Friday Definer #2: Take a Hike Edition - Define American

Featured Blog post

Friday Definer #2: Take a Hike Edition

Reporters and other media makers telling the whole story of America.

The Friday Definer is a weekly roundup of stories that paint a fuller picture of what it means to be an American in the 21st century, brought to you by the staff at Define American. Share these stories with a friend!

Evening prayers camped out in the canyon country of southern Utah.Nathaniel Hoffman / Define American

Feeling Outdoorsy

An article in the New York Times on diverse hiking groups led us down an amazing Instagram rabbithole of #brownpeoplecamping, #blackoutdoors, and #diversifyoutdoors. From @brownpeoplecamping:

“In the boundless landscapes of this country, we find our love for a new nationalism. One grounded in humility and gratitude and driven by a desire to share, protect, and diversify.”

Mouallem on Actors Just Saying No to Stereotyped Roles

Though released to mixed reviews, Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin spurred Omar Mouallem to review a century of Muslim misrepresentation in film for The Ringer:

“Only now, in Hollywood’s second century, are actors openly rebuffing scripts that stoke Islamophobia or perpetuate stereotypes that’ve pained their communities. ‘If the writing is harmful to our group, I’ll pass. I can’t read for that,’ says Azita Ghanizada, an Afghan American actress who founded MENA Arts Advocacy Coalition in 2015. ‘A lot of us are pushing for more positive depictions now,’ says Superior Donuts’ Maz Jobrani, who quit auditioning for terrorist roles soon after 9/11. ‘The word ‘no’ is a great word in Hollywood because people respect it.’”

Find more of Mouallem’s writing at his website and on Twitter.

Also on The Ringer this week, Danny Chau profiles Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, 24, on being himself while becoming the new face of the NBA:

“Being me was addressing doubts that his inner circle had that he could become the central figure of a premier American sports league as a non-American, as a proud Greek and the son of Nigerian immigrants.”


Bonus read: 25 undocumented characters to follow, or not follow, on television and in the movies, from Remezcla.

The Universal Language of… Chess?

Jennings chess team in Akron, Ohio unites refugees with American kids and wins across the state. Jennifer Pignolet at the Beacon Journal tells the story of the Jennings Community Learning Center chess program:

“‘Your hair looks nice today,’ sixth-grader Ramesh Chhetri told his principal — who is bald — in an attempt to throw him off his game.

It was a valiant effort, but a fruitless one. Jones cracked a smile, but the 12-year-old eventually lost to his school’s leader.

The program offers the students more than the chance to improve their gamesmanship. The team unites students from more than a dozen countries, who speak almost as many languages.”

As a boy, Dr. J. Luis Bautista picked fruit alongside his parents and nine siblings in Ventura County. “I pledged in medical school to help these people in the farm fields,” he says. John M. Glionna / for Kaiser Health News

A Latino Doctor Provides a Medical Sanctuary for Migrant Farmworkers

For Kaiser Health News, John M. Glionna tells the story of Dr. J. Luis Bautista. who pledged in medical school to provide medical care for farm laborers in California’s Central Valley with no questions asked and regardless of ability to pay:

“The 64-year-old physician has personal insight into the struggles of these laborers: He was once one of them. As a boy, he picked fruit alongside his parents and nine siblings in Ventura County. The family made $4,000 a year back then, a little over $30,000 in today’s dollars — rarely enough to spare for doctor’s visits.”

Bonus links:

NBC: From Los Angeles to Vietnam, ‘Family Style’ is all about a love of food

Quartz: More immigrants became U.S. citizens last year even as immigration policies tightened

PRI: 60 years before BTS, the Kim Sisters were America’s original K-pop stars

CNN: W. Kamau Bell: Hmong-Americans redefined patriotism before my eyes


Let's Talk

Create change, one story at a time.