Mindy Kaling – the South East Asian

I follow Black Twitter (well Black Instagram) very closely and I’m taking a keen interest in the Wrinkle in Time controversy. However I couldn’t resist:

“Shouldn’t everyone have a seat at the table? That’s all we are saying here,” DuVernay said at a press conference. “Mindy is South-East Asian, Deric McCabe, a little Filipino-American boy. African-American, biracial, black, Caucasian, let everyone be there, Latino. It’s about time.”

Not to quibble but Mindy is half Tamil & half Bengali (her actual name is Vera Mindy Chokalingam). I really admire how she’s Westernised her name without losing her roots (contracting Chokalingam was quite clever).

I have been to Calcutta and I regularly go to Chennai (my wife was born in Madras). There is definitely a tropical feel to Chennai and Calcutta is a very romantic city with a beautiful but unkempt colonial heritage. They are of course firmly in South Asia but I’m not expecting the talented Ava to know the particularities of Asian geography (in the West we are all Wakandans).

I tweeted earlier today that in Hollywood one is either White or Wakandan. The People of Colour debate has been effectively championed by African Americans who define the diversity debate. It is Ava’s magnanimity that when casting her film she also includes Asians of all sorts. I hope Wrinkle in Time smashes expectations. I hazily remember reading the book many moons ago in the summer of ’92/93 as an eight year old. It was a random gift from my friend’s mother and I remember being struck by it’s dark tones. Of course many decades later I read Wrinkle in the Skin, which was an even darker tome on post-apocalyptic earthquakes (which is a surprisingly gripping genre).

7 thoughts on “Mindy Kaling – the South East Asian”

  1. “DuVernay said at a press conference, “Mindy is South-East Asian…” “…I’m not expecting the talented Ava to know the particularities of Asian geography (in the West we are all Wakandans).”

    Let us rule out the possibility that Mindy’s father Avu Chokalingam is a Tamil from South-East Asia.

    *For adults who may not know: Wakanda is a fictional African nation appearing in American comic books. 🙂

    1. Haha but Wakanda-fever has hit an all time high. I do find a Wakandan identity (constructed as it is by Jewish Americans in the 70’s) as approaching the zeitgeist.

      The default assimilation model in the US is becoming white (the ice people & the fire people etc) what about being Wakandan?

      Hollywood still has a tendency to “whiten roles”; the Indian guy in the social network was played by a Greek American (it’s an old example but still salient).

      What is also extremely interesting in Black Panther was his shade-sensitive they were. The black women really were black rather than tanned light-skinned Beyoncés (in fact one biracial girl was complaining about how she was being refused the part as her colour wasn’t believable for an isolated African nation like Wakanda).

      Also the part about black hair etc; those were fantastic leaps in the public consciousness. After living in Uganda for some time I realised just how important hair is as an identity issue.

      1. “the Indian guy in the social network was played by a Greek American”

        You mean Divya Narendra? He was played by Max Minghella, who’s British and multiracial according to ethnicelebs.com

        Birth Name: Max Giorgio Choa Minghella

        Place of Birth: Camden, London, England, U.K.

        *50% Italian
        *28.125% Chinese
        *6.25% Sephardi Jewish
        *6.25% Parsi Indian
        *3.125% English
        *3.125% Irish
        *3.125% Swedish

  2. Zachary Latif, we are also great. We don’t need to be “TOO” jealous of Wakanda:

    To seriously mangle and manipulate some quotes from you know who:

    “Jealousy… anger… fear… aggression. The dark side are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.”

    “Jealousy is the path to the dark side…jealousy leads to fear…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.”
    Today post modernists use a lot of mostly nonsensical words such as hegemony, imperialism, colonialism, oppression, exploitation, power dynamics, fascism, nazism, white supremacy, racism, bigotry. Most of what they mean makes no sense. They are mostly expressions of jealousy. If someone is jealous of someone else they are called “racist” or “bigoted”. I prefer merely saying they are jealous and addressing the root cause directly. Jealousy is the worst of the deadly sins described in the east. The “evil eye” is another name for jealousy.

    The “evil eye” is the main reason men and woman around the world are advised to dress modestly and not show off.

    Jealousy sadly remains the main cause of racism and bigotry in the world today. Is there any way to reduce jealousy other than spirituality and religion? Any ideas?

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