Tag Archives: video

Ushka3

Always Foreign, Always Brown: Crown Heights-based activist DJ Ushka on growing up in Thailand, gentrification, global bass, and Edward Said

By Guest Contributor Rishi Nath, cross-posted from Open City Magazine

Crown Heights-based activist DJ Ushka. All images by Nabil Rahman.

[Editor's Note: This is Open City's second installment of "Lyrics To Go," a collaboration between writer Rishi Nath and multimedia journalist Nabil Rahman . The series features conversations with contemporary musicians whose life and work intersects both Asian-American communities and New York City neighborhoods. Click here for DJ Ushka's special mix for Open City readers.]

These days, DJ Ushka seems to be everywhere at once. She is all over Brooklyn, whether opening for Sundanese vocalist Alsarah in Stuyvesant Heights, deejaying and booking the monthly iBomba party in Williamsburg, or swooping in to save the AAWW PageTurner Festival party after a booked act canceled last minute. She also zig-zags the country, appearing at gigs in Boston, Philadelphia and Oakland. And that’s just weekends. During the day, she is a full-time staff member at the New York Immigration Coalition , where she handles communications and youth development.

Born Thanu Yakupitiyage, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Ushka grew up in Bangkok, Thailand. She attended college in western Massachusetts, where she was turned on to post-colonial theory. From her spacious, dimly lit living room in Crown Heights, she described how that experience, a decade ago, changed her.

“It was the first time that I really started to understand concepts such as Orientalism, through Edward Said,” she said. Her laptop, attached to speakers and headphones, was open and glowing on the coffee table in front of her as she spoke. A poster proclaiming “Stop Racial Profiling,” hung on the wall behind her.
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ROCK OF ASIAN: Arash

by guest contributor DISGRASIAN, originally published at DISGRASIAN

I don’t know about you, but when I think of Snow’s 1993 hit, “Informer,” I get all giddy and nostalgic inside. You can’t summon the energy? Would a photo help?

Ohhhhhh yeah. Those round sunglasses, so low on the nose bridge. That hair! That sullen gaze! And that sultry, smooth Snow voice! OMG. I can’t deal.

Okay, if you’re not feeling it like me, I can’t force you. But I can offer you an exciting new take on the oh-so-good-even-though-it-feels-so-wrong original:

THE BOLLYWOOD VERSION! Fabulous Arash turns the “Informer” tune into “Chori Chori” (Secretly).

Now mind you, the lyrics and the talent may be new and different, but if you just close your eyes and relax, I swear you’ll kinda believe it’s snowing. Just a little bit.

Scapegoating or Community Empowerment? The Flipside of the “Korean Takeover of the Black Haircare Industry” Debate

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse

After Latoya wrote the excellent article “Know Your Place, Woman: BET’s Meet the Faith on Black Marriage,” I decided to do a little additional research by checking out the BET site for the show with the all the questionable content. I ended up reading very little on Meet the Faith. In fact, the one thing that stood out to me about the site was actually a random distraction . . .

Toward the bottom of the page regarding a segment on black beauty, I noticed a survey entitled “Korean or Black Owned?” The caption read:

For the most part, Black haircare products didn’t exist until Madame C.J. Walker introduced her Wonderful Hair Grower in the early 1900s. Today, there are still very few products and equipment made for or sold by Blacks.

For such a loaded topic, there were only two simple questions:

1. There are two beauty supply stores next to each other. One is Korean-owned and sells your shampoo for $10. The other is Black-owned and sells your shampoo for $12. Where would you buy your shampoo? The Black-Owned Store or The Korean-Owned Store?

2. If the Korean-owned shop sold items $2 to $3 higher, where do you think the average Korean customer would shop? The Black-Owned Store or The Korean-Owned Store?

I immediately felt the urge to look into what had compelled this very basic set of questions and find some answers. Carmen raised a question of her own back in December, “Do Korean-Americans Control the Black Hair Market?” prompting readers to check out Aron Ranen’s documentary Black Hair and leaving them to render their own judgment on the issue. Half a year later, however, I find myself asking less about the prospect of Korean market dominance in the black haircare industry, and more about the process of seeking an answer to the inquiry itself. What methods have we used to publicly examine this market dominance and what effect have they had on the respective communities involved?

First and foremost, there is the film by Ranen. Black Hair is a documentary created to bring attention to the plight of people of African descent who attempt to manufacture and/or distribute black hair care products within the black community as they face considerable adversity in a market now controlled by Korean immigrants and their families. While some, including members of the Black Owned Beauty Supply Association (BOBSA), see the film, as absolute truth, I find that it could be quite easily interpreted as an open attack on Koreans. I understand quite clearly that the film is a powerful form of advocacy for keeping money spent and earned by African-Americans in the black community, but I question the need for Ranen’s clear manipulation of an already troubled case of ethnic disunity between American blacks and Korean immigrants as a means to push the “buy black” agenda.

During an interview with NPR, Ranen is asked whether or not his film creates “an environment that shows Korean proprietors as the enemy.” In defense of his work, he answers simply that he does not want to be a “hater,” but instead he wants to be a “motivator.” Yet I can’t help but consider his attempt to “motivate” the black community suspect. By publicly picking at old wounds between Koreans and African-Americans, Ranen has tapped into an increasingly lucrative market for the press: inter-ethnic conflict. The American media can’t get enough of it. Stories about people of color fighting other people of color, even if their initial disagreement has little to do with race or ethnic background, always make headline news, often yielding skewed and/or distorted results. Asian-American activist Helen Zia discusses this phenomenon in her book Asian American Dreams with regard to the L.A. Riots: Continue reading

Shop Boyz “Party Like a Rock Star”: mocking metal? or celebrating it?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

What do you think of this video?

Oh Word
sees it as payback for all the years of white people making fun of hip hop:

imagine my joy when I saw a bunch of perfectly ignant crunk kids accidentally pissing on the whole concept of mainstream punk-metal. By being just as clueless and careless as the average comedy writer or rock band dealing in rap signifiers (SAT word alert) they’ve turned the tables on a 25 years worth of bad jokes by white people. Or to put it simply, Fred Durst and his ilk had no clue about rap and now it’s payback time. Half the K-rok crowd will laugh with it and half will be pissed but at least the playing field will be a little more even next time someone wants to pull out a whiteboy-goes-ghetto joke.

Or is this a sincere homage to metal? As Latoya recently pointed out, “a modified rock-punk look” is becoming popular among black and Latino kids. Is this just a natural extension of that?

Homies.tv: racial stereotypes all around

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Racialicious reader Krys tipped me off to this web site, which includes some videos that bring the Homies dolls to life in the crudest racial stereotypes you can think of.

What is up with these dolls? According to Wikipedia, “Homies are a series of 2-inch figurines loosely based upon Chicano (Mexican American) characters in the life of artist David Gonzales. First created in 1998, these plastic figurines were initially sold via vending machines typically positioned in supermarkets, but quickly became collectibles among young children through teenagers.”

Are these actually popular with kids? Anyone have any insight?