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spring 2019

style & culture

stanford university


inside cover photos by Annie Ng

LETTER FROM THE EDITORS dear reader, This spring, MINT is all about excess. Recently, we’ve been inundated with over-thetop images — whether that involves maximalism or minimalism. Ariana Grande’s shimmering ‘God is a woman’ fever drips all over Instagram, thick and luxuriant. On the other side of the spectrum, Netflix’s smash success ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’ preaches finding peace through thoughtful minimization. In fashion and in life, the extremes matter, and so does the balance between them. Our cover this issue is a celebration of this maximalism… so naturally, we brought cake! In this issue, we wanted to invite our readers to think about what it means to manifest as something bigger than themselves, and how to do so through reclamation, celebration, excess, and narrative. Conversely, we also posited the question to our readers of what it meant to tread within boundaries and restrictions, realizing that both of these structures dictate our subjective worldviews. We tasked our contributors to consider the implications of minimalist and maximalist philosophies on the ways in which we dress, communicate, and conduct ourselves in society. Our photographers manifest ideas of physical, aesthetic, and philosophical maximalism: our baggy clothing editorial examines the idea of literally “taking up more space”. On the other side of the spectrum, we explore minimalist themes in a series of editorials that range from mass consumption in our “Dumpster Diving” editorial to visualizing mental health as an oft-minimized struggle. Our writing is exploratory and expansive in this issue. “Inside Agents” pushes questions of what it means to act as an agent of change within institutions that previously were — and continue to be — exclusionary. Our “Yeehaw Agenda” editorial celebrates narrative reclamation in repairing the erasure of people of color’s mass contribution to historical and contemporary cowboy culture. In “Long Live Our 4 Billion Year Old Mother”, we sit down with prominent Black faculty to consider the power of radical storytelling in facilitating conversations that test the outermost bounds of what the world could look like outside certain societal barriers. We extend a huge thanks to everyone who contributed to this issue and who was brave enough to undertake the task of quite simply being and doing more. As always, we hope you enjoy exploring the pages that follow.

Mirna El-khalily & Iman Floyd-Carroll MINT Editors-in-Chief



social media directors


diana KHONG

creative director annie NG

managing director

web directors markie WAGNER

sponsorships directors

betsayda PUERTA

natalie SADA serena SOH

design directors

financial officers


hannah PARK meghana REDDY

writing director

makeup artist



poetry director



modeling directors

izzy AMPIL isabel BENAK caitlin KLAUER nova MEURICE ciera OKERE alex POPKE udani SATARASINGHE griffin SOMARATNE kelsey WANG

petar HRISTOV kelsey WANG


photography directors sarah OHTA ryan WIMSATT jessica YEUNG

web content managers udani SATARASINGHE katie SMYTHE katherine WAISSBLUTH

kali HOUGH jabreea JOHNSON gun LIM ryan WIMSATT

IN THIS ISSUE 8 16 24 28 36

cover and table of contents photos by Sarah Ohta makeup art by Yuka Arora art direction & styling by Annie Ng

baggy clothing mental state inside agents ties between us long live our four-billion year old mother

40 48

dumpster diving


hands on


good hair


the yeehaw agenda


editorial outtakes

the world is a window

photographed by Sarah Panzer modeled by Abena Boadi-Agyemang, Dominique Earle, Natalie Hampton, Madison Hurr, & Timothy Karoff styled by Jabreea Johnson

baggy clothing

m n s


t a

t l





ental State seeks to externalize mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. Although many of our struggles with mental illness are internal and invisible, we wanted to illustrate the intensity of these emotions by depicting them in a physical, maximized form. These concepts are based on our personal experiences, and are not intended to generalize how mental illness impacts other individuals. Ultimately, it is our hope that this editorial will further catalyze the discussion of mental health and well-being on campus.

photographed by Sarah Ohta & Kelli Santos modeled by Catherine Beck, Dylan Bedford, & Celine Foster

fogginess/ numbess


feeling trapped





photographed by Sarah Ondak clothing by Vince Pane modeled by John Okhiulu & Lenny Defoe




by Emily Wilder illustration courtesy of Jess Snow images courtesy of A-Ian Holt & Jakeya Caruthers “Long Live Our Four Billion Year Old Mother” is a lecture series offered at Stanford this quarter through the Institute for Diversity in the Arts. I spoke with the professors of the course, A-lan Holt and Jakeya Caruthers, to hear more about the impetuses for facilitating this unique forum of conversation. At the time of this writing, A-lan and Jakeya had invited artists from many do-

mains engaged in radical storytelling and organizing, and covered topics like police abolition, community mothering, and indigenization. These discussions tests the outer-most bounds of our imagination about what can a world “otherwise” look like – a world without borders and incarceration and climate collapse, for example – and from we can draw that knowledge.

Em Wilder: Where does the name of this course come from? What does it mean?

EW: You lead every class with a meditation exercise. Can you talk about that?

A-lan Holt: “Long Live Our 4 Billion Yr Old Mother” comes from an artist named Jess Snow, a queer, Asian-Canadian, who puts it so beautifully on our syllabus: “If the Earth has been brown, black, multi-colored, queer and woman and indigenous and abloom for 4.5 billion years then what does that mean for this thousand year old infant white patriarchal empire?” I just love that question; it was something that we’d been thinking about a lot here at IDA (Institute for the Diversity in the Arts), about those connections between the land and ourselves. When we were talking -- Jakeya and I -- around this collaboration for the class, it just felt like a really good place to center all of the big ideas that we had for where the class could go, and a place that we could return back to even as we explore things that may seem outside of this sphere but are very much connected. Things like prison abolition, disability justice.

JC: The genius of A-Lan. I’ve learned so much [laughter].

Jakeya Caruthers: There was a way, initially, that the theme of the class was connected more to the idiom of the mother, the maternal. So we were thinking about organizing systems, thinking about the land or the earth as an organizing principle for living things and non-living things. But also, we were interested in the actual figure of the mother and thinking not only of women, but of all the people who are doing the nurturing, mothering work that makes the widest reaches of imagination even possible. We’re casting this class in those terms, as home and hearth – we literally serve dinner – and consider it a real, serious, location for doing transformative, revolutionary work. We drew back a little bit from the idiom of the mother, I think, but the ways in which our relationship to land and to larger Black feminist theoretical and organizing principles, and similarly, indigenous feminist and queer organizing and theorizing principles have kind of guided us.

AH: So we’ve been doing IDA classes for the last several years. The work that we’re doing brings up so many feelings in the body, so many historical traumas. In order for us to go as deep as we do in two hours, the breathing allows us to recalibrate everybody in the space. JC: It’s my favorite part and the most important part. Part of why I say it’s been so instructive to me is that, as a teacher – and I’ve taught nearly a dozen classes -- I try to operate with an ethic of care in the classes I teach. From what I’ve heard from students about what is so valuable about grounding and breathing is that, at a place like Stanford, people who are committed to doing The Work don’t always feel permitted to do the breathing. So what a great gift this is just to be reminded, “You’re allowed to breathe. Exhale.” EW: I understand that a lot of the argument you’re contributing to is about the language or words that we use. Some of those words I’ve encountered you using to describe the way you’re thinking are ones like “refusal,” “abolition,” “decolonization,” “offshore,” “third space”; and even words that we’re kind of reclaiming as ones that have been weaponized against people of color to make them deviant fugitive, but now we can use, like “undisciplined,” “alien,” “fugitive.” SoAH: I love it! That’s great. [laughter] We’re doing it! EW: [Laughter] Well, please, you know, add anything I’m missing. But what are you motioning to or meaning when you use these words that denote a radical orientation?

JC: An easy and cynical thing that could be said to be happening is that words like “refusal” or “otherwise” or “undisciplined” are scholarly “moves,” like, part of a vogue. But these words in particular are coming out of a Black Studies and a queer studies and a Black Feminist tradition that is never about artificial or surface sense of popular thought within the scholarly universe, but are rather about very particular, basic, political, justice-minded disruptions, which the very projects of Black Studies, queer studies. And Black Feminism are devoted to. Black studies is an activist project, Black feminism is an activist projectAH: Trying to change the realities of people’s actual lives. JC: Yes! Like actually, fully trying to transform from the root. These kinds of words are trying to move us away from problematic notions of “a remedy” that actually reify the terms of violence … We cannot operate in terms which are by their nature incompatible and incommensurate with freedom, as they are not capacious enough to even imagine it. We cannot operate in terms that reproduce destruction.. You have to think otherwise if you’re going to think at all. AH: Saying something like “decolonization” pushes us to the real question. “Diversity” is an easy place to go, but “decolonization” is the step after diversity. EW: What are the ways you envision the world, other possibilities for organizing ourselves differently? I’m thinking about prison abolition as something to name. People are not used to hearing and thinking about possibility, they’re used to hearing and thinking about what is happening right now. JC: Thank you for the example of prison abolition, police abolition, the end to punitive institutions. The vision that I have is one that folks like Ruth Wilson Gilmore, the OG critical geographer, author of Golden Gulag,

and prison abolitionist and others have been trying to envision for a long time. We’re not just talking about services we can provide or alternative actions that we can take, but a different way that we can operate. Something like restoration or change instead of punitive banishment and exclusion [is really difficult to imagine]. [That imagination] suggests a kind of community where one is expected to do better, which we don’t have currently. We think you do right or wrong, and if you do wrong, that’s it. AH: But then, the deeper part of that is that the wrong is not on your actions, the wrong is on your selfhood. In that regard, you can never do right again. And in that case, there’s no restoration. How do you restore? You die. JC: Like literally die. They’ll give you life in prison without parole, plus 25 to life. It’s astounding to me the way that punishment works and the way it makes even possible something like life plus 25 more years of punishment after you die, like in your grave, in your memory. AH: That in a world where the most egregious of crimes are not policed at all, while the most petty crimes that fall on race and class are so heavily produced that it becomes the currency for the market that is the prison system. JC: [Which is why] It’s not only actions and services and projects that can replace prison toward something more productive and that works… What it also requires is a kind of discourse that disaggregates criminality from personhood, which necessitates a deep study of the ways certain people are subjectively criminalized. This is the Black project in America. Saidiya Hartman writes about the way in which Black enslaved people only have a subjectivity if that subjectivity is a criminal one, because there is no will or consent as a slave, unless you had the will and agency to commit a crime. Have we ever gotten out of that? Our own would say, “obviously not.” And these are the kinds of things we have

to interrogate and change. You can’t just abolish prisons, you have to abolish racism, you have to abolish capitalism. You have to abolish all these ideas that are deeply nefarious - but that we are deeply invested in – that organize our entire lives and ways of thinking. That’s way harder to do than closing a prison. It disrupts everything. EW: Who are your role models? JC: A-Lan! AH: I was literally going to say Jakeya. Because

I’ve been a student of Jakeya’s for honestly ten years, at this point. I’ve been following you, and honestly honored to be collaborating with you on this project. JC: A-Lan, as a person, organizer, thinker…after our first class what I said to many people is that A-Lan is bringing so many registers of intelligence A-Lan’s intentions are intricate and nuanced and sophisticated and advanced and measured. I don’t mean that to mean, like, “tight,” because forget tight. It’s pristine, it’s an inspiration to me.

A-lan Holt is the Interim Executive Director at the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University. There she trains undergraduates in the areas of diversity and culture; arts leadership and social justice. She is a mother and practicing artist whose work includes theater, poetry and film. A-lan has over ten years of experience considering questions of identity, diversity, culture and aesthetics and holds a degree with honors in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity from Stanford University.

Jakeya Caruthers is a Fellow with the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University, where she also earned her PhD in Anthropology of Education. Her research interests include black comedy; black feminisms; theories of gender, sexuality, and embodiment; popular culture, visual culture, and media representation; and narratives of crisis and austerity. Her courses have earned her a Middlebrook Prize for Graduate Teaching and a fellowship with Stanford’s Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity. Before and throughout her studies, Jakeya has been involved with several organizations working toward social and economic justice.

THE WORLD IS A WINDOW photos by Jess Yeung written by Nova Muerice

modeled by Natalie Hampton, Neha Sharma & Sequoiah Hippolyte

I first tasted a fresh fig when I was eighteen; my friend and I had bought a box of sweaty mission figs the first time we saw them in our midwestern grocery store. We sliced each fig in the delicate blue crate for a tart, and ate half a raw piece each. The fruit was sweet and jammy with a satisfying crunch that stuck in our teeth. A few weeks later, I got on a plane, walked a couple hundred miles, and then emerged onto a seemingly paradisiacal campus dripping with fruit. Olives and oranges and figs hung from branches, ripening and falling in what seemed like a day. The sidewalks were littered with fermenting juice, busy shoes and tires grinding the fruit’s delicate seeds into concrete. Around the same time, I first saw The Color of Pomegranates, a 1969 film by the Armenian director Sergei Parajanov. The film consists of a series of abstract tableaux that attempt to capture the inner world of the 12th cen-

tury Persian poet, Sayat Nova. Strangely, something about this esoteric art film seemed to perfectly capture my present. The iconographic images, the stiff poses, and foil halos suggest that there might be something holy about the aesthetic and tactile pleasures of youth. This divine aura renders mundane baths and books and rain sublime. The world is a window, the narrator says, but a window to what? As pomegranates bleed onscreen, and a man with horns beats a drum, it seems that these scenes must all stand for something, but meaning remains far out of reach. With this maze of images, Parajanov seems to say that there exists a certain juiciness in seeing the world through a young poet’s eyes, inscrutable as it may be. Fruit and art films may be poetry in language that I will not understand until I become the dirt that feeds the tree. But perhaps comprehension is besides the point—relishing the sweet and fleeting for now is enough.

photographed by Lucy Brewer modeled by Zoe Brownwood, Sahej Claire, & Edith Pan

we know the truck’s schedule.

by Zoe Brownwood


We know the truck’s schedule. We work our week around when we know we’ll get the best hauls. When Tuesday afternoon comes around, we are ready with our gloves, heavy-duty grabbers, and messiest clothes. Feeling excited for the imminent discoveries, we push open the lid and peer into the mess below. Wedging our feet in the sides, Edith and I swing our legs over the side and hop in. The adventure begins. A rich smells wafts up from the mass of garbage we are stomping through; it doesn’t deter us. Rummaging through two days’ worth of Roble and Ujamaa’s trash, we mostly find packaging, food and drink containers. We madly sort out what we can, hurling cans and bottles into nearby recycling bins. Sahej, waiting outside the dumpster, accepts compostables (so many uneaten Late

Night meals) and takes them to the compost bins. Those compost bins are usually already overflowing. The vast majority of what we see in the dumpster could be in the compost or recycling, but sorting all of it would take an effort of a couple hours. Although we’d love to divert all of the waste we come across in our dumpster escapades, sorting is our side hobby. Instead, we direct our attention to the treasures that our peers deemed disposable. Each time we go out, we dig up so much that can be salvaged: bread, dried mango, trail mix, boxes of tea, t-shirts, jeans and khakis, jackets, reusable water bottles, functioning vacuums, phone cases, charging cables, sneakers, the list goes on. We are the Stanford Dumpster Diving Society. Really, we’re just a couple of friends who simultaneously love and hate trash. According to Peninsula Sanitary Services, Inc., 76 percent of the material going to the landfill from Stanford could have been diverted to another stream--either reusable, recyclable, or compostable. That is an astonishing percentage; getting dirty in the dumpster, we experience firsthand the utter dearth of societal awareness about our waste and the impact of apathy when it comes to disposal. We get it: It can be confusing to figure out which bins to put which items. But hey, if you can understand recursion or the complexities of political theory, we believe in your ability to mem-

so much can be salvaged

orize a set of rules for where to put your endless chip bags and plastic clam shells. It’s not that you can’t sort your waste correctly, you just choose not to. Edith, Sahej, and I constantly lament Stanford students’ unwillingness to sort their waste correctly. Although an important step in reducing our impact, proper waste sorting is far from a true solution to the environmental issues caused by consumption. Our society has been shaped by disposability. We consume quickly and dispose soon after. It is the American mode of existence. Every industry has cultivated this in us through overproduction and normalization of disposable goods and packaging. Manufacturers have

manufactured our throw-away society, and now it is all but impossible to exist in this country without partaking. Disposability permeates every aspect of our culture. We have become obsessed with excessive material consumption, plastic packaging, and sterilization of our goods. Even when we find sealed snacks in the dumpster, most of our peers turn their noses up at it, “Gross!” American society has taught us to consume endlessly and constantly contribute to the profits of companies that produce disposable goods. Disposability is a business model and arguably the most effective one that exists. In the 1930s, American manufacturers realized the market value of pro-

we consume quickly

ducing a good that will have to be thrown away: consumers have to come back time and again for a replacement. This business model, termed planned obsolescence, can be found in every industry. Our electronics are designed to be replaced after a year or two, and it is almost always more expensive to replace a single part in a phone than to just buy a new one. The fashion industry has also caught on. Most brands produce clothes that will wear out quickly and be thrown away with shifting fashion trends. We find clothing in the dumpster every week, and we salvage anything that can still be worn. Many of our friends will accept clothing once it has been washed, but much

of it is junk from events and career fairs. While overconsumption is convenient and comfortable for us, it has major repercussions for the world. Americans’ lust for cheap goods drives industry practices that exploit people and ecosystems around the globe. The fast fashion industry is one of the worst when it comes to environmental injustice. Factory conditions are abysmal, posing environmental and occupational health hazards to the people producing our clothes. The cotton industry still uses pesticides lethal to humans that pollute waterways and saturate communities in toxicity. According to a report from Washington University, Americans purchase 80 billion new pieces

and dispose quickly

re sist

con sump tion.

of clothing each year; 85 percent of this is thrown away. Most of these clothes are produced in countries where workers are exploited and few precautions are taken to protect drinking water sources and ecosystems. We also export about 500,000 tons (yes, tons) of secondhand clothing each year to be sorted and then purchased or disposed of in middle- and low-income countries. Much like plastic recyclables, we export our unwanteds to places we will never see. We unload the burden of our throw-away society onto the developing world. As I see it, manufactured demand for material goods has created a culture that emphasizes consumption as the pathway to happiness. We are taught by the commercial media to feel gratified by buying new clothes, updated electronics, prepared and packaged food and drink (boba anyone?). We believe we will feel fulfilled by these things. When they inevitably don’t serve that purpose, we throw them out and buy something else. Though our dependence on disposable goods is namely manufactured by producers to amplify their profits, it is also perpetuated by us as consumers. How different would the world be if we reused? What if we fully considered the labor and resources that went into the products we consume, and then thought twice about throwing them away? Can you even imagine your world without plastic and packaging? I’d love for us to take a few more minutes to consider every purchase we make, to ask ourselves: Who made this? How were they treated? How did it get to me? What are the social and environmental externalities of this product? And will it really add something to my life if I buy it? We’ll keep rummaging through Stanford’s trash for the next four years. We are always both excited and incredibly disheartened at the state of our world each time we go out to discover the treasures our peers have left to be carted away with the immense mounds of trash. Resist consumption as the default. Refuse products produced through exploitation. Find fulfillment in your life that isn’t tied to the constant stream of ultimately disposable possessions. I find a little bit of that fulfillment laughing with friends while knee-deep in Stanford’s trash.

by Kelsey Wang modeled by Ayman Babikir, Anastasia Brada, Alex Durham, & Celia Tandon

good hair Good Hair sets out to challenge conventional beauty standards by celebrating the complexity of afro hair. Its intricate texture empowers creative diversity. But after all, braiding, twisting, and the daily rituals of hair care are just daily expressions and celebrations of an identity just as intricate.

photos by Petar Hristov written by Petar Hristov modeled by Drake Kirby, Iman Floyd-Carroll, Bethel Gashaw hair-styled by Nadia Fingall

the yeehaw agenda

Maybe you first noticed it while listening to the viral country, hip hop fusion of Lil Nas’ Old Time Road, featuring country legend Billy Ray Cyrus, a tribute to the of contemporary Black “baller” aesthetic with twangy overtones. Perhaps you caught a glimpse of it in the avant-garde visuals of “Things I Imagined / Down with the Clique,” which features Solange and a throng of horse-saddled, melanated individuals donning cowboy-inspired attire

– no doubt tribute to her Texan heritage. Wherever you caught wind of it, it seems like Black Twitter has done it again, bequeathing the name, aptly albeit humorously, the “Yeehaw Agenda” upon this restyling of staple American tradition.Though the cowboy aesthetic is seldom coupled with Blackness, a glimpse into American history can tell you how fundamental the Black culture was crucial in informing what we know today as cowboy culture.

the renaissance of black cowboy culture by Abena Boadi-Agyemang modeled by Iman Floyd-Carroll & Joe Hanson photographed by Ryan Wimsatt

the history (from smithsonian) The genesis of cowboy culture can be traced back to Texas. While the state had been cattle country since it was colonized by Spain in the 16th century, cattle farming did not become as economically and culturally lucrative until the 1800s. White Americans, who sought both cheaper land, began moving into formerly-Spanish, Mexican territory and with them, they brought enslaved Blacks. When Texas ranchers took up arms to fight alongside the Confederacy during theCivil War, the enslaved Blacks left behind charged with caring for the land and the cattle herds upon it. They acquired the skills of cattle tending and when the ranchers returned, due to the lack of containment, such as barbed wire (which had not been invented yet), they required the labor of the newly-liberated Black individuals as cowhands. When ranchers began selling cows to the northern states, they enlisted services of freed Blacks cattle-herders to move their herds. The old, American west was a harsh frontier to traverse. The cowboys faced abrasive environmental conditions, attacks from Natives relentlessly defending their land, and discrimination encountered as they passed through towns. When the expansion of railways and the cre-

ation of barbed wire diminished the need for cowboys, these Black individuals continued their way of life. In spite of the sparse need for cowboys on ranches, the public’s adoration of cowboy culture spurred the popularity of Wild West shows --sensationalized theatricalproductions of the “wild west”-and rodeos. The rodeo was inspired by the cattle herding working practices of in Mexico. Despite the blatant racism endured while participating in rodeos, which included ridiculing them and comparing them to animals, Blackcowboys were poised to their prowess for the sport. One such avid rodeo Former ranch hand Bill Puckett rose to prominence in the rodeo. Inspired by how ranch dogs kraaled unruly cattled, Pickett perfected his control and subduing of cattle, giving rise to the technique bulldogging or steer wrestling, the modern rodeo event. The legacy of Black cowboys has paved the path for present Black engagement in the culture. Forty years after his death, he became the first Black honoree in the National Rodeo Hall ofFame. Today, Black rodeo-goer gather for the only touring Black rodeo in the country, the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo.

contemporary yee When we think of the narratives crafted about this period in American history, we seldom think of the Black folks who were instrumental in the pioneering of this household American tradition. Despite the estimated one in four cowboys being Black, it is clear that there is a dearth of media representation that showcases this truth. This can be attributed to the bias within media representation which has inundated us with pictures of ruddy white men in cowboy hats. We are currently living through a rebirth and reinterpretation of the cowboy aesthetic in Black popular culture. It is salient to think about what this “Yeehaw Agenda” means for the Blackness being showcased in tandem with cowboy culture, a culture that was informed by Blackness itself. Black culture has been experimenting with the reincorporation of cowboy aesthetic into contemporary culture for a long time. Before this wave resurgence, earlier Black artists weaved cowboy-inspired aesthetics into their personal style. 2000s Mary J. Blige gave us gaudy, leopard print cowboy hats and

Destiny’s Child flaunted bright blue fringe. But the wave that we’re seeing today, while a continuation of this tradition, is markedly different. While we are seeing a number of Black contemporary artists and musicians experimenting with these aesthetic, they have found popularity amongst the Black creative masses. The internet has allowed Black creators to create and curate melanated renditions of cowboyhood that have been strategically effaced by whiteness. This disrupts the narrative surrounding cowboyhood from an exclusively white one to one that showcases not only the waysin which Blackness shaped the aesthetic, but the historical and contemporary contributions Black Americans made. The Yeehaw Agenda is as a negotiation of representation and a reminder that cowboy culture is an indelible part of Black culture. It is a concerted, creative reminder that the erasure of the contributions made by Black Americans towards cowboy culture --and most other major pop culture movements --will not be permitted.



M cover photo by Sarah Ohta

modeled by Dylan Sherman

Profile for MINT Magazine

MINT Magazine Spring 2019  

MINT Magazine Spring 2019  


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