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SORRY OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR YOU'RE JUST NOT THE RIGHT TYPE OF "ETHNIC" FOR THE OSCARS


SORRY OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR YOU'RE JUST NOT THE RIGHT TYPE OF "ETHNIC" FOR THE OSCARS via Swirl Nation Blog

The Oscar’s have come and gone for 2017 and this year’s Oscar nominations for best/supporting actors and actresses is much more diverse than last year. Go you Hollywood.

This year we have a whopping 7 actors of color nominated for an Oscar. 8 if you count my favorite Hapa, Emma Stone. That’s 7 out of 20 people up for this award.

Out of those 7 actors, 6 are black and 1 is of Asian decent, Dev Patel. Where are the other ethnicities? Oh, that’s right, Hollywood doesn’t produce Oscar-worthy films with diversity. Hollywood thinks diversity means just black and white. Sorry other people of color you’re just not the right type of “ethnic”. We wouldn’t want a Mideastern person playing anything but a terrorist. And we certainly wouldn’t want an Asian playing an actually Asian. What will the children think? That they too can grow up and become a famous Hollywood actor? That’s what white people are for.

That is essentially what Hollywood is telling us. That if you are Asian, Hispanic, Latino, Native American, etc you don’t get to be represented. That you are less than. Cause white people are magical and can take on anything, even race. That you, as a person of color do not matter.

It’s amazing to me that it’s 2017 and we still have so far to go.

SORRY OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR YOU'RE JUST NOT THE RIGHT TYPE OF "ETHNIC" FOR THE OSCARS via Swirl Nation Blog
SORRY OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR YOU'RE JUST NOT THE RIGHT TYPE OF "ETHNIC" FOR THE OSCARS via Swirl Nation Blog

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A LOOK AT 'LOVING'


In the last few weeks I've found myself paralyzed and heavy into my feelings. Everyone across America is dealing with a flood of emotions, but being multiracial adds and extra layer to the confusion.

I find myself gravitating toward my African American and Native American heritage even more as events unfold, but lingering in the back of my head is the fact that I'm a combination from several different worlds. What if somewhere deep in my Caucasian lineage, there are some hateful roots. Did one half of my family contribute to the history of hurt my other half endured? Even though I know my background doesn't affect my character, not all white people are on the regressive side of the issue, it still makes the matter of equality awkward at best. I have to remind myself, though, that things are not as divided and hateful as they seem on the news. Love is the majority and things are changing. 

Biracial relationships have never been a trend that people are wild about, and the children from those relationships have not always been welcome. We're here, though, and becoming more commonplace and less taboo. I think people have an easier time accepting another race than they do accepting another race commingling with their own. It's an angle of racism that doesn't make it to the forefront very often, but it's all I seem to be thinking about lately. While there are people who may hate me simply for being black, there are also people who possibly hate me even more because I'm a mixture of both black and white. Somewhere In my mental tailspin though, I realized that I need to be grateful. Right now, there is still ignorance and some people don't approve, but there was a time when it was actually against the law and a life threatening risk to love outside your race. I felt like I was missing appreciation for where we are now, because I was focused on where we need to be. I thought watching "Loving" might give me a little perspective. That and I really just needed to watch something other than the overload of current event updates on my social media feed.

A LOOK AT 'LOVING' via Swirl Nation Blog

I always want to watch historical movies, but I shy away because they upset, and stick with me. I'm an emotional lightweight, and I can only handle an occasional action movie outside of my romantic comedies. I figured this couldn't be as traumatic as some of the movies about slavery though, so I thought I'd probably be okay. I did get upset, but it wasn't anything that would give me nightmares. It was actually really inspiring to watch the story of the couple who changed the face of civil liberties with regard to interracial marriage. Despite the danger of defying the ruling by the State of Virginia,  they fought their case all the way to the Supreme Court where it was declared unconstitutional for any state to deny a couple the inherent right of marriage based on race. They were jailed, and banished from Virginia because they would not concede to the order requiring them to dissolve their union. They faced great opposition, but persisted and eventually succeeded, creating a monumental change during the Civil Rights Movement.

I loved Ruth Negga as Mildred; in part because she herself is Swirl Nation (Irish and Ethiopian). I wasn't crazy about the husband's portrayal, but then again I don't know the real figure behind the character. Also, there were parts of the movie that were a little slow. Any criticism I have, though, is completely muted by the fact that this was a true story. Their courage was pivotal to our country's history. I was born just 15 years after the ruling, and relatively speaking that's not even a full generation before me. Without the Lovings my very existence would be criminal. That realization alone gave me chills, and left me in awe of the entire movie.

"Loving" the movie, left me thirsty for more stories of people who paved the way for all the liberties I am able to enjoy present day. Recently our country may have taken a few steps back, and uncovered prejudices that hid but did not die, but we have still come such a long way. While it's possible to come across intentional obstacles, distractions, and delays, progress cannot be stopped. Rather than be consumed by what the media strategically shares, I choose to be encouraged knowing that love will prevail and change is inevitable. 

One day interracial and multiracial will be redundant terms used only in history books, because we will all realize that we are a nation full of immigrants and their descendants, and no one's heritage is linear. We all have relatives that mixed things up somewhere along the way, and that's what makes our country the beautiful melting pot that it is.

Multi cultural family.jpg

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YOU ARE INVITED: #WHEREISBEAUTY SCREENING AT THE PAN AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL


The short film, #WhereIsBeauty, is about an introspective visual artist dealing with the pressures of social media embarks on a journey of self-discovery capturing everyday life through hashtags which unexpectedly transforms her perspective of beauty.

YOU ARE INVITED: #WHEREISBEAUTY SCREENING AT THE PAN AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL via Swirl Nation Blog

The countdown to the Pan African Film Festival has officially begun...  We hope to see you at one of the two screenings!

#WhereIsBeauty is screening at the 25th Annual Pan African Film Festival on Friday, Feb. 10th at 3pm and Wednesday Feb. 15th at 2pm. 

The screenings take place in Los Angeles at the Cinemark RAVE Cinemas 15 - 4020 Marlton Ave at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

The mission of the Pan African Film Festival is to:

Present and showcase the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help destroy negative stereotypes. We believe film and art can lead to better understanding and foster communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races, and lifestyles, while at the same time serve as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times.

 

Please go HERE to purchase your tickets, festival passes and learn more about the festival.

 

Please JOIN the conversation and you can also follow the film on social media. 

IMDB / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

 

Here is a full list of films being shown at the festival.


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VIDEO KILLED THE INTERRACIAL RADIO STAR


It all started one night when I was sitting on my couch, listening to Terence Trent D’Arby. As a 28, going on 29-year-old, I was only a kid when his music was popular, but I still remember hearing his songs throughout the house as a child and watching his videos on MTV back when MTV actually showed music videos. As I listened to “Sign Your Name” (1987), one of Terence Trent D’Arby’s famous ballads, I decided to YouTube the video to further enhance my trip down memory lane.

 

* “Sign Your Name” – Terence Trent D’Arby (1987)

As I watched, the video portrayed the story of Terence, a mixed Black/White (Scottish/Irish) man who loved and lost a White French woman; their light-skinned, curly haired, brown-eyed child caught in the crossfire between the complicated love of two complicated adults.

Screenshots from official music video for “Sign Your Name” by Terence Trent D’Arby

 

After watching the video, I immediately thought to myself…

“How many other music videos highlight multiracial love?”

 

Continuing my late 80’s, early-90’s nostalgic journey, I thought about the catchy “Jungle Fever” (1991) by Stevie Wonder from the hit Spike Lee movie Jungle Fever and its story of an interracial relationship between a Black man and a White Italian woman in 1990’s New York City.

“Jungle Fever” – Stevie Wonder (1991)

 

In the late 90’s, there was the sexy futuristic video for “If You Can’t Say No” (1998) by Lenny Kravitz, where Lenny, a mixed Afro-Black/White Jewish man professed his love and loss for Mila Jovovich, a famous Ukrainian model and actress.

 

“If You Can’t Say No” – Lenny Kravitz (1998)

 

And of course, the video for “They Don’t Know” (1998) by Jon B., who everyone said “sounded Black,” but was a White man who displayed his secret love for a Black woman.

 

“They Don’t Know” – Jon B. (1998)

 

As for music videos showcasing interracial love into the 2000’s, many of us may remember Justin Timberlake’s video for “Like I Love You” (2000), his first single as a solo artist after leaving N’SYNC. The video showed him, a White man, trying to win the affection of a Black woman.

 

“Like I Love You” – Justin Timberlake (2000)

 

There was also the ballad “Lost Without U” (2007) by Robin Thicke, which featured then wife Paula Patton, as they engaged in a sexy flirtation. This music video also recounted a love that was lost between a White man and a mixed Black/White female.

 

“Lost Without U” – Robin Thicke (2007)

 

And most recently, Adele, a White British woman pined over a love lost with Mack Wilds, a mixed Irish/Afro-Dominican man, in her video for “Hello” (2015).

 

“Hello” – Adele (2015)

 

Despite these videos showcasing love and romance between interracial couples, they are predominately just a visual that comes with generic songs about love and heartbreak. The actual topic of interracial love is not overtly sung about. There are some examples, however, as few and far between they may seem. Auburn, a Black female rapper from Minneapolis, has received negative feedback by rapping about her Asian boyfriends and using Asian men to portray love interests in many of her music videos. In her song “My Baby” (2013) Auburn states,

“I know people look at us and they wonder why we’re attached because our skin don’t match.”

 

“My Baby” – Auburn (2013)

 

Other noticeable songs from the 2000’s which explicitly discuss the intricacies of interracial love are “Long Way To Go” (2004) by No Doubt front woman Gwen Stefani and member of Outkast, André 3000. The two sang about how love is love, regardless of color, but how society still has a long way to go to fully embrace the notion of colorblind love.

 

“Long Way To Go” – Gwen Stefani feat. André 3000 (2004)

 

There is Alicia Keys “Unthinkable (I’m Ready)” (2009) which directly expressed what it was like to engage in an interracial relationship when such an idea was still very taboo.

 

“Unthinkable (I’m Ready)” – Alicia Keys (2009)

 

And lastly, Robin Thicke’s “Dreamworld” (2009) which has Robin dreaming of a world where he states, “There would be no black or white, the world would treat just treat my wife right, we could walk down in Mississippi and no one would look at us twice.”

 

“Dreamworld” – Robin Thicke (2009)

 

It is interesting how the videos for the songs I have mentioned which feature multiracial love are stories of love that was lost, stories of heartbreak and misery. The stereotypical tragedy of mixed-race plays out even in mainstream music. How come we do not see music videos where multiracial love flourishes? How come we do not hear more music about interracial love from a variety of perspectives, not just couples who are Black and White? Why are artists not singing about multiracial love in general? And why does interracial love have to be so difficult, even within the language of music, which is supposed to heal all when other remedies do not work?

 

The acceptance of multiracial and interracial relationships are higher than ever before, yet, popular music has yet to catch up to the claim. This all may be a moot point now that music videos are not what they used to be. Maybe a resurgence of the music video in the future will help propel interracial love into a new spotlight. Thankfully, interracial couples are still being seen in the media, from TV commercials to clothing ads. But it would be great to turn on a good song knowing there is a music video somewhere out there showcasing the beauty of multiracial affection, to see that multiracial love is not to be lost, but that it can be held onto long after the music fades.


NOTES:

*The original music video is no longer available in this country. The version of the video provided is a live version of Terence Trent D’Arby performing “Sign Your Name” live at The Roxy in 1988.

**Image from Google Images.

***Image from Instagram.

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A UNITED KINGDOM


Last weekend I took my daughter to go see Hidden Figures (which was INCREDIBLE) and worthy of its own blog post, but I have to say I was already in tears before the movie even started because the trailer for A United Kingdom played...

Looks incredible right?! So I have never heard this story before, but it is the true story of Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams. Seretse was Botswanan and an Oxford-educated student prince. Ruth was an English middle-class clerk. In 1948 they were married despite all of the obstacles and outrage it caused.  Their relationship became the focus of a crisis between Britain and Botswana’s neighbour South Africa, which was about to introduce apartheid.

Seretse Khama with his English wife Ruth, and their two children Jacqueline and Seretse Jr in September 1956

Seretse Khama with his English wife Ruth, and their two children Jacqueline and Seretse Jr in September 1956

Ian Khama, current President of Botswana, son of Seretse and Ruth

Ian Khama, current President of Botswana, son of Seretse and Ruth

The couple went on to have a daughter and three sons. Their son Ian is now President of Botswana. Both Seretse and Ruth have now passed, but from the trailer it certainly looks as though British acting duo David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike have done an incredible job of capturing their love story. 

Oyelowo said that he was attracted by the ‘epic nature of the love story, and the backdrop of the British empire, and what it was like to be a king in Africa just as apartheid was being signed into law in South Africa’. There is already Oscar nomination buzz about his performance. He was certainly snubbed in my opinion for portraying MLK in Selma. 

It is wonderful to see a diversity of love stories being displayed on screen, of course Loving being most recent, and now A United Kingdom slated to be released on February 10th, 2017. 

David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike are portraying the pair on screen

David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike are portraying the pair on screen

I hope everyone goes out and supports this movie, the multiracial community in particular! What a wondeful love story to share with the world.

A UNITED KINGDOM via Swirl Nation Blog



 

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THE BACHELOR BRINGS BIRACIAL TO THE SMALL SCREEN


Taylor Nolan, biracial contestant on The Bachelor

Taylor Nolan, biracial contestant on The Bachelor

Happy 2017 and if you are like most of America you may have started out your week with The Bachelor on Monday night. I’m not an avid Bachelor fan, but to appease my younger sister I indulged her whim to watch it. I’ve seen a handful of seasons and we all know the process: one man dates thirty girls and cherry picks his way to the love of his life in roughly two months. We got it, not a hard concept. The older and more #woke I get, my attention to the diversity, education and background the women selected increases rather than focusing on the man.

What got my attention this first episode was a biracial, black and white contestant named Taylor Nolan. In her introduction video, she listed a few key facts: she’s an entrepreneur, mental health counselor, graduate from Johns Hopkins, and biracial. Following her statement on being biracial she states

“Connections can be somewhat difficult for me. My mom is white and my biological father is black. Being biracial is very much um… white girls didn’t like because I was black and black girls didn’t like me because I was white. But I think I’ve really learned to love myself and be comfortable with who I am.”

 To be honest I had a very complicated reaction to this reveal. One, it felt like the most cliché label associated with being mixed. It’s a very blanket statement that I know we’ve all felt- disconnect and displacement, it just felt like an odd association to make in relation to her love life. Our social position and acceptance within our own cultures is different in my opinion than our connections with a potential partner. If she had somehow tied this to being in an interracial relationship it would have made more sense, but the way it was packaged, it felt more like a label to stamp her with, which is often what mixed people receive 100% from the outside looking in. At the same time, I understand and hope that there was more context to what she said, and it was edited because well, it’s reality TV.

ABC wants us to know a few things

  1. We have a mixed person who identifies as such (yay for diversity)
  2. I’m assuming since this was part of her introduction, if she lasts that will be further explored to some degree (maybe not since this is The Bachelor and not a PBS documentary)
  3. Her background with being unable to make a connection due to being biracial may be her “Achilles heel” in developing love with our Bachelor. Not sure. We’ll see.

In a 2016-2017 that has brought many mixed race and interracial relationship conversations to the forefront of media, I look forward to seeing how her position as a biracial woman will be explored as opposed to the other women if at all.


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SLAVERY IN 2016? AVA DUVERNAY'S DOCUMENTARY "13TH"


Ava DuVernay, Director

Ava DuVernay, Director

I don’t watch a lot of documentaries, but my two younger sisters desperately urged me to watch “13th” on Netflix, directed by Ava DuVernay. I knew she had directed Selma, so I figured the documentary would be pretty good. I truly had no idea just how good it would be.

 

The documentary is based around, and named for, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery. The amendment was ratified in 1865 and stated: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Somehow, I never really thought about the clause right in the middle of that sentence, “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”

 

DuVernay’s documentary focuses in on that clause and details how she, and many others, believe that it is the reason so many African American men and other people of color are currently in our nation’s prison systems. She interviews scholars, white and black, and others who substantiate this claim with very convincing evidence. They all agree that the clause has basically allowed slavery to continue under the guise of keeping “criminals” behind bars.

 

I’ve known for many years that our prison system is broken and in need of a desperate overhaul, but I truly didn’t realize the extent of it until I watched “13th”. I also didn’t realize the degree in which our prisons are systematically and calculatedly filled. Listening to the people interviewed talk about how vastly interconnected the prisons are to huge corporations and political organizations was mind blowing and also extremely disheartening; especially given our current political climate in the wake of the presidential election.  

“13th” is an incredibly powerful film and I think DuVernay excellently weaves her claim into the broader picture of current race relations in the US. It truly speaks to a lot of the issues African Americans and people of color are dealing with today and, in my opinion, is a must watch for everyone. Regardless of the opinions or conclusions you come to after watching, it assure you it will have made you think a little harder about why so many African Americans are imprisoned and why so many people of color are continually and systematically disenfranchised.


 

 

 

 

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MULTIRACIAL #WCW: ZADIE SMITH


With husband, poet Nick Laird

With husband, poet Nick Laird

This remarkable woman just came out with another novel and I’m so excited!  She was the featured guest for Fresh Air on NPR about a week ago and I sat in a parking lot for the full-hour interview. 

 

OK, so backing up…

I read White Teeth, very late, right before I became pregnant with my daughter in 2007.  I couldn’t put the book down.  Zadie Smith is so lyrical, so RAW.  Being mixed-race herself, she writes from a deep place about growing up mixed-race.  She examines immigrants and their children and the tug and pull of longing for a homeland while making a home in a new land; a new land where your neighbors are from all over, doing the same thing.  She is witty, truthful, and a great storyteller.  White Teeth, her debut novel, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, the 2000 Whitbread Book Award in category best first novel, the Guardian First Book Award, the Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize, and the Betty Trask AwardTime magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

 

Can we say “baller”?

Since her debut novel, Smith has written four more novels, countless stories, and essays.  She’s brilliant.  And this is really a Woman Crush for me – I know I wrote about Rose Bertram before, but I don’t know much about Rose Bertram, except she’s very attractive, is dating a hot soccer player, and has an amazing Instagram.  Rose could be quite the erudite, I just don’t know; however, Zadie Smith finished White Teeth while in her final year at Cambridge University...

 

A little more about this woman du jour (taken from Wikipedia):

Zadie Smith was born as Sadie Smith in the north-west London borough of Brent to a Jamaican (Black) mother, Yvonne Bailey, and an English (Caucasian) father, Harvey Smith.  Her mother had grown up in Jamaica and migrated to England in 1969. Their marriage was her father's second. Zadie has a half-sister, a half-brother, and two younger brothers, one of whom is the rapper and stand-up comedian Doc Brown and the other is rapper Luc Skyz. As a child, she was fond of tap dancing; as a teenager, she considered a career as an actress in musical theatre; and as a university student she earned money as a jazz singer and wanted to become a journalist.
 

Her interview on Fresh Air made me fall in love even more – it can seriously be its own post.  She is so intelligent and insightful.  A couple excerpts:

On a poll that found that about seven in 10 Donald Trump supporters thought life in America was better in the 1950s

Zadie Smith:

This is a very interesting point for me because that kind of historical nostalgia is only available to a certain kind of person. ... I can't go back to the '50s, because life in the '50s for me is not pretty, nor is it pretty in 1320 or 1460 or 1580 or 1820 or even 1960 in this country, very frankly. So that's what interests me — the historical nostalgia that is available or not available to others.
I am also historically nostalgic, and the left is also historically nostalgic, and as tempting as it would be to apply the solutions of 1970s semi-socialist England to present problems, I don't think that's possible either. I think the idea is that you find some way to restate the things you find valuable in the past — if you find them valuable — in a way that people can live with, in a way that's livable in this contemporary moment.

On how being biracial allows her to blend in with different cultures

Zadie Smith:

I think people of my shade all over the world will have these experiences: You might go to Morocco and people will believe you Moroccan; you might go to Egypt and be confused for an Egyptian; you might find yourself in Bangladesh and people are talking Bengali to you. It's an interesting mind state, one I've always found very enjoyable, actually. ... I guess ... the movability of the identity is interesting, whereas I suppose a white person is white wherever they go. They're kind of stuck with it, whereas I find the interesting interpretive quality that my shade creates in others curious — sometimes funny, sometimes upsetting, sometimes alarming.
 

And I haven’t even mentioned her beauty and style.  I’m providing photos for that…

MULTIRACIAL #WCW: ZADIE SMITH via Swirl Nation Blog
MULTIRACIAL #WCW: ZADIE SMITH via Swirl Nation Blog
And she can hold her own standing next to a model and fashion designer

And she can hold her own standing next to a model and fashion designer


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IN MY HEADPHONES: MARCEL KHALIFE'S ANDALUSIA OF LOVE


IN MY HEADPHONES: MARCEL KHALIFE'S ANDALUSIA OF LOVE via Swirl Nation Blog

The new album from Lebanese composer and oud player, Marcel Khalife, is purely magical.  I close my eyes and can feel the desert breeze caressing my sun-scorched face.  I cannot help keeping time to every drum beat with my hips and tears fill my eyes from pure love, passion, longing…

IN MY HEADPHONES: MARCEL KHALIFE'S ANDALUSIA OF LOVE via Swirl Nation Blog

I don’t speak Arabic.  I know the curse words, but even those I say incorrectly.  You don’t need to know Arabic to feel the emotion in the words and rhythms of Khalife’s songs.  If you are not into world music, or venturing out of your normal realm of familiar music, this album might not be for you.  If you love dreamy melodies and songs that tell a story, this album could be for you.  The story, the drama, is in the music, and it is meant to be felt.

Andalusia used to be home to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  For centuries, they lived in peace together.  This album conjures that optimism and reminds us it is possible.  Although Khalife is Christian, his lyrics come from the late Palestinian-Muslim poet, Mahmoud Darwish.

In melding faith, culture, and language, Khalife also brings together jazz, classical, and traditional Middle Eastern sounds to this album.  And true to his message of remembering a time when faiths lived together in harmony, the combination of music genres works together to create something beautiful.

The album feels like an opera, you might want to listen to one song alone, but you know the experience is richer if you listen to the whole album – beginning to end. 

My favorite way to experience a culture is through food, but if the food is not readily available, music is the next best thing.  Music humanizes, it transcends boundaries, so let the dream begin, and be transported…


 

 

 

 

 

 

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IN MY HEADPHONES: BRUNO MARS


IN MY HEADPHONES: BRUNO MARS via Swirl Nation Blog

I LOVE Bruno Mars, his energy is contagious and I think he's an amazing performer. Bruno is from Honolulu and his name is actually Peter Gene Hernandez. He is Multiracial, his father is half Puerto Rican and half Ashkenazi Jewish and his mother is Filipino and Spanish. At the age of two, he was nicknamed "Bruno" by his father, because of his resemblance to professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino.

I was Hulu-ing SNL last night and was so excited to see him as the musical guest because my daughter and I have been singing 24k Magic constantly the last couple weeks.

The sound of 24k Magic reminds me of 90s break dancing and definitely has a big dose of retro in it. If you listen to it once, you can basically sing along almost every word the second time around! Billboard puts it far better than I ever could:

“24K Magic,” which corrals Grandmaster Flash, Zapp & Roger, Rick James and the whole of G-funk into three minutes and 46 seconds, while adding some modern ornaments (“Got to blame it on Jesus / Hashtag blessed!”) for good measure. Mars, who grew up impersonating Elvis Presley and started his career as a songwriter for other artists, has become a superstar thanks to a knack for channeling different pop eras through his warm, expressive persona. Yet only recently have his gestures to the past become so explicit that a new single can produce memories of several classics upon first listen.

His SNL performance did not disappoint! Why you mad? Fix yo face! is without a doubt my favorite lyric:) Here is his live performance and then the official music video for the song is below that. 

 

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Multiracial #WCW: Devon Aoki


So I was watching Fergie’s video MILF (#goals, btw) and noticed Devon Aoki in the video.  I didn’t even know the woman had a kid, so I went down the rabbit hole of what is the Internet and caught up on this beautiful girl’s life.

MULTIRACIAL #WCW: Devon Aoki via Swirl Nation Blog
MULTIRACIAL #WCW: Devon Aoki via Swirl Nation Blog

A little background, I first saw Devon Aoki on the cover of Vegas magazine on one of my first visits in the early 2000s.  She was a tiny thing with almond eyes, blonde hair, and full, heart-shaped lips that sloped downwards.  On this particular cover, I think her freckles weren’t covered up.  She was a doll.  Seriously, she looked like a porcelain doll I had when I was a child.  I was totally intrigued and wanted to know her background.  This was before “googling” was a thing (can you believe it?), so I had to actually read the article.

 

Devon Aoki’s father, Hiroaki Aoki, is Japanese and the founder of Benihana.  Her mother is Pamela Hilburger, a woman of German and English lineage.  Devon began modeling at 13 and was the face of Versace at 16.  She moved on from modeling to acting.  Most people probably remember her from 2 Fast 2 Furious, but the only movie I’ve seen her in is D.E.B.S.

 

MULTIRACIAL #WCW: Devon Aoki via Swirl Nation Blog

Aoki is all grown up now.  She’s married and has three (THREE!!!) kids.  She is still just as beautiful and adorable and her three kids definitely have the pretty gene.  She is totally a MILF – Mom I’d Like to Follow… Get your head out of the gutter…


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DONALD GLOVER'S ATLANTA CHALLENGES STEREOTYPES IN MEDIA


Atlanta chronicles the everyday life of its characters. Glover’s character, “Earn”, has a child and is not married to the mother, his cousin, “Paper Boi” is a rapper who commits an act of violence, and there are talks of drugs, however, in the world of Atlanta those are not stereotypes; it is reality. What is the line between stereotype and reality?

 

Stereotypes in television are often caricatures. They are over the top. When people say someone is being a stereotype, it’s usually extreme.

 

Atlanta is not extreme. It is a slow, easy paced show, often taking place in real time. Yes, they are showing rappers. But guess what, people in the “hood”, actually do try to rap. People actually do have guns. This is reality. What I found interesting when I was watching the show is that it showed the emotional response the characters were having to the situations around them. For example, as Paper Boi (played by Brian Tyree Henry), is becoming popular (once his song is on the radio), we see him moving through society and being treated differently. We see his interaction with the man at the wing shop who gives him extra perks. We see on his face, the way that he is affected by the things that this man is saying to him. We see his interaction with a woman who starts off angry and then changes her tune when she realizes who he is. We watch his reaction to little children playing violently as they imitate him. To me, that’s real. That’s realistic. It’s not a stereotype. And it begs the question of whether or not we should preserve the culture of our ghettos or be ashamed of it. The truth is, ghettos exist. And certain cultural aspects come out of those ghettos. If we are to be ashamed of the ghetto and get rid of all things associated with it, that would require us to get rid of some of the things we like, such as jazz, hip hop and street culture. Those are things that have been accepted into popular culture. But other things are not, such as, talking loudly, speaking with heavy colloquialisms, and aspiring to be a rapper or ball player. We look down on these things. But why? We can’t pick and choose what parts of people we like. And by doing so, we are buying into the stereotypes.

“I chose these characters because they represent every type of person. We based these characters off of our friends. I don’t think a lot of people understand how someone like Donald Glover is friends with a drug dealer and that’s what I’m trying to get at. It just happens, it’s not crazy at all.” – Donald Glover

I find it interesting when I hear people of color refer to stereotypical portrayals in TV and film. While I do agree, that sometimes people of color are reduced to stereotypes, I do think there is a difference between reducing someone to just a stereotyped caricature, and having a multi-dimensional character that fits a description of a certain type of person. These people are real. These people actually exist. And they deserve voices. Everyone is a stereotype in one-way or another. People who are against loud speaking, lip smacking girls, are a stereotype. They are a stereotype of  “uppity. Someone who speaks “white” is a stereotype. There are positives and negatives to each one. But at the end of the day, these are people who exist. Stereotypes come from somewhere. The negative connotations are really attached to the caricature of such stereotypes.

 
DONALD GLOVER'S ATLANTA CHALLENGES STEREOTYPES IN MEDIA via Swirl Nation Blog
“Stereotypes come from somewhere. People just don’t know people. I just tried to show a real person. With everybody on the show, it’s like, let’s make sure they’re real people. The second they don’t feel like real people, it feels more like a sitcom to people, which we didn’t want to do. I was like, I don’t want to make it a sitcom. I don’t want it to feel like what people think about when they say, "sitcom." Let’s make sure these characters feel like people and you’re surprised and interested when they make a decision based on their experiences. So, with Earn and Paper Boi and [Paper Boi's friend] Darius, I was like, let’s make sure that their friendship feels honest and then after that they can do whatever they need to do. I feel like people forget how much they’re different from their friends, how often people’s friends are very different and have different ideas and they come together to smoke or chill, but you live completely different lives and sometimes your philosophies cross and sometimes they don’t. And that's what makes for an interesting relationship.” – Donald Glover

Atlanta airs Tuesdays | 10PM ET/PT


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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INTERRACIAL ROYAL FAMILY


STRANGER THINGS: INTERRACIAL ROYAL FAMILY via Swirl Nation Blog

I finally finished all seasons of Downton Abbey.  I am both happy and sad it ended, but I’m already on to my next binge-worthy obsession: Stranger Things.  What I loved about Downton is the juxtaposition between the service class and the aristocracy and how that changed over the course of time.  There was one story line over two episodes that dealt with interracial love, and I love the creators of Downton for taking that chance.  Other than that, we hardly saw any person of color in the whole series.  This made me think: have things changed since the late 1800s regarding the aristocracy and race?  Although there is evidence of biracial, illegitimate children of royals – the Prince of Monaco’s biracial son with a flight attendant comes to mind – you do not hear much about biracial royal families in the modern age.  Only one royal family, that I know of, has broken this barrier: The Royal Family of Liechtenstein. 

 

The family is very private, but this is what I could find out about the family.  Prince Nikolaus Maria of Liechtenstein is the second son of Prince Hans-Adam II and Princess Marie.  He married Angela Gisela Brown, now Princess Angela of Liechtenstein, a fashion designer of Afro-Panamanian descent in January 2000. The marriage obtained prior consent and had full support of the groom’s family.  Being that there are very few royal families left in Europe, some people were not fans of bringing a non-royal into the elite class; however, other Royals welcomed the change. They have a son together, Prince Alfons Constantin Maria of Liechtenstein, born on May 18, 2001 and he is in line to the throne.

 

Prince Alfons was such an adorable little boy.  He should be 15 years old now, but I couldn’t find any recent photos of him.  This is the most current photo, a compilation of the Royal Families of Liechtenstein:


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