When a theater in New York sent out this racist flyer, few noticed until one woman gave them a call.

Leah Nanako Winkler was sorting mail when she saw a photo on a flyer that stopped her cold.

There's ... a problem here. Photo by Leah Nanako Winkler, used with permission.


"I saw the front cover, and I was like, 'Oh, weird,'" Winkler, a New York City-based playwright told Upworthy. "And then I looked at the inside cover, and I was like, 'Oh no.'"

"The Mikado" is one of Gilbert and Sullivan's most well-known comic operas. It takes place in Japan — as imagined by two 19th century British writers who knew very little about the actual country or its people.

And there's a pretty big problem with it.

"The Mikado" is frequently performed in yellowface.

"Yellowface" is the practice of non-Asian or non-Asian-American actors portraying characters of Asian descent on stage or on screen, often in heavy, feature-distorting makeup.

Mickey Rooney's supporting role in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is probably the most infamous example.

Yikes. Photo from "Breakfast at Tiffany's"/Paramount Pictures.

But throughout film and theater history, the practice has been, sadly, commonplace.

Winkler found the contact info for the production company — the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players (NYGASP) — and called them up.

Winkler, who is of American and Japanese descent and identifies as biracial, thought surely performing "The Mikado" in yellowface couldn't be their plan in 2015.

Yes, they told her, the company would be doing "The Mikado." And yes, most of the roles would be played by white actors in "authentic" Japanese costumes.

By the end of the conversation, Winkler was frustrated. It was clear to her that the company just didn't understand.

"You're going to get in deep sh*t for this," she predicted before hanging up.

As Winkler anticipated, NYGASP soon found themselves indeed in "deep sh*t."

The "About Us" section of the NYGASP website, which features a photo of cast members of a 1998 production in yellowface makeup posing with former Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

After Winkler broke the news on her blog, many in New York's Asian-American theater community began echoing her frustration at being too frequently caricatured and reduced to stereotypes in movies, TV, and live theater.

"I think what's really nice about this is that there is kind of another generation that's taking up these causes and looking at that [the issue] differently even than my generation did." — David Henry Hwang, playwright

"My first reaction was: Honestly, I can't believe it. But I can," Ming Peiffer, a New York City-based playwright and artistic director, told Upworthy.

Peiffer blames the "model minority" myth — the stereotype that most Asian-Americans are well-educated, assimilated, and financially successful — for the fact that instances of racism against the group are regularly minimized and ignored.

"For some reason Asians seem to be one of the few races that it's still totally chill to be racist against [on stage]," she said.

Many others expressed frustration that racist portrayals of Asian characters feel like the whole point of productions like "The Mikado."

"I find it sort of grotesque," Michael Lew, co-director of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, a development hub for emerging Asian-American playwrights in New York City, told Upworthy. "To me, yellowface is no different than blackface… I don't see why it shouldn't be as taboo."


For Lew, the decision to mount the production went beyond obliviousness, considering the well-publicized, national outcry that erupted when a Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan company produced a predominately white "Mikado" in 2014.

"I think this is an instance of willfully denying Asians their humanity as opposed to ignorance," Lew explained.

The producers of "The Mikado" initially issued a statement in defense of the production, arguing that their goal was to stay, "as true to the original intent as possible."

"Our board of directors established a separate committee to analyze and scan 'The Mikado' and discuss a way forward and how we wanted to be sensitive to the issues and address them in our production," David Wannen, executive director of NYGASP, told Upworthy.

In response to the outcry in Seattle, NYGASP's production originally planned to forgo the "yellowface makeup," while keeping the costumes and wigs intact. In a September 16 conversation, Wannen explained the company was receptive to the notion that they have more work to do. And by that afternoon, they had pulled the brochure from their website.

"We are open and we're working with it," Wannen said, "And all I can say is we are responsive people and adaptive people and by all means want to be sensitive to this important issue."

"It's disheartening, and there's a sense of déjà vu, certainly," playwright David Henry Hwang told Upworthy.

Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images.

Hwang is one of the most prominent Asian-American writers in the world — the first to win a Tony Award and a professor of playwriting at Columbia University. In 1990, Hwang led protests of the original Broadway production of "Miss Saigon," over the casting of (white) British actor Jonathan Pryce in the role of the engineer, a French-Vietnamese character.

Hwang suspects that some productions employ yellowface in a misguided attempt at a "post-racial aesthetic" — the notion that racism is over and that merely demonstrating an awareness of the stereotypes being played on stage is sufficient — while others may do so because they lack historical memory.

"[Yellowface has] become more visible in the last five years or so," Hwang told Upworthy. "Taking a longer term view of this, it is interesting to me how something that I kind of maybe mistakenly thought was part of the past suddenly came back to life."

Ultimately, NYGASP decided to shelve the production and stage another Gilbert and Sullivan classic — "The Pirates of Penzance" — in its place.

A still from a NYGASP production of "The Pirates of Penzance." Photo by New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players.

"NYGASP never intended to give offense and the company regrets the missed opportunity to responsively adapt this December," read a statement submitted to Upworthy late Thursday evening, Sept. 17, 2015. "Our patrons can be sure we will contact them as soon as we are able and answer any questions they may have."

NYGASP deserves a lot of credit for listening and doing the right thing.


Winkler and her cohort deserve even more credit for not backing down.

"I think what's really nice about this is that there is kind of another generation that's taking up these causes, and looking at that [the issue] differently even than my generation did," Hwang told Upworthy.

Winkler says that she's faced criticism for being "too angry" or "too sensitive," but taking a stand against yellowface felt personally necessary.

"[Yellowface] evokes a lot of really terrible memories," Winkler said. "I don't think that should be dismissed as just being too sensitive."

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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

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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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