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A 'Parks and Recreation' star's blunt description of how race works in Hollywood.

Last weekend, "Parks and Recreation" star Aziz Ansari went off the typical press junket script to tackle one of Hollywood's biggest taboos: race.

Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images.


In a Q&A session to promote his new show "Master of None," the actor and comedian used the opportunity to speak out against racial quotas on TV...

...as reported by Samuel Anderson in Vulture:

"When they cast these shows, they're like, 'We already have our minority guy or our minority girl.' There would never be two Indian people in one show. With Asian people, there can be one, but there can't be two. Black people, there can be two, but there can't be three because then it becomes a black show. Gay people, there can be two; women, there can be two; but Asian people, Indian people, there can be one but there can't be two."

There's lots more in the interview, including thoughts about white actors playing South Asian characters in "brownface," television's history of offering one-dimensional, stereotypical roles to Indian-American actors, and why "Empire" doesn't mean racism is a thing of the past.

You should go read the whole thing.

Ansari isn't the first to speak out about Hollywood's race problem.

Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images

TV mega-producer Shonda Rhimes, "Fresh Off the Boat" creator Eddie Huang, "Selma" star David Oyelowo, and many others have recently called out the TV and film industry for selling actors of color short and promoting stereotypes on screen.

The numbers back them up.

A 2014 analysis by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA found that, in 2011, non-white actors were underrepresented on film by a factor of 3:1 when adjusted for their share of the population. The same analysis also found that more than 50% of films that year featured casts that were less than 10% non-white.

Why does it matter?

Representation matters, and it matters from a very early age. When characters of color are either not represented at all or portrayed as sidekicks, buffoons, and assorted other one-dimensional stereotypes, kids internalize those stereotypes — and the notions that "That's how the world I live in sees me" or "I don't count."

It's hard to overstate the value of seeing someone who looks like you realized as a full human being on-screen. And right now, for people of color in America, that's not happening nearly enough.

What can be done?

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

Thankfully, the landscape is changing — thanks in large part to shows like Ansari's, "The Mindy Project," "Fresh Off The Boat," and "Empire," which feature characters of color who are front and center rather than tokens in the background, and three-dimensional people rather than stereotypes.

Giving creators who are people of color a chance to make entertainment is the quickest way to make the industry more inclusive. Hopefully, the success of those shows will help convince Hollywood that doing so can be a winning bet.

As for shows that aren't built from the ground up by people of color...

Inclusion should be the goal, not a byproduct of the process.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.

Earlier this month, in an interview with NPR, Lorne Michaels was discussing diversity on "Saturday Night Live" when he said something extremely revealing:

"Chris Rock called me about Leslie [Jones] ... said, 'She's the funniest person, or one of the funniest people I know, and she's either going to end up working for you or working for AT&T, so.' And Leslie was 46 and was not in any way what I was looking for, but when I saw her and she just destroyed — and she's, aside from being incredibly funny, she's a wonderful person, and lovely — and you go, 'Right, OK, you join.'"

Here's the thing. It's not like no one knew about Leslie Jones.

Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images.

Lots of people knew about her, in fact. She had been doing stand-up since 1987. She toured with Katt Williams. She was good enough that Chris freaking Rock knew about her.

But Michaels didn't.

He didn't know about her because he scouts talent from a few well-worn comedy establishment theaters — many of which predominately attract white (and male) performers. If Chris Rock hadn't gotten in his face about it, Michaels never would have known. And crucially, "Saturday Night Live" would have been not just less diverse, but more importantly, less funny as a result.

For Lorne Michaels, the moral of the story seems to be that talent is talent no matter where it comes from. And that's true! But that's not the real lesson here.

The actual moral of the story?

Look harder. There's lots of talent out there. It just might not be in the places you always look.

And if you don't snatch them up, they might just leave you behind.

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

This story first appeared on the author's Medium and is reprinted here with permission.

Because you're a girl.

This article originally appeared on 04.14.17


I was promoted a few weeks ago, which was great. I got a lot of nice notes from friends, family, customers, partners, and random strangers, which was exciting.

But it wasn't long until a note came in saying, “Everyone knows you got the position because you're a girl." In spite of having a great week at a great company with great people whom I love, that still stung, because it's not the first time I've heard it.

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This blind chef wore a body cam to show how she prepares dazzling dishes.

How do blind people cook? This "Masterchef" winner leans into her senses.

Image pulled from YouTube video.

Christine Ha competes on "Masterchef."

This article originally appeared on 05.26.17


There is one question chef Christine Ha fields more than any other.

But it's got nothing to do with being a "Masterchef" champion, New York Times bestselling author, and acclaimed TV host and cooking instructor.

The question: "How do you cook while blind?"

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All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

I have plenty of space.

This article originally appeared on 04.09.16


It's hard to truly describe the amazing bond between dads and their daughters.

Being a dad is an amazing job no matter the gender of the tiny humans we're raising. But there's something unique about the bond between fathers and daughters.

Most dads know what it's like to struggle with braiding hair, but we also know that bonding time provides immense value to our daughters. In fact, studies have shown that women with actively involved fathers are more confident and more successful in school and business.

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Gordon Ramsay at play... work.

This article originally appeared on 04.22.15


Gordon Ramsay is not exactly known for being nice.

Or patient.

Or nurturing.

On his competition show "Hell's Kitchen," he belittles cooks who can't keep up. If people come to him with their problems, he berates them. If someone is struggling to get something right in the kitchen, he curses them out.

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This article originally appeared on 01.27.20


From 1940 to 1945, an estimated 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, the largest complex of Nazi concentration camps. More than four out of five of those people—at least 1.1 million people—were murdered there.

On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the final prisoners from these camps—7,000 people, most of whom were sick or dying. Those of us with a decent public education are familiar with at least a few names of Nazi extermination facilities—Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen—but these are merely a few of the thousands (yes, thousands) of concentration camps, sub camps, and ghettos spread across Europe where Jews and other targets of Hitler's regime were persecuted, tortured, and killed by the millions.

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What I realized about feminism after my male friend was disgusted by tampons at a party.

"After all these years, my friend has probably forgotten, but I never have."

Photo by Josefin on Unsplash

It’s okay men. You don’t have to be afraid.

This article originally appeared on 08.12.16


Years ago, a friend went to a party, and something bothered him enough to rant to me about it later.

And it bothered me that he was so incensed about it, but I couldn't put my finger on why. It seemed so petty for him to be upset, and even more so for me to be annoyed with him.

Recently, something reminded me of that scenario, and it made more sense. I'll explain.

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