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Five Radical Ways to Put the Black in Black Friday

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

Artwork by Ernest E. Varner

Artwork by Ernest E. Varner

I’m sure many of you are getting ready for the holiday season, checking those turkey recipes, getting your cornucopia table decorations ready, yes, all the fun stuff that makes Turkey Day so very yummy and fun. But have you noticed that every year Thanksgiving seems less important while Black Friday gains in popularity. It’s like the only reason we’re feasting is to power up to shop on Black Friday. While I’m sure the spirits of Thanksgiving past are rattling their chains over this unfortunate turn of events, I’ve decided to embrace the fact that all of America is excited about anything with the word black in it. And on that note, I’ve come up with five radical ways to really put the Black into Black Friday. Try one or try them all, but just remember to do Black responsibly.

1. Buy Black. If you’re going to get up at the crack of dawn and spend all of your hard-earned money on consumer goods you may or may not need, why not buy stuff from Black-owned businesses? Then your Black Friday is like Black squared. And that’s cool. And luckily, other people had this idea way before I did and have already put together a list of Black-owned businesses to patronize on this special day.

2. Buy a book by a Black author. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement is all about the publishing industry’s lack of support of authors of color. Well, while you wait for mainstream publishers to get it together and start publishing a slew of books by Black authors, just go buy a bunch that already exist. And trust, there are a lot of books by Black authors on the shelves of your average Barnes and Noble. Books for kids, adults and teens. Yes, Virginia, there are books written by Black people out there and you should buy some on Black Friday. You should read them too.

3. Put a #BlackLivesMatter sign in your front yard. Think of this as your decoration for Black Friday, like a Black Friday Christmas Tree, but without the messy needles to clean up later. Alternately, get a #BlackLivesMatter tattoo on your arm.

4. Capitalize the B all day long whenever you write something about Black people. If you are a journalist, you will really piss off the copy editors at your job, but that’s what makes this so revolutionary. It’s Black Friday, yo! You can also zip on over to change.org and sign my petition that’s still up asking The New York Times and The Associated Press to change their policy on keeping Black people in the lower case. Just recently Colorlines walked away from using AP style and decided to start capitalizing the B so there’s proof that these little radical acts can make a difference.

5. Binge watch as many Spike Lee movies as you can, then go outside and yell, “Wake up” as loud as you can. On Saturday morning see if you feel any different. Act as if everyday is Black Friday.

Happy Black Friday, people!

Adele Had Me at “Hello”

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

Adele's last album, 21 is awesome! Her next one, 25, drops next month and I can't wait.

Adele’s last album, 21 is awesome! Her next one, 25, drops next month and I can’t wait.

I don’t know if you all know how much of an Adele fan I am. Suffice it to say, I LOVE HER! Her voice moves me like none other. I could listen to Adele sing the fine print on my phone bill and I’d be crying tears of joy. And now, glory be, she has a new single out called “Hello.” Considering the fact that more than two million people have already liked the video on YouTube, clearly I’m not breaking any news here, but just in case, I thought I should let you know. And so you don’t have to leave this page to see the video, here it is. You’re welcome.

Did you love it? I did. She literally had me at “hello.” And of course, I was terribly curious who that cute young Black man was who played her love interest in the video. I did some sleuthing and found that his name is Tristan Wilds and he’s actually a pretty well-known actor and musician. My guess though is that he’s going to become even more well-known thanks to this video. Yay Adele, for adding some color to your melancholy.

What do you think, dear readers? Is Adele being daring in 2015 by making a Black man her love interest in this video? Have other White female singers done this before? If you can think of anyone, leave me a comment below.

Thanks!

Peace!

Passing While Black: Black Man Becomes the Indian Liberace?!

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

panditLast week The New Republic posted this fascinating story about the famous Indian singer Korla Pandit. Known as the “Godfather of Exotica,” he had his own TV show that ran in the 1950s and had an impressive recording career as well. He was rich, married –to a White woman – and accepted in Hollywood as, well, an acceptable exotic. The only thing was, Korla wasn’t what he seemed.

From the New Republic:

Like most everything in Hollywood, it was all smoke and mirrors. His charade wasn’t his stage name—it was his race. Korla Pandit, born John Roland Redd, was a light-skinned black man from St. Louis, Missouri. It was a secret he kept until the day he died.”

So, how did he do it dear readers? How did a Black man from Missouri become The Godfather of Exotica? By playing off the cultural ignorance of the American people, of course. All John Roland Redd had to do was slap on a turban and voila, instant Indian. He also invented a fantastic back story and liked to talk about spirituality and peace. What’s not to love? Considering the fact that there are a grotesque amount of Americans who still believe our president is a Muslim simply because of his name, it really can’t be too hard to fool us as a people. We’ll believe anything if it feeds into cultural stereotypes. The truth is, Redd’s whole act was one big stereotype, including the turban with the shiny gem he always wore. He claimed to be a Hindu, but Hindu’s don’t even wear turbans, that’s a Sikh custom. But why quibble with details, America?

It really is a fascinating story, especially considering how bold Redd was with his deceit. He wasn’t going to quietly pass, he wanted a big life as a musician and this ethnic farce was his way to get it and apparently he played it out until the end. I wonder if he was giving the finger to the world when he drew his last breath? Like, “Suckers, I Got Over!”

There is a new documentary about Korla Pandit, called Korla that I cannot wait to see. I love stories like these because they completely fly in the face of the idea that Black people had no agency in their ability to “beat the system,” plus it is another example of how fluid identity is, largely based on skin color and hair texture. Apparently Redd’s hair was shiny, black and straight. Do you think he could have pulled this off if he had kinky hair and skin a bit darker? Oh, the possibilities.

So, dear readers, what do you think of Korla Pandit? Do you think Black people knew his secret? Apparently he got itchy around other Indians because clearly they’d be able to smell his lies. Will you be watching the film? Check the trailer and I’ll bet you’ll want to. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Peace!

“Rejected Princesses” Are Way Cooler and Way More Colorful Than Anything Disney

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

When I started this blog way back in 2006 ( I think), my lofty intentions were to create an online publication that showcased the ways that people of different cultures came together instead of clashed. I felt the mainstream media was doing a fine enough job covering discord and strife between different cultural groups and I wanted The Meltingpot to be the antidote, seeing as how my very own life flew in the face of racial animosity and conflict between cultures.

Sadly, I’ve strayed from that initial mission and have been sucked into the vortex of cultural crisis reporting. I’m so done. I’ve decided to go back to my roots with this blog and do my best to highlight some more positive examples of different cultures coming together. It’s not going to be all unicorns and glitter, but I am going to make an effort to be a shining light in the endless news of the dismal and depressing when it comes to race in America.

Trust, I won’t turn a blind eye to injustice, but I will be looking for the other side of the “racism rules the world” story.

This is  a website you need to check out and share!

This is a website you need to check out and share!

For starters, check this awesome website of “Rejected Princesses.” These are some badass heroines from history who would make awesome characters for girls – big girls and little girls that is – to love on. But due to said badass-ness, they will never make it to the big screen. Luckily they will make it to a new book in 2016. The best part is that these princesses hail from every country and culture, from ancient China to precolonial Angola. The folks over at Marvel might want to take notes.

Enjoy and you’re welcome!

Peace!

#Flashback Friday: Motherhood as a Competitive Sport

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

Recently a New York Times Op-Ed piece ran that suggested Black mothers were better mothers than White mothers. Besides the multiple comments berating the writer for daring to suggest such a thing on the New York Times website, one Black woman wrote a pretty scathing take down of the Times piece in the Washington Post, pretty much shaming the Times writer for resorting to Mammy stereotypes to promote Black motherhood.

Mommy Competitions go global

Mommy Competitions go global

And all of this just further perpetuates the mommy wars that really, in my opinion, is a lot of media hype and an attempt to commercialize our most fundamental job in this world, raising our children. How did this ever become a competition? It reminded me of a 2012 post I wrote, “Motherhood Olympics: Is Parenting the New International Competition?” in response to Tiger Parenting, French Mothers knowing best and a slew of other ‘who does it better?’ angles on the motherhood thing.

Personally, I do enjoy learning about how other cultures parent, because there may be a tip, tool or heck, just a really cool recipe that may prove beneficial for my own mothering style. That’s how we learn. But trying to decide who gets the gold medal for motherhood just seems silly, because last time I checked, there weren’t any perfect children on this planet.

Happy Friday, Meltingpot Readers! Enjoy this video that captures the mommy wars just perfectly.

Essence Magazine’s May Book Picks: A Meltingpot Dream

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

It's all about the books in this month's issue of Essence.

It’s all about the books in this month’s issue of Essence.

When you think of Ms. Meltingpot’s favorite things, you know books, Black hair, and multi-culti family life are all on the list right? Well, it’s like Essence magazine Books Editor, Patrick Bass was thinking only about me when he chose what books to feature in the May issue of the magazine. Seriously, I think he created this list just for me.

While I would read everything on the three-page spread dedicated to books, the two standouts that I think you too, dear readers, will enjoy are Loving Day by Mat Johnson and Finding Samuel Lowe by Paula Williams Madison. Loving Day is a comic novel about an interracial relationship gone wrong and Finding Samuel Lowe is the true story of how the Black/Jamaican author goes in search of her estranged Chinese grandfather (Note, there is also a movie about this amazing family).

But there’s more. I did say this month’s picks were tailor-made for me, right? That’s because there’s also a book about Black hair featured in all of this literary goodness.

Miko Branch, one of the two masterminds behind the Miss Jessie’s hair product line just released her first book, Miss Jessie’s:Creating a Successful Business from Scratch – Naturally. The book is part memoir, part start-up how-to. This issue of Essence features a personal essay by Miko, the younger of the two Branch sisters, where she discusses for the first time publicly, her sister’s battle with depression and untimely death. The book was finished before Titi Branch died so the story really is both of theirs and Miko is determined to tell it along with the importance of speaking out about mental illness.

So, I’m off to the book store, dear readers. Does anyone want to meet me there?

Peace!

Mixie Music Monday: Introducing Seinabo Sey

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

My new music crush, Seinabo Sey.

My new music crush, Seinabo Sey.

Some things in my life are just constant. For reasons that must have something to do with the moon I was born under or the arrangement of the stars when I pulled in my first breath, I am drawn to the mixing of cultures.

So, I was in my car listening to NPR on Friday and caught the very tail end of an interview with a singer. I only heard 30 seconds of her voice but I immediately fell in love. Like instantly. But I didn’t catch her name, only that she was Swedish and had performed at SWSX. As soon I made it home I did a quick Google search with the tiny pieces of information I gleaned from the radio interview and soon met Seinabo Sey on the Internet. Based on what I just said before about being drawn to the Mixies of the world, I could only laugh when I discovered that Ms. Sey has a Swedish mother and a father from The Gambia. She writes her lyrics only in English because she never felt at home growing up in Sweden. Maybe this is why I am drawn to Mixies.

Anywho, if you’ve never heard of Seinabo Sey, I’m sure you will soon because she has a powerful voice and a unique story. You can tell everybody that you heard about her here on the Meltingpot first. Enjoy!

#LinkLove: Fresh, Hot and Tasty New Meltingpot Links

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Mater Mea is one of the new links over there on the blogroll. Trust me, it's worth the click.

Mater Mea is one of the new links over there on the blogroll. Trust me, it’s worth the click.

Please notice over there on the right, that I’ve added some new links to my “Tastes Like the Meltingpot” blogroll; HapaMama, Mater Mea, and Multiracial Sky. These are websites/blogs I love and I’m sure you will too. I’m always trying to keep it fresh for my loyal (and new) readers who, like me, are always looking for new voices and new resources on the multiculti/ pop culture/ parenting beat. So, take a look and enjoy the new offerings. And please note, that while Afro-Viking author, Heidi Durrow’s blog, Light-Skinned-ed Girl isn’t new, she’s just come back to regular blogging after a prolonged break. I’m excited to hear from her again.

And, one more link before I go; check out this 2012 story in the Washington Post about the almost extinct Punjabi-Sikh-Mexican American community in the Southwest United States. I know, what? Yes, there once was a thriving East Indian-Mexican American community in states like California and Arizona that are only now getting attention as they face extinction. Think chicken curry enchiladas and let your imagination run wild. Yum and Yummy! By the way, before this community fades into extinction, there is a kickstarter campaign meant to preserve the culture through dance. Yep, the story of the Punjabi-Mexican community has been recreated in a show called “Half and Halves: A Dance Exploration of the Punjabi-Mexican Communities of California.” I can’t make this stuff up. America’s meltingpot is just this delicious.

Peace!