Loving Day Weekend: Mixed Remixed Festival, Nana Dijo and Blaxicans

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by Tom Nguyen

Sunday, June 12 is Loving Day, a holiday commemorating the 1967 Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia that struck down bans against interracial marriage and multiracial families. In this election year of open racism and blatant xenophobia, it’s so important for us to remember the hard-fought victories by people like Mildred and Richard Loving to overcome hatred and intolerance enforced by the very laws of the land.

The folks who have always swam against societal currents that pressure us to stay segregated are the folks who dare cross the color lines for love. While the majority of couples prefer to date their own race or ethnicity, interracial unions are on the rise! According to Pew Research, “Multiracial Americans are at the cutting edge of social and demographic change in the U.S.—young, proud, tolerant and growing at a rate three times as fast as the population as a whole.”

Despite their growth (currently about 10% of US households), biracial and multiracial individuals, couples and families are an exceedingly complex group, many of whom feel very misunderstood by their own families and communities at large. They face different forms of discrimination, intolerance and misunderstanding, depending on their combination of race and ethnicity, and are underrepresented in public policy, health care issues, media and more.

One festival which aims to raise awareness on the mixed race experience is Mixed Remixed Festival, which is the nation’s largest gathering of mixed-race and multiracial families and people, taking place at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles, June 10-11, 2016. In its third year, the all-volunteer festival is free to the public and brings together film and book lovers, innovative and emerging artists, and multiracial and multicultural families and individuals for workshops, readings, performances, and film screenings.

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BMI’s Posada en Rosa Showcases Emerging Latina Voices and helps St. Jude Children’s Cancer Research

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Alih Jey and Mitre

Story and Photos by Oscar Bautista

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Chongo Head T-shirts

The Gibson showroom in Beverly Hills housed a great lineup of emerging Latina singer/songwriters this holiday month. Hosted by Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI)’s Latin division, Posada en Rosa brought together amazingly gifted female artists, as well as community vendors to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Along with the music, attendees were treated to pastries from local SoCal small enterprises Mi Kaffe and Viva Los Cupcakes. Chongo Head T-shirts, a family business started by 14 year old Soraya Gonzalez, showed off amazing T-shirt concepts she designs with her father.

Proceeds from the night’s sales were donated to St. Jude, whose representative Odette Gutierrez took the time to educate us about the global organization’s history of improving children’s cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% today. She thanked us in gratitude, saying since they are primarily funded through donations and children’s cancer research is less funded than adult cancer research, every effort counts and is appreciated!

The main draw for the night was the showcase with five great performances by some of Latin America’s young emerging singer/songwriters. Artists for this night included Mexican singer/songwriters Anna Sophia, Vanessa Zamora, Alejandra Alberti, Cuban singer/songwriter Ilza Rosario, and Dominican singer/songwriter Alih Jey who was accompanied by fellow BMI artist Mitre. Continue Reading →

Los Angeles hosts the launch of the 1st Central American International Film Festival

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By Oscar Bautista
Photos by Juan C Martinez (via Facebook)

Hosted at the University of Southern California (USC), the Central American International Film Festival (CAIFF) kicked off its free 3-day long event on Nov. 13. This event was open to the community, as well as those in the film industry, giving everyone the opportunity to see the works of many Central American filmmakers.

Starting with a red carpet reception, the CAIFF’s opening night got to showcase the perspectives of Central American cinema with a nice star-studded affair.

Though the attendees mainly consisted of people involved in film and media, it was still amazing to see so many faces from our local Central American communities, coming out to support films reflecting the diversity of Central America. Continue Reading →

14 Rappers, 14 Countries for UNICEF: Where are the Women MCs?

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by Tom Nguyen

Dear San E and UNICEF,

I was excited to discover your music video #HIPHOPISHIPHOP – Hip Hop for the World bringing together 14 rappers from 14 countries to express the unifying love of hip hop. I love that this video was made in the tradition of the iconic song We Are The World, to bring light on an important global issue: children’s access to education. Except for the venerable KRS-One, I love that I didn’t know any of the rappers. Thanks for giving talented rappers around the world a chance to shine!

Now, I ask…where are the women? I was quickly disappointed to see that out of 14 rappers, there was only one woman, YACKO from Indonesia. Why does this bother me? While every rapper in that video is talented and deserving and I applaud each of them, I have so many reasons for why this gender imbalance in your video upsets me.

Hip hop has historically been a very unfriendly and unfair place for women and it still remains so. Misogyny, homophobia and transphobia are big problems in hip hop songs, lyrics and culture. I’m afraid your video only reinforces the exclusion of women in hip hop. If We Are The World had better inclusion of women in 1985, I’m sure we can do better in 2015.

Since you are using hip hop as a platform for children’s education and your own statistics show that girls suffer greater disadvantage and exclusion from education in so many parts of the world, wouldn’t you have wanted to represent more women as role models? If you had included more women cyphers, I think your message would have been much more powerful and inspiring in your quest for gender equality in education.

After all, you released this video during Women’s History Month and right before International Women’s Day. I think you squandered a very good opportunity to not only address the inequality of access to education, but to also give strength to the message that the ones most affected by that inequality are girls around the world. You could have shown young girls everywhere that they have the same right and ability to succeed in any male-dominated space.

However, I have faith in an organization that is doing so much to achieve gender equality. We’re far from achieving equal human rights and opportunities for one half of the world’s population and it’s critical to keep empowering girls and women worldwide. There are no lack of girls and women on the front lines of society fighting for equality and freedom every day in every part of the world, and hip hop is no exception. In many countries, just being female, queer or trans in male-dominated hip hop is defiant and revolutionary. Below are just 14 of so many countless talented female, queer and trans rappers (in alphabetical order) who are not only rapping but doing so by challenging the status quo and giving voice to marginalized communities around the world. I hope you’ll consider them in a second hip hop video.

Respectfully,
Tom Nguyen

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Bombazo Fandango: A Unique Music Event of the People and For the People!

Courtesy of Richard Estrada

At the 4th Annual Bombazo Fandango on Saturday night February 8, 2014 we were told and shown that there is a reason some music lasts throughout the centuries, and other music can’t seem to make it through a decade. Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba and Son Jarocho from Veracruz, Mexico are both musical forms that stand the test of time. Why? Because this isn’t just music for the sake of music. This music is about community! Both are fusions of African, indigenous, and Spanish influences. Not only are the influences cultural, they are historical and at the same time timeless since many of these communities are still experiencing some of the persisting consequences brought about by colonization, slavery, and oppression. This music uplifts, this music resists, this music is why our peoples persist! Continue Reading →

Newport Beach Film Festival Film Showcases & Galas April 25-May 2


Having grown up in Orange County, I’m proud to say one of the most dynamic and well-run film festivals in Southern California and OC’s largest one is the Newport Beach Film Festival and this year’s 14th annual festival runs Thursday, April 25 – May 2. They screen an enormous amount of films in a week in many categories: Features, Documentaries, Action Sports, Shorts, Art, Architecture and Design (AA+D), Environmental, Music, Family, Youth and Collegiate. This year, they’re also partnering with the OC Music Awards to feature music videos. My favorite of the festival are the Showcases spotlighting films from different regions of the world, followed by a gala parties in the beautiful outdoor courtyard of Fashion Island in Newport Beach. These after-parties offer hordoevers  from select area restaurants, drinks by Absolut and Stella Artois, and live entertainment and are well worth the additional ticket (Discount tickets for some of them available below!). The OC Weekly has a good run-down on this year’s festival and here are the showcases: Continue Reading →