From Thursday Thoughts to Face to Face, Chancellor Gary S. May has given Hansinee Mayani, a UC Davis student from Atlanta who has traveled the world as a performing artist, some serious airtime — and given all of us a look at the many sides of a 20-something college student of color in the second decade of the 21st century.
A violinist, dancer and singer, she talks about having been discriminated against in her budding career in entertainment, saying that when she was younger she was “rejected many times simply because of my ethnicity, because of my race.”
She persevered, though, and her career goal remains intact. “I've realized that my voice has nothing to do with my color,” she said. “And if I am talented ... and people want to listen to me sing, then that's something that should be allowed.
“I want to serve as a role model for younger women and younger people that look like me from the Indian communities, from the South Asian communities — to see somebody in the U.S. and go: ‘Well, if she can do it, I can do it, too.’”
‘No More Running’
Last year, the chancellor and LeShelle May helped Mayani debut her new single, “No More Running,” with a mention and soundbite on Thursday Thoughts. More recently, Chancellor May hosted her on his Face to Face talk show, where he asked her about the song, which she and co-artist Pookie created amid the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020.
“There were multiple killings, multiple ... different issues surrounding racism across the country and specifically very much back at home. And this was around the time that my family and I had participated in a protest and had gone through the streets of Atlanta, raising our voices, saying something needs to change.
“Something, you know — this isn't right. The way that people are treated for the color of their skin isn't right. And, so, taking that home and reflecting on what I had experienced — the co-artist and I sat down and we started just writing out everything that we felt. And that turned into the song.
“And, so, the lyrics, ‘No more running, no more running from their gun’ ... whether that be the police brutality issues or just white supremacy issues across the board — that’s where I was able to channel myself, not as somebody who was directly experiencing those issues, but somebody on the outside saying this needs to end.”
She said all of the money the song generated went to the Equal Justice Initiative. She described the effort as “a full-circle wraparound” to raise awareness and give money where it can help.
On the ‘Hot Seat’
Mayani also discusses her recent change of major, from biology to communication (with a minor in human rights studies) — a switch that will not keep her from graduating in June, a year early.
She and the chancellor also put each other on the “Hot Seat”: For her, What’s at the top of your playlist? What’s your favorite thing about UC Davis?
And for him, How can the Davis community further encourage South Asian and other minority students to continue to chase their dreams and push past the hurdles that are placed in front of them?
Tune in to hear about Mayani’s change of majors, and for her and the chancellor’s “Hot Seat” answers. And tune in for Mayani’s music on Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube and other platforms, under the name “Hansinee.”