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issue no. 1

the nature issue page 1


Black Praxis dartmouth

pro tip: turn your phone sideways for best reading experience

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B L AC K P R A X I S . C O M


directors Lola Adewuya ‘20 editor-in-chief / creative director Jordan McDonald ‘21 editor-in-chief/editorial head Esther Oluokun ‘20 visual director/lead photographer Kara Chamberlaine ‘21 visual director

editorial Alex Reaves ‘20 Ana Sumbo ‘22 Daniella Omeruo ‘21 Ezi Anozie ‘22 Sam West ‘20 Stephanie Everett ‘19 Zach Spicer ‘22

social media Amari Forever Young ‘21 Daniella Omeruo ‘21 Londyn Crenshaw ‘22 Manny Howze-Warkie ‘19

visual Alaa Mustafa ‘20 Darley Sackitey ‘21

contributors Monik Walters ‘19, Karen Zheng ‘22, Rena King ‘20, Rivers Cahee ‘19, Sophie Carter ‘21, Milla Anderson ‘19, Raleigh Nesbitt ‘19, Tola Akinwumi ‘21, Lexi Warden ‘21, Jasmine Butler ‘21, Josee Uwayezu ‘18, Sydney Johnson ‘20 page 3


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f r o m t h e e d i to r s In the Fall of 2017, Black Praxis was revived as an online publication that featured exclusive content from a staff of student writers, photographers, models, and visual artists. Alongside submissions from the larger student body, our site published semi-weekly editorial content and a highly anticipated termly photoshoot. One year later, we set out to transform our beloved publication once more. In an effort to embrace the evolution of our content, we shifted to an issue-based model that places our visual projects and editorial works in conversation with one another. Each term, Black Praxis will center its creative efforts around addressing a topic or theme that we believe to be relevant to the communities our readers belong to. For our inaugural issue, we committed ourselves to exploring questions of the natural and unnatural–our relationships to each other, our bodies, society, the environment surrounding us, and more. In this issue, we seek to challenge our perceptions of what is normal and how these ideas shape Black culture and our everyday lives within it. The following written works, photos, and submissions were created and curated in accordance with this theme. We hope that this issue inspires you to think deeply about the world we’ve created, how it informs our actions, and how we might reshape it for the future. Enjoy!

Jordan and Lola page 5


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contents

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narratives Girl Without A Country Life’s A Stretch Disconnect

14 18 22

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the secret garden Explore the wonders of our secret garden.

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profile Interview With Monik Walters ‘19: Student Assembly President

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on the ground 48 55

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Land Of Our Time The View From Here


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social landscapes Double Consciousness: 115 Years Later The Myth Of “Racial Preference�

64 68

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into the woods Brave the cold and venture into the woods.

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revolutionary rains Apply Pressure Random Acts of Flyness and the Nature of Blackness

96 100

104 as praxis

A column dedicated to checking-in and checking-up on our communities, posing new questions, and pushing forward

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dialogue.

the collective To Mother Art by Rena King

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playlist CANTU - AMINÉ OKRA - TYLER, THE CREATOR BLACK JACK - AMINÉ ACE - NONAME SELF - NONAME WAKE UP - TRAVIS SCOT T GARDEN (SAY IT LIKE DAT) - SZA TRANSFORM - DANIEL CEASER FT. CHARLOT TE DAY WILSON DR. SEUSS - TIERRA WHACK GIRLS NEED LOVE - SUMMER WALKER GET YOU - DANIEL CAESAR FT. KALI UCHIS GIRL - THE INTERNET, KAYTRANADA PROVIDER - FRANK OCEAN SEE YOU AGAIN - TYLE, THE CREATOR

...AND MORE

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na r r at i v e s

A Voice in the Wilderness Centered on our lived experiences with our bodies, our histories, our communities, and our health, this section features works that harness the power of personal narrative to explain our lives and what is natural to us.

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pictured raleigh nesbitt


narratives a voice in the wilderness

Girl Without a Country alex reaves

I

’ve long been inducted into that club to which most racial minorities in the U.S. belong. The initiation ceremony is simple, it hinges on a single question: Where are you really from? It doesn’t matter that you mimic the tongue and mannerisms of your countrymen or that your name comes from the British or the Greeks, or that the years 1492 and 1776 have been engraved so deeply into your head that they feel like memories. You are the perpetual outsider. I’m used to this inquiry in all the forms it takes. When a girl at summer camp pointed to a map of Africa and asked if I was from there, when the music teacher told our class to do a project based on our ancestry, when other black people ask where my parents are from, or when strangers assign my face to a country (sometimes Ghana, other times, Liberia) I have to give them the same answer. I’m from here. Some press on and ask about the

land that birthed my ancestors and by extension me. I have to say I don’t know, because that knowledge isn’t mine, and never fully will be. Questions like these are reminders that I exist within a strange, liminal space between that of a Westerner and something else–a vague concept of a nation and its people that, if you look closely enough, might contain my forefather. It’s human nature to latch onto what feels familiar, searching for something that could easily be a piece of yourself. And yet for some Afro-Americans nothing can serve as an anchor, so you must remain unmoored and aimlessly drifting. My body already feels assimilated, a conscious decision I made to scrape away the differences between me and my surrogate culture. My eyes aren’t really mine, plastered with green contact lenses that have earned the admiration of peers. Neither is my hair,

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narratives a voice in the wilderness

looser and lighter than what was written in my DNA. There is the occasional stiffness in my shoulder reminding me of those years spent learning the violin. All that remains is smoothing away the psychical gap where the detachment comes pouring out, blindly stitching myself into the narrative of the Western canon I so furiously consumed growing up. “Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus?” Saul Bellow once griped. I can’t even answer whether or not I’m a Zulu, if we really are the same tribe, but I can swallow the veneer of Europeanness and pretend that Russia’s Tolstoy is mine.

“Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus?” Saul Bellow once griped.

Each time I move to give myself up completely to this adopted home, the same needling feeling sticks itself in my side. I could listen to Wagner, I could read Dickens, I could recite Rimbaud and La Fontaine. I could imagine women like me as muses for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, for Byron and his love poems, or those Greek statues with the missing arms. But I know these men would regard me and my kinfolk as inferior strangers to their civilization. While staying in a small Swiss town, James Baldwin wrote of the villagers that, “The most illiterate among them is related, in a way that I am not, to Dante, Shakespeare, page 16

Michelangelo, Aeschylus, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Racine; the cathedral at Chartres says something to them which it cannot say to me.” The dilemma remains. Raised on the Greats but also abandoned by them, I feel myself on the threshold between full-fledged Westerner and lost tourist. I suspect I’m not the only one inhabiting this purgatory. Of course, there are some black Americans whose predecessors came to the U.S. on their own accord, who retained bits and pieces of the homeland in themselves. But for those of us whose past selves were shipped as faceless commodities without names or families, the bloodline was abruptly torn generations earlier. Once they arrived on this strange land, slaves were not only stripped of humanity. Their traders had severed the bonds of language and history so they could replace them with ones of iron. And now, after centuries of living, dying, and being born again, the descendants of Afro-Americans remain violently uprooted from our original culture. We have no frame of reference for our otherness; very few of us can point to a country and say “here is where my family was stolen from.” All we know is that one day we had a home, and the next we didn’t. This isn’t to say that Black Americans


narratives a voice in the wilderness

pictured raleigh nesbitt

don’t have a culture. From the muck of slavery and deprivation, new identities arose from the old one’s ashes. Resilience was born from suffering, and like a phoenix burned on a pyre, we built ourselves up again and went on living. And yet, there’s something uneasy about all the traditions, as most are tainted by the past. The gospels sung in my grandpa’s church on the southside of Chicago were created on the plantation. Even though we have a family name now, passed down through generations and something we should claim as ours, it doesn’t truly belong to us. After all, it’s decidedly Anglo-Saxon when none of us are. Sure, I could declare myself a daughter of Dante or Shakespeare, to rid myself of this anxiety. But, that nagging little wound, refuses to sew itself shut, always announcing its presence with a smarting pain. It reminds me that I can be no one but myself, yet I don’t even know who that is.

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Life’s a

Stretch stephanie everett

page 18 pictured amari young


narratives a voice in the wilderness

pictured amari young

Do you remember your first stretch mark? Do you remember how you felt deceived, betrayed by a body that had promised to grow with you? Do you remember what it was like to see your body fall behind? Do you remember seeing life literally bursting at your seams? For me, it was 10th grade. Playing baseball with men year-round, there was constant pressure to keep up. Running and lifting daily, I grew faster than my skin was ready. I was alone in the women’s room, suiting up for a game one day, when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My reward for working hard? A sprawling system of uniquities had spread across my behind, each scar a fingerprint of my physical growth. page 19


narratives a voice in the wilderness

Inside, I felt broken, inadequate, forever tarnished. My body was as strong as it had ever been, but somehow I couldn’t connect my stretch marks to that strength. I saw them as a weakness. I saw them as something to keep hidden, to be ashamed of. No matter where and how they get there, we tend to obsess over our marks and scars. But just like anything unfamiliar and new, we must learn to accept and – dare I say – love them. I know as well as anyone that that road to love and acceptance can be a long one. But just for a moment, allow me to hasten it for you: Look to the trees. Fall is a season that demands to be noticed. From the sapling outside your dorm room window to entire hillsides just beyond our campus lines, leaves are bursting into flames confined to lowly tree branches. We eagerly plan all the cliché, quintessential fall activities around this time of year. Hell, it’s become an entire branch of the tourism industry. What happens, though, if we look beyond the leaves, and underneath that colorful veil? Now I ain’t no Lorax, but I know some things about trees. You probably learned in a bio class page 20

long ago about trees and their rings. How only a small layer beneath the bark is still alive. How each year, the tree grows taller, wider, more majestic. You probably talked about the Redwoods in California and how some of them grow so large you can drive your car through arches carved into their trunks. But you probably didn’t talk about how trees have stretch marks. Yes, every crack, every jagged edge in the bark is a spot where life was too ready to reveal itself. Their branched arms, their rooted hips–trees are made of scars. Growth and regrowth. But the thing about trees–no matter how many scars, they still stretch towards the sun, asking for more– deserving of more. Trees bask in their imperfections. As I write this, SZA’s “Garden” plays on repeat, and my thoughts twist and turn around her pleading melody: Can you remind me of my gravity? Ground me when I’m tumblin, spiralin, Plummetin down to Earth You keep me down to Earth And I know she’s talking about a person, but I’m deep in this weird, mixed headspace of pity and pride for my body and I hear it as an open letter to my stretch marks.


narratives a voice in the wilderness

Those marks are proof of the storms you’ve withstood. And when you feel that pride slipping away? Look to the trees. Stay rooted. Grow. illustration darley sackitey

We let these unfinished maps to nowhere close the roads to our heart. We feel shame, we feel ugly, we feel everything we weren’t raised to be. Tell me, why do we idolize the Redwood and look down on ourselves? Why did I see the results of consistency and hard work as an embarrassing branding? Like the trees this fall, demand to be noticed. Take pride in your lines, your curves, your legacy, your birthright. Those marks are the roots of your past, passed down through the years – the weight of your magnificence taking shape in you. Remember that you grew into your hips just as you grew into your values, your beliefs. Let each line be a battle scar. Let each line be a reminder of every time you grew to be the person you are today.

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narratives a voice in the wilderness

Disconnect ezi anozie

pictured milla anderson

In the weeks before I left for my first year at Dartmouth, I was a mess of excitement and anxiety. My family and friends kept ingraining this idea in my head that arriving at college would mark the beginning of the next phase of my life. With the weight of this idea on my mind, I was determined to have a positive experience from the start. When I finally arrived at Dartmouth’s campus, I exerted far more energy into participating in and attending social events than I had ever done before. With the help of “mandatory” orientation events and spontaneous late night common room gatherings, I was meeting new people every day. Meanwhile, I never thought to stop and take notice of the new person I was page 22

becoming. As a Dartmouth first-year, there’s a constant expectation to socialize with the overused script of “What’s your name? Where are you from? What are you majoring in?” While I understand that these are normal questions one uses when getting to know new people, numerous and repetitive conversations like these proved to be unfulfilling and quite exhausting. Soon enough, running these lines became draining, even for an extrovert like me. As I attempted to fully immerse myself into this new world, my physical health and emotional wellbeing began to deteriorate. Exhausted from these social interactions, I began to feel discouraged. Over time, I lost the


narratives a voice in the wilderness

“My experience coming into Dartmouth was the exact opposite of what I imagined it would be.”

desire to reach out to more people and to continue exploring the different spaces that campus had to offer. On top of that, I was also struggling to feel at home at Dartmouth. Hanover, New Hampshire is vastly different from the city I grew up in. See, I was born and raised in Houston, Texas, where the intoxicatingly hot sun sets past 8:00 pm every day for most of the year, where its rays gleam brightly even during the winter, and where you can find people of just about any background and experience their cultures through food and celebration. The prominent Nigerian and Black communities there – found within my families and friends – served as the foundation and support system of my very being. Hanover is no Houston. With a state population that is 93% White, there is no visibility for various ethnic cultures. The Northeastern state also has more distinctive seasons of the year (most notably, a very brutal winter). Cold

weather arrives in September rather than in November like Houston, and often sticks around until the end of March. Plus, Hanover’s city life is basically non-existent, unless, of course, you consider Main Street to be bustling. Utterly disoriented, all these differences made my attempts to acclimate to life at Dartmouth all the more difficult. As I faced these challenges, I felt a whirlwind of unexpected emotions. My experience coming into Dartmouth was the exact opposite of what I imagined it would be. I had become a person I didn’t recognize–my once lively and upbeat spirit had become eroded by exhaustion and weariness within my first few weeks on campus. This utter depletion of social energy not only left me feeling as if I was physically disconnected from my body, but as if I also had an internal schism from my past identity and my present self. When I reached the limits of my own wisdom, I turned to my friends and family back home and even a

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few people I’d grown close with on campus. From my discussions with them, I realized that transitioning to a new environment resulted in the development of a version of myself I had never met before. It turns out that I am not a full on extrovert–an identity of mine that I’ve always believed to be fixed. But, in coming to Dartmouth and navigating these unfamiliar spaces, the introverted tendencies within me emerged. At first, I wanted to figure out how to get back to my old self and my old way of being, but I quickly realized that I could be comfortable here at Dartmouth if I learned how to navigate this new identity. This new version of myself is highly focused on finding a balance between enjoying the company of others and enjoying the company of myself. Maintaining that balance has been essential to regaining the energy I lost during my first few weeks. It is okay to feel displaced or exhausted during your first term. And more importantly, it’s normal to find yourself taking on new identities or different forms of yourself as your circumstances change. My newfound introverted tendencies have allowed me to recognize the root of my transition and growth. Experiencing this tumultuous whirlwind where my new home was vastly different from my hometown and where I needed to find friends who would become my second page 24

family made me realize that taking time to rediscover my identity and to find inner peace was essential to surviving my first fall at Dartmouth. I hope that anyone else undergoing a difficult transition of their own to Dartmouth can recognize in my story that they’re not alone.


narratives a voice in the wilderness

even though the journey is marked with unknowns, may you always remember all the ways you have grown.

morgan harper nichols

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photographed by esther oluokun directed by kara chamberlaine

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The Secret Garden enter

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Cultivated and ever-ev remind us of the work create beauty and abun Garden, Dartmouth st with nature and explor to bloom.

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volving, gardens k that is required to ndance. In this Secret tudents become one re what it looks like

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and after everything that did not happen, you made it here by grace. you made it here alive. you did more than just survive. through terrible and beautiful things, you found the strength to sing: “there is more than where I am there is more than what I see. there is more to this life, and there is more to me.� -morgan harper nichols

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profile monik walters

profile

Monik Walters In the Spring of 2017, Monik Walters was elected President of the Student Assembly. She is the first Black female student at Dartmouth to receive such a title. Following her second full term as president, we decided to check in with her to see how things are going. In this interview, we discuss her goals as Student Assembly president and some of the struggles she has already faced in trying to upend old traditions. interview conducted by lola adewuya

What is your role as student body president? As Student Body President, I am given a certain amount of responsibility to both the students and administrators. As the President of Student Assembly, I have the ability to focus on different projects that affect the student body as a whole. We are currently page 40

working on a Food Pantry, bringing a variety of different speakers to campus, and getting vouchers for the Dartmouth Coach to name a few. The biggest things I want to focus on are centering those who are most marginalized and fostering a community in which everyone feels like their needs are being met. Other than that, I frequently interface with administrators, I


profile monik walters

am a part of the 2019 Palaeopitus Senior Delegation as SA President and we work to focus on those issues as well with administrative backing. [Palaeopitus is a senior society made up of Dartmouth’s most involved and dedicated student leaders. Their purpose is to advocate for student interests to administrators.] I guess part of my job also includes being pretty facetime-y. You’ll always catch me with a notebook because, most times, when I have conversations with people, I’m also writing down problems, issues, or grievances that I can put on Student Assembly’s radar/agenda.

I wanted to change that for other black women, POC, and others. Part of the problem was that there wasn’t a direct connection to an organization that was wholly dedicated to the well-being of ALL of its students, especially the ones most affected by the problematic things that are associated with this institution. I felt that I was in a position to use those narratives to inform my platform and pave a path for underclassmen who want to be in similar positions.

What inspired you to run for president?

I hope to make Student Assembly more visible and make sure that whoever takes this position after me knows that they are expected to be excellent, not perfect; communicative, not flawless; and genuinely motivated and passionate about the work they are doing. I want to have more initiatives and programs that students find both useful and accessible. I am hoping that the Food Pantry will be up and running within the next term. Other initiatives I’m pushing for are to set up a voucher program for the Dartmouth Coach as well as bringing more notable figures to campus to really speak to students about experiences that aren’t only in finance but in a plethora of industries.

What inspired me was being able to make an impact, as cliche as that sounds. I felt like I had built enough relationships with both students and administrators that I would be able to function well in the role, raise expectations for it, and change the face of what a student body representative could be. I felt that I could really articulate to everyone why what I was saying was important. As a black woman who hasn’t had the most difficult time here but who has befriended those who have experienced some of their worst times at Dartmouth, I have always known how much their experiences were unacceptable, and

What do you hope to accomplish or set in motion during your presidency?

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profile monik walters

Have you had to break any traditions, molds, or rules to get these things done? Yes, I think I broke the tradition of not being white, male, or affiliated. Other than that, I think I am just expanding what Student Assembly does and what Student Assembly should do. I know not to push things too far out of bounds because people are looking at me to succeed as much as others are looking at me to fail. I have to work within my means to effect the most change. I would like to believe I am doing as much as I can, but I know there is always more to be done. What is the best part of having this role? I think the best part is the recognition. I spent the beginning of my Dartmouth career doing this kind of work not because I cared about the credit, but because I cared deeply about the results. But now, I love the recognition because it’s attached to a team of people that I am incredibly proud of, and it keeps us motivated when we understand that our visibility means that people see us when we are doing a lot and if we aren’t doing too much. I love being trusted by both administrators and students because people feel like they can talk to me. I like being page 42

challenged to engage with all kinds of people and learning how to engage with them differently. I know that whatever I end up doing after college will require me to be able to talk to many people about a variety of things, and this is preparing me to do that well. I love holding students to a higher standard by staying informed and being able to expect more from administration by giving them avenues of engagement. Everyone is held accountable. How do your different identities inform your actions or priorities as president? As I mentioned before, being a black woman has been the most important identity for me in this position. I know firsthand what it’s like to care deeply about community and to advocate for all its members. I have such a deep connection to other black women on this campus and understand how much of an influence they had on me and on everyone else, even as our labor has been invisibilized both on and off campus. Because of this, I am determined to do this work very intentionally and strategically. One identity that has also been very important is being unaffiliated. I didn’t realize just how many different members of the Dartmouth community would resonate with my experience being


“Being a black woman has been the most important identity for me in this position. I know firsthand what it’s like to care deeply about community and to advocate for all its members.�

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profile monik walters

on the outskirts of Greek Life. I also identify as someone who is empathetic, and I think giving people a chance to voice the problems they face on campus is what informs how I operate and what I prioritize. So that all goes to say that my different identities have helped me shape my programming and initiatives to center around those that have had “alternate” paths at Dartmouth. What roadblocks are you confronted with as president? The first thing that was limiting was the lack of institutional memory, so when Nicole and I first tried to learn the ropes, we were given a lot of creative license but not enough structure in a lot of ways. Within the same week that we found out we won, we were also told we had to outline and propose a budget for the next academic year (this year) without much help or understanding of what other budgets looked like. Which brings me to the next roadblock, the actual budget we got for the year was only $44,000 which, in my mind, is not nearly enough money for a year’s worth of programming, collaboration, and initiatives, especially with the Speaker Series in mind. Lastly, I find it difficult to turn people away who overestimate my reach or impact because it’s hard to communicate that there page 44

are some, if not many things, that I have no control over. What keeps you motivated? What keeps me motivated is reminding myself of a greater purpose and that putting in this work now could mean that students now and later can reap the benefits of my labor. I am motivated by the many black men and women who experienced Dartmouth differently before me and made room for me to be here. I ultimately just want to pay that forward by expanding the spaces we can exist in even further. What else do you want people to know about you? If you ever need someone to talk to or someone who will listen to you, reach out to me. I tend to be busy like every other Dartmouth student, but I genuinely care about people’s life experiences and will always try to make time for people, whether or not I know them.


pictured sydney johnson

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o n t h e g ro u n d

Echoes of the Environment First-hand accounts and researched meditations on the outdoors and the environmental issues that impact our communities. Taking on global and local perspectives, these pieces will challenge us to consider our relationships with the natural world and the racial politics that shape our ability to survive and thrive in it.

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on the ground echoes of the environment

Land of Our Time zachary spicer

Imagine this, it’s 2005, a Category 3 hurricane is two days from making landfall where you are, and news reports are now beginning to treat it as a serious issue. You have been given 48 hours to process this information and act, but you don’t have a car. Your state’s bus evacuation program has been sidelined by the traffic of a million people attempting to evacuate on their own. However, that doesn’t even matter, buses assigned to pick up the elderly and poor have failed their sole purpose because the evacuation bus stops were not clearly marked. If you’re a black person living in New Orleans awaiting Hurricane Katrina’s landfall, this is not just a hypothetical situation, it is your reality. Hurricane Katrina’s arrival in Louisiana left thousands of black people disproportionately stranded to fight for their lives during one of the most destructive natural disasters in modern history. But this is not news. Minorities, especially black communities, have

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long suffered from environmental issues and natural disasters at rates much higher than white communities, and research indicates that this trend will continue in the years to come. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released a report detailing that the planet is expected to reach temperatures 1.5℃ above preindustrial levels by 2030. While 1.5℃ may not sound like a lot, reaching this threshold will cause more extreme weather such as droughts and hurricanes, as well as rising sea levels. Increased global temperatures will result in increased salinity, more frequent flooding of farmlands, and the deaths of crops as temperatures get too high. We are already 1℃ above pre-industrial temperatures and given the resistance of governments to enact meaningful climate change (and the refusal of some to even believe in it), coupled with the drastic changes


on the ground echoes of the environment

flint, michigan

| courtesy of ryan garza/detroit free press/zuma

new orleans, louisiana after hurricane katrina

| courtesy of ap photo/david j. phillip

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that would need to take place in society in order to combat it, the 1.5℃ threshold seems more like an inevitability than a possibility. Although the United States, the European Union, and China are the top three emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, the UN predicts that it is countries in the Southern Hemisphere (those in Sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and the Caribbean) who will be most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In other words, wealthier countries and communities will withstand most of the outcomes, while poorer and tropical areas will suffer the most. And this impending tragedy is as much a local threat as it is global. Within our own borders, black and brown communities are affected daily by our prioritization of profit over environmental safety. Our own government walks hand in hand with 100 companies that are responsible for nearly threequarters of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. And while these companies continue to make inexplicable amounts of money generating fossil fuels, communities of color around the world will suffer as new health issues arise from the pollution of our lands and as water and food become more scarce. “Environmental racism” is a term used to describe the page 50

injustices that occur when lowincome and minority populations are systematically placed in environmentally hazardous areas or are left vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters. In New Orleans, this work began almost a century ago when the public works department built neighborhoods that primarily served Black communities in areas at greater risk of flooding. And due to poorly maintained public transportation in black neighborhoods, many were unable to evacuate in time, leaving them stranded once Katrina hit. Although Hurricane Katrina was devastating throughout Louisiana, most majority white communities were built with better infrastructure and with higher elevation, sparing them from the worst of the damage. One study of rescued evacuees, of which 93% were black, found that 68% of the victims did not have a credit card or money in a bank and 55% did not have a car or means of evacuation. While many public officials insist on calling this a tragic coincidence, it is impossible to ignore the role that systemic racism played in setting the Black residents of New Orleans up for failure during the hurricane. The recent events of Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas show us that thirteen years after Katrina, nothing has changed. Again, lowincome residents and communities


on the ground echoes of the environment

of color could not afford to evacuate their homes as Florence loomed over the coast. Their homes had become prone It is impossible to ignore the role to flooding in recent years that systemic as well due racism played in setting the Black to massive residents of New coastal Orleans up for developments failure during the that have hurricane. stripped the land of its ability to absorb excess water. These are not one-off examples of unlucky communities of color around the U.S., rather they are reflective of a pattern that will only continue to worsen as natural disasters increase in frequency. Environmental racism is known to wreak havoc on the physical health of communities as well. Since 2014, Flint, Michigan’s water source has become poisoned with dangerous levels of lead–a substance that can cause serious health problems. Flint’s residents have been relying on bottled water (and sometimes filtered/boiled water) to do their daily tasks of cooking, showering, brushing their teeth, and drinking. For years they have suffered from rashes, hair loss, lead exposure, and contamination from various bacteria after being told repeatedly that the water was okay to use. Flint, Michigan has a

population that is 57% black in a state that is nearly 80% white. The contamination of water in Flint is directly attributable to former mayor Dayne Walling’s choice to switch the city’s water supply from Lake Huron to the polluted Flint River. The consequences that Flint’s residents have suffered are linked to a larger issue–the systemic and conscious neglect of minorities. Communities of color make up the majority of populations living near landfills and other hazardouswaste sites, leading to a myriad of health problems. Noise and air pollution are also more likely to affect black people than white, and the potential effects can be devastating. A report published by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year revealed that black people in the U.S. are three times more likely to die due to exposure to air pollution than white people and are twice as likely to have asthma. The noise and air pollution caused by being placed near highways, airports, and railways have resulted in high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and even low birth weight. The redlining, poorly planned neighborhood infrastructures, political disenfranchisement, and socioeconomic oppression that have existed for decades make it easy for the government to further page 51


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target these communities in increasingly disturbing ways. For centuries now, our existence within society has been marred by discrimination and cruelty. Even as the mechanisms of racism become more insidious and harder to comprehend, it persists today and is just as harmful to our community. Environmental racism is just one way this relationship manifests itself. Living standards as basic as access to clean water, breathable air, or proper shelter have become a privilege that is withheld from entire swaths of the U.S. population simply because of their skin color and socioeconomic status. This disturbing reality is a constant reminder that this country continues to operate with no consideration for our lives. Our relationship with nature itself has become politicized and soiled by racism. If we seek to make lasting changes that will benefit the black communities for years to come, there must be an upheaval of the current structure that leaves us out of power and unable to protect ourselves. With 2030 around the corner and climate change expected to disproportionately affect brown and black people, this needs to happen as soon as possible, before it’s too late. The bulk of climate change policy lies page 52

in the hands of our elected officials so we must make sure to vote, specifically for politicians that are invested in fixing our environment and aiding our communities. Local elections decide how your neighborhoods will be governed and can be the deciding factor in making sure your community doesn’t become the next Flint or New Orleans. The irreversible effects of climate change are preventable, and if we want to avoid the destruction that comes with it, we must take steps to enact policy, beginning with a vote.


pictured josee uwayezu

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pictured stephanie everett

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The View From Here sam west

My brother and I fight over legroom in my dad’s four door, four-wheel-drive, off-road Nissan Xterra. Between us, and in our laps, are snacks for the road, tonight’s dinner, pillows, and backpacks. My mother sits up front holding my father’s hand and the grip by the passenger window. Squeezed into the trunk are packed away tents and sleeping bags, lamps, a cooler, more clothes and more gear. We’re on our way to a campground a couple hours outside of the city. Have we been to this one before? I can’t remember. I’ve been going on trips like this for as long as I can recall. I try to sleep, with bags crowding my legs and my brother encroaching on more than his fair share of the backseat. At least there isn’t a snowboard jammed between us. We did that when we made the annual 5 hour drive to Mammoth Mountain. I will miss stopping in Bishop, CA on the way back though, where we would pick up some smoked bacon and homemade jerky, alongside the best

sandwiches from the town bakery. When I wake up, we’ll be steadily gaining altitude up a mountain to our destination, our bag of kettle chips expanding as the air pressure lowers. I can smell the fresh air already on this perfectly sunny day, and with the sounds of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” fading on the radio, I close my eyes with excited anticipation, knowing that when I open them again, we’ll be there. Every year my family made an effort to have at least two outdoorsy trips. It usually ended up being one winter trip, and one or two in the summer or fall. We’d go to various campgrounds in the mountains –Yosemite National Park, beaches, or to deserts like Joshua Tree. Each trip brought a new experience. I remember learning to ski, learning to break a glow stick; my first shooting stars, my first waterfalls, my first hikes, my first campfires, and the first time I had to pee in the woods (not that I particularly enjoy that memory). These were some of page 55


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the most important parts of my childhood. A few hours after we reached the campground, we lounged in our foldable chairs, listening to music around the campfire, full from skewered hot dogs and cocooned in our blankets. I wasn’t looking forward to being in the same tent as my parents because my dad snored like a truck, but I was looking forward to watching the sky full of stars above me from under the mesh top of our tent, and falling asleep to the soft crackle of our dying fire. I fell in love with that sound, and that smell. --Growing up, my life was shaped by my dad’s adventurous spirit. He’s the kind of person who cannonballs into the deep, even when the water is cold. He loves to go off-roading (basically riding rough roads –much much less travelled by– on difficult terrain often on the sides of mountains) and have the chance to test the driving skills he prides himself on in four-wheel-drive. There’s this fairly easy hike in Malibu that I first did with him, where when you get high enough, you can see a blue ocean, page 56

undistorted by the smog of the city. And when you look in the opposite direction you see a bit of the Sierra mountain range. And I learned how much I loved mountains, and how I had never really got that line in the song “America the Beautiful” before this, about “purple mountains majesty.” Here, they were a gentle violet, and I finally understood. My dad has this memory he always told me about, of a time he and a friend went hiking up a forested mountain, through dense fog and cold, during winter, looking for any place to park their tent before it got too dark. It was terribly cold, and they needed to take their gloves off in order to handle the tent equipment, and barely managed it. They finally finished and immediately knocked out for the night, trying to stay warm. Then in the morning, when they woke up, it was utterly quiet. My dad came outside to a blue sky, and sun shining on fresh, untouched powder covering the forest floor and the trees surrounding them. And because of the clouds, now cleared, that had surrounded the area through the night and following morning, icicles had formed, hanging from all over the trees like Christmas ornaments. They sparkled and tinkled –just like a chandelier– my dad told me,


on the ground echoes of the environment

pictured sophie carter

in the morning breeze, one of the most beautiful things he’s ever seen. I loved that story, and I live for those moments in nature. Moments of the quiet and unassuming miraculous.

store clerks, who always know the best headlamps to buy, or just how long you would need to break in your new hiking boots. I was an outsider. In more ways than one. In more places than one.

I grew up in a black neighborhood and attended a predominantly black school until high school. Rarely had one of my friends also done any of these things I would do with my family. They’d never seen the stars uninhibited by light pollution, never smelled clean air, or been inside an REI store. At most they’d been to a firepit at the beach. Simultaneously, while I’d had many a trip to my nearest REI or Adventure16 with my father, I was always slightly out of place amidst photos of beautiful thin white people in their colorful, non-cotton clothes, holding their sustainable water bottles with their legs thrown over the side of a cliff; I remember those smiling white

Every time my family went on our annual camping trip we kept our eyes peeled —for the chance that maybe, just maybe, there was another black family there at the campground. And except for the family friends we sometimes took trips with, there never were. And whenever we went to go skiing for a weekend at Mammoth, we were alone there too. Though we were lucky that such a predicament was never scary or dangerous, it was still lonely, which can be its own sort of monster in disguise. At Dartmouth, it hit me even more. I came here, surprised there was in fact another black person on my very own first year page 57


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trip. But it was noticeable how the higher in difficulty the trips, the whiter they became. I’d soon come to find out just how many students of color opted out of the experience completely. Within my first month of school I signed up for a Gile hike organized by the AAM (and I don’t believe such a trip has been organized since). I was hoping to meet lots of new friends, to have a great trip, and for the others to show me around. But I was one of three. The other two (upperclassmen) had never hiked Gile before either, and a white ’17 led us through it. Something like nature, which, in theory, should be free and open to all, has been accessible to only a few. I was privileged enough to have had some access, and lucky to have a father who, despite the alienation we sometimes felt, taught me to share in his unwavering appreciation for nature. For my part, I still can’t wait to see the slot canyons of southern Utah, the midwestern plains, or the Alaskan midnight sun, and a million other beautiful places in the United States. I hold out hope that the experience of the Black hiker won’t be one of loneliness. I look forward to a future where my family and I are not the only Black page 58

people at the campground. Perhaps, if I keep climbing slowly… if I keep climbing surely… if I keep climbing steadily, eventually the view might be different.


pictured sophie carter

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BLACK PRAXIS In an effort to forge organizational connections across Dartmouth’s campus and to inform our exploration of the natural world within this issue, we collaborated with the Sustainability Office. The Sustainability Office has made it their mission to address student impact on the environment and to be vigilant in their efforts to promote sustainable living practices on campus. Topics surrounding environmental health and safety are matters that concern us all. Knowing that Black people have been historically underrepresented in the politics of environmentalism, we sought to use this platform to speak to the issues affecting our communities. In conjunction with the Nature issue itself, one of our new members, Londyn Crenshaw, produced a video series dedicated to discussing sustainable living within the Black community. In these videos, Londyn explored common perceptions of environmentalism held by Black communities, the sustainable practices we’ve already embraced, and how we can become more intentional about our actions for the future. On November 3rd, Black Praxis co-hosted a bonfire event with the sustainability interns, where students had the opportunity to explore Dartmouth’s Organic Farm and gather over Lou’s cider, chips & dip, and farm fresh vegetables. From this collaboration, we hope that students feel inspired to engage with sustainability in their own way and use the Office as a resource in these endeavors.

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SUSTAINABILITY OFFICE get involved INTERNSHIPS The Office offers internship opportunities for sophomores-seniors every term in a variety of realms. Students work on everything from Outreach, to Waste Diversion, to the Sustainable Moving Sale, and more. They also offer year-long internships for first year students to introduce them to sustainability on campus and beyond. GREEN GROUPS The Sustainability Office is also home to a number of Green Groups, meaning groups dedicated to learning about and exploring environmental issues and solutions. These groups include Divest Dartmouth, the Sustainable Action Workshop (SAW), and more. DARTMOUTH ORGANIC FARM Did you know that Dartmouth has its very own organic farm? Started in 1996 by a group of dedicated students, the Farm has evolved into an educational, experiential, and social haven. Under the supervision of our full-time Farm Manager, students get to dirty their hands and learn about sustainable agriculture, eat delicious organic food, and build community.

visit www.sustainability.dartmouth.edu to learn more!

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social landscapes

Identity Ecosystems This section will include articles that consider the nature of identity, social dynamics, and community organization in order to uncover what has defined and damaged our relationships to ourselves and to one another.

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illustration darley sackitey

Double Consciousness: 115 Years Later zach spicer

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“It is a peculiar sensation, this doubleconsciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness, an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903

I

n the fall of my senior year of high school, I walked into my AP Lit class not knowing that I would be introduced to a concept that would alter the way I lived and viewed myself for the rest of my life. We had just finished discussing Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated and we were moving to our next set of readings, from which we could choose to read Kindred, The Bluest Eye, or The Underground Railroad. My teacher, Ms. Hendricks, told us that there was one concept that linked these novels: double consciousness. Defined by W.E.B.

Du Bois over a century ago, the idea of double consciousness still resonates with many black people today who see themselves reflected by his words. It describes the idea that our actions will represent the black community in others’ eyes even as we simply try to exist within our own lives and follow our own interests. The effect of this constant performance, coupled with the human desire for individuality, naturally leaves many black people in a state of flux and confusion. The first step to living with double consciousness is acknowledging that it exists. When Ms. Hendricks told our class about page 65


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it, I was shocked that this was not just a feeling, but a legitimate state of being that many black people find themselves in. This unnatural relationship between black people and society as a whole is marked by heightened scrutiny from the latter; black people are placed under microscopes, with every mistake highlighted, and every achievement overlooked. Have you ever felt pressured to be exceptional in order to make your community proud? Have you felt disappointed in yourself for creating a “negative” perception of black people by simply playing music too loudly or getting a bad grade? Simple actions like these often left me feeling displeased with myself, they made me think that I was simply playing into commonly held stereotypes about black people being rude and lazy. Only when you are able to forgo the pressure of being under the microscope can you escape the constraints of double consciousness. Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear guide on how to do this, and the experience certainly differs on a person-by-person basis, but hopefully, my experiences can guide you in the right direction. After years of battling double consciousness, my life took a major turn in high school when I was page 66

able to find a group of friends that accepted me, flaws, weird interests, and all. We came from all conceivable backgrounds (Korean, Chinese, Bengali, Latinx, Indian, South African, gay, straight, bisexual, upper-class, middle-class, etc.) and we were able to share our perspectives and passions with each other. With them, I was able to drop my facade and just be myself, healing the divide I had lived with for so many years. I turned my attention inward, rejecting the thoughts that I was disappointing my community and reminding myself of my accomplishments. I learned that I was inhibiting my success by focusing on how I was perceived by others and made sure to keep this in mind at all times. I embraced my interests in politics, international relations, and Asian rap music (it’s better than you think), allowing me to learn who I am and what I like. In the past, I would have been afraid to share my appreciation for Rich Brian (a rapper from Indonesia), fearing that it would alienate me from my peers, but, now I know that there is no point in a life that is only half lived. If you live a life ruled by double consciousness, your two sides pull at each other relentlessly, causing you to sacrifice your truth for others. In order


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to combat it you must put aside the restrictiveness that we find within the black community and society at large, and only then will you find peace, and be whole. Unfortunately, the reality is that discrimination will continue to exist as you seek to embrace your truth. And this remains a major issue as we find ourselves. As a result of double consciousness, members of the black community have become more restrictive, rather than open. We have been given an identity by others and are inclined to dismiss our own interests because of this. Fortunately, I’ve been able to move past this since a young age. I grew up in a predominantly white, upper-class community in South Florida (imagine all the conventional ideas of elderly retirement communities in Florida, and that’s basically where I lived) and was the only black kid in my elementary school’s gifted program before attending a private, mostly white school from seventh grade through my senior year. In these environments, as a young black boy I faced many stereotypes, particularly being pigeonholed as an athlete, although my interests mainly lied in Percy Jackson books. Even this summer, at a college meet and greet, a white parent asked me what sport I played, and

repeated it after I told her I didn’t play any. For whatever reason, in her mind, the only possible way for me, a young black man, to attend a prestigious institution was for me to have gotten an athletic scholarship. Nothing against student athletes, but the idea that there was only one reason I could have gotten into college left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Experiences like these remind us that double consciousness remains a challenge to deal with, and it may be more difficult to overcome for some than others. Various barriers within the black community and in society can affect a person’s ability to remove themself from the pressures of double consciousness. However, just knowing about the existence of double consciousness is a step in the right direction. Exploring your own interests and rejecting the notion that you must constantly perform for your race helps to heal the divide created by racism. Although it may be difficult, I believe that working to merge your identities gives you the ability to, for once, feel whole.

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The Myth of “Racial Preference” ana sumbo

pictured josee uwayezu, ana sumbo, jasmine butler, stephanie everett, lexi warden

the typical hunt for someone with a certain charm, humor, or style. A closer look at the root of these “preferences” shows that biases and Does this sound familiar? You’ve complexes surrounding color and probably heard something along the lines of this in passing, on social internalized racism still exist within media, or as the introduction to a the black community and shape backhanded compliment. Phrases our preconceptions of one another. like these remind us of the “racial preference” phenomenon–a The popular use of the term modern development within dating “racial preference” to avoid culture that is currently plaguing accusations of outright racial the black community and the discrimination, stems from a lack country at large. While some claim of understanding surrounding the that having a “racial preference” validity of racial preference claims. After all, racial preference is no is a harmless dating practice, this form of selectivity goes beyond preference at all. Race cannot be “I don’t really like black girls like that.”

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used to categorize individuals in the way that sense of humor can. Race is a social construct. It is an idea created by human beings in order to develop a hierarchy that places members of one race above everyone else, thus, justifying the existence of structural oppression. If we acknowledge this fact, we cannot say that there is any biological reason for having a racial preference. The very idea that racial preference is something that is biologically inherent or natural is invalid, because race is not a biological reality.

OkCupid, black men were only 1% more likely to interact with black women than any other race on dating platforms, while black women were 23% more likely to interact with black men than any other race. This study shows that, even as our access to one another continues to expand due to advancements in technology and digital communication, we still find ourselves confined to biases as old as racism itself.

Within our community, too many black men have bought into the idea of “racial preference”, which Racial preference operates based has, as a result, further alienated on our current ideas about black women within dating pools. beauty and desirability–qualities Even within pop culture, the that plainly hinge on societal banner of “racial preference” perceptions of racial groups. has been waved as a way for Society idolizes Eurocentric famous black men to discount, features and condemns black disregard, and bash black women women who deviate from this as well. For example, just last year, manufactured beauty standard. rapper Kodak Black exemplified So, when someone claims to prefer this phenomenon in one of his a woman who more closely aligns infamous Instagram livestreams. with these standards, it is likely that On video, he announced to his they have been successfully followers “We too gutter. Black conditioned by society to view people, my complexion, we too her as more desirable. And our gutter,” he said. “Light skin dating behavior reflects this. Across women, they’re more sensitive. online dating platforms, black [Dark skin women], they too women were found to be the least tough. Light skin women, we can preferred group to heterosexual break ‘em down more easy.” When men. In one study conducted by Kodak was rightfully criticized for page 69


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these troubling comments, some black men defended him by citing “preference” as a justification for his claims. While Kodak Black is certainly not the only prominent black figure to express these opinions, his words provide an illuminating glimpse into the colorist dynamics of the black community and and the various intraracial problems that are perpetuated by racial preferences. Gutter, loud, and crazy, among many other terms, have long existed as negative stereotypes attached to the image of black women. Within this ideology, masculinity and perpetual hostility are often attributed to dark-skinned women. In contrast, lighter-skinned women are associated and valued for their supposed weakness, femininity, and vulnerability, which is equally problematic. Perpetuating these false ideologies when it comes to dating promotes unhealthy dynamics between black women while also giving men the opportunity to reassert themselves as the authorities on women’s attractiveness and value. The essential truth about racial preference is that it only helps to push existing stereotypes of beauty and attractiveness in our society. Since race itself was developed as a means of oppression, racial preference cannot be seen as page 70

something that is natural, but, rather, must be understood as a consequence of our society’s continued racism. As we strive to challenge internal and external threats to our communities, breaking down these more intimate manifestations of racism, colorism, and sexism will be an important frontier for us to cross.


page 71 pictured rivers cahee and lexi warden


i n to t h page 72 photographed and directed by esther oluokun


woods page 73


Follow us into the woo our nature and are tes winds of autumn’s exit photoshoot features D the Hanover woods, fr time.

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ods as we discover sted by the cold t. The following Dartmouth students in rozen and captured in

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revolutionary rains pop culture footprints

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r e vo lu t i o na ry r a i n s

Pop Culture Footprints Exploring media and the politics of representation, these works will feature criticisms and musings on identity, popular culture, and the shifting of tides at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and multimedia.

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Apply Pressure daniella omeruo

Beyoncé Knowles. Maya Angelou. Michelle Obama. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Audre Lorde. These are only a few extravagant black women that have aided in the bloom of a new generation of black female rebels. Their voices give us chills as our arm hairs rise in salute. We dwell in their works, reciting their speeches, performing their poems, singing their lyrics, and reading their books. They are blueprints for our rebellion. In this world, where hate rains down on us in a constant torrential downpour, their persistence and resistance manages to glare holes in the fog. The setting is a clear, sun kissed afternoon in October of 2005. A stage has been built in front of the U.S. Capitol, and Erykah Badu is ushered from stage left to the center mic, surrounded by male bodyguards. As she greets the crowd, her instrumental to “Time’s a Wastin” begins, queuing page 96

the beginning of her performance for the Millions More Movement March. Right when she would be expected to sing “time’s a wastin/ don’t you take your time young man,” she instead voices to her left “Hol’ on band, hol’ on.” An impromptu speech ensues and she speaks for 8 minutes, urging her black brothers and sisters to love and welcome people of all races and backgrounds. While the men behind her glare and shift their feet, willing her to stay on track, she stands firm and takes her time, femininity and grace oozing out of her as she imparts this wisdom. Speak your truth Badu. In this moment, Badu demonstrated the ways in which black women, despite swimming amongst a tsunami of misogyny and racism, historically, refuse to drown.


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Our wisdom and courage to stand in defiance against all odds, and to say what must be said, is our birthright.

From Harriet Jacobs’ redefinition of womanhood in her slave narrative, to Beyonce’s “controversial” 2016 Super Bowl performance, to Audre Lorde’s calling out James Baldwin in “Revolutionary Hope,” to Serena Williams confronting the umpire during the US Open, to the #SayHerName campaign and the Black Girls Are Magic Movement, black women have been steadfast in their efforts to define womanhood for themselves through bold truth-telling and expression. Because of these women, we dare to thrive within industries, cultures, and spaces that are hostile to our very existence Truly, it is rebellious acts such as these that define black womanhood. Our wisdom and courage to stand in defiance against all odds, and to say what must be said, is our birthright. Under the pressure of black women like Erykah Badu, Beyoncé Knowles, Michelle Obama, and Chimamanda Adichie, society has begun to buckle.

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As the legacies of racism and sexism continue to take new forms, these cultural figures remind us to keep applying pressure. Every young black queen holds dear her own list of black women that has, through her actions, beliefs, and courage, opened her eyes to a world she never thought she had access to. With these extraordinary women wreaking havoc on the world, it is an amazing wonder that queens still have to eurostep around the bullshit amidst their busy schedules. Nevertheless, we young black queens are making waves wherever we are, steadily building our way up. Now is the time to ask ourselves: how will we step into the shoes of our role models and join the ranks of black girl rebels who came before us?

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Random Acts of Flyness and the Nature of Blackness jordan mcdonald

With just one season under its belt, HBO’s late-night sketch series, Random Act of Flyness, is disrupting the conventions of comedy television and modern identity translation. Avant-garde and fluid, the show oscillates between the format of a lucid trip and a series of vignettes about modern Blackness. Written and created by Terence Nance, who described the series as a “show about the beauty and ugliness of contemporary American life,” Random Acts, offers a stream of consciousness meditation on the varied and shared realities of Black life in the United States. Described by New Yorker critic Emily Nussbaum, as a continuation of Amiri Baraka’s “afro-surrealism,”–a Black literary aesthetic concerned with restoring the “cult of the past”– Nance’s work uses comedy to explore the ontology and interiority of Black identity. Simply put, it’s funny, smart, and Black as hell.

Over the course of six episodes, the first season of Random Acts of Flyness presents a series of clips and skits that grapple with Black worries, dreams, realities, and futures. Whether it’s our interactions with the police, street harassment, homophobia, or mortality itself, the show manages to reimagine how we might explain our relationships to ourselves, to one another, and to non-black people. The show uses video game templates, sci-fi worlds, and dynamic animation to illustrate our encounters with the world even while disavowing realism. Embodying the resilience of the community it centers, the series takes blackness for a ride as its fictional characters and its everexpanding universe proceed to unravel.With cameos from Solange, Moses Sumney, Jon Hamm, Okwui Okpokwasili, and more, Random Acts does a masterful job of incorporating its guests within its world of page 101


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courtesy of hbo

existentialism, popular culture, history, music, and science fiction. As you watch each episode, passing through the world of the series, the show’s writing ensures that the robust diversity of Blackness cannot be denied. On Random Acts, Black queerness is embraced in ways that is largely unprecedented for Black-led sketch comedy shows. In a segment called “The Sexual Proclivities of the Black Community,” Nance, also known as “T.Nasty,” alongside his co-host, “Auntee Doreeny,” debunks the cultural mythology surrounding the “Bisexual Black Man,” a figure who too often has been subject page 102

to homophobic and biphobic ire. Guest starring, Yeleen, a gender-nonconforming bisexual Black man, the show proceeds to account for the ways that black sexuality and gender presentation is policed intra- and inter-racially within Yeleen’s personal life. Recreating his story through claymation and animation, the scene is colorful, powerful, and unprecedented. A compelling articulation of the ways that blackness and queerness are marginalized, Yeleen’s narration exemplifies the misunderstood beauty that marks many of our lives. A few of the shows best skits


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feature a reparations app called “Bitch Better Have My Money,” a topical cream to cure “white thoughts,” a musical about a queer Afro-Latino boy called “Nuncaland,” and “Everybody Dies,” a show about black mortality hosted by Ripa the Reaper. Jarring, yet, buoyant, the show manages to maintain a light spirit despite its engagement with arguably heavy themes. Understanding that race is a social construction, Random Acts of Flyness uses skits like these to assert that the implementation of race, as we know it, has forged new identities, cultures, diasporas and universes that are as real as we are. Traversing the cultural cosmos of black humor, dread, and hope, the show compels us to consider what Blackness means, how it feels, and what the future of this vast identity might include. In the words of scholar Michelle Wright, “Blackness is simply too many things to be any [one] thing.” Limitless and visceral, Random Acts of Flyness constructs a world in which the “many things” of Blackness are free to exist amongst one another. As an ASMR-style voice reminds us on the last episode,“you are entitled to as many bodies as you know how to inhabit at

once.” Asserting our rights to “metaphysical and physical shelter,” this soft voice calls us to embrace ourselves and each other in the various forms our identities take. In doing so, the series makes room for the multitudes of Black expression, and where queer sexuality and gender expression are concerned, it makes the show especially dynamic.

courtesy of hbo

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as praxis A column, written by editor-in-chief Lola Adewuya, dedicated to checking-in and checking-up on our communities, posing new questions, and pushing forward dialogue.

For this issue, we discuss the problem with possessiveness and challenge its place in romantic relationships.

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possessed. One of the many growing pains you may experience as you navigate young adulthood, or at least manage to survive it, is learning how to make sense of the world of romance and dating. Maybe it’s the Aquarius in me, but I’ve always been invested in creating a life that is uninhibited by societal expectations or arbitrary rules about how one should journey through this world. And this philosophy has extended to my ideas about love and relationships as well. The thought of being in a relationship and discovering new depths to my emotions, forming deeper and more complex connections than I’ve ever had before, and potentially coordinating outfits with someone I adore excites me. But, as I navigate the romantic territory of relationships, I find myself at odds with many of the

unspoken and, in some cases, very loudly spoken rules about dating. While many would venture to say that we no longer exist in a world where human ownership is socially acceptable, our romantic relationships are often still rooted in ideas of possession. We have learned to equate love with ownership, and we measure it by how much control we have over a person–physically, mentally, and emotionally. The level of entitlement we attempt to exercise in dating would be unjustified and, quite frankly, concerning in any other kind of relationship. So why do we allow it? I’ve found that our unhealthy desire to possess others most often exposes itself in conversations about what constitutes cheating. Although

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as praxis

“the false security of exclusivity can serve as a distraction from the real work that must be done to preserve a healthy relationship.” Although cheating can be defined as anything that violates the terms established and agreed upon in a relationship, the dominant conceptions of it are ones that involve sexual trysts and emotional affairs. Our ideas about cheating mostly concern how far we’re willing to let our partners socialize freely. While there is no type of cheating that is acceptable or justifiable, I do find the nature of the standards that we set for our relationships in the first place to be troubling. The rules we create are rooted in the expectation that one give up their complete agency and ability to exist as an individual in the interest of a relationship. When we enter a relationship, for whatever reason, we feel solely entitled to every aspect of our partners’ lives, and this becomes the basis for which we measure the quality of it. The less control we have over what a partner does, the less we value the relationship or the connection that exists within it. We’ve been convinced that a partner’s love is contingent on the absence of any other form of relationship outside of ours. That idea is completely unrealistic when we consider our innate capacity to have multiple friendships, to care for multiple children, and so forth. Even if two people are content with the love that exists solely between them, judging the strength of a relationship based on its level of exclusivity alone is hazardous. Perhaps this extreme possessiveness comes

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from our unwillingness to address issues surrounding ego, jealousy, and self-worth. For some reason, the landscape of romance is where our most childish and unhealthy traits are permitted to run free. In the relationships where we feel there is more at stake, we become fixated on being the “only” because it provides us with the illusion that we are the “best” by default. But the false security of exclusivity can serve as a distraction from the real work that must be done to preserve a healthy relationship. Relying on exclusivity to determine the quality of our relationships often serves to protect our egos, making it easy for us to avoid confronting the other ways we may not be the greatest partners. This also becomes a band-aid fix for any kind of issues related to self-esteem. The reliance on this kind of validation inspires an irrational level of jealousy, where a partner’s attraction or perceived attraction for others becomes all the more damaging. Within intimate relationships, jealousy has been normalized and is even romanticized when, in reality, it’s a reflection of our insecurity, our unchecked entitlement, and can be a sign of a larger and more dangerous issue. Ultimately, in building our relationships on faulty foundations and impractical restrictions, we end up placing the onus on ourselves to be everything a person could need or want in order to hold these bonds together. This unrealistic standard effectively sets many


as praxis

relationships up for failure. And when the cracks do begin to show, we believe it’s some fault of our own, that we aren’t “enough.” Despite what we’ve been lead to believe, it is rare to find everything you need in one individual. And that’s okay. As dynamic beings, on our own life paths, I don’t know if this is a standard we should be striving for anyway. Our existence shouldn’t revolve around looking to others to complete us. This is not a knock on monogamy, or a promotion of open relationships, polyamory, or any kind of dating dynamic that currently exists. The truth is, relationships should be able to manifest in whatever form is healthiest and most fulfilling for those involved. But, however that may look, I don’t believe that possession, entitlement, or jealousy ever has a place within it–not where there’s deep love. I am personally interested in a connection

that adds to my life, but doesn’t attempt to control me, own me, or make me feel inadequate. I believe that I can enjoy someone’s company, have meaningful experiences, and care for them deeply without feeling like I’m the only person in their life who should be permitted to do this with them. When we strip away the social conventions and cookie cutter ideals of what a relationship of today should look like, we are presented with the opportunity to start engaging with our relationships in ways we weren’t previously encouraged to. We can forge meaningful and fulfilling connections that are rooted in communication, honesty, respect, and trust. Doing so also requires us to begin doing the work of determining our value and building our self-worth from the inside. In this case, having the rug pulled out from under us just might be a good thing.

What would our relationships look like if we set out to redefine love to be synonymous with freedom and not restriction?

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The Collective Centering the works of those who are not on the Black Praxis staff, this section expands the scope of our work to include a body of visual and written submissions from Dartmouth students and community members.

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to mother The one who poured her blood and sweat upon the bedsheets of my childhood-the rustic floors, threatening to give way, An apology long due. I’m not sure I can find my Mr. Right the man of my dreams-Chivalry till the end, Gleaming with romantic fervor, I’m sorry. No I don’t think the two boys Cuddling behind us-Blue Sparks bouncing off each other, Pride glistening with tears is disgusting, repulsive, Demeaning--diseased.

I really don’t know the Correct Sexuality-Please don’t like girls-That you pleaded to the gods, to rip open my wounds again and Inject inside of me.

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All I know, All I’ve ever known is To love. Love the specks of dust left behind In the dusk after the pouring rain-The rainbow-The flares of electric passion and desire Radiating from the core of an imperfection-me The urges, lust, need To hold her hand And squeeze back with quiet ferocity To love-To love the love you taught me to be The love--that maybe one day-You will love.

- Karen Zheng ‘22

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paintings by Rena King ‘20

“This self portrait is titled “More Than This Color” - It’s a pop art and cubist inspired piece that I created over the summer and was having a particularly hard time being a woman of color at Dartmouth who didn’t have a lot of friend and didnt fit into the elitist predominantly white circles. I used a variety of colors for my skin to represent the versatility of blackness and made my cornrows green because I had felt self conscious about my natural hair all summer but took this chance to make it pop and be represented as how I’ve come to see it.”

“This painting is called “What We Never See” - I created this piece by looking at stone patterns but intentionally changed the color scheme to alter the viewers perception. I think that color has a huge role in how we see things and thats not something many fully realize. Using lime green as the background made it more of a highlights and abstracts my original source of inspiration.”

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E E R F TO page 112


! M O D E page 113


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Made with

by Lola Adewuya

ISSUE NO 1: The Nature Issue  
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