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.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via Pixabay and Pexels

The stereotype about Millenials (1981 to 1995) is that they are addicted to their smartphones. And, well, it's kind of true, right? The generation that can hardly remember what the world was like without the Internet spends a lot of time staring at their phones.

On the other hand, the stereotype about Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964) is that they are Luddites who are often stymied by technology and had a really hard time making Zoom calls when COVID-19 hit.

However, this stereotype is not so true. The truth is, they're a lot more alike than anyone thought. Is that such a bad thing?

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