Marie Claire interviews Nikki Haley

Haley's senior class photo (c. 1989)

Marie Claire Magazine titles its interview with South Carolina’s governor “Will Nikki Haley Be Our First Female President?” and looks at her tips for personal success and her inspirations. That’s how we get to know she’s totally into Joan Jett. I wonder if she watched The Runaways when it came out in theaters a couple years ago or if she has a vintage collection of Jett LPs.

Here’s some of what she had to say:

FIND WHAT MOTIVATES YOU–ON A DAILY BASIS AND IN LARGER WAYS. Music motivates me. When we have bill signings, we’ve got music playing. I have a great love for Joan Jett. When I am going through the toughest times, I’ll blast her music. She was one of the first female rockers when female rockers weren’t accepted. When no one would sign her, she created her own label. And when she accomplished everything … she walked away! I mean, how cool is that?   FIND DIVERSE ROLE MODELS. Mine are my mother, Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Martina Navratilova, Gabby Giffords. And Joan Jett. I tell you, Joan Jett is my idol. I would just love to meet her! (Marie Claire)

 

The Undocumented Story of Minhaz Khan

I’ve been following closely the case of Minhaz Khan, a 24 year old undocumented Bangladeshi-American from the Inland Empire who, on Nov 4th, was required to put on an ankle bracelet and present a one way ticket to Bangladesh to the authorities. It had been 20 years since he’d been to Bangladesh and when his father was deported after being denied political asylum, he was murdered for his political affiliations in Bangladesh. DreamActivist.org had a petition out to support his case and his case garnered local media coverage. His case officer read  the coverage and removed the bracelet last week and Minhaz last Tuesday was granted a temporary stay.

Minhaz Kahn — the UC-Riverside alumnus who last week had to show immigration officers that he bought a one-way ticket back to his native Bangladesh — learned Tuesday that he doesn’t have to return home just yet. He will be able to stay in the country for another three months…[T]op federal counsel told a group of American Immigration Lawyers Association attorneys in a meeting last week that they will not automatically grant a stay for all other DREAM Act eligible immigrants who are awaiting deportation, says AILA attorney Leah Price. [SFWeekly]

 

I had the chance for a virtual sit-down with Minhaz right after the ankle bracelet was placed on him a couple of weeks ago. Here’s what he had to say.

When and why did your family come to the United States?

My family came in 1992 to flee danger. My dad left entrepreneurial success and political influence to work at gas stations and my mom left a teaching career and lost all significance her Master’s held, so to anyone who says immigrants come here to take anything from anyone is missing what many people have to leave behind for safety and the possibility of a better future.

Why wasn’t your father able to seek political asylum? What happened after he was deported?

I’m not completely sure why he wasn’t granted asylum. I never got to see the judge’s decision, but I think he missed an interview or something due to a lawyer not notifying him. After he was deported in 1997, he died (or in my whole-hearted belief, murdered) a couple of years later. Continue reading

Meet the MetroPCS Guys: Q & A with Ranjit & Chad

The MetroPCS Tech & Talk ads are a long-running series (two years in December) featuring desi characters named Ranjit and Chad expounding upon the evils of contracts and benefits of MetroPCS’s phone plans and features. The characters are not a little zany, dressing up in colonial-style wigs to declare wireless independence, playing an intense guitar-riff set off by fireworks and using “Holy shishkabob!” as a catch-phrase, to give a few examples.

As I noticed in retweets about the ads posted by the characters @ranjitmetropcs and @chadmetropcs, some people found the ads hilarious, declared themselves fans of the duo, and wanted to dress up like them for Halloween. Others writing for business and tech sites found the ads cringe-worthy, racist and/or in poor taste.

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Arun Gupta and The Occupied Wall Street Journal: Desis at Occupy Wall Street, Pt. 4

(h/t @vetoshield for Tweeting this video)

Speaking of desis at Occupy Wall Street, last week I chatted with Arun Gupta, one of the founders of the Occupied Wall Street Journal. Gupta, who talked with me on the phone from a road trip to visit different sites of protest, has been working with newspapers off and on for the past two decades, and writes for publications like AlterNet and Al Jazeera. He’s also been with the Indypendent for the past 11 years. He told me about making the first issue of the Occupied Wall Street Journal happen in under 24 hours.

(Time-sensitive note for New Yorkers: If you want to hear more from Gupta, The New Yorkers editor, David Remnick, is moderating a discussion about OWS tonight at Florence Gould Hall in NYC. 7 p.m. In addition to Gupta, the event features NYer staff writers John Cassidy and Jill Lepore, as well as former NY governor Eliot Spitzer. Online tickets are gone, but a limited number of free tickets will be available at the door.) And a BONUS read via Sonny Singh: Manissa McCleave Maharawal in conversation with Eliot Spitzer about OWS in NYMag, here. I blogged about Manissa earlier in this series.)

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White House Recognizes Vijaya Emani

Yesterday the President presented 13 Americans with the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor which may be granted to any United States citizen who has performed “exemplary deeds or services for his or her country or fellow citizens.” Vijaya Emani of Strongsville, Ohio, a single mom involved in so many different ways in her community, was one of the honorees. Emani, who passed away in 2009, was recognized for speaking out against domestic violence.

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‘It Was So Important That We Were All Together’: Desis at Occupy Wall St., Pt. 3

If you go to Zuccotti Park at 4 a.m., you will see them: a contingent from Occupy Wall Street’s People of Color (POC) working group, standing with others who are banding together to protect protestors from a city effort to clean up the space—widely viewed as a coded way to shut down OWS. Continue reading

Kumail Nanjiani on the Comic Life

You may know comedian Kumail Nanjiani from his stand-up and TV work (Franklin & Bash) or his brush with John Mayer, all of which have been the subjects of past posts on Sepia Mutiny. If you’re a fan, you’ll want to listen to his recent interview with Shirin Sadeghi of New America Media covering such topics as how he went from studying philosophy and computer science in Iowa to stand-up, the biggest challenge of being a Pakistani American comedian, what he describes as his fading Pakistani accent with a trace of British school, his Twitter presence and his nerdist alterego.

In the beginning of his stand-up career, Nanjiani said the biggest challenge of being a Pakistani American comedian was telling the jokes he wanted to tell about movies, video games and TV shows, and not the jokes he was expected to tell about 7-11 or 9/11. After Nanjiani and his interviewer made reference to what was a new crop of post-9/11 comedians who were South Asian American and Middle Eastern American, the interviewer noted that unlike many of them he has an accent and “does not speak as someone born and raised here.”

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The Color of the Call: Desis at Occupy Wall Street, Pt. 2

a video about people at the protests one week ago, courtesy of Thanu Yakupitiyage

“We must not miss the chance to put the needs of people of color—upon whose backs this country was built—at the forefront of this struggle.”

—from CALL OUT TO PEOPLE OF COLOR from the #OWS POC Working Group

How Hena Got There

Two Thursdays ago, after Troy Davis had been executed, Hena Ashraf protested his killing at a rally in New York City. The group that she was with didn’t have a particular plan, she says, but “we ended up on Wall Street.”

It was her first time at Occupy Wall Street, a movement that’s rapidly gaining steam and numbers. And a week ago, by her fourth time there, Ashraf had become a game-changer: one of a group of desis who stood up and insisted that the movement’s primary declaration edit language that referred to racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination as though they were things of the past.

“We definitely stood out,” Ashraf told me. At that point, she explained, the protests were still overwhelmingly white. (We spoke on the phone Sunday night; she was two blocks from Wall Street, heading back to the protests.) But, she added, over the course of her visits to the site, she’s seen them become more diverse.

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Back to the Roots: Growing Gourmet Eats from “Garbage”

BTTR_Ventures_Alex_Nikhil_2010.jpg

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.

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Sid Sriram: Killing Those Covers Softly

sid2.jpgSid Sriram sings some soulful covers. He sings his own songs too, like the smooth and mellow sunny single Limitless and Farther, Closer. But it was various twitternet raves about his latest cover, an emotional rendition of We All Try by Frank Ocean that first made me notice the singer. Sriram skillfully covers a range of artists from Adele to the Beatles. He seems to be getting great response on YouTube, where I noticed multiple marriage proposals alongside praise for his vocals in the comments for his videos.

Sriram was born in Chennai and moved to northern California as an infant. His musical training started in Carnatic music at a young age. He became interested in R&B vocals in junior high and currently attends Berklee College of Music, where he majors in music production engineering and vocal performance. The EP “Be Easy; The Acoustic Sessions” contains five acoustic arrangements of his original material.

This talented young vocalist replied to a few questions, and his answers are posted below. He continues to perform classical vocals as he pursues singing and songwriting in the contemporary urban/indie genre. An announcement for a vocal concert, a past performance in San Francisco, highlights his background from the classical tradition: Continue reading