By Jorge G. Zavala | Creative Director, Richard Chiang | Resident Media Director
On April 13th, 2013, the Junior Board of Mercy Home hosted the 6th Annual Have Mercy! Spring Gala at the Trump International Hotel and Tower. An evening filled with decadent hors d'oeuvres, savory wine and spirits, and plenty of dancing brought together a philanthropic, upwardly-mobile crowd to raise funds for the Legacy of Learning Campaign.
Guests, upon arrival to the 16th floor of the Trump Tower, were greeted by members of Mercy Home's Junior Board and encouraged to help themselves to the diverse wine and spirit offerings of the evening.
A wide-range of hors d'oeuvres were available for attendees to try, including miniature ice cream cones stuffed with spicy tuna: a spicy tuna cone of sorts.
Guests came together Saturday evening to raise funds for a wonderful cause while reacquainting themselves with old friends and making new ones.
Over 400 young professionals from across Chicagoland made an appearance and found themselves delighted by the evenings offerings. These two young women made note that their favorite part of the evening was meeting new friends and sipping on a few glasses of wine in a sophisticated space.
Guests enjoyed an evening of dining, dancing, and entertainment at the spectacular Trump International Hotel Chicago. These young women were taking a break from hitting the dance floor when PdM spotted them discussing the importance of giving.
This group was all smiles for the camera!
The evening's attendees, which included members of Mercy Home's Junior Board, were proud of the gala's success.
A diverse array of silent auction and raffle prizes were present throughout the evening, including autographed sports memorabilia and spa packages.
In addition to the delicious hors d'oeuvres present throughout the evening, decadent desserts were a part of the evening's highlights. One guest stated that the pastry offerings were simply "divine".
This year’s proceeds benefited the Legacy of Learning Campaign, a $20 million sustaining fund that will ensure children’s academic prosperity for generations to come.
The Junior Board of Mercy Home gives young professionals a special opportunity to aid children in crisis. Their goal is to promote the mission of Mercy Home by engaging young professionals through social, volunteer and fundraising activities.
Members, in addition to having a wonderful time, had opportunities to network with other professionals from diverse backgrounds and industries who share a similar concern for children in crisis.
As the evening developed, guests decided to both mingle and boogie on the dance floor. While guests were looking forward to attending the official after-party at Cuvée, many were not able to do so: the club denied entrance to many Have Mercy! Gala attendees.
In addition to supporting programs facilitating the welfare of children in the Chicagoland area, Mercy Home encourages their youth to understand and accept civic and community responsibilities.
This happy couple was all-smiles as they made their way towards the dance floor.
Jim Marrese, Director of Corporate Sponsorship at Mercy Home, described the importance of the Junior Board to PdM. "It's a great time and the energy they bring is always for a good cause."
As the clocks began to near midnight, guests took the time to get a few pictures with some of their close friends and professional acquaintances.
While the after-party was a flop due to Cuvée's negative attitude toward Mercy Home and their gala's guests, the Junior Board knew how to let loose and throw a successful event with a philanthropic mission. In addition to raising funds benefiting youth programs, the crowd made a true effort to understand the disparities children encounter daily in Chicago while discussing manners to foster positive changes.
Une soirée remplie de plaisir et de la philanthropie vaut en profiter.
By Sara SchwartzkopfSociety Contributor
Fashion’s Night Out has been an ongoing event for the past four years. It’s a chance for retailers and designers to host parties, show off their designs, and generally have a good time. Yet the fashion industry can have a tenuous relationship with Native Americans.
This year Paul Frank in West Hollywood decided to theme their event as a “Dream Catchin’ Pow Wow". Party-goers were encouraged to pose with fake tomahawks, head bands, neon feathers, and child-sized bow and arrows. Furthermore, the drinks were also Native-themed, including names like “Rain Dance Refresher,” “Neon Teepee,” and “Dream Catcher.” Even the Paul Frank monkey, Julius, was featured across the event wearing neon headdresses and neon face paint.
There is no doubt that the people at Paul Frank didn’t see a problem with this theme. Natives see this every year as Halloween rolls around, and even more in the past year as fake-Native designs have proliferated the clothing market. Yet the theme has been decried as upsetting and outright racist by several activists and websites. The issue centers around stereotypes, and specifically, dressing in what many have termed redface.
Similar to blackface, redface is used to relegate Natives to extremely stereotypical images
. These simplified images of savages and sexy maidens were frequently used to justify policies that aimed to either kill off or assimilate Natives into mainstream white society. Many of these policies resulted in social justice issues that still plague Native communities: poverty, violence, mental health problems, health issues, and a level of erasure that arguably affects no other group in the United States to the same extent.
The problem is that this erasure also affects the fashion industry. The Native American image becomes commodified and imagined to be that of the same images that were once used to justify genocide. Other aspects of culture that are still regarded as sacred are stripped of context and history. Instead they become something trendy. A prime example is placing a headdress (a sacred object reserved for respected leaders) on a monkey (an animal that has also been used in the past to paint minorities as subhuman).
The shocking thing about Paul Frank’s party is not that it occurred. A simple Google search for “Cowboys and Indians party” or “Native-themed party” shows that it’s a common (though unacceptable) occurrence. Instead, the shocking thing is that Paul Frank not only issued an apology and took down the pictures, but took it a leap forward and discontinued all use of Native imagery in their products, contacted two of the most prominent activists (Dr. Metcalfe of Beyond Buckskin and Adrienne K. of Native Appropriations), asked them to participate in a panel at an industry conference, and announced plans to work with a Native artist on designs where the product proceeds will be donated to a Native cause.
It’s a move that’s unprecedented for a major brand, but it is one that opens up possibilities and hope for the Native community regarding how events like this should be handled.
This was found in a magazine advertising to Asian Americans. Does this reinforce negative stereotypes of Asian American women?
Johnny Depp on location during the filming of "The Lone Ranger", scheduled to debut in theaters across the U.S. in 2013. Photo Credit: Aisha Taylor
By Sara SchwartzkopfSociety Contributor
Recently there’s been much fanfare in Indian Country over Johnny Depp playing the role of Tonto in the new “Lone Ranger” movie. For those who aren’t aware, the movie isn’t due to be released until the summer of 2013, and will feature Depp heavily as the Lone Ranger’s sidekick. So what’s the issue?
The answer is twofold. Tonto is a character who has reflected inaccuracies at his best and racial stereotypes at his worst. When the radio show first aired, he was identified as a chief’s son from the Potawatomi nation. Yet the story takes place in the American southwest and the regalia that the television version of Tonto eventually wore was nothing like that of the Potawatomi nation. Furthermore, Tonto speaks in broken English, and the word tonto
itself can be translated as idiot or stupid in Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish. It does not exactly add up to positive representation for Native communities to see plastered on movie posters.
The second objection lies with Depp himself. The simple guess of ancestry without the actual knowledge of what that means rankles for many Natives. Depp himself has guessed that he is “Cherokee or maybe Creek” but he does not really know. The perception is that a role for a Native American went to a non-Native.
However, there have also been counter-arguments raised. Depp has said that the role of Tonto is “an opportunity for me to salute Native Americans” through “(making) fun of the idea of Indian as sidekick.” He has also been involved in the character design and reportedly one of the driving forces in making sure the movie gets made, and he has acted courteously towards the Native advisers and actors on set. The perception is that he is trying.
Perhaps the true problem being raised with the movie is not so much that a non-Native is playing a Native role (it happens rather frequently), or even that Tonto is being revived as a character. The true problem is that there are so few representations of Native Americans in the media, and the ones that do exist are almost always relegated to the past. Most of the time when a Native American character
pops up they: 1- exist in the past tense, 2- possess some magical/ mystical quality, 3- are seen as wiser or more connected to the earth than their white counterparts, 4- are brutal savages and will most likely be killed by the hero of the piece, or 5- are too gentle or backwards to save themselves and will rely on the white hero to do the saving. Excepting some indie flicks that generally come out of the Native community itself, almost all characters fall into one or more of these traps.
Only time will tell if “The Lone Ranger” manages to beat the stereotypical trap. In the meantime, Tonto has been re-imagined as a Comanche, and Depp has been adopted by the Comanche Nation. This makes him, by tradition at least, a real Indian.
By Sara Schwartzkopf
DENVER - Native America. Denver, Colorado is home to a unique type of Native American which the indigenous community acknowledges as the “City Indian.” A “City Indian” is a Native American who grew up away from their reservation, most commonly in a large city, away from other Natives, and often separated from their tribal processes.
Within the Native American community, identity is constantly up for debate. Centuries of enforcement of the United States assimilation policy, blood quantum laws and wars have taken their toll on indigenous populations – down to the point where what it means to be an “Indian” is even uncertain. In Denver, you can ask five different people who identify as Native American what makes them Native American, and you will receive five different answers. Someone will tell you it’s ancestry, another will tell you it’s connection to tradition, and yet another will tell you that it’s a matter of giving back to the community. Yet, allegations of assimilation and white-washing are still thrown at even full-blooded Native Americans who grew up outside of their reservations. Those who are mixed walk a line of whether or not they’re “too mixed” or whether their lives have strayed too far away from tradition and culture to truly count as “real Indians” anymore.
Reservations function as centers that try to maintain a sense of community and tradition. Families that have moved off the reservation in search of a better life often find themselves in a sort of culture shock. Many of the people they encounter do not understand the complexities of Native American identity. Instead it becomes the task of these new City Indians to try and educate their non-Native peers while at the same time trying to find a place for themselves in a culture that remains largely ignorant of the issues they face.
In order for you to identify yourself as a Native American legally, the United States government requires you to be enrolled with your tribe. However, each tribe is allowed to make their own laws regarding who can be a member. Some tribes simply ask that their members can prove descent – if any ancestor belonged to the tribe and you possess the birth certificates to prove that you are in fact their descendant then that is good enough. Most tribes request that you prove you are a certain amount of their tribe – you must be at least ¼ Kiowa, 1/32 Chickasaw, ½ Ute Mountain Ute, 1/8 Comanche. There’s a lot of variability amongst tribes in who is truly a member.
Even with these directives from the tribal governments, many members of the community will argue that they are meaningless. Being 100% genetically Native American doesn’t prove that you know anything about your traditions or history. Others will argue that prior to the government trying to legislate race, it would have been a simple matter of descent. If one of your parents is Native, then so are you.
Despite the discourse that has been discussed regarding Native American identity, there is still no clear definition amongst Native communities of what constitutes a “real” Native American.
By Chuck del Valle
Lifestyle and Society Contributor
A stocky white man named Jim describes himself as, “Just a normal guy…Not into Asians.”
A young man with Aryan-like features named Danny is more equal-opportunist in his bias: “No Oriental, No Indian, No Latino, No Black, No Fat, under 30 years old.”
The terms used to symbolize a particular race of people begin making appearances: “NO NATIVE CHOP-STICK USERS,” writes a guy named Sean. Another uses emoticons to send the message: two men, one in a turban and another in a Mandarin hat, followed by a red, negating X.
The comments bubbled up recently from the harsh world of gay online dating, utilizing a variety of sites and smartphone applications. In an endless parade of shirtless, gym-happy men, many state racial biases as openly as other turnoffs, like flab.
“The culture of sexual liberation has been replaced by sexual segregation,” commented Tim Naganishi, lambasting the widespread racism on gay hookup sites. Naganishi, a graduate student of Sociology at U C. Berkeley, notes that racism within the gay community is not atypical. "The things people are more hesitant to say in person are readily available online, it's a bit sad really."
Racial filtering is alive and well on mainstream dating and hookup websites, which give users the option of checking ethnic preferences alongside ideal body types and social habits like smoking and drinking.
As U.S. census numbers consistently show that interracial unions are on the rise, online dating is now the second most popular form of matchmaking, behind meeting through friends. In the digital world, race remains murky territory.
While most critics agree that the ethnicity check-box is vastly preferable to specifying ‘No Asians,’ they disagree about whether the option is a step backward. Some argue it isn't any different than hunting through niche sites like Shaadi, an Indian matrimonial website, or JDate, an online matchmaking service for Jews.
More crucially, can an individual's sexual preferences be deemed racist, or is attraction a matter of personal taste? Is there a need to “prefer” everybody?
In several gay and lesbian magazines, readers and writers have documented the anti-Asian sentiments prevalent within gay online dating websites. “Guys who put 'no Asians, no chocolate' on their profile are not stating a preference,” a reader commented on an online discussion forum for a popular gay magazine. “You’re using the disguise of a semi-socially acceptable way to say you’re a racist and looking to hook up with other racists.”
On generalist dating sites, users are discouraged from narrowing criteria, even though the option is built right into the services.
“Biased people come in all races and great people come in all races. If you stick within one ethnicity, it does seem like you’re potentially cutting yourself off from meeting someone who could be amazing,” said Tiffany Epstein, a dating and relationships expert based in Miami.
“The vagaries of the human heart is what it comes down to,” Epstein acknowledges. “It’s really not for me as an individual or as a representative of a company to judge what’s going on to make someone's juices flow.”
A poll of nearly 2,000 online dating users conducted in the summer of 2011 found that 79 per cent of women surveyed said race affected their dating decisions, compared with 56 per cent of men.
“Women may be more specific about their wants and needs,” Epstein offered.
After organizing some interracial events, Ray Macias was discomforted by client response, particularly when he learned that many men were categorically overlooking African-American women. Macias, a public relations and event-planning professional based in San Diego, commented that black women tend to be some of the most unfavorable for men. “Of all the groups, black women have the worst luck. It’s really quite gut-wrenchingly sad, some of the feedback.”
Macias mentions that he's made other observations in the world of dating. "I've organized events primarily geared towards Asian-Americans that have had a mixed success rate for the attendees," he stated. "Asian-American women are usually attracted to white guys, despite their looks. They hardly notice the Asian guys in the room."
Even as he urges clients to focus on shared interests, such as bar-hopping or exercise, Mr. Macias shies away from criticizing ethnic inclinations: “It’s very hard to point the finger and say that what they’re doing is wrong or racist, but it’s uncomfortable. It’s a grey area.”
Some critics argue that racial filters actually help keep people from getting hurt in person.
“I’m not sure that an online-dating scenario is the best place for people to expand their cultural horizons if they are already predisposed to judge,” said Sara Miller, Chicago-native and student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "In the past, I've used online-dating websites and have definitely filtered race because it's my personal preference."
Miller, whose current boyfriend is Mexican American, believes race filters on dating websites and apps should not be perceived as racism. "I'm Italian, Greek, and German. My mother lived in Venezuela for 8 years and I'm fluent in Spanish and Italian. I don't consider myself a racist because I have a racial preference."
In light of the rise of interracial marriages, it appears “online dating is taking a step in the opposite direction,” argued Harry Reis, a psychology professor at the University of Rochester who co-authored a review of 400 studies on online dating.
“People should be free to have sex or not have sex with anyone they want. But if you categorically rule out an ethnic group, it is by definition racist. One may not be racist in other ways but when it comes to sexual preferences, the person is. And in my estimation, it is fine (although self-limiting) to be racist with regard to sexual preferences.”
The review suggests that online dating reduces “three-dimensional people to two-dimensional displays of information,” fostering a shopping mentality among users who becoming exceedingly picky and judgmental.
“When you exclude people just because you think you don’t like a this or a that, you’re excluding the possibility of finding out that your stereotype is wrong,” Prof. Reis said.
“Throw out the checklist and your preconceived notions,” Ms. Epstein advises. “What you think you want and where you end up finding chemistry are often two very different things.”
Still, the reality is more daunting for some. John, an entry-level accountant in Chicago, states his experience with both online and traditional dating have not been the most positive. "As an Asian-American guy, I find that very few girls, even Asians, are interested in giving me a chance," he commented. "I'm 5'11, go to the gym 4-5 times a week, and have a steady flow of income, yet few girls are willing to go past the initial coffee date. There's something very wrong with that."