A Rome Memorial Day

Memorial Day #MusicMonday is the album Rome by Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi and featuring one of our favorite Desi songstress, Norah Jones. I was going to post up the YouTube video for my favorite song on the album featuring Norah Jones – a song called “Black” – but I decided to post this video which basically allows you to stream the whole album in one straight shot.

Sorry, no free downloads today. Just an awesome album to soundtrack your Memorial Day. Continue reading

Ricky Gill: The Young (but not Green) Guy from Lodi

Ricky Gill on KOVR-CBS13 Sacramento from Ricky Gill on Vimeo.

Lodi-born San Joaquin County native Ranjit “Ricky” Gill recently announced that he’s running for Congress in central California, in what is currently the state’s 11th district (it seems that district boundaries may change after August 15 when a citizens redistricting commission approves final maps). Sepia Mutiny noted Gill with a hint of envy and admiration back when he was invited at the age of 17 to the Republican state convention. At that time he served as the sole student representative on the State Board of Education, selected by the former Governator himself. Continue reading

25% of 2011 Intel Science Talent Search finalists Indian American

talentfig.jpgChildren of Immigrants Are America’s Science Superstars:

The study, conducted by the National Foundation for American Policy, found that 70 percent of the finalists in the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search competition — also known as the “Junior Nobel Prize” — were the children of immigrants even though only 12 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born.

A think tank called the National Foundation for Economic Policy has released a report (PDF), The impact of the children of immigrants on scientific achievement in America. These aren’t just any “immigrants.” Ethnically 10 out of the 40 finalists are Indian American, and 16 are Chinese American, but perhaps more critically: “While former H-1B visa holders comprise less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, 60 percent of the finalists had parents who entered the U.S. on H-1B visas, which are generally the only practical way to hire skilled foreign nationals.” Continue reading

Peter Thiel doubles down on young browns

We’ve pointed to the Indian American prominence in the National Spelling Bee, and or in the Intel National Talent Search, so I thought it might interest readers that two of Peter Thiel’s 20 Under 20 fellows are brown:

faheem-zaman_thumb-2.jpgFaheem Zaman has shot the moon on nearly every SAT test he’s ever taken: 5580 points across 5 tests. He wants to decentralize banking in the developing world with a mobile payment system. Because savings are difficult in poor countries–including in some regions of South Asia where many have to hoard and protect cash–Faheem believes mobile financial services will help bring prosperity to these areas. Before he introduces his technology to the developing world, Faheem’s initial plan is to gain a foothold in the U.S. market for mobile financial services.

sujay-tyle_thumb.jpgSujay Tyle is one of the youngest students at Harvard and is passionate about hacking cellulose to create cheap biofuels. He first worked in a lab when he was 11, interned at Dupont as a teenager, and won the grand prize at the 2009 International Sustainable World Energy Olympiad in Houston. With his older brother, Sheel, he also runs ReSight, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to helping the vision-impaired around the world.

I’ve defended Thiel’s idea elsewhere, but the short of it is that the intent is prod some bright young things to take some time off from school and engage in some entrepreneurialism. The fellows are given $100,000 to drop out of higher education (or not pursue higher education) for two years. I think that our society’s focus on higher education as if it must be the ends for all individuals, instead of a means, is problematic. This is an issue which brushes up against the broader themes which Abhi addressed when it comes to Asian American focus on achievement by orthodox metrics only.

Here’s a post on DealBook, Finding the Next Mark Zuckerberg. Peter Thiel is all over the media, so I’m sure you’ll hear the pros and cons. Continue reading

Got to be taught

airport.line.jpgImagine you work for the TSA. You might be all too aware of public criticism of airport security procedures like pat-downs and removing shoes. You might feel proud to serve your country. You might be glad to have a job in this economy.

Being brown, you might also be required to play the role of terrorist in a training drill, taking a mock bomb up to a Minneapolis-St. Paul airport security checkpoint. And, oops, your boss might forget to tell airport police that the drill is happening, prompting an armed response.

According to information released Monday by MSP airport police, the May 12 security test included a device in a shaving kit made to look like a bomb. It was a cylinder with wires connected to a wrist watch. The device was brought to a passenger security checkpoint, according to airport Police Sgt. Mark Ledbetter, one of the responding officers.

“Upon arriving [at the checkpoint],” Ledbetter wrote in his report, “TSA [Transportation Security Adminstration] screeners were out with a male who appeared to be Middle Eastern in descent or Indian/Pakistani.” (StarTribune) Continue reading

The Ultimate Dhaba Roadtrip

Taste of India.jpg

Clearly what resonated the most with my California Desi population map wasn’t the population. It was the fact that I said, “I’d love to do a Cali road trip based on this map, and hit up the Indian restaurants along the way.” Y’all a bunch of foodies, aren’t you?

View Ultimate Dhaba Roadtrip in a larger map

So let’s do this again, crowdsource style. This time the google map lists those to-die-for hole-in-the-wall dhabas in the middle of nowhere. I’ve already taken the liberty to map the ones listed in the previous comment thread. Do you have a Desi food place that is a must hit up place on a “kao, kao, kao” summer road trip? Do you have an interesting picture at one of these places? Please list it in the comments and I’ll drop it into the map as soon as possible. and it doesn’t have to be Cali centered. I only ask that you make recs for food that is good, places obscure and with a great story.

Photo credit: Me, taken somewhere off the I-40 in between Arizona and California on my ultimate Taqwacore roadtrip in ’09. Continue reading

Why Are There No NY South Asian Electeds?

ny-senate-map.jpgAn interesting piece out of WNYC this morning on the increasing population of South Asians in New York but a lack of political representation.

The Asian population in the five boroughs spiked 32 percent in the last decade, and New Yorkers of South Asian descent had a lot to do with it. Numbers from the Census Bureau show that Indian American numbers alone skyrocketed 77 percent in Manhattan to reach 25,857, and in the city over all there are now 192,209 people who identify as Asian Indian. [wnyc]

So there’s a large population. That we all know. Why are there no South Asians in seats of political power?

There are segments of the South Asian community–particularly those in Manhattan–who are affluent and vote….Other segments of the South Asian population, particularly in the outer boroughs, tend to be less politically active and more economically diverse. But with this spring’s redistricting opportunity, there’s a growing movement in Queens to redraw district lines in hopes that the South Asian population can increase its political power. [wnyc]

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the civic engagement tools that are in place are disproportionately constructed to marginalize voices of people of color. The access that South Asians have to the electoral process is oppressed by the system in place. It’s not just about voting, but about having access to an electoral system. One of the tactics to dis-empower South Asian communities is in the process of how district lines are drawn.

Part of that momentum is “Taking our seat,” a new group applying for non-profit status. The organization is focused on redrawing the lines of the 31st Assembly district in South Eastern Queens to create a ‘brown district.’ Their analysis of Census Bureau data showed that two of the highest density South Asian American census tracts lie within that district and four other high density tracts–which are split between four other Assembly districts–are located just blocks away….Richmond Hill’s South Asian community is divided into two city council districts and five assembly districts. [wnyc] Continue reading

Inhale Some Gotham Green

Gotham Green.jpgToday’s #MusicMonday comes out of NYC via LA via TX…via NYC. Gotham Green has traversed the nation, picking up flow, styles, and beat makers along the way. His beats have an easy going West Coast vibe to it, with a bit of NYC in your face grit mixed in. Quick on the heels of his last album, The Haze Diaries Volume 3, Gotham Green has just dropped more music, this time as an EP with El Prez called, Inhale. You can download the EP for free right here.

I sat down via gChat with this hip hop charmer to talk about his journey with music and life. And of course, weed. Here’s what Gotham Green had to say.

Taz: Gotham Green! You have an EP out w/ El Prez that just dropped?

Gotham Green: Me and the homie El Prez released a six track EP on May 5th, presented by ashleyoutrageous and djbooth.net. It’s called Inhale. The songs on Inhale are all basically just a product of two friends smoking and joking around and then, making it a reality. It was dope because I recorded my shit in NYC, then he recorded his shit in LA. This dope producer duo Twigg & Stone produced five songs and Quickie Mart did one song for it.

T: Does it sound like the The Haze Diaries ? “Tell Me Something” on Haze Diaries Vol. 3 is my favorite. Nice video for it too.

GG: I wouldn’t say it does, but all three volumes of The Haze Diaries sound different to me. Thanks, people love that song. It seems to be a lot of peoples favorite. Shoutout to my homie Freddie Gibbs. Yeah, that video came out beautiful. Michael Stine and Nick Vedros really killed that and the “Dirty Filthy Liar” video. Continue reading

Going Back to Cali

On the heel’s of my national Desi post, and Razib’s international Desi post, I got curious. What about California? That is a state where data was released for “Asian Indians only” by the Census data so far. A friend asked me for California numbers over the weekend (he wants to set up a practice in California and wanted to see where Desis were living – I never would have thought to use census data for that). To make it visually easier for him (and me) I dropped the data for California cities with Asian Indian populations on a google map.

View Asian Indian Population in California in a larger map

It’s no fancy GIS map nor does the data really tell you much beyond population and concentration – but it was quick and simple. The purple markers represent the top ten cities with Asian Indian populations and the yellow markers are for everything above a population of 3,000. The blue markers are for cities with high concentrations of Asian Indians but did not have a population of Asian Indians over 3,000 people. Once again, this map is for people that marked “Asian Indian only” – it does not account for mixed race, nor does it account for other South Asians like Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, etc…

To me what was the most surprising were the really small cities in the central valley that have a relatively large concentrations of Asian Indians. I’d love to do a Cali road trip based on this map, and hit up the Indian restaurants along the way. Because I imagine, where there’s an Indian population, there’s a saag paneer joint not too far away. Is there an app for that? Continue reading

Where the browns be internationally

This is an American-focused weblog, but the internet knows no borders, so there are browns from all over who leave comments and post. It’s interesting to get different perspectives (OK, most of the time!). But on the heels of Taz’s post on the 2010 US Census data release I thought it would be interesting to revisit how “South Asians” are distributed outside of South Asia. To do that I had to look around for ethnic data on a selection of nations with large South Asian populations.

There are some qualifiers here. Since the non-Indian South Asian data for the USA isn’t released yet, I just looked at Indian Americans. This is “good enough for government work” in the USA I think because the brown community is overwhelmingly Indian origin. In contrast that would be a really bad approximation in the United Kingdom, where half of the brown community is non-Indian (this includes into the Indian class those who arrived from East Africa I believe). The distinction between Indian and non-Indian also gets into the “not-even-wrong” category if you are looking at the West Indies, where most South Asians arrived before partition, and so were all “East Indian” no matter where they were from (though I know that in places like Mauritius there is sometimes a post facto identification with post-partition nation-states, often based on religious divisions). Finally, for some Gulf Arab nations the demographic data is nebulous and hard to get. Part of this is due to the fact that the South Asian Diaspora in places like Saudi Arabia is quite transient, and the probability of actually becoming a citizen is low. I couldn’t find Saudi data easily, though it seems likely that there are several million South Asian residents of Saudi Arabia at any given moment. But it seems agreed upon that the United Arab Emirates is about half South Asian, and this community is arguably the most rooted, even if they don’t hold citizenship, so I’m including it in the comparisons.

Below are two scatterplots which show the absolute numbers of browns vs. the % of browns in a given nation. The second plot is log-transformed percentage so you can compare the proportions at the low end of the scale. Continue reading