloggers are one of the best parts of Sepia Mutiny. So when Taz shared an email from the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders about a video challenge called “What’s Your Story?” I thought it might be of interest to some of our storytellers.

There is nothing more powerful than the stories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Our stories define who we are, and they reflect our impact on the community around us. At the White House Initiative on AAPIs, we seek to amplify these voices nationally. We are pleased to announce the first ever White House Initiative Video Challenge, called “What’s Your Story?”

We’re calling on you to produce a video, up to three minutes long, telling us who you are and how you have impacted those around you. In your video, answer the questions: How have your unique experiences shaped who you are today? And in what ways are you making a difference in your community? Everyone is welcome to participate.

We will review the submissions and post a select number of entries on the White House website. In addition, we’ll invite a group of exceptional AAPI leaders to share their stories in person at the White House this fall as special guests in a White House Initiative on AAPIs event. To learn more about the challenge, watch our call-out video here: http://youtu.be/UiSgHYNd53Q?hd=1

To submit your video and learn more about the challenge, go to www.whitehouse.gov/whatsyourstory. The deadline for video submissions is midnight on November 1, 2011.

If you watch the video above calling for entries you’ll hear a few comments from Kiran Ahuja, the executive director of the White House Initiative on AAPIs. You may have read an earlier post about her on SM around the time of her appointment. Ahuja’s own story is interesting as well—she grew up in the American South, where her parents ran an inner city clinic, and after high school she decided to attend a historically black college called Spelman. An interview by then-law stuent Parag Khandhar offers more details on her experience at Spelman, and on her work at the Department of Justice and the National Asian Pacific Women’s Forum.

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Author: "Pavani (pavaniy@gmail.com)" Tags: "Video"
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Date: Thursday, 01 Sep 2011 16:08

I wouldn’t call Danny Pudi this decade’s Tawny Kitaen, or a hip hop honey. But like them, he’s got screen time in music videos. Last week I noticed him in Raphael Saadiq’s “Day Dreams.” Now he’s in a new music video from Jones Street Station, “The Understanding”. Both feature him as a quirky, cute, romantic protagonist—cute as in Buddy Holly cute, without the glasses.

In the video from Brooklyn-based folk rock band Jones Street Station, Pudi is photographing while brown in NYC. But no suspicion here, maybe because everyone he snaps in the Big Apple is charmed by him and his tiny camera. :) After he meets a woman played by actress Monica West and gives her a piggyback ride in the park, they end up in a studio jamming with the band.

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Author: "Pavani (pavaniy@gmail.com)" Tags: "Music"
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Date: Thursday, 01 Sep 2011 15:23

Asian Diabetes.jpg

One would think that an educational website from the NYU Department of Medicine might be produced by people who are familiar with actual South Asians. One would think.

SM reader SS sends us a link to the site you see above, with her take on it:

While not much of a true story, thought I’d send your way this article about South Asians with accompanying stock photo of people who, last I checked, are NOT South Asian. I find this even odder coming from the NYU medical school, where there are presumably South Asian med students.

Now let’s get the politically correct and enlightened shit out of the way early, shall we?

There’s probably no way to check on the genetic makeup of the couple on the couch, up there. They could be South Asian, after all, there are many, many ways a South Asian person can look. From fake-Italian (although you Guindians aren’t fooling anyone) to fake-East Asian, our phenotypes are many…which makes sense since we’re from all over a subcontinent.

It’s not fair to suggest that there’s only one way for South Asians to look and don’t you dare accuse me of doing that— I’m the one who, as an already put-upon college student, had to deal with Punjabi Aunties from Fremont who constantly came up to my window at a certain Bank of America, only to say…”You Fiji? No? But you’re so DARK. Indian people are not SO dark!”

I get how much that sucks. It’s ignorant and divisive and rude. A blue-black Southerner is just as Desi as a sharply-featured woman from Kashmir, right?

Still, would you expect to see that picture paired with an article titled, “You Don’t Look Diabetic:Diabetes in Non-Obese South Asians-Is There a Molecular or Genetic Basis for Increased Insulin Resistance?”

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Author: "anna (anna@sepiamutiny.com)" Tags: "Identity"
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Date: Wednesday, 31 Aug 2011 23:48

This year the 30 Mosques guys—Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq—continued their annual Ramadan journey that started out in NYC in 2009 and expanded across the USA in 2010. The duo is celebrating Eid after wrapping up their 2011 Ramadan travels that took them to mosques and Muslims around the nation. If you’re celebrating too, I wish you and your family a joyous holiday. Eid Mubarak!

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

In their PBS interview with Hari Sreenivasan, Tariq described the 30 Mosques trip as an opportunity to see how people are living the religion of Islam. Ali highlighted a Muslim community in San Francisco called Ta’leef Collective that impressed him with its inclusive attitudes and “come as you are” philosophy.

Their 2011 journey was successfully funded through Kickstarter. You can see the entire 30-day route on their website. It included trips to Alaska, where there is no mosque but there are thousands of Muslims, and Hawaii, where during a 10 hour visit they stopped at heiress Doris Duke’s Shangri La, a public center for Islamic arts and culture.

Along the way, they met many interesting people including a gay imam in DC, a Native American convert in South Dakota, and a female priest in Seattle who practices both Christianity and Islam. The two young men also got permission to enter the women’s space at a Little Rock, Arkansas, mosque. All these trips and others generated some fascinating blog posts, photos and videos, not to mention discussion on their website, where they posted as they traveled.

Ali and Tariq note that their project has inspired others to do their own Ramadan-related explorations. Break_fast at night, for example, is a photo-focused site sharing the Muslim-American experience of Ramadan through images of Muslims partaking in pre-dawn meals at all-night diners, praying at home and at restaurants before breaking the fast, and hitting up piñatas as part of Eid celebrations.

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Author: "Pavani (pavaniy@gmail.com)" Tags: "Video"
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Date: Monday, 29 Aug 2011 07:18

Young the Giant’s lead singer Sameer Gadhia strutted down the catwalk and got the crowd going at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards tonight. The group performed “My Body.” Backstage before the show they talked about being the sole rock act to perform at this year’s award show. Watch their performance below.

Thanks for the tip Pravin Praveen!

Young the Giant canceled performances at Reading and Leeds festivals to make it to the VMAs. Gadhia explained why it was important for them to perform at tonight’s show in Los Angeles.

“We canceled Reading and Leeds [festivals] because of the VMAs,” frontman Gadhia shared. “I mean, we always watched them, ever since we were little … and we’re from Los Angeles, so we figured it would be a great opportunity. Hopefully people in the U.K. will forgive us. I know some people are already annoyed.” (MTV)

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Author: "Pavani (pavaniy@gmail.com)" Tags: "Music"
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Date: Thursday, 25 Aug 2011 12:07


People Magazine recently spotted Padma Lakshmi’s young daughter wearing a colorful, traditional outfit. Will celebrity-watching fashionista parents soon be on the lookout for tiny pattu-langas (apparently also called pattu pavada) at their local baby boutiques? Perhaps, though they might have better luck finding these children’s outfits at online bazaars.

I can’t remember my first pattu-langa, but there’s probably a picture of me in it in one of my parents’ photo albums. When we were growing up, my sisters and I, and more recently my niece, were dressed up in these silky, shiny outfits for special events or big family parties. The langa or skirt part of my outfits was longer, going down to my feet. But I also like the style worn by Krishna because in addition to its pretty purple hue, its shorter length looks like it could be easier to wear while toddling around as a baby.

Hit up YouTube for more pattu-langa cuteness.

Photo: desiVastra

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Author: "Pavani (pavaniy@gmail.com)" Tags: "Fashion"
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Date: Wednesday, 24 Aug 2011 01:06


Behind that stream of steaming hot coffee pouring into your cup is a waste stream of coffee grounds. Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez of Back to the Roots (BTTR) view the huge amounts of coffee grounds waste coming out of coffee shops as a huge potential for urban mushroom farming. The UC Berkeley students were in their final semester with corporate job offers in hand when they heard about growing gourmet mushrooms from coffee grounds and independently reached out to their professor for more information. (Read a Q&A; with Arora after the jump.)

The professor put them in touch and they got to growing their business idea. They asked Peet’s Coffee for used coffee grounds and set up ten test buckets in Velez’s fraternity kitchen to try out mushroom farming. Only one bucket grew a crop of mushrooms.

They took the single success to a famous Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse, to get those mushrooms checked out—they were sautéed and deemed good. (If you’re wondering, mushrooms grown in coffee grounds do not pick up a coffee kick to their flavor.) The two budding entrepreneurs took the same bucket to Whole Foods and caught the interest of store employees. Their idea also caught the interest of their university, which awarded them a $5K social innovation grant.

What’s happened since those early days is remarkable. In six months, the mushroom growing venture went from having product distributed in one Whole Foods to national distribution. Last year Planet Green reported that BTTR became “the sole oyster mushroom supplier to the entire North California region of Whole Foods while transforming over 10,000 pounds of coffee ground waste per week from Peet’s Coffee.”

Peet’s, which sold BTTR’s mushroom growing kits in its shops, proudly proclaims that it is the primary source of BTTR’s coffee grounds, and plans to give them 1 million pounds of grounds to reuse this year. Whole Foods also sells the grow kits and provided the venture with a low-interest loan for local producers.

But that’s not all. When these two urban mushroom farmers put up an ad on Craigslist to get rid of their spent coffee grounds with broken mushroom roots, they discovered a market for their own waste stream. The mushrooms enrich the grounds as they grow leaving behind a desirable alternative to chemical fertilizer. It sells as a premium soil amendment.

The White House recently highlighted BTTR as a “Champion of Change” for its sustainable business model. Keep reading to find out more about what Nikhil Arora has to say about growing and eating mushrooms.

As a recent college grad, why did you give up the security of a post-college job offer to become an urban mushroom farmer? Did you ever have any doubts about your choice?

After Alex and I first came across this idea in a class, it was a very step-by-step process our last semester. We brainstormed, ended up growing one test bucket of mushrooms on coffee grounds, had a local restaurant try them and like them, got some initial interest from WF [Whole Foods], a $5k grant from our [university’s] Chancellor—and by that time, with all that support building up from our community we looked at each other sand said “we have got to do this!”

We started seeing the potential for turning waste into food and local jobs and wanted to run with it. The first months were some of the toughest, and there were many days where we would look at each other, knee-deep in coffee grounds, and ask “what are we doing??”—but the friendship that Alex and I developed early on was crucial to carrying us through those early tough days.

The grow kits look way more fun than the Chia Pet I got as a kid, with the major benefit of producing edible mushrooms. Are the kits primarily for educational/entertainment value? Or can the home kits also compete against other mushrooms sold in stores when it comes to taste and price?

The kits are definitely a ton of fun (grow up to 1.5 in as little as 10 days) …by far the most fast growing food out there! However, the nice thing is they also compare on price—and that’s something we really work for because we know for this grow-your-own movement to really take off, it can’t just be a one-off fad/one-time purchase. These mushrooms go for around $12 lbs in many stores, so there’s that price parity right away, but the neat thing is that we actually sell replacement bags & offer a monthly mushroom club online—so those who really want to grow their own food can continue to do so (keep the box/mister) and save money!

What’s your favorite dish featuring mushrooms? Do you eat more of them today than before you started urban mushroom farming?

My favorite dish has to be the mushroom tacos our warehouse manager Osvaldo cooks up—they are absolutely delicious! Definitely eating a lot more mushrooms now than before—have a much greater appreciation for them! :) 

What are three things that people can do to build an innovative and sustainable business idea into a successful reality?

1) Focus—especially early on, pick one thing (a product, a service, etc) and work endlessly to become the very best at that one thing, however niche. We learned that lesson the hard-way early on when we were pursuing a handful of different products/services related to this concept, and not focusing on entirety on one..it almost put us out of business.

2) Build partnerships—it takes a village to build a company. Do not underestimate the power of partnerships—find unique partners who can take your brand to the next level, find creative ways to offer them value-add as well from supporting you so they become fully invested in your future, and leverage their networks and communities. Always look to make every partnership a two-way street so you grow together!

3) It’s all about the team! No matter how great an idea is, you cannot build a successful company without an all-star team. It’s not the product or idea that has helped grow Back to the Roots—but an unbelievable team (family, more so!) that all believes in our mission & vision and is willing to work hard & innovate to achieve our goals.

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Author: "Pavani (pavaniy@gmail.com)" Tags: "Food"
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Date: Monday, 22 Aug 2011 15:47

It’s summertime. That means no new episodes of Community featuring one of the best (and hottest) TV bromances to ever exist—Troy + Abed. But you can watch Danny Pudi, who plays the Abed half of that TV couple, in a cute and fun new music video from Raphael Saadiq. The video for “Day Dreams” from Saadiq’s Stone Rollin’ album is directed by Arj Barker’s co-star from Flight of the Conchords, Bret McKenzie.

Previously: He’s Your Polish Dancer, Your Brown Actor for Hire

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Author: "Pavani (pavaniy@gmail.com)" Tags: "Arts and Entertainment"
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Date: Monday, 15 Aug 2011 17:30

Remember Anjulie? The Guyanese-Canadian who’s 2009 single Boom prompted mutineer Amardeep to state, “I hear shades of Morcheeba and Esthero”? She just dropped a new single this week so I’m sharing for this week’s #MusicMonday (that’s right, I’m bringing it back…!) I can’t help but think she’s been Nikki Minaj-ed. Rihanna-ed. Lady Gaga-fied.

What do you think of the remodel? I gotta say, I was a big fan of “old” Anjulie with the song My Thrill being my favorite. But if her new album is reflective of this single, I dunno, I dunno…

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Author: "taz (nobody@sepiamutiny.com)" Tags: "Video"
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Date: Thursday, 11 Aug 2011 20:50

himalayan.nasa.jpgSapana Sakya was born in Nepal, grew up in Thailand and came to the US for college. She has a background in filmmaking and journalism and works at the Center for Asian American Media. Sakya shares her thoughts on identity in an interesting post for CAAM called I Think I’m Himalayan American.

When I was 5 years old my family migrated to Thailand where I attended an American international school in Bangkok. I was the only Nepalese person in my school. To be anything other than Thai, Chinese or Indian - the majority of the student body, was to be looked down upon or considered an exotic “other” so I learned to keep my ethnicity to myself and didn’t correct people when they assumed I was Thai or Indian.

She conveys mixed feelings about using the term South Asian.

Until now, I categorized myself as South Asian but I always felt that the term South Asian represented the dominant group of that subcontinent, India. I am South Asian and Nepalese; the Nepalese language is similar to Hindi but Newari, my ethnic language, is closer to Tibetan and Burmese. So Himalayan is a more accurate descriptor of my culture and ethnicity.

Having the term Himalayan American to describe myself strengthens my identity and allows me to explore what makes us a community and how we can strengthen that network. But I am also still South Asian and Asian American because there I enjoy being associated to these larger communities for both political and social reasons.

…What does it mean to be Himalayan American? Do we need this term to better describe ourselves? Why not Asian American or South Asian American? The answer lies in the mountain range that connects Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet, the Himalayas.

Read the rest of Sakya’s post to find out more about what it means to her to be Himalayan American and some of the stereotypes of the Himalayas that she has encountered. She also mentions an upcoming Himalayan Youth Leadership Summit (pdf) in Oakland, California. The summit is organized by Sahayeta, a non-profit organization providing free primary health care and other services for people in the northern California Himalayan community.

Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

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Author: "Pavani (pavaniy@gmail.com)" Tags: "Identity"
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Date: Thursday, 11 Aug 2011 18:27

Last year, I joined Vivek, Ennis and Cicatrix at UNIFICATION, a fun, fantastic production brought about through the efforts of BROWNSTAR to commemorate India and Pakistan’s respective independence days. Will I be there again? You betcha. And you should come too.

From their press release:

The third annual UNIFICATION will again celebrate the end of colonial rule in South Asia while showcasing the talents of prominent and rising South Asian American performers. Beginning on August 14 and ending after midnight on August 15, UNIFICATION 2011 literally unites the Independence Days of the two most populous nations in South Asia, Pakistan and India, and serves as a demonstration for peace across the region.

Featuring performances by:
Bushra Rehman
Sunny Ali & the Kid
YaliniDream & Arooj Aftab with JenDog Lonewolf

UNIFICATION 2011 Poster.jpg

Where: Nuyorican Poets Cafe (236 East 3rd Street, between Avenue B & C), New York City When: Sunday, August 14 @11PM

Benefiting: Proceeds from the event benefit An America for All of Us, a campaign led by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

Ticket Info: You can buy your tickets online. $25 in advance, $30 at the door

For more details and to RSVP, visit Facebook.

Related Sepia Posts: Bushra/D’Lo/YaliniDream

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Author: "Phillygrrl (phillygrrls@gmail.com)"
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Date: Wednesday, 10 Aug 2011 17:32

As Ennis reported, there’s anarchy in the UK. I’ve been following twitter feeds coming out of England closely and though there is mixed feelings on the “insurrection” of the people, one thing is certain, everyone is fearful that the riots will come to their community. Last night, the rioters came to Birmingham.

Haroon, Abdul Musavir, 31, and Shazad Ali, 31, were mowed down as they stood on the pavement protecting their mosque and businesses in the community. Today, a 32-year-old man was being questioned on suspicion of murder.

The father said he was standing round the corner as the car mounted the pavement and knocked down the three young men. He said he acted instinctively and helped - without realising his boy was one of the trio who were fatally injured. Mr Jahan said: ‘The car came up on the pavement for God knows what reason and I was standing nearby. ‘I heard it happen and I turned round and I saw three people on the ground and my instinct to help and I started CPR and someone told me that one of them was my son.’ [dailymail]

Some moving words from Tariq Jahan, father to the 21 year old Haroon Jahan.

I’m not condoning the violence, but clearly the situation has reached a critical moment in the UK and the people believe things have got to change. Mass media is billing what is happening in the UK as a “race” riot or a “youth” insurgency - but the victims in this case were South Asian youth. The #UKRiots goes far deeper than that.

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Author: "taz (nobody@sepiamutiny.com)" Tags: "Events"
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Date: Wednesday, 10 Aug 2011 14:55

Yesterday, news agencies all over the world carried stories of Sikhs in Southall standing guard outside of Southall Gurdwaras to protect them from the rioters who had attacked neighboring wealthy Ealing the day before. It was a feel good story with great visual appeal, captured nicely by this picture:


Two things got missed in this simple story, however. First, the story of community self-defense is much larger than just Sikhs or Southall. All residents of Southall worked together, across religious lines, to guard each others’ places of worship (Gurdwaras, Mosques, Mandirs) and businesses. Nor was Southall the only place where this happened. Bangladeshis mobilized in Whitechapel, Brick Lane, and Bethnal Green; three desi men were killed while defending their neighborhood in Birmingham.

There’s another layer here though, which is about a deep mistrust of the police, dating back over 30-40 years. Southall was a place where white supremacists could murder a desi teenager and not get prosecuted, where cops could engage in brutality, and where, in 1979, peaceful protesters fought back after being viciously bludgeoned by mounted police. One protester was killed by police, but nobody was ever held responsible for it. This video clip tells the story well:

So when the police issue warnings against “vigilantism” to discourage community self-defense groups, it’s likely falling on deaf ears. Members of the community will work with the police, but they’re not about to stand down and trust the police to protect them.

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Author: "ennis (ennnis@gmail.com)" Tags: "News"
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Date: Tuesday, 09 Aug 2011 20:34

questions.on.our.foreheads.jpgComedian Aziz Ansari has been popping up even more than usual on TV (The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel) and elsewhere to help promote his new movie with Jesse Eisenberg and Dilshad Vadsaria, 30 Minutes or Less. Entertainment Weekly reported that at one recent club performance, Ansari had some harsh words for an audience member who asked him, “Why don’t you have a red dot on your forehead?”

While the audience gasped, a shocked Ansari replied by asking why she didn’t have the word “c— on her forehead.” Then he remarked about how there are still “racist” people in the world. (EW)

Like Ansari, you may have been asked, “Why don’t you have a red dot on your forehead?” Or maybe you’ve been asked other questions—“Is it made of blood? Is it a tattoo? What does it mean?” and perhaps even “Can I touch it?” You might have called it a bottu, bindi, tikka, tilaka or something else at home and felt weird about people calling it a “dot.”

Maybe one time you quickly removed a sticker version from your forehead when your brother was pulled over by police while giving you a ride home. Maybe you never wear one in public and yet you’ve still been asked about the “dot.” Whatever your personal experiences, you probably have an opinion about how Ansari reacted—check out the poll below to share how you feel.

Photo credit: Stephan Baudy

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Author: "Pavani (pavaniy@gmail.com)" Tags: "Musings"
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Date: Wednesday, 03 Aug 2011 21:07

EFLI.jpgAre you ready for some football? I am. I've been an NFL fan for many years, recently got into the CFL and hope to soon be watching the EFLI: Elite Football League of India.

Yes, American football in India. No, this isn't a story from The Onion.

According to Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal, the eight-team league, which will begin play in Nov. 2012, is being backed by investors such as Mike Ditka, Ron Jaworski, Michael Irvin and Brandon Chillar (the Indian-American linebacker formerly of the Green Bay Packers).

The founding teams are the Hyderabad Skykings, Bhubaneswar Warhawks, Goa Swarm, Mumbai Gladiators, Dehi Royal Fleet, Punjab Warriors, Pune Blacktigers and Kolkata Vipers. Sorry, no Bengals or Browns.

"India has no history of american football, but backers sure cuz country is crazy about american entertainment, this will fly," Kaplan tweeted, adding in another tweet: "They are training rugby players right now. Top rugby coaches involved. Seriously unlikely any US players would got there."

Rugby players? Seriously? Rugby may be the closest sport to football, but that's like preparing for the PGA tour by playing croquet. 

As for Kaplan's contention that US players wouldn't go to India, I have to disagree. As long as team owners can pay decent money, players who can't crack the NFL, CFL, AFL or UFL would be willing to go to India. Who knows, maybe even Chillar might suit up for the Warriors and Brett Favre might come out of retirement to throw a few INTs for the Skykings.

Kaplan says the league "seems like a stretch" and I have to agree. But you have to start somewhere. Maybe by 2032, India will have a competitive football league, and you and I will be glued to the TV, watching Marshall Williams Manning lead the Bhubaneswar Warhawks over Arjun Tendulkar and the Pune Blacktigers.

You may enjoy the comments on ProFootballTalk. Or not.

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Author: "Melvin (melvin@melvindurai.com)" Tags: "Sports"
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Date: Wednesday, 03 Aug 2011 20:19

nikki_haley.jpgIt’s like Bhagat Singh Thind all over again. Are we White? Are we Brown? Are we Hindoos? Can I be white so that I can own property (as in Thind’s case)? Can I be White so that I can become electable as governor of South Carolina (as in Nikki Haley’s case)?

Haley — South Carolina’s first female and minority governor and the country’s second Indian-American governor — listed her race as “white” on her 2001 voter registration card… The state Democratic Party, which first obtained the public record, is calling Haley out on the matter and challenging whether her inconsistency on the card might have made her ineligible to voter under the state’s new Voter ID law. [postandcourier]

Oh Nimrata… As much as our politics and preference in alleged love affair diverged, I took a certain pride in knowing that we had our first South Asian American woman in governership. To marginalize yourself, when in leadership role, marginalizes the rest of us. Changing your name from Nimrata to Nikki is one thing, but changing your race? It’s skin. It’s blood. Unless you are Michael Jackson, it doesn’t rub off.

Now that I think about it, I think I have just the product for you, thanks to Sandeep Sood. This just may fit your need.

So Nikki, I’m going to give you the benefit of a doubt - like the 25% of South Asian Americans who marked themselves as White in the 1990 Census. This is your Public Service Announcement - No matter how great your dermatologist is or how much Fair & Lovely Inside you ingest, you are not White. You are a minority. A South Asian American. A woman of Indian heritage and Sikh parents.

And next time we hear someone Desi insist on their Whiteness, we can say, “She totally just pulled a Nikkie H.”

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Author: "taz (nobody@sepiamutiny.com)" Tags: "Identity"
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