#WeFunkTour: BFunk Dance Sensations Chaya Kumar and Shivani Bhagwan Embark on Their First-Ever 18-City North American Tour in August

Chaya Kumar Shivani Bhagwan

Youtube sensations Chaya Kumar and Shivani Bhagwan will embark on an 18-city North American tour starting on August 16 in San Diego through mid-October, and we’re joining them for the ride.

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Because of the enormous fanbase Chaya and Shivani have amassed around the world (#FUNKFAM), it has allowed them to travel and teach workshops internationally and bring a new style of dance to many renowned dance studios, which has led them to this point in their journey — a dance tour spanning 18 cities, a feat unheard of in the South Asian dance circuit.

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Their viral YouTube dance videos have seen more than 150 million cumulative views, and they’ve collaborated with the King of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan himself, and have received co-signs from other Bollywood superstars like Diljit Dosanjh, Arjun Kapoor and esteemed choreographers Geeta Kapoor and Tricia Miranda. They have also partnered with upcoming music artist Akash Ahuja, from the prestigious Ahuja family household to create a custom track — exclusively for the #WeFunkTour.

Through this tour, Chaya and Shivani will continue to foster a positive environment in their classes and relentlessly strive to change the conversation, eliminating labels and discussing dance as simply, dance.

Now it’s your turn to be a part of their movement, and witness the thrill of the BFUNK in person. Space is limited so grab your tickets in a city near you.

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Purchase your ticket via Eventbrite. Tickets range from $30-35.

What is the age requirement? There is no age requirement.
How long are the workshops? 90 minutes and an extra 15 minutes in the end for a meet and greet.
I see more than one workshop in my city, will they all be different? Yes, each workshop is different. You are welcome to purchase more than one Workshop.
Do I have to be a professional dancer? NO, all dance levels are welcome!
Can I come to watch? Unfortunately no, this class is meant for any individual looking to dance and have fun!
Are you bringing new routines to the workshops? YES!
Will you be selling merchandise? YES, at the end of every class!
The tour is managed by Anip Patel, Raghu Alla and powered by Bollyshake and Brown Girl Magazine.
By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

South Asians Gather to Celebrate Movement at the Inaugural Juggernaut Summit

Juggernaut Summit
The Juggernaut team alongside the event’s entertainment panelists: Sri Rao, Richa Moorjani, Poorna Jagannathan, and Mira Nair. Photography by Krista Schlueter  

The room erupted in applause when actress Poorna Jagannathan said: “In America, I feel like I am just getting started,” during The Juggernaut Summit that took place on Sept. 23, 2023 in New York City.

The particular statement, reflecting on Jagannathan’s career trajectory since shifting from Bollywood to Hollywood, also captured what seemed to be the overarching message of the day: South Asians aren’t having just a moment; they’re starting a movement.

[Read Related: Poorna Jagannathan and Richa Moorjani of Netflix’s ‘Never Have I Ever’ on Womanhood, Racism, and Issues Generations of Desi Women Still Struggle With]

Hosted by The Juggernaut — a subscription-based online South Asian magazine chronicling what it calls “the unstoppable rise of South Asians” — The Juggernaut Summit was a day-long gathering that welcomed over 200 attendees from inside and outside of the diaspora. 

“This is the first summit, but hoping we can make it an annual event,” said Snigdha Sur, the founder and CEO of the outlet.

Sur shared that she noticed how segmented professional conferences tend to be — specific to tech, entertainment, and business, among others — and wanted The Juggernaut Summit to be different.

“Our generation really wants to connect across sector lines and support each other without competition. I’ve always really admired how the Black community has managed to come together in that way with Essencefest and the NAACP, and I thought ‘we [South Asians] need that.’” 

The summit welcomed 24 speakers across seven diverse panels discussing topics including mindset, investing and innovation, retail in a 21st-century economy, geopolitics, artificial intelligence, food and entertainment. 

The event was filled with a number of poignant and memorable moments. 

Juggernaut summit
Sahil Bloom makes opening remarks at The Juggernaut Summit with CEO Snigdha Sur. Photography by Krista Schlueter.

The summit began with investor, entrepreneur and creator Sahil Bloom getting candid about his professional journey and upbringing in a biracial household. 

Later, there was passionate discourse amidst the geopolitics panel of journalist Rana Ayyub, CEO of Bodhala and former Kansas State Representative Raj Goyle, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Azmat Khan — and even audience members. 

Juggernaut Summit
Geopolitics panelists for the Juggernaut Summit: Azmat Khan, Rana Ayyub, and Raj Goyle. Photography by Krista Schlueter

While the topics were serious, there was also no shortage of laughs. When the investment panelists were asked “Team Gulab Jamun or Ras Malai?” both sweets were even distributed on stage. 

Attendees and speakers alike were able to connect on shared experiences like grappling with guilt and taboos surrounding money, prejudice, and bias when trying to advance in their careers; social and political responsibilities as South Asians; familial expectations as immigrants or the children of immigrants, as well as little things like the event running just a bit on “Indian Standard Time” and not finding any restaurant that can cook as well as your mom. 

Time was even allocated to enjoy samosas and a cup of chai during breaks. 

Juggernaut summit
Investment panelists at the Juggernaut Summit. (L to R) Shiv Khemka, Rahat Ahmed, Chetan Puttagunta, and Arati Sharma, alongside moderator Kirti Sehgal. Photography by Krista Schlueter

It was refreshing to hear many speakers including angel investor Arati Sharma and actress Richa Moorjani mention the importance of taking care of your mental health as individuals with ambition.

Oscar-winning director Mira Nair, food writer Priya Krishna, and director Sri Rao also urged everyone in the room to follow their passions and stay diligent noting there is so much work to be done in terms of South Asian representation and inclusion. 

Juggernaut Summit
Juggernaut Summit, “Future of Food” panelists. (L to R) Vinay Menda, Roni Mazumdar, Chintan Pandya, Priya Krishna, and Sajani Amarasiri, alongside moderator Mehr Singh. Photography by Krista Schlueter

At one point in the day, Sur took to the brightly-branded summit stage to read a statement from the US Vice President, Kamala Harris, that reinforced these calls to action. 

“The Juggernaut’s stories echo stories like mine and my mother’s,” Harris’s statement read.

“She raised my sister and me to take pride in our South Asian heritage and to believe that nothing was out of our reach. It is because of the values instilled by my mother that I serve as your vice president. Each of you here today has your own story too. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and continue to dream with ambition to achieve the impossible….May today’s summit motivate you to continue to move us forward and toward a brighter future for all.”

Today, there are many more South Asians in prominent public positions than ever before in America, but geopolitics panelist Goyle raised the question of what happens should the country reach what he called “Peak Brown” or issues abroad affect South Asians domestically.

[Read Related: Kamala Harris’s win Makes me Feel Seen]

While there are no clear-cut answers to this or many of the questions raised as of yet, they all come back to the same fact: South Asians are finally getting their seats at the table and change is upon us. 

The Juggernaut Summit sparked inspiration and motivation and crucial conversations like this one that will continue outside of the Spring Studio venue.

Other guests and speakers at the event included: Benchmark General Partner Chetan Puttagunta, Anchorless Bangladesh founder Rahat Ahmed, Vice Chairman of SUN Group Shiv Khemka, CEO of LVMH USA Anish Melwani, Founder and CEO of Poshmark Manish Chandra, Unapologetic Foods co-founders Roni Mazumdar and Chintan Pandya, Vinay Menda, Sajani Amarasiri, Rohini Kosoglu, Keith Peiris, Samyutha Reddy, Amish Jani, and George Mathew. 

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By Ramona Sukhraj

With a B.S. in Marketing from the UCONN School of Business, Ramona has made a name for herself publishing over … Read more ›

In Conversation With Kevin Wu: Creating Content in a new Generation

Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu

Kevin Wu, previously known as KevJumba, is an American YouTuber, from Houston, Texas, with more than 2.68 million subscribers on YouTube and more than 323 million views. His content consists of vlogs, social commentary, musical parodies and more. Wu also streams on Twitch and has released original music as well as freestyles. His most popular YouTube video is titled “Nice Guys” with Ryan Higa. Wu has also worked with many individuals including A-Trak, Chester See, David Choi, Globetrotters, Iyaz, Jamie Chung, Jeremy Lin, Ryan Higa, Wong Fu Productions, and more. He has also appeared in movies such as “Hang Loose,” “Revenge of the Green Dragons,” “Man Up,” and more. Wu is one of the first original YouTubers gaining popularity in 2008 and even had another channel, titled JumbaFund, now known as Team Jumba. Continue reading to learn more about Kevin Wu’s journey!

[Read Related: Superwoman and Humble the Poet’s #IVIVI Music Video Celebrates Toronto’s Diversity]

We really enjoyed the project ‘Underneath the Lights.’ On the track “WHY U IN LA” the lyrics, “Don’t know who I might be, it might surprise me. I could be a hypebeast, That’s nothing like me, It’s so enticing.” How do you feel this speaks to the idea of self-discovery? What have you learned about yourself, diving back into making content?

I love that song we did. The artist who sang those lyrics his name is Zooty. I really provided the energy and direction for the musical piece, but I give credit to my producer Jonum and Zooty credit for the lyrics. Both guys are a slightly different generation, gen-Z, whereas I grew up as a millennial. I find that I left a lot on the table when I left YouTube at 23, so when I work with gen-Z I have so much that I want to give. Coming back to YouTube this time around, it’s all about self-reliance. Coming from movies and television, you have to depend on people to get a better product. But with YouTube, I’m going back to my roots and putting my wit and effort into every part of the process again (writing, directing, performing, producing, editing). I want the result to be authenticity and a homegrown feeling.

[Read Related: JusReign’s Reign on YouTube]

When you started your YouTube channel you were known for your vlogs and social commentary. How do you feel about the new age of content creation — where content is in surplus but individuals aren’t feeling the content?

It’s hard to say whether or not individuals are or aren’t feeling content — the taste is just so wide now. It’s like living in Los Angeles; food is very competitive, and when picking a restaurant you have every ethnic variety and even fusion foods. I imagine opening a restaurant in LA to be very competitive and the attention to detail in what you make has to be authentic or hit a certain demographic. I feel on the Internet, YouTube does a decent job of catering to your sensibilities, the so-called algorithm. However, the personal connection you get with content creators has somewhat been shifted, and now it’s become more interest-based (ie gaming, how-to, music, politics, etc.)

How do you feel the original algorithm has changed, and what do you miss most about that time?

I don’t remember talking about algorithms back in 2010 to 2012. People watched their favorite Youtubers because their homepage included their subscriptions first and foremost, and then if your subscriptions hadn’t posted anything new, you would typically check the most popular page. Then trending became a thing and now you have algorithms generating your timeline based on a bunch of data. I think it’s forced creators to think externally and hanging onto identities i.e. what are my interests? Am I a gamer? Am I a streamer?

We parodied your music video for “Nice Guys” for our orchestra music camp skit back in high school. If Chester, Ryan, and you, had to recreate “Nice Guys” today, would you focus on the concept of self-love for the current generation? We also really loved “Shed a Tear.”

I definitely think self-love would be a very nice theme. Recreating it would be nice, actually. I think it’s hard to get three people to all be in the same room again, especially after leading different lives. But “Nice Guys” was something special for each one of us, and Chester See deserves a lot of credit because of his musical talent. It’s made me realize today the impact of music. I really enjoy the expression of music because it forces you to be more artistic, versus just saying what’s on your mind. Like poetry, or hearing harmonies.

You’ve worked with many individuals and groups in the past including, A-Trak, Chester See, David Choi, Globetrotters, Iyaz, Jamie Chung, Jeremy Lin, Ryan Higa, Wong Fu Productions, and more. If you could create content with any group of individuals who would be your dream collaborators?

At this stage in my life, I really enjoy coming back and rekindling those creative connections and checking in with previous friends or acquaintances. Doing a video with Ryan Higa, Jeremy Lin, Chester See, David Choi, Wong Fu, Jamie Chung, those would all be very fun. But the first step would be to just see how they’re doing. So that’s the closest thing to a best case scenario for me. I’m not trying to force any collaborations at the moment (haha!). Unless it’s convenient.

As an NBA fan you expressed you would like to talk more about basketball on Ryan’s “Off the Pill Podcast.” How do you feel watching sports and has playing sports helped you become more in tune with yourself?

After going through a lot of physical adversity after my car accident, reconnecting with sports has been really helpful. I played basketball for a while and I’d like to get back into soccer. I wanted to talk about basketball on Ryan’s podcast because I was still dipping my toes into Internet content/social media and didn’t want to talk too much about myself at the time.

As a content creator how do you balance not letting validation get to your head and authentically connecting with your audience?

We all seek validation. It’s innate, but it’s about where you seek it. Nowadays I remember to validate myself first, by starting with my mind and body. After a while, you can get a sense of when you need validation versus being totally unconscious of it. Sometimes that sense of validation is important, so we know to check in with our parents, or see if a friend needs positive feedback. To connect with the audience, that’s like number five in my priority list (haha!). Having an audience can be scary; you definitely want to be in tune with yourself first.

How do you deal with comments consisting of “I miss the old KevJumba?”

I just smile. I miss the old KevJumba too!

[Read Related: The Authenticity and Individuality of 88rising’s Niki]

As live streaming has become a new form of content now, how have you enjoyed live streaming on Twitch for the Head In The Clouds Festival both in 2021 and 2022? We really enjoyed seeing Ylona Garcia sing “Nice Guys!”

It’s fun, I enjoy live streaming and I really appreciate 88rising and Amazon Music for inviting me both years to be the host for their livestream.

What was the decision behind putting your family in your videos?

I put my Dad in my videos accidentally; we were on a ski trip. I think people responded really positively in the comments, and then I just sat down had a conversation with him on camera, and it became a hit. After that he just became his own character. I think I tend to come alive more when I am interacting with someone on camera.

We really liked seeing you upload videos to Team Jumba. Is the mission still to donate earnings to a charity that viewers suggest?

At the moment, no. The Supply, which was the charity I donated to before, has since shut down. I also don’t make much money on YouTube anymore, since I was inactive on my channel for a while, so that format from 2009 will be difficult to replicate.

We really enjoyed the ‘KevJumba and Zooty Extended Play,’ specifically the track “With You in the Clouds” featuring fuslie. How has Valorant inspired your music as well as other forms of content creation?

The album was really experimental. I find the personal connections I made in gaming to be the most enlivening. “With You in the Clouds” was inspired by TenZ and, since he’s such a legendary figure in the pro FPS community, we had to do a worthy tribute. I think paying tribute to the things you like is a really great way to think about content creation.

How do you feel your childhood experiences in Houston, and playing soccer, have shaped you to chase your dreams of acting? How have you enjoyed acting in comparison to YouTube?

I love acting. It’s a wondrous lens at which to see your relationship with others. I find that in studying acting, you are often really studying the human experience or the mind. It’s like learning psychology but you are on your feet, or you are reading great theater. Playing soccer and growing up in Houston don’t really contribute directly to why I enjoy acting, but I very much enjoy coming from Houston and thriving in soccer. It made me commit to something and seeing how consistently “showing up” can really ground your childhood and prove to be valuable, later in life.

How do you feel we can uplift each other across the Asian diaspora and unify to create ripple effects of representation?

I think listening is probably the best thing you can do. Just genuinely hearing about something, or someone, helps you really invest in them during that time that you are there. So I think that’s probably the first step.

What made you go back to school and finish your degree at the University of Houston in Psychology?

No one reason in particular. I was also studying acting at the time back in 2017-2018 when I completed the degree, so it was just testing my limits and seeing what I could balance. I finished it online.

What are your upcoming plans?

Just experimenting on YouTube for now. Making videos with my own effort.

Your first video was uploaded back in 2007 and was titled ‘Backyard,’ where you are dancing to a song called “Watch Me” by Little Brother, off of the “The Minstrel Show.” We also really enjoyed your video with Ryan Higa titled “Best Crew vs Poreotics.” Are you still dancing these days?

Yes. The body does what the body wants.

Lastly, what do you hope individuals take away from this interview with Brown Girl Magazine?

Nothing in particular. I try to let my mind flow when I answer questions. I may have jumped to conclusions before fully investing in some of the questions, so I apologize. If you are reading, I thank you for your time and patience. I also thank Brown Girl Magazine for putting together a vast array of questions that allow my mind to stretch and work out a bit. I hope you find a stronger connection to your own truths, and I hope I did not disturb those in any way. Regards.

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Wu

By Arun S.

Arun fell in love with music at a young age by way of his middle school music teacher Mr. D. … Read more ›

Op-Ed: An Open Letter to President Biden in Light of Prime Minister Modi’s Visit to the States

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit
The following open letter is written by Hindus for Human Rights, an organization advocating for pluralism, civil and human rights in South Asia and North America, rooted in the values of Hindu faith: shanti (peace), nyaya (justice) and satya (truth). They provide a Hindu voice of resistance to caste, Hindutva (Hindu nationalism), racism, and all forms of bigotry and oppression.

Dear President Biden,

As Indian-Americans, human rights organizations, and concerned allies, we are writing to urge you to engage publicly and meaningfully to push back against the Indian government’s escalating attacks on human rights and democracy, especially ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the United States.

Despite objective evidence that India’s democracy is under critical attack, you have not spoken out about this crisis. In early 2023, Indian authorities conducted retaliatory raids on the BBC’s Delhi and Mumbai offices for releasing a documentary about Prime Minister Modi. The week before the Summit for Democracy, the Indian government made three successive attacks on Indian democracy. First, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party expelled Rahul Gandhi from Parliament. Second, the Indian government shut the internet down in Punjab, severely impacting the rights for Sikhs to peacefully organize and protest. And third, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that Indians can be found guilty by association for terrorism. And yet, not one representative from the Biden Administration said anything about even one of these developments. Instead, while Islamophobic violence gripped India in late March, you invited Prime Minister Modi to speak at the Summit for Democracy. Mr. Modi visits DC at a time when the state of Manipur has experienced heavy communal and anti-Christian violence after Modi’s ruling party pushed an initiative to undermine Indigenous rights in the state.

Even when confronted with questions by Indian reporters about human rights in India, your administration has only had private two-way conversations about how both of our governments can always improve. Quite frankly, we find it unacceptable to see such equivocation on Indian democracy from an administration that has been strident in its defense of American democracy and the rule of law. 

India is one of the fastest autocratizing nations in the world, mostly thanks to the current government. Freedom House has rated India as a “partly-free” country for the past three years, and has blamed Prime Minister Modi’s government for a rise in discriminatory policies, including persecution against Muslims and caste-based violence against Dalit and Adivasi communities; harassment of civil society, protestors, academia and the media, and the targeting of political opponents. It has also rated Indian-administered Kashmir as “not free,” citing violations of human, civil, and political rights after the Modi government revoked the territory’s autonomous status. In Reporters Without Borders press freedom ranking, India has dropped to 161 out of 180 countries in 2023. India has appeared in the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Impunity Indexwhich examines accountability for unsolved journalists’ murders — every year for the past 15 years and currently ranks in 11th place worldwide. According to PEN America’s Freedom to Write Index, in 2022, India was one of the top 10 countries that jailed writers globally. The Varieties of Democracy Institute characterizes India as an “electoral autocracy” and blames India’s descent into autocracy on Prime Minister Modi. And the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has said India has been one of the top 15 countries at risk for a mass atrocity event every year since 2017, which reflects the toxicity of Indian politics under Modi. 

Given the magnitude of this crisis, we ask you to engage directly with Indian-American and human rights civil society leaders to explore solutions to address India’s human rights crisis. We also ask you to employ the tools at your disposal to ensure that the Indian government cannot attack Indians’ human rights with impunity. As the 2022 Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor report details, several government individuals have committed human rights violations that, under U.S. law, would qualify them to be sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act. Indian security forces that have engaged in human rights violations should have security assistance rescinded, under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. 

Finally, we urge you to publicly call on the Indian government to honor its commitments to human rights, including calling on Prime Minister Modi and his cabinet to halt the use of anti-terror laws to arbitrarily detain political critics. You can publicly denounce the rising numbers of political prisoners and the weaponization of the rule of law in India to shut down criticism. Even if you are not willing to personally criticize the Prime Minister, you have ample opportunity to criticize the Indian government’s misuse of public trust and public institutions to consolidate power and undermine the will of the Indian people.

As President of the United States of America, you hold a unique position to lead the fight against authoritarianism. Prime Minister Modi will listen to you when you speak. But he and his allies will only change if you take a stand publicly. We urge you to listen to those of us who care about India and ensure that one man cannot steal the futures and the rights of our loved ones in India.

— Signed by countless organizations and individuals leading the charge (linked here).