Comedy Series ‘Halal in the Family’ Uses Humor to Tackle Anti-Muslim Sentiment

Recognize Aasif Mandvi? You should. Aside from a number of film and television show appearances, this Indian American actor and comedian is a regular correspondent on The Daily Show and even has a published book, “No Land’s Man.”

But if all goes well, you’ll soon know Mandvi as the man who co-created and stars in a new web series which aims to use humor as a way to tackle Anti-Muslim sentiment. Woah. Let’s rewind a bit.

The idea for Halal in the Family (yes, that is inspired by the famous 1970’s sitcom All in the Family) actually started with Katie Couric. According to Mandvi, Couric “commented that Muslims needed their own version of The Cosby Show in order to break down stereotypes about Muslims.” In response, The Daily Show created a parody sketch focused on a Muslim Cosby family.

Fast forward a few years and the one-episode parody has expanded into a four-episode web series that packs quite a punch in each six-minute episode. Mandvi used Indiegogo to explain the reason behind this web series:

Unfavorable views of Islam and its followers are at an all time high. Did you know that only 27% of Americans have positive views of Muslims? We’re barely more popular than Congress! Too often the media and politicians only make things worse, feeding increased prejudice, discriminatory policies, and hate-filled rhetoric targeting American Muslims.

Fortunately, many amazing organizations and individuals are courageously combating anti-Muslim hate. But it’s not enough. It’s time to get serious…ly funny.

For the past year I’ve been developing a new web-series to challenge stereotypes and misinformation about Muslims and communities associated with Muslims. It’s called Halal in the Family, and it’s a sitcom parody about an all-American Muslim family. It’s also a tool to support existing campaigns to combat anti-Muslim bias.


Mandvi and his writing partner, Miles Kahn, met with a number of Muslim organizations and advocacy groups to decide what issues would be worked into the first episodes. As a result, the series is able to hit on topics that truly resonate with the Muslim community. For instance, the teenage daughter faces cyber-bullying when her picture is photoshopped wearing a turban. Her father, played by Mandvi, humorously corrects this. “If you’re going to stereotype us at least get it right. We don’t wear turbans,” he informs the cyber-bully.

Some have reacted with confusion. How can prejudice completely disappear with comedy? Well, Mandvi would be the first to agree with the naysayers. He admits that trying to completely wipe out anti-Muslim sentiment with one show would be a “fool’s errand.” Instead, he focuses on the importance of shining light on these issues and getting people talking.

Halal in the Family will expose a broad audience to some of the realities of being Muslim in America,” He explains on the Indiegogo page. “By using satire we will encourage people to reconsider their assumptions about Muslims, while providing a balm to those experiencing anti-Muslim bias. I also hope those Uncles and Aunties out there will crack a smile!”


Feature Photo courtesy of

Racism Alert: University of Maryland Kappa Sigma Frat’s Email Leaked

What is it with racism and colleges nowadays? This past Friday, an e-mail from a member of University of Maryland’s Kappa Sigma Fraternity leaked and it is horrifying. Warning: abhorrent language below.


We may have heard the “slanted eye chinks” comment before, but “curry monsters?” Really? And of course, we have to point out what he said about consent. This man is not only just a racist man with abhorrent thoughts, he may genuinely be a threat to all women. Not cool, bro.

The Presidents of the University of Maryland and Kappa Sigma have both released statements condemning the racist email. But amazingly enough, this man still has his defenders:

From The Bottomline:

UMD varsity football player and Quince Orchard alumni, Alex Twine, an African-American. Twine, a Gaithersburg native, is a senior education and American Studies major at UMD. “I’ve known AJ Hurwitz for years,” Twine told The Bottom Line, “He’s never been a bad person or racist. He’s an idiot for that email, and I don’t know why he would ever say something like that. The email was very wrong and there should be consequences, but let’s not ruin his life. He is not the only person that has ever sent something like that; he’s just one of them that have been exposed.”

Another was Corday Thomas, also an African-American friend of AJ. Thomas, like Twine, graduated in the same 2011 class as Hurwitz. He said, “I think it [the email] was taken out of context, but it is just unacceptable to say things like that. I’m not so much offended as I am disappointed and embarrassed for him. Racism is never okay, and you should never refer to women like that.”

Thomas also acknowledged Hurwitz for an act of generosity in the past, “Freshmen year of college, when my family moved to New York, I had no place to stay for spring break. He let me stay with him, fed me, hooked me up; I’ve chilled with him countless times, and I know he’s not a racist. However, he has to learn from his mistakes.”


So he has not one, but two black friends. How progressive of him!

In all seriousness, what is in the air? From the time Duke University Kappa Sigma had it’s “Asia-themed” party to the old anti-Asian rant from Alexandara Wallace, it appears as if there’s an increase in anti-Asian sentiment at colleges. Is that actually true or are we just hearing more about racist incidents now? More importantly, how do colleges move past this? Let us know in the comment section below.






#MuslimLivesMatter: Outrage Over the Murder of Three Muslim Students


On February 10, 2015, Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and her younger sister Razan Abu-Salha, 19, were shot to death in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Police have charged Craig Hicks, a neighbor to the victims who reportedly turned himself in, with first-degree murder. Allegedly, Hicks condemned all religions on Facebook prior to the shooting. If this is indeed the reason behind his actions, then innocent Muslim students may have lost their lives due to Islamophobia.

Islamophobia, the fear and hatred of the religion of Islam, Muslims, and anyone who is perceived as Muslim, has been running rampant as evidenced by the racist tweets following American Sniper and the anti-Islam ads in San Francisco. Now, we have living proof that Islamophobic sentiment can turn deadly. Many are pointing at American media as a contributor to Islamophobia.

On the night of the shooting, #ChapelHillShooting was the the top trending hashtag on Twitter, but when we checked at 11PM PST for news on the story, we couldn’t find any coverage apart from local news media and Buzzfeed. We weren’t the only ones:

The hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter was created as a response to the American media’s lack of coverage on this incident and to show proof that there are people out there who do believe Muslim lives matter:


A community Facebook page called Our Three Winners has been set up to remember the lives of the victims. Needless to say, these three were all extraordinary individuals who sought to help others. Deah Barakat and his wife Yusor Abu-Salha were both focused on providing dental care to Syrian refugees in Turkey. In fact, Barakat created a charity which you can still donate to. 19-year-old Razan Abu-Salha was just as dedicated to helping others. She spent her spare time supporting charities such as Global Deaf Muslim, which advocates for equal access to Islam for the deaf and hard of hearing.

If these three were able to recognize that other lives matter, surely we can all recognize that #MuslimLivesMatter.


#MuslimVDay: Valentine’s Day Cards That Combat Islamophobia


The racist tweets that followed American Sniper gives us just a small taste of the Islamophobia and the anti-Muslim sentiment that is alive and well in America. According to Wikipedia, Islamophobia is “a term for prejudice against, hatred towards, or fear of the religion of Islam, Muslims, or of ethnic groups perceived to be Muslim.”

Well Los Angeles-based writer and activist Taz Ahmed was tired of it all and decided to use Valentine’s Day as an outlet for her frustration. The result? #MuslimVDay cards.

These “delightfully uncomfortable” Valentine’s Day cards aim to make you laugh and if you’re uncomfortable while laughing, then the cards have done their job. As Colorlines Magazine points out, these cards are Ahmed’s answer to Islamophobia and stereotypes faced by Muslim women.


“I was tired of Muslims being put into a box — and tired of being in the box of a non-sexual Muslim woman,” Ahmed told Colorlines. “So this was my way of reappropriating Islamophobia.”

Ahmed recently released her fourth series of cards, which can be purchased on Etsy. Not sure if these cards are for you? Ahmed says they’re great for any Muslim who “finds it difficult to find that perfectly snarkily witty Valentine Day card that convey the exact emotions you feel of love in the time of a racialized, islamophobia-ridden America.”


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Intrigued? Check out some the cards from the previous years below:

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All photos courtesy of Tazzy Star Shop.

‘The Daily Show’ Correspondent Hasan Minhaj on How Racism Ruined His Prom Night

As the newest correspondent on The Daily Show, comedian Hasan Minhaj has been killing it. Minhaj has always been a witty comedian with his own flair, and now a wider audience is getting to see that. However, things have not always been smooth sailing for him.

As he recounts in the live storytelling show The Moth, Minhaj had a rough time fitting in as one of the few Indian American kids in Davis, CA. In fact, when his third grade teacher asked the class what they wanted to be when they grew up, Minhaj recalls writing “I wanna be white.”

Minhaj then went on to tell the heartbreaking story of Bethany Reed, a girl who became his bright spot during his senior year in high school. Apparently, Reed seemed to fully accept and understand him and even his strict immigrant father’s rules. By the time senior prom rolled around, it was inevitable for Minhaj and Reed to go together. Even though Minhaj had to sneak out of his father’s house to get there, surely this would be worth it, right?


Hasan Minhaj in high school. Photo courtesy of The Moth.

When Minhaj arrived at Reed’s house, he opened the door and found the captain of the water polo team putting a corsage on Reed’s wrist. Reed’s mom explained to him that because they would be taking a lot of pictures that night, they didn’t know if it would be “a good fit” for Minhaj and Reed to be in pictures together. To make up for this, Reed’s parents offered Minhaj a ride home.

The full story, as narrated by Minaj, is definitely worth listening to. You’ll find yourself laughing and crying as Minhaj tells a second generation, Asian American story that resonates with many.

Of course, there’s no need to shed to many tears. After all, Minhaj seems to be doing great with his new gig. Check out his debut on The Daily Show below.



Margaret Cho Responds to Accusations of Racism For Her Golden Globes Sketch


With all the controversy surrounding The Interview and the cyberattack on Sony, we can’t say we didn’t expect at least a few North Korea jokes from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the hosts of last night’s Golden Globes. However, no one seems to have been prepared for the skit from Margaret Cho– one which has been a topic of controversy since it aired.

It goes without saying that Margaret Cho was a prominent figure at the Golden Globes this year. While this would normally call for a celebration (there’s hardly ever any Asian American representation at this event at all), this actually left some viewers uncomfortable. After all, Cho did not appear on stage as herself. Instead, she was “Cho Young Ja,” a North Korean army general and journalist.

With an over-powdered face and an exaggerated accent, Cho Young Ja commented on the Golden Globes by saying, “You no have thousand baby playing guitar at the same time. You no have people holding up many card to make one big picture. You no have Dennis Rodman.”

Of course that wasn’t all. The general also commented on Netflix’s Orange in the New Black (“It’s funny, but not ha-ha funny… Also, Piper and Alex’s relationship is very toxic”) and even demanded a picture with Meryl Streep.


As you can imagine, this appearance was met with a storm of mixed reviews. On one hand, there were more than a few viewers who believed her skit was blatantly racist.

“First of all, let’s just call Margaret Cho’s long, dwindling joke at the Golden Globes last night what it was: yellowface,” writes  on Vulture. “Hollywood needed a punching bag after the Sony hack and ensuing debacle with The Interview, and Cho willingly suited up.”

Others took to twitter to share their dislike.



However, as the aftermath continued, there seemed to be a change of course. More and more viewers stood up to defend Cho and her skit.



It was only a matter of time before Margaret Cho chimed in on the controversy by speaking to Buzzfeed:

I’m of North and South Korean descent, and I do impressions of my family and my work all the time, and this is just another example of that. I am from this culture. I am from this tribe. And so I’m able to comment on it.

When we have British people playing American icons, there’s no backlash. But for Asian-Americans, it’s a very particular set of expectations that we are set to maintain, and that in itself is racist.

I think that we’re being held down by that incredible tide of invisibility that we’re constantly fighting. Whenever there is visibility, it’s shocking. Whenever there is visibility on our terms, it’s shocking. That’s why any visibility is so highly scrutinized. I’m so used to it that it doesn’t alarm me, it doesn’t bother me.


I welcome the controversy. And I don’t care.



Feature Photo Courtesy of

Sephora Accused of Being Racist Against Asians


Recently, Sephora held a big 20% off sale for their “VIB” customers who spent over $350 during the year. Unfortunately, many of those top-tier customers faced technical difficulties — their accounts were shut down or their ability to place orders were restricted with absolutely no reason given. This certainly caused quite the alarm for loyal customers who wanted to partake in the sale, but this was nothing compared to the shocking theory behind these blocked customers: Sephora is being accused of blocking their Asian customers.

Allegedly, the customers banned from the sale were those who have e-mail addresses based in China, or those who have Chinese/Asian surnames. Styleite caught just a few of the thousands of Chinese Americans waiting for an explanation from Sephora.


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If these allegations are true, you may be wondering why Sephora would use geographic and ethnic profiling. Many have theorized that such a move was done to prevent international bulk buyers and re-sellers. However, we can all agree that it’s impossible to actually tell which customers want to re-sell their products and which ones simply enjoy Sephora products. As expected, many Sephora users are outraged.

“Long-time Sephora customer here,” one reddit user wrote. “I moved to Taiwan a few years ago, but really wanted some Sephora goodness. I sent an order to my (western last name) friend and had her re-ship the package to me, I had no issues with the order. Recently tried to make another order and send it to my brother (Chinese last name) who lives in Miami to bring back to me on his next trip home. My order was canceled and when I asked, they gave me the same TOS bullshit. When I asked which part of the TOS they were talking about, I was ignored.”

Sephora eventually released a statement admitting their concern over reselling products.

Message for Clients

Sephora is dedicated to providing an exciting and reliable shopping experience and we sincerely apologize to our loyal clients who were impacted by the website crash that occurred yesterday.

Our website is incredibly robust and designed to withstand a tremendous amount of volume. What caused the disruption yesterday was a high level of bulk buys and automated accounts for reselling purposes from North America and multiple countries outside the US. The technical difficulties that impacted the site are actively being addressed and our desktop US website is now functioning normally. We are actively working to restore our Canadian, mobile website, and international shipping where applicable. There has been no impact on the security and privacy of our clients’ data.

The reality is that in taking steps to restore website functionality, some of our loyal North American and international clients got temporarily blocked. We understand how frustrating it is and are deeply sorry for the disruption to your shopping experience.

However, in some instances we have, indeed, de-activated accounts due to reselling — a pervasive issue throughout the industry and the world. As part of our ongoing commitment to protecting our clients and our brands, we have identified certain entities who take advantage of promotional opportunities to purchase products in large volume on our website and re-sell them through other channels. After careful consideration, we have deactivated these accounts in order to optimize product availability for the majority of our clients, as well as ensure that consumers are not subject to increased prices or products that are not being handled or stored properly.

As expected, many outraged customers are pledging never to shop there again. What do you think?


“Here in America, We Don’t Eat Turtles and Frogs”: Chinatown Tour Guide Apologizes For Racist Rant


You may have seen the viral video which shows a tour guide giving a description of San Francisco’s Chinatown to a number of individuals aboard a tour bus. Doesn’t sound like footage that would go viral? Well that’s because when I say she gave “a description” of Chinatown, I actually mean she gave a drunken, angry rant full of racism and profanity.

The video, which was shot by a German tourist on the double decker bus, shows the tour guide explaining that it is her last day on the job. Apparently, she thought the perfect way to celebrate this occasion was to drop the F-bomb all over the city. After watching her controversial performance, we’re going to go ahead and say she’s not a fan Chinatown.



Unsurprisingly, it’s a two way street — Chinatown is not a fan of the racist tour guide either. A rally was held at the Portsmouth Square which allowed citizens to voice their opinion on the racist rant. Sue Lee of the Chinese Historical Society of America spoke out about her disappointment in the tour guide for turning to racism to entertain the bus riders, her disappointment in the applause the tour guide received at the end of her rant and (most importantly) her disappointment that no one stood up to say something.



In response, the tour guide, who remains anonymous, spoke out to say she was not drunk and was simply doing a “satirical comedic portion of the tour.” She contacted San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu and said “I thought that I could bend the rules. I thought that I could be a little outrageous, and it was something that went way too far.”

Many do not believe she was simply trying to be comedic. However, Chiu recognizes the importance of the tour guide taking responsibility for her inappropriate actions. In a Facebook post, he wrote:

“She also apologized and seemed to be coming to an understanding that her comments were not “satirical” or “comedic” but were instead incredibly harmful and offensive. I don’t know the woman’s name or her phone number but she said she was going to call me back today to talk about what she can start to do to make amends to the Chinatown community and all of San Francisco. I’m glad she’s starting to come forward and realize she needs to take responsibility for her actions.”





Asian American Woman Verbally and Physically Abused by Police

A lawsuit was filed in Chicago in 2013. Chicago police are accused of committing a hate crime for physically and verbally abusing an Asian American woman, Jianqing “Jessica” Klyzek, during a raid of her tanning salon/massage parlor.

According to the lawsuit, police came into the salon on suspicion that it was a site for prostitution. According to Huffington Post, the  5’2″ and 110-pound manager was not being very cooperative with police, however, Chicago police responded in an extreme and physical manner.

The officer can be heard asking to use his taser on the 32-year-old manager. According to the lawsuit, Klyzek was handcuffed and kneeling on the ground, but police still struck her and put their hands over her nose and mouth. Klyzek suffered from a number of scratches, bruises and abrasions.

When Klyzek tried to scream, the police began yelling racial and ethnic slurs at her. “I’ll put you in a UPS box and send you back to wherever the f— you came from,” the officer said, although Klyzek pointed out that she was a citizen of the United States.

“No you’re not! No, you’re not a citizen,” the officer yelled back. “You’re here on our borrowed time. So mind your f–king business before I shut this whole f–king place down. And I’ll take this place and then whoever owns it will f–king kill you because they don’t care about you, OK? I’ll take this building. You’ll be dead and your family will be dead.”

The exchange was caught on a surveillance camera. Allegedly, the officers tried looking for the footage once they realized they were being filmed.

“The alleged comments, if true, are reprehensible and completely intolerable in our police department,” Police spokesman Adam Collins told the Chicago Sun Times. “We have codes of conduct that apply to officers, and if the allegations are proven accurate appropriate action will be taken.”

CBS news recently reported that the officer in question has been stripped of police powers, pending the outcome of an investigation.

The video of the interaction can be seen below.

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Story by Julie Ha. 

In an episode authorities described as “every parent’s worst nightmare”—and now, also a hate crime—a 4-year-old Asian girl was attacked by a tire-iron wielding woman at a San Jose Wal-Mart earlier this week.

The girl and her father were shopping at a Wal-Mart in the Little Saigon district of East San Jose on Tuesday morning, when Maria Garate walked up to the girl and struck her on the head with a tire iron, authorities said. The girl’s father then tried to cover his daughter with his body and was also struck with the tire iron. On-site security personnel detained the woman until police arrived and arrested her.

On Thursday Garate, a San Jose woman described by authorities as a transient, was in court facing attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon charges, as well as hate crime enhancements. She faces up to life in prison if convicted.

“Based on evidence we do have, the victims were targeted because they are Asian,” said Santa Clara Deputy District Attorney Kalila Spain. “This is a premeditated, willful and deliberate act on her part.”

Spain said that the injured girl was taken to the hospital after the incident, but is now recovering at home.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that one source told the newspaper that Garate had expressed disappointment to authorities that she had not injured the girl more seriously.

Garate is being held without bail at Santa Clara County jail. Her next court date is May 23.

Photo via ABC 30 Action News.

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