The Friday Definer is a weekly roundup of stories that paint a fuller picture of what it means to be an American in the 21st century, brought to you by the staff at Define American. Share these stories with a friend!
“In the boundless landscapes of this country, we find our love for a new nationalism. One grounded in humility and gratitude and driven by a desire to share, protect, and diversify.”
Mouallem on Actors Just Saying No to Stereotyped Roles
“Only now, in Hollywood’s second century, are actors openly rebuffing scripts that stoke Islamophobia or perpetuate stereotypes that’ve pained their communities. ‘If the writing is harmful to our group, I’ll pass. I can’t read for that,’ says Azita Ghanizada, an Afghan American actress who founded MENA Arts Advocacy Coalition in 2015. ‘A lot of us are pushing for more positive depictions now,’ says Superior Donuts’ Maz Jobrani, who quit auditioning for terrorist roles soon after 9/11. ‘The word ‘no’ is a great word in Hollywood because people respect it.’”
Also on The Ringer this week, Danny Chau profiles Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, 24, on being himself while becoming the new face of the NBA:
“Being me was addressing doubts that his inner circle had that he could become the central figure of a premier American sports league as a non-American, as a proud Greek and the son of Nigerian immigrants.”
Bonus read: 25 undocumented characters to follow, or not follow, on television and in the movies, from Remezcla.
The Universal Language of… Chess?
Jennings chess team in Akron, Ohio unites refugees with American kids and wins across the state. Jennifer Pignolet at the Beacon Journal tells the story of the Jennings Community Learning Center chess program:
“‘Your hair looks nice today,’ sixth-grader Ramesh Chhetri told his principal — who is bald — in an attempt to throw him off his game.
It was a valiant effort, but a fruitless one. Jones cracked a smile, but the 12-year-old eventually lost to his school’s leader.
The program offers the students more than the chance to improve their gamesmanship. The team unites students from more than a dozen countries, who speak almost as many languages.”
A Latino Doctor Provides a Medical Sanctuary for Migrant Farmworkers
For Kaiser Health News, John M. Glionna tells the story of Dr. J. Luis Bautista. who pledged in medical school to provide medical care for farm laborers in California’s Central Valley with no questions asked and regardless of ability to pay:
“The 64-year-old physician has personal insight into the struggles of these laborers: He was once one of them. As a boy, he picked fruit alongside his parents and nine siblings in Ventura County. The family made $4,000 a year back then, a little over $30,000 in today’s dollars — rarely enough to spare for doctor’s visits.”