New York Magazine Deems Naturally Curly A Bad Investment For No Reason

Kevin Roose, over at New York Magazine, decided to launch a column called “Dumb Money: Exposing Silicon Valley’s Stupidest Investments.” He writes:

But Silicon Valley, like any other industry, has its share of truly dumb ideas. For every start-up that changes the world and makes its founders rich, a thousand die quick, anonymous deaths.

Some of tech’s clunkers never get off the ground, but others manage to get big, high-profile investments despite having no redeeming qualities whatsoever. (For example, what kind of genius decided to throw $1.2 million at NaturallyCurly, the “leading social network and community for people with wavy, curly and kinky hair?”)

Roose provides no actual evidence as to why NaturallyCurly is a bad investment. He doesn’t cite a thing – not their traffic numbers, no advertising sales, and no discussion of the exponential growth in the market they offer. But why should he? NaturallyCurly doesn’t fit the pattern – and Roose’s casual dismal underscores exactly why minorities, women of color in particular, have such a hard time breaking into the consciousness of the tech world. Continue reading

Remembering My Brown-Skinned Dolls

by Guest Contributor Daily Chicana, originally published at The Daily Chicana

Last night, I finished reading Junot Diaz’s The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend. The title character is an obese Dominican “ghetto nerd” obsessed with the “more speculative genres,” such as sci-fi, fantasy, and apocalyptic narratives. One element of the novel that I find I’m reflecting most on is Diaz’s suggestion that the history of rape, genocide, dictatorships and abuse of power that make up the central historical narrative of the Americas–with the island of Hispaniola, today’s Haiti and Dominican Republic, as ground zero of the creation of the New World–are just as fantastical as any speculative novel. In other words, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and the like have nothing on the true, gut-wrenching tales that emerge from Caribbean history and its resulting diaspora.

One quote in particular stood out to me: Oscar wonders aloud,

If we were orcs, wouldn’t we, at a racial level, imagine ourselves to look like elves? (178)

I love the moments like this where Oscar connects his beloved fantastical creatures to his everyday experience of race. I’m not actually into Lord of the Rings, btw; I never read Tolkien and only understand what Oscar’s talking about because my ex-husband forced me to see all three LOTR movies with him. So in case you don’t know an orc from an elf, Oscar is comparing the orcs, despised and hovering at the lower end of the hierarchy:

to the elite, golden elves, so genteel and immortal:

The question he poses is a sci-fi version of Toni Morrison’s Bluest Eye. It’s about the extreme impact, over time, that racial self-hatred has on one’s self-esteem and psyche. What happens to us when we never see positive representations of ourselves? Continue reading

America Ferrara Stars in “Christine”

Watching the first episode of “Christine,” I couldn’t help myself from cringing. This is a testament to the writer’s skills and America Ferrara’s watchability – the series of shorts follows Christine during one (seemingly endless) night of speed dating. The conversations are often uncomfortable and awkward, just like actual dating! And sometimes, it’s a bit too true to life – some of these dates, especially the rough ones, seem to stretch into eternity. And the one above, the mildly creepy set up (with a cocky guy and strange interracial asides), is both compelling and repulsive at the same time.

Ferrara’s project is part of a larger YouTube channel called WIGS – a lauded launch that is targeting women with short films featuring recognizable stars. The business side of this is fascinating:

We know what you’re thinking. How can YouTube afford to pay A-list actors to sign on for such a project? This is the beauty of it. According to Avnet, they’re being paid “very little.”

What does that mean? Essentially, the actors are getting paid the equivalent of SAG actors with all actors earning the exact same amount regardless of name or talent.

According to last year’s SAG contract summary page five, performers make anywhere from $825 for a day performance to $2,921 for weekly performances. 1/2 hour programs pay upwards of $4,600. Keep in mind these shows are several minutes. Very little indeed.

So, why would stars commit to doing something for peanuts?

Well, exposure for one. This is a unique opportunity for stars who have been out of the limelight for a while, but who still resonate with viewers (i.e. Garner and Stiles). It’s also a great opportunity for break out stars such as Caitlin Gerard in “Jan.”

Avnet says it’s also for the experience. They’re getting be a part of something that hasn’t been done before and that has the potential to be huge. Again, the snowball effect also comes into play here. Once one mega star is signed on, it’s the cool thing to do.

A Muslim Community, Tarred Again

By Guest Contributor Zahir Janmohamed

Huma Abedin. Via New York Magazine
In 1995, I was a student delegate at the United Nation’s 50th Anniversary conference on religious harmony held in San Francisco. We began by reciting verses from each of the world’s major faiths, including an Islamic prayer that was listed as the “Mohamedan Prayer.”

Seventeen years later, it is hard to imagine someone—let alone a major organization like the UN—using this archaic, Orientalist term to describe Islam. Americans know so much about Islam these days that I am frequently asked by strangers if I am Shia or Sunni.

But every once in a while—and particularly more often in an election year—there are reminders that the rise in awareness has not corresponded to the rise in sympathy towards Islam and Muslims. The recent comment by Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) that long time aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Huma Abedin is a mole for the Muslim Brotherhood is just the latest example of this hysteria.

I do not worry about Abedin. A person of her intelligence and clout can withstand these attacks. I worry about Muslim high school and college students who wonder why they should even enter politics if they will, like Abedin, be constantly scrutinized because of their faith. Continue reading

The Weight Of Being A (Young And Successful) Black Male

by Guest Contributor Edward Williams, originally published at Policylink

It was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that most notably stated, “all progress is precarious and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.” I had never contemplated my personal success as precarious progress or that my success to this point could bring any non-materialistic problems, but I now find myself–like many of my fellow successful, young, black men–in a moment of crisis.

Before I dive into what exactly this 21st-century identity crisis is, what it is caused by, and what it ultimately means, I need to get some preliminaries out of the way to open some critical minds. First, this article is not intended to be braggadocious: I will discuss some of my personal success as I explicate this issue, but I will also share the success of several other young black men that I am close with. Neither their stories of success nor mine are expressed from a place of haughtiness but instead from a place of humility. I fear that it is out of concern for being perceived as arrogant or out-of-touch that this side of the young black male’s story is so rarely told.

Next, this article is not intended to complain about success. I recognize that success is usually not a word associated with black men, and I spend most of my article writing time trying to shed light on the crisis in our inner-city schools. It is not lost on me that most young black men will never be in a position to engage in the dialogue that I am about to embark on, because their potential success has been stifled.

Finally, I recognize that much of what I will discuss at length not only applies to successful young black men, but also to successful young black women and young successful minorities generally. I have consciously chosen to focus on the young black male success crisis because I understand it best first hand. It would be disingenuous of me to attempt to articulate the myriad of different pressures that other minorities or women experience as they climb the ladder of success. Therefore, for risk of speaking on that which I know little about, I have chosen not to explore those topics, but I hope that my fellow successful young minority colleagues and female colleagues will soon treat us with their own version of this crisis.

Now that preliminaries are out of the way, let’s get down to the issue; what exactly is the young successful black male’s 21st century identity crisis? Continue reading

New Film: Model Minority

The Film Synopsis:

L.A. teenagers survive the treacherous world of peer pressure, drug dealers, juvenile hall and dysfunctional families. Kayla, an underprivileged Japanese American 16-year-old, endangers her promising future as an aspiring artist when she becomes involved with a drug dealer. It’s a new take on growing up bicultural in multicultural LA.

The film deals joins Wassup Rockers, Kids, Mosquita y Mari, and Better Luck Tomorrow in dealing with the pressures and temptations of youth. It rocked the LA Asian American Film Festival; the next stop is the 2012 Asian American International Film Festival in New York.

Awkward: When Your Friends Make Racist Assumptions About Your Dating/Sex Life

So, as I am wont to do, I found myself doing chores and catching up on reality TV.

I had heard about Nicole Murphy/Andrea Kelly’s new show, but I also set myself up for disappointment by reading the title as “Hollywood Execs” not “Hollywood Exes.” Here I was excited to hear all about these new women fronted development projects, and the show is actually about moving on from your famous spouse. Oh well. I decided to give it another chance. During a routine conversation about vaginal lasering and rejuvenation, this exchange happens:

Sheree Fletcher: Wait a minute, let me ask you this. It’s my understanding that men really don’t care what it looks like -

Jessica Canseco: Well, that’s ’cause you datin’ a black guy, honey!

*record scratch*

Sheree Fletcher: Now wait a minute…

Other women: What do you mean, what do you mean?

Jessica Canseco: From what I hear, black guys don’t go [down.]

*gasps*

Nicole Murphy: (in confessional mode) That’s garbage. That’s not true. At all.

Jessica Canseco: Black guys are like “eep eep eep” (makes chicken fingers). They do, I swear to God. They talk about black girl’s vaginas. It’s true.

Sheree Fletcher: (swoons) Our vaginas?

Jessica Canseco: You want me to get into all of this?

Sheree Fletcher: They complain about our vaginas to white girls? Continue reading