Sepia Mutiny: 7/30/2004 to 4/1/2012

The Sepia Mutiny has ended but our archives are still available and you can follow us on Twitter @sepiamutiny for the time being

You can also follow us individually

Abhi: twitter.com/themadblogger

Amitava: twitter.com/amitavakumar

Anna: twitter.com/suitablegirl + https://www.facebook.com/suitablegirl

Chaitan: twitter.com/teawithtanya

Ennis: twitter.com/ennismutinywale

Kunjan http://Kunjan.net + twitter.com/kunjanshah

Lakshmi: twitter.com/LakshmiGandhi

Melvin:  www.MelvinDurai.com + www.Nshima.com

Pavani: twitter.com/_pavani + twitter.com/MustSeeDesis

Phillygrrl: twitter.com/phillygrrl

Taz: twitter.com/tazzystar

Vasugi: twitter.com/vasugi

Vivek: twitter.com/vivekster

We Will Wade in the Shine of the Ever

Last night, with the power out and the insomnia I have battled since puberty ruining whatever chance I had of making it to church on time, I resumed a familiar, loathsome dialog with the gatekeeper to the Land of Nod. He is very bored with his work and I am loquacious, so he uses me for his own amusement, claiming it helps make his job less tedious, even as I wish he would just let me in so I can finally rest.

He is he, because I am a she, and I refuse to believe that this sadist is female. I wear too much pink for that.

Me: 5am. 5am of the last day of this life.

He: Bit dramatic, innit?

Me: Not at all.

He: ’tis.

Me: No!

He: Your last day has long passed. You forsook that life exactly four years ago, when you chose an actual life over a virtual one.

Me: But I was coming back.

He: You always say that.

Me: But I was. Not in the way people expect, but I was. I have schemes. Schemes!

He: Annabel. How long have you been writing that one post?

Me: I am unaware of to what you might be referring.

He: Not ending a sentence with a preposition is a bit of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.

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All good things

Is our announcement that we are ending another elaborate April Fool’s joke?

Long time Sepia Mutiny readers know that SM has deceived its readers with devastating April Fool’s day pranks over the years. Go visit our site on previous April ones to see the results (exhibits A and B).

Alas, the truth is the greatest prank of all.  The wolf eventually does come…

But the good news is that our Twitter account will keep going for a while. Through it we can tell you where our writers can be found beyond this day:

https://twitter.com/#!/sepiamutiny

Our archives will also be up and accessible for the foreseeable future.

I’d like to thank our readers and donors.  Readers/Commenters you have to understand that without some of comments you left on our posts (and often it was your comments and not even our posts that were quoted in mainstream media) there would have been no blog.  Donors, we had a site that was both ad and influence free for 8 years thanks to you!  Please don’t (any of you) think your money was wasted.  100% of it went for server costs.

I’d also like to thank all my co-bloggers.  Those there at the beginning (Manish, Anna, Ennis, Vinod) the fresh blood (Amardeep, Siddhartha), the younger generation (Taz, Phillygrrl, Pavani) and the dozens of others who are all far more talented than I and tried to keep this site engaging.  And let’s not forget Chaitan, Kunjan, or the other admins that pitched in over the years to keep things running smoothly.

As for me, I look back with much fondness at my time here.  One thousand three hundred and twenty plus posts over eight years.  I have no idea how many actual hours that consumed but when you add that to the comment engagement and moderation I feel like I could have maybe made something of myself if I wasn’t busy blogging.  And it is too bad that we are ending today because I really want to write about this article tomorrow.  So many memories…but these following posts were my favorite ones (that I can still remember):

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Relax

Blue marble

Thanks, y’all, for having me over one last time. I’ve already said my goodbyes. This curious form of public performance brought me some of the people I cherish most. It’s been a second education in the erudition of the comments. The Mutiny was alt.culture.us.asian-indian before and @allyousmartf-ers now, and this delicious salon will continue in another face.

I want to toss in one last thought. Early desi American artists began with the idea of marginalization. Their references were specific and elaborate in-jokes. But look at who’s blown up: those who gave no ground in their conception of themselves. They dabbled in the desi palette because it’s rich, not because it’s definitive. Those who started with I am a Queens rapper, or I am an art director, or I am an animator, experienced brownness not as conscription, but freedom.

And in fact it is. It is a thin layer atop a deep commonality. As a species we are, when you zoom out, genetically almost clones. The differences we draw among us are like the fictional Indiana town of Pawnee squabbling with the fictional town of Eagleton: from the outside, all look same.

A couple of years ago I was watching Aziz Ansari make silly jokes at a small NYC club about hitting on MIA in bad Tamil. Today he’s touring in a 007 tux. Still bemoaning his sex life, but on a much bigger stage. Sepia is one of our colors, one near and dear. But it is only one. Let’s launch our flicks, ebooks, startups, campaigns. Let’s let our freak flags fly.

Can’t wait to see it all, and unlike Bill, I will inhale.

Manish

So long, and thanks for all the fish

Ahem. (tap tap tap. Is this thing on?)

Hi, everyone. For the last few years I’ve been pretty much fulltime over at our twitter franchise, one of a few people trying to make sure you get all your savory brownness in an 140 character packet. As a result, I’m afraid I’m a bit rusty at this longer-form blogging.

But the truth is, as my exes can attest, I’ve never been any good at final goodbyes. I even skipped the funeral of a close friend because I couldn’t stand the finality involved in watching him get cremated, even though I knew he was already gone. But I’m afraid there’s no way to skip your own wake, and once you’re there, you might as well try to deliver a eulogy, awkward as it is.

Part of the problem is that Sepia was never just one thing, it was many. There were the blog posts, but that was just the tip of the iceberg, the part you could see. There was also everything that happened out of view, so many stories that I don’t think any one of us knows them all.

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Looking Back, Moving On: Final Thoughts from Amardeep

[An earlier version of this post appeared on my personal blog.]

I remember when I first noticed this blog called Sepia Mutiny back in August 2004. Manish had linked to a blog post I had written on Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake on August 9; it was one of the site’s earliest posts.

The link was notable to me for two reasons. First, I was amused that Manish would write, “I normally wouldn’t point at a piece referencing Gayatri Spivak and other jargon-filled lit academics…” Ouch, is he talking about me? (Happily, eight years later we have Himanshu Suri and Das Racist, rapping about Arundhati Roy [rhymed with, of all things, "batty boy"!], “Gaya Spivak,” and the Slovenian philosopher Zizek. Jargon is in again, if these dudes have anything to say about it.)

Second, I was a little shocked at exactly how many people seemed to be clicking through. From the beginning, Sepia Mutiny was strikingly popular, so much so that for at least a few years it was routinely rated the most popular blog in India itself. Its success was certainly due to the mix of writers, which was a very talented and energetic pool (Manish alone was routinely putting up 5 or more posts a day).  But I think the site was also clearly filling a need online for discussion of Desi themed subjects, whether political (see Abhi’s early post about Dalip Singh Saund and the Democratic party), or more entertainment oriented (Kal Penn and Harold and Kumar were mentioned in the first week as well).

Even when it wasn’t always smooth-sailing within the circle of bloggers, and even when things were difficult for me in my real life outside of the blog, what always drew me to this site was its ‘sandbox’ quality — the idea that this mix of topics and themes ought to be linked. So when Abhi writes that it may be the blog has fulfilled its purpose in part I don’t agree: many of the difficult issues regarding identity, community, and culture South Asians were dealing with in 2004 remain unresolved. But I do agree that in a way the sandbox qualilty of this kind of group blog has for me at least come to seem a little less essential and exciting than it was at the beginning.

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Free Dharun Ravi: Fairness vs. Justice

I was naive I suppose.  I really thought that the jury, upon hearing all the detail that the mass consuming public was not privy to, would acquit Dharun Ravi on all charges, regardless of the fact the prosecutor seemed to be cleverly boxing them in to a particular outcome, armed with ambiguous law.  At a minimum I thought the major charges, including the “hate crime,” would be hard to deliberate on, possibly resulting in a mistrial.   The comprehensive NewYorker article last month showed that the case, far from being what the media initially portrayed, was full of twists, conflicting behavior, and most importantly I believed, reasonable doubt.  A few years back I watched the absolutely brilliant 8-part documentary The Staircase (now apparently free online), about the murder trial of a bisexual man in North Carolina.  It forever changed my view of highly publicized trials in America.  They seldom have anything at all to do with justice.  Everyone involved is a victim.  More recently, we saw a miscarriage of justice in the case of the West Memphis three.  Ravi’s trial result should not have surprised me.

Ravi is an immature, upper middle class kid and a “casual homophobe” (more on  that term later) but he is not a perpetrator of a hate crime.  To consider him more than marginally complicit in the death of Tyler Clementi hurts two groups: victims of true hate crimes and the mental health community.

First off, I reject the mostly Right Wing assertion that we should banish the term “hate crime” from our legal system.  ”Aren’t all crimes hate crimes” they argue?  Such arguments are specious an predicated on the belief that political correctedness is the only reason such a label exists.  Bullshit.  When a man has a chain put around his ankles and is dragged behind a car because he is black, that’s a hate crime.  When a Sikh man is shot for being a “Muslim terrorist“, that’s a hate crime.  When a gay man is tied to a fence and tortured, that’s a hate crime.  Being stupid while you are coming of age and meeting people with different backgrounds than you?  Not a hate crime.  Most crimes are committed because of anger, greed, jealousy, or mental illness.  A hate crime is different.  It is often very violent and there is rarely a personal gain.  The crime is committed as an act of domination or intimidation, often based on unjustified fear.  Nothing about Dharun Ravi’s behavior, as evinced by texts, emails, tweets, and witnesses shows even an inkling of such a motive.  One could argue he was more uncomfortable with Clementi’s socio-economic status than his sexuality!  He was also uncomfortable about an older man, a stranger, coming into his room and having sex.  Many of us may have reacted poorly in such an instance.  What opponents of the term “hate crime” get right however, is that the laws are sometimes so ambiguous that a clever prosecution can convince a jury that a wide variety of crimes meet the legal definition of a “hate crime” and that they have to convict based on the definition alone, regardless of common sense.  We have seen “terrorism” laws abused in this same way.  I would not be at all surprised if Ravi’s case someday reaches the Supreme Court for this very reason.

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Your Last Chance… *UPDATED*

UPDATE: To accommodate our adoring mutinous mutineers – we’ve shifted the location and time. Same date, March 31st 2012, THIS SATURDAY.

NEW TIME: 2:30pm – 6:30pm

NEW LOCATION: The Liberties Bar, 998 Guerrero Street  San Francisco, CA 94110

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What’s that you say? It’s the end of a mutinous era and you never even made it to a Sepia Mutiny Meetup? Rajni the Monkey went wild in the bunker once he heard this news and is now throwing poop at your computer screen. But ask and The Mutiny delivers – at least for the next 15 days till the April 1st door slam. ANNA revived the 55 Friday because of this tweet and hell, thanks to this forlorn tweet from @YungCoconut and @AmericanTurban, I will do the same.

Join Manish, Vinod, Pavani and myself for the Cali swagest meetup of your mutinous lifetime in San Francisco on Saturday March 31st. We know that you Alterna-Desi types have already bought your tickets to the 8th annual Yoni Ki Baat performance. “Yoni Ki heh…?” you ask? Desi, please.

South Asian Sisters are back again to present another brand new script with funny, touching, sensational, and thought-provoking raw performances submitted by South Asian women across the country! [southasiansisters]

 

For more info and to purchase tickets to the March 31st & April 1st San Francisco Yoni Ki Baat shows, please check out their site here.

As for the LAST CHANCE AT GOING TO A SEPIA MUTINY MEETUP…

  • New Time: 2:30pm – 6:30pm
  • Date: Saturday, March 31st, 2012
  • New Location: The Liberties Bar, 998 Guerrero Street  San Francisco, CA 94110
  • Facebook Event Page Right Here

 

Please comment below if you will be able to make it! Since this is the last meetup – EVER – I highly suggest out-of-towners fly into SF for a Cesar Chavez long weekend of Mutinous fun. If you have a bar/lounge suggestion (that is open at 4:30pm) do let me know and we can change the local, as long as we keep it in The Mission. And if you can’t come to the meetup but want to keep in touch - you can always find us on twitter, too.

It’s not goodbye – it’s just a farewell, for now. I’ll see y’all on the internet flip side and by that I mean IRL.

Mutinous End Times

Dear Sepia Mutiny readers, commenters, and friends,

After much deliberation we are going to send Sepia Mutiny on to retirement and cease all new posts after April 1st, 2012, almost 8 years since we first started (August of 2004).

This decision will likely not come as a shock to some of you and may even be somewhat expected by others.  For our more recent readers I apologize that you discovered us only as this party was winding down.  Although we all still love our work on SM, the blogosphere has evolved quite a bit since we first started and for a variety of reasons SM has not been able to keep up in recent years so as to remain a cutting edge product both from a content and technological standpoint.  Most of the conversation that once took place daily on blogs now takes place on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  To try and fight that trend is a losing proposition.  Almost all prominent blogs are now corporatized with actual budgets, so continuing to play in that shrinking sandbox doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  I don’t think any of us who have poured so much sweat and so many sleepless nights writing about issues we are passionate about or just fascinated by are happy with simply coasting by on past glory.

All of us have also gotten older since we started.  Some got married, some had kids, and all of us have super demanding day jobs (watch 60 Minutes this Sunday if you want to know why I haven’t been blogging much for the last two years).  I have loved reading emails from people who think all of us do this full time.  We wish!

I also truly feel that the mission of Sepia Mutiny is complete, especially for what I envisioned SM would be all about (other bloggers can share their view).  Back in 2004 there was very little brown representation in the media and very little “voice” representing us.  There was not a single loud speaker for the South Asian American community. Now there is quite a bit more and brown is everywhere.  There seems much less need for a “Mutiny” given our strides.  We were even invited to blog at the 2008 Democratic National Convention which was hard to imagine in 2004.  That is not to say we are anywhere near where we’d like to be, but a Mutiny should naturally give way to a more organized movement of some kind.  I believe SM did its job in sowing the seeds for that next chapter, whatever forms it now takes.

Over the next two weeks our writers will be continuing to post new content but will also be sharing some fond memories, some farewells, and letting you know where you can continue to follow their work after SM.  We’d also like you to share your memories of SM if you feel so inclined. Some of you even found your husband/wife or significant other through the comments section of our past posts!  Others found great friends that translated to the offline world.  We’d like to hear from anyone that wants to share.

Thanks, and see you in the real world…or in what comes next.   A mutiny gives way for others to continue the movement.

Desis Are Everywhere

Though I’ve previously blogged about the APIA Census 2010, South Asian Americans Leading Together and the Asian American Foundation have just released a fascinating new report, “A Demographic Snapshot of South Asians in the United States.”  Even though the current population total number has been previously reported and is not new news (over 3.4 million South Asians live in the United States and the population has grown by 78% in the last decade), what is interesting about this report (which you can download here) is the population map they provided.

It should be no surprise by now where the largest populations of South Asians are.  According to the report, metropolitan areas with the largest South Asian populations are New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco-Oakland and in over the past ten years, the Washington DC metropolitan area overtook the Los Angeles metropolitan area as the area with the third largest South Asian population.

But to me what was surprising to see is where exactly the growing South Asian populations live (as seen in the map above). The South Asian population grew the most in Charlotte, NC, increasing 187% over the past ten years. This was followed by Phoenix; Richmond VA; Raleigh, NC, San Antonio, Seattle, and Stockton, CA; Jacksonville, FL; Harrisburg, PA; and Las Vegas. Among the ten fastest growing South Asian metropolitan areas, only the Seattle and Phoenix metropolitan areas had more than 30,000 South Asians in 2010, while the smallest of the top 10 fastest growing metropolitan areas was the Harrisburg, PA metropolitan area with close to 6,500 South Asians. These are all regions without a significant history of South Asian American migration and I wonder what has happened in these regions that led to such a rapid growth in these cities. Continue reading