The Indy is listening. Cover Design by ANNA PAPP
VOL. XLIV, NO. 15 CONTENTS FORUM 3 From Bubble to Boston 4 Blama No More
NEWS 5 Yes We Can! Repub Style? 6 Pubescents, Be Gone!! ARTS 7 Art History 8 Interview with Tsega Tamene 10 AIDSurvive
President Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor Director of Production
Angela Song '14 Christine Wolfe '14 Sayantan Deb '14 Miranda Shugars '14
News and Forum Editor Arts Editor Sports Editor Design Editor Associate News Editor Associate Forum Editor Associate Arts Editor Associate Design Editor
Whitney Gao '16 Curtis Lahaie '15 Sean Frazzette '16 Alex Chen '16 Milly Wang '16 Kalyn Saulsberry '14 Sarah Rosenthal '15 Travis Hallett '14
Illustrator Anna Papp '16 Cartoonist John McCallum '16 Photographers Maria Barragan-Santana '14 Tarik Moon '15 Business Manager Albert Murzakhanov '16 Senior Staff Writers Michael Altman '14 Meghan Brooks '14 Whitney Lee '14 Staff Writers Claire Atwood '16 Xanni Brown '14 Clare Duncan '14 Gary Gerbrandt '14 Travis Hallett '14 Yuqi Hou '15 Cindy Hsu '14 Chloe Li '16 Orlea Miller '16 Albert Murzhakanov '16 Carlos Schmidt '15 Frank Tamberino '16
SPORTS 11 Spikes and Spanx
Destination of the week... QuĂŠbec City
As Harvard College's weekly undergraduate newsmagazine, the Harvard Independent provides in-depth, critical coverage of issues and events of interest to the Harvard College community. The Independent has no political affiliation, instead offering diverse commentary on news, arts, sports, and student life. For publication information and general inquiries, contact President Angela Song (president@harvardindependent. com) or Managing Editor Sayantan Deb (managingeditor@ harvardindependent.com). Letters to the Editor and comments regarding the content of the publication should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Christine Wolfe (editorinchief@harvardindependent. com). For email subscriptions please email president@ harvardindependent.com. The Harvard Independent is published weekly during the academic year, except during vacations, by The Harvard Independent, Inc., Student Organization Center at Hilles, Box 201, 59 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.
T hinking Outside the Square Have you popped the Harvard Bubble lately? By KALYN SAULSBERRY
uring the summer before my freshman year of college, I rode the T for the first time and found myself clumsily swaying forwards and backwards while clinging to the metal bar above my head for dear life. The train jerked sharply, and I bumped quite inelegantly into a woman in a business suit who shot an irritated glare my way. Unsteady on my feet, I became acutely aware of the reality that I was not a local and was far from my quiet, Midwestern home with its comparatively modest public transportation system. Getting off the train, I found myself in a maze of arrows and escalators with other college students who, unlike me, seemed to know what they were doing. Eventually, I made my way to Harvard Square unscathed, but couldn’t help feeling wary of ever venturing off-campus again. Confining myself to the Square during my four undergraduate years would be an all-too-comfortable option — in the case that I limited my tastes to CVS and froyo shops — but one of my freshman classes convinced me otherwise. I stumbled into United States in the World 24: “Reinventing Boston, The Changing American City” purely by accident during my first hectic shopping week. I had no idea what concentration I would be or what classes would craft the perfect schedule. However, this class remains one of my favorites, not just because of what I learned in the classroom, but because of what I was able to experience beyond Harvard’s hallowed halls. This General Education course required students to travel to and explore at least five neighborhoods in Boston, and I chose to venture to Dorchester, Chinatown, South Boston, Charlestown, and Downtown The Harvard Independent • 02.21.13
Boston. By the end of this class, I had mastered the art of “T-surfing” (the method of standing confidently on the T without holding onto the bar or crashing into other travelers), which was a major contrast from my first treacherous experience on the T. While learning how to navigate the T — which, as it turns out, is quite straightforward after all — was a critical component to the course work, the class also introduced me to the city just eleven minutes away from my dorm room. I am convinced that if I had not taken this class, I would still only be in Cambridge, patronizing typical Harvard-student haunts like Felipe’s and Noch’s. I would have missed out on the dim sum served at Hei La Moon, watching the ducks swim in the Public Gardens pond, and listening to the Boston Symphony Orchestra perform Verdi’s Requiem at the stunning symphony hall located on the Green Line. Even though many of us oftentimes say that we go to school in Boston, not enough of us choose to actually leave Cambridge and regularly explore Beantown. Not only does this city have many cultural, historical, and artistic landmarks and attractions, it also provides a tangible escape from the Harvard Bubble. This invisible enclosure encompasses not only the physical campus of Harvard but also the intangible social atmosphere that can sometimes lean towards competition and exclusivity. I’ve found that staying within this familiar Bubble too long can be stressful and suffocating due to the whirlwind of meetings for extracurricular activities, problem sets and papers for classes, and applications for summer internships happening all at once. Even walking through the Square isn’t enough for
me to get some distance from my typical routine. As my hometown of Saint Louis, Missouri is 1,189 miles away from Harvard (who’s counting?), it’s important for me to be able to venture away and find a space that separates my school life from my life beyond academia, since travelling home regularly is not an option. I find that taking a moment to get away from Cambridge provides me with clarity and peace. These excursions reenergize me for returning to my on-campus obligations and activities. Even after riding the train for nearly three years, I find myself smiling at the view of Boston’s skyline and the Charles River as the T grunts into the Charles/MGH stop. An afternoon enjoying a cannoli from Mike’s Pastry while sitting at Long
Wharf and listening to the seagulls swoop over the Atlantic Ocean offers an opportunity for reflection and conversations with friends. After spending so much time in Boston during my time as an undergraduate, the thought of spending all four years never leaving the gates of Harvard seems unimaginable. Exploring Boston has offered me a sense of wellness and adventure that has enriched the essence of my undergraduate experience thus far. Boston has so much to offer Harvard students if they will only choose to take advantage of it. And, no, a shuttle ride to the quad doesn’t count. Kalyn Saulsberry (ksaulsberry@college) is already counting down the days until her next visit to Boston.
When blocking drama blows up in your face. “We must hang together, or surely we shall hang separately” — Benjamin Franklin.
ver the past several weeks, emails with the subject line “Drama-Free Blocking” have been inundating freshmen’s inboxes. Annenberg conversations have transitioned from “Hi, I’m John. I’m from NY, and I am majoring – I mean concentrating – in Neurobiology” to “I’m blocking with W, X, and Y, and possibly Z, although I really don’t like him.” Despite the many efforts of administrators, PAFs, and proctors to subside fears and concerns over blocking, the drama stemming from this yearly social catastrophe seems to be inevitable. “We need 21st century algorithms reflecting the real complex social webs that would create entire houses of compatible networks, rather than
attempt to compartmentalize life into blocks of eight,” argues Chris Xu ’16. In my opinion, blocking comes with nothing other than wonderful intentions, allowing students to be in the same house as their closest friends from freshman year while not forcing them to room with them so they can meet new people. However, for many freshmen, this transcends into a stressful hairtearing process in which friendships end, and feelings get crushed. Students make promises, which obviously will be broken, to multiple blocking groups stating their intention to join. Others — clearly thinking with the wrong organs — choose not to take the explicit advice given by others (everyone) and block with their boyfriends/girlfriends. If you’re
By ALBERT MURZAKHANOV
dating someone, you will see him or her regardless of which house you will be in, and if you feel you won’t want to make the trip if you’re in separate houses, then you’re probably not dating the right person. It’s always difficult — that is, if you’re a kind person — to let someone know he/ she can’t block with you, especially if that person thinks you and him/her are very close. However, it’s better to rip the bandage now than to realize you’re living in the same house — or the same room — with someone you cannot stand. My biggest advice if you’re planning to block with someone who will make you sink, is don’t — just float! Floating will not make you seem like a friendless loser, but blocking with a group just for the sake of not being alone is not worth it and could possibly ruin what should be an amazing three years. “If you want to block alone, then don’t feel pressure to be in a group. Be yourself and do what you have to because otherwise you’ll have to suffer in the end,” recommends Farhana Nabi ’16. Although it appeared most people had their BFFs
picked out by the end of September, this is far from reality. Some students put up a façade that all things, academically and socially, are perfect. True lasting friendships don’t form instantaneously; any relationship requires time, effort, and commitment regardless of how compatible the two people are. The feverish anticipation as you’re waiting to see who will be knocking on your door. The hope of getting the house you know is the “best.” The worry of ending up in the one that your upperclassman friend, who “definitely knows” what he/she is talking about, said is the worst. Housing Day is an exhilarating time. There is no reason to let this special and singular memory be tainted by unnecessary drama. As we continue the quest to find our niches, we need to take a few moments to sit back and cherish the excitement that we will only get to experience once. Albert Murzakhanov ’16 (amurzakhanov@ college) is fine with any house he gets into. As long as it’s a River House. And it’s Adams.
Photos by Angela Song
02.21.13 • The Harvard Independent
The Future of the Republican Party On campus and in country. By MEGHAN BROOKS
he Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics Director Trey Grayson began February 6th’s JFK Jr. Forum event by asking the five panelists to identify what went wrong for Republicans in the 2012 election cycle. Political strategist Ron Christie blamed poor outreach efforts to young people and people of color, while former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey (R) said that the party hadn’t done enough to rally conservatives of varying viewpoints. Karen Hughes, a top advisor in the early George W. Bush administration, said that the party’s tone had been too negative and messaging on its strongest advantage — conservative economic policy — weak. John Murray, Founder and President of the YG Network, a conservative PAC, echoed Hughes, saying that the Republican Party has to be more than “a party of ‘no’,” the contrarian’s alternative to Democratic policymaking. It was CNN contributor Ana Navarro, however, who best summarized the current Republican attitude towards the most recent election cycle: she said, “We have to take the 2012 campaign and make it a manual on what not to do.” Although both the panelists on stage at the IOP and Republicans on the national stage have found elements of the 2012 elections to praise, the prevailing attitude is that the loss has to spark a serious re-examination of what the Republican Party is, who it is for, and how it can win. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) urged Republicans to “stop being the stupid party” in mid-January, former White House advisor Karl Rove founded a political action committee designed to rebrand the party and re-strategize, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) outlined new policy priorities that he believes all Republicans can unite behind in a speech given on February 5th. Republicans agree that they have to make changes; what they do not agree on, however, is what those changes should be. Karl Rove has been vilified for his reform efforts by the Tea Party in particular, and Politico reported that Cantor’s speech The Harvard Independent • 02.21.13
“I am a twelve members. You’re doing quite well.” woman, The current president of the club, immigrant, Rajiv Tarigopula ’14, agrees. While it is no secret that Harvard College harbors an Hispanic, overwhelming majority of liberal students, Tarigopula sees a bright future ahead pro-gay for the Harvard Republican Club and conservatism at Harvard on the whole. rights, pro- Considering the club’s activities over the past year or so, his optimism seems well immigration placed. The 2012 election cycle and its reform immediate aftermath has been a boom period for the club’s growth since the Republican national primaries began to heat up in the 2011-2012 school year. “It was a contentious who thinks primary,” Tarigopula recalls, explaining that club members threw their support there is behind candidates such as Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman before Mitt Romney climate eventually secured the nomination. Despite some members’ disappointment, change, however, the club’s campaign effort for Romney and other Republican candidates and you such as Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown benefited significantly from the know what? participation of enthusiastic freshmen and sophomores. The club put boots No one is on the ground in New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the weekends leading up going to to the election, and found itself at Governor Romney’s campaign headquarters in kick me out downtown Boston on election night. Of course, November 6 proved disappointing, of that tent.” and when the electoral map began to turn
is hardly representative of the goals of the party as a whole. At the Institute of Politics’ “Future of the Republican Party” forum, panelists painted their visions for the future in broad strokes, but all agreed that the party needs to establish an open coalition of conservatives of different stripes, and that it must focus on promoting its own policies rather than simply opposing Democratic ones. After offering their opening remarks, the panelists discussed throwing out the candidate “litmus test,” reintroducing the language of hope, coming to a consensus on immigration reform, finding candidates that fit their districts, promoting education reform, and preventing extreme elements of the party from excluding moderate voices. For the crowd of mostly undergraduate and graduate students, however, one of the most relevant criticisms the panelists offered was that Republicans had not done enough to engage young voters in the 2012 election cycle. During the question and answer portion of the event, former Harvard Republican Club President Derek Bekebrede ’13 asked the panelists to give their opinions on the party’s potential to increase its presence on university campuses, which are more often than not unabashedly liberal. Ron Christie spoke about the need for more Republicans to go into academia, while John Murray encouraged conservative students to be courageous enough to listen to their opponents but to offer counter-arguments regardless. Ana Navarro got a laugh out of her suggestion that young Republicans help the party harness the communicative power of technology in the same ways Democrats have, saying, “We seem to have a lot of nerds in the Republican Party but not enough geeks.” Kerry Healey, however, chose to make her point differently. After discovering that Bekebrede had been president of the Harvard Republican Club, she asked him how many members the club has: “Close to one hundred,” he said. “Well, in 1978 when I was Membership Secretary…we had
blue, as Tarigopula recalls, “the self- ANA NAVARRO reflection started immediately.” (CNN CONTRIBUTOR) The kind of “self-reflection” Tarigopula is referring to, however, is not the kind of self-reflection that can be resolved over a yoga retreat and a juice cleanse. Rather, he is referring to an active form of selfreflection of the sort exemplified at the “Future of the Republican Party” forum. Tarigopula agrees that the party must focus on reaching more diverse demographics and attracting the youth vote, but as far as he is concerned, the Harvard Republican Club CONT. ON NEXT PAGE » harvardindependent.com
Speaking in Suits
And so the high schoolers pilgrimage to Mecca. By MILLY WANG
long with the flurry of snowflakes that descended upon Cambridge this weekend, 4,181 high school students from all across the country — and a few from Korea — flocked to Harvard for the 39th Annual Harvard National Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament. The Harvard Debate Council has been in charge of running this annual competition since 1974, and this year has resulted in the largest turnout in the history of the tournament. According to Sherry Hall, an organizer of the event, students from 356 schools from 39 states and 2 countries took part in various types of debate competition categories this weekend. The majority of debaters participated in Public Forum debate, in which teams tackle topics of national or international importance. Others took part in Policy, Lincoln-Douglas, and Congressional debating. If debate isn’t your style, the Harvard National Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament also offered speech events, which a large proportion (around 1,500) of the students took part in. These
CONT. FROM PREV. PAGE, FUTURE»
is already doing both. At the forum, former Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey emphasized the necessity of forming a coalition of Republicans of varying viewpoints, which Karen Hughes and Ana Navarro agreed with in particular. Navarro said, “I am a woman, immigrant, Hispanic, pro-gay rights, pro-immigration reform Republican who thinks there is climate change, and you know what? No one is going to kick me out of that tent.” Navarro was referring to the “Big Tent” Republicanism of the Reagan era, a phrase Healey avoided using but that is roughly analogous to her idea of a Republican coalition. The Harvard Republican Club, on the other hand, freely describes itself as subscribing to Big Tent Republicanism, and its diversity of membership demonstrates how strongly it sticks to that ideal. Tarigopula describes himself as fiscally conservative but socially 6 harvardindependent.com
events ranged from Original Oratory, where speakers prepare a well-written and impassioned speech ahead of time, to Extemporaneous Speaking and Dramatic Interpretation, where speakers have only a short amount of time to come up with something award-winning on the spot. Debate requires not only a good balance of sound logic and background knowledge but also a passion for the topic. The rise and fall of one’s tone while speaking, the touching life examples that link ideas and thoughts together, the hand gestures and facial expressions — all of these hung in a delicate but powerful balance in many of the great speeches of this tournament. Yet it seems that this weekend not only posed a mental challenge to these high school students but a physical one as well. It was the first time that many of the students from the Southern and warmer states such as Texas, California, or Florida experienced snow — undoubtedly not the warmest Bostonian welcome that one could hope for. Many complained about the blistering cold winds, the heavy snowfall, and the
moderate to liberal, and explains that the executive board of the club is comprised of libertarians, moderates, and principled social conservatives alike. He expects that the club’s general membership is similar in diversity, and believes that there is room for every brand of conservative in the national party as well. While Tarigopula concedes that the Harvard Republican Club’s demographics are not representative of the party as a whole, if Healey, Navarro, and like-minded Republicans get their way, the party may begin to diversify very soon. As debate continues on the national stage, Tarigopula and his executive board have plenty to keep them occupied on campus. “Traditionally we’ve always had a huge drop-off [in membership] after the presidential election,” Tarigopula says. “Our goal right now is to make sure we don’t lose any of that energy going forward.” Fortunately, citing record
added difficulties of walking from location to location all over campus in formal shoes and thin jackets. Some took an ingenious approach and brought a pair of snow boots with them to use interchangeably with their formal shoes. But even the wet and soggy weather outside couldn’t dampen the spirits of the debaters. Walking into the Science Center building during the weekend led to encounters with large groups of debaters milling around, tucked into small corners or crevices typing furiously into their laptops, walking back and forth rehearsing their speeches, or making emotional appeals to walls. It was clear that everyone was determined to win. Yet despite the competitive spirit floating around the room, debaters encouraged one another earnestly, traded tips and advice, shared their ideas and worries, and made new friends. Winning wasn’t the only objective — everyone was also here to enjoy themselves. Ensuring that an event this large runs smoothly is no easy task. With so many students and different types of events, buildings all over campus and the greater Cambridge area had to be reserved. The Yard, Quad, nearby public schools, and Lesley University all housed rounds for this tournament. It takes a team of organizers, coordinators, judges, building monitors, and various other personnel to pull it off — and they pulled it off well. Now that this year’s tournament is over, it’s time to plan the next one. And, quite possibly, some of the debaters here this weekend will end up at Harvard in a few years time. Milly Wang ’16 (keqimillywang@college) was thrown into nostalgic remembrance of her highschool debate days.
turnout at a recent club meeting that hosted Karen Hughes, interest in conservative politics at the College does not seem to be petering out in the slightest. The club plans to throw its weight behind Republican candidates in special elections for vacant Massachusetts Senate and House seats. The club is also already in touch with Gabriel Gomez, the first Massachusetts Republican to declare his candidacy for the senate seat vacated by the recently appointed Secretary of State, John Kerry. On campus, they are working on collaborations with the Harvard College Democrats and the Harvard Political Union at the Institute of Politics, and Tarigopula hopes to put his head together with his Democratic counterpart to express bipartisan opinions on policy issues such as immigration reform. The club is staying active and reaching out to previously untapped demographics in the student body with the message, “It’s ok to be conservative
on campus.” Tarigopula hopes to draw out closet conservatives and the conservative but usually non-political from their liberal classmates, and with the club’s dual focus on activism and intellectual conservatism, Tarigopula believes it can increase the Republican presence on campus. Regardless of which direction the Republican Party moves in, there is no denying that 2016 will be, in Tarigopula’s words, “a defining presidential election.” As both the panelists at the IOP and conservatives across the country have said, the future of the Republican Party is up for grabs. On the other hand, as far as the Harvard Republican Club is concerned, all it really has to do is graduate. Meghan Brooks ’14 (meghanbrooks@ college) admires anyone ready to stick to his or her guns. Pun intended.
02.21.13 • The Harvard Independent
Voices Raised, Voices Heard Black in the Day celebrates African and African-American arts through the ages. “We wanted to inspire the audience, I think, to realize the power of their own voice…We want you to celebrate the voices that came before you and recognize all that yours can do.” - Tsega Tamene ’15, Black Arts Festival Chair 2012-2013.
harlie Parker once said, “They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.” And what a perfect tribute it was to a man of great words — and great music — to open the 15th Annual Dr. Walter J. Leonard Black Arts Festival Performance Arts Showcase, “Black in the Day,” with a Parker piece that said jazz, jazz, jazz. But it wasn’t all saxophones and piano at Saturday, February 16th’s showcase. The talent shown and the tributes given ranged from spoken word to the word of God, African drumming to Beyoncé’s bass, and 1500 to 2013. The emphasis on continuity was clear — no matter what time or place this art came from, it derived from the power and passion of the Black community, and that has never changed. As attendants of the show — adults and students of all backgrounds — waited for the show to begin, there was a persistent nodding of heads and tapping of feet as Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” rang throughout Lowell Lecture Hall. While Lowell wasn’t filled to capacity, the excitement of the night hung clear over the audience as members of the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College, who have hosted the event for the past fifteen years, ran around the floor, greeting alumni and friends and setting up the stage. As Wonder faded into the background, the emcees of the show, Dolo Nosa ‘14 and Latoya Stewart ’15, came out to greet the audience and start the show. Each performance was dedicated to an iconic Black artist, which aided in emphasizing the enormous diversity of talents and specialties within the history of African and African-American art. The first group to perform was the Charlie Parker All-Stars, and The Harvard Independent • 02.21.13
they got the audience on beat. Perhaps in the most stunning instrumental exhibition of the night, each instrument — saxophone, trumpet, piano, drums, and bass — had its time in the spotlight, showing off each musician’s extraordinary talent and cementing Parker’s legacy as the greatest jazz musician of all time. The show then moved forward a few decades to the down tempo melodies of The Temptations’ “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me).” Call to Praise, an all male a cappella group, gave the tune a smooth, slow feel, sharply contrasted to Parker’s chaotic swing that preceded it. Some of the members of Call to Praise continued to perform throughout the show; the fluidity of talent and medium proved these artists true spokespeople for the wide-reaching soul of the creative. From Call to Praise we were pulled back from soft-spoken daydreams to the bitter realities of history. Though an undercurrent to many performances — historical remembrance being central to the message of the Black Arts Festival — Barbara Florvil’s (Tufts ’13) spoken word piece on Elmina brought forth the necessity of memorial, of strength, and of voice. Elmina, now a region of Ghana, was one of the primary stops on the slave trade route under the Dutch and British Empires. Florvil’s piece, heavy with anaphora and sensorial imagery, united the voices of Elmina’s victim with the speaker and those who listened, the importance of words never so clear as when she spoke them. She revived the victims of Elmina as much as she could through her own ability and willingness to speak for them and to speak for herself. It was difficult to follow the gravity of Florvil’s piece, but Under Construction, Harvard’s Christian a cappella group, did so with grace. Under Construction’s performance was dedicated to Kirk Franklin, considered to be one of the contemporary leaders of the Gospel music community. The group performed his “Now Behold the Lamb” and Mary Mary’s “Shackles (Praise You).” These songs touched on the somber and the uplifting in Christian spirituals, which have had a fundamental influence on nearly every genre of music. The passion in the songs of praise — which would be echoed in Kuumba’s finale — spread throughout the lecture hall, the joy of belief filtered through dance and song. While joy was certainly an element to Under Construction’s performance, their spirit was hard to compare to what followed. Seven members of Padame (Harvard’s Pan-African Dance and Music Ensemble) carried traditional African drums to the edge of the stage and began a contagious
beat, a climatic buildup rumbling through the hall. The drummers were soon joined by the dancers, and an explosion of rhythm burst through the room, with the pounding of feet and voices carrying up into the rafters. Padame’s performance, dedicated to the Soweto Gospel Choir, had life and spirit that encapsulated a celebration worthy of the power of music. Even when the group left the stage, the atmosphere of energy they had created remained, and the audience members could hardly be kept in their seats — a suddenly inane limitation to movement and bodily expression. Expressions, Harvard’s Hip hop dance company, felt oddly stiff after Padame’s performance. The dancers, honoring newly emerged artist Frank Ocean, gave the show a contemporary feel, moving in sync to Ocean, Beyoncé, and several other chart-toppers of today. The dancers were certainly talented, but the formality of their dance seemed a less genuine expression after the elation of Padame’s performance. That said, form can be expressive in innumerable ways, and the inclusion of popular artistic traditions brought to life the immediacy of AfricanAmerican influence on music and dance. Beyoncé is considered by many Americans to be the greatest popular female artist of our time, continuing the long lasting tradition of Black women in the arts. Hiphop and R&B’s continuous presence in our lives makes it easy to forget that these genres are critical to African-American history and its continued production. After a brief intermission, THUD — The Harvard Undergraduate Drummers — honored jazz drummer Jo Jones with a STOMP-like set of extraordinary coordination and collaboration in rhythm. The set joined the Charlie Parker AllStars’, Padame’s, and Expression’s in using the physical power of beat to communicate to the audience. There was nothing quiet about their performance, speaking against the noxious power of silence. Barbara Florvil’s passion in anger, sadness, and hope was echoed in the second spoken word performance of the night, given by Jalem, James & Matthew (Jalem Towler ’15, James Ramsey ’15, and Matthew Maxwell ’15). Their official honoree was Billie Holiday, given tribute to in a rendition of her “Strange Fruit,” but these three men spoke more for Black Americans at large than for any one person. The precise power of spoken word is just that — it unites the individual with a community, a group, an issue, and in doing so draws the personal into the public and the public into the personal. The men spoke of racism, past and present, of ignorance, of blindness, and of impatience. The world of today, they reminded us, is far from where harvardindependent.com 7
we want and need to be. The performance encapsulated song, instrumentals, verbal declaration, and spirituals: a collage of an art historied by and for a people. In the penultimate act, one man sat alone at the piano just a few feet from the front row. Willie Jones dedicated his piece to Otis Redding, giving beautiful renditions of “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember” and “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” There was a sweetness in his intimacy with the music, he the only solo performer with the exception of Barbara Florvil. On finishing “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember,” Jones said, “I can’t imagine what it would take to write a song like that.” Redding, like all of the artists honored at Black in the Day and all those who were not explicitly included, drew together pain with passion. This inseparable mood — created by history as well as individual lives — is one of many elements of art that makes it speak to the observer, so that voices are not simply heard but felt, and the external narrative becomes one’s own story. While the particular suffering and mindset integral to the creation of this art stems from and speaks to the Black community in particular, there is something within that art that resonates with nearly anyone it encounters. For in addition to African art or African-American art, it is human art. And none speak to that point so poignantly as Kuumba, who concluded the evening by taking us “Back in the Day.” There’s something somatic about Kuumba’s choral incantations — backed by guitars, drums, and keyboard so reminiscent of Gospel it’s visceral — that brings life to the room. Kuumba paid tribute to Andrae Crouch, accredited with bringing modern instrumentation to Gospel music. They sang his “Back in the Day” and William P. Mackay’s “Revive Us Again” with their usual gusto. The musicality of their piece rang almost as high as their passion, and Kuumba’s voice filled every corner of the hall. Their finale was a tribute to the voice of a people united in creativity and spirituality, and as Tsega Tamene told The Harvard Independent in the interview that follows, “for moments in Black history, for eras of Black history, even, spirituality and creativity were very seriously linked…those songs were, I guess you could say, “creative expression” that was almost required of the Black community at some points.” And what has been ushered out of hundreds of years of history fell to our ears last Saturday. Now it’s time to speak. Christine Wolfe ’14 (crwolfe@college) really appreciates the work Kuumba and all of the participants in the Black Arts Festival put into a very enjoyable weekend.
q&a WITH Tsega Tamene
Tsega Tamene ‘15 is a member of the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College, which has hosted a Black Arts Festival every year. She is the Black Arts Festival Chair 2012–2013. This year marked the 15th Annual Dr. Walter J. Leonard Black Arts Festival. Christine Wolfe: What was your motivation for choosing Voices for this year’s theme? TT: We wanted to express the theme that creativity of any form — vocal, visual, or any form of art an individual might choose — allows them a voice. We specifically wanted to celebrate the way the Black community has used art as an effective and emotive voice for social issues as well as a simple expression of what it is that they wanted to share that they may not have been given a stage to share…That’s the purpose of choosing Voices. CW: Could go into the details of how you feel art functions as a tool of cultural empowerment and expression? TT: One of the things that we did to advertise the weekend was create these posters with faces of influential or iconic Black voices in the arts. One was Lauryn Hill, and she wrote once, “Hip hop is not just music but a spiritual movement of the Blacks.” And we were like whoa, that’s a lot. Let’s just unpack that a little bit. We found that going through other figures, going back through history and looking at those even more current than Hill, we found other figures — Charlie Bird, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin — names that we know as iconic artists and awesome voices. These icons express their art or use their art to say what they wouldn’t in other realms of life.
— I’m not sure if you were able to read about this — but he was the primary force behind the Harvard Plan, which was a blueprint for establishing equal employment and educational opportunities in higher education. The plan was cited approvingly by the U.S. Supreme Court in Regents of University of California v. Bakke. It was adopted by hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide. So Dr. Leonard was the one who proposed this, and this was in 1971 when he was the Special Assistant to the University President. It was through Harvard that he propelled this movement called the Plan to create equal education opportunities. And I think that his life in general — he used whatever talents he had, whether or not they were musical or artistic, in whatever cliché way we want to define those terms — he used his talents to give voice to those who weren’t afforded the opportunity. And that’s the biggest thing we like to celebrate. He also allowed Kuumba to be what it is, and that’s what Kuumba is all about, it’s about using creativity, celebrating it, and allowing those voices to continue into today. Because when a lot of people think of Black history they don’t think that it continues into today, you know? I think when people consider Black History Month, they think of an old hymn sung by an elderly man in a rocking chair, and there’s this somber feel to it, and people don’t understand that Black history is something that has been ushered into the future and is being made every day. I think that’s something Harvard students overlook. Dr. Walter J. Leonard was one of those people who was able to continue that legacy.
CW: So, you said this before, the Black Arts Festival is dedicated to Dr. Leonard — Dr. Walter J. Leonard — who served as the Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions at Harvard Law School as well as the President of Fisk University. He also helped establish the WEB Du Bois Institute here at Harvard. How has Dr. Leonard’s work inspired this artistic celebration of African American history?
CW: Those are very good points, thank you. Speaking of Kuumba, I wanted to ask you some questions about Kuumba as well. On your website, there’s a message from your director, Sheldon Reid ’96, which says, “the mission of Kuumba is to express the creativity and spirituality of Black people in a way that leaves a space better than it was found.” That has a lot of aspects to it, but I just wanted to ask about how you think creativity facilitates spirituality, and vice versa.
TT: He is a very important figure. He was one of the supportive figures in the founding of Kuumba. Kuumba was created in 1970 by two Black students who wanted to create a safe space to express their creativity, and he was very supportive of creating that space for Black students on this campus. One of the big things that we honor him for is called the Harvard Plan
TT: It’s hard for me to speak on behalf of Kuumba, because there’s a legacy dated 43 years now, one that I have not completely witnessed. But knowing what I do know, for moments in Black history, for eras of Black history, even, spirituality and creativity were very seriously linked. So a lot of the music we’ll sing is based in old spirituals that have been sung 02.21.13 • The Harvard Independent
for many, many years past. And during times of serious racial tension, some even dating way back before the Civil Rights Movement, those songs were, I guess you could say “creative expression,” that was almost required of the Black community at some points. Something that Sheldon tells us a lot is that modern R&B, modern Alt Rock, modern Hip hop, and even Jazz and Blues, all these people who are “Black artists” were all inspired by spirituals dated hundreds of years ago. I think that’s a big thing about it. We watched a documentary a few weeks back at a gig that we were doing called Soundtrack for a Revolution. It was really cool; I would recommend it. It was a Harvard Foundation event that screened that movie, and we were just singing at the end of it, but we got to sit through the movie. Basically, it chronicles the Civil Rights Movement and the use of song in propelling that movement. It was cool to see figures who were literally marching for much of the Civil Rights Movement, to hear them say that these songs were what helped us keep going. When we were knocked over, we literally got up and kept singing. When we had our sit-ins we would sing. It just really reminded me of the power of these songs. For the power of, like we say, leaving a place better than we found it, requires you to believe that there’s something bigger than you, that you’re not where it stops. Your community might not even be where it stops, there’s something bigger than that. That’s a really hard question — you’re getting a lot out of here, you know… CW: How has your participation in Kuumba influenced your experience as a Harvard student? TT: This is a testimony, seriously, this is going to be a long — seriously, Christine, we are going to get to know each other… CW: Perfect! TT: Like I said and I’ll reiterate again, Kuumba was created in 1970 by two Black students. This was a hostile time still, just fresh out of the Civil Rights Movement. We hear about the last march, we hear about MLK’s assassination, and then snap, those tensions disappeared. Of course not. 1970 was a big time, and they created this choir as a safe space. That’s what we call it, a safe space. A safe space for Black students, even though it has become that same safe space for many different kinds of people since then. Our membership is beyond Black students at this point, which is encouraging to see, and really a testament to the choir and what it stands for. Because I’m going to say, obviously this isn’t the same hostile environment that it was in 1970, right? One of my best friends is Ukrainian, one of my other friends is from London, so it’s not the same time. We’re not living in that history. But there are still times, especially on this campus, that I just see students needing a place to go that’s safe. And they might not understand what that means, but they can feel it, they can feel the void of it. They book tickets, usually to some tropical destination or something, like I’m just The Harvard Independent • 02.21.13
Black history is American history. And it’s so obvious when you hear it, but in grade school up to now, even maybe after graduation if you’re not an African American Studies or Sociology concentrator, you’re under the impression that Black history is a compartmentalized, segmented part of American history.” - TSEGA TAMENE ‘15 gonna go now! I’m so lucky to have found this space so early on here. It’s especially nice in frustrating situations. Obviously we’re going to go to academics because this is Harvard. It’s like getting that first reality check of a grade, right? You need somewhere to go. Even if I weren’t sitting down somewhere with someone saying, Oh, I failed! I get to come together as a group and sing and contribute to something larger than my paper. It’s really in those kinds of situations. Kuumbabes, as we call members of the choir — it’s adorable — they’ve been with each other for so many life occasions. Every rehearsal we gather at the end and hold hands — I’m not trying to make you uncomfortable, the first time it happened, I was like, what is going on — but we hold hands and it’s time for Praises and Prayers, and you can say anything. Someone raised their hand and said, I got out of bed, that is a praise, something you want to celebrate. And then we have prayers, for something heavy on the heart. It’s just amazing to have this space that’s maintained its reputation from 1970 until now. CW: What do you see as the significance of performances like Black in the Day, which presents a range, both in time and type, of African and African American musical traditions? TT: Like we said, the theme of the festival was voices, so we were focusing on how our creativity has and continues to be an effective voice for the black community. So with this black in the day — note the pun, which we were very proud of. CW: Oh, it’s a good one. I’m all about puns. TT: But with this Black in the Day we just wanted to take the audience back to honor and make a tribute for some of those voices. So it wasn’t just song; there was spoken word, a jazz ensemble, and each of the groups honored their performance to some iconic figure. Just to highlight some — some, not all — of those amazing figures. And we wanted to inspire the audience, I think, to realize the power of their
own voice. I mean, we wrote it in giant letters on the program: we want you to celebrate the voices that came before you and recognize all that yours can do… CW: One of the quotes on your homepage is from Alvin Ailey, who did modern dance: “Its roots [referring to his dancing] are in American Negro culture, which is a part of the whole country’s heritage, but the dance speaks to everyone. Otherwise it wouldn’t work.” I thought that was a great quote. Can you speak more to the contribution and importance of Black art to American art and culture as a whole? TT: I can’t even remember where I heard it, but I think an important thing to understand is something largely forgotten and overlooked: Black history is American history. And it’s so obvious when you hear it, but in grade school up to now, even maybe after graduation if you’re not an African American Studies or Sociology concentrator, you’re under the impression that Black history is a compartmentalized, segmented part of American history. They weren’t there for the Civil War, they weren’t there for any other occasion in American history, which is just false, right? And for us to say that the Civil Rights Movement, that one decade of really public and history book making — history book making, not history making — marches and Black solidarity, that one decade is all that Black history is. I think that’s so deceiving. Some of the people don’t know what the Harlem Renaissance is! That’s the birth of Jazz, the birth of a culture that influenced Jazz musicians of all ethnicities today. I don’t say Black art is a separate entity. It’s woven into American history. And it’s influenced not just Black artists but artists of all different backgrounds, people of all different backgrounds. If you just think of Aretha Franklin — her songs are legendary. If you think of Charlie Parker, any jazz musician should know Charlie parker. I think it’s important to note: Black History is American history. It is American art.
Plague: A Study of Human Struggle and Triumph The Indy reviews Oscar nominated documentary, How to Survive a Plague. By SAYANTAN DEB
don’t often watch documentaries. More relevantly, I try to stay away from the grim topics that these documentaries usually cover. However, as I was researching for my Oscars preview, I happened upon the movie How to Survive a Plague, a nominee for Best Documentary Feature. When I sat down to watch the movie, I was both pleasantly surprised and emotionally affected in a way I didn’t expect. The movie opens with a historical background of the AIDS epidemic. It starts with the Reagan era’s gross neglect of the disease — back when AIDS was called GRID (Gay-Related Immunodeficiency) — presents the exponential growth of AIDS in the first half of the decade, and introduces the discovery of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). That is just the beginning of the movie. The focus then shifts to ACT UP, an AIDS advocacy group that relies on non-violent protest to bring attention to the growing epidemic and to convince the government to invest more money in AIDS research. From boycotts to kiss-ins, the group employs every method of peaceful protest to raise awareness and effect change. ACT UP is also present through the gamut of institutions that AIDS patients must deal with to receive appropriate care. Eventually, a faction of the group breaks apart to form TAG (Treatment Advocacy Group), composed mainly of individuals who have worked exclusively on efforts to expedite finding a cure for the disease. 10 harvardindependent.com
Meanwhile, the movie documents how Merck scientists’ approach to AIDS research evolves, leading them to the importance of protease inhibitors and the “cocktail therapy” which is the currently prescribed method of treatment. Through the efforts of ACT UP, TAG, scientists, and eventually, the bureaucratic arm of the FDA, drugs are put into public circulation. These medical innovations change the face of HIV/AIDS, transforming it from a certain death sentence to a manageable condition. In the process, the advocacy efforts set the standards for effective protest and how the FDA’s policies on passing drugs. Although a documentary, How to Survive a Plague plays like a feature. There is the typical arc of an exposition, a rising action signified most profoundly by a running tally of AIDS related deaths that punctuates the film, a climax seeded in the discovery and approval of the cocktail drugs, and finally, a resolution where the members of the advocacy groups look to the future. There, AIDS is just a memory, a terrible disease that once plagued a generation, and one that martyred many in the fight for a cure. The most effective and emotional moments in the movie are ones that don’t set out to make a statement. In a particularly poignant sequence, four activists, all infected with HIV, talk about the race against time and come to terms with an almost certainly inevitable death. Also interesting are the dynamics within
the advocacy groups — the politics, the insecurities, and eventually the separation of a faction. In one scene, as activists argue over petty logistical issues, one of the key members of the group shouts, “We are in a plague!” After a speech that highlights their hopeless situation, the group falls silent, and the audience falls with them. This is where David France, the director, triumphs: he strikes a perfect balance of drama and reality without ever getting preachy. Instead, the millions of stories of afflicted individuals and their last painful moments on the deathbed, shunned by society and medical professionals alike, are enough to send a clear message. France lets his subjects do the talking. However, they too are restrained, seeking pity. Instead, it’s all matter-of-fact — their health condition, the trials and tribulations they faced while battling government ignorance and systemic bureaucracy, and the experiences they had while watching their entire generation succumb to AIDS. The images are provocative without going over the top. There were moments where I couldn’t watch the screen, but then again, I don’t claim to have a strong stomach. Are there any flaws? Yes, but nothing that distracts from the movie. Women in the movie are pushed to the margins, only glimpsed through the life of a nurse, a counter-culture, Ivy-League-educated ally of the cause, and a doctor who tries to lift the spirit of the advocacy group. While it is also true that the homosexual community was most severely afflicted by the disease, the movie becomes myopic when it focuses only on this group’s struggle. However, the larger story of discovering the drugs and putting them to use is one that the director never strays from. While not entirely flawless, the movie comes pretty damn close. How to Survive a Plague is not only one of the best documentaries of the year, but one of the best films of year (if not THE best). It is moving in a way that’s rare for documentaries. However, the true triumph of the movie lies in how it ends on a rather uplifting note, given the subject matter. Having taken the audience through an emotional rollercoaster, the movie closes with a positive focus on the advances of the last two decades and the way HIV is becoming increasingly manageable. While more optimistic than realistic, it provides a fitting conclusion, showing that the road ahead is long but manageable.
Instead, the millions of stories of afflicted individuals and their last painful moments on the deathbed, shunned by society and medical professionals alike, are enough to send a clear message. France lets his subjects do the talking.
Sayantan Deb ’14 (sayantandeb@college) is moved. 02.21.13 • The Harvard Independent
Bump, Set, Smoke
Harvard Volleyball ends Penn State’s 51-game conference win streak. By SEAN FRAZZETTE
t’s not every night that a school known for its books and brains takes down on a super power, but then again, Friday night was not every night. No. 9 Penn State (10-3) trotted into Malkin Athletic Center with a 51-game EIVA win streak and was tossed out after a measly hour and twentyone minutes in a 3-0 beat down by Harvard (7-2). In a packed gym of about 550 fans, the Crimson fed off the crowd’s energy, carrying momentum from start to finish over the Nittany Lions. Which leads into the first question of the night: what is a Nittany Lion? Did they perhaps mean a Knitting Lion? Or was the school deciding between a knight and a lion for the their mascot, before settling somewhere in between? There seems to be some sort of mix-up at Penn State, where the school actually believes it is allowed to invent animals for their personal usage. Regardless, Penn State — one of the most well respected volleyball teams in the country — looked out of its element Friday night, rattled by the violent
Photo by Dylan Schaffer
The Harvard Independent • 02.21.13
hits and effortless digs of Harvard’s squad. After the game, Coach Brian Baise claimed, “This was one win, one night of volleyball” — but Harvard sure made it look like it was the most important one night of volleyball they have ever played. From the very first kill by junior opposite hitter Nick Madden (which incidentally ricocheted off a Penn State player, into the crowd, and into my face) to the last devastating smash by sophomore outside hitter D.J. White, Harvard played as well as it possibly could. Coach Baise praised the team’s efforts, saying, “I do think we saw some aspects of our team tonight that we’ve been waiting to see…and the guys just played the complete match tonight that we’ve been working toward.” The first set was contentious, with both teams struggling to solidify their dominance. Penn State reached a 16-13 lead before Harvard called a timeout in order to regroup. And out of that timeout, Harvard’s hitters came out swinging. Behind freshman Branden Clemmens, sophomore Caleb
Zimmick, and Nick Madden, Harvard spiked down nine kills for the rest of the set, while the Nittany Lions managed only five. Not so coincidentally, it was around this point in the game that the Crimson faithful really began to make an impact from the stands. Madden assured the fans after the game of their importance, affirming, “Home court advantage is huge mainly just ‘cause we have all of our friends coming out, heckling the other team, getting rowdy and loud.” Rowdy and loud were the fans indeed, especially heading into the second set, in which Harvard never once looked as if they didn’t belong. While Penn State was busy grabbing at towels to clean their side of the court, Harvard quickly began wiping floor with them. In the third and what proved to be final set, Harvard needed a little more grit and determination to hold back the down-but-not-quite-out Nittany Lions. The Crimson took a demanding 19-13 lead before Penn State began climbing back into the competition. But setter Rob Lothman did not want to see the lead dwindle. The senior from Missouri hustled around the court, diving into the stands, and even ran onto the Penn State side for errant balls. He also pulled off the trick of the game early on in the third set. Jumping up in what at first appeared to be a set attempt for one of the high-flying hitters, Lothman proceeded to slam the ball down, behind his back and over the net, tricking all the blue and white blockers. While Penn State hobbled back into the contest to make it 24-23, D.J. White, who finished with 13 kills and 5 blocks, put away the game with one final hit, sending the Nittany Lions back to Not-So-Happy Valley. The rout will go down as possibly the greatest win in Harvard volleyball history, as Penn State lost in conference for the first time since the George W. Bush administration. Coach Baise called the feeling “unbelievable” and reminded us, “We can compete at that level.” But shortly after the game, Nick Madden spoke from his heart and said it best, emphatically announcing, “It feels f****** awesome. It feels really good. I think, you know, they’re a tough team in this league this year, but there are some other tough teams too, and that’s the level we should be playing at.” Coach Baise expressed concern that the win would distract his boys from the following day’s game against St. Francis, but the momentum simply carried over as the Crimson stomped all over the second Pennsylvania school in two days, 3-0. The squad now sits in the 15 spot in the Division I rankings, as their eyes are pointed towards a possible playoff appearance. Sean Frazzette ’16 (sfrazzette@college) was proud to see the Nittany Lions get served. harvardindependent.com
captured & shot MARIA BARRAGAN-SANTANA