Call for Submissions

After a 3-month hiatus (Re)Mixed is back!   One of our initial goals in starting this blog was to create a space that would incorporate a wide range of voices and perspectives.  We are excited to announce that as of now, we will be accepting submissions.  Your submissions should address race, culture, identity, including but not limited to mixed communities.  We are looking for writing with a critical lens that challenges public discourse.  If your submission is accepted it will remain on our blog in perpetuity as we do not take down pieces that have been published.  We accept essays (with a word limit of 1,500), interviews, op-eds, personal narratives and poetry.  Though genres  may vary we encourage writers to look at past blog posts and read our mission statement.  If your writing is under review elsewhere, please do not submit your work with us.  Having said that, we do accept reprints as long as you own the rights. Expect a response from us two weeks after emailing your submission.

We are interested in submissions that generate a dialogue around

  • race in pop culture and politics

  • intersectional identities across race, culture, and sexuality

When submitting your work, please be sure to include the following:

  • A header within your submission that includes your name, email address, and the title(s) of your submission(s).

  • Your full name (or pen name) on each page.

  • Page numbers for works over one page.

  • A title for each separate submission

  • A short (one-paragraph) bio

  • Also, as an attachment, please send a photo of yourself that you’d like us to use if your work is accepted, and links or jpeg files of any images you think might complement your work if published on the site.

Please email submission materials to:  remixedamerica [at] gmail [dot] com

The subject line should read: submission materials for (Re)Mixed

A los muertos que nos dan vida: Reflections of Day of the Dead

551417_10151557680847249_1506474973_n

4 generations of Marquez Abadiano Perez women. With my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother in 1990.

I was 7 years old when I told my mother I had seen my great-grandmother, the same bis-abuela who had died two years earlier.  Though I have fleeting memories of my bis Stellita, she made quite an impression on me.  Violet eyes and wrinkles that told me she had been where I had not.  It was through my earliest Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos that I would learn our loved ones are in our lives long after death takes them away.  Those first days of November  were pure magic.  I found myself staring at pictures that carried my smile but with stories I did not know. Year after year I would sit in front of our altar filled with mandarins, pan de dulce, tamales, papel picado, veladoras.  My parents would wait with me in silence when words seemed too heavy, inadequate.  The lit veladoras and the smells calmed our breathing, transported us to a different time, a different pace.   I felt safe, protected.

I was taught that with Dia de los Muertos, we say thank you to those who’ve paved the way.  We recognize that we are not the first to struggle, we are not the first to stand up and fight back.   I immigrated to the U.S. when I was 8 years old and when the world felt too dark, it was my family traditions like Dia de los Muertos  that put things into perspective for me and gave me the power I needed to keep moving.

The last couple years I’ve made it a point to set up my own ofrenda, with the understanding that I may be missing a few components.  Maybe I won’t have tamales, or enough cempazuchitl (the flower traditionally known to welcome the spirits), marigolds, and that’s OK.  For those days I’m reminded to take life a little bit slower.  I’m reminded that there are people who have sacrificed a great deal in order for me to be standing.  I think of my home country of Mexico and my home communities that every day fight ardently for the right to live a life with dignity, without corruption, and violence masked as justice.  This year I made a promise to the strong women in my family who fought fire in their own way, and made pots out of broken glass.  I make a promise to my bisabuela, my tias, my great-great grandparents to not forget the past with the knowledge that if we are not careful history will repeat itself.

IMG_8179

Ofrenda de Dia de Muertos 2013/ Day of the Dead Altar 2013

IMG_8184

Multiracial Photographer Hannah Price Turns a Lens on Catcallers

In a new project, photographer Hannah Price  has decided to use life to make art by turning her lens on men who catcall on the street.  The video above showcases some of her photos and includes a section of an interview where she expands more on the project itself.  Though she admits that photographing catcallers doesn’t necessarily make them think twice about their behavior, it does, in that one moment alter the power dynamic to a certain extent.

The choice to center much of her work on themes addressing stereotypes of blackness stems from growing up in White suburbia:  “I’m just trying to bring all these [ideas] of what a stereotype is… they can also not be true.  It’s kind of like this thing that you base of what it looks like.”

Though Hannah Price’s  NPR interview give us more context for her photos, they  leave much to interpretation.  Kat Chow  of NPR writes,

Not only do we not know the situations in which she crossed paths with these men, but we also have no idea of their relationship. The photos are framed in a variety of ways; the lighting, composition and even positioning of the subjects themselves vary so much that viewers have plenty of freedom to interpret them.

Price’s photographs result from experiences of being on the receiving end of catcalls.    There are signifiers of gender and beauty that impact how you are treated as a woman on the street when it comes to attention from catcallers.  “Beauty…it brings more attention.  in this situation it was unwanted attention, but it was attention that I dealt with.”

Kat Chow’s NPR article about Price’s photography project indicates that  the photographer herself “doesn’t take an aggressive stance on catcalling; it’s not meant to incite social action, she says. Rather, it’s an observation, a way to react behind the camera lens.”   Price takes it a step further by considering how the act of turning the photograph on them can give them a sense for one fleeting instance of what it’s like to be in a vulnerable position. “It’s a different dynamic —” Price says.  “But it’s just another way of dealing with the experience, of trying to understand it.”

For more information check out:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/10/17/235413025/a-photographer-turns-her-lens-on-men-who-cat-call?utm_content=socialflow&utm_campaign=nprfacebook&utm_source=npr&utm_medium=facebook

The Miss America Pageant and how racism reared it’s ugly head

dayuluri_wide-8307a03d892e5beda07e1ed5091379528d7fe941-s40-c85

With the Miss America pageant this week, we were once again reminded of the prevalence of racism and xenophobia  in U.S. society.  It once again became evident just how much social media facilitates it.  Nina Davuluri, 24 year-old Miss New York and the daughter of Hindu immigrants from India is the first Indian-American contestant to be crowned Miss America.  Upon receiving her crown, twitter was flooded with hateful tweets that took a punch at Davuluri’s race and ethnicity, where many chose to read her brown skin as muslim, which they used as a stepping stone to refer to her as a “terrorist.”

Below you’ll find some of the tweets I’m referencing:Screen shot 2013-09-16 at 5.24.24 PMScreen shot 2013-09-16 at 5.21.48 PM

Screen shot 2013-09-16 at 5.23.23 PMGiven that the micro-aggressive modes of racism we’ve seen as an aftermath of Davuluri’s title are not surprising speaks for itself.  It shows that people are more invested in jumping to social media sites like twitter and facebook before having any kind of dialogue. Because we live in such a highly mediated age we’re forced to account for the impact that the internet and social media really has on the dialogues and lack-there-of around racism and tolerance.    In a tweet, Lue Brasili said, “9/11 was 4 days ago and she gets miss America,” and user Karl Sharro said “Al-Qaeda influenced the liberal judges.”  In addition to acknowledging the obvious threat that white people feel with a person of color winning this pageant, we see an immense amount of basic ignorance where people read a person’s skin color to justify their own racial anxieties.

Red: A Mixed Blood Dust Bowl Childhood

Allison Hedge Coke’s new documentary project looks at mixed Blood narratives within the Dust Bowl experience.  Her film will be following her father’s experience of the Great Depression.  Hedge Coke acknowledges that

“Though many Native and mixed ancestry peoples experienced the advent of this era and the remarkably longstanding existence within it, few, if any, have been recorded telling the tale.”

Undoubtedly a story such as this brings a new lens to this experience, highlighting voices and identities that are often times forgotten.   You can read more about the project at http://www.usaprojects.org/project/red_dust_a_mixed_blood_dust_bowl_childhood

New Beauty Blog ThandieKay to Promote Diversity and Depth

Actress Thandie Newton and makeup artist Kay Montano will be launching a new blog, ThandieKay, to appeal to women across cultural, racial and age divides. I am really excited to see if this site offers something different from the various other blogs out there that cater to women of color – although to be honest I found mostly blog run by black women. If you have any blog suggestions, please leave them on the comment section.

ThandieKay will be live September 16th 2013.

For more on the blog, visit The Independent.

Is Campbell and Iman’s Balance Diversity Campaign Slightly Offensive?

In the midst of fashion week, supermodels Naomi Campbell and Iman addressed the lack of diversity in the industry. They name designers who last fall season used one or no models of color. Below is an interview with Good Morning America.

Bethann Harbinson, an advocate for diversity on the runway, along with the two models sent out letters to the CFDA, British Fashion Council, the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana in Milan and the Fédération Française de la Couture du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers and Créateurs de Mode in Paris. The British Fashion Council responded to the letter by stating that they advocate for diversity by encouraging designers use models from various backgrounds. Some of the other organizations had a similar reaction. Harbinson, Campbell and Iman also posted the following memo on their site Balance Diversity.

Eyes are on an industry that season after season watches fashion design houses consistently use of one or no models of color.

No matter the intention, the result is racism.

Not accepting another based on the color of their skin is clearly beyond “aesthetic” when it is consistent with the designer’s brand.

Whether it’s the decision of the designer, stylist or casting director, that decision to use basically all white models, reveals a trait that is unbecoming to modern society.

It can no longer be accepted, nor confused by the use of the Asian model.

I completely admire what Campbell and Iman are doing and I’m thankful that they have the resources to bring this issue back to light.

However, I am slightly troubled by the last line of their memo ‘It can no longer be accepted, nor confused by the use of the Asian model.’ Assuming the ‘It’ is diversity, are we taking out Asians from the category ‘people of color’? If we define a person of color as someone whose pigmentation doesn’t match a white person, or as a way of understanding distribution of social and economic power or as a way of forming solidarity and identity, then we have to recognize that Asia is a continent. This is an umbrella term representing people or various racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

As we move forward and continue to address such social issues, its incredibly important to be aware of how identity politics shape such arguments and statements, and not to rely on the hierarchies of oppression to get a point across.

If Campbell and Iman do ever read this, I strongly urge them to continue their amazing work but also to be aware of such exclusionary statements.

In Defense of ‘Devious Maids’

Let me begin by saying that I was one of the skeptics.  One of those people that started critiquing ‘Devious Maids’ after only seeing the initial trailer.  A Latina myself, I come from a long list of women spanning generations who worked as maids in the homes and hotels of the elite.  I was concerned this would just be another Hollywood caricature of Latinas, framing our bodies as tools for manual labor and sex symbols present exclusively for the pleasure of the white male gaze.  In fact many critiques of the show have been centered on the notion that it is disconnected from reality and buys into highly stereotyped and stigmatized images of Latinas.  Some of the central arguments critics have used are that A) it oversexualizes Latina maids’ bodies B) it strips Latina voices of their agency C) it is irresponsible to center a show about Latina maids around violence.

I want to take a moment to think about how this show has been sold to the public and the ways in which the creators and producers promote it, which in many ways contributed to this initial backlash.  Below we see a couple billboards that were used to advertise ‘Devious Maids,’ one selling the image of sex, and the other highlighting murder.  In neither image do we see a full female body, though it is understood the fragmented image is that of one of the maids with her low-cut uniform revealing cleavage, and the sponge she is cleaning with.

imgres-2

imgres

The promotional ads found online and in magazines such as the one below, very intentionally sell a specific image of latinidad within the audience they are trying to reach.    Here we see a variety of poses that fit within the Hollywood constructions of what is deemed sexy.  Though they still have the off the shoulder little black dress, the actors exhibit poses of defiance. images

Although the viewer is seeing a stream of images of the sexy Latina maid, script writer Tanya Saracho, is very intentional about giving the characters strong, independent voices, an approach that has largely been absent for Latinas and many women of color in Hollywood up to this point.  The individual stories and personalities we see through the experiences of the “devious maids” are far more complex than what has been created for mainstream television.   As Vanessa Verduga of Policy Mic writes, “Saracho tends to hold up a mirror that reflects the fallacies of an America that is still spellbound by its egotistical opinion that its mission is to enlighten and redeem the world.”

Before the show was even aired on June 27th, a great deal of criticism had already been formed.  Vanessa Verduga writes,

“it seemed rather surprising that a Lifetime series…would actually produce a script that scandalized its viewers.  Actually the correct word would be, non-viewers, as the general uproar began before the pilot episode was available to the general public.”

Some voices in the Latino community expressed disgust, calling “Devious Maids” a wasted opportunity.  Author Alisa Valdez, was one of the public critics of the show, writing that “there is something very wrong with an American entertainment industry that continually tells Latinas that this is all they are or can ever be.”  This reaction has very real roots and it’s natural in a social context where mass mediated images of Latinas are bodies reduced to sex objects. However the question is, can a humanizing story about Latinas only happen in extremes? Shouldn’t we be aiming at increasing our visibility at every level?  Eva Longoria one of the executive producers, along with the lead actors, have defended the integrity of the show.  Longoria insists it should be praised for being the first mainstream English-Language Drama that stars 5 Latina characters as main characters.  “What I didn’t expect,” said Longoria, “was that much criticism from our own community having not even seen it.  It doesn’t define our culture if we’re playing these kinds of roles.”

Dania Ramirez, Roselyn Sanchez, Ana Ortiz, Edy Ganem, Judy Reyes

The lead actors in ‘Devious Maids’ from left to right: Dania Ramirez, Roselyn Sanchez, Ana Ortiz, Edy Ganem, Judy Reyes

Dania Ramirez, who plays the maid Rosi, has highlighted that being a part of the cast means getting the chance to tell a story of struggle.

“Now I finally have a chance to portray the stories of the older generation.  If we are going to tackle Hollywood, then we need to educate Hollywood first.  You gotta start here.”

Ramirez’s point is crucial in continuing to build increasingly positive images of Latinas in Hollywood.  Nothing happens overnight, but the fact that this show is pushing certain boundaries (if only a couple) within a mainstream network  is promising.  It is one of many steps.  It is not a question of settling.  In fact we should not settle for the singular image of Latinas as maids.  We absolutely need to write ourselves into more storylines that showcase the diversity of our power and strength whether in the classroom as teachers, in the courtroom as lawyers, first generation college students, activists.  ‘Devious Maids’ is not the end point but merely one of many starting points.  I challenge us to question how we are defining Latina agency.  If we only understand subversiveness through one narrow lens, we can’t push the boundaries of representation.  The writers and producers are trying to sustain their airtime on a mainstream network, and within those limitations have written a storyline that does break away from long entrenched depictions of Latina maids as voiceless and creates sentient, intelligent characters, women who will do anything to fight for the rights, dignity, and future of their families.

Duck Dynasty Part 1: 5 Ways They Shake Up The American Dream

Duck Dynasty is one of the latest reality televisions shows since the rise of the genre at the turn of the century. It shows the lives of the  Robertson family who own Duck Commander, a company that makes duck calls. This multimillion dollar family captured attention of many Americans and earn A&E their highest rating ever.

I knew of Duck Dynasty but I never watched it until now. And I have to say, I get it.

Duck Dynasty is a fascinating television show about the lives of an extended family going about their lives raising their family, running a business and dealing with sibling rivalry.

There are a few things going in Duck Dynasty that make the show so intriguing. There will be a series of post detailing how and why  this storyline is so fascinating. This first post will look at the Robertson family in relation to the American dream.

The American dream is the belief that because this nation has strong ideals of freedom and equality, anyone is capable of upward mobility through hard work and dedication. The family represents a way of pursuing the American dream that doesn’t fit the larger narrative of what that dream looks like.

1) They manage to build a very success business with a loyal niche and secured a future for themselves and their children without necessarily compromising who they are. This is one of the qualities the viewers admire. In the age of economic instabilities, they reaffirm the American dream in its most essential state.

2) They live in a rural area in Louisiana instead of the suburbs. The family represents a way of pursuing the American dream that doesn’t fit the larger narrative of what that dream looks like. In season 1 episode 8, Miss Kay and Phil go house hunting but they end up making fun of the overly decorated houses and Phil is repulsed by the idea of a golf course.

3) They are no Dick and Jane. The Robertson family unit is not a nuclear family. They are more of a clan, something that isn’t really embraced by social conservatives. In their line of thought, a nuclear family is central to stability in a modern society. The Robertson family structure is the driving force behind their business model and the popularity show.

4) They are hunters. The family’s hunting and eating habits are what make this show stand out so much. The produces choose to highlight the various ways the men get food. We dont see any grocery shopping (although its assumed they go to Cubs, Piggly Wiggly etc) but we do see them kill, skin and roast animals for food. This fits into another aspect of the American imagination that will be discussed in a later post.

5) The beards. That is all.

 

Cheerios, Identity and the Changing Role of Advertising

This is one of my favorite commercials to come out in the last few years. Its amazing to see a mixed race family featured in a major ad campaign. But clearly not everyone was ready. The racist backlash against this ad is so intense that YouTube shut down the comment section. Kudos to Cheerios for making the ad and standing by it.

To some people, this may not seem like much but commercials are fundamental in the national narrative around identity and nationhood. David Ogilvy, the ‘Father of Advertising’ did not regard ads as an entertainment form or art, he saw them as a “medium of information.” Thus, ads can play a critical role in helping reaffirm or defy societal norm and lifestyles.

This is important when thinking about the role that ads play since a lot of people today dont trust ads in deciding what products to buy. A study conducted in 2011 showed that about half the people who participated didn’t trust commercials but instead looked to other consumers for recommendations.

How are companies rethinking advertising in the age of social media and mass information?

Ads are becoming a tool for shaping a company’s narrative. Ads allow the companies to actively engage in conversations and align their values as a company along social issues that their consumers care about. This can be see in Nike’s #BeTrue line (advocates for LGBT awareness in sports) to Bugaboo’s (Red) strollers.

So when a company like General Mills uses one of their most recognized products to show an interracial family, they are making a statement. They are positioning themselves as inclusive and forward thinking. More importantly, they are showing me that they care about what I care about and thus giving me another reason to buy Cheerios. By the end of the day, that is the bottom line.