Disclaimer: My family moved to Mauritius a few generations ago from a very small village in China. Therefore, these are probably very dated, small town traditions and may not reflect modern Chinese culture. Also, perhaps they are of mixed Chinese, African and Indian origin, I don’t know. If you know more about their origins, please comment below!

According to the Chinese tradition as taught by my superstitious grandmothers, here are the rules of birthday celebration.

1. Eat noodles. Noodles are long. They will give you long life.

2. If you’re an adult, do not celebrate your birthday unless the Gods…

June 2020. Long before the film even had the vague title “Untitled Alicia Keys Project”, the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius was abuzz. Rumor had it that Netflix was flying an entire crew to shoot a film on the COVID-free island. It didn’t take long for the hype to reach my feed in Los Angeles.

In the months leading up to the crew arriving in October, the Mauritian radio, newspapers, Facebook groups, and even WhatsApp groups were all speculating about the mysterious Netflix project announcement. After months of strict lockdown and a disastrous oil spill, Mauritians welcomed the distraction.


Some of the biggest names in entertainment industry were Wonsal, Gershowitz, Bulsara, Beilin, Konigsberg. Don’t recognize any of them? Perhaps you are more familiar with the Anglicized versions: Warner, Gershwin, Mercury, Berlin, and Allen?

Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, and Ralph Bellamy in a promotional picture for the film “His Girl Friday”. Photo: Pixabay.

After my last article on the music industry’s celebration of AAPI Heritage Month, I was invited to talk about it on the Break the Business podcast. While chatting off-camera, my host mentioned how Chloe Wang found success as an actor only after she changed her name to Chloe Bennet.

The host pointed out that many of the celebrities of AAPI heritage do not use an Asian…

And how the music industry can do better

Michelle Branch performs in a concert. Photo: Getty Images

The perception of us as Asians who happen to be in America, as opposed to Asian Americans, is so deeply rooted that even well-meaning efforts like Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month features put their foot in it.

Now that we’ve wrapped up AAPI Heritage Month, I want to point out something that I found very jarring. Many music streaming services and music companies highlighted AAPI Heritage Month on their platforms. That is awesome. However, while some did it well, others only further proved how deeply ingrained the “othering” of AAPI artists is in the industry. I preface this…

On my way to a music conference with my signature flowery dress and hat.

#1 Where are you *really* from?

“Where are you from?” asked the elderly British gentleman seated next to me.

We were at a music conference in Los Angeles. Expecting a modicum of political correctness when attending business functions, I was mildly annoyed at the question.

“Canada,” I replied with a smile.

“But where is your family originally from,” he insisted.

“Oh. Well, I was born in Canada, but my family’s from Africa. They live on an African island”

“But you look… Asian,” he said intrigued.

At this point, I had a very visceral desire to scream and was trying really hard to maintain a calm exterior…

Fuel leaking from the cargo ship, spilling into the marine park lagoon. Photo by Eric Villars

It is hard to watch helplessly as the dark fluid oozes onto our favorite shade of blue. Here are four ways to help meaningfully from afar.

Our motherland, Mauritius, went from obscurity to being a prominent fixture of international news in a matter of days. Everyone has heard of the Wakashio oil spill by now. The latter endangers our biodiversity, food supply, and tourism industry. The economy was already in the tank from COVID-19. It’s hard to even fathom the consequences of this crisis.

That said, the sheer magnitude of Mauritian solidarity has restored my faith in humanity —…

Why is this country still treating African Americans so poorly? How can it be that “the land of the free” can so easily disregard freedom of its own people? Inertia. Sadly simple.

For most of us, lighter-skinned individuals, it is too easy to go back to “normal” life when the dust settles until the next time. We feel compassion, we feel anger, but then the protests stop, and we’re allowed to forget. We have that luxury because the color of our skin does not cause society to remind us daily that we’re second class citizens, less worthy of protection.


Empty Berlin Central Station

After publishing my article comparing the pandemic response of tiny island Mauritius to that of Canada and the United States, I received a few indignant criticisms that this was an “apples to oranges” comparison. After all, Canada and the United States are big countries.

They are right about the apples to oranges, but for the wrong reason. Size has nothing to do with it.

As it turns out, Mauritius is far from alone in its approach to the virus. Other countries of varying sizes in Europe and Asia are using similar tactics with equal success.

What is success anyway?

Business leaders set goals and…

A small African democracy shows the Western World a thing or two about leadership and organization in controlling a pandemic

Grandma showing me around her favorite hawker stalls in Mauritius, circa 2014. She can’t wait to get out of confinement to take the bus and walk the streets again.

Related: https://medium.com/@sherrylynnlee/coronavirus-whats-the-problem-56c9cf5bcb3e

The tiny island nation of Mauritius — my homeland — has been hit hard by the Coronavirus. And, like many transplants to the United States, I am checking in daily with my family to see how they are doing.

But here’s the twist: they may be in a better place than I am right now.

That’s because the government of this diminutive “Third World” nation of 1.26 million people seems to have to put into place a plan…

Gigs are being cancelled, the future seems uncertain, there’s a lot to cause anxiety right now if you’re an artist. But have you seen the videos that have been circulating from Italy lately? In this time of crisis, it is music that is keeping the Italians connected at a distance.

This pandemic will have horrible ramifications for many of us, but it is also a reminder to the world that art is valuable. Your art. Your music. It’s powerful stuff. That’s what people cling to when everything else is up in the air. …

Sherry-Lynn Lee

LA-based writer, artist, producer who used to be a Silicon Valley engineer. Mauritian, Canadian. www.23rdhr.com

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