This awesome band is creating inclusive concert spaces for Muslims and other music fans.

After more than a decade of performing, the Kominas were getting tired.

They weren't tired of playing music, though — that remained the best part of their days. Instead, the punk rock band was exhausted by always having to explain, identify, and defend themselves as Americans of South Asian descent in a mostly white punk rock scene.

"In our early days, we definitely coexisted with a lot of local, very white punk bands. But even then, I felt like we were some kind of fetish," said guitarist Shahjehan Khan, in a band interview with Spencer Shannon. According to Khan, even bands that they were friends with still couldn't tell the members of the Kominas apart sometimes.


Basim Usmani, Karna Ray, Sunny Ali, and Shahjehan Khan. Photo by Eva Wo/the Kominas, used with permission.

They released a new record in 2015, appropriately titled "Stereotype," and they wanted to go on tour to promote it. But as brown-skinned dudes in America, they didn't feel very safe.

Somehow, things for South Asian Americans — including Pakistanis, Muslims, Sikhs, and many other groups — were looking even worse than when the band first formed a few years after 9/11.

"The climate in America right now, with all the shit going on politically and with the election ... every day is like there’s new shit happening and it’s so hard to keep up. You get kind of numb to it and not really dealing with it," said guitarist/vocalist Sunny Ali.

"But our shows have been getting more and more [people-of-color] majority ... and it’s just cool to have a place that everybody can get together in that way, and just potentially be like moshing with each other, then picking each other up if someone fell," he added. "Even just physically being that close to like-minded people can be therapeutic."

Photo by HYFN/the Kominas, used with permission.

In the summer of 2016, the band decided to pack up their gear and embark on a "Rock Therapy" tour across the United States.

They'd play music on the tour, of course. The 10,000-mile, monthlong tour would take them to 20 cities, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Houston, to Olympia, Washington. But most importantly, it would be all about inclusiveness.

This trek might sound scary at a time when the cringeworthy xenophobia of "Ban Muslims!" is so central to the zeitgeist. But that's why the Kominas are making an effort to perform at inclusive cultural centers and music venues with other like-minded artists and musicians.

"It’s not just a rock therapy tour. It’s like a 'Magic School Bus' education," explained vocalist/bassist Basim Usmani. "It's us going through the USA and saying, 'What is this place?' Then being able to look around and say, 'Honey, you’re home' and ... get that positive feeling of, 'Yeah, I was born in this country, and I love it.'"

Photo by HYFN/the Kominas, used with permission.

Their tour kicked off at the Lilypad in Cambridge in July.

100 eager fans crammed into the small gallery space that night. Gutter punks and hipsters danced alongside dolled-up young professionals. There were even a few older parents who showed up ready to rock. Most of the crowd had brown skin, and some wore dastaars or kameez or saris. At one point in the evening, the audience let out a collective chuckle when the opening band's Bengali-American singer joked that the drummer could pronounce Sanskrit better than she could.

The show was easily one of the warmest and most inviting rock 'n' roll shows I'd ever been a part of, and I was immediately struck by the bonds that were apparent even between strangers — just because they all felt comfortable in the space.

One fan, Sara Hussain, said she felt right at home watching the Kominas. "I'm a South Asian girl, and it’s the first time I’ve seen artists that have made their name that are South Asian artists," she told Upworthy. "They wear our clothing, they say the words that we understand, they share our languages. That’s how we connect to them. You really can’t see yourself represented in the world unless you actually see yourself up there, or people like you, right?"

Photo by HYFN/the Kominas, used with permission.

Every band that played that night had some kind of South Asian influence bleeding through their sound. But at the same time, the bands were just your average American indie rock bands, too.

"Rock Therapy might be kind of healing those wounds that are created by people who are prejudiced against those Pakistani Americans or Muslim Americans or Desi," said Levi Ali, a musician and longtime Kominas fan who was in the audience that night, in an interview with Upworthy. "You have to go and support everyone who’s doing that because that’s how you start a movement. ... It’s showing that we are something in this country, we’re here too, and we’re doing cool stuff."

"When you try to represent your culture which is largely ignored, any kind of symbol becomes huge."

Photo by SUNDAYS/cool/the Kominas, used with permission.

All too often, minorities in America are saddled with the responsibility of being the spokespeople for their entire group.

There is obviously a vibrant South Asian rock music community in America, as evidenced by the Kominas tour. But even in the earliest days of their success, they were forced to act both in press and at concerts as some kind of monolithic archetypal stand-in for all South Asian Americans who like rock music, which has been incredibly difficult.

"A large portion of our fanbase is people of color," drummer Karna Ray explained to Shannon. "Hopefully with this [new tour], we can create small spaces where people are alleviated of having that responsibility" of always having to explain and identify themselves.

Photo by HYFN/the Kominas, used with permission.

Case in point: The Kominas are frequently referred to as a "Muslim punk band" even though they're not all Muslim.

But they are all Americans.

Sure, they embrace and poke fun at their experiences as South Asian Americans in songs like "See Something, Say Something," the "Friends"-inspired "4 White Guys," and "Sharia Law in the USA." But it's not the only thing that defines them.

"Our songs critique the world around us, but a lot of people can read whatever paternal, like, 'They’re trying to reform their savage culture!' bullcrap they want," said Usmani. "That makes what we’re doing feel really gross. We’re not, like, 'one of the good ones.'"

"It’s difficult because a lot of other bands, they’re just going through it. They’re not even saddled with an identity," he added. "No one’s like, 'Wow, a white band’s playing tonight!'"

Photo by Eddie Austin/the Kominas, used with permission.

That's why it's so important that bands like the Kominas are using the power of community to create safe spaces for all types of Americans.

If you ask the Kominas directly about what they want audiences to take away from their music and performances, they probably won't talk to you about inclusiveness alone. No, instead they'd all tell you the exact same thing in unison: "Buy our T-shirts!"

It's a silly and moving reminder that they're still just another great American rock 'n' roll band trying to make a living by doing what they love — even if that does involve a little rock therapy.

But tours like these still make a huge difference for South Asian Americans in particular, especially at a time when many of them could use the support. But that doesn't mean the rest of us are left out of the fun, either — we can all listen to their music and enjoy their shows (and, yes, laugh at their hilarious music videos), while also reminding ourselves that America's strength lies in diversity, not exclusion.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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