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Amber Stevens’ Guide to LA Paint Your World The Revolution Will be Televised

Founder, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief Maci Peterson

Live Editor Candace Burney

Frock Editor Lauren Gay

Taste Editor Sheena Zadeh

Frock Assistant Editor Kimee Brown

Campus Editor Marybeth Gasman

Amorè Editor Dr. Carlotta Miles

Models Amber Banks, Cory Schuler, Adrianna Wilder, Nijah Harris, Eiman Hamza, Thomas Cathey and Jonathan Footman

Photographers Christine Ciszczon, Heather Bee Photography, Tyler Kaschke, Esther Yi, Emily Ruppert

Graphic Designer Ivy Knight

Contributors Nelson Bowman, Candy Carson, Jennifer Chesak, John Fleming, Amber Stevens, Crystal Villarreal, Allexis Washington, Alana Flowers-Watson, Elvina Nawaguna, Mugo Odigwe, Bevin Cohen, Tashah Johnson, Nicole Majka, Jorgi Paul

Mwari Magazine is published quarterly by Mwari Magazine, LLC, 202.656.927. For information regarding subscriptions, payments or change of address contact Copyright 2011 Mwari Magazine, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction in whole or in part without prior written permission is strictly prohibited.

In this issue In Our Heads




Letter From the Editor

The Avatar





S&R 12

51 The Wedding Bundle

A Legacy of Hope

The Default Degree

The Oral Exam




Personal Trust Accounts


Paint Your World


Original David

African Artifacts


31 The Revolution will be Televised Traffick Signs


36 Welcome to My City: LA Give Me a Break



67 Ball on the Mall Ailey At the Apollo Spring Gala The Red or White Ball


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Dear Sister-Friends, Thank you for opening your lives and yourselves up to Mwari Magazine and me these past few months. My team and I have enjoyed every minute of getting to know you better via our Facebook and Twitter, and in person. We are honored that you have extended that privilege to us. We have heard your voices and we hope you see a bit more of yourself in this issue of the magazine and our blog. Some of you have contributed articles and others have submitted story ideas. Either way, we love to hear from you and we encourage you to remain in constant communication with us. It is our goal to be a true reflection of you—our sisters, friends and ultimately ourselves. We are very excited to present this issue to you! We have added a few editors and sections we know you will enjoy. We have also altered the design—let us know what you think about our new layouts. We’ve unveiled the Campus section and have named Marybeth Gasman, a professor of Higher Education at University of Pennsylvania, as its editor. In this issue John Fleming, CEO of HBCU Today shares the rich history of HBCUs and the prominent alumni who are products of them. In our new Passport section, we met up with Amber Stevens and she showed us some of her favorite places in her hometown, Los Angeles. We also journeyed to Croatia and learned how to experience The Split without breaking the bank. Speaking of the bank, in our new S&R (Sowing & Reaping) section, we’ve given you a few tips about how to create the wedding of your dreams on a shoestring budget. Oh yeah, don’t forget to pay your student loans; in “Default Degree” we highlight some of the consequences for putting off student loan payment. We had a great time getting to know some incredible new artists while writing the Kafe section; you absolutely must download Jennah Bell’s Early Bird LP. It’s the perfect addition to any vacation playlist. “Paint Your World” in Frock was one of the most fun photo shoots we’ve done thus far. It was our honor to work with Christine Ciszczon, a former apprentice of Vogue’s famed photographer Norman Jean Roy, and Nijah Harris of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 12. We had the opportunity to attend some great events across the country and it was so nice to see you there! Check out our new Fete section to see if we’ve published any photos of your friends and you! I hope you have as much fun reading this issue as my team and I had creating it for you. I hope the content resonates with you and that you share it with your friends. Be sure to subscribe to Mwari, our newsletters and blog. See you soon!

XX, Maci Founder, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief Your Sister. Your Friend. YOU! mwari magazine ∫ issue two


MWAH! The Magic Bullet

— The Magic Bullet is absolutely my best friend in the kitchen. It saves me SO much time when cooking — especially when making sauces, salad dressings or just mixing ingredients in general. When the weather is warm, I use it to make smoothies. All I do is throw the frozen fruit and juice into the cups, attach the blade, blend and grab a straw. You can drink the smoothie right out of the personal sized container. Cleanup is a cinch, just wash the cup and blade—it literally takes two minutes maximum. I’m not kidding… I ABSOLUTELY love this thing.


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— I was immediately hooked to the Bobble the moment my friend showed it to me. This self-filtering water bottle makes it possible for me to drink clean, filtered water wherever I am. It literally filters the water as I drink it, which makes it perfect when traveling domestically, abroad or just on a routine camping trip. Bobble’s sleek design makes it easy to hold and store anywhere.

Shea Yeleen Shea Butter

– I absolutely love Shea Yeleen’s Shea Butter. It is the divine remedy to anyone’s dry knees and elbows woes. Sometimes I literally take the can to my knees and elbows. It moisturizes incredibly well and it doubles as a pretty good lip balm. My favorite feature: By purchasing any Shea Yeleen products, you play a role in improving the lives of women in Africa.

Costco Membership

— A membership at Costco is an absolute necessity, no matter the time of year. However, with the temperature rising, it’s even more important to buy in bulk for upcoming barbecues and other events. They sell delicious jumbo shrimp for next to nothing and a wine selection that is much better than your local market. Have a wedding coming up? If you’re the bride, you can now purchase your gown at Costco—provided your local warehouse store has a bridal boutique. If you’re a guest, you can purchase great presents at a fraction of the retail price. What more could you want? Perhaps their delicious samples to eat while you shop?

Forever Young Malbec

— For our first Check it Out! event, Sant Arturo Wines sent their Forever Young Malbec for us to review. Malbec is my favorite varietal and I therefore know exactly how I like it produced — grown in limestone, fermented in stainless steel tanks and I’m partial to the French Malbec over Argentine. I was eager to taste this winery’s take on my favorite type of wine. As soon as it hit my palate I was in love. It has incredible depth and body. White wine drinkers enjoyed it as well because it was less dry than most reds, and even a little sweet.

Haughty Cosmetics Lip Gloss — I pretty much love any product that is tied to a non-profit or good cause— 31 Bits bracelets, TOMS Shoes, Shea Yeleen body products,

Eden ONE Campaign t-shirts, H.E.L.P Malawi Children jewelry, MAC Viva Glam cosmetics, H&M’s Fashion Against AIDS collection, Samburu Project t-shirts—you name it, I own or have promoted it. The latest addition to my list of shameless purchasing in the name of bettering the world is Haughty Cosmetics Lip Gloss. The products are light, nourishing (because they are made of Shea), and most importantly non-sticky—goodbye strands of hair unattractively sticking to your lips! The company is also socially conscious and 50% of their profit is used to fight violence against women. Now go “Make a Statement!”

JoElle Skincare Skin Radiant Powder Exfoliant — The first time JoElle Lyons put her product on my face I was in love — or perhaps it was just the residual sense of euphoria I had after receiving one of her facials. In any event, eight months later I still find it just as fantastic. The Skin

Radiant Powder Exfoliant is a soft, yet effective loose powder made of oats and bamboo. I love that it isn’t premixed because you can really customize it by combining the product with water until it reaches your preferred consistency.

Knockout Panties

— I know this is a little personal, but these are probably the best panties I’ve ever worn, and they have definitely become my favorite. Knockout Panties are extremely comfortable, the ultrathick lacy band makes them look feminine and sexy, and they are made with the company’s patented NO TRACE™ technology that has both odor absorbing power and wick/dry fibers. What does this mean? Similar to your favorite running shirt that absorbs your sweat while working out, these panties do the exact same thing!

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Lululemon Hot Class Shorts — My body absolutely loves Bikram and hot yoga, but my natural hair certainly does not. For those of us who have taken a hot yoga class, we know that in the 90 minutes, 105 degree

class you basically sweat your life away. You would prefer to wear as little clothing as possible — but it would be absolutely inappropriate to show up to a yoga class in a bikini, which is why I say “Thank God for Lululemon’s Hot Class Shorts!” These shorts are incredibly light, breathable, and are short and tight so it almost feels like you’re only wearing your skin. They definitely make the heat factor of my Bikram class a little more bearable.

Maine Root Ginger Brew — It was love at first sip. On an unbearably hot day I was dying for something refreshing. I typically don’t drink carbonated beverages, but the shards of ginger floating in the bottle lured me to spend $2.00 for a bottle of pop and risk my face breaking out in zits. As soon as I tasted it I knew it was worth every side affect and I was hooked. I absolutely love Maine Root Ginger Brew and purchase it whenever the opportunity presents


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itself. Their ginger brew is delicious, not too sweet unlike most carbonated beverages, has a strong ginger taste, and is light and refreshing. The flakes of fresh ginger are another great element. This is hands-down, the best ginger carbonated beverage I’ve ever had.


— We’ve all had those nights — you know the ones where you wear those killer shoes that literally KILL your feet. You would’ve brought a pair of flats, but none of your shoes would fit into the clutch that matches your outfit perfectly. Well, now with Rolleez on the scene none of us have to worry about being THAT barefoot girl again. The ultrathin slippers easily roll into any pouch. When my Rolleez aren’t in my clutch, they’re in my car so I won’t forget them during those dire moments.

Schwinn Lakeshore Cruiser — Gas is now over $4.00/gallon and if you’re driving a luxury car, you’re paying nearly $5.00/gallon at the pump. Let’s face it—it’s a lot cheaper and healthier to bike to as many local destinations as possible. The best part of Schwinn’s Lakeshore Cruiser is that it has a bed in the rear for all the things you’ve collected during your day out.

Shellac Manicures

— After having a Shellac manicure, I’m sorry to say that I don’t think I can go back to the regular kind. Shellac gel manicures are fantastic. They take nearly as long to apply as a typical manicure, but they don’t chip and last at least two weeks. Buyer Beware: Many salons claim to offer Shellac manicures, but they are not. They are gel processes, but the product is not of the same quality and they do not last as long.

The Long Shot

— Looking for a good book to read during your

vacation? Check out Sylvia Harris’ memoir The Long Shot: My Bipolar Life and the Horses Who Saved Me. She is the first renowned black, female jockey who became a champion in her craft while she battled manic depression. Her story is incredibly interesting and complex as she guides the reader through her bouts of mania and depression, drug addiction, homelessness, time in mental institutions, rejection from her children and family, and ultimately the salvation she was granted by horses. I have never been a crier when it comes to books and movies, but Sylvia’s story actually brought tears to my eyes.

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Fearfully and Wonderfully Made Author: Candy Carson

Dear ladies,


ow many of us have had someone in our lives who told us we couldn’t do something? I am so sorry that probably we all have. And it’s absolutely not necessary! I recall the story of Dr. Ben Carson whose desire to become a doctor since he was age 8 was challenged when he went to see his medical school counselor after he didn’t do well on his first set of exams. The “counselor” told him that he “wasn’t cut out to be a doctor,” and now he is a world-famous neurosurgeon at one of the top hospitals in the country! Believe it or not, anyone with a normal brain can do almost anything! Ever hear the phrase “fearfully and wonderfully made?” Our brains are more powerful than ANY computer (and you know that’s saying a lot)! Too many times to mention, I have heard my husband (that neurosurgeon) say the storage capacity of our brains could hold every single volume ever written in the history of the entire world and still have plenty of space to spare! He says, “Take it from a neurosurgeon, you cannot overload your brain!” It can process more than 2 million bytes 10

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of information per SECOND! It has over 14 billion cells and connections! We all have the power to achieve wonderful things. This has been proven throughout history, and many of those who have achieved help others to achieve as well: Henrietta Bradbury, the young black woman who invented the torpedo launcher in the 1940s, helped others in her arena. Bessie Coleman, born in 1892, was the first black female pilot stated, “I decided blacks should not have to experience the difficulties I had faced, so I decided to open a flying school and teach other black women to fly.” And Madame C.J. Walker, the first American woman of any nationality to become a millionaire on her own efforts, shared this sentiment, “I am not satisfied in making money for myself. I endeavor to provide employment for hundreds of the women of my race.” Even today, we find successful people who try to help others: multi-talented and hugely successful Oprah Winfrey, shares through her foundation and her many special projects.

Overcoming her inability to speak and spending most of her time in libraries, Maya Angelou now shares the wisdom she has obtained and honed with the world. And I must confess, as a kid who was always encouraged by an educator-mom, I can’t pass up a child without asking, “What’s your favorite subject in school? What grades do you get?” Even if it’s all “A’s,” I congratulate them, but also mention one of our Carson Scholars who went to MIT and earned a 5.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale by getting all “A+s!” I also tell them, “You can do it too!” Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, there are those who choose to discourage others. I am pleading with all of you to become encouragers. There are always plenty of “naysayers” in the world. When you hear someone say something like “Black children just aren’t as smart as other children” or “These children just can’t learn,” you have to just pity them for their ignorance. The reality is, when you place any child with a normal brain in an environment where they have opportunities similar to those of affluence—with parents who have the

time and means to work with their children — that child does extremely well. However, when a child has parents who cannot spend more time reading with them at an early age and help and encourage them with their homework, then that child will not have the same academic success. Just ask Marva Collins and other educators! Therefore, when you have it in your power to say something positive to someone, or look at the bright side of a situation, do it! Think of Dr. Ben Carson’s mom, Sonya, a nurturer who as one of 24 children who got married at age 13 and found out her husband already had another family, hardly ever experienced it herself. On her own with two children and barely any education, she prayed for wisdom, worked 2 to 3 jobs at a time cleaning houses and babysitting because she didn’t want to go on welfare. Why? Even with hardly any education, she was observant and saw that no one who got on welfare ever got off! And she wanted a better life for her children. She also noticed in those huge houses she cleaned that the inhabitants didn’t watch a lot of TV, but spent most of their time reading. When her sons brought home grades that were not optimal, she would tell them how they were too smart to bring home grades like that and that they could do better. If you ask any successful person, they can name at least one person in their life who encouraged them to be the best they could be. Many of you already have achieved some successes and maybe are doing this already. Continue to pass it along, and if you haven’t started yet, start! Encourage each other, too. Each star in the heavens rises and shines at different times

and for different periods, although some share the light at the same time. Maybe your star has not reached its highest height yet, but you can still encourage others along the way. YOU KNOW what kinds of sacrifices go into obtaining that achievement. If you’re here on this earth, you know God put you here for a special purpose. As long as you stick with Him, your star will rise! So, when you see a child striving or struggling, encourage them… you may be the only one who does! Tell them they can earn all “A’s!” And they can, as long as they try hard and study to fill in any gaps they may have had in their education. Just last night, my husband spoke to a group of community leaders and said, “Anyone with a normal brain can do calculus.” Sounds incredible, but it’s true…as long as that person has all the “building blocks” (concepts that build upon each other). Be the one who makes a difference in someone else’s life. You’ll reap rewards you never even dreamed of. Remember, what goes around, comes around! If you hear someone in an auditorium calling out, “You go, Girl,” it’s probably me, ‘cause most times when I see someone achieving, I just can’t hold it in!”

Candy Carson earned her bachelors degree from Yale University, a Masters in Business from Johns Hopkins University and is the Co-Founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, a 501(c) 3 established to address the crisis situation in our country with respect to education. The organization recognizes and awards high academic achievers from the 4th to the 11th grade who also demonstrate humanitarian qualities through community service. To date there are over 5,000 scholars in 45 states. services/sections/fortune/ corp/2005_02blackhistorymonth.html authors/b/bessie_coleman.html Collins-Marva.html

Check out this 5th grader speaking to 20,000 people in Texas: com/watch?v=HAMLOnSNwzA

It will make your heart swell!

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A Legacy of Hope Text by: John Fleming, CEO, Black Educational Events

This is the first in a 12-part series that focuses on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. There are lights that shine in the midst of darkness — beacons of hope that show the way, that remain steadfast in their brilliance. In 1837, the first of these lights appeared outside Philadelphia, lit by a philanthropist named Richard Humphreys who witnessed firsthand the forced migration of a people from their African roots into a new land that stripped them of hope and entangled them in the bonds of slavery. Humphreys asked his fellow Quakers to build a school “to instruct the

descendants of the African Race in school learning.” That year, the Institute for Colored Youth, known today as Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, became the first of our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

allowed a people removed from their culture to fully embrace the glory of their heritage. They provided a beacon of hope, encouraging a people to thrive, endure and create their own points of light in and around the world.

Over the next 150 years, 104 more HBCUs opened their doors and welcomed African Americans when other institutions of learning would not. They provided the means to sate an unquenchable thirst for learning for a people hungry for knowledge. They

The contribution of HBCUs to the journey of African Americans cannot be understated or overlooked. Today, they remain as significant and relevant as when Cheyney welcomed its first students in 1837. Their journey, and ours, continues. mwari magazine ∫ issue two


The Cornerstones In the years before the Civil War, when thousands of Africans had been brought to America, many slaves were denied the right to be educated. However, in the early 1830s, a group of Philadelphia Quakers stood defiant and began to educate blacks. Although the journey to establish schools for African Americans took decades of court battles, the second half of the nineteenth century witnessed a steady growth in the creation of HBCUs. Along with the African-American Church and media, HBCUs became a cornerstone for the spiritual, academic and social development of African Americans. These three forces made a significant difference in the growth of African Americans, by helping to maintain faith while enduring the most severe challenges and instilling hope in the darkest of hours. The early African-American churches were, in many cases, the key to laying the foundation for the first HBCUs. And throughout the next century and a half, the African-American media kept our communities informed,

bringing light to a people who had been blinded by the ignorance brought on by the inaccessibility to information. When Congress passed the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, many of today’s existing HBCUs were created as “land grant” institutions to educate freed slaves in the applied sciences, agriculture and engineering. These institutions became the bedrock of black higher education. The mission of HBCUs has always been to provide quality education while offering an experience that reflects the cultural pride and historical greatness of African Americans. In fact, if you look at the statistics for HBCUs, you’ll find they have greatly contributed to the rise of black professionals, business leaders, teachers, physicians, artists and engineers.

The Impact and Output Look around and you will see the impact HBCUs have had on our society. Through the floors, halls and classrooms of these institutions have come

the dreamers and achievers who have left indelible marks on our world. In 1954, a black girl was born in rural Mississippi amid the poverty pervasive to the area. As a teenager, she attended a HBCU and later embarked on a career in journalism. Today, she is recognized as one of the most influential women on the planet, able to take little-known books to the top of best-seller lists, powerful enough to galvanize efforts to support victims of natural disasters, and capable of fulfilling the dreams of others. Oprah Winfrey is a graduate of Tennessee State University. Now in the 25th season of her immensely popular talk show, she has become a highly successful businesswoman and a spiritual leader to millions of women around the world. Her television network, OWN, debuted January 1, 2011. Another HBCU graduate is currently featured on the top-rated TV show in America. Grammy Award-winning record producer and American Idol judge Randy Jackson is a graduate of Southern University in Louisiana, where he studied music. When he graduated in 1979, he pursued a career as a professional musician, working with the likes of established artists as Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Mariah Carey, Herbie Hancock, Bruce Springsteen and Madonna. In the 1980s, he played in the rock band Journey, and then moved behind the scenes as a record producer and an executive with Columbia Records and MCA Records. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCA&T) was the first of two HBCUs actress and singer Taraji Henson attended. Best known for her roles in Baby Boy,


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Hustle and Flow and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button — for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress — Henson majored in Electrical Engineering at NCA&T. She later transferred to Howard University, where she won the “Triple Threat Award” and graduated with a degree in Theater Arts. The list of notable HBCU graduates goes on. HBCUs have produced some of this country’s most notable… …leaders, such as Civil Rights activists W.E.B. Dubois (Fisk University), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Morehouse College), Thurgood Marshall (Lincoln University) and Barbara Jordan (Texas Southern University)… … writers, such as poet and playwright Langston Hughes (Lincoln University), Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison (Howard University) and Roots author Alex Haley (Alcorn State University) … … and talented entertainers, such as world-acclaimed opera singer Jessye Norman (Howard University), director Spike Lee (Morehouse College), actress and choreographer Debbie Allen (Howard University) and critically acclaimed actor Samuel L. Jackson (Morehouse College). HBCUs are responsible for thousands of men and women who, given the chance, have made remarkable contributions in all areas of our society. Through the education—both academic and cultural—received at these institutions, they have gone on to set shining examples for generations to come.

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Mwari Magazine had the opportunity to speak to Laz Alonso about his experience at a HBCU, Howard University.

Mwari Magazine: What made you decide to attend Howard University? Laz Alonso: Howard is known as the “Black Harvard”. It has a strong business school and marketing program. I knew that when companies recruit African American job candidates they start at Howard and other HBCUs because they are known for producing successful, well-rounded individuals. Marketing was a really cool field of study and it ultimately helped me launch my acting career. I knew how to build brands and market. I made myself my client, and did those things for myself. Howard also has a very good acting program, and had I known more about it, I would have taken classes. The most important factor was that Howard was located in my hometown. Attending the University allowed me to stay connected with my family and maintain my responsibilities from home while in school. 16

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MM: What is one of your most memorable experiences? LA: I have so many good memories from my time at Howard, and it’s hard to pinpoint just one. What I did love about my experience there was the sense of camaraderie on campus. Everyone was protective and supportive of our classmates. It was a culture of respect for those who did their best and excelled. MM: What is your favorite place on Howard’s campus? LA: The yard. It is the central nervous system of the campus. It’s a communal place and meeting ground where, while in college, I was always guaranteed to see my friends. It was the de facto Central Park of the school. MM: Are you currently working on any projects with fellow Howard University Alumni?

LA: While shooting the season finale of “Southland”, an Assistant Director introduced himself to me as a fellow Bison. There was an unspoken bond because we each understood the other worked hard for his degree. MM: Any parting words? LA: No matter what you study, create a five-year plan. This strategy should focus on how to take the skills and lessons you learned while in college and translate them into professional achievements. My business background helped me know which questions to ask my agent, attorneys and accountants. Your undergraduate experience is your time to hone pertinent life skills. Be determined to do your best and graduate. After all, it’s easier to get into universities like Howard than graduate.

The HBCU Difference While most HBCUs continue to reflect a primarily African-American student population, many have become quite diverse. West Virginia State University, founded in 1891 as the West Virginia Colored Institute, has changed dramatically. Once an allblack college, today it has a greater number of white students. In May 2008, Morehouse College, a 141-yearold HBCU, graduated its first white valedictorian, Joshua Packwood. Packwood attracted national media attention, and could not say enough about the quality of education gained and the uniqueness of his experience at Morehouse, which his younger brother now attends. Regardless of the new focus of HBCUs in embracing diversity — attracting students from all over the world — life on the campus of an HBCU still retains the cultural pride associated with African-American history and contribution that was most important when the schools were founded. HBCUs are different, and one only needs to open a conversation with an alumnus to feel that difference in what was experienced versus what some of us experienced by attending a more traditional college or university. HBCU graduates, even those who attended for only a portion of their post- secondary or graduate studies, are virtually unanimous in their expressions of the quality of education received and the incomparable memories and experiences associated with daily life on campus—the richness in cultural pride displayed at homecomings, the phenomena associated

Facts on HBCUs:

HBCUs have been responsible for approximately: 23% of Bachelor 13% of Master 20% of first professional Degrees earned by African Americans Nine of the top ten colleges that graduate most of the African-American students who go on to earn Ph.D.s are HBCUs. More than 50% of the nation’s African-American public school teachers and 70% of AfricanAmerican dentists and physicians earned degrees at HBCUs. Over half of all African-American professionals are graduates of HBCUs. HBCUs have more African-American medical school applicants (94) than Johns Hopkins (20), Harvard (37) and the University of Maryland (24) combined. Two other HBCUs also placed in the top ten producers of medical school applicants, including Morehouse (33) and Spelman (38). Spelman and Bennett Colleges produce over half of the nation’s African-American women who go on to earn doctorates in all science fields—more than produced by the Ivy League’s Seven Sisters combined (Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Wellesley and Vassar colleges). HBCUs significantly contribute to the creation of African-American science degree holders: Agriculture (51.6%) Biology (42.2%) Computer Science (35%) Physical Science (43%) Social Science (23.2%). HBCUs produce 44% of all African-American bachelor’s degrees awarded for communications technology 33% of bachelor’s degrees awarded for engineering technology 43% of bachelor’s degrees awarded for mathematics 40% of all doctorate degrees awarded to African Americans in the field of Communications. mwari magazine ∫ issue two


Notable HBCU Alumnis:

Debbie Allen Actress, Dancer, Director, Producer Rep. Barbara C. Jordan United States House of Representatives

Samuel L. Jackson Actor


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Taraji P. Henson Actress

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Oprah Winfrey Entrepreneur, Actress, Producer

Randy Jackson Record Producer, Television Personality

Jessye Norman Opera Singer

with the battle of the bands, the colors of the fraternities and sororities and, of course, the unforgettable step-shows.

celebrated my intellect and pushed me to work harder. They genuinely cared about my success. I felt like I was an integral part of the institution.”

For me, it has always been easy to capture the experience of an HBCU. My mother and father were both graduates; my son and daughter are graduates as well. My conversations with my children have often revealed the depth of their love for the HBCU experience, such as the following from my son: “Hampton University took on a fairytale-like feel that was completely unbelievable and awe inspiring. The student union was more than a place that served food; it was a Thanksgiving dinner table. My teachers challenged me not only to be better, but also to be a productive role model upon graduation.” It’s so easy for many college students to get lost in the crowd; however, as my daughter noted, an HBCU offers a unique intimacy that larger institutions cannot provide: “As an undergraduate student at Howard University, I felt like there wasn’t anything I couldn’t accomplish in that stimulating learning environment. I had professors who

What is most important is the realization of an undisputable fact: education has been — and will always be — the foundation upon which people and societies develop, grow, and succeed. Without the three driving forces mentioned above, and specifically our HBCUs, the potential of African Americans and the role we as a people have played — and continue to play on the world stage — might be quite different. HBCUs continue to be not only important, but as significant and as relevant as ever!

W.E.B. DuBois Activist, Sociologist

Check out BEE’s HBCU Today, the most comprehensive resource guide ever written on our nation’s HBCUs. This 320-page book offers detailed profiles of all 104 colleges and universities; articles on the history, culture, and academic programs at HBCUs; notable HBCU graduates and trivia; a step-by-step guide for applying to college; a full listing of scholarship

Thurgood Marshall Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court

resources and black college tours; a geographic HBCU locater for quick and easy reference; and full-color reproductions of artwork from The Kinsey Collection, one of the most notable collections of African-American art. Go to

John Fleming is the CEO of Black Educational Events(BEE), a Texas-based organization dedicated to enhancing awareness of the cultural and educational opportunities offered at HBCUs and inspiring youth to treat education seriously.

Langston Hughes Writer

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The Oral Exam Allexis Washington epitomizes my idea of a great college student. Having worked here at Prairie View A&M University for the past six years and being the father of a junior at Howard University, I recognize a good student when I see one. I have had the opportunity to work with Allexis for almost three years. Originally the recipient of a rather large scholarship secured by my office, she began assisting us during our spring and fall fundraising phon-a-thons — to date, she has personally raised over $10,000 for Prairie View A&M University. 20

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Known as the “phon-a-thon Queen,” Allexis is a consummate professional, always arriving promptly and never missing a scheduled work session in spite of her full academic load. She excels at connecting with people and goes above and beyond to bond with alumni on a personal level. She is charming and caring, her smile seemingly comes right through the telephone line prompting the alumni to give and engage in conversation. Now enough from me. Allexis, will you share your story? — Nelson Bowman Director of Development Prairie View A&M university It seems like the last time I had a “good night’s sleep” was the first day of my freshman year. I have just completed my junior year and I am biology major at Prairie View A&M University, with plans to attend dental school, and then into a career in pediatric dentistry. I can definitely say being successful is hard work. In many ways, my upbringing prepared me for the challenges I face today. I was the youngest in a family of four intelligent, competitive and blessed young women.

My typical day starts around 6:00 am with the “Breakfast of Champions” or mostly, a slice of toast or a banana while I try to cram a few more snippets of information into my brain before my Anatomy and Physiology class begins at 8:00 a.m. Then, I have my Business and Leadership Ethics class as well as an organic chemistry class and lab. In addition to this routine, I’m also a member of the Honor’s Society and the Dental Club on campus. In the community, I serve as a Boys and Girls Club mentor as well as a Big Brother Big Sister, Big. While this may seem like a lot, my professional dream for some time has been to become one of the leading pediatric oral surgeons in the country, and help kids overcome the physical and mental anguish of going to the dentist. My passion started a decade ago when I had a frightening visit to the dentist. I remember the panic attack started immediately upon entering the office, and as if that wasn’t enough, I was then shuffled to a small room where an unfamiliar male character appeared with his mouth hidden behind a blue mask. He directed me to the huge, oversized, tan “death chair” and said, “OPEN WIDE.” As my palms began to moisten, I thought, never again. However, within twenty minutes, I had a minty taste in my mouth and a bag of goodies to take home. As I looked back on that experience a few years later, it made me realize occurrences like that happen to

thousands of young people every day. It is so common that many parents forgo bringing their children back for follow-up visits because the traumatic experience seems far more hurtful than the dental problem that needs correcting. In my opinion, this is not an acceptable reason to deprive kids of regular dental maintenance because it only leads to more problems in the future. My patience and determination for young children will not only provide quality oral care, but it will also help make their trips to the dentist a happy and enjoyable occasion. Maybe one day, one of my patients will become inspired by my chair-side-manner and decide to become a dentist too. Overall my childhood experiences have helped me maintain my motivation to endure long nights, exhausting mornings, and extremely busy days. I have made my promise to God, my mother and dentist, Twana Edwards (my compassionate mentor), to always stay focused and encouraged as I reach for my dreams. So each day as I walk across the campus of Prairie View A&M University, I know why. — Alexxis Washington, Prairie View A&M University, Class of 2012 Text by: Nelson Bowman and Allexis Washington

Personal Trust Accounts Was that you waiting for him to get into the shower so you could look at the messages on his Blackberry? Were you the one who checked the websites on his computer when he went to the drugstore? Do you routinely check his cell phone messages too? If your answer is “yes” to any or all of these questions, you have a trust issue in your relationship. Is your lack of trust based on negative past relationship experiences and little observations like his looking too much at other women? Have you caught him in lies? If you have had negative experiences in the past, the burns may still be hurting and you don’t want to be fooled or humiliated again, but you have to be careful that you don’t judge today’s guy by yesterday’s facts. There are some good men out there who do know how to respect women and who do want a warm and loving relationship experience. There are also the players. So… what do you need to know to go forward and stay safe?

First and foremost, please understand that men and women are different — so don’t assume men think the same way as women. Some young men are completely happy with “a girl for now.” This is a perfectly fine woman who brings lots to the table, but he isn’t ready to be serious. He may not have decided what he’s going to do with his life or he may just want more experience. These things have nothing to do with you. He doesn’t see you as worthless or not pretty enough or any other negative factor. He can be loving, kind, demonstrative and everything else, but if you want to see where the road is going, you need to TALK. He is NEVER going to initiate

a conversation about the future of the relationship with you, because he’s happy with it the way it is — j ust know that the door is OPEN, not closed. Anyone else can walk in and you know it. That unsaid intuition is what makes you feel off-centered, anxious and suspicious. You know how you feel and what you see. You know he avoids conversations about what’s next and prefers to stay in the NOW. If this is not what you want then stop torturing yourself by spying on him and kindly leave without a lot of drama. Keep on looking for someone who is on your same page, and if you don’t have luck just take a break for a while.

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If YOU aren’t ready for a serious relationship either, then decide to be with someone who at least wants, and can have, an exclusive, fun and enjoyable relationship with you. These are the beaus who don’t see having a relationship as a game. They like your company and enjoy having a girlfriend. Some women think that if a relationship goes too easily, the guy must be a loser. Don’t take yourself in that direction. Learn what it feels like to count on somebody who is reliable and makes you feel valued even if the future isn’t determined. You want to be treated well and respected. You shouldn’t have to try to MAKE that happen; it should come naturally to any man who really cares about women. If a guy can’t get it right, he may also be inexperienced and/ or immature. You can’t raise him. It’s often best if he’s a bit older than you are. You may also be immature, needy or too demanding, so look in the mirror first before you assign blame for things not working out. Growing up takes time, and age and stage don’t always match. Find the person who works for you, and the ability to trust him is at the top of the list of requirements. How he makes you feel when you’re with him will tell you a lot about the relationship’s possibilities. Remember, you have to love yourself first before anybody else can. text by: Dr. Carlotta Miles photos by: Emily Ruppert


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Evaluation questions: X = deal-breaker ∞ = doesn’t look good ∆ = potential X

Has he lied to you about his whereabouts?  Have you observed him staring at other women?

Means he’s alive.

Has he cheated on you?


When you walk in does he stop talking to his male friends?

Does he erase every text message immediately?


Does he have any expressive language, that is, can he talk about his feelings?


Does he initiate activities for the two of you, or are you the motor of the relationship and he just goes along.


If you start talking about the future, does he change the subject?


Does he call when he says he’s going to call?

Does he love his mother?

Does he have a sister?

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African Artifacts Text By: Elvina Nawaguna

Rahama Wright- Shea Yeleen International For generations, women in West Africa have used Shea butter as cooking oil, for hairdressing, an ingredient in medicinal ointments and on the skin of their children. Over the years Shea butter has become a widely sought after ingredient in the global beauty care and confectionary industries especially in Europe and the U.S. markets and yet the hard working women of these rural communities still remain in poverty, living at under $2 a day.


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Seeing these women constantly struggle lit the fire in Rahama Wright to start Shea Yeleen International. Wright, a first generation GhanaianAmerican traveled extensively in West Africa and had seen poverty at different levels. Growing up in Syracuse, New York she was always interested in African issues and wondered why some people have money and others don’t. “It’s difficult to see people who look like myself constantly struggling especially when they don’t have to,” she says. “The issue is not lack of will, it’s lack of opportunity.”

Wright, a graduate of the State University of New York at Geneseo with a degree in International Relations, spent time as an intern with the American Embassy in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso where she piqued an interest in Shea butter production. In 2002 she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali where she helped start the first shea butter cooperative in a village called Dio. Little did she know that the connections she made during this time would be helpful in the establishment and launch her organization three years later. Her goal was to provide opportunities to individuals who already had resources, but were not benefiting from them.

Wright immediately noticed the women’s natural business acumen and were challenged when it came to market linkages and opportunities to bring their products to the market place. She saw a natural connection between the women in West Africa producing the Shea products and their primary consumers — women in the United States.

Because of Shea Yeleen, the women of these communities in Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso have a sustainable wage and are able to feed and send their children to school. “When women have access to money, their communities progress because they invest that money in their children. That’s the level of impact that we are seeking to have with Shea Yeleen.”

Like most rural, African women, the women in Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso carry the burden of providing for their families.

Marketing African products in the U.S. is a hurdle over which Shea Yeleen has to jump. “The challenge is the perception that you cannot get a good quality product from Africa,” Wright explains. She has had to go beyond making the market connections, and teach and reeducate people about the origin of her products.

“There are hundreds of thousands of women who have to take care of themselves and their kids with little money and yet they have a link to this global product that is making billions,” Wright says. These women have yet to make a sufficient income from it and have been historically marginalized and disenfranchised during the globalization of Shea butter. “A lot of the raw material extracted from Africa is processed elsewhere in the world. Raw material is the cheapest part of the supply chain, because there is no value yet,” Wright says explaining that for a majority of the women, if they make 20 cents per pound for their products they are very lucky. Shea Yeleen, a non-profit funded mainly by product sales, not only trains the women on how to produce better quality products, but also pays them the price that a broker here in the U.S. would make, which is anywhere from two to three dollars per pound based on quality.

“The minimum monthly wage in Ghana is $45,” says Wright, “and the majority of the women don’t even make that.” The women working with Shea Yeleen can now make about $60 a month. Ultimately the organization’s goal is to help them make $200 a month. Wright arrived that this figure after interviewing the women to understand their cost of living and getting a sense of where they want to be in their lives. The women suggested the name Yeleen, which means “light” or “hope” and is considered to be a word of empowerment. “When women are dependent on someone else,” Wright says, “they are vulnerable to abuse.”

To appeal to American customers, the products’ packaging was intentionally designed to look familiar to what consumers would see in a store. Shea Yeleen products are marketed as hand made, natural products that are free from harmful chemicals, heavy scents and other additives of which Americans have become aware and weary. The products, which include body butters, body balms, lip gloss and beauty soaps are currently sold via Shea Yeleen’s online store. However, the business has been making inroads into the natural products industry — a growing industry in the U.S. and globally — and stores with that as their focus. 2011 brings excitement for Shea Yeleen. It has partnered with the Smithsonian Institution— which is paying for four of the women from Ghana to spend 10 mwari magazine ∫ issue two


days in Washington, DC from June 30 to July 11. During this time the women will demonstrate how their products are made and share their stories at the Folklife Festivals. The Smithsonian has agreed to feature the products in their marketplace and present the women with more opportunities to share their stories. In the long run, Wright plans to develop a state of the art production facility in Ghana that will create shea butter shampoos, lotions and creams, and then supply the finished products 28

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to the market place. The goal is to develop manufacturing capabilities, which create not only jobs for the communities, but also value out of the raw material. Wright is a winner of the Women Rule! O-White House Leadership contest. Her organization has also been featured in several publications including Women’s Health and O Magazine.

Jesse Simonson — 31 Bits

Hope rises for women in the midst of recovery from a 20-year war in Gulu town in Northern Uganda one paper bead at a time. It all started with five college friends at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California. After Kallie Dovel showed her friends the jewelry she’d brought back from her trip to Uganda, their creative minds went rolling. “We absolutely fell in love with it and started dreaming up an idea about how we can make this more sustainable for the women,” says Jessie Simonson.

Beyond just wearing the jewelry, the five friends wanted to be a part of the story behind the paper beads. A donated ticket to Uganda and loads of research later, 31 Bits was founded by the five friends and six women from the local refugee camps. For more than two decades, the women and children of Northern Uganda have born the brunt of a senseless war. The Lord’s Resistance Army, an elusive rebel group, has carried out raids killing people, abducting

and raping women and children, taken the children as child soldiers and some of the women as wives. As a result, thousands of people were forced out of their homes into overcrowded, internally displaced people’s camps for safety. Simonson, who serves as the Director of Sales, says most of the women they work with have experienced some kind of trauma from the war. Some are widowed and others are living with HIV/AIDS. They are typically the primary breadwinners and

the caretakers as well. The men don’t really take on a family role even though they wield more political power; many have multiple wives and households. Over the last couple of years the area has been relatively calm and many families have returned to their old homes. But as Simonson stated there is really nothing to go back to because their homes were destroyed. For the women especially, it was even more important for them to have a source of income mwari magazine ∫ issue two


because, they tend to bear the burden of providing for their families. The organization recruited its first six women from the camps when it started in August 2008. Two and a half years later, the business has grown to work with 83 women recruited by word-of-mouth and a few local organizations. A full interview process follows the initial recruitment to learn the women’s needs and stories.

entry. In the meantime, the company buys a certain amount of jewelry from the women every month and pays them a wage commensurate with that of local schoolteachers. They arrived to the exact figure after interviewing the women and understanding their responsibilities, cost of living and goals. Funded mostly by its retail sales, the business of 31 Bits has expanded beyond online sales into 80 stores

“Young women are going to buy jewelry forever, but why not give them an alternative to what jewelry they are buying?” Simonson says, adding that it is a product that people can be confident was made and paid for fairly. That and the fact that the jewelry is echo-friendly since the beads are made from paper that would have otherwise gone to waste. Overcoming the challenges of language barriers, confusion in color identifications and the daunting task of transporting a lot of materials from the paper market in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, 31 Bits has accomplished its biggest goal so far — giving the women an immediate and consistent source of income. Because of that, these women not only have the ability to feed their families, but they can also send their children to school. Simonson says 31 Bits hopes to spread across the U.S. not just into more stores and magazines, but also to continue sharing the story about why these women are in poverty and why and how through an opportunity like this they can pull their families out of poverty.

The company has built a staffed office in Gulu run by four people — two Americans and four Ugandans. The office offers a full curriculum that trains the women in skills such as English language, handling finances and savings, health education, and providing counseling services also operate out of the office. The long-term goal of 31 Bits is to graduate the women from the program within four to five years of


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across the U.S, one store in Canada and another in New Zealand — all with a primary target of women between the ages of 18 and 40. Their major avenue of marketing is via social media and sales representatives across the United States. Consumers consider the stories behind the beads and the fact that their purchases provide a source of income for otherwise disadvantaged women major draws.

“We would love to partner with a store like Nordstrom or Anthropology. The kind of stores that are conscious of what kind of products they are selling and also providing their customers an opportunity to buy products that give them an opportunity to give back,” says Simonson while asserting that there have been no talks with any of these companies at the time of publication.

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Revolution Will be Televised Text by: Crystal Villarreal Women in the Middle East are often portrayed as being greatly oppressed in their countries and with little to no say in politics, their lives, or their culture. These inaccuracies perpetuate stereotypes about Middle Eastern culture that do not always exist. However, the recent protests and people’s uprisings that have taken place in countries like Egypt, Libya and Syria have challenged our views of the reasons and shown that women in this region may not be as disenfranchised as we outsiders thought. The amount of women who took to the streets in protest of overbearing dictatorships across the Middle East and North Africa was enormous. On March 8th, International Women’s Day, the women of Egypt planned a Million Woman March in Cairo. According to 32

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the LA Times, in Iran opposition leaders called women to use the occasion to protest crackdowns against antigovernment demonstrations. Women in Egypt were essential factors in the protest movements that compelled former President Hosni Mubarak to step down, and they endured serious opposition in the forms of tear gas, rubber bullets, and other physically violent acts. “The battleground did not differentiate between men and women,” CNN quoted the female organizers saying in Egypt’s Million Woman March. In Libya hundreds of women gathered for a rally to protest Moammar Gadhafi in Liberation Square, and men were banned from participation. “It is impossible for us to fight with the men,” says Ola an 18-year-old who has been involved with the youth movement, and who was quoted in an article by The Star. “But there are other ways for us to participate in the movement, such as attending these rallies.” “Look at us – can anyone say the women of Libya don’t have a voice? No one is keeping us inside, and no one is shutting us up.”

Although Libyan protests are segregated by gender, that does not make these women’s voices any smaller or make their participation that much different — the revolution is still unisex. In other parts of the Middle East women stand side by side with men and fight against oppressive governments. Egyptian and Tunisian women stand with men holding banners and placards demanding an end to dictatorships. In Egypt many female leaders see this as an opportunity to bargain for equal rights for women and to give them a stronger voice in politics. Women’s rights activists want to ensure there is equal partnering in building the new Egypt and that their role is not forgotten. According to the organization Human Rights Watch, in the lower house of Egypt’s parliament only 64 seats out of 518 are reserved for women. However, this transitional period could lead to significant changes in terms of women’s rights. Arab women have driven much of the fuel behind these demonstrations says Nadia al-Sakkaf, editor-in-chief of the Yemen Times in a recent article in JTA, the global news service of Jewish people.

“The visibility of women as change mobilizers, political leaders and activists, followers and supporters has never been as high as today,” says al-Sakkaf. In many of these protests women have been on the frontline, but in a few more conservative countries like Libya women have taken on a traditional role of caregivers. According to al-Sakkaf they have provided food, blankets and emotional support to protesters. But regardless of the kind of role these women play, their participation and strong presence cannot be ignored. Many scholars have described the role women played in the recent political protests as offensive. The organization, Muslim Voices, quoted professor of anthropology Nadje al-Ali as expressing much frustration with the “naïve” questions posed about women in the Middle East. Middle Eastern women have been stereotyped as docile and stoic beings that are deeply culturally oppressed. However, many of these stereotypes have been laid to rest by the images that have surfaced of women playing a huge role in all of these political upheavals. Middle Eastern and Arab women have spoken for their rights and saw these protests as an opportunity for their concerns to be addressed, and their voices heard. Silence never has been and never will be an option for these women.

Traffick Signals Text by: Mugo Odigwe Spring break, summer break and study abroad: these words are like music to the ear of any student. After all, they induce thoughts of fun filled days and adventurous trips, but they also signify perils and unknown territories. For young women who travel out of state or country, it’s vital to be alert about the possible dangers that are indeed prevalent; one such danger is human trafficking. Human trafficking is the illegal trading of a person for purposes such as sex or forced labor; it is a form of slavery. Janet was 16 years old when she was forced into the sex trafficking business. The night she ran away from home she was angry because her mother, who promised to throw her a birthday party, had informed her that the family did not have the monetary means to follow through. With no plans of where she could spend the night, Janet ran into an old friend, from the seventh grade, who was accompanied by a male companion. This friend persuaded her to spend the night with them. Once in their home, the man told Janet she was going to work for him—as a prostitute. He then repeatedly raped her and invited his friends to do the same. Janet soon learned that the man was her friend’s pimp and boyfriend. Because she refused to obey his orders, Janet was drugged and, for the next two and half years, chained to a tiny bed in a room as small as a walk-in closet.


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Janet was a victim of human trafficking, and unfortunately, her case is anything but unique. According to, a D.C. based organization that works to prevent human trafficking and sexual violence in the lives of youth, 80% of all human trafficking victims are women and 70% of trafficked victims are for sexual purposes. The rapid emergence of social media, which has made it possible for people from different continents to conveniently communicate, has also made it easier for traffickers to lure young women into their web. A prime example comes from a story in Canada where a man, posing as a modeling agent, opened a Facebook account. With promises of modeling opportunities, he persuaded young women to visit him. According to the CBC news article, when the women arrived in Canada, they were forced into prostitution. When it comes to human trafficking, gut feelings are important. Young women should be aware of their surroundings and the people they befriend on Facebook, Myspace and other social networking sites. Just like in Janet’s case, women should also be cautious when dealing with friends of friends and acquaintances. Janet eventually escaped the world of human trafficking when the “pimp” took her on an outing to meet a potential customer. Since then, Janet has been working hard to improve her life. She’s currently a college student and is pursuing a pharmacy degree. Her advice for young women is to “get educated and take precautions…It is important to listen to the voice in the back of your head telling you this is dangerous,” she said. So whether it

be summer break, spring break, study abroad or a trip to the market, it is wise to heed her advice.

5 common ways women are lured into sex trafficking By kidnapping and force: Be conscious of your surroundings at all times, whether you are close to or far away from home.

Promise of money and/or extravagant gifts: If he or she is a stranger or seems a little too benevolent for a mere acquaintance, you should question the motivation of the overly friendly behavior.

A friend of a friend: Just because a person is your friend’s friend does not make him/her yours. If you’re taken to an environment where you don’t feel comfortable—leave. If your mind is telling you something is not right—listen!

Promise of an entertainment gig: Pursue your dreams, yes, but don’t allow promises of easy opportunities to sidetrack you. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Friendship with an older man: Be very careful. Know your boundaries and steadfastly hold on to them.

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mwari magazine âˆŤ issue two

You’ve seen Amber Stevens as ZBZ president, Ashleigh Howard on ABC Family’s hit series Greek, a freshfaced intern on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Mimi in RENT at the Big Artlabs Theatre in Downtown, LA. But have you ever had the opportunity to hang out with her as just Amber? Join this former Student Body President of Beverly Hills High School turned actress as she shows you some of her favorite places in her hometown: Los Angeles. 10. Wi Spa Wi Spa is a beauti-

Welcome to my city:

ful new spa in Koreatown that I love to visit with friends. It has a co-ed area called the jimjalbang where they give you shorts and a shirt to wear around while you enjoy their 4 saunas. There’s so much to do here. It’s one of my favorite getaways in the city!


9. Slimmons Yes, Richard Simmons is still around and yes, he still teaches at his gym in Beverly Hills! I’ve never had so much fun in a workout class. People come dressed in costumes, including Richard, and dance off the pounds in his hour and a half cardio class. Every week he has a new theme. To give you an idea, a few of the themed classes I’ve attended include Broadway Day, Barbie Day and Rock and Roll Day. I recommend this class to everyone I know!

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Alcove 8. Made in LA Fitness Spin Class Spinning is my favorite form of exercise and only because of this specific class. Andrea, the owner of Made in LA is one of the most inspiring teachers I’ve ever encountered. Her loud rock playlists keep the class fun and her motivational yelling keeps you going! I look forward to this class every week!

7. Runyon Canyon

Made in La

I’ve grown up here in LA and sometimes I need to get away from the hustle and bustle. Runyon Canyon is the perfect escape for me. The hike is difficult but not so hard that I can’t bring my puppy Nala with me. Once I reach the top of the mountain the view of the city is stunning. On a clear day you can see from Catalina Island almost to Pasadena.

6. The Alcove for Princess Cake My favorite dessert in the

Runyon Canyon

world is Princess Cake and the best place in the city to get it is at The Alcove in Los Feliz. This quaint little restaurant/cafe/bakery has a beautiful garden patio to sit on, and all of their food is delicious.

5. Nail Garden I’ve been on the hunt for a good nail salon for as long as I can remember. I finally found it: Nail Garden. They have a few locations throughout the city and they’re all fantastic. Clean, big and stocked with every color of OPI and Essie nail polish imaginable.

4. Covell This wine and beer bar in Los Feliz is a neighborhood favorite of mine. The staff is really knowledgeable and great at recommending wines based on your taste. It’s also


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just a cool space with plenty of seating, good bar food and music to create a nice vibe.

3. Wacko Every once in a while I like to check out the latest artwork featured in the La Luz De Jesus Gallery at Wacko. They always have really cool, interesting stuff by Southern Californian artists. They also have a fun selection of books and novelty toys in the store. It’s a pretty silly place but lots of fun to browse.

2. LAMill

I only started drinking coffee 3 years ago, but now I’m a bit of a coffee snob. Well, not really, but I do appreciate a good dark roast from Ethiopia or South America! LAMill has a great selection of coffee from all around the world and they can be prepared many different ways.




Larchmont is one of my favorite neighborhoods in LA. The street is lined with bagel shops, coffee shops, beauty supply stores — everything you could possibly need. Of them all, my favorite place is Larchmont Bungalow. It’s a wonderful brunch/lunch spot with nice indoor and outdoor seating, yummy lattes, and a great menu. Some of my favorites there are their calamari salad, strawberry muffins and lemon poppyseed cake.

Text by: Amber Stevens


Larchmont Bungalow

Give Me a Break Tired of the same vacation rituals, go Euro with this low-budget locale Finally! Vacation! In years past, that much-needed reprieve from demanding profs and mind-numbing lectures signaled the migration of thousands of students south to Mexican resort towns like Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Miami and the like. Mexico has long been favored for its cheap flights and sunny weather; however, a little extra studying, can unearth additional exotic locales on that chips-and-salsa budget. Croatia, for example, is a secret hot spot for the young, fabulous and broke. Spend a little extra in airfare, and you’ll save on room and board on the Dalmatian Coast.


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When in Rome The Colosseum and Trevi Fountain will be a bonus on the back-end of your trip. Hold on, weren’t we just talking about Croatia? Absolutely, but flights into Rome often cost less than those into Split. And yes, dear geography buffs, there is an entire sea dividing Italy and Croatia. But an overnight ferry solves that minor dilemma. A round-trip ticket to Rome from the U.S. is your best bet. Rent a car, drive west to the port city of Ancona, take said car onto overnight ferry, sleep off jet lag and awake in Split refreshed and ready for adventure.

Dalmatian Delights Welcome yourself to the magic of a Mediterranean climate. Unlike many

Story and photos by Jennifer Chesak

small seaside villages in Croatia, Biograd has hotel accommodations. However, if traveling in a group, it may be cheaper to scour the web for an apartment rental. You’ll find great deals all over the coast, but many require advance booking.

Move It While in Croatia you can sample a whole plate of activities. Rent sea kayaks from Hotel Llirija and explore the nearby island of Vrgada. Paddle around in search of secluded sandy coves and get a great workout while you’re at it. Refuel at Bracera. You’ll have a hard time debating which is more spectacular, your meal of grilled squid, the view of the clear sea and surrounding forest or the delightful hospitality.

Give your arms a break the next day and rent a bike from Max Rent on the nearby island of Trogir; www. Two wheel it on the pavement with a road bike or secure a mountain bike for the backcountry. Either way, the winding ascents and descents of the Dinaric Alps will bust your quads and take your breath away in more ways than one. Krka National Park houses several great trails that will take you to the waterfalls and pools of the Krka River. After you bike it, hike it. Enjoy a day of exploring the region’s ancient churches. You’ll no doubt have admired from afar the many steeples on the surrounding hilltops that pierce the heavens. Take time to visit a few close up. Save the Church of St. Rocco in Murter for sunset. Climb the hillside stairs and enjoy a stunning

view of the turquoise sea, contrasting with the villages’ white Brac stone homes. Low rays cast their final glow on the chapel before leaving Murter in blackness. Church lights take over as bells ring, leaving St. Rocco a beacon of serenity on any dark night.

Kick back All that activity might leave you literally aching for some R &R. Catch another ferry from Split to the island of Brac or Hvar. See the Ferry Guide at for schedules and pricing. Aside from its amazing beaches, Brac is known for its quarries of Brac stone which is used to build just about everything in Croatia and many famous buildings around the world such as the White House. Harbor-side stands are the

perfect place to pick up jewelry, trinket boxes and other souveniers made of the beautiful white stone.

No Seriously, When in Rome The last thing you will want to do at the end of your Dalmatian dream vacation is return home. So be sure to book a day of sightseeing in Rome to help with re-entry into the real world. Touring the ancient ruins of the city will hardly feel like reality, but the bustle will help reorient you for crazy campus life. Still not stoked about heading home, just remember, you’ll have the best what-I-did-over-vacation stories when you get back… That is if you haven’t posted your exotic adventures to Facebook already.

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Drink in the Scenery This weekend, get away from life’s worries and take in Virginia’s awardwinning wines and sun-drenched scenery. Let Reston Limousine take you on an inspiring tour through Virginia’s wine country.

Taste, eat and relax!


Public and private wine tours available every weekend this year. From $35 per person. mwari magazine ∫ issue two

To book a tour call 703-478-0500 or online at

mwari magazine âˆŤ issue two



Avatar Text by: Alana Flowers-Watson


lose your eyes. Now, just envision yourself again as a young child running down a long corridor in an art museum. You spin around in celebration of being surrounded by wonderful works. You relish in the warmth, texture, and colors of every piece. All you see is beauty. Now,

open your eyes. This is the Delphine Diallo experience. Diallo is more than an artist, she’s a visionary. Mwari Magazine had the opportunity to speak with this African-French born artist about her life, muses and craft. Diallo falls in the ranks of “gifted, intuitive and spiritual.” Whether she creates a collage, takes a picture or draws a portrait; there is an enigmatic quality about this young artist you cannot forget.

As a child, Diallo was exposed to the arts and countless museums. During her tenure in high school she also began to explore her artistic talents. Diallo says, “Art was not a focus,” even though she would draw during class. She began to explore her talent and found joy in drawing portraits. The pastime of doodling and drawing faces soon earned her popularity as an artist and she eventually started earning money for her work. Upon her high school graduation, Diallo began concentrating on developing her talent and matriculated at the School of

Visual Arts in Paris. There, she honed her skills as an artist and credits many for teaching and mentoring her along the way.

Creating a Masterpiece… Diallo created an autobiographical collection titled Queen of New York. The pieces are captivating and empowering for women. “New York City is an island of a lot of races and mixed cultures and although there tends to be an emphasis on women living in a man’s world the pictures recognize women for who they are, giving them power,” said Diallo. Her piece Avatar is a self-portrait of sorts. The film bearing the same name inspired her because she felt it was without a “race element” to contend against, and when creating her self-portrait she sought to breakaway from the influences of Western culture and decided to trend toward fantasy and fun. Diallo hones her artistic intuition and spends a substantial amount of time pondering each piece before the creation, or what she describes as the very end of the process. Her work is an escape from the typical superficial messages we repeatedly encounter in our world. As an artist, she seeks to connect with her subjects and audience on a level that transcends verbal communication, race, class or creed. For more information on Delphine Diallo or to view more of her work visit:


mwari magazine ∫ issue two


JENNAHsis In Italian she is Di Talento. In Spanish she is talentoso. Germans would say she is begabt. In Chinese she is 人才. To us, Jennah Bell is talented because of her raw musical talent and passion shown through each song she produces.


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Jennah, a native of Oakland, California, studied music at The Berkley School of Music. She is a versatile artist who could easily be a one-woman band because of her training as a vocalist, poet, songwriter, flautist, guitarist and pianist. Her passion, enthusiasm and energy is evident in songs from her EP like “3hrs, 59min. (New York).” The ease of each riff she plays on her guitar and her tranquil voice make it clear this songbird is comfortable and confident about her gift. Every artist has a muse and it’s typically external. Jennah however, looks within to find her inspiration, which

we believe is a true blessing. James Taylor, Stevie Wonder and Bonnie Raitt also influence her music and she sounds most like Natalie Merchant. For Jennah, when either writing or producing music, the end result often comes from having been in a certain “musical space” where her creativity grows and flourishes. Jennah is definitely a dedicated musician. Her musical aspirations began when she was 13 years old; she honed her craft by dedicating countless hours to practice. Now, she is spending this summer performing in New York and in the studio producing new material.

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Mwari had the pleasure of catching up with our sister-friend to discuss her place the music industry, her work and her motivation.

Mwari Magazine: Who are your mentors? Jennah Bell: My family and peers have been huge mentors for me—specifically, my group of friends and my mother. As far as my friends go, they are some of the most intelligent, inspiring people I have ever met. We all come from such diverse backgrounds with a common passion. Everyone has something to teach the next person. Growing up the youngest in my household and coincidentally, the youngest in my group of friends, I find myself a student in their company. My mother is by far, one the


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coolest people in world. She is chameleon and world of knowledge. As I grow older it seems there is always something she has to teach and never a lack of questions I have for her.

MM: What do you want to be your legacy? JB: I would like to make art without barriers, art people can enjoy without feeling like they need to be a certain kind of person to enjoy it. I want it to promote self-discovery, which puts an audience on a path to love.

MM: What is your mantra? JB: Be cool, ice cold.

MM: What is the best piece of advice you’ve heard recently?

JB: It was in reference to different pieces that comprise a song. Very simply put, you have to ask yourself if each component can stand alone.

MM: What does Mwari mean to you? JB: To be a young woman in this day and age is not easy. To connect to the right resources so you can be knowledgeable and abreast of what’s going on is not easy. To be able to find and share common

interests with other young women is not simple.   To me  Mwari  accomplishes all of these things and for that, I am happy to be part of it.

know you possess? JB: I’m Miles Davis on the Kazoo.

MM: What word would you use do describe your future? JB: Exciting.

MM: What is your ultimate goal? MM: What do you love about yourself? JB: I love that I want to be a better person everyday and that I am constantly striving to do that in anyway I can.

MM: What talent do few people

JB: To contribute to the greater good of mankind; in short, world peace.

MM: Is the glass half full or half empty? JB: Both. Life doesn’t exist without balance.

To learn more about Jennah Bell please go to or visit YouTube for a sneak peek of her videos and live performances. Find Jennah on Facebook: Jennah Bell Music or Twitter: @JennahB Text by: Alana Flowers-Watson

mwari magazine ∫ issue two



mwari magazine âˆŤ issue two

mwari magazine âˆŤ issue two



mwari magazine âˆŤ issue two



Bundle text by: Crystal Villarreal photo Credit: Heather Bee Photography

Wedding season is here and many couples are taking the plunge and making lifelong commitments, while simultaneously creating major payments for their one-day event. But saying “I do” does not mean you have to add “Debt +1” to your wedding guest list. The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is $24,066, according to the website “The Wedding Report.” While some couples are lucky and have parents and/or other family members willing to shell out the extra cash to see them have an elegant and expensive wedding, others are not always as fortunate. So what should the rest of us do? First, keep in mind that grand expense does not an elegant wedding make. In the case of my wedding, my fiancé and I handled the majority of the costs on our own. We had to work hard, research and create a finite budget. I got married in April, and I was never one of those brides who’d been planning and anticipating her wedding since kindergarten. But after my fiancé popped the question I had to face the facts — we weren’t rich and having a wedding can be extremely costly.

It seemed absurd to the both of us to enter into our new life together in debt. So we developed a budget of $10,000, and I immediately started thinking about how we could make this day special, unique and affordable. My second piece of advice is to bundle. If you can find a company that will do cakes, catering and flowers for one price, then go with it. I found a wedding company in Savannah, Ga. that takes care of everything — the officiant, decorations, ceremony, chairs, arch, music, cake, flowers, photography, catering, bartender and wait staff! This miracle bundle saved us a substantial amount of money. We planned to have a beach wedding, and the cost of an outdoor ceremony is almost always less than that of having it indoors at a church or country club. However, even with our tight budgeting and wedding package there seemed to be so many little things we’d forgotten to take into account — wedding bands, favors,

transportation, gifts for the wedding party, cake cutters and a million other extra costs that sneaked up as our big day approached. For those things I did not consider, I had to really think outside the box. We decided to order our wedding bands from a wholesale jeweler we found online. I am happy to report that after loads of research we found the perfect bands at the perfect price. We ordered our invitations from a bargain wedding website and I asked a friend from undergrad to DJ our wedding at a discounted price. The Internet was my best friend while planning. It’s a great place to find online planners instead of hiring one and they usually come with checklists and price comparison charts. Shop around for the best price for every little thing, don’t think of it as being cheap, but the less you spend on those champagne flutes the more money you’ll have for bigger parts of the budget like flowers or cake. mwari magazine ∫ issue two


A buffet for the reception is a great way to save money and creating your own unique wedding favors can be fun and cost efficient. I found that Oriental Trading Company, Hobby Lobby and Michael’s have lots of great items for weddings. They have kits for everything from designing your own invitations to making your centerpieces. Remember the most important part of the wedding — your relationship


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with your partner. Remain focused on the fact that the purpose of the day is to celebrate your love for and commitment to one another. Don’t worry about putting on airs for other people because it is not what you will remember about this monumental day. Try to keep everything in perspective — place cards, seating charts and favors might seem like a big deal, but when placed within the bigger picture you realize most people won’t notice those things.

Don’t let the cost of your wedding define it – leave that to your love for one another. I guarantee you that your guests will not remember whether you served steak or chicken, but they will recognize that your wedding suited your relationship and was a physical display of the love you share with your new spouse. Shine on your day, but don’t let the cost of your wedding create an ominous shadow.

The Default Degree Don’t let your college credits ruin your credit text by Jennifer Chesak photo by: Tyler Kaschke College graduation has arrived. Finally, you can start your career, earning a paycheck for your efforts rather than high marks. But if you value that paycheck, you shouldn’t your student loans. Statistics recently released by the Department of Education show that students have defaulted on a total of $875 billion in student loans. According to Federal Reserve figures, this tops even credit card default numbers.

Co-ed Crunch Despite the hefty price tags we pay for tuition, the nation and the economy

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may be paying even more as student debt becomes a major crisis. Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, said, “Banks earn profit on the interest. If students default, taxpayers take the loss not the banks. In other words, working Americans pay while the banks get rich.” Graduates with loan balances must take action to protect their credit and financial future. In today’s still wobbling job market, those actions require more than just actively seeking out a paycheck.

Penalty Box Student loans are rarely discharged in bankruptcy. Default can happen quickly, and with severe consequences. In some states, your professional or vocational license can be revoked or suspended, preventing you from practicing law, medicine, etc. The government has the power to withhold tax returns, garnish your wages from that new job, offset a portion of your Social Security benefits and charge outrageous collection fees. Federal loans go into delinquency with one missed payment and then default after nine months. Once in default, the entire balance of the loan becomes due. A hefty collection fee, sometimes as great as 30 percent of the principal, can also get tacked on. Any payment goes toward that commission fee first before being applied to your principal. A lender will eventually report a defaulted loan to the credit bureaus,

as well, leaving a blemish on your credit report and hampering your ability to buy a Vespa—let alone a car, home and often to even rent an apartment.

On the Job Surely, the big paycheck from your new job will help cover your student loan debt, right? Maybe. Those who graduated in 2009 entered the worse job market in about a quarter century. Jobs remain as scarce as American Idol slots, especially coveted high-paying positions. To climb the corporate ladder, more and more grads are starting out with unpaid internships. If you’re lucky enough to get a job that pleases your bank account, the potent combination of higher rent, utilities, groceries and entertainment can rot it out pretty quickly.

Repayment Options If you find yourself unable to make your loan payments, you can apply for a forbearance, which will lower your monthly payments for a period of time, although interest charges will continue to accrue. However, two repayment options may better suit your situation. A graduated repayment plan starts out with lower monthly installments and then payment requirements increase every two years. A new income-based repayment plan (IBR), available for federal student loans, caps your payment total at an affordable amount based on your paycheck and your family size.

This type of repayment plan includes several unique benefits. The government will pay your accrued interest for up to three years if your payment amount does not cover the interest. If you have been making IBR payments for 25 years and have still not paid off the loan, the remaining balance will be forgiven (if you meet certain other requirements). And in some cases, if you have worked in public service for 10 years and have been making IBR payments, your remaining balance will also be forgiven. If your loan does not meet requirements for IBR or other options, you may be able to apply for a deferment, a period of time where you will not have to turn your account upside down to make payments. Interest will accrue on unsubsidized loans, but lenders may hold off on interest charges, adding the amount to the principal of the loan at the end of the deferment period. Deferments are granted for economic hardship, internships, fellowships and unemployment. With multiple options available to meet your needs if you face financial difficulty or delays in finding a killer job, you should be able to avoid delinquency and default and therefore avoid wreaking havoc on the very future you’ve worked so hard to secure with an education in the first place.

Paint Your World

photographer: Christine Ciszczon models: Nijah Harris, Eiman Hamza, Thomas Cathey and Jonathan Footman make-up artist: Bevin Coen producers: Tashah Johnson and Nicole Majka assistant: Jorgi Paul t-shirts by: The Samburu Project and Happiness is a $10 Tee

mwari magazine âˆŤ issue two



mwari magazine âˆŤ issue two

mwari magazine âˆŤ issue two



Your d


your d

ms are like the paints of a great artist.

dreams are your paints, the world is your

as. Believing, is the brush that converts

dreams into a masterpiece of reality.�

— Unknown

Original David Rakiyt Shakira Zakari has flipped and refined the urban underworld of fashion, and developed lines of menswear, women’s apparel and accessories. She infuses her “original” techniques to make every shirt unique — each one takes at least two hours to make — and Original David.

Zakari studied fashion merchandising at Howard University in Washington, DC, but her real start in the industry came from combining her mother’s unfinished garments with scraps of fabric she found around the house. After college, she began her professional career with a women’s line, Alex, which was sold in a boutique on Pennsylvania Avenue. She crafted rebellious pieces that featured various textures. Today, her primary focus is menswear, but she still takes custom orders for women’s.

Zakari’s muses are her family and music. She plays music until a song’s lyrics, melodies and scores transform into colors and silhouettes. Like N*E*R*D* that see sounds, Zakari hears fashion. Her fusion between fashion and music explains why Common, Nas and Q-Tip have been spotted in her tees.

“UniverSOUL” The Original David is the synthesis of everything ‘80s: hip-hop, Challenger,

Faux Fur Scarf Not for sale The Dark Continent T shirt $85 URI scarf $44 Dated Collection Industry Rule 4,080 t-shirt $75 Uri Diplomatic Case $220 Leather laptop messenger bag Duck Hunt $160 Fleece lined hooded infinite scarf FIFA world cup collection Olu T Shirt $85 Myth Women’s Scrimmage Tee $30

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Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Sesame Street, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Reading Rainbow, The Goonies, Africa — you get the picture. It represents the clash of cultures and explosion of creativity that is quintessential to that decade. She hones those events and experiences into meaningful, storytelling garments. The message and spirit of David is universal, and is articulated by the tagline “In every language there’s a David...” You can feel the power of Zakari’s creativity and story in each item. She doesn’t care about being politically correct, her message and the medium by which it’s delivered is of upmost importance. Her bright colors and old school hand-sewn details are what make her work conspicuous. On a normal weekday evening my assistant, Kimee, and I had the opportunity to sit, relax and have a cup of Joe with the Nigerian-American designer, Zakari, whom now feels like an old friend.

“…I don’t believe in dumbing down my customers. I even make sure that my tags either tell the story behind the garment or the concept of the Original David.” 66

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Lauren: What has been your fondest memory as a designer? Rakiyt: A customer in Florida called at 3a.m. claiming to have seen The Original David Artistic Director; he wanted to express his gratitude. However, he was pleasantly surprised that the “Original David” is an African American woman. Kimee: What’s your vision for the line? Rakiyt: I see it becoming more commercial, but NOT mainstream. I plan to continue designing urban wear, but refine it even more and use finer textiles like cashmere. L: What article of clothing couldn’t you live without?

“Style is a lost art, but it should be natural—not forced. Women must understand the art of proportions” R: My brown leather jacket purchased, I purchased while on a trip to New York with my friends in early my 20s. K: Which songs are on your favorite playlist? R: Nancy Sinatra, Camp Lo, MGMT and Sergio Menedes Text by: Lauren Gay Photographer: Esther Yi

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Ball on the Mall The moonlit Capitol to the front, the Washington Monument to the back and extravagantly decorated tents in between can only mean one thing: Ball on the Mall. Once again the L’Enfant society presented Washington, DC with the nation’s best event on the 68

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National Mall. Upon entering the tents, guests were whisked away to Asia with incredible décor, an assortment of pad thai, chicken skewers and pan fried dumplings. To the rear was the best dessert bar one could imagine with a gelato and ice cream sundae bar, an assortment of cookies, chocolates and more. Guests danced the night away to a live DJ who played fan favorites like Miley Cyrus’ “Party

in the USA.” The L’Enfant Society supports the Trust for the National Mall in its mission to raise funds to restore the National Mall and build awareness about the current state of the country’s most famous national park. photos by: Vithaya Photography

2011 Ailey at the Apollo

Spring Gala Ailey made a triumphant return to Harlem’s world-famous Apollo Theater for a one-night-only event which featured

performances by dancers of the world renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the dynamic young dancers from Ailey II and talented students of The Ailey School. The benefit, honoring long-time board member Guido Goldman, raised funds for student scholarships to The Ailey School and the Ailey organization’s Arts In Education & Community Programs, including AileyCamp Washington Heights. Attend-

ees danced the night away at the post performance party, which featured music by DJ Ruckus and the shining lights of the Studio 54 mirror ball photos by: Jacqueline McMenamin, James McMenamin, Kwame Brathwaite, Teri Bloom

mwari magazine ∫ issue two


Steppenwolf’s 9th


Moira Harat and Dickson Kasamale


mwari magazine ∫ issue two

More than 600 of Chicago young arts supporters attended the Steppenwolf Auxiliary Council’s 9th annual Red or White Ball to benefit Steppenwolf for Young Adults (SYA) programming. The premier event for Chicago’s most influential young philanthropists was held once again at the ultra eco-chic Salvage One.

Andrew Nieman and Natalie Baumann

Guests sipped on Red or White cocktails by Grey Goose and danced the night away as they listened to DJ Nick Campion. The silent auction featured 80 highly coveted packages and contributed to the $109,000 raised at the event. photos by Kyle Flubacker

Brett Jeffries and Jess Smith

Guests hit the dance floor

Tyharrie Hill, Jamila Bynum, Tyhani Hill and Golden Perkins

Nicole Griffith, Ronnie Dickerson and Maegan Moore

mwari magazine âˆŤ issue two


Thank you reading Mwari Magazine, we hope you enjoyed the issue. Join us on twitter: @MwariMag and on Facebook: Mwari Magazine or on our blog:

Mwari Magazine Issue 2  

Mwari (pronounced Marh-ree), which means "young woman" in Swahili, is the leading lifestyle publication created for women of the African Dia...

Mwari Magazine Issue 2  

Mwari (pronounced Marh-ree), which means "young woman" in Swahili, is the leading lifestyle publication created for women of the African Dia...