Welcome back to Watermelon Sushi World! Please enter the portal to our universe of mixed-ness where cultures cross and ethnicities blend. Kick back and make yourself at home, Hip Hapa Homeez.
This week, Your Hip Hapa profiles one of several Watermelon Sushi Associate Producers located around the globe. What’s a Watermelon Sushi Associate Producer? Watermelon Sushi is our feature film, which our Associate Producers are dedicated to producing and bringing to the silver screen for you. The worldly Mr. Richard Todd Smith, better known as iPrince, explains. Above is his face, below his thoughts.
Q: What makes you a Hip Hapa Homee?
A: I'm African American and live in the inner city of Detroit Michigan. We’re internationally known as the Motor City and where the Motown musical legends came from.
But last year in 2008, I lived in Phoenix where I worked with the Latino population. As a youth and community developer, I partnered with the downtown, centrally located, YMCA. I established youth enrichment programs, summer camp programs, basketball and soccer tournaments, swim teams, Friday night jams, and parties with local radio stations. The YMCA has different partnerships, like with Arizona State University. Youth At Risk is another organization that we worked with; and, also six local high schools and four elementary schools in the district. There were over 100 participants in our program.
Not only was I able to eat great Latino meals in Phoenix, but I also learned the culture of the population, which is centered on food and family. Besides the hot weather, I was also exposed to bilingual speaking and learned some Spanish. I ate hot tamales, quesadillas and soft tacos with sun-dried tomatoes and jalapenos all day long, as well as lots of fresh fruits—apples, oranges, bananas and plantains; a Latino staple.
Q: What's your role in the Watermelon Sushi film--past and future?
A: My thing is outreach. I enjoy reaching out to multiethnic communities and sharing with them even as I learn more about their histories. I’m interested in teaching others about cross-cultural agendas and mixed-race people, and the message and motivation of Watermelon Sushi. I plan to approach diverse cultures and expose them not only to the producers behind the film project, but the project itself. I want to inform younger generations, teenagers, and my peer group--the 30 somethings, the Gen Xers—and reach out to educate them about crossing cultures and what it means to be multiethnic. I want to speak to an international audience. This project is an international project, and I want to teach about it globally.
As a project for this summer, I’m also working on sponsoring a basketball team to buy Hapa*Teez t-shirts which advertise and finance the Watermelon Sushi film. We’ll approach, say, a local grocery store and ask them to donate a number of shirts to our team. 10% of the funds raised will be donated to the film’s production. This will give us the spin of outreach. I want to sponsor those ball players and take photos of them to be part of the film. I'm looking forward to doing my part. I plan to showcase these types of activities to potential financiers, especially in an urban setting.
I’m also researching film credits, incentives and tax breaks offered by the Michigan Film Office. Soon, I’ll be contacting some key players in that organization to see how we can work together on Watermelon Sushi. To quote Joe Biden, this is a big blankety-blank deal!
Q: What else do you do?
A: I'm a part-time student at Wayne State University where I study urban development and political science. I also work in the field of fine art and antiques; primarily 20th Century American furniture. I also read a lot to stay informed; mostly magazines like Architectural Digest, Fine Wine, Forbes, and Your Hip Hapa’s cousin’s, Oprah's, publication—O.
Q: How did you grow up?
A: I was born and raised on the east side of Detroit. My family is middle-class and, as business owners, gave me the incentive to be entrepreneurial. My folks owned re-sell shops, a gas station and a local Dairy Queen. The majority of my time was spent being involved in after-school programs, and sports for exercise and staying healthy.
Growing up, I attended a private Catholic school, St. David, where we had mixed populations with both black and white roots. Any mixed-race students were predominantly black and white although some had Asian mothers and black fathers. In Detroit, we have a Chinatown, so our family would go there to eat out. We also have a Mexicantown and Africantown--where West Africans from Ghana display their dance culture.
Q: What impact do you think Obama's presidency has made on multiethnic agendas?
A: I don't think he’s made an impact directly, but indirectly by his image because those communities benefit from his having an image of color. By us having a multiethnic president, it sends a hopeful message to multiracial people of color.
Q: Do you have a recipe for The Official Watermelon Sushi Cookbook?
A: You better believe it! It's going to be my caveat to being a part of the project. I'm not much of a cook though. I have sisters, so I eat and wash the dishes. Yes, that sounds sexist, but we role-play. I stay in my lane and they stay in theirs. I'm a willing participant of it. Even if I cook, my sisters taste the food and are like, “Well…” And, then, they may not wash the dishes, so I'll be stuck washing dishes and cooking, too.
Having said that, I may consider submitting a recipe for a fruit salad with watermelons, cherries, strawberries and apple slices. And, I’ll use hummus and olives rolled in rice and seaweed for what I’ll call “Middle Eastern Sushi.” It sounds terrible, but it is catchy.
Q: What do you see in Watermelon Sushi’s future?
A: Not only will it be a film, but a brand--a household name. It will be in your library as a novel, in your kitchen as a cookbook, in your den on a DVD, in your child’s room as a paper doll, and even in your home as houseware like china and linens. It will be in all kinds of homes of all different races as a constant reminder of what it takes to work together in the world. We live to learn about each other so what is it going to take for us to exist together? I see Watermelon Sushi educating the world about the ways and principals of how to relate and understand other ethnic groups and other cultures.
Wow! No wonder Watermelon Sushi is growing so successfully—thanks to Associate Producers like iPrince. btw, HAPA birthday, iPrince! (Friday, April 9)
To contact Richard Todd Smith:
Friend him on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/iPrinceSmitty
Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mrtsmitty
Stay tuned, Hip Hapa Homeez, as we continue to present Watermelon Sushi Associate Producers from around the planet along with regular profiles in the coming weeks. We’ll also be developing The Official Watermelon Sushi Cookbook where your vegan recipes will be published along with your photo and story. For more info about the cookbook, email email@example.com
Now, here’s a shout-out to our Hapa*Teez supporters. Remember, if you make a purchase, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for your rear crawl credit. This week’s featured Hip Hapa Homee in Hapa*Teez t-shirt is British beauty Sogba Bruce Jaja. Looking good, girl!
And, here’s an announcement from Andrew Grant-Thomas, Deputy Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity (Ohio State University). Andrew is soliciting a wide range of views on the subject of future race relations and besides tapping advocates, researchers and other professionals, he’s also looking for “bloggers, poets, writers of speculative fiction, futurists, young and old, immigrants, poor and working class people of color and just plain folk.” Get more info at this link:
Speaking of Obama, this week’s featured Amazon product is Watermelon Sushi Associate Producer Pearl, Jr.’s on-demand video titled Barack Obama: The Power of Change.
Let’s end with a BIG UP to all you Hip Hapa Homeez Group members and Watermelon Sushi Fans on Facebook, and to you tweeting Twitterers. Anyone can join us, so please do. And, keep your comments and emails coming. Like iPrince, above, we love it when you reach out. Soon we’ll meet again, and until then, I am
Your Hip Hapa,