Amy S. Choi and Rebecca Lehrer wanted to create an online space for people who live between multiple cultures, feel like outsiders and share a silent understanding. So the two friends got together and created The Mash-Up Americans, a website that simultaneously defies and embraces culture and traditions.
With stories that range in topic from family and pop-culture to social issues and multicultural recipes, the site celebrates the diversity and uniqueness of one of America’s rising demographics: Mash-Ups.
What’s a Mash-Up? Rupa Shenoy, founder of the “Otherhood” podcast, put it best in a recent ivoh.org interview:
“People who don’t feel like they belong have a valuable vantage. These are people who live between cultures, who feel like outsiders, who share a silent understanding. And we are in an age where there are more of these people than ever before. They have many of the same motivations, passions, goals, ethics. And collectively, they care [about] changing the country and the world.”
Like “Otherhood,” The Mash-Up Americans — which is structured as an online community, editorial website and podcast — is dedicated to sharing meaningful, intelligent and often hilarious stories about culture and identity in today’s “hyphen-American” culture.
As proud Mash-Ups, Choi (a Korean-American) and Rebecca Lehrer (a Salvadoran-Jewish-American) began the project because they didn’t see an adequate representation of Mash-Ups in mainstream media.
Choi came to the collaboration with over 10 years of experience as a journalist and editor, and Lehrer brought her decade-long career in media and arts. Both storytellers had a wealth of personal Mash-Up experiences to share. In October 2013 they launched a Tumblr page, which then became a full-fledged website a year later. Their project is one example of a growing number of women-led sites that have been gaining traction lately.
Since launching their site, Choi and Lehrer have continued to write personal narratives and curate pieces that dive headfirst into the intersection of race, culture, and identity. As the project’s site says: “Sometimes we return to our roots, and sometimes we plant new seeds in unexpected places.”
Here are some recent Mash-Up stories that resonated with us:
“Becoming Finn”: In this personal essay, Finn Paul, described endearingly by Mash-Up editors as a “Queer-Trans-Waspy-Jewy-West-Coast American,” examines the steps that led him to his name, his gender and his identity.
“11 Things You Wanted to Know About My Turban But Were Too Afraid to Ask”: Rupinder Singh, founder of American Turban and social justice fellow at the Sikh Coalition, diffuses racial stereotypes around the turban in this informative piece. His responses to questions like, “Were you born with a turban on?” and “Can I touch your turban?” are both heartfelt and full of wit.
“Happa in Hollywood”: Katie Malia, Japanese-American Mash-Up and creator of the web comedy series “Almost Asian,” offers her perspectives on auditioning, acting and not being “asian enough” for Hollywood casting directors.
The stories represent the shared vision that Choi and Lehrer have for the site. “Rather than waiting for somebody to speak to us,” they said, “we created a platform and community that speaks for itself.” To read more stories and join the conversation, visit mashupamericans.com.