Aziz Ansari just defended ... red-staters? Yep. And he has a point.

If you're going to paint everyone from the southern United States with a broad, red brush, don't do it around Aziz Ansari.

Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP.

The comedian, who grew up in South Carolina, recently sat down with New York magazine's Jada Yuan to promote the second season of his critically acclaimed Netflix series "Master of None."


The interview went well — except, Yuan admitted, for one moment: when she made an off-the-cuff remark suggesting Ansari's series — which follows Dev Shah, a son of Indian immigrants, and his diverse set of friends living in liberal New York City — is a love letter to the "blue states."

Her comment didn't sit well with Ansari.

Ansari doesn't like when the term "red state" is used to mean people who are backward or ignorant.

It's been his experiences as an Indian-American who grew up in South Carolina — one of the very "red states" often cited that way — that shaped his viewpoint.

As he explained to Yuan (emphasis added):

“Look, don’t say ‘red-staters,’ because when you say ‘red-staters,’ you’re saying, like, ‘dumb, racist people,’ and there are plenty of white people there who are not dumb, racist people. Maybe I’m just very quick to react when, as a culture, we try to paint this whole large group of people as one specific thing. Because that’s what, as a minority, you deal with all the time. It’s just people looking at you and being like, ‘You’re this. I know exactly what you are.’ And you’re like, ‘Shut up! That’s not me. You don’t know me.’”

Ansari's point may be obvious, but it's one we often forget in this politically charged time: simply living in a red (or blue) state says nothing more about your values than your shirt size does. Just because a state swings red or blue in an election doesn't mean that everyone living in that state or district automatically adopts the majority viewpoint.

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP.

Don't mistake the comedian's soft spot for red America as excusing harmful, dangerous rhetoric though — Ansari's been among President Trump's toughest critics in Hollywood for months.

Ansari never wanted his comedy to get political. But in the era of Trump, he couldn't stay silent.

With every anti-Muslim speech or policy proposal from the president, Ansari's own Muslim family is personally affected.

The day after Trump's inauguration, Ansari hosted "Saturday Night Live," hilariously slamming white supremacy and providing the comic relief so many of us desperately needed in that moment. Last summer, he penned a blistering takedown of then-candidate Trump's harmful immigration policies in the New York Times, in which he's quoted as discouraging his mother from going to a mosque for her own safety.

Donald Trump wants to ban Muslim immigrants like my parents, so I wrote a piece for the @NYTimes telling him to go fuck himself. Link in bio.

Posted by Aziz Ansari on Friday, June 24, 2016

Ansari is not afraid to go on the offensive and address racism, sexism, and Islamophobia in his comedy. However, the butt of Ansari's jokes are, specifically, dangerous people and ideas that are helping to keep xenophobia afloat — not every single person who happened to live in a state that went red for Trump in November.

To assume or imply that every person living in a red state embodies the stereotype of being backward or ignorant erases the work of people like Scott Shaffer, in deep-red Texas, who's been laser-focused on stopping harmful bills from passing through Congress. It ignores the people who turned out in droves in Wyoming last week wearing colorful tutus to support LGBTQ equality. It forgets the thousands of women who marched in places like Cincinnati and Tucson the day after Trump's inauguration in defiance of misogyny and discrimination of any kind.

These people of the resistance are red-staters, too — just like Ansari. That's a crucial and often overlooked point to remember.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.