55Friday: The “Doowutchyalike”-edition

Well.

It’s been an eventful 24 hours, hasn’t it? The end of an “era”, is how some of you readers generously termed it on various social media sites. It’s really just the end of a site that was once bigger in every way than it currently is. What was once a “must-read-daily” turned in to an “Eh, I’ll poke my head in weekly”-sort of a blog and that’s perfectly understandable. The party has been over for a little while. But while many of you wish we would stay around for at least those weekly visits (you are creatures of routine, aren’t you!), that wouldn’t be right.

We can, however, resurrect SOMETHING weekly: the 55Friday flash fiction challenge. See? I didn’t ignore ALL your tweeted pleas.

I know in the past that I picked a theme to help you start your engines, but somehow, I don’t think that will be necessary this time. Write about whatever you like– just contain yourself in 55 words when you do it. Ready? For old time’s sake…go.

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

Mathai Rocks ‘The Voice’

Could an 18-year-old singer named Mathai be the next winner of NBC’s The Voice?

Billboard called Mathai’s performance on the show last week “awe-inspiring” and noted she was “one of the few [contestants] who understands nuance and power.”

I hope that as the season progresses we’ll get to see Mathai do more ballads. This 2010 talent show performance, in which a then-16-year-old Mathai covers Adele’s version of To Make You Feel My Love, is incredible. (You can check out more of her songs at her official YouTube channel.)

Q&A with Daisy Rockwell AKA Lapata

Unsettling. The Little Book of Terror, a slim, brightly-colored book of paintings and short essays by Daisy Rockwell hardly contains standard coffee-table fare. Divided into five sections, this cheeky little volume features your usual gallery of big-name, international rogues. Osama bin Laden. Saddam Hussein. But the feeling of uneasiness comes not from these over-chronicled villain archetypes whose images we’ve all seen scattered over televisions a hundred times over.

Instead, it comes from candid portraits such as that of Mohamed Mahmood Alessa, a 20-year old in New Jersey who was appended by the FBI after he tried to join a militant group in Somalia. In her portrait of Alessa, Rockwell depicts him in bubble-gum pink tones, prone on a floral bedspread, cuddling with his beloved cat, Princess Tuna. Unsettling. The narrative of terror that we often see seldom contains photos of wannabe terrorists cuddling with their kitty cats, or of the underwear bomber as a sullen teenager, posing during a school trip. Continue reading

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy Wins Oscar For ‘Saving Face’

Journalist and documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy became Pakistan’s first Oscar winner last night when her film Saving Face won best documentary short.

Saving Face tells the story of two women (39-year-old Zakia and 23-year-old Rukhsana) who were severely disfigured after becoming victims of acid attacks. According to the film’s website:

Every year in Pakistan, at least 100 people are victimized by brutal acid attacks. The majority of these are women, and many more cases go unreported. With little or no access to reconstructive surgery, survivors are physically and emotionally scarred, while many reported assailants – typically a husband or someone close to the victim – are let go with minimal punishment from the state.

 

The film follows Dr. Mohammad Jawad, a British-Pakistani plastic surgeon who traveled back to Pakistan in order to assist Pakistan’s acid attack victims. During her acceptance speech Obaid-Chinoy dedicated the award to Dr. Jawad, Rukhasana and Zakia, and “to all the women in Pakistan who are working for change.” She added, “Don’t give up on your dreams.”

Hopefully Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar win will mean that more people in Pakistan will have the opportunity to see the film. The filmmaker told the Wall Street Journal in November that she planned to show the film in private venues and recently told the Asia Society that “contractual restraints” prevented her from showing it to large audiences.

HBO will be broadcasting Saving Face on March 8. Mark your calendars.

My Little Personal Jeremy Lin Story

Davis, CA, 7th grade – I was on the school basketball team, and usually played a two guard or small forward. In the 4th quarter of a game that wasn’t close, the coach told me to go in and run point. The other four players on the court, all white, weren’t having it. The coach didn’t intervene.

Enter Jeremy Lin.

Maybe that story doesn’t play out the same way now?

Naeem Khan at Fashion Week

Designer Naeem Khan showed his Fall 2012 collection at New York Fashion week. Worn by the FLOTUS and on the red carpet, his work is often in the public spotlight. Titled “The Body As A Canvas: From the Mughal Paisley to the Hindu Tilakas” the show brought Indian-inspired bling to the runway.

The Washington Post writes that “there was so much beading that the audience in the front row could hear the pieces chiming against each other as the models walked.”

The New York Times India Ink interviews Khan and asks about the inspiration behind his latest work. Continue reading

Spills All Over

This Valentine’s Day, feel free be prepared to spill your heart with this week’s belated #MusicMonday. Breaking into the scene with his first solo album, Feel Free, 25 year old Sid Muralidhar otherwise known as the NYC beat master Spills has released an album that gives The Weeknd a run for his money. The first half of the album start with a slow drawl with songs like Pregnant Silence and the two stepping Siren featuring Basim Usmani’s falsetto and leads up to the second harder half of the album with deep beats, such as in Mariah Carey’s Satanic Offspring.

But you don’t have to take my word for it – the album Feel Free is available … well, for free. So download it for free now!  

Two things I love about Spills. First, I love that he was part of an acoustic dub/hip hop duo called Two Dirty Desis. And the second is this:

For those who want to delve further into his creative mind, Feel Free Ableton session files will be available to be used in any way, shape or form on February 21, 2012. On his decision to release the Ableton files, Spills remarked:

 

“Honestly, I would have never even thought to give away ALL the session files… some would say a hip hop producer is only as good as his samples and synths. But that whole Internet black out thing to protest government and corporate censorship really inspired me – made me realize that we’re only as powerful as our connections to each other. So everyone should feel free to do with this project whatever they want … go nuts.”

 

You heard him. Go nuts!

Q&A with Outdated Author Samhita Mukhopadhyay

When Samhita Mukhopadhyay, executive editor of Feministing, announced she was writing a book on dating, I knew we had to have her on SM. Because as those of us who follow her on Twitter know – Mukhopadhyay is everything dating books are not – i.e. funny and whip smart. (Yes, I may have a wee bit of a girlcrush.) In fall of 2011, Mukhopadhyay released Outdated: Why Dating is Ruining Your Love Life, a humorous take on the self-help genre chockfull of anecdotes from the author’s own love life. Topics covered include: “dating while feminist,” the masculinity “crisis” and more. Apropos to Valentine’s Day, I asked the author to tell us more about Outdated.

Why did you feel you had to write Outdated: Why Dating Is Ruining Your Love Life? And why this particular title?

I wrote Outdated because I couldn’t believe how profoundly ignorant mainstream books on dating were and I couldn’t believe that no one had already written a book discussing how deeply problematic the assumptions about gender and love were in them. I felt the young women in our generation deserved something better. Continue reading