EE FR / 020 2 , 26
Y T I N U M M O E C K SSU C I A L B 1 E6 M LU VO
A LESSON FROM REVEREND JAMES M. LAWSON JR. PAGE 8
I AM MORE THAN MY HAIR PAGE 14
WHEN THE STORM CAME PAGE 10
1/ E2 U S / IS
Y AR U R FEB
LETTER EDITOR from the
I grew up in a culturally diverse household. I have an immigrant mother and an American father. They dragged us to the Skirball Center and I would read books upon books about the Holocaust. My parents made sure we understood that in order for us to succeed in this world we needed to be open to all cultures, but also know that we are Black and to embrace our Blackness. When I was choosing a school I chose CSUN because what’s more diverse than the San Fernando Valley? There’s a fusion of ethnicities and religions that attend our school but, like any other mix of people, we tend to self-segregate. There’s a difference between CSUN and “Black CSUN.” Being a part of Black CSUN is having a home away from home. Being a part of Black CSUN is hanging out at lil’ crenshaw, aka Sierra Quad, and always seeing someone you know, it’s building friendships with other students and professors that share a common experience. It’s the section of school where I am comfortable and able to be myself without judgement or ridicule for beliefs, hairstyles, commentary, etc. Many cultures have had their stories told, and now it’s time for ours. The African American issue starts with a civil rights leader who is now a CSUN professor, Reverend James M. Lawson Jr., and his views on social justice and his teaching styles. He’s well known for being Martin Luther King Jr.’s teacher (page 8). We take a look at the birth of ethnic studies on this campus (page 10), and finally we have a student’s perspective on progressive racism in today’s society (page 11). I hope that this issue serves as a clear representation of the community. Thank you,
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“Black Community Representation in Movies” Page 4
“Black Creatives in Los Angeles” Page 6
“Faces Of Black Leadership on Campus” Page 12
Members of the campus community pick their favorite Black movies. How two Black artists have thrived in the Eurocentric-based LA environment.
Meet Black leaders from across the CSUN campus.
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A Lesson from Reverend James M. Lawson Jr. Cover photo by Shae Hammond
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RESOURCES ON CAMPUS
BLACK MALE INITIATIVE
STUDENT HOUSING Mentorship program that strives to increase Black male success.
By Michaella Huck
Every student deserves equal access to opportunity. Being a person of color, this can be hard. CSUN has many places that cater to the Black student population. However, it can be hard to locate them. Here is a map of places that can assist you during your time at CSUN:
BLACK GIRL MAGIC STUDENT HOUSING
Builds a stronger community between Black women on campus.
USU SOL CENTER
BLACK MALE SCHOLARS
Stands for: Women Inspired to Succeed and Discover Opportunities through Mentoring Program for Black female students at CSUN. Through one-on-one mentorships, the program is designed to increase Black female retention.
THE BLACK HOUSE HALSTED STREET
Serves as the headquarters and cultural home for Black students on campus. Owned by the Africana studies department.
USU SOL CENTER Mentorship program that strives to increase Black male success.
BLACK STUDENT UNION SIERRA HALL
The Black Student Union has historically been an organization that empowers Black students and aids them in academic success.
AFRICANA STUDIES WRITING LAB SIERRA HALL 273
Provides assistance to Black and other students with reading and writing skills.
Map by Joelena Despard
SUNDIAL Â° FEBRUARY 26 - MARCH 3, 2020
BLACK COMMUNITY REPRESENTATION IN MOVIES By Alex Behunin
F SET IT OFF TONYA MCCLENDON CONSUMER AFFAIRS MAJOR “‘Set it Off’ is all about sisterhood, and empowerment in a roundabout way. The movie took on race and gender with such force,” McClendon said. “Black representation is very important, not only is it empowering, but it gives us an idea that we can reach our full potential.”
BOYZ N THE HOOD DEANDRE SMITH MULTIMEDIA PRODUCTION MAJOR “‘Boyz n the Hood’ is my favorite black movie because I think it is the realest portrayal of black kids living in the hood and the struggle that comes with it,” said Smith. “The movie also introduced us to John Singleton, one of the most fearless directors ever. I truly believe that John opened up a lane for black directors.”
or decades, African Americans have been very limited in the roles they have received in film. White Hollywood continues to make progress, congratulating their own with awards, but Black actors, actresses and crews are left in the shadow of their white counterparts, only to be ostracized for multiple decades. There was only one Black actress nominated this year at the 92nd Academy Awards. There have only been 19 Black actors who have won best actor or actress. There has never been a Black director that has won best director. In fact, Spike Lee, one of the best African American film directors has never won this award. Black cinema matters. Representation matters. Not every Black actor wants to be a gangster, athlete or a slave. For Black History Month 2020, African American CSUN students name their favorite Black movies and explain why representation is so important to them. “Representation in movies matters because it shows Black kids that it is possible to grow up and become an actor, actress or director,” Damian Gordon, a broadcast major, said. “My favorite Black movie actually came out last year, ‘Queen & Slim.’ The movie did a great job of portraying what it is like being Black in America. It is the Black Bonnie and Clyde, the ultimate ride or die.”
BLACK DYNAMITE KIEL GREY MECHANICAL ENGINEERING MAJOR “The movie is really funny from start to end and it spoofs blaxploitation movies from the ’70s,” Grey said. “Black films are important because it keeps the dreams alive for kids that want to grow up and be successful. We just want to watch a movie and see someone that looks like me on screen.”
MALCOLM X BORIS RICKS POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR “The movie ‘Malcolm X’ provided an accurate portrayal from his autobiography by Alex Haley. Spike Lee did a great job directing, and Denzel Washington transformed into Malcolm,” Ricks said. “Black narrative in American history. We are not lesser than or greater than anyone. We would just like to be equal.”
THE WIZ RANDY RENEÉ PSYCHOLOGY MAJOR “‘The Wiz’ is a rendition of the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ but the message is why I love it so much: ‘Seek what was always inside of us, and don’t judge a book by its cover but by its contents,’” Reneé said. “Seeing a person of color on the screen is important because it gives us hope that it’s possible.”
BROWN SUGAR TAIREL HAYES MULTIMEDIA PRODUCTION MAJOR “‘Brown Sugar’ reminds me of my parents. The movie also shows that there are good black love stories to be told,” Hayes said. “Black movies are important because it lets us seek representation for my people. It gives me hope that I will work on a project with a black cast, because that is the field I am going into.”
FEBRUARY 26 = MARCH 3, 2020
BLACK CREATIVES in
Story by Deja Magee
eing Black in the creative space can be both a liberating and an isolating feeling. Wanting to be your truest self while, at times, being the only one in the room that looks like you. In LA, this specific type of atmosphere is even more defined in a town based on wild dreams, bright-eyed aspirations and hardened skin from the rejection in a Eurocentric-based industry like Hollywood. Regardless of the art that black creatives are producing, some of their experiences are the same while the encounters are unique to the art that they create. Cheyenne Ewulu, a Nigerian-American content creator who specializes in black girls who love nerdy things like anime, talks about being on YouTube, moving to LA and trying to get her foot in the entertainment industry’s door. “I love having the platform that I do as a black creative because it shows other black girls wanting to follow the same career path. There IS room for someone that looks like them,” Ewulu said. “This industry is hard because it’s very ‘who knows you.’ A lot of times people only hire within their circle.” First appearing on YouTube, Ewulu had her own channel, but she also founded a channel with her friends called PrettyBrown&Nerdy in 2014, which she left in late 2019. “YouTube definitely helped me build the audience I have today and I will be forever thankful for my time on that platform because of that,” she said. However, Ewulu does speak on some of the disadvantages of working on YouTube as well. “On YouTube, it’s very easy to fall off, and once that happens, people stop caring. It’s scary especially for creators who use it as a full time job,” she said. “YouTube also has a hard time
featuring black queer creators as well.” Since her departure from PrettyBrown&Nerdy, Ewulu has had a lot of success in her recent endeavours in the entertainment industry. She has joined The New School which has alumni like John Boyega of “Star Wars” and “Attack the Block” fame, as well as Leticia Wright who’s in the Disney blockbuster hit “Black Panther.” Ewulu has also made her directorial debut with her short film “ExRoommate.” “I definitely feel more confident now. My short film ‘Ex-Roommate’ was my first big project,” she said. “In LA, it always helps to have something to show. Otherwise no one takes you seriously. But I feel like now because I have a body of work to show as well as a couple of film festival selections under my belt, it’ll be easier to get people to take me seriously.” Besides having her own short film, Ewulu is a bona-fide nerd who loves anything animated, like “Dragon Ball Z” and “My Hero Academia.” In the past, she has been invited to the premieres of movies for both of the aforementioned animes, as well as going to a premiere of “The Lion King” last summer. “I’ve learned that a lot of companies and brands are actually really looking for more ‘diverse’ creators and talent, which is great. Especially in the anime realm,” Ewulu said. “A lot of companies are catching on to the fact that a good majority of Black people love anime.” And this is true. In the most recent years on social media, there has been a traction and outlet for Black people who are interested and love anime, like Instagram pages @blackgirlsanime and @blacknerdproblems. “So now you see tons of us at big anime premieres,” Ewulu continued, “being invited to conventions as guests, and in my case — being hired as talent.” Now being someone in the industry who has some experience,
Ewulu has some advice for anybody wanting to break into the business. “Find what works for you and be consistent,” Ewulu said. “I get people messaging me all the time wanting to work in the entertainment side of things like I do, and I notice a lot of them don’t know exactly what it is they want to do. Don’t wait for a big company to sweep you up. You gotta start creating on your own. Always have something to show. Start building your audience. Do. Not. Wait.” Unlike Ewulu, who wants to be in front of and behind the camera, is an artist by the name of Helene Francoise Phillippe, aka Honeymoon Supply. Phillippe is an artist and activist who also resides in LA and has a wide range of artistic pursuits. “My artistic practice ranges from anything like visual such as installations, virtual reality or fashion to sound design,” Phillippe said. “All in the theme of space inspired by my experience of alienation being a mixed black Latina in many situations I am put in on earth.” Her desire to make art has been something that was innate, and she’s been creating things from a young age. “I realized since the day I was born I
Honeymoon Supply vending her clothes and art. Photo courtesy of Honeymoon Supply.
wanted to be an artist based off of stories my mother has told me being raised around art. She said I always gravitated towards colors, lights and textures,” Phillippe said. “She said they brought me comfort, and then it was official when I was always drawing since three. Especially my favorite science fiction characters. I always saw the clothing in science fiction movies as really cool.” However, even though she had an innate talent for the arts, she didn’t go to a design school to hone her skills. “I did not go to any design school when I first started at 16,” she said. “I just watched a lot of videos, read books and studied the world around me! I was honored to have friends and family teach me basic sewing and other marketing skills so I just ran with what they taught me.” With designs that feature futuristic neon lights and intergalactic women from space while having installations to display her art at times, Phillippe has no problem selling her art as a vendor. “I love vending! I get to share my art, make
income to help my family and continue my practice and meet new people,” she said. “The only disadvantage is if places make you pay before you vend.” However, Phillippe is not only an artist, but she has also participated in a literary project called “This is 18.” “‘This is 18’ documented 18-year-old girls around the world and their transition from girlhood to womanhood,” Phillippe stated. “The project helped me get my voice out as a young girl who is just trying to discover herself and her mission in life while watching other girls do the same.” Phillippe has one piece of advice for aspiring black fashion designers and artists out there if they’re scared to start designing their own creations: “Be kind, be smart, make art and follow your heart. Mistakes will be made unintentionally but as long as you aren’t trying to hurt anyone and you learn from them you will do great!” Cheyenne Ewulu on the set of her short film “Ex-Roommate.” Photo courtesy of Cheyenne Ewulu.
SUNDIAL º FEBRUARY 26 - MARCH 3, 2020
“IF STUDENTS PRACTICE THE NONVIOLENT STRUGGLE IN THEIR MOVEMENTS, THEY WILL DISCOVER THAT THEY CAN MAKE CHANGE, THEY CAN CAUSE EVEN REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE WITHOUT VIOLENCE, BUT THEY HAVE TO DO IT IN ORDER TO DISCOVER IT.” - REVEREND JAMES M. LAWSON
A lesson from
REVEREND JAMES M. LAWSON JR. WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST WHO TAUGHT MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. By Gillian Moran-Perez / Photography by Shae Hammond
nside Manzanita Hall room 122 on Tuesday evenings, Reverend James M. Lawson Jr. teaches his students a course on social movements and nonviolent struggle, a struggle that’s close to his heart. The former Methodist minister from Pennsylvania moved to Los Angeles in 1975, where he was the pastor at Holman Methodist Church. His work as a preacher and teacher of nonviolent struggle traces back to his work during the civil rights movement, where he organized the Freedom Rides in 1961 and created campaigns with ministers, students and other movement makers, but most notably with Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. He tells his students at CSUN of his own experience that began as a college student and helps them see how nonviolence became a major source of information in the 20th century. He guides them to examine the campaigns from 1959 through the ’60s that changed the country and shows how students, like the ones in his classrooms, were leading those events. “Each of us uses our gift (of life) differently and were raised differently so we have all kinds of possibilities,” said Lawson. “I’ve primarily used it across the years in opposing injustice, racism, sexism, violence and in trying to create campaigns that helps to improve upon the access people have.” In 1958, Lawson moved to Tennessee to lead workshops on the nonviolent struggle that was used for the Montgomery Bus Boycotts. He then traveled down the Southeastern part of the U.S. to join other movement makers, supporting their efforts to desegregate and resist Jim Crow laws. He met with the Little Rock Nine students who in 1957 went to desegregate the central high school in Little Rock, Arkansas. He said his work with them focused on how to live in a very hostile school environment in a creative manner so that they “can come out stronger as a human being.” “If students practice the nonviolent struggle in their movements, they will discover that they can make change, they can cause even revolutionary change without violence, but they have to do it in order to discover it,” said Lawson. With his former student Martin Luther King Jr. by his side, they applied Mahatma Gandhi’s approach to nonviolence to put an end to an era of oppression and discrimination. “On Feb. 6, 1967, for the first time I grasped the hand and the eyes of Martin Luther King Jr. in Oberlin, Ohio. We were the same age though we did not know that when we met, shook hands, most of all we were convinced rather that through nonviolence struggle we can change the face of this nation,” said Lawson at a TEDx Talk in 2015. Under CSUN’s Civil Discourse and Social
SUNDIAL FEBRUARY 26 - MARCH 3, 2020
Change Department, Lawson was asked to teach COMS 400C: Directing Oral Performance: Nonviolent Struggles, where he explores the many forms of nonviolence. As an example, he said, he talks about Rosa Parks and King’s movement, which he identifies as the most important sociopolitical movement that took place between 19531963. “I can help teach them some of the ideas of Martin Luther King, who was our leader and founder of the nonviolent movement,” Lawson said. Amanda Ikin, his teaching assistant, said that the lessons Lawson brings to their class challenges the students and herself to change the way they view the world and how to think about conflicts in different sizes. “To learn to practice nonviolence is to learn how to disagree with respect and without violence,” said Ikin. She shares the most valuable lesson she’s learned from the 91-year-old activist. “The most important lesson I have learned from Reverend Lawson is that nonviolence is a way of life. Nonviolence is not simply a tactic that can be used to bring about change to a specific situation. Nonviolence can be self defense. Nonviolence can be compromise. But most importantly, nonviolence is love in action,” Ikin said. For Lawson, the young leaders and movement makers from the late ’50s taught him the need to resist injustice. “They convinced me even more that when you come up against an injustice you cannot imitate the injustice, if you imitate the theory or actions of injustice, you only increase the injustice, but when you try to resist the injustice, with justice, you can make real change in the right direction,” said Lawson. During the Korean War, Lawson refused to be drafted and was sentenced to three years in federal prison in Kentucky and West Virginia but after serving 13 months, the United Methodist Church drafted a statement demanding his release which would send him to India. The drastic change in geography became monumental for his future, as he studied with people who served with Gandhi and learned the principles of nonviolence while teaching for three years at Hislop College in Nagpur. His experience allowed him to disseminate the information through workshops through the Fellowship of Reconciliation where he and his students interpreted the many forms of nonviolence. A year later, he received a call from North Carolina on Feb. 1, 1960 where four black students sat at a “whites only” lunch counter in Greensboro, the first wave of sit-ins that would take place across 100 southern cities.
All the same, his dedication to the nonviolent struggle stems from his appreciation of the greatest gift there is: human life. “I see that human life is a gift, from my point of view it comes from creation and god and that there is nothing in the universe that we know of that is like the gift of human life,” said Lawson. “Out of 50 billion or so living things that have taken place on earth, we have not discovered any other form of life like human life, that life is powerful and that we have to accept that gift of life and explore what it means to exist and to be as a human being and then to practice the capacities.” He feels that at the university level, those who teach do not always help students recognize that their life is an extraordinary gift with the ability to work, love and live. In every place one can find his work, he reminds his readers of their gift. A Google search shows a YouTube video of his TEDx Talk where one can see him raise his hands and, in a deep voice, proclaim, “You must build a life, your life!” In the same talk he explains that education is the discourse where people can learn to exploit life, because it’s not about popularity or money, but how one learns to take advantage of their life. Creativity and compassion for Lawson are essences of life, so he tells anyone to look into the lives and works of people who knew life was light and power, and begins to list his references: Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Congressman John Lewis, Diane Nash, Eleanor Roosevelt and even Jesus of Nazareth. With power and light comes faith, which he says Gandhi would insist people who want to engage in social change to have faith. “Faith enough not to use the language of hatred or to use the language of sexism or to use the language of fear to not be a bully of people at all,” said Lawson. At the end of my conversation with him, I mentioned to Lawson the current struggles of students and faculty that are similar to those of the ’60s, and the demand to increase diversity in the staff. “If you want diversity in the faculty, you have to go after the administration and the Cal State University system and that can be done,” Lawson said. “For example, our movement in the ’60s pushed congress to pass the civil rights bill of 1964, which said that no public or private institutions can practice discrimination and employment against women and people of color or for religious reasons or for reasons where people were born. It is that bill that began to change the universities in terms of faculty diversity, so maybe there is a need for state legislative action to do the continuing work of making faculties more diverse, especially in state colleges.”
WHEN THE STORM CAME HOW SPORTS INDIRECTLY LED TO THE BIRTH OF ETHNIC STUDIES.
Archival Sundial photo by Mike Boundy during the Valley State football game vs. Portland State University on Saturday, Nov. 2, 1968.
Story by Andres Soto / Photo from Sundial archives CSUN today is known as a diverse campus with some of the largest ethnic studies programs in the country, but it is a far cry from what the campus looked like 52 years ago. Black students accounted for less than 1% of the student body in 1968, even though the campus experienced an increase in Black students from less than 30 to 200, according to Sundial archives. “The (Black) students were not well received by administration in any capacity,” said Aimee Glocke, associate professor of Africana studies at CSUN. The late 1960s was a politically-charged time not just on campus, but in the United States as a whole. Protests such as the Black Power Movement and the anti-Vietnam War movement simmered in the background of CSUN — then known as San Fernando Valley State College — heading into a new school year. Then in early November, it all came to a boiling point. When Valley State football player George Boswell, a Black student-athlete, was kicked by his white coach Don Markham on the field in early November 1968, it marked the tipping point of racial tensions and sparked a movement that would change the campus for years to come. “Change had to happen ... Black people were sick and tired of fighting for their rights and being beaten, or being murdered,” Glocke said. “The Black students were like, ‘Enough is enough. We’re going to take what we deserve.’” The Black Student Union met with Athletic Director Glenn Arnett on Monday, Nov. 4, 1968 with the goal of discussing “the entire philosophy of Valley State’s athletic program” along with the BSU’s complaints against Markham, according to Sundial archives. During the meeting, Arnett allegedly told student leaders that they should talk to thenpresident Paul Blomgren. The student group
“We are a constant reminder to administration that they are inherently racist and embrace white supremacy.” then marched to the administration building with a list of demands and occupied Blomgren’s office for four hours. The demands included a calling for the investigation and termination of Markham, expansion of the EOP program, creation of ethnic studies, and the recruitment of minority instructors. Blomgren initially signed and agreed to the demands, however he recanted as soon as the students left the building and claimed that he felt threatened to sign, according to Sundial archives. Felony warrants were immediately issued for all Black students involved in what is now known as the Storm at Valley State. Another series of protests occurred in early January of 1969, the first of which resulted in students being beaten by police with batons. Then-BSU leader Jerome Walker recalled in the “Storm at Valley State” documentary that after a while of being beaten, “They just couldn’t hurt me anymore.” A rally was held on campus the next day although the administration had declared a state of emergency, in which there was no assembly
allowed. It went on as planned and 275 people were arrested as a result, according to Sundial archives. Negotiations between BSU and the administration picked back up almost immediately following the protests. After 12 days, a resolution was passed. Most of the original demands were eventually agreed to, the most significant being the creation of the ethnic studies, including the Africana studies department. “Ethnic studies were the only disciplines that were birthed out of protest, which sets us up on a very different trajectory as a campus,” Glocke said. “We are a constant reminder to administration that they are inherently racist and embrace white supremacy.” Although there were many events and attitudes that ultimately led to the Storm at Valley State, it was a football game that seemed to set everything in motion. It was yet another example of sports serving as a backdrop for change in the face of backlash from a white audience. Not unlike Muhammad Ali’s stand against the draft, not unlike Tommie Smith and John Carlos each raising a black-gloved fist during the national anthem at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, and not unlike Colin Kaepernick taking a knee. George Boswell unwillingly became a key catalyst in making CSUN what it is today. “The Black athletes definitely believe that it is an art form that they’re doing, but it also has to have a purpose and function,” Glocke said. “In general society, because there tends to be more of a Eurocentric lens, it’s always like, ‘Sports are supposed to be neutral.’ So when you get Black athletes playing sports in these Eurocentric spaces, you’re going to see the Black athletes be who they are.”
THE UNSPOKEN TRUTH
97% PASS RATE EMT EDUCATION FOR THE BEST
Dailyn Simmons CSUN Journalism Major
In a world with discussions surrounding diversity within the media to fight to retain ethnic studies on campuses, you would think that a certain term would enter these discussions more often. Unfortunately, this does not occur — leaving an unspoken truth left untold. This term is none other than White Adjacency. White Adjacency can be defined as a person coming from a marginalized background within society in terms of race, and at the same time, receiving benefits similar to those identified as white. Now, I know the first thing on your mind is “How can this be true?”, and you might be experiencing a mild form of cognitive dissonance with this subject. But it is true. A way to understand White Adjacency is by examining racial hierarchy within America as a totem pole. At the start of the totem pole, you have the dominant culture as white or reflecting those of European descent, non-black people of color, and then you have black people who are at the bottom. This racial hierarchy being enforced in society connects to various forms of racism that are individual and institutional. For instance, an educational institution that is founded upon White Supremacy can continue since its policies are set to keep a specific structure. The result of this is quite simple. White Adjacent people from marginalized communities have positions of power in an institution, thus becoming enablers of this racism that was historically committed by those of the dominant culture. Determining your status as someone that is defined as White Adjacent is by examining how you are treated in comparison to other marginalized people and taking heed of this. In this process, discover your own biases by questioning what you believe and why were you taught this. Once you acknowledge that you are White Adjacent within a certain space, realizing it does not mean that you are without struggles. What the term does is highlight how every struggle of a marginalized group is not entirely at the same level or some experiences specifically belong to one group. For conversations regarding diversity, White Adjacency needs to be considered as a factor when trying to dismantle institutional racism. If it remains unspoken, then there hardly will be any truth told.
APPLY ONLINE NOW: www.cpc.mednet.ucla.edu/emt UCLA CENTER FOR PREHOSPITAL CARE: (310) 267-5959
Illustration by Joelena Despard
SUNDIAL º FEBRUARY 26 - MARCH 3, 2020
DEBRA HAMMOND CITY@CSUN.EDU
FEBRUARY 26 - MARCH 3, 2020
President of the Black Student Leadership Council as well as the Black Student Union Event coordinator, Deion Turner has been working to bring the Black community on campus together. Turner is currently a junior working towards a bachelor’s degree in both public relations and psychology. As Turner became more active at the university, working with the BSU, he wanted to do more, and slowly began taking on more responsibility. One of his driving forces was to create an equal environment for the students at CSUN. “There were a lot of events that I wanted to do and they were just getting shut down by my other e-board members,” Turner said. Last year, Turner decided to take over the Black Student Leadership Council where he works to get all of the clubs and organizations that focus on Black students on the same page. Wanting the campus to improve, Turner “stepped in and made sure the university was being accountable when they said they wanted to support Black students.” Working with many different organizations on campus, he tries to lead by example. “I am a huge believer that you need to be the change that you want to see in the world,” he said.
Debra Hammond has been the University Student Union executive director for over 20 years. She has been working on campus since 1993 and has been a part of the evergrowing changes including the Student Recreation Center, Oasis Center, Veterans Resource Center and Pride Center. Although she prides herself on the work she and her team have completed, it was a bumpy start when she first got here. “I came to Northridge one month before the (1994) earthquake, so (it was) kind of baptism by fire,” Hammond recalled. As time went on, the campus was rebuilt, and Hammond slowly started working to build up the USU, providing a space for everyone. “Number one, first and foremost, the students on our campus deserve these services,” she said. “We’re an institution that works really hard and oftentimes we don’t talk about it.” While Hammond looks to bring everyone in with open arms, she acknowledges the chance to look back on history. “I think Black History Month is a time for us to share our story, to talk about our contributions to this country, sacrifices we made, both triumphs and tragedies,” she said. “As a person of color in this country, particularly African American, sometimes when you go through high school you don’t hear a lot about the contributions that African American’s made to this country. You hear about two pages of slavery and that’s it. So when you come to an institution like this, that has a tremendous legacy of leadership in ethnic studies, that means a lot.”
Founder and current coach of the CSUN MataDolls, Kyle Wallace has been working to improve the Black community engagement at CSUN campus through his dancers. “Back in 2016 I was inspired to start the team, because it was kind of a culture shock when I got here,” Wallace said. “I didn’t see many people I identified with. So one of the biggest things that I thought would bring culture to this campus is starting a historically Black team on CSUN’s campus.” Wallace anticipates graduating this spring semester, leaving behind the MataDolls. Although he is the founder, Wallace believes the foundation he has built will hold the team together. “When I started this team, I started it with a mission of improving the Black community,” Wallace said. “So one of the main things that I have always instilled into my dancers is that once I am gone to always remember the mission and the reason why you are on this team and never forget the purpose of this team. When the purpose of this team is forgotten, there is no purpose for you all here.”
Story and Photography by Logan Bik
Olani LaBeaud is the secretary of the Black Student Union, a member of CSUN Naturals, Black Girl Magic, Camp Matador and more. Although she has her hands full with the many clubs and organizations, LaBeaud finds it important to bring the African American community together. Being a member of the Naturals club on campus, LaBeaud explains the importance that the club provides for Black students of campus. “Natural hair has always been controversial and so it’s hard to be comfortable in your skin,” she said. “But, it goes way beyond hair. It’s more than the strands, it’s the roots that we have beneath it.” The sense of comfort is something that LaBeaud has worked to create with her efforts at the BSU. “We all play various roles, but we all come together to be there for the Black community,” she explained. “Black students are still a minority on this campus, so we try to provide a sense of community. A place where people can feel like they see other people that look like them, and also have the same experiences as them.” The education of Black history is something that LaBeaud appreciates as she works to create change for the future. “Black History Month is a celebration of our ancestors for those that probably were not celebrated in the past,” she said. “In the past, there was hate from outside and inside the community. So Black History Month is a time for us all to come together and celebrate all of the changes we made, but still look at all of the changes that still need to come.”
“I AM MORE THAN MY HAIR” BLACK WOMEN’S PERSPECTIVES ON THEIR HAIR’S EFFECT ON CULTURE AND IDENTITY. Story and photography by Michaella Huck The heat of the hot comb and the backache after sitting on a carpet between your mother’s legs for hours is a memory many Black girls remember far too well. From a young age, traditional styles and ways to tame naturally kinky tresses were ingrained in the minds of African American women across the nation. In early African civilizations, hair played a large role in society. It was used to indicate one’s social status, tribe, marital status and family background. Not only did it serve as a symbol of who a person was, but hair was also a social activity for ancient Africans, a collective tradition that very much exists today. With the increase of colonialism in the West and the implementation of transatlantic slave trade, enslaved Black women were forced to cover their hair with wraps and slave owners often chopped their hair off. As a result, Black women soon lost touch with their roots, and the European standard of beauty became the norm. To this day, traditional African American hairstyles on Black women are seen as unattractive, unprofessional and messy.
tribe in West Africa. Meaning, “Bo Derek braids” pre-dated 1979. “I feel irritated when non-Black people do their hair in our traditional styles simply because for a long time, I hated my hair and the texture and I put my hair through years of damage because of that,” says Kaila Moore, an Africana studies major.
THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED “Do not remove the kinks from your hair — remove them from your brain.” - Marcus Garvey
ATTACK ON TEXTURE “If your hair is relaxed, white people are relaxed. If your hair is nappy, they’re not happy.” - Paul Mooney
For CSUN political science student, Layla Barnett, this reality is quite familiar. She remembers working at a local pizza shop throughout high school and straightening her hair to look more “white.” She explained that one day, it was raining and her boss came up to her asking what was wrong with her hair that day and began touching it without her consent, describing it as “big and fluffy.” For a young Black girl, this can be traumatic and it put a lasting impression on a young Barnett — that Black hair cannot be worn in the workplace. In 2010, Chasity Jones eagerly accepted a job as a customer service representative for an insurance claims company in Alabama. Jones claimed that she wore a business
Photo illustration depicting how Black women have been the target of fetishization by society. suit and her hair pinned back in short, natural locks. After being offered the job, a human resources representative told Jones her hair violated company policy because “they tend to get messy.” She refused to cut her hair and as a result, lost her job. Jones’ case is not unique. There have been examples in the media just like this for years. Last year, however, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the first bill banning hair discrimination in the workplace and school systems, the first bill of this kind in the U.S. The CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act enables students or employees to have protection under the California Education Code and the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
THAT MOMENT WHEN BLACK HAIR TURNED TRENDY “Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it orginated but, is deemed as high fashion, cool, or funny when the privileged take it for themselves.” - Amandla Stenberg
While Black people are slowly being able to express their culture freely, it has not stopped society from finding more ways to stop the progress. Cultural appropriation, sometimes described as cultural misappropriation, has held Black hair hostage for decades. In 2018, Kim Kardashian posted a snapchat of a new hairstyle, calling them “Bo Derek braids.” Ironically, the artistic cornrows worn by Bo Derek, the star of the 1979 film “10,” are very similar to those native to the Fulani
In 1968, Kathleen Cleaver said in an infamous interview that “we’re told that only white people were beautiful — that only straight hair, light eyes, light skin was beautiful. And so Black women would try everything they could, straighten their hair, lighten their skin, to look as much like white women.” Half a century later, Black women are creating a movement to stop assimilating and are changing the narrative. The natural hair movement originated in the early 2000s and has focused on allowing Black women to celebrate and enjoy the original state of their curly hair. “I really hated my hair growing up and disliked being Black in general. I was bullied for it growing up,” said Monique Harden, an Africana studies major. “The exact moment I started loving my hair was when Kehlani released her album ‘You Should Be Here’ and I listened to her song ‘Bright,’ it’s about loving your blackness and yourself and it taught me to embrace who I was.”
UNITY IN THE STRUGGLE “Sisterhood: the close relationship of trust between women who share ideas and aims.” - Oxford Dictionary
In the wake of the natural hair movement, CSUN Naturals has played its part to provide spaces for those with a kinky texture to have a sense of togetherness with those of that have similar hair texture. The group exists “to promote healthy hair through culture and education,” according to the club’s mission statement. “My hair is not only an expression of who I am, but it represents my culture, personality and identity,” says Benedicta Udokporo Benson, the CSUN Naturals president.
BLACK, LATINX AND PROUD MOLAA’s Afro-Latinx Festival shows Latin American culture through the lens of the African diaspora.
Story by Kimberly Silverio-Bautista and Michaella Huck / Photography by Michaella Huck Afro-Latinx creatives gathered on Feb. 23 at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, to display culture and pride of the African influences in Latin America. More than a thousand attendees ate, shopped and watched live performances all centered around the African diaspora. Throughout early history, migration has been a natural occurrence. Whether it’s been through slavery or migration, Black people have influenced continents all over the world and have left a cultural footprint on Latin America as a whole. The event provided a friendly family environment for the community to learn about the culture within a variety of booths. Jolín Miranda, owner of Bori Cubi, handcrafts her artwork based on her Puerto Rican and Cuban culture and women empowerment. Many of the women figures in her craft are Selena Quintanilla, Celia Cruz, and Beyoncé, who are included on earrings, stickers, and cards. Miranda believes it’s important for Afro-Latinx events to occur because they’re educational. “Even though I am Afro-Latina, I’m always learning more about my culture,” Miranda said. “These types of events are really important to put it out there so the people are aware that there’s a lot of assets to the world.” Ryan Lucas Singletary, a managing partner of the clothing line Power in One, wants the Afro community to feel empowered within themselves. This ideal is based on one of their shirts, which says “Afro Cool.” “We want people to be proud of the pride within themselves and you know where they’re from and their natural features and loving themselves,” Singletary said. At the live performances, the audience followed along to the rhythm and were even invited to dance on stage by the band Awahaya Punta Rockers. Musicians varied from different Afro-Latinx descent
The Garifuna Heritage Foundation teaches attendees how to Punta, a traditional Garifuna dance, on Feb. 23. from Latin American countries, such as Hondurian and Guatemalan. The band Tropi Corillo played to the rhythm of cumbia, bomba and other Afro beats. They even got to perform a known popular cumbia song called “Negra Yo Soy,” which translates to “Black I Am.” Awahaya Punta Rockers offered a taste of Garifuna culture, a group of African and Indigenous people who reside throughout Latin America. With drum beats and quick shaking rhythms the Garifuna musicians displayed to attendees how to Punta, a traditional dance, and educated them on the culture. The event also had a panel discussion that took place inside the museum. This panel, called Visioning
Awahaya Punta Rockers, a Garifuna cultural band, performing music at the Afro-Latinx Festival.
The African American Cultural Center, included panelists like LaVerne Duncan, Senay Kenfe and Long Beach City councilmember Al Austin II. The overall purpose of the cultural center is for the community to learn about the African culture. Councilmember Austin said it will educate not only African Americans, but also the entire community. Duncan shared a part of history of how the cities of Long Beach, Cerritos and Paramount were originally owned by a male Spanish African during the 1600s. She reiterates that the cultural center is for everyone to learn about. “It is something for everyone because we are all interconnected in some way,” she said.
Amber Morse, lead singer of Tropi Carillo, sings cumbia music .
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UMOJA: A PATH TO SUCCESS PROGRAM FOSTERS ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT BY BUILDING A COMMUNITY
Story by Michaella Huck / Photo courtesy of UMOJA Through community building and promotion of Black excellence, students are able to prosper despite negative outside influences. Umoja is a program that focuses on enhancing the educational experience for Black and other students. “Umoja” is a Kiswahili word that means unity. Umoja was founded in 2006, with the mission of increasing Black student success on campuses around California. Umoja is available at 57 campuses state-wide and continues to expand every year. “People of color are marginalized in society and expected to land in the same place as those who are given more opportunities,” says Cheyenne Thompson, a member of the Umoja chapter at Los Angeles Pierce College. According to the NAACP, African American and Latino people make up 32% of the U.S. population, while they make up 56% of the U.S. prison population. For Patrick Washington, member of the Umoja chapter at Los Angeles Southwest College, going to college is not something that comes easy. Growing up in Inglewood, he’s witnessed many of his close friends and family lack support and resort to the streets. “I have friends that died in Inglewood Family Gangs and it could have been prevented if they had support from something more positive,” Washington said. That’s where Umoja came in — a place that students can call home, the program features student support services, textbook vouchers, “umojified” professors, and communal activities and events. “Umojified” professors go through special
The Los Angeles Pierce college chapter of UMOJA on the Library/ Learning Crossroads in Woodland Hills, California. training sessions to learn the pillars of the program while students participate in orientations and kickoffs to understand the importance of community and academic success. Alexander Chesney, a Pierce College student, said Umoja pushed him to do well in school. He attributes his academic success to the support of Umoja, and said that access to the program fulfills the social
experience of college. “It helped me feel connected, especially in community college where people don’t hang out after class,” Chesney said. Like Chesney, Washington sees Umoja as a home away from home. “It’s just a place you can go to not feel alone,” Washington said.
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