‘Americanish’ Shines a Heartwarming Light on its Community

Iman Zahawry provides a refreshing and heartwarming romantic comedy centered in a community that is so often ignored in media. What might feel like a run of the mill indie film straight from the early 2010s, the films sets itself apart and elevates itself with its likable characters and message of trying to find one’s independence and what it means to be Americanish.

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Trailer for Disney Channel’s ‘Spin’ Drops the Beat

Credit where credit is due, Disney Channel has been making really good strides to tell multicultural and diverse stories for the past decade or so, arguably more than we see in most Hollywood films. Looking back at movies like Johnny Tsunami, or cartoons like American Dragon: Jake Long and Proud Family, and even more recent shows like Andi Mack, and you can’t help but give them props for casting POCs as leads and actually making those leads’ cultures central to the stories they’re trying to tell. And their upcoming movie, Spin is no exception.

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My Family Loves Goldie Vance, Yours Should Too

For parents who know a little about me but don’t really know who I am, the conversation starts something like this: “My [son/daughter] tells me that your daughter is one of the best readers in class. She’s always reading… I also heard that you were really into… comic books, superheroes, and things like that. Is this true?” I proudly proclaim that comic books were instrumental in my becoming a voracious reader, and that I used comics and graphic novels to instill in my daughter and intense love of reading, creativity, and fantasy world-building. I explain that since reading comics and YA fantasy/adventure books, my daughter’s imagination is incredibly expansive and that her being able to make-believe is a value that I and her mother share.

They are usually intrigued by now.

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A Comic Fueled Thought Experiment

For as long as I can remember, one description of comics has prevailed: comic books are adolescent white boy power fantasies. If you look at the majority of the offerings, it would be kind of difficult to dispute this. Go to any comic shop and you will see a crowd of covers presenting overly muscled white men and impossibly voluptuous white women competently combating some evil, some threat that is just as anatomically disproportionate as the hero/ines are.

Comics, at first glance, are filtered through a firmly and profoundly white and male point of view. But this is a cursory view. If you dig, research, or explore beyond the DC/Marvel axis, this notion begins to lose its stickiness.

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My Answers to an Oft Asked Question

I have been asked some variation of the following question more times than I can count: “Which comics or graphic novels would you recommend that are by people of color, or address people of color in a holistic way, and also books for people who may not ever read a comic or graphic novel?” This is a very hard question as there is just so much out there that is great. There are books that I have taught in my classes that are neck and neck with the books I’ve bought as gifts for people who I am trying to convert to our four-color ways. While the below list is in no way comprehensive, they are my go-to books for whenever I’m asked the question. Please feel free to add your own picks.

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An Endorsement of Home: It’s Daughter Approved

In the immortal words of Jim Carrey: “How was your weekend?” For the new DreamWorks film, Home, it was a very good weekend indeed. As of this writing, Home has raked in $54 million and is the #1 movie in the U.S. — despite some naysayerspredictions. This is the studio’s highest non-sequel opening since 2009’s Monsters vs. Aliens. And it is daughter approved:

“Daddy. This movie is official.”

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Not Gonna Make It: Characters of Color in Sci-Fi, Action, and Horror

Many years ago, I was part of a loose band of ne’er-do-wells from Minnesota. We all were women, men, Queer people of color and Native people who are/were nerds. We dubbed ourselves Nerds of Color, or NOCs. I vaguely recall a conversation back then, I don’t even remember with who. It was about how non-white characters always die first in American films. And I remember watching this shitty film called Deep Blue Sea starring LL Cool J, and thinking to myself: whoever made this film is playing with the idea that the Black guy is going to die first.

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