Summer 2024 - DESTINATION: Trinidad and Tobago, Navajo Advocacy

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Multicultural, multiethnic, mixed-race and geographically mobile populations (like immigrants, refugees and Third Culture Kids).



Photography, Art and Advocacy

Culturs Ambassador Eugene Tapahe blends his Diné (Navajo) roots with his artistic pursuits, among them the groundbreaking “Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project.”


Riding For Change

Amy Denet Deal strives to create Olympic skateboarding dreams for Navajo youth by building skateparks and charting a course toward inclusivity and empowerment.


Invisible No More

Assunnettè Oneta Zavi champions Afro Indigenous heritage by helping Mayans advance their economic development and entrepreneurship. ALSO

14 Destinations with Doni Trinidad and Tobago and the pulsating Carnival celebration in the days before Lent.

62 The V.I.T.A.L.S. Blueprint on six self-care secrets to health through an authentic Yogic lifestyle.

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Cross-Cultural Cache, Global Impact

Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz are honored with the Recording Academy’s Global Impact Awards for their work as Black music creators whose

THE MUST LIST IN EVERY ISSUE 35 Must Watch: ‘Girls State’ on Apple TV+ 36 Must Watch: Amazon Prime documentary on Frida Kahlo 38 Must Read: ‘Long Distance’ pan-African comic book anthology 40 Must Know: George Takei’s ‘The Called Us Enemy’ 8 Contributors 12 Editor’s Letter 70 Tech and trends 76 Beauty and Wellness 80 Home and Sanctuary 94 Behind the scenes
industry. | Summer 2024 5
dedication has greatly influenced the

Culturally Fluid Definitions

n the 21st century, assessing someone’s background from outward appearance isn’t enough as hidden, rather than visual, diversity means people increasingly bring more to the table than meets the eye.

Whether through nationality, travel, race or ethnicity, many straddle culture in myriad ways. From Cultural Fluidity, to Third Culture Kid, Expat, Third Culture Adult, Cross-Cultural Kid and more, the language to describe our in-between community is of

Cross-Cultural Kid (CCK)

A term coined by author Ruth Van Reken in 2002, is a person who is living, has lived, or meaningfully interacted with two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time during the first 18 years of life. This includes minority individuals living within majority culture.

Adult Cross-Cultural Kid (ACCK)

An adult who grew up as a Cross-Cultural Kid.

Cultural Fluidity/Cultural Mobility

A term coined by Culturs founder Donnyale Ambrosine to characterize hidden diversity created by people who don’t or didn’t grow up in a homogenous cultural environment. Culturally Fluid individuals may straddle nationalities, ethnicities, race or culture. The fluidity created allows understanding between or among their foundational areas of meaningful experience. It also may hinder sense of belonging to any one area.

Missionary Kids

Children of missionaries who travel to missions domestically or abroad.

utmost importance. Knowing the vocabulary creates understanding and deepens our sense of belonging and connections to others with similar experiences. Here’s a quick overview so you can follow along any of our articles with ease:

Third Culture Kids (TCKs)

Coined by Sociologist Ruth Useem in the 1950s as a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The first culture is considered an individual’s passport culture, while the second culture consists of the culture(s) in which the individual has lived. The third culture is a result of the person’s life experience; this is the culture to which they most belong. The third culture often is where individuals feel community with others of similar experience.

Domestic TCK

Children who moved to various regions within the same country while growing up, often having to re-learn ways of being, especially as regional differences in dress, speech and action are heightened in formative years when it is important to be accepted.

Adult Third Culture Kid (ATCK)

An adult who grew up as a TCK.

Third Culture Adult (TCA)

Coined in 2002 by Psychotherapist Paulette Bethel to signify individuals who travel extensively and are immersed in, or live in global locations after the age of 18 (after identity has been solidified).

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Internationally nomadic group not characterized by a parent’s occupation. Displaced from their homeland forcibly or by choice, often having fled for varied reasons — violence, politics, religion, environment, etc. Refugees typically do not return to their origin country.


People who, for varied reasons, immigrate to a country different than their homeland to stay permanently. Many return to their home countries to visit, though some do not.

Expatriate (Expat)

As defined by Merriam Webster — to leave one’s native country to live elsewhere; which also sometimes means to renounce allegiance to one’s native country.

Military B.R.A.T.

Children of military who move with parents to different places within or outside of their home country. They often experience other cultures within the confines of a military installation or compound that possesses traits of the home country.

Non-Military Foreign Service

Children traveling with their parents to various countries in non-military government roles, diplomatic corps, civil service, foreign service, etc.

Diplomat Kids

Children whose parents are members of the home country’s political framework while living on foreign soil.


Those who travel expecting differences among intra-international or international culture, however, not immersed in these cultures for extended periods of time, or long enough to integrate local cultural norms as their own.

International Business Kids

Children whose parents work with multinational corporations that take them to faraway lands, often in professional fields surrounding oil, construction and pharmaceuticals.


Described by author Ruth Van Reken in the book “Third Culture Kids,” a borderlander is a citizen of one country that lives close to another. Often the norms, customs and traits of each country’s culture seeps into the other, creating a cultural experience separate from either original culture, while allowing inhabitants keen knowledge and insight into their own culture as well as the other.


People whose family consists of two or more races to which the individual identifies. With race often come cultural norms, slang language and attitudes that can greatly differ. Many multiracial children, though not all, have the unique opportunity to learn norms of all the cultures they comprise.

Multiethnic; Multicultural

People whose family consists of two or more cultures to which the individual identifies. Even when belonging to the same race, differences in culture may exist between ethnicities, tribes and other cultural contexts. | Summer 2024 7

ANDREA BAZOIN (say “Bah-Zwah”) (she/her) is a human resilience activator, which means she works with individuals and teams to identify and dismantle the practical and personal barriers that keep them from thriving in our ever-accelerating future. Her family ties span the globe and include the U.S., Chile, Argentina, Australia, and France. She currently lives in Colorado, U.S.A. with her French husband and culturally fluid son. Learn more at

U.K., Trinidad & Tobago Adult Third Culture Kid

HAYDEN GREENE (he/him) is a pop culture columnist and director of multicultural affairs and student development at Manhattan College in New York City, U.S.A. Known as Brooklyn’s favorite polymath, he is a prize-winning fine art photographer, voice over talent and Trinidadian from the U.K.

JOHN LIANG (he/him) is an Adult Third Culture Kid who grew up in Guatemala, Costa Rica, the United States, Morocco and Egypt before graduating high school. He has a bachelor’s degree in languages from Georgetown University and a master’s in International Policy Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Liang has covered the U.S. military for two decades as a writer and editor for, and is also managing editor of Culturs Magazine. He lives in Arlington, Va., U.S.A.

Third Culture Adult

DR. TAMMY RAE MATTHEWS (she/her) is an assistant professor of digital and sports journalism at St. Bonaventure University’s Jandoli School of Communication. She holds a doctoral degree from the University of Colorado Boulder, a master’s from Colorado State University, and a bachelor’s from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Matthews was an editor for the Chicago SunTimes and its north suburban subsidiaries. Her research works to unravel the intricacies of intersectional representations and experiences in global sport. She also focuses on the queer experience, storytelling, language and media discourse’s influence.

Chilean Nebraskan Adult Cross Cultural Kid Guatemalan American Adult Third Culture Kid
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Third Culture Adult

PATRICIA “REIGN” REIGN (she/her) has been in the beauty business for two decades with an interest in the industry as early as middle school, when she started as a hair braider. She is deeply knowledgeable about self-care and self-care products and takes pride in learning and being aware of all the trends in beauty and self-care so she can always recommend the very best products and services to her clients.

Diné (Navajo) Native American

EUGENE TAPAHE (he/him) is the owner, photographer and graphic designer at Tapahe Photography and Tapahe Inventive Design. His experience ranges from Managing Editor, Art Director, Senior Animator/Designer, and Photographer for publications such as The Navajo Times, and ESPN The Magazine, Communication Arts Magazine, and Photoshop User Magazine. He draws creative inspiration from his Navajo culture and credits his traditional upbringing for his continued success. His photography and work in his professional career have taken him to the NFL Super Bowl, MLB World Series and other major world events.

Cross Cultural Adult

KADIJA TAYLOR (she/her) is the owner of Home and Sanctuary, a full-service boutique interior design firm nestled in the heart of Denver, Colo., U.S.A. With a passion for holistic wellness and self-care, Taylor empowers clients to envision their spaces as sanctuaries for nurturing their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Through thoughtful design solutions and personalized guidance, she advocates for the transformative power of design as an integral part of one’s journey to self-love and self-care.

Mexican Third Culture Adult

DIANA VEGA (they/them) is a Third Culture Adult. Born in Mexico and passionate about design, they studied architecture and started a small business after college. Interested in entrepreneurship, Vega moved to Colorado, U.S.A. to earn an MBA at Colorado State University. Now repatriated to Mexico, they are a graphic designer and illustrator for Culturs Magazine.

Indian Cross Cultural Adult

Cross-Cultural SHANTHI YOGINI (she/her) is an engineer-turned Authentic Yogic Lifestyle Expert and a #1 international best-selling author of a book series on happiness. She was born and raised in the country which is the very source of Yoga-Shaastram (Yoga-Living), and comes from a lineage of Yoga-Masters. She teaches ancient wisdom suitable to modern lifestyle through two-minute tools.

CONTRIBUTORS | Summer 2024 9


Connect with Culturs on social:



I’m sick in bed unable to move much, and that story was chicken soup for my soul.

Congrats on Culturs Mags being included in Oscar swag!!!

So thankful to Doni Aldine for making our milestone, bucket list safari/beach resort extravaganza last year even more fabulous by memorializing it in her beautiful magazine, Culturs, and with a conversation on her podcast. You can feel the celebration of life, love, friendship and sisterhood in both mediums. This is so cool! We’re on the cover!

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You have birthed an amazing publication which will only grow and have more and more relevance in the days ahead!

— Ruth V.R.

I love seeing all of the work you are doing to bring greater visibility for cross-cultural identities.

— Laura R.

Thanks so much for this resource! As a Third Culture Adult and adoptive parent, I’ve been looking all over for exactly this.

— P. Callow

You have done SO many remarkable things!

— Stephanie W.

Summer 2024

Volume VI, Issue XXIV



SUBSCRIPTIONS: ADVERTISING INQUIRIES: Contact MEDIA INQUIRIES: Contact CULTURSTM magazine, Volume 2, Issue 3. Copyright Culturs Global Multicultural Philanthropic Lifestyle Network. All rights reserved. Published quarterly; Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, by Simply Alive, LLC, 242 Linden Street, Fort Collins, CO 80525.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Culturs magazine, 1800 Wazee Street, Suite 300, Denver, CO, 80525. Reproduction in whole or part without express written consent is strictly prohibited. Simply Alive LLC does not assume responsibility for the advertisements, nor any representation made therein, nor the quality or deliverability of the products themselves. No responsibility is assumed for unsolicited submissions, manuscripts, photographs, and other material submitted. Culturs makes every effort to provide accurate information in advertising and editorial content, however, does not make any claim as to the accuracy of information provided by advertisers or editorial contributors and accepts no responsibility or liability for inaccurate information. PRINTED IN THE USA

with Culturs on social:
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Williams SPECIAL THANKS: Public Relations Society of America
ADVISORY BOARD Chumba Limo Connie Trujillo Gregory Moore Donna Musil Linda
Price SOCIAL MEDIA Faith Vinluan
DESIGN Gamma Waves
VIDEOGRAPHY Ben | Summer 2024 11


This Summer issue has a deep emphasis

on Indigenous people, with our cover story featuring images by photographer and Culturs Ambassador Eugene Tapahe. In that story, Tapahe reflects on his evolution from a “Navajo Times” advertising representative to a celebrated photographer and community leader.

Tapahe’s groundbreaking “Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project,” born amidst the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic, resonated with individuals from diverse backgrounds and sparked vital conversations about Indigenous resilience and identity.

(This won’t be the only issue with his amazing photos, though. Stay tuned for more in future editions!)

Additionally, we highlight Amy Denet Deal and her efforts to popularize skateboarding among the Navajo population and increase Indigenous representation in the Olympics.

On top of that, we interviewed Assunettè Oneta Zavi on her work to uplift and empower Indigenous, Native and Aboriginal communities through her digital marketing, branding and advertising agency.

We also unveil six self-care secrets to health through an authentic Yogic lifestyle and learn about author Shayla Lawson and their journey to liberation through travel.

The “Destinations With Doni” segment takes us to vibrant Trinidad and Tobago and the pulsating Carnival celebration in the days before Lent. Witness the amazing creativity of the people and the elaborate costumes they create. The history behind those costumes is equally enthralling.

| Choose from a variety of recipes at

Furthermore, we’re happy to introduce two new columnists, Patricia “REIGN” Reign and Kadija Taylor. Reign has some wonderful tips on the power of makeup and how it adds to the kaleidoscope of color during Carnival in Trinidad. Taylor, meanwhile, has some great pointers on embracing cultural diversity through color in interior design.

From the “Jingle Dress Project,” to skateboarding in the North American southwest, to dancing in multihued costumes in Trinidad and Tobago, hopefully this issue sparks some colorful ideas for you.
THEM TASTE THAT LIFE HAS TO OFFER. ALL Give your dog a bowl full of real ingredients and real flavor with every recipe. Purina trademarks are owned by Société des Produits Nestlé S.A.
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Located 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) off the Venezuelan coast

and the southernmost island country in the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago is a melting pot of African, Indian and other cultures, with its Carnival celebration one of the annual highlights. | Summer 2024 15
Photos by Hayden Greene

POPULATION: 1.4 million

AVERAGE ANNUAL TEMPERATURE: 78.8 degrees F/26 degrees C

AVERAGE PRECIPITATION: 83.1 inches/2,110mm


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People turn out in colorful costumes that can take months to prepare.

Approximately 55.2% of the population identifies as Christian, and Roman Catholic is the most significant denomination at 21.6%. Therefore, Carnival, celebrated with such fervor, occurs on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

People turn out in colorful costumes that can take months to prepare.

Those costumes go back to the late 18th century when French landowners would organize masquerades (known today as the “Mas” tradition) and parties in the days before the Lenten fast.

While forbidden to take part in Carnival, enslaved people would have their celebration called “Canboulay,” derived from the French phrase “cannes broulés,” i.e., “burnt cane.” | Summer 2024 19
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The Monday morning before Lent brings “J’ouvert,” i.e., “daybreak” in French, where partygoers walk the streets in homemade, sometimes funny costumes. Many people doused in powder, mud or oil dance to calypso music.

More formal costumes arrive, including elaborate ones like butterflies or large animals, once the afternoon and evening come.

Some costumes are so broad that the wearers need wheels to stabilize them.

As the people stride by, you cannot help but wonder how long they took to put those costumes together. Wings do not just span feet but meters. Exquisitely decorated elephants sport incredibly intricate designs. These dresses would feel at home at the Met Gala in New York, U.S.A.

How long were they hunched over a sewing machine? How many needles punctured fingers as they hand-sewed their costumes?

Many people doused in powder, mud or oil dance to calypso music.

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Pulsating through the air is the rhythm of Calypso and Soca music, the tunes causing the people to sway with the beat. A listener might wonder about the history behind that music. Did it originate from the enslaved people, or is it an offshoot of a more formal European sound? Was it passed down from generation to generation by simple repetition until someone finally thought to write down the notes? Did some Millennials develop a piece that makes all ages nod their heads to the chords?

As you walk among the revelers, do not be surprised to hear snippets of Trinidadian Creole or Trinidadian Hindustani, along with Spanish, Tamil and Chinese.

While Christians constitute most of the population, other major religions have a sizeable footprint. The Indian holy day of Diwali is also an official government holiday, and the country’s largest ethnic group is of Indian descent (approximately 35.4%), the result of indentured workers from India brought to replace freed African enslaved people who did not want to keep working on the sugar plantations.

Some costumes are so broad that the wearers need wheels to stabilize them.

When Diwali comes around, the Divali Nagar (“City of Divali”) in the Trinidadian borough of Chaguanas lights up in celebration, making it the major Indian cultural event in the country and possibly the biggest one in the wider Caribbean and North America.

According to World Bank figures, the oil and gas industry has helped Trinidad and Tobago become the most developed Caribbean nation, with a per capita income of US$20,070. | Summer 2024 25

Workers spend wages on local cuisines, like callaloo, a side dish brimming with dasheen or taro leaves, okra, some crab and pumpkin, pimento, coconut milk, onions and chives or cilantro.

Hungry revelers can also chow down on Pelau, a ricebased delicacy or stewed chicken. Other possibilities include macaroni pie, breadfruit oil down or dhal with rice.

Pulsating through the air is the rhythm of Calypso and Soca music, the tunes causing the people to sway with the beat.

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Curried ducks that include either roti or rice are another local favorite. Additionally, one can find Indo-Trinidadian street foods like aloo pie (a pastry filled with seasoned mashed potatoes and then fried that looks like an oversized samosa), doubles (flat fried dough filled with curried chickpeas along with pho lourie (fried, spiced split pea and flour dough balls served with chutney), among others.

A visit to Trinidad and Tobago during Carnival is a feast for the eyes, ears and mouth and will leave a lifetime of memories.

To read this story online, scan the code below. | Summer 2024 29


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In the vast, wind-swept expanses of the Navajo Nation, where the echoes of tradition

reverberate through the canyons, Amy Denet Deal crafts a new narrative of cruising skateboards and flying dreams.

Denet Deal is the visionary founder of 4KINSHIP, a Diné (the term Navajo people use when referencing their community) sustainable fashion brand dedicated to funding social outreach for Indigenous communities.

Denet Deal is a designer who catalyzes change.

Through 4KINSHIP and a collaboration with skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, Denet Deal spearheaded and unveiled the first skatepark in the Navajo Nation, igniting a spark of possibility in the hearts of its youth. The park not only provides a space for physical activity but also serves as a hub for mental wellness and community engagement.

Interview by John Liang Amy Denet Deal | Summer 2024 31
Photo credit: Pierre Manning


In Sept. 2023, Denet Deal hosted the epic, inaugural Modern Matriarchs Skate Jam (MMSJ), an empowering skateboarding showdown for women and girls at the Diné Skate Garden Project, which opened in 2023. The park is in the Two Grey Hills Chapter of the Navajo Nation near the Chuska Mountains, about 200 miles/322km from Albuquerque, N.M., U.S.A.

Hundreds met for the skate session that broke down barriers and built bridges with every kickflip and ollie. The iconic competition united Indigenous girls, women, trans, nonbinary and gendernonconforming skaters.

Denet Deal is now rallying support to provide over 5,000 Navajo youth with skateboarding kits, alongside launching a mentorship program to nurture the next generation of athletes. Through promoting power through skate culture transcends desires to help Indigenous youth master the half-pipe, Denet Deal looks to revitalize history.

In a landscape where sports and athletics have deep roots in North American culture, the Olympic stage is still elusive for many Indigenous athletes.

The National Museum of the American Indian reports that the

Amy Denet Deal
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Photo by Shaun Price


largest contingent of North American Native athletes — six in total — participated in the 1912 Olympic Games. Since then, approximately 43 Olympic athletes identifying as either Native American or Aboriginal Canadian represented their heritage up to 2010.

These barriers reflect the limited access, sparse resources and systemic challenges threatening to sideline the dreams of many Indigenous youth.

For Denet Deal, skateboard distribution and mentorship forge steps toward Olympic participation. As she charts a

With every skateboard push, the skaters carve lines toward a successful tomorrow.

course toward inclusivity and empowerment, her vision is to cultivate a generation of athletes whose stories echo across the ages, whose triumphs will inspire, whose victories will resonate and whose journeys embody the enduring spirit of resilience.

With every skateboard push, the skaters carve lines toward a successful tomorrow. | Summer 2024 33


Denet Deal’s journey began as a mother, driven by a desire to affect her community. In 2015, she established 4KINSHIP with her daughter. Her mission expanded when she returned to New Mexico and reconnected with her Navajo heritage.

Before moving to Sante Fe, Denet Deal lived in the U.S., Germany and Japan. She then made her way to New Mexico, where her birth mother was born.

“I’m actually one of the displaced children from the 1960s that was adopted out to nonnative families, so I came home to my tribe in my 50s,” she says. “It was a beautiful childhood, but I didn’t have any connection to my culture.”

“I think that’s a lot of the story you hear from a lot of adoptees,” she adds. “Some have good experiences; some have bad.”

Denet Deal felt a deep longing to reconnect with her culture.

“It was something that was always inside of me. It was always something I yearned for,” she says.

Indigenous representation was exceedingly sparse in the 1960s and 1970s. Returning to her ancestral lands in her 50s awakened a profound sense of belonging. Santa Fe taught Denet Deal about her culture and tribal relations in the area.

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Skateboarders at skate park

“We have one of the largest populations of Indigenous people here in the Southwest with Navajo Nation where I’m from, and then all the pueblos around Santa Fe,” she says.

With her reintegration, Denet Deal felt an ignited passion.


Skateboarding is a sport, and it’s also a tool for empowerment and self-expression. Denet Deal believes Indigenous youth can develop confidence, resilience and a sense of belonging by having access to skateboarding. It’s a mental and physical health lifeline for many young athletes.

Denet Deal’s vision extends beyond the Navajo Nation. She plans to build skateparks in remote areas across Native

Her efforts, fueled by years of experience in leadership roles, have manifested into tangible projects reshaping Indigenous youths’ narrative.

American reservations, ensuring every child can access recreational facilities. Through grassroots initiatives and community partnerships, she aims to create a support network for Indigenous youth aspiring to pursue their athletic dreams.

Despite facing challenges and cultural barriers, Denet Deal stays steadfast in her commitment to uplifting her community. With each skatepark built and every child empowered, she brings us closer to a future where Indigenous representation in sports is not the exception but the norm.

“I’m actually really good at being a skate aunt,” Denet Deal says. “I’m really good at taking care of solutions for our kids.”

Denet Deal’s impact transcends mere words. Her efforts, fueled by years of experience in leadership roles, have manifested into tangible projects reshaping Indigenous youths’ narrative.

The Diné Skate Garden Project is a testament to Denet Deal’s unwavering commitment to empowering Indigenous communities.

She recalls the surreal moment when Hawk himself graced the Navajo Nation’s skatepark.

“The fact that Tony personally came out and opened the park with us is just a testament to me of, you know, they’re all in, they’re a hundred percent in,” Denet Deal says.

Amy Denet Deal | Summer 2024 35
Photo by Shaun Price


Denet Deal’s journey to setting up the first skatepark in Navajo Nation for Indigenous youth was not without its obstacles, though. Beyond the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, she faced delays and setbacks in securing funding for the park. However, her resolve remained.

“You build the park, but you have to create a sustainable platform for these kids,” she says.

She emphasizes her current commitment to providing free equipment and access to all Indigenous youth.

“I would never want them not to be able to participate simply because of how they were brought up or where they live,” she says.

For Denet Deal, the skatepark initiative symbolizes hope and equality. Her vision extends beyond sport.

As the founder of the nonprofit 4KINSHIP Indigenous Futures Fund, a collaboration between 4KINSHIP and Marty Hennessey’s Inspiring Children Foundation, Denet Deal aims to amplify young Indigenous talents’ voices and dismantle stereotypes ingrained in mainstream media through creative arts programs and cultural initiatives created to nurture emerging Indigenous artists.

For Denet Deal, the skatepark initiative symbolizes hope and equality. Her vision extends beyond sport.


With her eyes set on the horizon, Denet Deal envisions a future fruitful with globally flourishing Indigenous creativity.

“We want to amplify that by inviting somebody from New Zealand, inviting somebody from Hawaii,” she says.

Denet Deal reflects on her journey with gratitude and purpose. She highlights the necessity of international collaboration in pursuing cultural revitalization.

“It’s the biggest healing thing that’s happened in my whole life,” she says. “To know who you are and to know where you come from: it’s a powerful thing.”

She also reflects on representation and visibility in the Navajo murder mystery series and psychological thriller television show “Dark Winds,” which first aired in 2022.

“It’s amazing when you come across people who actually look like you,” she says.

In a world still grappling with the legacies of colonization, Denet Deal’s work is a beacon of hope for future generations. She underscores the urgency of advocacy and support for Indigenous communities.

“The next generation just deserves a much easier road to get to where they’re going,” she says.

Her vision shines as bright as a golden glow on the Navajo Nation horizon.

Through one skatepark and one creative initiative at a time, Denet Deal strives to continue bridging the gap between past and present, as well as tradition and innovation. Her journey is an inspiring testament to robust resilience, cultural pride, artistic representation and the transformative potential of sports.

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To read this story online, scan the code below.

Amy Denet Deal | Summer 2024 37
Photo by Shaun Price


Tammy Rae Matthews Interview by John Liang Photography, Eugene Tapahe
38 Summer 2024 |


Photographer and Culturs


Eugene Tapahe embodies a fusion of heritage and modernity, seamlessly blending his Diné (Navajo) roots with his artistic pursuits. Born in Window Rock, Ariz., U.S.A. and raised in the Navajo Nation, Tapahe’s formative years, steeped in the timeless traditions of his Navajo ancestors, instilled a profound reverence for nature and a deep-seated commitment to preserving ancestral wisdom. | Summer 2024 39
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In the embrace of his grandmother, he learned the sacred bond between the people and the land, a bond that resonates in every click of his camera shutter. As a photographer and cultural ambassador, Tapahe’s journey echoes the rhythms of the land he cherishes, weaving tales of tradition and modernity through his captivating images.

Tapahe’s journey has taken him on a path of artistic exploration and cultural advocacy. Currently living in Provo, Utah, U.S.A. with his wife and daughters, Tapahe reflects on his evolution from a “Navajo Times” advertising representative to a celebrated photographer and community leader. | Summer 2024 41
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“I didn’t set out to become a photographer, but rather stumbled into it during my time at the ‘Navajo Times,’” Tapahe says.

His transition from advertising to photojournalism was serendipitous, sparked by a chance opportunity to document a local rodeo. This first foray ignited Tapahe’s passion for storytelling through imagery, laying the foundation for his unique artistic vision.

“Photography was something that I did not get trained with,” Tapahe says.

“I was responsible for doing advertising and laying out the newspaper,” he continues. “But I wanted more than just design and advertising. I wanted to share my talents in photography through journalism.”

Now, drawing from his graphic design and journalism background, Tapahe crafts visual narratives that bridge the gap between past and present. His work transcends mere documentation, imbuing landscapes and portraits with a palpable sense of history and reverence.

“I use photography as a means of cultural preservation,” Tapahe says. “It’s my way of honoring my heritage and sharing it with the world.”

With a borrowed camera and boundless curiosity, Tapahe embarked on a journey of discovery, capturing the stories of his people and the landscapes that cradle their spirits. | Summer 2024 43

“I didn’t have any inspiration from other photographers,” Tapahe says. “I just used my knowledge of graphic design to compose imagery through the lens.”


For Tapahe, the biggest obstacle in his career was the battle with self-doubt and the quest for creative innovation.

“The biggest obstacle for me is myself,” Tapahe says. “There are times when self-motivation wanes, but I remind myself of the vast opportunities awaiting exploration.”

Despite the hurdles, Tapahe’s indomitable spirit guided him through the corridors of academia, culminating in a Master of Fine Arts degree from Brigham Young University.

“My MFA journey was transformative,” Tapahe says. “As a mature student among the youth, I embraced the spirit of collaboration, learning invaluable lessons from the vibrant tapestry of perspectives.”

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Tapahe’s work transcends conventional photography. It embraces diverse mediums and immersive experiences. From captivating landscapes to thoughtprovoking installations, Tapahe’s artistry embodies a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation while echoing the timeless wisdom of his ancestors.

Central to Tapahe’s artistic philosophy is a deep-seated respect for diversity within Indigenous communities.

“There’s a misconception that all Native Americans share the same culture,” he says. “Each tribe boasts its own distinct traditions, languages and belief systems.”

This rich tapestry of diversity is a recurring theme in Tapahe’s work, which aims to amplify marginalized Indigenous groups’ voices. | Summer 2024 45


Tapahe’s artistic endeavors extend beyond mere aesthetic expression, serving as catalysts for healing and reconciliation. His groundbreaking “Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project,”

born amidst the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic, exemplifies this ethos. Rooted in the healing traditions of the Ojibwe jingle dress dance, the project embarked on a nationwide journey to bless ancestral lands and foster unity.

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“It wasn’t just about photography or dance,” Tapahe says while reflecting on the project’s profound impact. “It was about collective healing.”

The project garnered widespread acclaim, resonating with individuals from diverse backgrounds and sparking vital conversations about Indigenous resilience and identity. The project became a beacon of hope and healing to unite people in a collective wish for humanity’s well-being.

“The Jingle Dress Project wasn’t about bringing attention to Native people; it was about bringing hope and healing to those afflicted by the pandemic,” Tapahe says. “Through the sacred dance of the Ojibwe jingle dress, we embarked on a journey to bless the lands of our ancestors, invoking their spirits to guide us through these trying times.”

As the project garnered acclaim and touched lives nationwide, Tapahe witnessed the profound impact of art as a conduit for empathy and understanding.

“Art opens our hearts and fosters dialogue beyond politics and prejudice,” Tapahe says. “It bridges the chasms of cultural divide, fostering a deeper appreciation for our shared humanity.” | Summer 2024 47
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Beyond artistic expression, Tapahe’s advocacy extends to the vital cause of land acknowledgment, which is a poignant tribute to the

Indigenous peoples who stewarded the earth for millennia.

Through his photography and community engagement, Tapahe strives to amplify the voices of marginalized communities, fostering a culture of reverence for ancestral lands and traditions.

“The land acknowledgment project emerged from a desire to honor the Indigenous caretakers

of the land,” Tapahe says. “It wasn’t about bringing attention to native issues; it was about fostering a deeper connection to the land and its custodians.”

With a backdrop of a shifting cultural landscape, Tapahe finds solace in the resurgence of Indigenous voices in mainstream media, which is a testament to the rich tapestry of native cultures across the United States. From critically acclaimed films to groundbreaking television series, Indigenous storytellers are | Summer 2024 49
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reclaiming their narratives, challenging stereotypes and celebrating the diversity of Indigenous experiences.

“I’m excited about the upsurge of Indigenous representation in mainstream media,” Tapahe says. “It brings awareness to the enduring presence of native cultures and fosters a deeper understanding of our shared heritage.”


As Tapahe navigates the complex intersection of tradition and modernity, he stays steadfast in his commitment to cultural advocacy and artistic expression. His upcoming endeavors include community art initiatives and further exploring Indigenous storytelling through multimedia platforms.

“I’m excited to see where the next five years will take me,” he says.

Tapahe envisions a future brimming with possibilities fueled by his unwavering passion for art and advocacy.

“There’s still so much to explore, so many stories waiting to be told,” he says.

Tapahe stands as a beacon of authenticity and resilience in the evolving landscape of Indigenous representation. Through his artistry and activism, he continues to redefine the narrative of Indigenous identity, inspiring others to embrace their heritage and celebrate the diversity of these cultures. With every click of his camera shutter, he weaves a tapestry of stories that transcend boundaries, uniting hearts in a symphony of hope, healing and humanity.

To read this story online, scan the code below. | Summer 2024 51
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Intersectional entrepreneurial aspirations outline a

profound mission to foster economic development while preserving cultural heritage. This mission transcends borders and cultural boundaries for one visionary entrepreneur who aims to create a pathway for international business while honoring and uplifting Indigenous communities.

Formerly known as Juanita Myles, Assunettè Oneta Zavi is a visionary business owner striving to uplift and empower Indigenous, Native and Aboriginal communities through her digital marketing, branding and advertising agency.

Interview by John Liang Photos courtesy of Assunettè Oneta Zavi | Summer 2024 53
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“In 2020, I created Narrow Way Designs,” Zavi says. “It’s a marketing company for Indigenous, Aboriginal and Native communities.”

For Zavi, dreams have been a guiding force since childhood. The name “Narrow Way Designs” was born in a vivid dream — a symbolic representation of the focused, albeit challenging, path ahead.

Zavi spearheaded Narrow Way Designs and created an innovative venture with a profound commitment to Indigenous communities. The company collaborates with Indigenous communities for cultural preservation and economic empowerment.

“I wanted to make sure it was a passion, and it was my destiny,” she says. “I prayed on it, asked my ancestors if this is something they want me to walk into.”

Zavi says she works with businesses along the diaspora of Indigenous cultures.

“I just want to give them the knowledge that I have so that they can create economic development within their own communities,” she says.

Through Narrow Way Designs, Zavi seeks to amplify voices that have long been silenced and forgotten.

“My mission for my company is to ensure economic development and growth within the communities I work with,” she says. “I want to create opportunities for American businesses to collaborate with Indigenous communities, fostering international trade while cultivating and respecting their cultural identity.”

Narrow Way Designs markets Indigenous products to a global audience. Zavi emphasizes its ethical sourcing and community empowerment. The venture aims to create sustainable economic opportunities while preserving traditional craftspeople by directly engaging with Indigenous artisans and supporting their livelihoods.

“Our approach is rooted in collaboration and mutual respect,” she says. “We seek to amplify the voices of Indigenous communities and empower them to share their cultural heritage with the world.”

The name “Narrow Way Designs” was born in a vivid dream — a symbolic representation of the focused, albeit challenging, path ahead. | Summer 2024 55
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By celebrating diversity and embracing Indigenous wisdom, Narrow Way Designs paves the way for a future where cultural heritage and economic prosperity go hand in hand. It works to create a more inclusive and equitable marketplace through partnerships with local artisans and grassroots organizations.

Narrow Way Designs facilitates international trading opportunities for businesses seeking collaborations with Indigenous communities while ensuring the preservation and celebration of Indigenous cultures.

“We don’t take away their culture. We don’t try to change their culture, but we just embrace it,” Zavi emphasizes, underscoring the essence of cultural integrity.


Zavi’s mixed heritage is of profound significance to her.

“I am Gullah Geechee and Muscogee Creek Indian,” Zavi says, tracing her lineage back seven generations. “I just felt the need to make sure I’m an advocate for those voices that are being overheard and dismissed.”

Zavi’s message is that identity is power.

“I represent both of my people, my Afro and my Indigenous,” Zavi says. “You can’t put me in a box.”

Part of that journey involved Zavi changing her birth name — Juanita Myles — to Assunettè Oneta Zavi.

my identity,” Zavi says. She started to read more about Afro-Indigenous culture that is not taught in schools.

Part of that journey involved Zavi changing her birth name — Juanita Myles — to Assunettè Oneta Zavi.

Zavi and her twin sister were in foster care until they were 3 years old, after which her grandmother took them in and raised them. As she got older, she would live with various members of her extended family.

Growing up like that gave Zavi “different perspectives” of her relatives’ own identities “and what it means to them.” Part of that spawned a desire to change her name.

Her journey of self-discovery began in her teenage years, fueled by a desire to understand her roots.

Zavi’s grandmother would say, “We’re Creek Indian. We’re not Black. We’re Creek. Black is not a heritage, it’s not a culture — it’s just a color.”

Zavi says she never really understood what her grandmother meant, “because growing up in the urban cities away from our roots, I was just trying to fit in. I didn’t want to seem different.”

“Once I started to become curious about my history, I started to dive really deep,” she adds. “I wanted to really dive deep into

“Juanita” was a name given to her by a nurse, Zavi says.

“My mother didn’t give me my name, my mother actually just gave birth to me and my twin sister, and she left us in the hospital. So we were given the names of our nurse, which was Juanita and Yvette,” she says. Her original name “didn’t have any significant value to me,” Zavi adds. “It wasn’t thoroughly thought through. It was just given to me because we were just baby A and baby B.” | Summer 2024 57

As she got older, though, Zavi started to dive into what a name means: Why would an individual give someone else a name?

“You give a name because it signifies what you want that child to become,” she says.

Assunettè (pronounced “Ah-SAW-neh-tay”) means “life.”

“So when you’re adopting a name, you have to make sure that it is enlightening to the individual that is saying it,” she says. “So, for example, when you say Assunettè, you’re saying ‘life’ every time you say my name. It’s just an affirmation to hear my name that has the power of life.”

Her middle name, Oneta, means “favorable one,” “grace” and “mercy” or “merciful,” and Zavi means “rich” or “wealthy.”

“And that’s what I’m trying to do: I’m trying to create and cultivate wealthy and prosperous and favorable businesses throughout the diaspora of my people,” she says.

Driven by a sense of purpose, Zavi embarked on a journey to create change with Narrow Way Designs.

With a fervent dedication to her Afro-Indigenous heritage, Zavi founded a business to recognize and support those with overlooked and marginalized histories.

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Zavi emphasizes the value of immersing oneself in Indigenous communities, learning their languages, needs and challenges firsthand. To her, earning trust through genuine engagement and commitment is imperative.

“Communication can be difficult when you don’t speak the local languages,” she says. “Building trust and relationships takes time and patience. We must show that we’re here to support and uplift, not exploit or change their way of life.”

Indeed, patience and consistency are essential in intersectional entrepreneurship. Building trust as an outsider requires a delicate balance of consistency, perseverance and humility.

“You cannot rush the process,” Zavi says.

For example, at the time of this interview, Zavi was in Tulum, Mexico.

“I’m really getting to know the Indigenous individuals over here … and I’m getting to understand what it is that they need in order for them to thrive with the businesses that they already cultivated,” Zavi says. “I just want | Summer 2024 59

to give them the knowledge that I have so that they can create economic development within their own communities.”

As Zavi spends time in Tulum, she reflects on honoring ancestral traditions and respecting the interconnectedness of all living beings.

Zavi acknowledges the simplicity and beauty of Indigenous languages, contrasting them with the complexity of Western dialects. Learning the local Mayan language serves as a bridge to deeper cultural understanding.

Spirituality intertwines with daily life in Tulum as Indigenous communities pay homage to their ancestors and the natural world. Through conversations with local Mayans, Zavi gained insight into the rich tapestry of Indigenous wisdom and traditions.


Central to the tenets of Narrow Way Designs is honoring and empowering Indigenous communities, whose knowledge and traditions are invaluable. Zavi passionately advocates for recognizing Indigenous wisdom and the urgent need to support and uplift these communities.

“Humanity is supposed to be one with nature,” she says.

Zavi highlights the interconnectedness between cultural preservation and environmental stewardship. As Narrow Way Designs continues to carve its path, she is committed to bridging economic opportunities with culture.

With a compelling vision and an unwavering dedication to her mission, Zavi envisions a future where Indigenous communities thrive with their cultural heritage generationally preserved. She stays committed to fostering cross-cultural partnerships and creating a world where every voice is heard and valued.

Humanity is supposed to be one with nature.

Narrow Way Designs is a testament to the transformative power of vision, resilience and unwavering commitment to making a difference. In a world where shining light on representation matters, Zavi is a beacon. Her entrepreneurial endeavors shape a progressive, inclusive, and intersectional future.

To learn more about Zavi’s work, follow her on Instagram at @high_level.intentions or @narrowwaydesignsinc.

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Self-care is caring for oneself enough to commit to staying healthy,

and yoga can help with that. People generally associate health with mere physical health. However, the word “health“ is all-inclusive; it also covers all aspects of a human being: mental, intellectual, social and spiritual health. Health is the real wealth to which one should aspire.

Let us take the story of James, Patrick and Gina.

James is a Cross-Cultural Kid (CCK). Patrick is a Third Culture Kid (TCK). Gina is multicultural. They may have one or more of the below mental and physical challenges that require healing:

• Identity Confusion: They may have questions about their cultural identity, such as an inability to fit into a single cultural category and a feeling of not fully belonging anywhere.

• Mental Well-Being: Transitioning between cultures can be mentally taxing. They may have stresses and traumas associated with cultural adaptation, feelings of loss, homesickness and a lack of stability. A constant need to adjust their behavior and beliefs can lead to stress and confusion.

• Social Isolation: Difficulty building long-lasting friendships due to their transient lifestyle leads to social isolation. | Summer 2024 63

• Language Barriers: Learning and maintaining multiple languages results in language barriers and difficulties in communication.

• Environmental Changes: Adapting to different climates and environments requires adjusting to extreme temperatures, pollution levels or altitude changes.

• Dietary Adjustments: Changes in cuisine and dietary habits can affect physical health. Some may struggle with food allergies, intolerances or dietary restrictions in new locations.

• Safety Concerns: They may encounter different levels of safety and security depending on the regions in which they reside.

Going through any of these challenges may also help those individuals develop strength and resilience.

The inability to face any of them will profoundly affect their overall health. Address any issue at the mental and social levels first.

The word “heal“ is part of the word “health.“ Healing first is essential and results in overarching health. Healing and health are easily possible through the Authentic Yogic Lifestyle.

The word “heal“ is part of the word “health.“ Healing first is essential and results in overarching health.

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An authentic Yogic lifestyle is living your life based on the principles and practices of “YogaH“ (Yoga), which the Sanskrit language calls it. It involves physical movement, breathing, attitudes, values, eating and mind control. It enriches every area of your life and ensures physical, mental, intellectual, social and spiritual health. This practice is proper self-care.

The practice promotes six self-care secrets to ensuring your health. The acronym “VITALS” represents them. It is a blueprint for your health. Let us explore them.

Self-Care Secret 1: V — Visualize in Your Mind

All illnesses arise in the mind first. It is the mental sheath of a person. If not addressed, it begins to reflect in the level of the vital life force. This situation is the Praanic sheath.

Visualize yourself as calm, fit, and healthy, and then act to make it happen. Visualize negative emotions leaving your mind. Every aspect of the Yogic lifestyle contributes to healing and happiness.

Begin healing the mind first. The physical body will automatically reflect it.

The values you follow, how you breathe and the foods you eat affect your mind. They could contribute to reducing or increasing your stress, anxiety or depression.

ACTION: Do only those things that keep your mind calm and aware. Learn Yogic lifestyle practices like simple Yoga postures, eating calming foods or altering your breathing pattern to calm your mind whenever opposing emotions surface.

Self-Care Secret 2: I — Ignite Your Praanic Force

PraanaH indicates the vital life force energy in us, giving power to all our organs, minds and brains. The Praanic sheath must be harmonious and balanced for a healthy body.

Your stress, negative emotions and mental blocks, if not taken care of at the mental level, get passed on to the Praanic level. It begins to appear in the body or physical sheath as a physical illness if not addressed.

Pranayama’s authentic Yogic lifestyle practice — life force elongation through breath — helps balance and restore the Praanic energy.

Even the foods we eat have different Praanic energy in them.

ACTION: Eat foods like fresh green vegetables and fruits with high Praanic energy. Breathe properly, slowly and deeply to increase your Praanic energy.

Your stress, negative emotions and mental blocks, if not taken care of at the mental level, get passed on to the Praanic level. | Summer 2024 65

Self-Care Secret 3: T — Transform Your Body with the Yogic Lifestyle

The mind and PraanaH affect physical health. However, we can also address the body directly through exercise, food and breath to improve our physical health. Yoga posture is the best form of exercise for the body. It enhances the functioning of internal systems as well as the outer organs. It also simultaneously affects our mind when practiced in sync with our breath. It results in increased flexibility and strength and a reduced risk of chronic diseases. It can be practiced anywhere, anytime, without additional equipment or props.

ACTION: Learn Yogic lifestyle practices like simple yoga postures, healthy eating and proper deep breathing.

Self-Care Secret 4: A — Awaken Your Intellect

Intellect is that part of the mind that analyzes, makes decisions and solves problems.

Authentic Yogic lifestyle practices like postures, meditation and proper breathing increase focus and clarity of thought.

In one stream of YogaH called Jnana YogaH (the YogaH of knowledge), there is a lot of analysis, questions, answers and logic. This practice increases your brain power.

It results in wise choices and regret-free decisions.

ACTION: Practice forwardbending postures that increase the blood flow to the brain. Practice deep breathing that increases oxygen flow to the body and brain. Refuse to consume alcohol or drugs that dull your brain and diminish your decisionmaking skills.

Intellect is that part of the mind that analyzes, makes decisions and solves problems.
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Self-Care Secret 5: L — Love Your Relationships

Social health and keeping positive relationships are essential for many of us. With an improper attitude, we may experience bitterness. We may take small events seriously and allow situations and people to interfere with our happiness. We may feel lonely, unloved and isolated. Our attitude toward life and other people changes with an authentic Yogic lifestyle. We come to realize the interconnection between all of us. Therefore, friction with others decreases while we support social health.

Others may not change, but we begin to change with ease.

ACTION: Practice Yogic values like gratitude, forgiveness and non-violence with which we can feel love in our relationships.

Self-Care Secret 6: S — Seek Spirituality with the Yogic Lifestyle

Some of us may think that we’re not spiritual because we’re not interested in spirituality. However, in essence, we’re all spiritual beings with human experience. Therefore, whether we know it or not, we all have a spiritual layer.

Your spiritual health depends on your acceptance of the spiritual layer within you.

Authentic Yogic lifestyle answers more profound questions, such as your life purpose, connection to the universe or the reason for your birth.

The very word “YogaH“ means “union.”

People wrongly think that YogaH has two aspects: a physical aspect and a spiritual aspect. In truth, it has one aspect: spirituality. Everything we think to be physical, like yoga poses, also enhances our spiritual health.

ACTION: Practice any aspect of the Yogic lifestyle. Read more about the Yogic lifestyle. You’ll be heading forward toward improving your spiritual health.


Self-care is to stay healthy. Your health is not only about the physical body but also includes mental, intellectual, social and spiritual layers. All illnesses arise in the mind first before appearing in the body. Focus on mental healing first.

My mission is to create world-class, authentic Yoga teachers who can bring balance into their lives, families, and the world. For this, self-healing is a prerequisite. My students work on self-healing first.

What about you? Which of the six self-care secrets appeals to you? What is a straightforward step you would follow to take your health to the next level? How would you show that you value self-care?

Answering these questions is a fun and robust experience.

To read this story online, scan the code below. | Summer 2024 67


Mariah Carey and Harvey Mason Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
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The Recording Academy

honors Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz for making a difference around the World

This year’s Recording Academy Global Impact Awards went to Grammy-award winning artists Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz.

The Recording Academy Global Impact Award recognizes Black music creators whose dedication to the art form has greatly influenced the industry and whose legacy of service inspires countless individuals worldwide, celebrating those who, through leadership and passion, empower others to embrace their authentic selves and contribute to positive change.

The third annual Recording Academy Honors took place just days before the 2024 Grammy Awards.

“It was an honor to celebrate the incomparable careers of Mariah and Lenny as this year’s class of Recording Academy Global Impact Award Honorees,” says Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy. “This extraordinary group of icons has not only entertained millions around the world but has also paved the way for future generations of artists to push the boundaries of creative expression.”

The event included performances by Yolanda Adams, Babyface, Busta Rhymes, Erica Campbell, George Clinton, Davido, Andra Day, Manny Fresh, Tori Kelly, Quavo, Gabby Simone, Chad Smith, Andrew Watt, Verdine White and Stevie Wonder, with appearances by H.E.R and Black Music Collective Chair Rico Love.

Ryan Butler, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at the Recording Academy and staff advisor of the Black Music Collective, says Black music “transcends boundaries, resonating in every corner of the globe and enriching diverse cultures worldwide. The Recording Academy Honors has fostered a new tradition, creating space for us to honor and applaud Black music icons for their many achievements and embrace the unique beauty of our shared musical journey.”

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Lenny Kravitz and Harvey Mason Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for The Recording Academy | Summer 2024 69


70 Summer 2024 | TECH AND TRENDS

Culturally fluid traveler and writer Shayla Lawson explores how their unique travel experiences highlight hidden aspects of their identity.

Black, disabled, nonbinary author, poet, journalist,

professor and Third Culture Adult

Shayla Lawson, author of “This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope” (Harper Perennial, 2020), released a new must-read text: “How to Live Free in a Dangerous World: A Decolonial Memoir” (2024, Tiny Reparations Books). What started as a survival guide-type international travel book for women became a true tale of physical and cultural survival that unfolds for the reader in real time.

Lawson takes us on a global travel adventure — everywhere from Harare, Zimbabwe, Kyoto, Japan, Hoensbroek, the Netherlands and more. However, the real journey is as inward as outward – told in a technicolor language, with strobe lights of vulnerability and humanity. Lawson’s willingness to intimately share their authentic experiences with self-liberation changes the tone of this travel memoir from confessional to conversational.


“Our story starts in an airplane with the sound of long acrylic nails tapping on laptop keys, the sound of black femme poetics,” Lawson wrote in “How to Live Free in a Dangerous World: A Decolonial Memoir.”

From page 1, Lawson and the reader are row mates on a flight. Their love of story first inspired Lawson’s love of travel.

“I started traveling because I’m such a reader,” Lawson says. “I really loved journeying through the page and going to all these places, for instance, seeing the Harlem Renaissance with Josephine Baker and Langston Hughes. As I got older, it became my dream to see these places and be involved in the larger world.” | Summer 2024 71 TECH AND TRENDS
Photos courtesy Shayla Lawson

As a culturally fluid traveler and writer, Lawson saw an opportunity to explore how their unique travel experiences shed light on hidden aspects of their identity.

“Having a book that was dealing in a transcultural voice felt like a really monumental thing to do. There’s something very liberating and revolutionary about looking at the ways that being in the world is not just about being an observer – it’s also about being an active participant. It’s humbling, yet it also makes your world so vast,” Lawson says.


Blackness is a complex identity that, as Lawson often says, “doesn’t travel well.” In other words, people worldwide define and understand blackness differently. This realization became clear to Lawson as they heard the crack of a beer can from the backseat of a high-speed car ride in Zimbabwe. When the driver noticed their fear, he had this to say:

“‘We’re used to this,’ he says, ‘the freedom. The reason why you were having such a hard time adjusting to driving this fast on an empty road on this night is because you still think of yourself as Black — because you’re still expecting repercussions for your Blackness. Here, there are no white police. Worst-case scenario, we get stopped by a cop who

There’s something very liberating and revolutionary about looking at the ways that being in the world is not just about being an observer – it’s also about being an active participant.

was used to living in the margins, not in a country, and I had succumbed to the likelihood of my death by the most ordinary but unnecessary means.”

Lawson explains the contrast in their experience as a Black person in the United States and a black person worldwide.

“The difference between Blackness and blackness is the difference between a shout and a whisper,” Lawson says, “The uppercase B represents what has been aggregated into African American identity. When I began traveling as a ‘Black person,’ I assumed that that was an identity that traveled. When we start looking at the idea of what is lowercase black culture, we are everywhere. You can start looking at roots in Southeast Asia, the Middle East — you can start broadening your definition.”

Lawson continues: “When it comes to the Blackness that is based on African Americanness, we relegate that to ideas of sports, movie stars, music and key figures like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.”

knows one friend of ours or another, we pay a fine, we move on.’ Farai’s words were direct, horrifying, and truthful. Blackness in America was rarely something from which I could ‘move on.’” Lawson says.

Lawson continues: “He was right. I hadn’t been scared for my life because the car ride was dangerous; I was scared of the car ride and my Blackness. I had never just been me. A Black man driving and dancing in a car full of us in the dark was a death sentence in America. I knew it. I

Black people around the world “are sharing culture and skin tone in ways African Americans are alien to,” Lawson says.

They continue: “I really like the idea of returning to that lowercase b as a way to talk about all of us in aggregate.”

Otherwise, Lawson says culturally fluid black people “are often seen as black but not Black because African-Americanness has been taken as black.”

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They continue: “I understand that a lot of people have fought for a capital B identity, but it’s also kind of punk rock that the lowercase b is always the undercurrent. And that’s the one, in my mind, that is going to survive because it’s not built on this idea that you have to be something specific. We joke about the idea that you can take away somebody’s ‘Black Card,’ but you can only do that with the capital B. Blackness (lowercase b) becomes a much more crosscultural idea.”


Those who travel understand the profound impact the experience can have on one’s sense of identity. How one sees oneself has so much to do with context, so when the geographic or cultural context shifts, the opportunity to see a new side of oneself emerges.

Not surprisingly, Lawson experienced a shift in their self-identity through travel – and this journey continues.

“The biggest journey I’m experiencing right now is crossing over into the definitions of nonbinary identity,” Lawson says. “This is definitely my Malcolm X juncture — in between Malcolm Little and el-Shabazz. Using the pronouns they/them is very much similar to the X that Malcolm used as a way to mark the end of the identity that was | Summer 2024 73 TECH AND TRENDS

taken away. My travels, my inner work and the time I’ve spent with many different people have helped me understand the ways that the gender binary is one of those last frontiers.”

Cultivating nonbinary gender expression in publics does not “travel well – not in the ways we’d think in Americanized or Western culture,” Lawson says.

They continue: “I think about my friends from the Philippines, Rwanda and even Scandinavia — there are so many languages people are generally referred to as they/them, which allows all people to express who they are.”

Through this autobiography, Lawson paves a revolutionary path of their own.

“My biggest revolutionary stance at the moment is trying to maintain the balance I find in that divine feminine and sacred masculine,” Lawson says. “I still very deeply identify as a Black woman. Yet, as a Black woman, I’ve never fit into the binary to begin with. We need to reframe this in Western culture. I like thinking of it as not a new thing but a really ancient thing. Renaissance men used to wear a lot of pink and stockings. These things we think of as fixed are incredibly mutable from one generation to another.”

My biggest revolutionary stance at the moment is trying to maintain the balance I find in that divine feminine and sacred masculine

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In the fall of 2021, Lawson’s eye threatened to fall out of their head. After many doctor visits, they were diagnosed with EhlersDanlos Syndrome (EDS), an autoimmune illness that attacks joint and connective tissue. It was unclear whether or not they would survive.

Rather than hide their struggle, Lawson leveraged autobiography as a powerful tool for liberation and selfdetermination, especially as a person with a tapestry of historically marginalized identities.

“Originally, the book was meant to be like a ‘girl’s guide to putting your backpack on and going,’” Lawson says. “But, there was a moment I wrote about, which was happening in real time when I was standing in a pool in my bikini looking fabulous, but I’ve got this phone to my ear, and a doctor is telling me I have a very finite amount of time left to live. That changed for me what it meant to be writing a book. It shifted from being a travelog to being a survival guide for misfits and people who have been discounted and discredited by the system.”

They continue: “How could I make this book empowering and meaningful if it would be the last book that I wrote? I’m so proud that juncture happened within me. If I had remained healthy, I don’t think it would have even crossed my mind.”

I really loved coming to the moment of the title,

How to Live Free in a Dangerous World.

Lawson’s experience as an identity time traveler, primarily through multiple geographic and cultural contexts, inspired the book’s title.

“I really loved coming to the moment of the title, How to Live Free in a Dangerous World,” Lawson says. “The perilousness of being in a physical body — I think all of us have come to notice more since COVID-19. We’re not machines. PreCOVID-19, so many of us were living like we were invincible. I think the title fits where we are at this moment. The world is dangerous, but I want to live the most liberated life that I can within that space.”

EDS is often a hidden disability, which can cause others to wonder why a seemingly able-bodied person would struggle to walk upstairs or get out of bed. In this book, Lawson reflects on how radical acceptance of disability affected their experience of freedom and self-liberation.

“If there’s one quote I’d want people to leave the book with, it’s this one: ‘Disability is really just a measure of time.’” Lawson says. “With time, all of us will be different than we are right now. In sickness, we all become time travelers. Disability will happen to all of us, in one capacity or another, whether it comes through pregnancy, an injury or just old age. It’s such a social death. I’m experiencing old age and youth simultaneously. I have never been more vulnerable.”

Lawson has managed to write a travel memoir with such intimacy and generosity that the notion of exotic disappears. They are present, free (yet not exhibitioner) and create no artificial boundaries between their lived experience and yours, the reader. They invite you in — shifting the blanket across their lap to drape it over yours.

You’re in it together, and it’s an extraordinary ride.

To read this story online, scan the code below. | Summer 2024 75 TECH AND TRENDS


76 Summer 2024 | BEAUTY AND WELLNESS





Carnival is an annual celebration deeply rooted in the

cultural heritage of Trinidad and Tobago. The vibrant festivities, elaborate costumes and mesmerizing makeup with a fusion of cultures pay homage to the island’s cultural diversity. At the heart of this celebration lies traditions, culture, music, entertainment, laughter and more.

Trinidad’s Carnival traces its origins back to the 18th century when enslaved Africans in Trinidad created it as a form of resistance. Like many other

Caribbean islands, the carnival celebrations happened during the pre-Lenten season. Over time, these festivities evolved into elaborate Carnival that blended African, Indian, European and Indigenous influences.

The makeup worn during Carnival, influenced by these diverse cultural elements, incorporates traditional motifs, vibrant colors and intricate patterns.

Take your look up a notch by embracing the tradition of face and body painting, incorporating traditional motifs and symbols into your makeup look. Use colorful face paints to create intricate designs inspired by Trinidadian folklore and mythical characters.

Elaborate makeup and body paint are ways that carnival-goers embody the spirit of Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival, a celebration

My biggest revolutionary stance at the moment is trying to maintain the balance I find in that divine feminine and sacred masculine | Summer 2024 77 BEAUTY AND WELLNESS

of unity, diversity and joy. Makeup draws inspiration from mythical characters and traditions. They tell their own stories and reflect the island’s unique cultural heritage. Participants create stunning visuals that connect to their ancestors and history.

Carnival makeup is more than just a cosmetic adornment. It is a vibrant expression of cultural identity and tradition. Participants celebrate their creativity through bold colors, intricate designs, gems and glitter to honor centuries of history and resilience.

The celebration does not stop at makeup. Carnival-inspired, freshly painted nails add a layer of glamour and artistry, from press-on nails to designs with elaborate nail art. Participants wear costumes awash in glitter, Swarovski gems, feathers and more.

All this beauty morphs into a mini canvas reflecting Carnival’s spirit. Each nail design, makeup look and costume tells a story and adds to Carnival’s overall glitz, glam and glitter and symbols of cultural pride.

Trinidadian Carnival transcends mere aesthetics, serving as a celebration of cultures, themes and traditions. Carnival makeup serves as a powerful symbol of cultural pride and identity.

As participants dance through the streets adorned in their gem-filled creations, they celebrate the beauty of the Caribbean as well as the resilience and spirit of its people. As the music fills the air and the streets come alive with color,

Trinidadian Carnival transcends mere aesthetics, serving as a celebration of cultures, themes and traditions. Carnival makeup serves as a powerful symbol of cultural pride and identity.

revel in the magic of Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival and timeless artistry and traditions.

Create memories that last a lifetime. Grab your makeup brushes, unleash your creativity, and get ready to dance the day away in style at the Carnival.

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78 Summer 2024 | BEAUTY AND WELLNESS




Start by prepping the skin. Skin prep is especially essential for a quality makeup application. Cleanse your face: Start with a clean canvas. Use a gentle cleanser for your skin type to remove dirt, oil and makeup. Pat your face dry with a clean towel. Apply Moisturizer: Hydrate your skin with a lightweight moisturizer for your skin type. Prime your skin: Apply a makeup primer to help smooth out fine lines, minimize pores and create a base to which your makeup can adhere. Choose a primer based on your skin type, such as mattifying for oily skin or hydrating for dry skin.


Use brightly colored eyeshadow to create a bold and vibrant eye look. Think shades of fuchsia, turquoise and gold to capture the essence of Carnival. Blend multiple shades for a gradient effect. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different shapes and patterns.

Winged eyeliner is a staple of carnival makeup. Use a waterproof eyeliner pen to create sharp, dramatic wings that elongate the eyes and add a touch of glamour to your look.


Start by applying a lightweight, long-lasting foundation that matches your skin tone. Pick a formula that can withstand the heat, humidity and sweating of enjoying carnival festivities.


Carnival makeup is not complete without a generous dose of glitter and gems. Apply glitter to the eyelids, cheeks and temples for a sparkling effect. Use adhesive gems to create intricate designs around the eyes and forehead.


Choose a bold lip color, such as red, purple or orange, to complement your colorful eye makeup. Use a long-wearing, matte formula that will stay put throughout the festivities.


Finish off your makeup look with a generous spritz of setting spray to lock everything in place and ensure your makeup stays flawless all day and night. | Summer 2024 79 BEAUTY AND WELLNESS


80 Summer 2024 | HOME AND SANCTUARY

Embracing the cultural diversity of Trinidad and Tobago through a stunning tablescape to enhance your evening of food, laughter and connection.

Exploring the world through the lens of interior design,

witnessing the myriad of ways in which color is utilized becomes an exhilarating journey of discovery and inspiration.

Every city has a color story that intuitively expresses how the people there are experiencing the world around them. Color symbolizes everything from spirituality and prosperity to joy and celebration. It’s expressed through traditional dress, art, architecture and even food.

This February, the Culturs team traveled to Trinidad and Tobago for Carnival.

This beautiful island is the epitome of multicultural living. Rich heritages stretching from across the world can be found here.

This February, the Culturs team traveled to Trinidad and Tobago for Carnival. This beautiful island is the epitome of multicultural living. Rich heritages stretching from across the world can be found here. African, Indigenous, Indian-South Asian, European, Chinese, North American, Latino and Arab are found on these two small islands totaling just 1,981 square miles (5,131 square kilometers).

Trinidadians’ vibrant color palette serves as a vivid expression of their multicultural lived experience, reflecting the diverse tapestry of cultures that have shaped the island’s identity. The fusion of colors, patterns and textures come together to create a unique visual language.

From the bold hues of traditional Carnival costumes to the pulsating colors of street art and architecture, the island’s colorful palette mirrors the kaleidoscope of people that coexist harmoniously on the island. Each color tells a story, representing the traditions, rituals and customs of different communities and serving as a visual celebration of Trinidadian diversity and resilience. | Summer 2024 81 HOME AND SANCTUARY
82 Summer 2024 | HOME AND SANCTUARY

In a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected, embracing cultural diversity through color in interior design can also serve as a powerful tool for fostering cross-cultural understanding and exchange. By incorporating elements of different cultures into our living spaces, we can create environments that celebrate diversity and promote dialogue.

Culturs extends an invitation to its readers to engage in these enriching cultural exchanges through the Dinner Party Kits. There’s no better way to delve into the heart of a culture than through its cuisine. These kits are

At the heart of the design, the majestic Ibis takes center stage, not only for its striking beauty but also for its symbolic significance, representing qualities of balance, adaptability and unity.

meticulously crafted to bring together loved ones and embark on a culinary journey around the world, all from the cozy confines of home. But the experience doesn’t have to end there.

Imagine enhancing your dinner party with carefully curated décor, adding a tangible layer to the cultural exploration.

In celebration of Carnival, we curated a stunning tablescape to enhance your evening of food, laughter and connection. It presents an ideal opportunity to infuse your space with vibrant colors, rich textures, captivating patterns, and a sense of playful exuberance.

Even if only for one night, you can transform your home into a bold and tantalizing environment, setting the stage for

unforgettable memories and cherished moments.

Drawing inspiration from the kindhearted spirit of the Trinidadian people, the design incorporates warm hues of red, orange and yellow, evoking a sense of hospitality and warmth. The lush greenery that blankets the island is symbolized by the color green, infusing the space with a refreshing energy.

At the heart of the design, the majestic Ibis takes center stage, not only for its striking beauty but also for its symbolic significance, representing qualities of balance, adaptability and unity. | Summer 2024 83 HOME AND SANCTUARY

Through this Trinidadianinspired tablescape, it becomes evident that color plays a significant role in shaping the atmosphere and character of a space. The color story of this design evokes feelings of warmth, energy and hospitality. Each color showcases how intentional color choices will set the tone for creating the home you envision. Denying yourself the freedom to embrace color in your personal spaces limits the full expression of your identity and stifles the opportunity for self-discovery and joy.

By shying away from color simply because it’s not trendy, you are limiting yourself the opportunity to create a space that truly reflects who you are and what brings you happiness.

Embracing color allows you to infuse your living spaces with personality, warmth and vitality, transforming them into sanctuaries of self-expression and creativity. Whether it’s a bold accent wall, a vibrant piece of artwork or colorful accessories scattered throughout the room, each hue has the power to evoke emotion, spark inspiration and uplift the spirit.

How am I embracing the use of color in my personal spaces? Am I allowing myself the freedom to live fully, authentically, and vibrantly?
84 Summer 2024 | HOME AND SANCTUARY

So, ask yourself: How am I embracing the use of color in my personal spaces? Am I allowing myself the freedom to live fully, authentically, and vibrantly?

Cheers to Trinidad and Tobago, a nation that may be small in size but is undeniably mighty in its cultural influence! This dynamic duo of islands has left an indelible mark on the global stage, with its rich tapestry of traditions, music, cuisine and festivals captivating hearts and minds around the world.

Despite its modest geographical footprint, the cultural heritage of Trinidad and Tobago looms large, serving as a source of inspiration and admiration for countless individuals who celebrate its diversity, vibrancy and resilience.

Raise a toast to Trinidad and Tobago — a shining example of how even the smallest of nations can wield immense influence on the world stage!

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From shows to watch and songs to hear, to artistry, shopping and things to explore, know and do, here’s a specially curated list of things we recommend as MUST experience items for the culturally fluid.


86 Summer 2024 |


Political voices regularly discuss the state of the United States of America’s democratic union during any election season. The release of “Girls State,” a documentary, could not be timelier.

Capturing the spirit of democracy, “Girls State” — which premiered on Apple TV+ on Friday, April 5, 2024 — follows 500 adolescent women across Missouri as they converge for a week-long immersion in a sophisticated democratic laboratory. They organize a Supreme Court to consider the most contentious issues of the day. The film offers a compelling glimpse into what U.S. democracy could look like in the hands of teenage women.

Set in 2022 at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., a monumental experiment in democracy unfolded as the

formidable, politically minded young people embarked on a journey into the intricate workings of governance and the pursuit of equality.

To read this story online, scan the code below. | Summer 2024 87 MUST l WATCH
88 Summer 2024 | MUST l WATCH


The Documentary ‘Frida’ Covers The Many Kaleidoscopic Facets Of Enigmatic Artist Frida Kahlo

In a mesmerizing convergence of artistry, emotion and revelation,

the film “Frida” — which premiered on Amazon Prime Video on March 14 — invites audiences into the kaleidoscopic world of Frida Kahlo as never seen before.

This groundbreaking directorial debut of Carla Gutiérrez weaves together Kahlo’s own words, extracted from her renowned illustrated diary, with intimate letters, essays and candid interviews. Enhanced by evocative animation inspired by Kahlo’s indelible artwork, “Frida” promises a profoundly raw and magical

exploration of the legendary artist’s life, mind and heart.

Venturing beyond the confines of conventional biopics, “Frida” spans four decades of Kahlo’s tumultuous journey, offering unprecedented insights into her singular existence.


With unrestricted access to previously unseen research materials, the filmmakers embark on an odyssey to illuminate the enigmatic allure of Kahlo’s artistry and persona. A compelling narrative transcending time emerges, solidifying Kahlo’s status as a modern icon whose influence reverberates across generations.

For Gutiérrez and her resolute team of artisans, “Frida” is more than a mere retelling of Kahlo’s life; it is a labor of love and a testament to the enduring power of her legacy. For two years, Gutiérrez and her predominantly female, proudly Latine crew meticulously crafted a cinematic masterpiece that defies

categorization. Eschewing the traditional confines of art history, “Frida” appears as a living portrait imbued with the mystical realism that defined Kahlo’s existence.

Nevertheless, Kahlo’s voice resonates most profoundly amid the vibrant tapestry of imagery and narrative. Multifaceted and unapologetically bold, her words echo with a symphony of emotions: fearless, seductive, defiant, vulnerable, raucous and undeniably alive.

With “Frida,” audiences will embark on an unforgettable journey into the heart and soul of an icon.

To read this story online, scan the code below. | Summer 2024 89 MUST l WATCH
Photo credit Leo Matiz


90 Summer 2024 | MUST l READ

Anew panAfrican comic book


called “Long Distance” recently completed a successful crowdfunding campaign.

While there are hundreds of anthologies based on Greek, Norse or Asian mythology, the least explored culture is African history and mythology. That’s where “Long Distance” comes in.

Beserat Debebe is founder of ETAN COMICS and writer/creator of HAWI, ZUFAN and JEMBER.

Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Debebe fell in love with fantasy stories via the animated shows, video games and movies he used to watch as a kid.

While there are hundreds of anthologies based on Greek, Norse or Asian mythology, the least explored culture is African history and mythology.

More than two-dozen African creators have been recruited to contribute to the anthology. They’ve worked for Disney, Marvel, Netflix and other outlets.

Among them, they are:

• Cover artist Sanford Greene, co-creator of the “Bitter Root” comic.

• Foreword by Kwame Mbalia, New York Times bestselling author — he wrote “Rick Riordan Presents: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky” — and is head of Disney’s new imprint.

• A story by Prince Joel Makonnen, the great-grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie

• A story by Booker Prizeshortlisted writer Maaza Mengiste

After coming to the U.S.A., he was introduced to the world of comics, graphic novels and manga. Debebe says he used to spend his days in libraries and bookstores reading them because he couldn’t afford them.

Consequently, he’s created a new anthology on pan-African mythology titled “Long Distance.” He says:

“After school + a few years in the corporate world, I finally built the courage to create the stories I’ve always wanted to see in these mediums; stories that explore African history and mythology.”

The anthology is in the same vein as Netflix’s “Love Death + Robots,” “Star Wars: Visions” and “Pokemon Evolutions.”

To read this story online, scan the code below. | Summer 2024 91 MUST l READ
92 Summer 2024 | MUST l KNOW


Famed “Star Trek” star George Takei — along with co-writers

Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott plus artist Harmony Becker — retells his story of being interned in U.S. concentration camps with other Japanese Americans during World War II.

The graphic novel is now available in a deluxe hardcover edition with bonus material, including a description of the process of making the book along with new scripts, sketches and photos.

‘They Called Us Enemy’ retells George Takei’s story of being interned in U.S. concentration camps with other Japanese Americans.

To purchase a copy, scan the code below.

/ ©A.M.P.A.S.
credit: Aaron Poole | Summer 2024 93 MUST l KNOW
94 Summer 2024 | TANZANIA BEHIND THE SCENES TRINIDAD & TOBAGO | Summer 2024 95
96 Summer 2024 | TANZANIA BEHIND THE SCENES TRINIDAD & TOBAGO | Summer 2024 97



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