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!
The Crazy Rich Asians effect
Franklin Leonard, CEO of The Black List, tells InStyle that 25 years after Joy Luck Club, Asian representation in Hollywood may be here to stay:
I think it’s a combination of the clearer reality of money being made, and two, the generation of talent that basically said, ‘oh ok, so that’s how high the walls are? I guess I gotta climb that high.’ That’s true for black folks, queer folks, Asian folks, literally everyone. And they rose to the absurd standard that the industry set. So there’s a situation where it’s like, if the industry doesn’t get it, we’re going to go outside the industry, and the industry is going to be less relevant.
Basketball without borders
Nearly a quarter of NBA players were born outside the U.S., reports Max Boot in the Washington Post:
The NBA represents America at its best, because it has the confidence to compete internationally and the flexibility to embrace a multicultural future. This is true Americanism — not the noxious nativism and malignant nationalism touted by popeyed populists.
Also from an NBA champ via Congo, Oklahoma, and Toronto:
A kid from Congo, becoming an NBA Champion is sureal. I was not supposed to be here but I never lost faith. This is a dream come true but also an opportunity for me to remind every kid in Congo, in Africa and everywhere that anything is possible. Thank you Toronto and Canada 🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/vigq4XMPrE
— Serge Ibaka (@sergeibaka) June 14, 2019
Flying while The Greatest
You can now fly into Muhammad Ali International Airport, after Louiville, Kentucky rebranded its airport this month. The famous boxer was born in Louisville and considered it his home even after he became “the greatest” and travelled the world.
Maryum Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter who is also a licensed social worker and juvenile youth counselor, praised the renaming. She noted that the renaming could impact Muslim Americans, particularly Black Muslims such as Ali. The younger Ali said she has been a victim of hyper policing and surveillance by TSA authorities, and like other Muslim Americans, was unable to check her baggage curbside because she was on a watch list. Muslims in Louisville have all experienced strange looks and surveillance while going through airports, NPR noted.
Many have said that being Muslim, or wearing traditional clothing such as a hijab, will now be a point of pride at an airport that is named for a famous Muslim.
The Courier Journal has a video of the Muhammad Ali International Airport unveiling.
How to get things done for real
Black women leaders in Chicago provide lessons on how to make social and political progress in a time of polarization. The four key principles: mix activism with academic rigor, work across generations, share power, and work on multiple issues at the same time. This is the essence of black feminism, writes Salamishah Tillet for the New York Times:
But problems that once seemed intractable are changing. Ms. Lightfoot’s victory is part of a broader trend of black women emerging as the most influential political voices in the city. Black feminists, in particular, are securing progressive victories in a place where that long seemed impossible.