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!
Busing or “busing,” that is the question
Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones writes with absolute clarity about racial issues, which are otherwise becoming murkier by the day. Here she sets the record straight on the brief success and now utter failure of school integration across the U.S., through the lens of busing.
The school bus, treasured when it was serving as a tool of segregation, became reviled only when it transformed into a tool of integration. As the federal judge who ordered busing for desegregation in the landmark case that eventually made its way to the Supreme Court said, according to the 1978 book “Nothing Could Be Finer”: “Heck, I was bused as a child in Robeson County. Everybody who attends school in North Carolina has been bused. Busing isn’t the question, whatever folks say. It’s desegregation.”
Pablo Cruz’s “Las Crónicas del Taco” now appears on Netflix, with English subtitles (search for Taco Chronicles) and Aaron Bady, writing for The Week, is there for all of it, down to the last taco (guisado). It’s an artful tour of tacos across the Mexican states, and it’s also a piece of gustatory resistance al norte:
There is no witty response to the Americans who hate Mexicans for reasons only they will ever know, no irony and no parody; there is no interest in them at all. Instead, in its uncynical sentimentality and gloriously over-the-top full-throated embrace of every parodic excess of Mexican gustatorial culture it can think of, there is only a wholehearted invitation: to feel, to welcome, to honor, and above all, to taste something deeper and truer than fear and hate.
Coming to the big screen
“Minari,” from writer-director Lee Isaac Chung, is starting production with Steven Yeun as star and in producer’s chair. From Rebecca Sun at Hollywood Reporter:
The drama, which is set to begin production on Monday, is inspired by Chung’s upbringing as the son of Korean immigrants in rural Arkansas. Yeun, who was born in Seoul and moved to Michigan with his parents at age five, will star as a father who uproots his family from Korea to chase the American Dream on a plot of farmland in 1980s Arkansas (whose official state nickname at the time, incidentally, was “Land of Opportunity”). Korean actresses Yeri Han (“A Quiet Dream”) and Youn Yuh-Jung (“The Bacchus Lady”) will make their U.S. feature debuts in “Minari,” which also includes Will Patton and Scott Haze among the cast.
From the same production company, A24, and just released, Awkwafina stars in “The Farewell,” a “different kind of immigrant story,” according to The Ringer. And Awkwafina tells IndieWire why hiring her is always a risk.
Rapinoe defines American
Megan Rapinoe on CNN: “[A]s one of the great countries in the world, and for sure we want to see ourselves as that, we need to constantly look within and challenge ourselves to be better so everyone else can be better around us.”
Plus definitions from Ilhan Omar v. Tucker Carlson via Nancy LeTourneau at Washington Monthly.
The heart of urbano in Oakland
Azucena Rasilla at KQED Arts profiles Los Rakas, a Grammy-nominated Afro-Panamanian Oakland duo (with playlist).
Rich grew up between Oakland and Panama, and was the first person in his family born in the United States. Dun was born in Panama and was undocumented until a few years ago. When Los Rakas got their start, he wasn’t yet fluent in English. The same year the duo released their debut studio album, 2014s El Negrito Dun Dun & Ricardo, Dun adjusted his legal status, and was finally able to visit his immediate family back home. With tracks like “Sueño Americano,” “Chica De Mi Corazón” and “Mi País,” he reflects on his experiences as an immigrant.
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