The Renegade Magazine SU | Spring '14 | Issue 1

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Spring 2014 | Renegade



Ibet Inyang




Jennifer Hale






Ashley Branch COPY EDITOR

Janelle James DESIGNERS

Elizabeth Ching Ensley Rivers Whitley Williams CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER


Earica Parrish Milan Chaney Kennedy La Nier ADVISOR

Melissa Chessher Special thanks to Clare Merrick, Mary Ann Durantini, Beyoncé, and Jesus.


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This semester, I’ve learned a lot about who I am and the roles I can play. There’s Ibet, the writer who slays the journalism game; Ibet, the music-lover whose excellent taste creates the best 90s themed Spotify playlists that you’ve ever heard; and Ibet, the creative mind who’s constantly thinking of new, innovative ideas each day. (Yes, I’m praising myself heavily- this is my editor’s note and I can do that) But now, there’s also Ibet, the Renegade, a role I’m actually still growing in to. I fell into it with the creation of this magazine. A couple of months ago, I pitched a story about natural hair to one of Syracuse University’s other amazing campus magazines. The story was about highlighting the growing online community and support system that collectively educates Black women about how to care for their natural hair. After explaining this, I was told that it was “too controversial.” To this day, I still don’t get how this makes sense, but I love telling this story to anyone who will listen. Not to shame that magazine or the person who said it, but to show just how topics that relate to the Black community are often treated. People don’t want to talk about them, and I’m not sure if it’s because they’re scared of saying the wrong thing and stepping on toes, or because they don’t value them enough to give them the time of day. What I am sure of though is that there’s a large community who embodies these topics and actually cares about them. The omission of these stories is the omission of this community’s voice. From the day my story way rejected, I simply set out to create a magazine in which I could print a story about natural hair, and not have it be a big deal. Because this was appar-

ently so radical and “controversial,” I named it The Renegade. However, as I began to recruit a staff and think of story ideas, I realized that the name actually fits quite well. By definition, a renegade is someone who rejects conventional behavior, and by simply telling our stories, we’ve done so in a creative way. We’ve given ourselves a voice without waiting for anyone to allow us to have one. This brave new approach to journalism is extremely exciting to me, and while creating a publication that embodies this idea, I’ve had to adapt it to my life as well. I’m a quiet, observer, (not in a creepy way, of course) so rallying troops and leading them in a creative pursuit is not my forte. However, I felt a responsibility to my community to give them this publication, so I’ve used my definition of renegade to push me to do so. Beyoncé has her flawlessness (which I’m giving you a dose of in my picture’s Bey inspired theme, by the way) and now I have my renegade ideals. Along with an amazingly dedicated staff, and this idea of fearlessness, I’m happy to bring you a magazine like no other. I hope it makes you think, laugh, feel represented, understand an often underrepresented group, and maybe even be inspired. I know it’s inspires me. But ultimately, I hope it makes you want to do renegade things: break convention, tell your story, or talk about your hair freely! Don’t be afraid to express yourself and don’t let anyone stop you from doing so. Enjoy!

Ibet Inyang Spring 2014 | Renegade


if You Don’t Know, Now You Know

Brothas and sistahs are making their dreams into realities, and don’t think we haven’t noticed! Let’s shed some light on the movers and shakers who may not always be headline makers, and the stories from a culture that is strong, creative, and daring. You may not have heard…but if you don’t know, now you know. -The Renegade


Renegade | Spring 2014 Image via

50 YEARS LATER The Renegade reflects on the lasting influence of the Brown v. Education court ruling Story by Earica Parrish

May 17 marks the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the monumental case which dismantled segregation policies in schools nationwide. Following the end of the Civil War in 1865, African Americans were allowed to pursue education through attending school. However, the “separate but equal” ruling in the Plessy v. Ferguson case legally permitted the segregation of Blacks and Whites in public facilities. The only incentive was that if these facilities served them of equal quality, it would justify segregation as being a permissible act. Sadly, the 1896 Supreme Court decision did little to end Jim Crow law. African Americans continued to be discriminated against and provided with lower quality resources and smaller classrooms which prompted the Brown v. Board of Education cases in 1952. Brown v. Board consisted of five cases, all of which regarding segregation in the public school system. Thurgood Marshall, who represented the victims argued that the “separate

but equal” law violated the Fourteenth Amendment right of equal protection of the law, which then called for the removal of the clause and the overturning of the Plessy v. Ferguson decision. As of May 17th, 1954, the Plessy decision was overruled, and the desegregation of schools went into full effect. Here at Syracuse University, Blacks account for 7.7 percent of the entire population on campus and have a graduation rate of 72.2 percent. Sophomore public relations major Cherokee Hubbert believes the ruling is instrumental in her educational experience now, because she can “sit in more classrooms that are diverse and learn about different people’s backgrounds.” Brown v. Board of Education destroyed some of the color barriers blocking African-American advancement in the educational realm. The Supreme Court decision has paved the way for African-Americans to succeed at all education levels and in any career field possible. l

Spring 2014 | Renegade Image via



Story by Milan Chaney Photos by Jennifer Hale, Siyaka Taylor-Lewis, and submitted by Black Legacy

Black Legacy

Black Legacy acapella was created when SU alum, Ayinde Samuels decided to bring an old-school Motown sound to Syracuse University. The group, which now consists of 10 well-dressed gentleman, made their debut at the 29th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner Celebration this year, making a soulful mark on campus and creating a group like no other. Black Legacy president and senior engineering and computer science major Adrien Mervielle says that the bond that he and his fellow members have is what’s kept them together and brought them closer to the music. “When we’re on stage we’re not just singing songs, or just performing for the crowd,” Mervielle says. “We’re actually feeling the song.” Although their music has Black roots, vice President and sophomore information studies major Anthony Lezama wants everyone to know that the group welcomes anyone with a love for Motown. “Black legacy is not a ‘black thing’, it’s open to all colors and races,” Lezama says. He also believes that greater diversity in the group will expose Black Legacy to a much larger audience. However for now, he believes that with Black Legacy’s tremendous reputation and great start, they will be able to reach the world someday.


OneWorld is Syracuse University’s only African dance group. It all started when junior biology major Beverly Okanome, asked herself, Why not make African dancing the whole story? A dancer herself, Okanome had always loved the style, but only saw snippets of it in other groups on campus. So, she and eight other African dance lovers created an African dance routine and entered the African Student Union’s annual “So You Think You Can Dance” competition. The group won 1st place and in the process, they discovered that they were able to tell a unique story. “We love to dance so much and we [want to] share that one passion [with everyone],” says Okanome. She believes that dance has united the group and has since kept them in sync. Besides Okanome’s role as founder and president, the group sees no reason for other positions. “Everybody has every position,” Okanome says. This is why they call themselves OneWorld, according to member and senior sport and human dynamics student Janelle Linton. “We all come from different backgrounds, but dance brings us together as [one],” she says. OneWorld now hopes to brand themselves and share their talent with the community, and eventually, the entire world.

Underground Founders

It all started with a typo. In June 2013, Marissa “Mars” Lewis and Raven Irabor decided to create a web site that discussed hair, food, and movies called Underground Finders. However, they fell in love with the graphic designer’s mistake, and before they knew it, Underground Founders became a buzz on campus. Now juniors, the girls have taken their love of music to new heights. Their work inspired Lewis to snag an internship at Elliott Wilson’s music website Rap Radar, and Irabor to gain an internship position at XXL Magazine. In these environments, the girls say they were both able to gain access to artists on social media, giving them an opportunity to explore. This gave them the idea to create their own creative media outlet for college students. They combined their names to create ‘A Rave to Mars,’ an exclusive web series in which they interview underground hip-hop artists. Lewis and Irabor hope to bring the artists’ music to the world, along with their site. Lewis says she wants Underground Founders to gain a bigger platform, like a section of!


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BLACK ENTREPRENEUR SPOTLIGHT Local businesses you need to know

By Jenny Hale

ED PERRY-E-CLIPZ BARBERSHOP, EST. MARCH 1ST, 2011 “I’ve been cutting hair since 2005 in someone else’s barbershop and I always wanted to have my own,” says Ed Perry, owner of E-Clipz Barbershop on South Salina Street. As an African-American businessman, Perry advises young Black entrepreneurs not to be scared of success or the possible failure. “I was timid in the beginning, but now I’m looking to soar above the storm,” says Perry. Perry’s shop offers affordable haircuts in various styles. In fact, on Tuesdays, he offers $5 brush cuts and has loyalty benefits for repeat clients. E-Clipz is also both military and college student friendly with $2 off discounts with a proper ID. He plans to expand the shop this spring to include the additional talent of his roster of professional barbers. Im ag e


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Visit E-Clipz at 4714 South Salina Street.

THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE OF JOY DAY CARE, EST. APRIL 2010 Shavon Shabazz’s dream job is the one she already has. She is the owner of The Butterfly House of Joy Day Care. “I had a dream of owning my own day care. I worked hard and stayed focused,” Shabazz said. “Now I wake up every morning happily because I am living my dream.” Her career in child care began in the Bronx when she worked at a day care center. When she relocated to Syracuse she worked for PEACE Head Start, a non-profit children’s educational. She stayed with the organization for ten years before branching out to start her own business. The Butterfly House caters to children ranging from 6-week-olds to 12-year-olds, letting them learn through art projects, cooking classes, story time, and class trips such as the State Fair each summer. Visit the Butterfly House of Joy at 206 Kirk Avenue.

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RASHIDA’S TRANSFORMATION CENTER, EST. JANUARY 2006 Unlike many stylists, Rashida Brown’s rise to entrepreneurial success came after she had already styled those at the top. “During my college years, I worked in an upscale salon,” Brown says. “Our clients included celebrities such as Oprah, Stevie Wonder, and Iyanla Vanzant.” Her experience with celebrity clientele aptly prepared the Bronx, New York native for managing her own hair salon, Rashida’s Transformation Center. Catering to African-Americans, the salon specializes in natural hair management and styling including locs, braids, and extensions. The salon also offers a variety of beauty services such as makeup,manicures, and pedicures. For budding Black entrepreneurs, Brown suggests emphasizing talent, and not race. “Business is business and being a Black entrepreneur doesn’t make you different,” says Brown. “What is important is making sure that everyone can use your service so that you have longevity and a wide client base.” Visit Rashida’s Transformation Center at 4720 South Salina Street.

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#TheStruggle: Meal Time

Easy recipes that will get you through tough times.

To all my fellow college students who know what it feels like to come home to a near empty fridge because your bank account simply reads “broke,” the struggle is real and this is for you. I first took a seat on the struggle bus when I moved to my South Campus apartment sophomore year. Freedom from the dorms was sweet, but my lack of both funds and regular access to a grocery store left me hungry and pretty sad. So, I had to get creative. Call them what you may, but these resourceful recipes were easy on my wallet, and turned into some of my best concoctions.

By Ibet Inyang

RAMEN SURPRISE Spoiler alert: The surprise is that this actually tastes pretty good! Grab your favorite flavor of Ramen Noodles, and while it’s cooking, pop a bag of steamable broccoli with cheese sauce in the microwave. These items can be found at both CVS and your local grocery store. Mix the noodles and broccoli together and you are in for a treat! The slight cheesiness of the sauce takes those drab noodles from “meh” to “this is kind of okay.” Garnish with dining hall provided saltine crackers for an added flare.

CANDY CLUSTERS This creation was actually a big hit at a party, so, there’s that. Go to the nearest vending machine and buy as much chocolate as your Supercard balance will allow. I suggest Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Milky Ways, and/or Snickers Bars. Place these in a bowl and melt them in the microwave until the mixture is spreadable - the mixture will be thick, lumpy and look kind of gross, but stick with it anyway. Then, throw something crunchy into the bowl. I often use pretzels, cereal or whatever else my mom has sent me in her care package. Then, roll the mixture into small balls and stick them in the fridge overnight to harden. The next day, you’ll have a delicious chocolaty treat.

WINE SPRITZER First off, I suggest that everyone wait to drown their sorrows of the struggle until they’re at least 21. But once you get there, have at it. For this recipe, go to your local grocery store and select their finest boxed wine. Get out your drinkin’ cup and mix one part wine, one part grapefruit juice (since you probably can’t afford fresh fruit), and two parts Sierra Mist, both of which can be purchased in a vending machine near you. Thank God for Supercard!

Have struggle recipes of your own? Follow @RenegadeMagSU on Instagram and show us your pictures with the hashtag #TheRenegadeStruggle


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As an incoming freshman, I feared the Freshman 15. In an attempt to combat the onset weight gain, I added exercise to my daily schedule, primarily jogging around campus. However, since Mother Nature has declared Syracuse her unfavorable stepdaughter, that simply became undoable. Outdoor activities unfeasible? No problem, I thought to myself. I’ll just utilize one of the many gyms we have on campus. That presented a new problem in itself. I would to get the gym, run on the treadmill for a bit, and then be stumped. Rather than actually working out, my time was spent trying to figure out what else I could do or waiting for equipment. As a former athlete, I was used to my workouts already being planned out by trainers or coaches. I quickly realized that this was not an expertise of mine. Lucky for me, Syracuse University Recreation Services had a solution to my problem: fitness classes. With the instructor-led fitness programs, I was sure to get a full hour of exercise and also be motivated by peers all along the way. I finally said goodbye to my half-assed excuses for gym trips and hello to full intensity, sweat dripping workouts! There was a variety of choices. Every Monday and Friday, Archbold Gym offers free fitness classes as a part of the Healthy Campus Initiative. Known as Move it Monday and Kick up Friday respectively, they give gym goers heart pumping activities that change every week. Paying for a class to take during the week is another option. The numerous classes are broken up into six sections: Aerobics, Body Sculpt, Cross Training, Cycle, Mind/Body, and Water Training. Reading through the list, I noticed more familiar options such as cycling


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and then some not so familiar ones. For example I had never heard of Vinyasa, a yoga style that focuses on breathing and quick movements. After thoroughly perusing the list of courses, I settled on “Insanity,” the notorious workout program which utilizes only the body and includes upper body resistance, cardio abs, and pure cardio. The following Tuesday, I laced up my sneakers and headed over to Flanagan Gym for my first class. Now, I’m no “Insanity” rookie - I’ve used it quite frequently at home on my own. However, this experience was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The 50 minute session left me exhausted. It was perfect. Instructor Karl Sterling’s inspirational words coupled with seeing my peers around me pushing themselves to the limit added a whole new layer of motivation. I was driven and fully engaged from the start of the warm-up, composed of high knees, jumping jacks, and burp-ups; until the intensive arm, core, and butt enhancing exercises. Was I sore the next day? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely. In fact, I was even more eager to attend the next session that Thursday. However, it was Mr. Sterling’s speeches toward the end of each session that sold me. He always said that seeing the class motivated him to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This systematic cycle of motivation is the kind I’m more than willing to promote! My experience with the fitness classes offered by Recreation Services has only been joyful and beneficial to my health. I’ve been able to stay in shape and my eyes have been opened to new forms of sweat inducing activities. I encourage everyone to give it a try! l



The many ways that skin color divides a campus By Jennifer Hale & Noelle Devoe Photos by Jennifer Hale

Self-segragation and colorism separates students

Story by Jennifer Hale and Noelle Devoe Illustration by Taylor Hicks Photos by Jennifer Hale

On Halloween, the atmosphere on Comstock Avenue is always buzzing. Students dressed in costumes ranging from a simple wig to a full-on Walter White costume roam up and down Syracuse streets looking for something fun to do. Anita Baah-Mensa, a Ghanaian American information studies student at Syracuse University was one of these students during her freshman year. They set out to experience a classic Syracuse Halloween and, like most freshmen, the girls ended up on Comstock.

They approached one of the fraternity houses hoping to get in to the party and have a fun night, but they were turned away. The guy manning the door told them the house was too full. This was obviously true – the party was lively – so they turned around, ready to search for something else to do. But as they walked away, a group of girls approached the party. “You guys can go ahead,” the guy said to them, stepping aside. Spring 2014 | Renegade


Pictured: Anita Baah-Mensa (Top left), Stephann Dubois (Top right), and Tiffany Lyons (Bottom).


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Baah-Mensa and her friends watched as the other group of girls were granted entrance right in front of them. There was only one perceivable difference between them: the group of girls were White, and Baah-Mensa and her friends were Black. Baah-Mensa is now a junior, and looking back, she considers that night on Halloween to be one of the few times she’s experienced blatant racism on campus, but there’s a subtle lack of integration on campus that Baah-Mensa, and many other students of color on campus struggle with each day. Ironically, Syracuse University is known to be a racially diverse college with minority students accounting for one-fourth of the student population, and a community of international students from over 100 countries. However, while that diversity exists on paper, inclusion is what many students are looking for when they start their college experience. In order to avoid experiences like what Baah-Mensa experienced her freshman year, many use self-segregation as a means of quickly finding where they fit in. “I’ve observed that certain races, or ethnic groups, tend to flock towards each other,” Bahh-Mensa says. “You’re more likely to find the Asians on campus hanging out with each other, people who are from the Middle Eastern countries with each other, and even African-Americans tending to stick around each other.” Stephann Dubois, a senior computer science student who is Haitian had a similar experience. “Moving from one country to another country, one has a tendency to move towards the groups associated with one’s race,” Dubois says. “Very few actually go against this tendency.” But what are you to do if you don’t quite fit into a particular racial category? Some people may be perceived as a member of a certain race by society’s standards, but identify as another. Those of mixed or even international backgrounds can sometimes fall into gray areas, which often questions who exactly gets to decide where they fit in. Tiffany Lyons, a sophomore international relations major is half Haitian and half German. As a biracial individual who could pass for White in some circles because of her light skin and blonde hair, she says she’s experienced a lot of racism. “I was raised in the south and experienced a lot of racism [because] I looked White but my mother was Black,” Lyons says. Lyons attended the best private schools in the area, which were predominately white. That only complicated things. For Lyons, fitting in was always heavily based on the color of her skin, depending on whom she was spending her time with. “With Black people, I was the really light skinned girl

who could hang. With White people, I was the exotic girl - even though [I was] Black, I didn’t really count,’” she says. Lyons says this still holds true at Syracuse. “I’m still the resented light skinned girl or the acceptable exotic girl.” Baah-Mensa says she’s often forced into society’s definition of Black even though it isn’t quite what she identifies as. She was born in Ghana and was raised there until she was 5 years old when she moved to New York City with her family. “I [still] speak my Ghanaian language, am engulfed in my Ghanaian culture, and I identify myself as African,” Baah-Mensa says. “[However] in America, someone who doesn’t know my background would assume that I am African American.” Danielle McCoy, a senior at Syracuse University, has a different view. “My mother is African-American and my father was born and raised in Ghana,” McCoy says. “Being half African and half African-American, I consider myself Black.” Syracuse University Professor Philip Arnold teaches a course called “The Religious Dimensions of Whiteness,” and says that he believes that today’s emphasis on categorizing by color is what cause these conflicting views of identity. “We’re all of mixed race and this is proven by genetics,” Arnold said. “Society just hasn’t caught up to what that might mean in terms of our social relationships between one another.” For this reason, Arnold’s class focuses on ethnicity as a better marker of diversity than color or race is in today’s modern society. Ultimately, it is outdated societal norms, cultural misunderstandings, and sometimes, as in Baah-Mensa’s Halloween experience, it is just blatant racism that is dividing our student body today. However, all of these experiences leave students of color wondering where they fit in on a predominately White campus. McCoy luckily hasn’t experienced the same racism on campus, but still aims to avoid racial division by getting involved on campus and branching out to meet new people. She thinks self-segregation can be stopped with some effort and she’s got an idea of where to start. “I think the first step to closing the gap of segregation is to stepping out of one’s comfort zone and being open to learning and respecting the differences of other people,” McCoy says. “That’s what I did and I don’t regret a thing.” l

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Graduating senior Zora Iman Crews hopes to combat the entertainment industry’s typecasting and racism as she goes after her acting dreams. Story by Janelle James Photos submitted by Zora Iman Crews Designed by Marinique Mora

Right now, 21-year-old Zora Iman Crews is somewhere in New York City living her dream. The aspiring actress and Syracuse University senior acting major is currently participating in the drama department’s Tepper Semester in New York City, where she finally gets to practice her craft in a city that’s nearly big as her dreams of one day winning an Academy Award, and joining the ranks of Halle Berry, Jennifer Hudson, and most recently Lupita Nyong’o. “I definitely teared up during Lupita’s Oscar speech,” said Crews who as a Black actress, looks up to women like Nyong’o. She reminded Crews and the entire world that “your dreams are


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valid,” a sentiment that historically has not been reality for ebony skinned actors. However, with Nyong’o’s win and growing prevalence of leading Black ladies on TV, in film, and behind the scenes, Crews is beginning to see Nyong’o’s words coming to fruition. Originally though, Syracuse University wasn’t even on Crews’ radar. Growing up in New York City, she had taken improv classes in Queens and attended a performance arts high school, hadn’t exactly pictured herself in a private school in Central New York. However, after her acceptance, she learned of the school’s reputation and specialty in training young actors. According to Syracuse Universi-

ty drama and acting Professor Celia Madeoy, the Visual Performing Arts Program aims to ensure that acting students have a thriving career by helping them find a personal voice that compliments other, and by helping them create their own work. Crews’ experience in the program has been just that – a crash course in the importance of resilience in a very competitive industry. Rejection is inevitable for any actor. However, she also learned that as a dark-skinned Black girl the chances of landing glamorous roles is even lower. It’s no secret that Hollywood has a long-standing history of typecasting Black women into stereotyped role. Crews says she’s even faced this distorted perception in the classroom; she’s sometimes expected to be angry, loud, or sassy while performing. SU African-American studies Professor Ryan Hope Travis says the ugly portrayal of Blacks in art can only change when the imagery changes in society. “The majority see Black people as gangsters [and] slaves,” says Davis. “Not until the majority see Black people as doctor, lawyers, attorneys, or as positive images, will we see a shift happen. Then culturally, we will we see it in the art.” Despite all of this, Crews’ passion for acting, hasn’t changed. As a Black actress, she understands that it comes

with the territory. To fight the stigma, Crews makes sure to dispel these stereotypes during her performances instead of letting them challenge her. She also remains hopeful, because of writers like Shonda Rhimes and Tyler Perry. She credits the roles for redefining the roles of Black women on television by creating realistic ad dynamic for racially diverse casts. She also admires Phylicia Rashad and Debbie Allen for their powerful performances onstage, as well as behind the camera as directors.

A change in representation also something that Crews is delighted see. “I’m seeing less of the token Black character, and more Black characters that are intrinsically a part of the framework of the world [in] show,” Crews says. “I’m glad I’m pursuing my dream during this shift and at a time when young Black women, like Issa Rae are writing material for themselves and others, furthering that positive shift in the business.” With this change in Hollywood convention, Crews definitely feels honored to be entering a business with women Spring 2014 | Renegade


such as Kerry Washington and Lupita Nyong’o as her colleagues. She says it’s great to see those two broadening the scope of Black women’s position and power in the business. Crews also points out diversity changes in SU drama department. She cites the predominately white make-up of her program’s student body as the first reason that she is often passed over for roles. Fortunately, now there’s a considerably larger number of people of color in the drama department than when Crews she first arrived. This may explain the department’s recent efforts in choosing works like “Hairspray,”

which showcases people of color. “That struggle has taught me the importance of navigating both worlds, I suppose. We can absolutely find our place in predominantly White worlds, but not without a strong foundation and place of support from our people,” Crews says. With her knowledge and experience Crews would love to give back to the Black community and teach or mentor Black women who are pursuing careers in the arts. She says that the visibility of young Black artists is always growing,


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and she would be happy to provide her community with guidance and positivity. Crews hasn’t nailed down any post-college plans, but she feels the best environment for her would be in a theatre company or in public relations, in order to make connections with others. In five years, she hopes to be touring with a production or working with a traveling theatre company. Crews says her goal isn’t to be famous. Rather, she wants to create memorable work that impacts the way others see themselves and the world around them. Her ultimate goal would be to win an Emmy or an Oscar. Travis says that these goals are definitely attainable. He has worked with Crews worked during two plays, and says he has nothing but high hopes for the young actress, as long as she’s persistent. “I would say to Zora, ‘No matter how difficult it gets, don’t give up, if this is what you want.’ I have friends-black women who have fought in the city and left. Some are still there and they’re extraordinary women,” says Travis. “It’s a tough field, but I think she’ll be fine, as long as she doesn’t give up.” With all that she has learned at Syracuse University, Crews knows how to persevere and will continue to take these lessons with her on her artistic journey to becoming an actress. She knows that not only are her dreams valid, now she just has to go after them. l

The Well Dressed Men Bring Positive Black Imagery to Syracuse University Story by Elen Pease Photos by Jennifer Hale

Erasmus, a 15th century humanist, once said “vestis verum facit,” or the “the man is his clothing.” 500 years later, Erasmus’s words speak to Syracuse University’s Well Dressed Men, a group calling African-American men everywhere to suit up rather than sag down. Sophomores Joshua Collins, Elijah Biggins, Kwame Phipps, DaeShawn Parker, Jabari Butler, Kavell Brown, Bryan Cash, Dale Dykes, and Bryan Ogletree want to stand for a different image of young Black and brown America. “We originally had to dress up every Wednesday for a class in our majors during first semester,” says information technology major Josh Collins. “[Eventually], we decided to make it a regular thing.” The group than began dressing up every Wednesday from then on, just for fun. Sports management major, Elijah Biggins, however, saw a movement in the making. “Once [our group of friends] became known for dressing up on Wednesdays, we thought

we could get other people to join,” says Biggins. The men yearned to emulate 1960s style, when it was customary for Black men to wear nothing less than a suit and hat, feeling that this was when their culture took the most pride its appearance. However, the group also knew that in addition to changing the way Black men looked, creating a well-dressed campus could change the way the world looked at Black men. With the infamous murder of Trayvon Martin still in view and New York City’s stop-and-frisk program still in effect, the group hoped to shatter the racist perceptions that surround Black men, based on their clothing. For the well-dressed sophomores, the questions echoing throughout the media about thug clothes attributing to the murders solidified the necessity to present a different image of Black men to campus, and to the nation. So, envisioning their huge influence on Spring 2014 | Renegade


campus, they turned their movement into a brand. “We wanted to bring the movement to life and put posters on peoples’ chests,” engineering and computer science major DaeShawn Parker says of the group’s t-shirts and sweatshirts. “We decided to make [them say] Well Dressed, period. It’s a statement,” says political science major Kwame Phillips. Now after only a few months in service, the brand is already well established in the SU community, with multiple designs of its clothing on its website, along with vinyl stickers. The group hopes that their message will translate through the merchandise. “We want [you to get] the same empowerment from wearing our t-shirts, that you get from wearing a suit,” says Parker. The men recently took this concept to the 2014 Syracuse IDEA Competition when they proposed “The Well Dressed Raffle.” With this venture, part of the proceeds from all purchased clothing would go towards providing business outfits to those in need. Although they did not win the com-

petition this year, their original sentiments suggest that they’ll still make an impact. “If we can change the lives of 12 people a year, then we are contributing something,” says Parker. Biggins agrees, “The only way to move forward is to give back.” The guys, as well as the Well Dressed movement, are suited for success. With the help of Brown’s twin brother, a student at Howard University, the group’s influence has extended far beyond Syracuse University. A small team has started the second of what will be many future campus Well Dressed Movements. “I don’t want it to stop until we’re nationwide,” says Dykes. “It’s like our baby.” Support the movement! Dressed your best on Wednesdays, follow the group on Instagram and Twitter at @iamwelldressed, and visit for merchandise. l

Pictured from left to right: Kavell Brown, Kwame Phipps, Joshua Collins, Jabari Butler, DaeShawn Parker, Elijah Biggins


Renegade | Spring 2014

A FASHIONABLE JOURNEY Story by Ashley Branch Photo by Earica Parrish

How one women turned her passion for fashion into philanthropic success Timi Komonibo returned to her home in Houston, Texas for spring break her sophomore year at University of Texas at Austin with a suitcase fit for a month-long vacation. When her mother asked why she bothered to bring so much clothes when there were plenty in her closet, she had no words. But she had clothes. She had them crammed in her closet, stuffed in her drawers, and now packed in her suitcase – a mini mountain of garments rising out of her luggage. “I had a hard time letting go of clothes, and that’s when I realized that it was a problem,” the Syracuse University public diplomacy graduate student says. In 2009, she decided to give the clothes away. She initially started a clothes swap with her college friends and members of her church congregation. Then in 2013, the 24-year-old adopted a new mission – start a non-profit in which she would donate clothes from her swaps to women in need. Since its inception last summer, Style Lottery, based in Syracuse, has generated endless donations for women hoping to start anew after domestic violence and other ordeals with a new outfit as the first step. “I knew the bottom line was I wanted to help people,” said Komonibo. “The thing I knew

[how] to do best was help them with fashion.” Helping women restore their identities is an act that comes full circle for Komonibo, who began her clothes swaps in college with the hopes of unweaving her identity from her own clothes. She had already done so with her hair. She chopped her permed tresses and became the only one on UT Austin’s perm-centric campus to sport a TWA (teeny weeny afro). But she wondered if she could part with her wardrobe, a carefully crafted assembly of thrift store items, including polka dot pants and tutus, which became synonymous with her quirky and fun personality. “Timi is quirky. She doesn’t try to fit in,” said Christine Idokogi, a childhood friend. “She has her glasses and her hair and her beautiful smile.” Komonibo is proud of how much her style philosophy has changed and how the plunge to rid herself of excess clothes made her a more conscious shopper. “I had this fear that my clothes were who I was, and if I got rid of [them], I would be someone completely different,” Komonibo says. She now knows that although her style is an extension of herself, her clothes do not define her. Spring 2014 | Renegade


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Since starting her clothes swaps, Komonibo also employs a system of buying as many clothes as she has closet space for, a concept she wouldn’t have considered prior to 2009. She held her first swap at UT Austin in a friend’s room with little success. With perseverance, and more inventory, she hosted more campus swaps until she graduated in 2011. Komonibo then began hosting them in her family’s living room when she would return from Austin, where she taught a private middle school for Teach for America. “She had turned her living room into a little boutique,” Idokogi says. With the help of her older sister Diseye and her parents, Komonibo would rearrange their living room furniture to accommodate makeshift clothing racks that her father, a fellow thrifter, crafted for the cause. Pants and skirts would be spread along the couch while necklaces, purses, and shoes were squeezed between family portraits on shelves. It was a family effort to help the “person who had more clothes than anyone in the house,” Diseye Komonibo says. But more importantly, Komonibo says that the swaps were transformed into events where women found unique treasures in what was considered trash. They were finding friends. “Timi decided that it wouldn’t just be


Renegade | Spring 2014

people standing around looking at clothes,” Diseye Komonibo says. Guests would stay at Komonibo’s house, talking until midnight, long after the remaining clothes were bagged and labeled for local non-profits in Houston including the Women’s Center and Mia’s Closet. However, when Bunmi Ishola, one of Komonibo’s co-workers at Teach for America, attended her first clothes swap, she wasn’t surprised by the atmosphere. To her, this was classic Timi. “She always [creates] opportunities for people to come together and share whatever it is they have, whether it be their voice or their clothes,” Ishola says. Only now the 24-year-old is bringing everyone together for a fashionable cause, an effort in which she’s found a partnership and a friendship. “We both have a passion for fashion and non-profits, so I was honored to join the staff,” says Style Lottery Program Coordinator Nieves Alvarez. And in losing her load of clothes, Komonibo is helping to make the weight of others a little lighter and a bit more fashionable each day. l

Dark Lovely &

Photos by Jennifer Hale

Nigerian born Betty Adewole for Tom Ford, caramel-skinned beauties Liya Kebede and Malaika Firth for Prabal Gurung and Prada respectively, and of course, Jourdan Dunn and Joan Smalls, two of the world’s current top models. Beautiful shades of brown and black are definitely taking over the fashion industry, with an increasing number of women of color gracing runways and ad campaigns across the world. To celebrate this triumph in diversity, The Renegade has brought Black beauty and high fashion to Syracuse University. Watch these ladies work it like the professionals in pieces from aspiring fashion designer and Syracuse University student Sandina SaintElien.

Spring 2014 | Renegade


Nicole Osborne’s beautiful gown represents the word “death.” When SaintElien was challenged to turn the word into a conceptual design, she decided to explore the French phrase “la petite mort” or “little death,” which is a euphemism for orgasm. The vibrant flowers represent blossoming and blooming sex. Ooh la la!


Renegade | Spring 2014

Chyna Fox wears a bathing suit from SaintElien’s senior collection, inspired by LaSirene, a spiritual being in Haitian folklore. LaSirene is said to coax her victims into the water and take them captive. This look is definitely enchanting.

Spring 2014 | Renegade


Danielle McCoy is wearing a menswear inspired piece. She’s giving us nothing but high fashion in the once men’s suit jacket and dress shirt.


Renegade | Spring 2014

THE GIRL BEHIND THE CLOTHES: SANDINA SAINTELIEN The Renegade got to know a little more about the Haitian-born student designer. Photo by Shijing Wang

The Renegade: When did you start making clothes and why? SaintElien: When I was about 5 or 6, I was obsessed with “Sailor Moon,” and I used to doodle dresses inspired by her in my mom’s notebooks. When I was around 8, I made a comic book for an original character I made from “Digimon,” another anime, and I found myself really concentrating on the character’s wardrobe. I have hundreds of pages of my childish designs in this Lisa Frank binder. After a while, I realized what I was doing was actually something you could make a career out of. The Renegade: What do you love about fashion, and what inspires you to keep designing? SaintElien: I love how fashion is constantly changing, and I want to take advantage of that and make my own contribution to change. [I’m inspired by] Haitian folklore, astronomy, sexuality, and really random and odd things. The Renegade: What’s next for you, after graduation? SaintElien: I’d like to get my feet wet in any design job. I’d love to work for a company that has a strong sense of their market but is always creating new designs, like Marc Jacobs. Ultimately, I want to be the creative director of a company similar to Rag & Bone or a fashion house like Giambattista Valli or Jean Paul Gaultier. My aim is to be designing interesting things for as long as I am able. My ultimate dream is to work.

Spring 2014 | Renegade


Close to the Edge The Definition of H.O.P.E. Submitted by Hope C. Wilcox

We are STARS Universe. Uni. Verse. One verse. Only one. Verses. That turned into stanzas. Stanzas, got me standing in awe of nature’s lyricism. With one cord, the cords of my DNA recorded the texture of my hair. Hair strong like my muscles, I choose to run. Run into the arms of the pastures as the fingers of grass massage my temple. My heart whispers prayers to my temple for the passcode to unlock the night. At night, I pray to Jesus Christ, he’s just so extraordinary. Oh so, extraordinaire at placing the stars on the BLACK canvas. Our bodies are God’s canvas. Stars are made up of us. We are made up of stars. Stars. All pointing to the North Star, towards our Savior. GLORY.


Renegade | Spring 2014

Load It

Submitted by Hakeem Watson Load it; cock it, aim and shoot Who were you to do the necessary? My retaliation was to your retaliation of the implantation of fire and steel Into the stomach of my cousin so that he could feel The disrespect he gave you and the reputation he has paved for you Now that you have him on the pavement But who da fuck are you Since when did you have that higher power? Of all the things to accumulate you choose to take more than just a body You choose To leak from his corpse an eternal strand of memories of him and me, potential moments of the future; the way we used to live and breathe And let it pour down the street drain into my anguish Now it feels like I can’t think Now it feels like the vindictive strings of asking why have wrapped around my joints I’m tied to the memorialization of my tears as I cry The only hope I have now is that I find you soon Still can’t figure out who the fuck are you When did you become a part of my life? You fool You mutherfucking goon I can see you now trying to swoon on some female embodiment as you wrap a cocoon on the story of how my kin fell I can see the slithering tongue of your snakelike culture reciprocate more ways to get back at who my cousin was The more I visualize the more I get a buzz Like I hive of a thousand bees have me mesmerized on taking you out Like right now the only surprised would be if I couldn’t figure out why You didn’t deserve what’s coming Though I don’t feel like this is the way to heal I don’t feel like your verification then capture is the resurrection that saves the day It doesn’t look like if I kick you off your mountain bike and land blows whose sound resonate the screams of when I held my family in my arms Will make me feel at ease It feels more like This is what I have to do This is principle that I get you back This is innate ability that I make you sweat seeing me There’s now a sick attraction to enforcing someone else’s pain…

Spring 2014 | Renegade


#AwkwardBlackMoment Submitted by Anonymous

If you have ever taken COM 117 you know that each student group has to complete a PSA project, a nonfiction project, and a fiction project. One day, my class was having our first round of table reads – each group reads their script to the class for feedback – when Team Four took the stage and presented their proposed film idea – “True Life: I’m a Ratchet.” Before I continue, let me make it clear the group was made up of three white, Jewish kids. I had just rolled out of bed for the class so I definitely wasn’t paying attention to them at all, but my head snapped up when their definition of ‘ratchet’ ended with the words “hood or ghetto.” The plot of their movie was centered on a “super white upper middle class teen that is a self-proclaimed ratchet.” When they said this I looked around my class to see if anybody else found something horribly wrong with what was going on, but to my surprise, everyone else was just chilling and laughing at their ridiculous plot. This went on for about 10 minutes. Apparently, the ‘ratchet’ girl had a boyfriend called “Daddy T” who wore grills, listened to Wiz Khalifa, and wanted to become a rapper. She also described herself as a “hood mama,” which tells you how White these kids are because no Black person worth their salt would ever call themselves that. They threw around the words ratchet, ghetto and hood countless times throughout their script. The whole time, I couldn’t wait until they were done so that I could say something. Imagine my shock when after their reading, the class gave them a round of applause and the professor proceeded to give them constructive criticism - about filming aspects, not their plot – like they didn’t just read the most racist and politically incorrect script ever. That’s when I realized I was actually the only Black person in the room. Everybody that raised their hand had something positive to say or something to add, but nobody mentioned the huge Black elephant in the room. When I finally couldn’t take it anymore, without even raising my hand, I blurted out “Are you guys serious? There is absolutely nothing politically correct about your entire script.” After hearing my rant about everything wrong with their story, they claimed that they were referencing Miley Cyrus in their plot and didn’t mean to sound racist. They offered to remove the words “hood and ghetto” from their script and replace “ratchet” with a made-up word. As if that would actually solve anything. Have an awkward Black moment? Tweet it to @RenegademagSU with the hashtag #awkwardblackmoment for a chance at being featured in the magazine!


Renegade | Spring 2014

Senior communications and rhetorical studies major Hillary Stallings reflects on some of the most eye-rolling aspects of her time at Syracuse University As I prepare to leave Syracuse University, and potentially academia forever, I’ve spent the past few weeks recalling all of the times I’ve seen White privilege in action on this campus. From suggestions that affirmative action played the biggest role in my acceptance here, to explaining why White people are frowned upon for saying “nigger,” it’s been memorable to say the least. What has made me roll my eyes the most, though, is hearing that a White person doesn’t “see race.” When anyone says this, I think they mean to say is “I’m SO not racist,” and that’s nice and all, but it’s still a fundamentally racist statement to make. If you don’t see race, then you don’t see the painfully blatant inequalities that exist between races. If you don’t see race, then you must not see me because I’m very much a product of such a social construct. Not seeing race must especially mean you don’t see that only White people are even able to not see it, because they don’t have to be confronted with it each and every day. I see race when department store attendants are especially helpful to me; so helpful they follow me around the damn store. I see race when I’m described as “well-spoken,” but don’t sound much different from my White peers who aren’t labeled the same. I see race best when the history of my ancestors in this country makes others so uncomfortable they question why there’s even a month dedicated to remembering what atrocities this country was built on. Not seeing race is a luxury that only White people are afforded as American society thrives on structural racism; a structure only made to benefit Whites. Now, I’m not saying all Whites should feel guilty for having this advantage that they didn’t ask to have, but all should definitely be aware and accepting of the existence of this White privilege. I’ve met several different SU students who refuse to believe White privilege exists and while that’s real cute of them, it doesn’t change the fact that it is very real. That’s the thing about truth- whether or not someone believes in it, it will remain true. What’s better than denying what advantages and disadvantages surround us is simply recognizing what ones we each possess and being conscious of how they shape the lives of ourselves and everyone we interact with. My not having the privilege to ever wonder if I’m getting a job because a company wants to appear more diverse doesn’t make me hate White people. That White women are actually the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action, contrary to popular and misinformed belief, doesn’t make me resent White people. My problem with colorblind White people begins with their refusal to accept that race is very much a *thing,* because not thinking so makes them just as racist as they try so hard not to be.

Spring 2014 | Renegade