Friday Definer: Late Fashion Week Edition - Define American

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Friday Definer: Late Fashion Week Edition

Reporters and media makers telling the whole story of America

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

Hello Lilly

‘Hello my name is Lilly, and I ain’t a white man / My skin’s got some color and it ain’t a spray tan,’ she rapped in the first segment of her premiere, a sketch in which she overturns an all-white and male writers’ room while wearing a colorfully striped suit.

YouTube star Lilly Singh comes to network television with the latest late night show, A Little Late With Lilly Singh, airing on NBC in a time slot that’s so late that it’s actually pretty early, at 1:35 AM EST. She’s the first YouTube star to break through with her own network talk show. She’s the youngest late night host, at 30, and she’s a bisexual woman of color with her own platform and empire. We are going to be watching.

Dino-Ray Ramos at Deadline writes: “With DJ Daniel providing the tunes and a set that reflects Singh’s personality, the first episode of A Little Late is the perfect half-hour morsel of late-night goodness that’s an ideal balance of sketch, bits, monologue and guest interview.


Fashion week defines American

Mekita Rivas at Refinery 29 interviewed fashion designer Prabal Gurung on his very Define American show during New York Fashion Week:

The real showstopper of the evening was the finale, where models stepped out donning sashes printed with the same question: Who gets to be an American? It’s a question that — for many immigrants and children of immigrants (including this writer) — is both unsettling and urgent. But Gurung, ever the master of balancing both nuance and extravagance, handles the moment with care and reverence.

Lauren Alexis Fisher at BAZAAR writes that the entire 2020 collection, “from the colors to the prints and fabrics—re-examined and dissected the root of American identity.”

Gurung, who was born in Nepal, consulted with Jose Antonio Vargas for his collection. He discovered Jose’s work, “after someone in a business meeting said to him ‘you don’t look American, so how can you define what America is?’”


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Movements afoot in competitive bhangra

Jackson Sinnenberg reports on the first all women bhangra dance competition in D.C. for The Washington Post last month. Bhangra is an uptempo, competitive Indian dance style, historically performed mainly by men.

“One women’s bhangra competition isn’t going to undo many generations’ worth of inequality,” says [Navneet] Pandher, who also serves as the event’s judging and registration chair. “But we’re hoping our competition will lead to productive conversation and plant the seeds of change.”

You can see the University of Louisville’s competitive, mixed-gender Cardinal Bhangra team at the Define American Summit next month.


Searing new visions of America in our brains since 1619

If you have not dived into Nikole Hannah-Jones’ 1619 Project in The New York Times yet, you need to. You can read it, then listen to it, then discuss it with your class, your family, your neighbors… 

Hannah-Jones leads with a sweeping essay covering the entirety of U.S. history, but starting with the crisp American flag that her father always flew in the front yard of her blue house in a segregated neighborhood in the Iowa town where she grew up. 

Like most young people, I thought I understood so much, when in fact I understood so little. My father knew exactly what he was doing when he raised that flag. He knew that our people’s contributions to building the richest and most powerful nation in the world were indelible, that the United States simply would not exist without us.

The project also covers the roots of American capitalism, music, urban planning, and so much more, all from the deeply reported perspective of 400 years of the black American struggle for freedom, liberty and justice.


Stepping up for asylum seekers

About 2,000 people have signed up with the Asylum Seekers Sponsorship Project to host asylum seeking families, reports Claudia Torrens and Gisela Salomon for the AP . Freedom for Immigrants is also placing families with U.S. hosts.

“Every time the Trump administration lashes out at immigrants, at migrants, at asylum seekers, we see more Americans outraged for that, looking for ways to relieve,” said Heather Cronk, a core team member of the group who lives in the Washington area.


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