Editor's Picks

Our 21 favorite articles of 2021 from The Tempest fam

In recognition of the hard work our writers and editors have done this year, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite articles. These are the stories that resonated with our audience, fellows, and more importantly with each other. 2021 has been a rough year, but we can still find a silver lining within these cloudy skies.

1. Naomi Osaka makes a case for athlete activism

Naomi Osaka wearing a 'Breonna Taylor' mask while playing
[Naomi Osaka wearing a ‘Breonna Taylor’ mask while playing], via ABC Frank Franklin
This article proves that people are more than the basic stereotypes society expects them to live up to. Being an athlete is more than playing a sport. It can also mean utilizing your platform to speak about injustices that affect you to a wider audience. 

2. White supremacy is on display in the US Capitol

[Image Description: Rioters entering the US Capitol with Trump flags. The buildings is surrounded by a fog of tear gas.] Via Reuters.
[Image Description: Rioters entering the US Capitol with Trump flags. The buildings are surrounded by a fog of tear gas.] Via Reuters.
This admittedly embarrassing time for the United States, also reveals an ugly truth hiding in plain sight. White supremacists, in a state of insecurity of losing their privilege, are fighting for their voice to be heard in a society that is already made in their favor.

3. Bridgerton’s new leading lady Kate Sharma is here – and she’s South Asian

[Image description: Simone Ashley playing Olivia in 'Sex Education' looking to the side and wearing a red jacket. ] Via Netflix
[Image description: Simone Ashley playing Olivia in ‘Sex Education’ looking to the side and wearing a red jacket. ] Via Netflix
One of the most-viewed Netflix shows of all time, featuring a dark-skinned Woman of Color in the main character role? And it looks like it isn’t a pandering move for performative representation? Yeah, you know we have to talk about this.

4. Monique Coleman’s HSM story reveals a larger pattern of hair discrimination in the workplace

[Image description: A collage of Monique Coleman as Taylor Mckessie from Highschool Musical and Vanessa Morgan as Toni Topaz from Riverdale.] Via and
[Image description: A collage of Monique Coleman as Taylor Mckessie from Highschool Musical and Vanessa Morgan as Toni Topaz from Riverdale.] Via and
In a white-dominated society, it is easy to overlook something like hair. However, in the black community, hair has so much meaning and reveals a deeper story about identity. Having that not be taken seriously or being looked down on is something that needs to be corrected.

5. All the words I wish I could have told you

An image of a man and woman lying down in a field, her head is in his lap.
[Image Description: An image of a man and woman lying down in a field, her head is in his lap.] Via Unsplash
A very raw self-reflection of a failed relationship. It’ll pull on your heartstrings and will make you realize the impact people do have on our lives. No one is ever really gone even after they left.

6. Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah reminds us not to romanticize the British Monarch

[Image description: photo captured from Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan Markle.] Via
[Image description: photo captured from Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan Markle.] Via
This is a commentary from our editors on the ground-breaking Oprah interview on what happened behind closed doors. Meghan proves how much mainstream media puts the British Monarchy in a lighthearted way, they are still a reminder of a colonial past living on present-day in a new outlook.

7. Corsets are finally back in style – here’s what you need to know

[Image description: a long-haired woman wearing a white corset]
[Image description: a long-haired woman wearing a white corset] Via Unsplash
One of the biggest fashion trends in 2021. Would you think twice about a garment that is a symbol of societal expectations of what a woman’s body should naturally look like just because you saw a celebrity you like wear it?

8. The jury finds Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts of murdering George Floyd

[Image Description: A protestor holding a sign that says I Can't Breathe] Via Unsplash
[Image Description: A protestor holding a sign that says I Can’t Breathe] Via Unsplash
A landmark decision that made everyone hold their breath. An event that sparked #BlackLivesMatter marches worldwide. This is only the beginning.

9. Celebrities are not activists, but they play a role in the public perception of Palestine

Group of persons gathered for a protest in a city with Palestinian flags
Group of persons gathered for a protest in a city with Palestinian flags

You should not take a celebrity’s opinion as law, but they sure as hell have the influence to turn their followers on to a certain issue. Society gives a lot of spotlight to A-listers so when they start talking, it will bring a lot of attention to an issue. However, their silence can speak volumes as well.

10. Let me tell you about Wu Zetian, China’s only empress and most hated woman

An image of Wu Zetian from "An 18th century album of portraits of 86 emperors of China, with Chinese historical notes".
[Image description: An image of Wu Zetian from “An 18th-century album of portraits of 86 emperors of China, with Chinese historical notes”.] Via Encyclopædia Britannica
Wu Zetian may appear controversial in some circles, but her placement in history should be recognized. She made great advancements despite the drama that riddled throughout her reign. But in the end, she is still human and a damn great ruler.

11. The problem with ‘nude’ in the fashion and beauty industries

Seven body luminizing tint tubes in various shades
[Image Description: Seven body luminizing tint tubes in various shades] Via Fenty Beauty on Instagram
The fashion and beauty industries still have a long way to go to become inclusive to their audience. “Nude” was always catered toward white people, not POCs. Here we call out this problem and suggest some great business to look at who reclaims what nude means.

12. Compulsory heterosexuality is yet another thing I had to unlearn from my youth

[Image description: Happy couple relaxing on bed together.] Via Pexels
[Image description: Happy couple relaxing on a bed together.] Via Pexels
Breaking free of what you have been taught is not an easy task. It takes a lot of questioning and recognizing those ideas you grew up with can be wrong and in turn hurting your development. This article will leave you questioning influence other things that were considered normal, and that’s a good thing.

13. Here’s everything you need to know about the controversy around NFTs and artists

A still from the Nyan Cat YouTube video
[Image description: A still from the Nyan Cat YouTube video] Via YouTube
One of the biggest things to come out in 2021 was the rise of NFTs. We lay down what they are and their place in the artist community in an easy-to-understand read.

14. My female friends are the reason why I know true love

[Image description: Photo of women laughing.] Via Pexels
[Image description: Photo of women laughing.] Via Pexels
Platonic love gets overlooked, but it is truly one of the best relationships a person can have. Remember, you can find love in other people – and it doesn’t need to be romantic.

15. Canada continues to violate the rights of Indigenous people

[ Image description: A white teepee.] via Erikawittlieb on Pixabay
A heartbreaking revelation of Indigenous people being wrongfully treated and a worthwhile read. Talking about these atrocities is important and we can no longer allow Indigenous people to have their rights be ignored.

16. Fashion can thank feminism for its leading magazine

[Image description: Hélène Gordon-Lazareff, an early cover of Elle, and a contemporary issue of Elle with bottles of nail polish.] Via,, and Unsplash
[Image description: Hélène Gordon-Lazareff, an early cover of Elle, and a contemporary issue of Elle with bottles of nail polish.] Via,, and Unsplash
The core progressive principles of Gordon-Lazareff live on in Elle Magazine. It’s more than a fashion magazine, it is a symbol of women’s empowerment.

17. How I video-gamed my lockdown away 

A screenshot from Animal Crossing New Horizons, with the main character smiling in front of her house.
A screenshot from Animal Crossing New Horizons, with the main character smiling in front of her house.

If you weren’t the group of people who decided to take up a side hustle during the lockdown, did you end up playing video games instead? Sometimes you don’t need to make money to feel like you need to accomplish something. Sometimes you just need to go fishing on your animated island with all of your animal villagers and smile.

18. Is freelancing a risky or necessary career move?

[Image description: Person sitting at a computer.] Via Pexels
[Image description: Person sitting at a computer.] Via Pexels
This isn’t a simple yes or no question and it wasn’t designed to be. Capitalism robs us of feeling like our artistic passions are only meant for a paycheck and not as the form of expression it was meant to be.

19. Chloé Zhao admitting she still writes fanfiction made my 2021

Chloe Zhao sits in front of a yellow background
[Image description: Chloe Zhao sits in front of a yellow background] Via Oscars
Doesn’t get as relatable as this. All those nights reading amazing fanfiction to only realize one of them was made by an Oscar-winning director? Isn’t it great to imagine you got a glimpse of success so early before their breakout moment?

20. The good fortune of being a nobody

A woman stands in front of a camera. Via Unsplash
[Image Description: A woman stands in front of a camera. Via Unsplash]
Life leads us to the path we were meant to be on. This is a scary moment of how a brush of success can be a major turning point as to where your life can lead.

21. When you need a break from the news, it’s okay

A group of people protesting.
[Image Description: A group of people protesting.] Via Unsplash
It is important to stay informed at to be on top of news as it happens, but it is equally important to check in with yourself. When the news gets too much, you need to know when to step back. This article is a great way to remind yourself to do so.

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Did you like what we picked? Which was the article that spoke to you the most?

We want to thank you all for a wonderous 2021. It’s been a wild year, to say the least. Thanks for making us part of your corner of the internet. Here’s to another year of great content to consume. Much love from The Tempest Fam!

USA Editor's Picks Activism Race The World Inequality

The jury finds Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts of murdering George Floyd

A landmark verdict was reached today in the Derek Chauvin trial. The jury has found Chauvin guilty on all counts, including second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Following the verdict, bail was revoked and people across the United States watched as Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was escorted away in handcuffs.

Arriving almost a year after the murder of George Floyd, the verdict is being lauded by some as justice for Floyd and his loved ones. While we will have to wait eight weeks for Chauvin’s sentencing, the verdict is a small victory in the fight against police brutality.

Police officers are rarely prosecuted in the U.S. Convicting police officers of a crime like murder is even rarer. Since 2005, courts of law have convicted only 35 officers of a crime related to an on-duty fatality. Chauvin’s verdict could signal a turning of the tide. Officers let off the hook thanks to social and legal protections, such as the blue wall of silence and qualified immunity, will now face the consequences of their actions

Already, we’ve seen this accountability take shape in Chauvin’s trial. Specifically, 45 witnesses testified, including the Minneapolis police chief. Witnesses also included law enforcement officers who broke with precedent and denounced Chauvin’s use of force.

“It is not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values,” the police chief said of Chauvin’s actions during the trial.

Historically, police officers have actively protected each other, which has become known as the blue wall of silence. This has made it more difficult to investigate those who have broken the law. The testimonies given in Chauvin’s trial could dawn an era in which stricter accountability of police forces isn’t wishful thinking, but a requirement upheld by all who don the badge.

Following the verdict, many activists and advocates doubled down on ending qualified immunity. Qualified immunity protects police officers from lawsuits that allege the official violated a plaintiff’s rights. Typically, qualified immunity is what makes suing police officers nearly impossible. Colorado and New Mexico are a few states that recently banned qualified immunity as a way to implement police reform.

Chauvin faces up to 40 years of jail time. The trial of Chauvin’s peers—Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao—will start on August 23.

While this is a day of justice for many, the landmark ruling does not conclude a long history of systemic racism. Nor does it signal an end to police violence against Black and brown people. 

Since the testimony of Chauvin’s trial began on March 29, at least 64 people—half of which were Black or Latino people—have died at the hands of law enforcement nationwide, including Daunte Wright. And, as the country awaited the verdict on Tuesday afternoon, a 15-year-old girl was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio. Ma’Khia Bryant joins Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, and more on a too-long list of police violence victims.

At a press conference following the trial, George Floyd’s family cited these recent victims as reasons why they will continue to protest.

“We have to protest because it seems like this is a never-ending cycle,” said Philonise Floyd, Floyd’s brother, according to The Wall Street Journal. “I’m going to put up a fight every day, because I’m not just fighting for George anymore, I’m fighting for everybody around this world.”

President Biden and Vice President Harris called the Floyd family after the verdict was announced, with POTUS stating, “Nothing is going to make it all better, but at least now there is some justice.”

While justice has been served, there is still much work to be done, especially by the white community. According to a tweet from Alex Moe of NBC News, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi turned Floyd into a martyr, stating, “Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice.” Comments like Pelosi’s make it sound like George Floyd had a choice in being murdered when that couldn’t be further from the truth. This minimizes the systemic problems in the U.S., namely how white supremacy and racism have been upheld by law enforcement for hundreds of years, resulting in the deaths of countless Black and brown people.

How many more Black and brown people have to die at the hands of the police before real change occurs? This problem isn’t new. In fact, it’s almost 200 years old. What’s new is holding the police accountable for the violence they enact on communities of color. But will the same accountability occur for the latest 65 victims of police violence?

Maybe it’s time to seriously consider what abolishing our current policing system looks like, and build community care networks in its stead. Because again I ask, how many more Black and brown people have to die at the hands of the police?

Race Inequality

How we have failed Black Lives Matter

There are three slogans that immediately come to mind when I think of 2020: whether from work emails, local business ads, or neighborhood storefronts: In these unprecedented times, We are alone–together, and Black Lives Matter. How did an organized political and social movement, which first came together in 2013, after the US justice system showed its favored hand in acquitting Trayvon Martin’s murderer, become the loudest cry of 2020?

The May 24th murder of George Floyd in broad daylight sparked a resurgence of activism across the United States and abroad. His, and many other Black lives have become casualties to systemic and ingrained prejudice, which has aggressively attacked the lives of innocent individuals—often going about their daily lives. The fact that this act of brutality by white police officers was caught on camera opened the door for a spate of brutal killings preceding May 24th to come to light. One of the earliest among them was the murder of twenty-six year old Breonna Taylor on March 13, 2020. Joining the cry of “I Can’t Breathe!” was a fierce reminder to, “Say Her Name!” 

This chant, first initiated by the African American Policy Forum, was meant to reinstate the urgency of recognizing not only Black death in its numbers, but in its intersectionality. In her TED talk regarding the importance of intersectionality, Kimberlé Crenshaw (one of AAPF’s founding members) highlights the disparity in acknowledging male and female deaths. She asks the audience to stand for a litany of names, sitting only once they’ve heard a name they don’t recognize. The familiar names of Black men are read to a mostly standing audience—once the names of women are read off, the number drops drastically. This, Crenshaw reminds her audience, is why we must “say her name”—the bodies of Black women do not receive the same urgency or mobilization. 

It seemed in the wake of Breonna Taylor’s death, that we had finally heeded Crenshaw’s advice: we said her name, we posted widely on social media to call for the arrest of her murderers. However, we were quickly, and rightfully condemned: unlike with George Floyd, merchandise and memes made Breonna Taylor’s body a marketing strategy for us to feast on. What day wasn’t a wonderful day to call the Louisville police and demand that they arrest the cops who murdered Breonna? 

On September 23, 2020, the verdict was clear: we hadn’t made Breonna Taylor a movement, but rather a media spectacle. We had failed Breonna Taylor. News first emerged that only the stray bullets discharged had been condemned, reminding us how little we valued the bodies of Black women. Then we learned that the officers who had fired their weapons at Breonna had never even been charged.

While it is an exercise of our democracy to protest and demonstrate against these injustices—what has been left of this summer of activism except a capitalist machine reawakening from the drowsy haze of March-May quarantine? What workplace, or institution, didn’t send an email condemning police brutality—or at best, a senseless murder? My own sphere as a graduate student of English, and writer, called it a reckoning: were we highlighting Black voices? Were we publishing enough BIPOC writing? We had been thus far focused on the optics of not being racist; now we had to learn how to be actively anti-racist. Ibram Kendi’s books flew off the shelves as book clubs formed, Zoom invitations flooded our inboxes as we put the pressure on our mourning Black colleagues to educate us—tell us how we could help them.

As a non-Black woman, there is a limitation on how much I can claim in a space that was carved out for a much more marginalized group than my own (Indian-American, and fairly well represented in academic institutions, if not my own department). However, watching this intersection of space occur within my own communities has been a reminder of the everyday microaggressions that I have seen culturally normalized. Kimberlé Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality has, quite literally, been a lifesaver for those who fell through the cracks of a system that didn’t recognize their varied experiences and identities. So if we know the importance of this in 2020, then we must be applying it widely, right? Well–these intersections only work when we actively choose to recognize them. 

For example, Islam is the third largest religion in the US, and while many of the mosques follow de-facto segregation based on immigrant community pockets, there is in fact a much larger community that often gets overlooked in the public narrative of American Muslims. Black Muslims make up one of the largest demographics in the US. Yet it took waves of BLM protests to remind immigrant communities of this. In my own twenty some years of experience I have witnessed first-hand acts of microaggressions against Black Muslims that even the most devout of our community would deny. 

Black mosques exist—this bears repeating—Black mosques exist, despite my (Desi) community’s apparent ignorance of the fact. Each Ramadan we hold fundraisers, inviting only for one night a local imam with a radical idea: raising money for a mosque just across town that we didn’t know existed. Why? It primarily served the Black Muslim community. We would, for one night, remind ourselves that there is no superiority among Muslims, raise a meagre sum, and then go back to campaigning for a (boys only, of course) basketball court in Stage Three of the mosque construction dream plan. No wonder then, that I would receive emails as a community point person during my undergraduate years requesting locations of nearby mosques in Baltimore, with the local lists shot down until I suggested a larger Desi mosque out of town.   

With such a framework in place, we were not prepared for the activism asked of us as Desi-Americans this past summer. A sign in itself is not enough. In the end, amidst a scramble of companies, organizations, and institutions attempting to attach themselves to the right side of history, it remains clear that the intention was to keep themselves on the right side of their consumer base, making BLM “just good business”. A storefront sign becomes just part of the window display, and we decide we’ve talked enough about race. 

I don’t know what the next few days will look like (hi, 2020) but in order for us to atone for commodifying this movement—one with literal lives on the line, I’m looking at each “intersection-ed” community. It’s time to step up and speak up for what unifies us, not lay complicit in what divides us.


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Race Policy Inequality

Defunding the police isn’t as radical as you might think

The Breakdown is a Tempest exclusive series that attempts to tackle issues, concepts, terms, and histories that are relevant and intrinsic to conversations about social justice. This is our version of a 101 on Social Justice, with a grassroot level approach that hopes to simplify and make political and cultural conversations accessible in a global level.

Even though the conversations around Black Lives Matter has existed since 2013, it has increasingly been in the news lately in response to the unjust deaths of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and George Floyd. Protests and calls to defund the police have ensued nationwide as conversations about police brutality are finally happening. However, reactions to “defund the police” have been mixed at best. Former President Barack Obama recently commented that the slogan “defund the police” is too snappy and that activists should rephrase the slogan to something less radical. So, what exactly is defunding the police?

Opponents of Black Lives Matter will have you believe that defunding the police is dissolving the entire police force to create a state of anarchy in the US in which crime rules all. However, defunding the police is actually a strategic plan to shift police funding to social services that can improve mental health, poverty, drug addiction, and homelessness, i.e. the primary motivators for crime in low SES areas. 

By addressing the causes of crime, rather than the results of it, communities can become safer, lightening the workload of police officers. Data shows that 9 out of 10 police calls are for non-violent events. Mental health calls compose about 1 out of 10 police calls. However, 1 in 4 deaths from police shootings represent people with mental illnesses. 

In cases of mental health, psychologists and mental health therapists are much better equipped to respond than police officers. Police officers are not trained to handle mental health issues in the manner that licensed therapists are. By pushing all of the wrongs of society onto police officers, we have dramatically diluted society’s ability to actually deal with the root of these issues. 

Under the defunded model, police forces will still exist. They will just deal with more heinous crimes such as murder, sexual assault, and violent crimes, which is what they are trained to do. By reducing the burden on police officers to deal with everything wrong with society, they can focus more on the encounters that they are tasked with handling relating to crime. For example, the 200,000 rape kits that remain unprocessed in police stations can begin to be processed now. In addition, communities of color will feel more at ease knowing that they do not have to live in constant fear of the police. The Black Lives Matter movement recognizes the benefits of the police force while recognizing that there is tremendous reform and restructuring needed within the system before it becomes remotely capable of providing safety and justice for all.

Defunding the police will provide a means to revitalize black communities, specifically those with high crime rates as a result of homelessness and poverty. It will also allow us to create more jobs by increasing the budgets of departments that promote public safety and welfare in a non-violent manner, benefitting all of society. Police officers will still be able to retain their jobs, but with a reallocated focus. Defunding the police is one of the best answers that we have right now to police brutality and crime.


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Race Inequality

Here is your guide to using the right language to be an effective ally

With an increasing pressure to dismantle systemic racism this year, many advocates and social media activists emerged as allies of the Black Lives Matter movement. Yet, as a South Asian I realized just how complicit we all are in embodying, upholding, or colluding with White supremacy in our own consumption of racist language. We all don’t get the language of allyship fully right because our language inadvertently engages in microaggressions. Our words and expressions are the same as that of a racist bigot because they were born in the vernacular of White supremacy.

We are wholly complicit in the linguistic degradation of Black communities. Linguistic racism is a form of internalized racism, one that is propagated even by innocent tongues. Language perpetuates stereotypes and eventually violence.

There needs to be a fundamental shift in language if we are to be better allies:

  1. Probe color symbolism

Think of the words “black sheep”, “blackmail”, “blacklist”. Why does the most negative terminology have black associated with it? Why does White symbolize purity and positivity? When and where did this trend originate? Consider Martin Luther King Jr’s words:

“Somebody told a lie one day. They couched it in language. They made everything Black ugly and evil. Look in your dictionaries and see the synonyms of the word Black. It’s always something degrading and low and sinister. Look at the word White, it’s always something pure, high, and clean. Well, I want to get the language right tonight. I want to get the language so right that everyone here will cry out: ‘Yes, I’m Black, I’m proud of it. I’m Black and I’m beautiful!”

  1. Always capitalize the ‘B’ in “Black

In a watershed moment in June 2020, the Associated Press (AP) style guide clarified that: “the lowercase black is a color, not a person.” But using the lowercase term, you are using skin color and race as a qualifier of identity. But a capitalized Black indicates a “shared sense of history, identity, and community among people who identify as Black, including those in the African diaspora and within Africa.”

  1. Consider “nation,” “language group” or “ethnicity” instead of “tribe.”

Ever wondered why history books only use “tribe” in relation to Africans or Indigenous people and never in the context of Europe? Terms such as “tribe” deny the geographical reality of Africa as a vast and expansive continent, less than 20% of which is wooded. It also simply reinstates the stereotype of the continent, as a massive jungle inhabited by “primitive”, “uncivilized,” “cannibalistic,” “pagan, “savage” peoples as described by early colonizers.

  1. Use “African” countries rather than using “Africa”

Africa reduces an entire continent of diverse cultures into a homogenous monolith as perceived by the colonizer. It is a continent home to various sovereign nations.

  1. Avoid using the N-word at all costs

Even if your favorite rap song uses it, know that is a racial slur when used by anyone not of Black descent. So why is it okay for Black communities to still use it? The Daily Tar Heel points out that: “N-word is a classic example of the reclaiming of racist language through the subversion of its power. Essentially, when Black communities reclaimed this word, they flipped it on its head and used it as a tool of camaraderie to the point where the word lost its power over them.”

  1. Watch out for terms that seem objective, but are actually racist

The colonizers and enslavers used blatantly racist terminology such as “savages”, “beasts” and “backward”. In contemporary times, to suit the modern context, these notions of inferiority have taken a more subtle and clinical form. Now terms such as “culturally deprived,” “economically disadvantaged” and “underdeveloped” are used which deceptively signal status without addressing the reason behind it. Burgess suggests that the term “culturally deprived” be replaced with “culturally dispossessed”. And that term “economically disadvantaged” should be replaced by “economically exploited”.

When discussing slavery, bear the following in mind:

  1. Use “enslaved” rather than “slaves”

Slavery was not an inherent human condition. It was something that people were subjected to. Whilst “slave” carries some social stigma, “enslaver” automatically transfers the shame onto the party enforcing it.

  1. Use “freedom fighter” rather than “rebel” or “fugitive”

In the context of slave narratives, the commonly used words of “rebel” or “fugitive” carry negative connotations. They imply a person trying to disturb the social order and status quo, instead of emphasizing the reason for the fight: freedom.

  1. Use “enslaver” as opposed to “master”

While the term master wields undertones of social superiority, it also transmits the aspirational values associated with it. The word “enslaver” does away with such social hierarchies built upon slavery and instead calls it out for what it really was.

  1. Use “Forced reproduction” instead of “slave breeder”

The word “breeder” which is used in the context of animals, is highly derogatory and dehumanized the enslaved people. Such language that robs humans of their humanity ultimately legitimizes atrocities committed against the group.

  1. Use “activists” instead of “abolitionists”

“Abolitionists” reduces the scope and profundity of the work to the termination of slavery. Whereas, “activists” extends it beyond the antebellum period right into the civil rights movement. It is simply a more all-encompassing term.

  1. Use “Transatlantic slave trade” as opposed to “slave trade”

Slavery is an ancient institution and has unfortunately been around through many civilizations. When referring to the African-American community’s daunting history of being enslaved, it is important to clarify it as the “transatlantic slave trade”.

  1. Use “chattel slavery” not just “slavery”

Many academics now insist on distinguishing slavery from chattel slavery. The broad spectrum of slavery also includes by extension, indentured servitude, which refers to a contract between two individuals where one person works not for money, but the passage to America. It is important to not conflate it with chattel slavery that was a harsher and perennial form of owning an individual and their offspring.

The racist language that has historically been used to control and condemn Black people, can be reclaimed to uplift and liberate the community and its voices. Remember, deconstructing language and reclaiming it is an act of resistance in itself. The predominant vocabulary might not be successful in fighting off racism. In Audrey Lorde’s words, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House”.

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Why the curse of Columbus Day lingers onto Native American Heritage month

Columbus Day celebrated on the 12th of October, juxtaposed with Native American heritage month in November, which goes by in relative obscurity could be one of the greatest contradictions on the American National Calendar. While the latter is an important homage to the earliest residents of the continent, it is not possible to celebrate Columbus Day without disrespecting indigenous people. How can one glorify a cruel, tyrannical invader and its victims within the span of a single month?

The very context of Columbus Day is rooted in a whitewashed elementary school history lesson: 0n the 12th of October 1494, Christopher Columbus discovered the uninhabited Americas and brought with him on his three iconic ships (Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria) democracy, Christianity and civilization. And in doing so, proved that the earth was spherical.

There’s a lot to unpack and unlearn here: for starters, the Eurocentric historical lens and one of the greatest misnomers ever used, the word “discovery” so frequently associated with Columbus. Most of these claims have been debunked by history itself: Columbus never set foot in North America, and the idea of the earth being round was a prevalent theory at the time. And according to Oren Lyons, traditional chief of the Onondaga Nation, what Columbus brought on his ships were actually “Two edicts, the papal bull of 1452, which said to enslave all Saracens and pagans, and the papal bull of 1493, which said to bring in all pagan nations and peoples to the Christian faith and their property. And that’s been done.”

In fact, recent historical findings reveal that he was not even the first European to set foot in the Western hemisphere nor was he the first to establish a settlement there. Earlier Vikings had already achieved this feat. But myths die hard. Columbus’ voyage simply inaugurated transatlantic colonization and the subsequent American Indian genocide. A recent article by Penn Today highlights that “there were between 5 million and 15 million Indigenous people living in North America in 1492. By the late 1800s, there were fewer than 238,000 left.”

He viewed the native populations as obstacles, and eventually exploited them as forced labor to collect gold. He plundered and looted, enslaved, and raped women. He mutilated the body parts of those who objected to his coercion. And he recorded all this in his diaries, which he eventually presented to the Spanish royalty, that was funding his chartered mission. Here is one such existing excerpt, which declares his intentions of enslaving indigenous people:

“They willingly traded everything they owned … They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features …They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron …They would make fine servants … With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

So why does Columbus still merit a federal holiday in his name? Whether one considers him as an innocent product of his time, simply talking the language of colonialism, or as the vindictive tyrant of the Caribbean that committed countless atrocities against humanity, to memorialize him is to perpetuate his legacy of oppression.

And while we’re on the topic, let’s also remember how holidays such as Thanksgiving are equally culpable of the erasure of Native American history due to their capitalistic appropriations. Over time this holiday that stemmed from an indigenous ceremony celebrating the generosity of the Wampanoag tribe, has evolved into a feast of Turkeys. And the following day to be celebrated as Native American Heritage day has come to acquire the popular title of “Black Friday”: an excuse to shop. Thanksgiving as we know it naively commemorates the arrival of settlers without addressing the repercussions of the phenomenon: years of oppression and genocide.

[Image Description: Members of the Mexica Movement protest against Columbus Day in downtown Los Angeles, California, in 2015.] via Reuters
Today, about 13 states have renamed Columbus Day to some variant of “Indigenous people day.” In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, anti-racist protests made many statues and monuments of slave owners come crashing to the ground. Amidst these were statues of romanticized conquistadors including Columbus, removed by the American Indian Movement. Taking down monuments that represent genocide and slavery is not vandalism. It is a symbolic act of throwing wrongful “historical heroes” off their pedestals.

[Image Description: A statue of Christopher Columbus toppled from its stand in June on the east side of the Minnesota State Capitol.] via Darren Thompson, Native News Online
The next step? The carefully sanitized version of history must be replaced by an adequate representation of Native voices. After all, “history not taught is history forgot”.


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World News Latin America Dedicated Feature The World

Protests erupt in Colombia against police brutality and violence

TW: Descriptions and mentions of police brutality.

Protests broke out in Colombia on Wednesday September 9, after a video emerged of the arrest of Javier Ordóñez in Engativ, the west side of the country capital of Bogota.

Javier’s long time friend Juan David Uribe was with Javier when they both got stopped by police officers. Juan was able to record a video that went viral on twitter and Facebook. The video depicts Javier pinned to the ground by two police officers in a residential street.  One of the officers repeatedly uses his taser on Javier. Javier can be heard saying “Please no more”. However the officers continue to keep him pinned down.

After his arrest, Javier was taken to a nearby police station. According to his family Javier was then beaten inside custody.  Juan says when he arrived at the station, his friend was practically unconscious. In an interview with Semana, Juan describes how he carried his friend to the nearby hospital, where he died .

Javier’s autospy revealed that the official cause of his death  was multiple blows with a blunt weapon, at the height of the head and shoulders.

Javier, 43, father of two, and soon to be attorney, was socializing with friends the night he was arrested. His friends describe how they ran out of alcohol when they went outside to buy more. According to Juan, when they were going back to Javier’s apartment, they were stopped by the police, and were arrested. Witnesses said they were detained because they were violating quarantine restrictions.  Juan stated that while they were being detained one of the police officers said, “From this one he is not safe,” referring to Javier.

According to several reports, Javier has had an old quarrel with these exact police officers, which would explain why he was targeted by them.

Following his death, Colombia has erupted in protests. The protest initiated in Bogota, and other cities like Medellin, Barranquilla, and Cartagena joined the manifestation. At least eleven people have died in the protests, mostly young people who were shot, and hundreds more injured by city police, who are also known as Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squad (ESMAD). The Collective of José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers related in a document – “The Colombian Police over the past few days, have committed serious acts of excessive use of force, and abuse of power, towards the rights to life, and personal integrity of Colombian citizens.”

On Thursday September 10, the Colombian Police reported to the public that the two agents who killed Javier Ordóñez were removed from the police force. In addition, this opened a formal investigation which would result in a hearing. The following day The Colombian Defense Minister, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, apologized for the acts against the law committed by the police. In Colombia, an apology from a Defense Minister regarding police violence is not common. However, this apology did not end the high police mobility within the capital.  The President of Colombia also gave his words regarding the protest, however it did not sit well for Colombians.

President Ivan Duque represents the Central Democratic Party, one of Colombia’s conservative political parties. According to New York Times, Duque condemned the killings, but defended the police in a speech, calling the country’s security forces generally “heroic” and “hard-working.”

However Claudia López Hernández, the mayor of Bogota, called for immediate attention and action. In a video addressing the public, she burst into tears as she paid respect to the fallen victims of police violence. In the same video, López Hernández condemned the excessive use of force and power, and called for a reform in the institution. According to her, the country needs justice, action, and reform now.

Since the Duque presidency, there have been so many unsolved issues in Colombia. The government has neglected to implement the peace agreement with Revolutionary armed forces of Colombia (FARC) – this peace agreement was originally signed in 2016 under former President Juan Manuel Santos, to end a 50 year armed conflict in Colombia. The Peace accords allowed for the state to fulfill promises such as addressing rural poverty, justice to the conflict’s main actors, the disarming of insurgents, and reforming the war on drugs. Duque pledged to implement parts of the peace deal, but his administration has failed to make any substantial changes. Duque’s handling of the peace accords, and the corruption in his government have only sparked discontent.

Prior the to the murder of Javier, Colombians took to the streets in 2019 to protest against police brutality, corruption, and inequality.

Over the course of two years, about 595 social leaders have been murdered, and in 2020 alone, there have been more than 200 deaths, according to the finding of the Institute of Studies of Development and Peace (INDEPAZ). However the government has not taken a direct approach in addressing the violence. This has allowed for criminal groups to consolidate their power, and has repressed the local populations, especially in the rural areas of the country. The government has promised a national conversation to address the on-going issues, however Colombians are still waiting.

Last year it was 17 year old Dilan Cruz. This year it is Javier. The list keeps growing. Many international observers have deemed the civil unrest a “George Floyd moment.” For Colombians, this is about the government’s failure to understand the frustration of both the urban, and rural citizens, and the violent nature of their police force.

While the government struggles to correct its mistakes, we are going to see more waves of social unrest.

TV Shows Media Watch The World Pop Culture

Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act changed the way I wrote about news

The Tempest Exclusive series Media Watch investigates and introspects on the intricacies of free speech around the world, right from The Tempest newsroom. 

In a still pre-pandemic 2020, when I took over as the Senior News and Social Justice Editor here at The Tempest, I asked myself where I wanted my vertical to go. I sat in front of my laptop scrolling through archives of Al Jazeera and NYT, revisited my favorite episodes of NPR’s Code Switch and waited for that spark to ignite, for all the wild ideas and perspectives in my head to form a meaning, a shape, looking for inspiration. It didn’t, until I watched an episode of Patriot Act that I have watched and told people to watch more times than I can count. I watched Hasan Minhaj rip apart the 2019 Indian Elections in a way that no Indian media would have dared to do, and I knew that every time I take a look at news, every time I discuss a social justice topic with a writer as they attempt to zone in on an angle or a story, I will be inspired by Hasan Minhaj, by Patriot Act, by a show so daring and particular, a show that has left me a little lost with its cancellation.

Hasan Minhaj and I have come a long way. I started watching the Daily Show right around the time he joined, and he and Trevor Noah were important figures in my own journey of writing and journalism. When Hasan went on to start his own path with Patriot Act, I waited for every episode with a fervor of a viewer who needed to go beyond the surface level. I can say loads about how his identity as an immigrant, as a fellow South Asian – we literally call him Hasan bhai – is so meaningful and poignant for writers like me, but Patriot Act was so much more.

What makes this show so special? Aren’t there thousand of political satire shows that take on news with comedy, that try to have an introspective look at what’s reported, what’s not reported and what should be reported? Yes, and no. I didn’t grow up with Jon Stewart and his legacy. To quote Kumail Nanjiani, I didn’t grow up watching SNL as a child, because it was never aired in my third world country. For millennials and those who are younger, who get their news from social media, who are surrounded by the noise of multiple perspectives, fake news and manipulated history lessons, Patriot Act opened up a platform where things were narrowed down, was specific and most importantly, where news was comprehensive, accessible and was broken down without condescension.

Patriot Act is like an intro-level college course that has a “no prior knowledge required” disclaimer in large and bold letters. You know when a show or a host is trying to act smart, but Hasan Minhaj never fell into that pattern. He is like that professor who doesn’t make you buy textbooks. (I should note that the show was always uploaded on YouTube, with NO ADS, this man was doing public service for all of us). He knew his audience, and right when you are thinking about something, you get an episode from him about that very same issue.

The show taught me that global news should be looked at with a context of history, culture, and media policies and practices. Because how can you talk about cricket corruption if you don’t understand the game, or its importance not just in India, but most Commonwealth countries? It taught me to look beyond the easy target, and refocus on what’s actually important and should get the spotlight. The episode about censorship in China could have easily been a snarky one that takes a dig at the rigid policies, yet it focused on highlighting the social justice movements that were blooming under even such restrictive policies.

It taught me to go beyond looking at an issue as a big picture, to try tap into reasons, solutions, problems, and obstacles. When the show tackled the broken policing system, it offered a perspective on police training, and tried to find the problems at the grassroot level. It taught me to challenge icons, people, histories, and policies that are loved and celebrated. After all, it would have been easy to put Justin Trudeau on a pedestal, but the episode on Canada questioned the popular political figure.

It taught me to see my identity as a minority journalist not as a cop-out or a disadvantage, but as a responsibility, to challenge our own communities’ and our biases. The episode after George Floyd could have simply been a call to action for the white majority, but Hasan dared to challenge and question the Asian American community, and reminded that we would be hypocrites if we didn’t write and talk about our own faults and biases.

The show’s cancellation came as a surprise, and it’s infuriating and suspicious to put a pause on such an important perspective and voice in a year like this, where a pandemic, volatile global situations, and an important election are all at stake. But to me, I feel a little bereft to have no more episodes of a show that has inspired and been with me throughout my writing journey. But hey, the show has taught me that it is important to be timeless as it is to be timely, so while I am sure we are going to see Hasan in some other avatar challenging more news stories, I’ll keep on writing, and attempt to honor my favorite news show.

Thank you Patriot Act, and thank you Hasan Minhaj, I’ll miss seeing you on Sundays.

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2020 Elections Politics The World

We cannot excuse Joe Biden’s behavior even if we hate Trump

Opposition towards the Trump administration has skyrocketed in the wake of continual Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Many, even Republicans, have called out Trump’s handling of the protests problematic, inadequate, and even opportunistic. He has routinely called on the military to intervene in peaceful protests, blatantly incited violence, and taken advantage of the political climate to take favorable photos. Just as anger against Trump grows, so does appreciation for Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden.

Recently, my social media feeds have been flooded with endorsements of Biden, often accompanied by images of him with protesters. I don’t mind this; I’ll be the first to admit that Trump proves himself more incompetent and bigoted each day. However, in our rush to disavow the Trumpian ideologies, we should be careful to embrace Joe Biden, and the Democratic party in general, as our savior.

For one, Biden still has sexual assault allegations against him that the Democratic machinery has conveniently swept under the rug. Tara Reade’s sexual assault accusations against Biden has not been met with the outrage it should have been. Reade’s accusations have been ignored for decades and we are continuing to dismiss her now.

In fact, at this point, it’s rare to see any articles or publications telling her story. Rather, Democrats have done their best to push it aside, make excuses, and maintain an idealistic image of Biden.

But we can’t pretend that Reade’s story is irrelevant, or an isolated incident. After all, let’s never forget that Biden voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas in the wake of sexual assault accusations from Anita Hill.

Staffers of his have even come out and voiced their discomfort about the environment that Biden creates.

Biden’s reputation with sexual assault has always been problematic, whether it be allegations against him or his support of other harassers.

But, with this along with growing political tension between civilians and the police, one of the most important issues on people’s minds right now is police reform. Both of these misgivings unsurprisingly go hand in hand. It is all about the maintenance of power. Trump has made his stance clear in that he continues to support the status quo of police departments and tactics. Consequently, hate mounts against him each and every day as he attempts to justify the violence of the police.

However, I’m hesitant to say that Biden is the opposite of Trump in his policies.

For example, Biden recently said that police need to be trained to shoot people in the legs rather than in more fatal ways. Why not teach them not to shoot at all, while upholstering any surviving racist tactics or training? Essentially, to Biden, police reform doesn’t mean changing the culture of authority in this country, or ensuring accountability. It just means making sure officers only maim, not kill.

Biden has a slippery reputation with racism. During his time as Senator, Biden played a major role in the rise of mass incarceration. And he was proud of it. 

He worked with segregationists on criminal justice policies that pushed the country towards the racist and troubling policies of today. 

And recently, in an interview with Charlamagne Tha God, Biden stated that “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” 

It’s clear that Biden is using the fact that he’s a Democrat to excuse all his behavior and continue to market himself as the best choice for Black people and other marginalized groups. But we can’t avoid holding him accountable anymore. 

I don’t write this article to discourage voting or democratic political engagement. Obviously, if you are able to, please do vote. It’s undeniable that in our society voting is the most powerful tool that citizens have. However, we must not forget that voting alone is not enough. We must also hold Biden accountable for his actions, too. The lesser of two evils logic might justify us voting for him, but it does not, in any way, excuse his behavior. That is reprehensible.

When we are too fast to assume Biden as a hero, we fail to hold him accountable. Often, when I mention Biden’s flaws to people and the importance of making him confront his problematic views, I’m told that highlighting his flaws will only ensure another Trump presidency. Here’s what I say.

Hold them both accountable for their actions. What’s stopping us from doing that? Democrats are always racing to highlight how dangerous, bigoted, and supremacist Trump is. Republicans are always quick to highlight Biden’s precarious reputation.

But accountability shouldn’t be a partisan issue. We shouldn’t be ignoring the narratives of Tara Reade and Anita Hill just because we want Biden to secure the presidency, the same way Republicans cannot keep ignoring the incompetence and bigotry that Trump continues to display, even more so now amid a harrowing pandemic and widespread calls for civil rights reform.

Whoever our next president is, don’t we want them to be conscious of their problematic views, apologetic of their past, and open to true change? Because, if we don’t force our politicians to claim responsibility to their actions, can we really expect our society to change?

Biden may be the best choice for America at this point, but that doesn’t mean we should be excusing his actions for the sake of partisan politics. Being a democrat does not equate to a shield from accountability for highly problematic and unruly behavior.

Style Fashion Lookbook

21 amazing fashion and beauty brands donating to the Black Lives Matter movement

Following the wave of protests that have erupted around the world after the murder of George Floyd, a number of fashion and beauty brands have been more vocal about supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

While allyship comes in many forms, one of the many ways brands (and people) can help in the fight against systemic racism is by financially supporting organizations and Black-owned businesses. Here are some brands you can support – and fight systemic racism while doing so.

1. Haverhill Jewelry

via Haverhill Jewelry (Image Description: The Haverhill Hope Collection, a dangly gold necklace adorned with Amethyst, Sapphire and Blue Topaz charms)

The jewelry brand is donating 100% of the sales proceeds from the Hope Collection to the organization Color of Change which includes a collection of bracelets and necklaces.

2. Fear of God 

via Instagram (@fearofgod) (Image Description: Black t-shirt with a gray GF logo embroidered in the middle) 

Fear of God released a new T-shirt with the mission to support George Floyd’s six-year-old daughter, Gianna Floyd. They recently collaborated with eight other street style brands including Pyer Moss, Off-White, Denim Tears, AwakeNY, Noah Clothing, Just Don, Union Los Angeles, and Melody Eshani, for this charitable cause. 100% of the shirt’s proceeds will be donated to the Gianna Floyd Fund.

3.  Mented Cosmetics

via Instagram (@mentedcosmetics) (Image Description: Series of tinted lip glosses in pink, peach, salmon, glossy red, caramel and chocolate brown)

The Black-owned beauty brand announced on Instagram that they will donate a percentage portion of every sale to benefit protestors around the country, beginning with bail funds in New York City.

4. Staud Clothing 

via Staud Clothing (Image Description: woman dressed in green and white cut out dress holds a small white bean bag)

Staud has already donated $10,000 to the Color of Change organization and has additionally pledged to donate 10% of all sales made in the month of June to the nonprofit.

5.  Peter Do

via Peter Do (Image Description: Series of women dressed in (clockwise L-R, black long sleeve dress with heeled boots, leather black tank top with a pleated white shirt, olive trench shirt with boot-legged olive green pants, gray sweater with a pleated gray skirt and metallic boots, black sweater, pleated leather skirt, black riding boots and gray dress, gray coat and black riding boots)

This contemporary clothing brand recently announced its plans to donate a percentage of their e-commerce sales to a number of BLM organizations including Color of ChangeBYP100, and Black Visions Collective as well as charities and organizations who would be receiving the donated funds.

6.  Vernon Francois 

via Vernon Francois (Image Description: Series of Haircare products including shampoo, essential oil and hairspray)

Vernon Francois, a Black-owned vegan and cruelty-free haircare brand is committed to donating over a third of their online sales to several grassroots organizations in support of racial equality and justice.

7.  Citizens of Humanity 

via Citizens of Humanity (Image Description: series of face masks in navy blue, denim, cream, camouflage and bright white)

Citizens of Humanity is standing in solidarity with BLM, by announcing their mission to donate 100% of their e-commerce sales of face masks across 10 organizations, including Black Lives MatterACLUColor of ChangeRebuild Foundation, throughout the month of June.

8. 10Dee

via 10Deep (Image Description: A canvas tote with logo 10Deep embroidered in the middle in rainbow colors.)

This New York-based streetwear brand said that they will reduce items available on their website to those who speak directly to issues of racial injustice and donate 100% of e-commerce sales of these items to organizations such as the National Bail Fund which is working to help those arrested in the nationwide protests. 

9. Prabal Gurung

via Prabal Gurung (Image Description: Black Sweater with phrase ‘Stronger in Colour’ embroidered in the middle)

This reputable high fashion luxury brand is one of the few designer brands dedicated to fully supporting the BLM Movement. They recently launched the limited edition ‘Stronger in Colour Collection’ comprised of t-shirts and sweatshirts, and are committed to donating 100% of sale proceeds of this collection to The Bail Project

10. Aerosoles

via Aerosoles (Image Description: collection of wedges, white strappy sandals and white/black/cheetah print high heels)

This reputable shoewear brand recently announced their mission to support racial justice and combat discrimination by donating 10% sales proceeds, starting June 2nd to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund

11.  Agmes

via Agmes (Image Description: Black necklace adorned with a Sculpted Heart Pendant)

This NYC based jewelry brand, who counts model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as a fan, is committed to donating 100% of proceeds from sales of their exclusive Sculpted Heart pendant, small Vera earrings, pearl studs, Luca earrings and mini Astrid hoops to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. for the remainder of June.

12. Alder New York 

via Alder New York (Image Description: Cooling Mineral Hydro Mist)

This NYC based beauty brand announced their plans to donate 10% of sales from their Cooling Mineral Hydro Mist throughout the month of June to BLM organizations including Fair Fight, The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Communities United Against Police Brutality.

13. Alison Lou

via Alison Lou (Image Description: series of rainbow, cloud, shooting star and lightning charms and studs)

This celebrity-adorned jewelry brand showcased in numerous editorial magazines is committed to donating 15% of proceeds for sales on new arrival orders to The Loveland Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to providing resources to communities of color, particularly Black women and girls.

14. Bychari

via Instagram (@bycari) (Image Description: collection of gold rings, earrings and chained necklace)

This LA-based jewelry brand will donate 25% of profits from sales to Black Girls Code and Girl Trek for the remainder of June. 

15. Deviant

via Deviant (Description: Bottle of black labeled skincare cleanser)

This modernistic and ethically sourced skincare line will donate 15% of online sales profits to the Emergency Relief Fund and The Okra Project between June 1st – July 15th.

16. Fleur du Mal

via Fleur du Mal (Image Description: Woman wearing a black lace-paneled dress)

This NYC based lingerie brand, with celebrity followers such as Emma Roberts and Devon Baldwin, is committed to  donating 10% of sales to the Know Your Rights Camp’s Legal Defense Initiative

17. La Porte

via La Porte (Image Description: Three women wearing a cut-out swimsuit in blue, pink and white)

This luxury swim brand, as featured on Harper’s Baazar and ELLE Magazine, announced that they will be donating 50% of all sales to the NAACP and Minnesota Freedom Fund beginning on June 1. 

18. Laurus

via Instagram (@laurus) (Image Description: Woman carries a vibrant green, alligator print handbag with gold adorned logo on the handle)

This Italian handbag and accessories brand will donate 100% of profits made throughout the month of June to organizations such as NAACP and Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp and Show Racism the Red Card.

19. Lou Dallas

via Instagram (@loudallasbyraffaella) (Image Description: Man wears a black t-shirt with a design)

The bold streetwear brand launched two campaigns in support of BLM. They will donate 50% of sales from the End Militarism T-Shirt to Black Visions Collective and 30% of sales from the Crop Savage Hoodie to organizations such as The Okra ProjectBlack Trans Femmes in the Arts and the Black Trans Travel Fund.

20. Mai Mia

via Mai Mia (Image Description: Woman wears a cut-out demi bra, black leggings, leather gloves carrying a black pole)

This LA-based swim line with fans like Korean-American YouTuber Jenn Im is committed to donating 30% of profits from all online sales to the ACLU throughout the month of June.

21. Tanya Taylor

via Tanya Taylor (Image Description: Woman wears a long colorblock dress in teal, yellow and blue)

This designer label, who was recently featured on Vogue Magazine, will be donating 20% of net sales to the NAACP beginning on June 1st. 


Unilever drops the Fair from “Fair and Lovely” but colorism doesn’t end there

Following the murder of George Floyd in late May, the world joined hands to stand against colorism under one banner – Black Lives Matter.

The movement not only opened doors for conversations surrounding the privilege that comes with an individual’s skin color in America, but it also sparked a worldwide debate as many people took this as an opportunity to speak up against the issues within their own countries regarding the discrimination they face due to their color.

This also garnered a global response from noteworthy people, including a fleet of South Asian celebrities. However, their endorsement was faced with much backlash from the public as many reminded some of the actors that since they had been ambassadors for skin whitening campaigns at some point in time, it makes their support for the BLM movement hypocritical.

Many defended themselves for their selective disapproval but the real culprits here were the brands who have been promoting skin whitening for years. This is why, in light of recent events, Unilever decided that it was time to drop the word “fair” from their infamous brand, Fair and Lovely, claiming that the company was “anti-racist”.

Unilever’s statement entailed that they celebrate the diversity of all skin types. Although the multinational company is now declaring its inclusivity of all skin tones in their portfolio, their current announcement still does not deviate from the fact that Fair and Lovely has been encouraging systemic racism for a long time by perpetuating the concept of all people being beautiful, but only if their color is white.

Most of Fair and Lovely’s advertisements follow the same idea of a young girl afraid to face society because of her dark skin. Just as she thinks that all hope is lost, a prettier fair-skinned woman comes to her rescue as she hands her a life-changing cream that will make the girl more socially acceptable.

As a community, South Asians have always been obsessed with the idea of being fair. But that ingrained fear that comes down from the colonial mindset of white trumping black is what brands that promote skin lightening feed off of.

Knowing that somewhere out there, a South Asian girl with olive skin is desperately trying every remedy to make herself fair is the very thing that brands with skin lightening products need to make money.

Although many people applauded Unilever’s statement, it received a lot of criticism as well. Poorna Bell, a writer and activist, saw the news as “hugely disappointing”. She went on to say that removing a word from a brand’s name does not compensate for the “untold mental and emotional damage done by colorism.”

However, many netizens also believed that Unilever’s decision was one small step in the right direction. But that does not mean that the mentality of color preference that has become inherent to the South Asian  culture is completely erased.

Even if one, or a few, brands label their products differently, it still won’t bring a remarkable change within communities when it comes to colorism unless every individual accepts that their dark skin is just as beautiful as any other color.

It will take a significant amount of time to eradicate this issue as a whole but skincare companies attempting to make some level of change is still noteworthy.