Stories from the Shade:
When Light Hurts
Shades of Meaning:
Color in Other Cultures
Creatures of the Night:
California Rallies for Wildlife Restoration
Light Pollutionâ€™s Effects on Health and the Environment
Flipping the Script:
Challenging Motifs in Literature and Film
Carolyne Van Den Hoogen: Slopes After Sundown
Marina Sangit: Writing After Hours
Color Speaks Volumes in Fashion
Making Music in the Dark
Written in the Stars:
My Black is Beautiful:
How Cultures View the Cosmos
Building Black Pride
Jaibir Nihal Singh:
Rebellious Night Owl
The Science Behind Blue Light
Silhouetting Sound: Light and Dark in Music
Daniel Perez: Late Nights with an Introvert
Balancing Act: How Yin Yang Promotes Harmony and Balance
I knew it was a problem when the birds started to sing … as I started to get ready for bed. Most everyone in my life has told me I’ll grow out of it; nocturnality is an element of youth that will fade under the strict regularity of a 9-to-5 job. But I’ve done 9-to-5, and it hasn’t gone away; more than that, I don’t want it to. It’s not a question of adjusting my internal clock, but rather the piece of myself I will lose if I do. At night, I think more deeply, calmly and creatively. I ask different questions of myself and the world. I process life and decompress from the stress of what is an admittedly over-committed lifestyle. Wrapping myself in darkness like a blanket, silence seeps in to slow the whirling tornado of deadlines, plans and to-do lists that fills my brain during the day. I can finally breathe. I’ve noticed that in daylight, people tend to talk about the more tangible elements of life — what they’re doing, what classes they have, what they need to get done that week. Under the comforting cover of darkness, the conversations deepen into the intangible — hopes, fears, dreams, questions, doubts. And yet my whole life, everything from Disney movies to scary stories at camp has told me that darkness should be feared and that the nighttime is dangerous. I began to question: Why was I in the wrong? At 3 a.m., against the backdrop of the Santa Ana winds, the idea for this magazine was born, scribbled in the corner of a notebook. Nothing in the entire magazine would have been possible without the incredible talent and work ethic of the writers, editors and designers who put it together. It 3
was in meetings with these brilliant minds that the edition began to take shape. The more we talked, the more we could see that our own biases were shaped by subconsciously ingrained ideas equating light with goodness and darkness with danger. We realized the necessity of identifying, analyzing and breaking down these associations before challenging our audience to do the same. So we investigated how history and Hollywood have shaped our views of light and darkness, white and black. We asked members of our diverse community how they interpret light and color, in everything from race to fashion to music. We shared our awe of the night sky, capturing the Milky Way in motion and talking to fellow night owls who find solace in the darkness. We sought to understand how much of our way of thinking is human and how much is cultural, exploring how cultures around the world interact with these elements. What scares people about darkness, both literal and figurative, is the unknown, the unfamiliar. It’s easier to be surprised in the darkness, but fear is a dangerous response. The point of this magazine is to challenge a culture in which elements such as dark and light, black and white are polarized and pitted against each other. Our message is not that light is bad and dark is good but rather that these two are not mutually exclusive: Balance is key, as is an awareness of how personal experiences contribute to your perspective. As you peruse these pages, we invite you to embrace the beauty in the darkness. P.S. I wrote this letter at 3 a.m.
Dr. Christina Littlefield | Journalism and Religion Professor
Madeleine Carr Vernie Covarrubias Mary Margaret Davis Maria Belen Iturralde Jillian Johnson Allison Lee Ali Levens Shea McCollum James Moore
Emily Morton Alex Neis Annabella Nordlund Jordan Smith Channa Steinmetz Brianna Willis Bethany Wilson Kayiu Wong
By | Grace Wood Photo by | Milan Loiacono For campus night owl Jeremiah Jones, late nights equal better concentration. The junior international business major finds himself more productive at night than during the day but not for the reasons one might think. “I have ADHD, and when I’m tired, it’s not as rampant, so I’m able to better focus,” Jones said. “I figured out that when I stayed up late, I would get tired, then I could only focus on one thing. So then I can do my homework and then I go to sleep.” Jones was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia during winter break of his freshman year. He started taking medication to help alleviate some of his symptoms. “I took medication for the next semester, and I went from having a 2.3 GPA freshman year first semester to having a 3.0 GPA second semester,” Jones said. “But I didn’t like the idea of having to take medication to function in society … I don’t like being reliant on something that could potentially not be there.” After trying medication for a few months, Jones decided to work through his symptoms in a nontraditional way. He started a program with a therapist who specializes in treating ADHD and dyslexia. She worked with Jones to find ways to make him feel more in control of his brain without medication. “It works on this idea of orienting my brain to where I’m more present and aware of what’s happening,” Jones said. “That way, the drawbacks of dyslexia and ADHD are minimized.” After trial and error, Jones learned that he feels more cognizant and
well-oriented at night, which helps him utilize his time as effectively as possible. “During the day, my brain is all over the place and scattered,” Jones said. “At night, I finally get tired enough where it feels like I only have enough energy to focus my brain on one thing. It’s sort of like channeling that last little bit of energy.” After three years at Pepperdine, Jones said he understands that being a night owl doesn’t just mean burning the midnight oil. He utilizes his days and nights by volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu, designing sets for the Pepperdine Theatre Department and working at Drescher Graduate Campus, in addition to his studies at Seaver. “To me, [a night owl] is someone that doesn’t just stay up late, but they actually get stuff done,” Jones said. Jones likes to channel any residual energy into renovating his 2002 Toyota Sienna into a livable space where he occasionally bunks down for the night. He is currently working on installing a water pump, as well as repairing the van’s pull-out couch so that it’s easier to use. “I tend to work on [the van] when I have a little free time, right before I go to sleep,” Jones said. “It’s a little easier to go to sleep in it because I’m outside and I can hear nature.” Malibu’s environment provides the perfect ambiance for Jones to slow down after a long day at Pepperdine. “The first night [I slept in the van], I was really nervous,” Jones said. “But you have to be OK with that proximity to nature. Wherever you park and open your door, you’re outside. Now, the noise of Malibu at night can calm me down.”
By | Allison Lee Photos by | Milan Loiacono
The Maasai tribe drinks cow’s blood mixed with milk for strength and stamina. Junior Angel Thairo said her grandfather would slaughter a cow and drain it upside down for the blood to be mixed with milk in traditional Maasai ceremonies. There were times when this mixture was all the Maasai tribe had to drink. “That’s what red represents — that blood, that lifeline,” Thairo said. “Because even during seasons of famine, that’s what people will survive off of.” Though Thairo was raised in the city of Nairobi, Kenya, regular visits to her grandfather’s house outside the city taught her about mythology and animism, which is based on the belief that creatures and objects have souls. She said their tribe believes that the cow is sacred — a lifeline that
provides the blood they drink. While she does not partake in drinking cow’s blood, this ritual taught her the element of struggle in its significance and the familial tie to the color red. “Red is a really sacred color,” Thairo said. “It symbolizes strength, unity, just being together as a tribe.” That is what colors do. They represent experiences, stories and cultures. Hundreds of colors exist in the clothes people wear, the pens they use and the flags they fly. Colors speak for themselves, for values tied to cultures and for the way they brighten the world. The power of red Senior Cindy Kim associates red with something quite different than strength. She said she remembers her parents discour-
aging her from ever using it. “Red is a very controversial color in Korea,” Kim said. “It was considered taboo to sign our names with a red pen because it was like signing our name off with blood.”
“You know it’s a good day when you see an envelope and it’s red. That’s how you know you’re going to be eating well for the next couple of days.” - Lois Zhou Kim said her grandparents associated the color with communism because of the time in history they were raised in. Today, red is more accepted in Korea and is seen as a uniting color, especially when it comes to sports. The significance of the color red in Chinese culture is evident in the lanterns and fireworks during Chinese New Year. Senior Justin Yin incorporated the color into yet another aspect of the festivities. “If it’s your year on the Chinese zodiac calendar, then you’re supposed to wear red underwear for the day of the new year,” Yin said. “I’m a tiger. So when I turned 12, I had to wear red underwear.” Senior Lois Zhou said her mom loves red, utilizing it in decorations for Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year. The elders of the family give red envelopes with money during Chinese New Year. “[Red] symbolizes prosperity, energy, liveliness and money,” Zhou said. “You know it’s a good day when you see an envelope
and it’s red. That’s how you know you’re going to be eating well for the next couple of days.” Red also appears in Indian celebrations. Senior Heet Ghodasara said wearing red for weddings has been a long tradition. “On the actual day of the wedding, the bride wears red,” Ghodasara said. “Red is a sign of positivity and love, so almost every bride that you see wears a red dress.” Growing up in what he described as the ghetto of Los Angeles, junior Christopher Hidalgo was not allowed to wear red when playing outside. “I remember having bought shoes that were red or like a gift given to me, and my dad said, ‘You can’t wear that,’” Hidalgo said. “It was a big kind of slap in the face because I wasn’t limited necessarily mentally, but physically I wasn’t allowed to wear color.” With the dominant gangs in LA associated with blue and red, Hidalgo grew up wearing black and white, and he still does today. “I definitely wear black and white because of where I grew up,” Hidalgo said. “But then there’s also this trend of minimalism and how stress-free it is to not have to worry about your closet.”
“You just enjoy that day with different colors because it spreads so much color around you, and color brings so much positivity,” Ghodasara said. “Colors show a positive aspect of your life.” Ghodasara said people in India wear white to funerals — a much brighter color signifying a better afterlife for the individual as opposed to people in the U.S. who wear black to funerals. “For us, white is more about the peace that a person gets,” Ghodasara said. “We also believe in reincarnation, and we burn their bodies and release those ashes so their soul is free to take the next world they would like.” Bright colors are also important in the Acadian culture,
The brightness of color The Holi festival, originating from the Indian culture, leaves attendees covered in an array of bright colors. The celebration is based on a mythological story of good conquering evil and consists of people throwing colored paint at each other.
French Professor Kelle Marshall Rizkallah said colors speak for said. After the Seven Years War, the shared history of the Arab the Acadian people were deport- world. ed from Canada only to find Brit“So all the flags usually have ish farmers on their land when some combination of red, green, they returned. The Acadian peo- white and black,” Rizkallah said. ple see themselves as a separate, “Those four colors actually rephistorically oppressed colonial resent the four dynasties of the group. Muslim empire.” “If you look at a lot of the AcaBlack represents battle or dian art, there’s a ton of prima- death, red represents struggle like the United States. ry, really bright colors,” Marshall and sacrificed blood, white rep- Islamist parties will said. “I think it’s the same sort resents peace, and green rep- have green in their of thing, like a statement, ‘Hey, resents fertility and agriculture logo or flag, with the we’ve been through a whole lot of while also being the color of Is- intention of bringing hard times but we’re resilient.’” lam, Rizkallah said. During the religion into politics The Acadian flag looks like ‘50s and ‘60s, some Arab coun- and the public sphere, Rizkallah the French flag with a yellow star tries had anti-colonial revolutions said. The colors political parties on it. On their national holiday, to overthrow Western-supported associate with appear on billthey wear red, blue, white and monarchies. boards and can even yellow in the parades be brought up in and celebrations. “There are certain neighborhoods conversation if one is “It’s the star of wearing a certain colMary [the yellow where you’ll drive through them and or. One of the Chrisstar], so Mary is their you can instantly tell which political tian parties associpatron saint,” Marparty controls the neighborhood.” ates with orange, the shall said. “Yellow was Hezbollah-ruled area their distinction from - Amanda Rizkallah is yellow and green, the rest of the French and the Sunni Muspeople.” “In those countries, you will lim parties typically use light The politics of color often see that the green is kind of blue. “People are very attuned to not in the flag anymore and that Colors represent the unique the flag is three bands of red and color around election time and identities of countries, and white and black,” Rizkallah said. sometimes they’ll even put flags common colors in flags connect “Whereas a lot of the monarchies of those certain colors off their countries in the same or countries that didn’t have a balcony or somewhere in their region. Interna- revolution, you’ll still see green in neighborhoods,” Rizkallah said. “There are certain neighbortional Studies their flag.” P r ofe ss or The Syrian flag, for example, hoods where you’ll drive through Amanda only has two little green stars. On them and you can instantly tell the other extreme, Saudi Arabia’s which political party controls the strong monarchy has a purely neighborhood.” The cultural or political meangreen flag with the Shahada, the Muslim decla- ing of color is not always clear to outsiders but usually has deep ration of faith. Color also ties to tradition. Colors speak signifies po- without words and add vibrancy litical party as- to the world. sociation in the Arab world, much
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By | Channa Steinmetz Art by | Milan Loiacono, Savannah Welch & Natalie Rulon
While the Malibu community falls into a deep sleep, a frog calls for his lover; a mountain lion hunts to feed her cubs; an owl sings for all of the Santa Monica Mountains to hear. The night is alive. Although unseen to many, nocturnal animals continue to play a vital role in the Santa Monica Mountains — keeping ecosystems balanced and healthy, said Lee Kats, biology professor and vice provost for research and strategic initiatives. Wildlife officials have taken steps to mitigate human impact on local animals, such as planning to build the world’s largest wildlife crossing. This crossing will be a bridge over the 101 freeway that brings the ecosystem closer to its natural state and brings wildlife closer to humans. “Increasingly, we’re removed from nature,” Kats said. “We almost want to protect ourselves from nature; it’s a problem when we think we’re somehow above the system and that we deserve to be immune from these biological communities. We’re not.” Human presence Along with light, human presence plays a large role in the activity of nocturnal creatures. Justin Brown, a biologist with the National Park Service, said the coyotes of the Santa Monica Mountains tend to become more nocturnal with an increase in human presence. “Research has shown that communities in places where there’s not been any hunting in decades — where there’s not very much people activity — there is actually a fairly high diurnal [daytime] activity pattern,” Brown said.
Humans may also affect ecosystems in positive ways. Wildlife ecologist Katy Delaney has worked on a project for the past six years that introduces the red-legged frog back into the streams of the Santa Monica Mountains. The reintroduction of these frogs, who become more nocturnal as they age, is paired with the goal of bringing the ecosystem back to its natural state. “The true benefit of bringing these frogs back is for the restoration of biodiversity,” Delaney said. “These frogs may not affect people directly, but restoration provides more recreation opportunities and aesthetic; it’s also just exciting to know the frogs are out there.” Human activity tends to shift ecosystems farther from their natural state. In 1962, the construction of a 10-lane, concrete freeway bisected the Santa Monica Mountains. The 101 fragmented habitats as creatures had to stay on “their side.” Freeways create impermeable barriers for wildlife, said Beth Pratt, California’s regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation. For Pepperdine’s most famous nocturnal neighbor — the mountain lion — this divide has caused destructive repercussions. “Researchers started looking at the genetic diversity of these mountain lions over time,” Pratt said. “They found that it is declining and getting to the point where it was alarming, and they would not be genetically viable. They were mating with their families basically, which we know does not have a good outcome.”
Arti stic Libe renditio rty C n anyo of bluepr n Wi ldlife ints for the Cross ing
World’s largest wildlife crossing In response to the shrinking wildlife biodiversity, the National Wildlife Federation proposed the idea of what may come to be the world’s largest wildlife crossing. The wildlife crossing would be located at Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills and connect the Santa Monica Mountains of the south to the Simi Hills of the north, Pratt said. The crossing would be unique from others in size and design. “We have around 380,000 cars passing by that area in a day,” Pratt said. “Our crossing is going to have to mitigate sound; it’s going to have to mitigate light. We brought in wildlife crossing experts and design consultants from all over the world to help us think through these things.” Started by the National Wildlife Federation in 2012, the organization has completed all planned milestones on the project thus far. They have raised over $13 million, passed the feasibility study and received environmental permitting. If fundraising stays on track, with the end goal of $87 million, the crossing will break ground in 2021. The wildlife crossing is not the end-all goal, Pratt said. Throughout the project, she and others have worked to empower various voices and discover how different people connect to wildlife — whether that is through musical events, social media or stuffed animals and education for children. “The crossing is needed and obviously a big goal of the work we’re doing,” Pratt said. “But to me, it’s not the end game so much. The story of Los Angeles, and really the world, rallying around native wildlife and urban wildlife in a way I’ve never seen before is just as good as the crossing.” Here at Pepperdine Restoration projects do not always fall into the hands of environmental groups; institutions can also make a difference. “Pepperdine has converted almost all of our
lighting into d a rk- sk y lighting,” Kats said. “When we shine lights at night into the sky, we impact nocturnal animals. All of our street lights used to be big globes with light that radiated straight into the sky. Now, all of our lights are downward facing lights.” As an early-morning jogger, Kats said he often hears barn owls and great-horned owls talking to one another before the sun rises. “There’s something innately scary about the dark for humans, but lighting everything up is not good for our wildlife,” Kats said. “They evolved with the dark sky, where the only light was the moon. So I’m happy when there are owls up by the condos on campus because it tells me that we haven’t lit up the sky so much that we’ve scared away the owls.” As a way for the Pepperdine community to connect to the night ecosystem, Kats’ suggestion is simple: listen. “We have this beautiful nocturnal bird called the poorwill,” he said. “I can hear them at night, and I just love it. ... There are birds calling at night. There are insects calling at night. These natural sounds are an indication that the system is healthy. We don’t want it too quiet; if so, it means we’ve removed all those wonderful animals vocalizing at night.”
FLIPPING THE SCRIPT challenging motifs in literature and film By | Makena Huey
From the opening pages of Genesis to the opening scenes of Western movies, media has traditionally associated light with positivity and darkness with negativity. Across literature and film, authors and directors use literal light and darkness to suggest figurative meanings about characters, plots and themes. Villains sneak in shadows, dwell in dungeons and cloak themselves in darkness. Superheroes save the day in colorful capes, and princesses live in luminous towers. These tropes hold true in almost every popular book or movie. Few works truly, let alone successfully, flip these conventional messages to convey the beauty of darkness. “Turning ‘darkness’ into a more positive perspective is aspirational because light and darkness being present at the same time is more indicative of how we actually experience the world,” said Joi Carr, director of the Film Studies program and professor of English and film studies. Five experts and 10 students agreed that these tropes — or significant and often overused themes and metaphors — are prevalent. However, many said they have negative social and racial implications. Origins of traditional tropes Perceptions of light and darkness existed long before literature and film. Several professors and students agreed that human beings are universally afraid of darkness because it deprives them of their sight, mak-
ing them more prone to injury or disorientation. “It’s kind of an instinctive thing,” English Professor Constance Fulmer said. “We’re afraid of the dark as children, and all of those things that make us afraid of the dark as children are carried over into adulthood and are important in literature because they call to mind all of those insecurities.” With the advent of electricity, people now survive and even thrive after the sun sets. Yet the majority of society has maintained the negative connotation of darkness. Many ancient stories are rooted in the idea that light is good and darkness is evil, and several sources also cited the Bible as a cause of the longstanding trope. When God declares, “Let there be light” in Genesis 1, light — not darkness — represents the beautiful, good and true. Communication Professor Roslyn Satchel, who is writing a book about beauty in darkness, described the Bible as “a different aesthetic” than that of today. In ancient times, people created a now inapplicable duality that presented darkness as negative. “If we engage in historical criticism, we can recognize that this was a metaphor they had to deal with to create a Gospel for the time, but it does not have to be the only metaphor we can use,” Satchel said. Satchel said the Pythagorean Table of Opposites — an ancient logic system used to educate the masses and help people simplify a complex world — associated light with good and darkness with evil. Later,
transcendentalism and the Enlightenment prompted people to embrace the European value of moving toward light. Sources also mentioned that when discussing light and darkness, race cannot be overlooked.
“All of those things that make us afraid of the dark as children are carried over into adulthood and are important in literature because they call to mind all of those insecurities.” - Constance Fulmer “When exploring ‘darkness,’ the notion of ‘whiteness’ and its resonance with the myth of white supremacy is tethered to that in the United States,” Carr wrote in a follow-up email. “One has to consider that. You have to.” Carr said African American authors such as Ralph Ellison and Toni Morrison explored how the concept of blackness is a social construct intended to uphold the idea of white supremacy in literature. This belief system had and continues to have tangible sociocultural consequences. Motivations and effects of maintaining traditional tropes Individuals’ attention spans are shorter than ever, and books and films have mere pages and seconds to captivate the audience. Carr said the motif of light and darkness serves as a
GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) Victor Flemming’s “Gone With the Wind” features Hattie McDaniel as the enslaved house servant Mammy, a common typecast role for African American actors. McDaniel’s portrayal won her an Oscar, making her the first African American to win the award.
shorthand to quickly symbolize an idea. “Stereotyping or flat characterization is often used in cinematic arts,” Carr wrote. “However, if representations were more even across all groups of people, including gender, we would not have a problem with shorthand, but shorthand is often at the expense of marginalized people, unfortunately.” Negative assumptions about darker skin tones can result in archetypes such as the mammy, often presented as an older, overweight African American woman who cares for white children, Carr said. This archetype can be seen in “Gone with the
Wind,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Help.” Senior media production major Kelsey Harmon said the media industry does not often flip metaphors. Unless the creator establishes the change from the beginning, the audience will expect light to signify good and darkness to signify bad. As a result, adhering to the tropes is easier and more common than deviating from them. “It’s not as hard to set up,” Harmon said. “You’re already halfway there.” Senior film studies major Orion Keen said contemporary cinema, especially romantic comedies and family movies, uses lighter tones because they are easier to advertise to a wider variety of age groups and earn more money. Similarly, Satchel said films that adhere to the traditional trope of light and darkness, such as “Star Wars,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and the Marvel series, are some of the highest-grossing films of all time. They reinforce what the audience wants to believe about light’s superiority to darkness. These universal truths related to light and the lack thereof are exceptionally effective in literature because they are more recognizable and relatable, Fulmer said. Light in literature In her English classes, Fulmer emphasizes how skilled writers employ tropes frequently. Authors use light and darkness to add depth and clarity to written works and to make the literal figurative. “It’s a mark of excellence —
what we call aesthetics — making things more beautiful, more meaningful, more accessible,” Fulmer said. Common techniques that authors use to convey tropes include the use of weather and shadows. Fulmer said the negative connotation of darkness is common in literature because the words and ideas writers use to exemplify darkness are usually built upon sinister moods and motives. The classic opening phrase, “It was a dark and stormy night,” inevitably leads to tension, especially in Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time.” Even in Charlotte Brontë’s widely-read “Jane Eyre,” the protagonist’s mood declines at night or during gloomy English weather, and her character blossoms during the day.
“If representations were more even across all groups of people, including gender, we would not have a problem with shorthand, but shorthand is often at the expense of marginalized people, unfortunately.” - Joi Carr Professor John Struloeff, director of creative writing, asks his students why respected literature is often somber. In doing so, he said he hopes they realize that the darkness of literature has a deeper purpose. “People who take seriously what they read want that work to also take life seriously,” Struloeff said.
ness with positivity, as Celie contemplates and changes her life while in a space with heavy shadows. A more extreme example of twisting the trope is Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” which associates light with negativity through the vampire’s aversion to sunlight and his threatening white fangs. Motifs in movies
DRACULA (1897) Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula” twists the traditional tropes by depicting light in a negative sense. Sunlight is dangerous, as it can dissolve the vampire, and the whiteness of his fangs instills a sense of fear.
Consider a book often incorporated into high school and college literature classes: “Night” by Elie Wiesel. Life, hope and God can seem absent when darkness arrives. Senior English literature major Connor Baldridge said the majority of culturally unifying stories could not exist without darkness, and sources agreed that unconventional literary works often establish darkness as calming. Darkness allows one’s body to rejuvenate. For instance, Carr said “The Color Purple” associates dark-
Leslie Kreiner Wilson, director of the MFA program in Writing for Screen and Television, said directors who utilize light and darkness symbolically must do so in a visually pleasing and easily understandable way. Keen said most films have a formulaic beginning, middle and end, so lighting is one way to distinguish them from one another. As a symbol, light serves to communicate ideas and influence the audience’s emotions. Wilson said “Schindler’s List” maintains the traditional trope of light and darkness. For example, when Stern holds up the completed list of Jews to be saved from concentration camps for Schindler to see and states, “The list is an absolute good. The list is life,” the list alone is illuminated. As Schindler examines the list, he steps from the darkness into the light. This conveys his character arch from swindler to savior. He initially takes advantage of Jewish factory workers to save money, but after realizing he has the ability to protect these individuals, he later lies to, bribes and manipulates Nazis for the greater good. One way to use light and darkness in film is to create high
contrast lighting — a technique often found in film noir. Carr said this separation represented the social conditions of a particular city that prevented residents from achieving a healthy sense of self. German expressionists used jagged lines and lighting to reflect citizens’ psychological state after World War I. “Darkness is usually used in contrast with light in film to explore contradiction or to explore psychological mood and tone — the contrast must be present
SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993) Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” upholds the conventional associations of light and darkness by physically lighting the list of Jews to be saved from concentration camps. During the scene when the list is completed, Schindler steps out of the darkness and into the light, conveying his contribution to the greater good.
in order to make a statement,” Carr wrote. Carr said common techniques in horror films include placing a light underneath the antagonist’s face to distort features, using a kicker light to surround characters with light or using high contrast lighting with low fill to create a line down the center of the face.
“When you tell stories that don’t try to paint things black or white, you get to a deeper reality about humanity, and I think that’s what all storytellers are trying to do.” - Valentine Douglas Senior film studies major Valentine Douglas said when both protagonists and antagonists have elements of light and darkness, the story is more interesting. Associating a character with light and then portraying them negatively or associating a character with darkness and then portraying them positively challenges viewers’ expectations and aids character development. “The Dark Knight,” for instance, challenges the audience’s preconceptions of the safety of light and darkness, Douglas said, because the Joker commits crimes during the day and Batman performs heroic actions during the night. Douglas said that although most viewers of comedy and romance films think they want a positive plot, conflict — which is associated with darkness —
is the essence of storytelling and makes a film engaging. “What you need to first do is deconstruct Hollywood expectations because Hollywood is built on ideas or stereotypes of who’s the hero and who’s not the hero,” Douglas said. Keen said that because reversing the audience’s expectations is so difficult, most filmmakers reveal the beauty of darkness very slowly. “It’s hard to completely flip it on its head because immediately when you show something dark, the audience is going to immediately think evil or something sinister,” Keen said. “... I think it’s difficult — and when filmmakers do achieve this, it’s incredible — to take something dark and make it immediately shown as light.” Satchel was unable to think of a mainstream example that portrays darkness as positive. That in itself is significant, she said.
is positive can have harmful qualities and what it assumes is negative can have redeeming qualities. “In the 21st century, we’ve gotten a lot more comfortable living in the gray,” Manning said. The live-action rendition of the 1959 film “Sleeping Beauty” reverses the traditional trope by making Maleficent the hero. In the original animated version,
Motivations and effects of changing traditional tropes Fulmer said associating darkness with positivity can be an attention-grabbing mechanism, a distinguishing style or a call to think more deeply about a subject. “[A reversal of traditional tropes reminds] me to not always go along with what everyone else says is right and actually think about it for myself,” said Phyllis Yu, a junior English literature major. Senior screen arts major Nicholas Manning said society is realizing that what it assumes
THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” turns traditional superhero imagery on its head, as a villain in white facepaint (the Joker) commits crimes during the day, while the hero, clad in black (Batman), fights crime at night.
SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959) Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” is a classic example of light equating goodness: Princess Aurora wears light colors, dances in sunbeams and performs only good deeds. The villain Maleficent wears black, lives in a dark castle and performs only evil deeds.
the good characters wear light colors, live in well-lit homes and do only good deeds; while the villain wears black, lives in darkness and does only evil deeds. “Maleficent” challenges this two-dimensional characterization, painting the dark fairy as a complex protagonist in spite of her shadowy past. Douglas said reversing longheld tropes and viewing light and darkness and good and evil as a spectrum rather than a binary is authentic, relatable and truth-revealing. “When you tell stories that don’t try to paint things black or white, you get to a deeper reality about humanity, and I think
that’s what all storytellers are trying to do,” Douglas said. Rather than perceiving darkness as negative or avoiding it altogether, Struloeff said one should perceive it as something that sustains humanity. Similarly, Carr wrote that although failing to recognize the beauty of darkness is common, “light without shadow is antithetical to the way in which we experience the world because shadows are always present — that is basic science.” Darkness also plays a key role in faith because the absence of light can foster reflection, growth, faith and hope. “Turning darkness into light also has a great deal of theological implications and embodies a problematic premise,” Carr wrote. Satchel echoed this sentiment, discussing the often misunderstood relationship between God and darkness. “We need to move on from the idea that God is missing in the darkness,” Satchel said. “We do not need to be afraid of the dark because God is in the dark. He is in the light and the dark, and we can’t have one without the other.” Satchel said that although conformity is often easier, viewing each other outside of the paradigm of light and dark and good and evil is the only way society can improve. “Understanding the beauty in darkness and blackness is central to deconstructing all things oppressive,” Satchel said. “If we get rid of the idea that what is dark is bad, ugly, fearful, evil, we can also start to think, ‘Those people are different, but
different doesn’t have to mean good or bad or right or wrong.’” Senior English literature major Caroline Sharp emphasized that reversing traditional motifs is important and requires society to examine the cause of such primitive beliefs. “If you become too embedded in a single trope, that’s the only way that you can think, so I think it’s good for people to see things from multiple perspectives,” Sharp said. “Seeing dark as something positive is a twist because you’re not expecting it, but I think it opens a lot of doors for possibilities in writing or symbolism or development that people don’t have access to if they’re just rooted in that one idea.”
MALEFICENT (2014) Robert Stromberg’s “Maleficent” flips the script on the Disney classic, portraying the dark fairy as a complex hero who saves the day in spite of her shadowed past.
By | Grace Wood Photo by | Milan Loiacono Flying down the ski slopes of Mount Alyeska is a typical December night activity for junior Carolyne Van Den Hoogen. Van Den Hoogen said she and her friends often spend their nights downhill skiing in almost complete darkness when at home in Girdwood, Alaska, for the winter. “Being active outside in the winter is very difficult,” Van Den Hoogen said. “People gain a lot of weight during the winter. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to downhill ski, that my parents would pay for a season pass for me.” Home to just over 2,000 people, Girdwood lies at 61 degrees north and 149 degrees west, which means the town can experience up to 20 hours of darkness during the winter. “I would go to school with kids with vitamin D deficiencies because there’s barely any sun,” Van Den Hoogen said. “It’s pitch black when you get to school, then the sun rises at 10:30 a.m. You get out of class at 3 p.m. and the sun is setting at 3:30 p.m. So I [didn’t] see the sunlight until the weekend.” Residents of Girdwood are exuberant when they see the sun for the first time after months of darkness. “If it’s a Saturday and it’s sunny, people will just be in a different mood,” Van Den Hoogen said. “It’s like, ‘This is the first time I’ve seen the sun in a month!’ There’s just a euphoric experience when you see the sun for the first time in a really long time.”
While Van Den Hoogen cherishes Malibu’s radiance, she reminisced fondly about Alaska’s gloom. “I definitely had a unique experience growing up,” Van Den Hoogen said. “It was just me and my dad in the house. He drove me to school and back every day in the darkness, and it was a 45-minute-long drive, so we got really close.” Van Den Hoogen said late nights in Alaska spent outside inspire her Malibu evenings. “It’ll be midnight and my friends and I will go on a hike and take lamps, or it’s so fun to go to the beach at night,” Van Den Hoogen said. “You can definitely take a random activity and make it extreme by doing it in the middle of the night.” At the end of the day, Van Den Hoogen said her passion for night skiing is what she loves most about returning to Girdwood. She said powder days (when blankets of fresh snow coat the mountain) make it hard to stop skiing when the day is done. “If it’s a powder day, we’ll ski all day and then continue on into the night,” Van Den Hoogen said. “Some days, I would ski for like 10 hours.” Van Den Hoogen said there is nothing quite like the feeling of barreling down Mount Alyeska in the twilight hours, carving out the snow while the cold Alaskan air rushes past her. “It’s just magical, you know?” Van Den Hoogen said.
By | Madeleine Carr Photos by | Milan Loiacono
In a land of perpetual sunshine, it’s not easy to avoid light. And most don’t want to. But for some, light harms, prompting or worsening conditions like migraines, malignant skin growths or joint pain to such an extent that retreating to darker surroundings is necessary for relief. Senior Veronica Lempert has experienced chronic migraines since she was 7, but after a surfing accident in high school, her migraines became a daily occurrence. Both natural and artificial forms of light cause or aggravate her migraines, which she experiences with auras — the presence of colors and shapes in one’s vision. “Light has always been really hard … ‘cause you can’t go out of commission,” Lempert said. “If you have a migraine every day, you don’t have an option to not be a person anymore. You have to go to school and use your phone and use your computer, and every day you have to learn how to cope with it.” Migraines Lempert isn’t alone; 85 to 90% of individuals with migraines experience photophobia, or light sensitivity, according to the American Headache Society. For Lempert, this means managing migraines easily prompted by the increased use of energy-efficient LED lights present in everything, from overhead lighting in classrooms
to the car headlights that flash in her eyes on her commute home. “When one of those [cars with LED headlights] comes at me, the odds I get a migraine are astronomical,” Lempert said. “Of course I want the planet to be saved and LED is amazing for that. But those kind of things you wrestle with.” Like Lempert, senior Hayley Swedal deals with frequent migraines — down from two to three times per week to about one every two weeks since starting a new prescription. Light triggers her migraines, as do factors like dehydration or stress. “Typically sunlight is OK, but flashing lights — like ... at concerts sometimes — that is really bad,” Swedal said. “I get an instant migraine from that or just artificial light in general.” In order to protect herself from these migraines, Swedal has had to make some sacrifices. “I haven’t been to a concert in like five years,” Swedal said. “There’s plenty I’d love to go to, but it’s not normally worth the pain.” Sunlight can also play a huge role in sparking or worsening migraine symptoms, presenting a challenge for those residing in Southern California. Senior Emma Mendakis, who experiences migraines most days of the month, said the sun can prompt migraines that last up to two weeks. Although there is no cure for migraines, one of the best
things for someone experiencing a migraine is actually submerging oneself in darkness, Lempert said. “[Darkness] is like a bath for your brain when you’re in a migraine,” Lempert said. Skin cancer Only 12% of the global population experiences migraines, according to the Migraine Research Foundation, but sunlight can pose a serious risk to everyone in the form of ultraviolet (UV) rays. “If you have skin, you can get skin cancer,” said Lisa Quale, health educator at the Skin Cancer Institute at University of Arizona. “Everybody can get it.” The sun emits multiple types of UV rays, Quale said. UVA and UVB rays are the ones that pose the greatest threat to skin. UVB tend to seep into the skin’s top layer, causing sunburn, whereas UVA travel deeper, making their way even through windows to tan the skin. “The burn [from UVB rays] feels worse, it feels more unhealthy, but a suntan is just as bad for your skin … on a different level,” Quale said. “It causes genetic mutations in your cells. You want to avoid both of them.” The effect of exposure to UV rays builds up over time and cannot be undone, Quale added. “Our cells are always repairing themselves … but they can’t fix it all perfectly,”
Quale said. “So you get little mutations in your cells and your DNA. Over the years, that damage may or may not lead to skin cancer, but the more you’re exposed to the sun, the more likely those cells are going to turn into skin cancer.” Living in sunny Arizona with a familial history of skin cancer, Pepperdine senior Chase Manson has become well-versed in the dangers the sun can pose. He was 6 when he had his first questionablehhmole removed. “We were always cautioned to wear sunscreen,” Manson said. “As a kid, I didn’t do that, and I learned that that’s not good.” People of all races can develop skin cancer when exposed to UV rays, Quale said. Some may have higher levels of melanin, the pigment that darkens skin and “creates a little umbrella over the top layer of your skin so that UV can’t get into the deeper [skin] layers,” but they are still susceptible to the effects of the rays. Quale said in many cases of skin cancer involving people of color, patients see melanoma show up in areas with less pigmentation, like the soles of their feet. She added that the “base tan” that many fairer individuals claim protects them from UV damage is actually the body’s visual cue that it is fighting this exposure through added melanin production. “Basically it’s saying, ‘A h! Stop doing what you’re doing. I’m having to darken to protect myself
from your behavior,’” Quale said. To avoid skin damage, Quale recommended wearing high-coverage clothing and sunglasses, wearing sunscreen of at least 30 SPF, staying in the shade when possible or even remaining inside for the peak sunlight hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Manson said he takes several precautions regarding sun exposure, especially after he had to have a mole that was on the brink of becoming melanoma removed from his ear. It was a more extensive operation than his earlier procedures and left a small scar. “I think people, particularly where I’m from, think that skin cancer affects people later in life, which it does,” Manson said. “The decisions you make now will impact the way that your skin looks now and down the line, but also be very cautious of what you do to yourself now because you can always put yourself at risk.” Lupus While some can see the effects of sun exposure in the form of sunburns or tans, for others, the effects lie under the surface. Forty to 70% of individuals with lupus, an autoimmune disease, experience photosensitivity, or a worsening of symptoms prompted by sun exposure, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. These symptoms can vary from person to person, depending on their type of lupus, said Lauren Metelski, health education nurse manager for the Lupus Foundation of America. Those with cutaneous lupus erythematosus — or lupus of the skin — may see physical changes to their skin, like a sunburn. Those with
systemic lupus erythematosus, which affects internal organs, may experience fatigue or other pain. “We think of the sun mostly as having the visual exposure like a sunburn or a reaction,” Metelski said. “But for people with lupus, it can activate the cells within the body as well … beyond just what is visible.” Sometimes, this UV exposure can trigger one’s lupus symptoms, Metelski said. Doctors and patients struggle to identify lupus because its symptoms vary from person to person and can mirror other illnesses. “[One individual] had what they thought was a sunburn after being in the sun for a vacation,” Metelski said. “But that sunburn never necessarily [went] away. Upon follow up with the physician and the dermatologist, that’s when they saw that it wasn’t necessarily a sunburn. … It was lupus.” Photosensitive lupus patients often take precautions such as heavy sunscreen usage or even placing special films over car and home windows to block UV rays, Metelski said. “People who are so photosensitive … a lot of them do live in darkness [of sorts],” Metelski said. In order to avoid triggering their lupus symptoms, some have to stay indoors at certain times of the day, Metelski said. But this sacrifice ultimately benefits the patients in the end, she said. “As a sun lover myself, that makes me really sad,” Metelski said. “But I know that for them that means having fewer symptoms. So that’s a good thing.”
By | Shea McCollum Art by | Savannah Welch
Now, there is only light, which emanates from the phone that sits on my bedside table and cuts through the dark room like a beacon, illuminating every curve of every piece of furniture, leaving nothing to the imagination, no dark corner left untouched nor shadow unexplored. I squint against the light as I pick up my phone to read the disembodied words of friends, whose voices Iâ€™ve nearly forgotten. In my hand, I hold this world turned digital, where sand feels the same as grass, where I have become an observer of how other people live, scrolling from light to light with one finger, until Iâ€™m no longer able to discern where this other world ends and my own begins, until the room around me starts to fall away, the distant hallway, my desk, my bed, until there is only me alone, sitting in a halo of blue light.
By | Vernie Covarrubias Photo by | Milan Loiacono
To put it simply, Dark Maps track light pollution. In this artistic rendition, the dots are â€˜bright spots:â€™ concentrated centers of light pollution usually denoting big cities. The lines radiate from these points much like a topographic map, tracking levels of light pollution as they fan across the country. Maps like this one help photographers and avid stargazers navigate polluted zones and search for an unmarred sky.
On Jan. 17, 1994, Los Angeles went dark. The Northridge earthquake caused a mass power outage — 625,000 households lost power, hundreds of fires broke out and approximately 2 million Angelenos had the opportunity, many for the first time in their lives, to see the Milky Way. The quake hit at 4:30 a.m. Residents walked out to their lightless streets and saw a sky full of stars. Griffith Observatory and the Los Angeles Police Department later reported instances of concerned residents calling to ask about a ‘giant, silvery cloud’ in the sky, according to Phys.org. “People didn’t realize that there were stars in the sky,” said Physics Professor Gerard Fasel, who teaches astronomy. “So that should tell you something about what light pollution does.” Light pollution is the excess use of light from street lamps, commercial properties, advertising, sports venues and other forms of internal or external lighting, according to the International Dark Sky Association (IDA). Across the globe, 80% of the world’s population lives under a skyglow that obstructs the ability
to see the stars, according to the IDA. “The night sky is beautiful,” Fasel said. “There’s a certain ambiance with the dark, night sky. But with light pollution, we lose that.” Fasel said light pollution negatively impacts his ability to study the night sky. “[Light pollution] affects data,” Fasel said. “So the light scatters and gets into the sky. For observatories that are looking at the sky, it has an effect on what you can see — it inhibits it.” Encroachment on the environment The biological activities of wildlife have depended on the rhythms of night and day for billions of years. With the advent of artificial light, humans have disrupted nature’s cycles. “Light pollution shapes habitats in the same way that, say, the construction of a road will,” said Ariel Simons, an environmental biology student at the University of Southern California. “A road will chop up a habitat. ... Light can do the same.” Light pollution threatens sea
turtles the most out of all species, according to the IDA. Mother sea turtles must find dark, natural beaches to lay their eggs. Hatchling sea turtles have evolved to look for bright horizon lines over the ocean to direct them into their final destination: the sea. Rather than finding the safety of the ocean, hatchling sea turtles are often led toward brightly lit roads, cities and, ultimately, their deaths. The IDA reported that millions of hatchling sea turtles die every year due to the impact of light pollution. Simons said in other cases, species adapt to the harsh conditions. “For example, if you’re a mountain lion and you survived [the effects of human interference], you’re going to quickly learn to avoid really loud or bright areas,” Simons said. Light pollution disrupts the activities of almost all nocturnal animals, according to the National Park Service. Predatory animals need the dark to hunt, while other animals need it to avoid their predators. There are measures humans can take to lessen the effects of
light pollution on wildlife. For example, Fasel said sodium lights, which are not as bright as the more commonly used LED lights, are becoming increasingly popular around observatories. Cities are redesigning their street lights to point downward, redirecting excess light away from the sky. Similarly, Pepperdine switched from globe lights, which projected light in 360 degrees, to downward-angled lights, said Lee Kats, biology professor and vice provost for research and strategic initiatives. Impact on human health Like animals, humans rely on a circadian rhythm that tells them when to sleep. Human bodies produce the hormone melatonin to help them fall asleep. Better sleep strengthens the immune system, according to the IDA. Constant use of artificial light sources disrupts this rhythm and the production of melatonin, leading to less sleep. Fasel said light pollution has a resonating impact on the mental health of humans as well. “To me, the light pollution is
not only about diminishing what we can see in the sky but also about a sense of well-being,” Fasel said. “Having it is like having all this noise. You see all these lights? It’s not a time where you can meditate and be quiet.” In the midst of a busy city, the light takes away from a greater sense of understanding, which can impact people in various ways, Fasel said. “People are not aware of the universe that surrounds them because we have all this noise that goes out there and basically washes it out,” Fasel said. Junior Rae Williams grew up on a farm in southwest Missouri, where the light from the nearest cities did not impact sky visibility. “At times, [my grandparents and I] would go out and try to find the Big and Little Dipper,” Williams said. “Now that my grandfather has passed, even when I’m out [here in Malibu], I can still go and find the Big and Little Dipper and it makes me feel close to him in some way.” Williams said growing up being able to see the stars has shaped her outlook on life. “You lose a lot of your surroundings and the environment that was
created for you when you move into an urbanized area,” Williams said. “It has made me consider whether or not I do want to live in a big city because you’re missing out on the world that was created for us and all there is to it.” To some, light pollution is a part of daily life. Senior Ben Chiang grew up in Hong Kong, reportedly the worst city for light pollution on the planet, according to the South China Morning Post. Chiang described his first time seeing the night sky without light pollution as an amazing experience. “Not only were all the stars visible, I could also see planets,” Chiang wrote in an email. “The more you begin to look, the more there appear to be. It was an endless experience.” Fasel, who regularly makes trips away from the skyglow of Malibu to less polluted areas in the north, expressed a similar sentiment. “There’s this sort of peace that permeates through the darkness,” Fasel said. Mary Margaret Davis contributed to the reporting in this piece.
Arches National Park, UT
By | Milan Loiacono At night, a camera is blind. It faces the inky darkness of a pitchblack sky or the stark contrast of city lights and struggles to focus, let alone choose an exposure. “Auto” is useless. Night photography is thus a test of a photographer; they must know how to set a shutter speed for several minutes, how to freeze the motion of stars in the sky, how to ‘paint in’ the foreground with a flashlight or how to manually focus on a subject that is almost invisible to the naked eye. More often than not, these shoots require hiking in the dark with backpacks of expensive gear, sitting for hours in freezing nighttime temperatures and taking precautions in case nocturnal neighbors get a little too curious. So why do it? Because there is nothing like watching the Milky Way float across the sky at 2 a.m. Despite all of the science humans have to explain the night sky, the awe never fades. Photography is a way to capture that feeling, immortalizing the same stars that have guided sailors, inspired myths and watched over the restless for thousands of years. The following pages showcase night photography from around the globe, from the darkest zones to the brightest hot spots. 28
Arches National Park, UT
Emerald Bay, CA
West Shore Lake Tahoe, CA 30
Arches National Park, UT
Lake Tahoe, CA 31
Goosenecks State Park, UT
By | Jillian Johnson Photo by | Milan Loiacono As the sun sets on a long day of graduate school and internships, Marina Sangit settles in with her favorite notebook and her bullet journal. She writes poems and short stories, journals and draws. “I think some of my best creative writing — which is one of my coping mechanisms and my outlets — is when I’m by myself at night,” Sangit said. Sangit is a graduate student at the School of Public Policy, a Seaver Student Affairs intern for health, wellness and resilience, the president of the International City Management Association, and an intern for the county and California Democratic Assemblymember Shirley Weber. Sangit said she carves out time to care for her own interests and well-being after typical working hours. “I think the evening time is quieter,” Sangit said. “And with the nature of my roles, I have to engage with so many people and so many students, so it can be hard to have that really necessary alone time where I can reflect and decompress and be with my feelings.” Sangit said she began using her nights to be creative when she start-
ed writing at age 8. “I was the type of girl who would have to hide reading books at night from her parents,” Sangit said. “I think I’ve always been, by nature, sort of drawn to being creative in the evening.” Sangit’s desire for a creative and therapeutic evening is in part due to her family dynamic. “When I was younger, my parents would work night shifts because they are nurses,” Sangit said. “So I had to do something to entertain myself.” As she has grown up, Sangit said this habit has become more frequent. “I’ve started [writing] a lot more now that my days have been so saturated with just being my professional self, and at night I can just kinda be my nonprofessional self,” Sangit said. Sangit said it has taken her a while to figure out how to balance self-care and creative writing with the demands of everyday life. “Sometimes [school] can overshadow the importance of taking care of the things that feed your spirit,” Sangit said. “I think school can feed your spirit, but there are other more important ways that you can feed the soup for your soul.”
By | Lindsey Sullivan Photos by | Milan Loiacono
Fashion designer Juan Marco Torres For centuries, color has played an important role in clothing’s power to convey political symbols, personal messages and social statuses. Color also represents a collective sentiment in clothing’s ability to tell stories, said Juan Marco Torres, a senior and aspiring fashion designer. “Fashion is very powerful; it represents how people look at you,” Torres said. “I think people should be more aware and educate themselves on the messages that are being portrayed by the outfits that they put on.” The meaning of colors in fashion changes along with the trends, Torres said. Being aware of the current perception of color in fashion can provide insight into the messages one is sending to society. Black versus white Throughout history, people have worn black and white to make specific statements. People living in England’s Victorian Era wore black dresses, veils and bonnets to funeral processions, popularizing black as a symbol of mourning. This symbolism eventually found its way beyond England to greater Europe and America,
Pre-med students Annie Kump and Audrey Keim
Delta Sigma Pi members Léna Nagy and Clare Costa
where black is still traditionally worn for funerals. Today, black clothing has expanded to symbolize more than grieving. “It is a very specific attitude that someone is trying to portray with an all-black outfit because it is the canceling of all colors,” Torres said. “When you direct light into a prism, you don’t see black because that is not in the rainbow. Black is the absence of light, the absence of color.” An all-black outfit can be a statement of uniformity in the workplace, Torres said. “Black is ‘let’s get to work’ fashion,” Torres said. “Black can also mean not standing out. It can be a uniform of blending in.” An all-white outfit, however, is a way for individuals to stand out regardless of the setting, Torres said. “[White] is like saying, ‘Here I am,’” Torres said. “It’s a clean canvas because you’re reflecting light to everyone.”
Traditionally, black and other neutral colors like gray and navy blue are worn to maintain an air of professionalism, senior Audrey Keim said. She learned this while interviewing for medical school. “You pretty much have to wear a full suit or a long skirt if you are a woman — or long pants,” Keim said. “They tell you no bright colors, no patterns. You want to stick to navy, gray and black.” The attire for interviews is strict to avoid drawing attention to the clothes and away from the applicant, Keim said. “You don’t really want to take liberty with your fashion and have them look poorly on something you have chosen to wear,” Keim said. Junior Clare Costa, member of business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi, said she also has tried to blend in during business occasions. “You have to be careful because you don’t want to stand out too much,” Costa said. “In the business fraternity, they tell you to steer clear of anything that is going to make too much noise.” Black is used often in business wear because it is associated with classiness, Costa said. “Black is just a staple,” Costa said. “I don’t think it’s ever not going to be a staple.”
Business and professionalism Color can communicate a very different message in business and professional settings than it does in others.
Delta Gamma members Erika Hoang and Nina Hind
Pi Beta Phi members McKenna Ethington and Kitty Campbell
Fashion designer Oore Okediji
Standards for professionalism can also vary in different regions of the country. “On the East Coast, it is very much traditional when it comes to color,” Costa said. “On the West Coast, in California in particular, it is a bit more casual when it comes to business wear, so you will see people wearing more colorful things, more printed things.”
ing atmosphere that Pi Phi hopes to provide for members and is associated with the sorority’s unofficial symbol, an angel, Ethington said. Ethington also acknowledged a common perception of white that Pi Phi would like to avoid. “I don’t think it is the concept of purity, which white often represents,” Ethington said. “I think purity puts women on a pedestal and really perpetuates some stereotypes that we don’t want.” Delta Gamma’s members traditionally wear black for preference night, said Erika Hoang, vice president of membership and head of recruitment. “The reason why we wear black is to carry on the tradition that other members have set before us,” Hoang said. During such a heartfelt ceremony, members of DG want to create an intimate setting that focuses on the message rather than the clothing, Hoang said. “Black is just less of a distraction from the message that is being communicated that night,” Hoang said. “Wearing black and the entire setting being black allows everything to fade into the background and the message to be really clear.”
Culture as inspiration
Social organizations The color of one’s clothing can represent uniformity for social groups with a collective vision. Pi Beta Phi members traditionally wear white for sorority events such as preference night, the final night of the rush process where prospective members decide which sorority they will join. “I think [wearing white] on pref night just gives the girls more of a window into Pi Phi because we wear those colors already,” Pi Phi President McKenna Ethington said. “And it’s practical; everyone has something that is white, and we are all supposed to match.” White enhances the refresh-
Junior Oore Okediji, who moved from Nigeria when she was 15, is currently curating her own fashion brand inspired by African colors and prints. The brand, an online Shopify store, is called ‘Sisimerin’ — a Nigerian slang term that means ‘four girls,’ Okediji said. She thought of the name because she started the website with the help of her three sisters. Okediji said she draws inspiration from African colors and prints but would ultimately describe her brand as feminine and versatile. “African fashion is very bold, very extra,” Okediji said. “You would probably expect a Nigerian to be the best dressed or the most loudly dressed.” African fashion often uses bright colors such as green, yellow, red and purple, earthy tones such as brown, and geometric, floral and tribal patterns, Okediji said. “It’s just a big part of myself, my culture,” Okediji said. “I feel like it would have been impossible for the things on my website not to be inspired by it.”
By | Kaelin Mendez Art by | Bethany Wilson
People have always been drawn to the sky. “The stars, the peacefulness, the beauty,” Physics Professor Gerard Fasel said. “It makes you marvel, it makes you wonder. That’s what the night sky does for me.” Cultures around the world have developed different interpretations of celestial bodies, crafting intricate myths and stories to explain the sun, moon and stars. In the modern world, however, these stories sometimes become muddled from one generation to the next. Pepperdine faculty and students recounted stories they learned from their ancestors or their studies, detailing various cultures’ perceptions of the sky. Ancient Greco-Roman myths and constellations The ancient Greeks and Romans found patterns in the stars and created stories to explain them, said Humanities Professor Philip Freeman, who has published research on the mythologies of these two cultures. One such pattern is the Big Dipper. “They called the Big Dipper ‘Ursa Major’ — the big bear — which is, I know, also done in some Native American cultures,” Freeman said. “It’s the bear that goes around [the North Star] and stays in the sky all the time.”
When teaching astronomy, Fasel attempts to cultivate an awareness of the universe in light of a disconnect he believes exists between people today and the sky. “A lot of people don’t realize when they take the class that the moon is up during the day,” he said. Fasel and his students go out at night to Deer Creek Road in Malibu and find a dark space to look at the stars. “It’s hard to see patterns in the sky, and so I try to get my students to relax and just basically gaze up into the sky and take everything in and see if they can see different things,” he said. Students in his class research and present on Greek and Roman celestial mythology while under the constellations they are discussing. “There’s Boötes,” Fasel said about one such constellation. “He herds the bears around the pole.” Scorpius and Orion are two of the more wellknown constellations. “You never see Scorpius and Orion in the same night sky because they had had some problems,” Fasel said, referring to how the scorpion killed Orion, a great hunter. People of ancient civilizations would turn to the sky for answers to their questions about life. “Their view of the universe is much different than ours, and I think there’s a lot of wonderment about death and life,” he said. “And when they let their imaginations go, they saw these different entities up there.” The northern lights Junior Carolyne Van Den Hoogen, from Girdwood, Alaska, can see the northern lights from her backyard. She recalled seeing them for the first time on New Year’s Eve when she was 17 years old. “We went out to our back meadow to watch this fireworks show that our ski resort was putting on, and we were going to take photos,” Van Den Hoogen said. “My sister was like, ‘Oh my God, wait. Look, there’s the northern lights.’ And I’m like, ‘Man, Mother Nature’s giving us a fireworks show of her own.’ It was so cool.” She said people in her community inform each other when the phenomenon is visible. “There is an email chain or a text chain where people will be like, ‘The northern lights are out right now,’” she said. “And then they’ll all meet at this specific spot on the highway near my
house to go view the northern lights.” Fasel explained what causes the phenomenon, otherwise known as the aurora borealis. “These lights are basically produced by the interaction of the sun’s wind with the Earth’s magnetic field,” he said. “There’s a transfer of energy, and that energy manifests itself in the aurora.” For Van Den Hoogen, such a phenomenon is just a normal part of her home life. “I feel very lucky to have seen them and been in a place where that’s a regular occurrence,” she said. Romantic Chinese moon Junior Yinjie Zhai from Shanghai, China, said urban stargazing is nearly impossible. “I would say it’s a little ironic for people living in Shanghai to tell ... stories about stars,” Zhai said. “You can never see stars in Shanghai because of the light pollution.” Instead, his grandparents passed down stories about the moon and sun to him. One story tells of why there is only one sun in the sky. Originally, there were 10, with each sun bringing light to the Earth. “But there’s one time that they run out together to hang out together,” Zhai said. “So everything was dry and dying.” In order to save the world from suffering, an archer named Hou Yi shot down nine of the suns. “There’s only one sun for us now,” Zhai said. There are many different stories about how the moon came to be. In the one Zhai grew up with, Hou Yi’s wife, Chang’e, accidentally took a pill and floated up to the moon. Now, people can still see Chang’e in the shadows created by the moon’s craters. “From ancient times, when people would see those shadows, they would think about the figure; it looks like a woman,” Zhai said. “So they think maybe that’s the woman who rose to the moon.”
To commemorate this story, the Chinese celebrate the Moon Festival, also called the Mid-Autumn Festival. During this time, the moon represents reunion, Zhai said. “No matter how busy they are, everyone needs to come to the table,” he said. The Chinese connection to the moon carried over into Chinese arts. The ideas of romanticism and wisdom are often paired with the moon in Chinese culture and expressed in ancient Chinese poems. Zhai said ancient poets would drink alcohol in order to be more in tune with their emotions, drawing inspiration for their poems from the moon. Similar to African cultures, the Chinese used the sky to tell time, and they are one of many cultures that follow a lunar calendar instead of a solar calendar. “The lunar calendar — it helps a lot for peo-
ple, especially farmers, to calculate when it’s the time to spread all the seeds and when it’s the time to harvest,” Zhai said. Chumash astronomy The Chumash people once lived in and around the land that is now Malibu. They saw more stars than Malibu residents can see today. Health policy professional Sabine Talaugon is the granddaughter of Joe Talaugon, a Chumash elder. She talked about when surveyor Rex SaintOnge sought out her grandfather’s help in determining whether a carving in a tree was a Chumash arborglyph. Along with Curator of Anthropology John Johnson from the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, they were able to determine that it was a Chumash arborglyph and was most likely used by ‘alchuklash — Chumash astronomers — in order to track the Big Dipper and the sun for ceremonial times, Sabine Talaugon said. She went on to help her grandfather with the project for a couple of years by “letting the public know that indigenous people didn’t need colonization to have intellectual lives and create very important knowledge that is still relevant today.” Sabine Talaugon said there’s a push to acknowledge indigenous sciences as legitimate discovery and not as something to be overlooked simply because they do not follow the same approaches as Western sciences. “These are different structures, etchings, paintings and so on [that] the indigenous people used to keep track of their year,” Sabine Talaugon said. “... [They] have ceremony and story at those particular times of the year as part of their culture and as part of their livelihood.” One example of these stories and ceremonies occurred during the winter solstice — the Chumash New Year — when the moon appeared to be the farthest away from the earth. According to a Chumash story, Old Man Sun, representing destruction, beat Sky Coyote, representing creative energy, at peon — a Chumash gambling game. Sabine Talaugon said Old Man Sun’s bet was that he would
leave the sky, bringing destruction to the world. Spiritual and political leaders held a ceremony every winter solstice in order to work together to “pull back the sun” so that it wouldn’t leave them, Sabine Talaugon said. “That’s consistent with the reality of winter solstice,” she said. “It’s the shortest day of the year.” Zimbabwean harvests Senior Tinashe Nyamupingidza was unaware of any stories from her country of Zimbabwe that discussed the night sky, so she reached out to her grandmother. “The one thing she told me was about the new moon and how in Shona, which is the language that we speak, it’s called ‘mwedzi wagara,’” Nyamupingidza said. She translated her grandmother’s message from Shona to English. “The [new] moon would go down with all the evil and all the bad things, and then it would be a new season, a new day,” Nyamupingidza said. The new moon would also usher in a new harvest. “We don’t really import any food or vegetables,” she said. “I feel like in America, you have food all year round, but back home, it’s seasonal.” The sun and moon also act as an alarm clock for the farmers of Zimbabwe. “At 4 a.m., whenever the sun comes up, it’s a sign that they need to start going to plant and sow and reap,” Nyamupingidza said.
Hindus also believe that certain constellations in the sky, depending on the time of the year, inhibit some people’s productivity and luck. There are also certain mischievous celestial gods, such as Pluto and Mars, who negatively interfere with people’s lives, Sriramoju said. “They’re just normal, celestial, superior beings who have negative characteristics,” she said. “That’s it. They’re not bad.” Sriramoju said the gods of the sky are male and the sun god, who is the father of the planets, rides a chariot across the sky. In order to interpret these celestial bodies, Hindus consult the Vedas, or Hindu texts. Using the Vedas’ knowledge of stars, astronomers built large instruments to find the location of the moon, sun and constellations to make charting one’s constellation map easier, Sriramoju said. “They’re going to map out the whole universe outside you, and then they’ll write your story,” she said.
Hindu constellation maps In Hinduism, there are 27 possible constellations that one can be born under. These celestial alignments are said to reveal everything about a person. “They’ll be like, ‘This is going to be your personality. This is going to be what she likes. This is going to be her favorite color,’” said Sanskriti Sriramoju, a junior from Southeast India. People use constellation maps to find the right time to make important decisions and to see if a couple is compatible for marriage. “They’re going to look at your constellations, my constellations and the constellations of the time [of the event],” Sriramoju said.
By | Maria Belen Iturralde Photo by | Milan Loiacono Jaibir Nihal Singh refuses to conform. The senior media production major follows a schedule that most would deem unusual. For him, productive days don’t start until well into the night. Society, however, has made him hyper-aware of the unconventional nature of his habits. “Society needs to stop judging people who sleep in and sleep late,” Nihal Singh said. “The social stigma has to change. I think it will.” On a regular day, Nihal Singh starts doing homework around 11 p.m. and is typically done by 2 a.m. He attributed his sleeping habits to his upbringing and his current line of work. Nihal Singh grew up in India, the son of parents with careers in the country’s booming entertainment industry. He inherited a passion for production, which he is currently pursuing through his studies at Pepperdine and a plethora of independent projects, including a video podcast series he recently launched with two other students. Creative individuals, Nihal Singh said, tend to be more productive at night. Without distractions and inhibitions, their creativity flows unhindered. “If you look at major writers, they all do the major parts of their writing at night because that’s when [one is] most creative,” he said. “I think it’s a lot about light and dark; it sets the mood. When it’s darker, you feel like you have less inhibitions.” India, a former part of the British Empire, owes much of its cultural habits to its British colonizers. Average meal times, Nihal Singh said, are 9 a.m. for breakfast, 2 p.m. for lunch and 9 p.m. for dinner, with an interlude for the characteristically British afternoon “supper.”
In the U.S., average meal schedules typically end in a 6 p.m. dinner. India’s later meal times lead to more nocturnal lifestyles, as days do not officially end until well into the night. “In a way, times are cultural, but productivity depends on the individual,” Nihal Singh said. American society tends to romanticize early risers, venerating those who rise before the sun but failing to recognize the plethora of “greats” — Winston Churchill, J.R.R. Tolkien, Prince, to name a few — known to have been completely nocturnal. Nihal Singh said he acknowledges that in America staying up late and sleeping in are seen as signs of laziness. However, he entertains the idea of changing these stereotypes. “It’s also [about] social pressures,” he said. “But there are so many examples of major CEOs all around the world who wake up late and still get the same amount of hours in. I think it depends from person to person.” Coming to America, Nihal Singh said he has rarely found people who share his habits, but he stands firmly by the idea that productivity is not one-size-fits-all. “I know this major CEO back home who runs his office at night because he thinks that some people are most productive at night,” Nihal Singh said. “His company is now doing better.” Nihal Singh referred to one of his American housemates to illustrate this idea. “He regularly sleeps at 10 p.m.,” Nihal Singh said between laughs. “I start studying at 10 p.m. Maybe he should be feeling guilty that he’s sleeping and I’m working.”
By | Annabella Nordlund Art by | Anastassia Kostin Wisps of sunlight smothered like flames; Swallowed up by hungry mountains. A funny game to play; Silhouettes and shadows vanish. While sight becomes useless, Thought gains its purpose. No light is shed on this mess, So we can finally focus. Momentary troubles like landfills Disappear for the night. Thrills, kills and pills, Disintegrate until dawn. Darkness is a sanctuary, A welcoming place for all that goes unspoken. It illuminates the vulnerable, And breaks daytime facades. No light lets us be real; The dark gives young blood time to heal.
By | Savannah Welch Art by | Jordan Smith
Music has the ability to elicit a wide spectrum of emotions. It can create suspense in a film scene. Evoke nostalgia from a middle school dance. Help someone cry through their first heartbreak. Music as an art form is an experience, a mood, a feeling. Musical styles express various degrees of light and dark, playing on tension between the two to convey particular messages and provoke emotional responses. Generally, pop or acoustic music is associated with light, and metal or hard rock music with darkness. Tonal contrast and varying instruments stir up different feel-
ings for listeners, while the lyrics give meaning to the music itself. “I think it’s visceral,” said Sam Parmelee, Songfest director and composer. “Physiologically, [our eyes] were made to perceive light. … We don’t even have to intentionally find light and darkness. I think we are absolutely drawn to it and if somebody, a creator in art, is good at what they’re doing, they can use that to tell stories, they can use that to express emotion, they can use that to highlight what we should be paying attention to or not paying attention to. And I don’t find that to be manipulative; I find that to be a beautiful, beautiful thing. That’s what gives us art.”
Lighter sounds create entirely different feelings than darker tones. Songs like Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” or the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” communicate ideas with lighthearted beats and lyrics, whereas Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” or the Eagles’ “Desperado” play on slower tempos and melancholy lyrics to convey darker themes. Chords signal mood A major chord, made up of the first, third and fifth notes of a scale, sounds much brighter than a minor chord, which is often described as having a sadder, more ominous tone. Suspended and
diminished chords omit certain notes and add others, acting as transitions and contributing color and tension to the sound of a song. These chord progressions add flair and drama to a piece of music, playing upon dark and light tones to create mixed resonance, or vibration of sound, in music.
“[Composers] tend to work within these very established codes,” Screen Arts Professor David Madden said. “Happiness would be implied by using major types of chord arrangements… Darker things are usually conveyed in minor expressions. Also thinking in terms of instrumentation, in this way they tend to be communicated and performed in often highly technologized ways — in other words, using synthesizers or computers.” Music is a mobile and highly emotive art form, as its universal understanding allows it to reach a broad audience. Composers use particular tones to enliven and bring out different emotional qualities in people. Music major Emma Ujifusa noted that this variability in interpretation can create a certain gray area in how light and dark are perceived in music. “The purpose and intention of a piece is entirely up to the
interpretation of the performer,” she said. “It’s important to consider why a chord makes you feel a certain way — such as asking why a major chord makes me feel happy while a suspension or diminished chord makes me feel this tension.” The narrative noise
Thematic elements of light and dark develop like story plot lines — a series of notes bound together much like the words and pages of a book. Music is subjective, said David Kellogg, KWVS Radio director of operations. Human beings are taught that there are good and bad in every story, and light wins over dark. Kellogg said there’s no formula for storytelling in music, as its narrative framework ebbs and flows, lacking any static structure. Music is not defined by a definitive beginning and end; people often meditate on a song long after it’s finished playing. While music holds certain levels of meaning, individuals can draw other conclusions from listening to a song. “Light and dark in terms of music is experiential,” Kellogg said. “It’s alive and it changes from moment to moment year to year ... and it’s totally unique from person to person as well.” In some ways, darker storylines have a stronger resonance with listeners. Senior Noah Racey wrote in an email that the superficial connotations of light versus dark don’t always reflect reality. “For people who aren’t in the best place mentally or spiritually, bright and happy songs become
alienating — they don’t reflect an experience that is true to life,” he wrote. “In a sense, darker thematic content in music is ‘more true’ than light thematic content. You see the irony there? In this case, it’s light music that’s obscuring something in the shadows and dark music that’s bringing the truth into the light.” Racey wrote that the styling of songs can be used to manipulate previous expectations of light and dark. He referenced Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks,” questioning why there wasn’t more controversy over a song that describes a school shooting. “Maybe we weren’t so sensitive to the gravity of the issue at the time,” he wrote. “Or maybe people just didn’t realize what they were listening to. Either way, I think it was a brilliant artistic decision to draw people into a false sense of security with a catchy pop tune only for them to slowly realize what the lyrics of the song were actually about.”
Artists develop these themes during the songwriting process, manipulating and transforming light and dark conventions to create new pieces of music. Malibu Pacific Worship Leader Dillon Nelson referenced musician Jon Foreman’s analogy as a reflection of his own songwriting experience.
“Songwriting is like being an archaeologist,” he said. “You go around every day with a shovel and dig. ... Every once in a while, you come across a lost city. Going back, darkness being uncertainty, not knowing what you’ll find, versus light sorta being that ‘aha’ moment of certainty.” Nelson said he typically writes in times of darkness, exploring different emotions and ideas in his search for clarity. He uses songwriting as a means of bringing attention to certain emotions or issues. “When I write songs, usually it’s because I have a question,” he said. Ideas and emotions become more transparent as he writes. There is fear in the darkness, Nelson said, but writing and performing music is like turning on a lightbulb. “Through that songwriting process, I kind of bring these issues to life more. … A perspective that you once had might be completely different from when you stopped playing that song or listening to a song. There’s this actual change that happens, or light, clarity.” Parmelee also reflected on how he navigates the tension between light and dark when composing music. “When you want to have somebody who can have these moments of light, you might start to have them build,” he said. “There are little glimmers in what’s otherwise darkness, and then they develop. … Several minutes in, you’re moving towards this amazing, ecstatic, uplifting experience that comes from this, you know, sort of climax or crescendo that you reach that you wouldn’t have felt if you wouldn’t have started in darkness.”
Synesthesia: Seeing sounds Music has a variety of different textures, layers and tonal qualities, making it a complex medium that can be difficult to describe. But what if music were visual? While most people are limited to interpreting music in an auditory sense, people with synesthesia have the ability to perceive music visually. Synesthesia is a perceptual phenomenon that blends two or
more senses. For DBMK band member Kyle Knudsen, this means that sounds have color, taste and sometimes texture. Knudsen said he has had synesthesia as long as he can remember but thinks that it has become more sensitive due to working in music. “It’s often an asset ... but as someone that is interested in the creation of music, it ... certainly dictates decisions in the creative process, which I’m trying to learn how to let go of. Because sometimes I feel as though I might close myself off to certain decisions just based on trying to maintain some sort of, like, static in the color palette.” Knudsen explained that for him, different genres of music spark specific colors. He described organic sounds, such as acoustic or slower Americana styles, as having dimmer earth
tones and softer pastels. Jazz triggers purple and deep blue tones. Heavier rock consists of reds, pinks and browns. Latin pop has red and purple sensations, and pop music comes across as yellow and pink. The dynamics, energy, tonal and harmonic characteristics of a piece determine how bright Knudsen’s perception of the color is. For example, a loud concert will be more vibrant than music played in a small room. When discussing how themes of light and dark contribute to a piece of music, Knudsen said tension is the push and pull between light and dark. Although drastically different on the surface, two genres that express this contrast dynamically are classical music and electronic dance music (EDM). “When you’re talking about the experience of the two genres, they’re inherently the same,” he said. “It’s that there’s two ideas shaking hands. One’s just made through computer programming and sequencing and the other is made through doing the same exact thing but it’s written on paper.” Knudsen said the tension between light and dark comes from a search for satisfaction — the contentment that arises once the conflict in a song has resolved itself. “The release, of course, is that satisfaction,” he said. “The tension is gone and it’s like, ‘Oh yes, we’ve arrived.’” Milan Loiacono contributed to the reporting in this piece.
SCAN HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SONGS MENTIONED IN THIS STORY.
By | Lindsey Sullivan Photo by | Milan Loiacono DJ, music producer, music engineer and junior Rowland Evans lives most of his creative life in the dark. Evans, who began working as a DJ when he was 12, now focuses on producing electronic and house music. “Once you get a good idea, you’re not leaving it,” Evans said. “There is something really romantic about staying up late and working on something that you’re really passionate about. It just adds to the story of whatever you’re working on.” Evans is currently making music with pop producer DallasK, who has produced songs like “Work from Home” by Fifth Harmony and Ty Dolla $ign. Working in the music industry can be straining on someone who is also a full-time student, so Evans has learned to make time in his schedule for exploring his creative endeavors. “I used to DJ every night, but now I have a lot more responsibility and I just can’t be tired all day,” Evans said. “So I have to be strategic. I’m kind of like a planned night owl, or a night owl that has good time-management skills.” Evans reserves most of his long-night creative efforts for the weekends when school is less of a distraction. “It’s really tough to be creative
when other things are bothering you,” Evans said. “Like 0.5% of ideas ... end up working out, and it’s really hard to get to that 0.5% if you’re worried about homework or some test you have tomorrow.” Being easily impassioned is a quality that has helped Evans continue to create music despite the challenges it may bring. “I will hear something and think, ‘Oh this is a game-changer!’ and it’s really not,” Evans said. “But I believe it is, and that’s important, and that’s what it takes for me to work several hours on it.” Evans provided an uplifting message to encourage others who might be interested in pursuing a creative path. “To the kids who are starting to think about making music, realize that it is a tremendous grind to make anything cool but it’s so worth it,” Evans said. For many who make music, the night is when creativity comes alive. Studio sessions can last until 4 a.m. if he is feeling inspired, Evans said. “It’s not unusual in studio sessions to be going late at night,” Evans said. “We’re just all kind of no-lives that want to make cool sounds or are willing to sleep poorly because of it.” To listen to Evans’ music, visit Spotify, Soundcloud or YouTube under the name Rowland Evans.
By | Brianna Willis Photos by | Milan Loiacono
Editor’s note: The ability to write one’s own story is a luxury. Society often tries to wrestle the pen away, dictating a narrative that is rarely accurate and often damaging. The incredible women pictured throughout this story — Peace Ikeduba, Olivia Robinson and Heavin Hunter-Hernandez — took back the pen to define for themselves who they are and share the truth about their community. What does it mean to be Black? For centuries, African Americans have had to think deeply about their ethnic identity amidst a predominantly white culture that has repeatedly marginalized them. In the 1960s, during the Civil Rights era, the Black is Beautiful campaign encouraged African Americans to embrace their beauty and culture while being oppressed in an environment that set the standards for what it meant to be beautiful. “It’s not saying Black is beautiful so everything else is ugly,” said Eric Wilson, associate dean of Student Affairs and executive director of Spiritual Life Programs. “It’s saying that the beauty that God has adorned me with is as valuable as any other form of beauty that exists in the world.” In interviews with four experts and 10 students, all agreed that African Americans on campus still need the Black is Beautiful campaign for self-love today, especially at a predominantly white institution where Black students have to navigate through white spaces. Dark skin versus light skin Geneva Moore, office manager for the Humanities and Teacher Education division, said that because she was born in 1968, she grew up during a time when society taught that “White is right, and Black is wrong.” All 10 students interviewed
for this story, born more than three decades later than Moore, said they grew up with the same message. Before the campaign, Blacks had to find ways to convince themselves that their skin color did not mean that they were “less than.” “Blackness and darkness are almost synonymous in our language at this point,” junior Justus Bell said. Bell said light and dark motifs in literature and film reinforce negative perceptions of African Americans. “Black is known as bad and a symbol for evil,” Bell said. “If you look in movies, the villain is just always seen in a darker manner, like Scar versus Mufasa in ‘The Lion King.’” When authors and filmmakers make black bad, they also make white good. “We’ve been socialized to associate blackness with darkness, with impurity; it just has a negative connotation since the beginning of time,” senior Shanelle Wilkins said. “On the other hand, we associate whiteness with purity, cleanliness and just with so many positive connotations. I think it is very difficult to change that narrative in the minds of others.” This dichotomization of black and white dates back to Greek philosopher Aristotle and his Pythagorean Table of Opposites. “He basically set up a dualism, logic chart,” Communication Professor Roslyn Satchel
said. “He created a table, put all the positives on one side, all the negatives on the other side, assigned all the positives
“A STEREOTYPE THAT PLAGUES OUR COMMUNITY — AND IT’S BUILT OFF OF TRUTH — IS THAT A LOT OF BLACK WOMEN ARE DISREGARDED, FORGOTTEN, UNLOVED. SO THIS IS MY WAY OF REGAINING OUR POWER BACK. TO SHOW THAT WE ARE LOVED BY OURSELVES, BY GOD, AND WE’RE LOVED BY OUR FAMILY. ... WE’RE GOING TO LOVE OURSELVES SO HARD AND LOVE EACH OTHER TO THE POINT THAT WE DIVIDE THE STEREOTYPES OF BEING DISREGARDED AND UNLOVED AND UNAPPRECIATED.” -HEAVIN HUNTER-HERNANDEZ
“EVERYONE IN MOST SOCIETIES RECOGNIZES GOLD AS SOMETHING THAT IS VALUABLE. ... BUT EVEN IF WE WEREN’T TO APPLY THAT VALUE, IT WOULD STILL BE SOMETHING THAT IS PURE, STILL SOMETHING THAT IS BEAUTIFUL. ... I FEEL AS THOUGH I HAVE A HEART OF GOLD. ... I LIKE THAT TO BE PRESENT WHEN I INTERACT WITH PEOPLE SO THAT THEY SEE THAT MY HEART IS SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN WORKED ON AND REFINED.” -OLIVIA ROBINSON to characteristics and features of whiteness, and [assigned] all the negatives [to] characteristics and features of blackness.” Not only have Blacks been discriminated against for having a different skin color than white people, but Blacks also have been pitted against each other for having lighter or darker shades than the person next to them. This is called colorism.
In the 1988 film “School Daze,” Director Spike Lee addresses the issue of colorism. The women in the film are split up into two groups: the “Wannabes,” which includes women who are light-skinned with long, straight hair, and the “Jigaboos,” which includes dark-skinned women with short hair, Moore said. Sophomore Raica Kwizera grew up in Rwanda, East Africa, and had to face colorism head on. Because her father had darker skin than her mother, she ended up with darker skin than two of her four siblings, and others in the community treated her differently. Her experience in Rwanda helped her feel empowered when moving to a country like America where race is a more burning issue, Kwizera said. She reminded herself, “My Black is beautiful, and if I really did want to change it, it’s something I can do something about, but others cannot become like me.” Being Black means that one goes through different life experiences, which leads to unique perspectives. No matter what shade of black someone is — light skin or dark skin — being Black does not mean that one is dirty or unkempt, students said. “I think that’s exactly why the Black is Beautiful campaign is necessary — to try and combat the belief that Black [is] impure,” Wilkins said. “It isn’t unclean and does not always have a negative connotation.” Black oppression in America White efforts to degrade Blacks date back 400 years. “We have to go back to the
[1600s] and 1700s, where black and brown bodies were being enslaved and placed in the [holds] of ships by millions and becoming part of the transatlantic slave trade,” Wilson said. Prior to the transatlantic slave trade, slavery was circumstantial. People became enslaved because their country was conquered or they fell into debt. Europeans created a slave trade based on race and forced Africans into permanent bondage. To maintain this system, European powers treated the enslaved Africans as less than human. Plantation property lists placed enslaved Africans below animals. “If you look at a plantation manifesto, ‘manifesto’ is a list of everything that a plantation owner has,” Wilson said. “It would say something like this: ‘Jim has a wife, three kids and a granddaughter. He [has] 100 head of cattle, six horses, 12 chickens and three slaves.’” Even after slavery ended, Blacks endured Jim Crow segregation, which added to the dehumanization Blacks felt, Wilson said. To maintain white supremacy, white people in the South murdered more than 4,000 African Americans. With these lynchings, or mob executions, white people aimed to keep Blacks in their place. Whites also mocked and distorted African American identity through minstrelsy that dates back to the 1830s. “Minstrelsy was a form of theater that became one of the most popular forms of entertainment in America for well over 70 years,” Wilson said. “What you had was white men dressed in blackface, pretending that they were Black people.”
Minstrelsy further disrupted Black communities by dictating how African Americans should act and how they should look. If Blacks wanted to pursue a career as a performer, they had to perform in minstrelsy; blacken their faces, pinken their lips and mess up their hair, Wilson said. This portrayal of Blacks shaped the nation’s beliefs about what it meant to be Black. Advertising, television and movies represented Black people using minstrelsy stereotypes, portraying Blacks as childlike, joyful, unintelligent, overweight and with huge pink lips. The 1987 documentary
“Ethnic Notions” explored these stereotypes. American culture “set the African American aesthetic against Eurocentric ideas of what is beautiful,” Wilson said. While Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference fought for greater civil rights through nonviolent action like sit-ins, freedom rides and marches, others pursued a more aggressive path through the Black Power Movement. “In the ‘60s, we see the emergence of the Black Power Movement, which is a much more radical and militant — unapologetically militant — radical movement, where Black folks are no longer striving to convince white people that they are civilized and capable human beings,” Satchel said. The Black Power Movement helped Blacks feel more content in their own skin. The movement taught Blacks, some for the first time, that it did not matter what the white person next to them thought about their hair or skin color or where they came from. What mattered was what they thought about themselves. Black is Beautiful Campaign
“I’VE ALWAYS THOUGHT OF [THE BLACK PANTHERS MOVEMENT] AS REVOLUTIONARY. SO I FELT LIKE I AM A LIVING DREAM FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO WERE FIGHTING DURING THAT TIME ... AND IT’S UP TO ME TO MAKE SURE THAT REVOLUTION CONTINUES.” -HEAVIN HUNTER-HERNANDEZ
Kwame Brathwaite helped spark the Black is Beautiful movement with a series of photographs documenting African Americans in the 1960s. Brathwaite’s work challenged mainstream beauty standards, conveying the raw and natural beauty of Black people throughout history. “Influenced by contemporary Black nationalists Carlos Cooks and Marcus Garvey, Brathwaite aimed to encourage others to re-
“I THINK THAT SPEAKS TO MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY LORD AND SAVIOR. ... I AM REDEEMED BY HIS GRACE, AND I FEEL AS THOUGH THAT IS PART OF MY IDENTITY. ... THAT IS SOMETHING THAT IS ESSENTIAL TO UNDERSTANDING MY OUTLOOK ON THE WORLD. I BELIEVE THE CROSS ALSO SYMBOLIZES MY FAITH. IT SYMBOLIZES SACRIFICE AND IT ALSO SYMBOLIZES INVESTMENT.” -OLIVIA ROBINSON claim a lost African heritage, instill pride in having natural hair and all shades of skin and reject efforts to conform to white ideals of beauty,” according to Daily Art Magazine. Brathwaite’s art bolstered Black pride and helped undermine white supremacy. The Black Arts Movement emerged parallel to Brathwaite’s photographs, as Black female writers like Toni Morrison, Alice Walker and Audrey Lord proved they were unafraid to be themselves and speak their minds.
“IT DESCRIBES HOW I APPROACH THE WORLD. I DON’T FEEL AS THOUGH THERE’S ANYTHING WITHIN ME THAT IS AN OBSTACLE TO ME BEING ABLE TO DO THE GREAT THINGS THAT I’VE SET MY HEART AND MIND TO. ... I SEE THE THINGS THAT EXIST AROUND ME MERELY AS THINGS THAT ARE PART OF MY JOURNEY, NOT NECESSARILY THINGS THAT ARE MEANT TO CEASE THAT JOURNEY.” -OLIVIA ROBINSON The authors used their work to say “loudly and clearly, ‘I do not have to look like fragile, petite, blonde, blue-eyed, white people to be beautiful,’” Satchel said. “‘I’m beautiful just like I am with my big natural afro, and my beautiful dark brown skin, or light brown skin, or honey, or mocha, or caramel, or chocolate, dark chocolate. All these beautiful hues come from us.’” Another development of the Black is Beautiful Campaign was James Brown’s 1968 song, “Say it
Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud,” which became an anthem for the movement. This song still resonates with African American leaders on campus, like Wilson. Blacks started to rebel against any and all attitudes that suggested they were not worthy of being beautiful. “At that very moment, the individual stands up and maintains their own dignity,” Wilson said. “The thought is, ‘I’m not ugly; matter of fact, I’m very beautiful.’” By embracing their culture, Blacks began to live unapologetically, which in turn created a space “more conducive for them to thrive,” Wilson said. “To wear an afro, to wear braids, to start wearing a dashiki [a brightly colored West African shirt], to start adorning oneself with a lot of jewelry, to start wearing typical clothes in non-typical ways and then saying, ‘This is what beauty is and this is the standard of style,’” said David Holmes, dean of Curriculum and General Education who created Pepperdine’s African American Studies minor. The Black is Beautiful campaign also critiqued commercial standards of beauty. “Capitalists are trying to numb us into being sheer consumers of what they deem is right and replacing them with individuals that say no,” Holmes said. “This is when we get a chance to determine what beauty is, not [someway] for them to make money for a large corporation.” Black people took it into their own hands to show white people that they could not be bought and that they are beautiful inside and out. “This wide variety and diversi-
ty of types of beauty then become more than just Black is Beautiful,” Satchel said. “But Black comes to encapsulate all the rich varieties of beauty found in people of African descent.” The movement does not aim to promote Black beauty in order to undermine the worth of others. “My beauty actually can augment your beauty,” Wilson said. “I don’t have to be beautiful at the expense of your ugliness because radical beauty raises everyone’s dignity.”
“THE IMPORTANT THING IS, YES, WE GO THROUGH THINGS. BUT HOW STRONG CAN YOU BE TO BOUNCE BACK FROM THOSE THINGS AND NOT ONLY NOT ALLOW THOSE THINGS TO DEFINE YOU, BUT ALLOW THOSE THINGS TO PROPEL YOU INTO WHAT GOD HAS FOR YOU AND [HELP] IT TO SHAPE WHO YOU ARE?” -PEACE IKEDIUBA
Still not beautiful enough Students interviewed on campus said they still sometimes feel as if they are not enough and that they are not beautiful. “For Black women in particular, I’ve heard sentiments that we feel as if there’s nothing that we can do right,” Wilkins said. “I guess when it comes to expressing ourselves as Black women, we have to maintain a certain standard that is not our own.” When it comes to hair, American society has not accepted Black women for who they naturally are. “If we wear braids or if we wear Afrocentric styles or if we wear our natural hair, we can kind of risk being perceived a certain way like in a professional setting,” Wilkins said. “So much so that there had to be legislation passed in order for us to wear our hair the way it grows out of our head.” In 2019, California was the first state to pass a law that “legally protects people in workplaces and K-12 public schools from discrimination based on their natural hair,” Phil Willon and Alexa Diaz wrote in the Los Angeles Times. Now, if Black women decide to straighten or relax their hair, other people may judge them. “We are kind of perceived as being self-haters, or being too egocentric or trying to assimilate too much,” Wilkins said. In a sense, Black people can never do right. Discrimination today has merely shifted to micro-aggressions, Moore said. “The difference between racism then and racism now is then it was overt; you knew exactly
who liked you [and] who did not like you,” she said. “It was in your face. There was nothing veiled about it. Now, it’s so subtle that you don’t realize it until it is right there in your face.” Moore said she believes that it’s time to teach others about Black history and what Black people have had to go through. “If you don’t educate people differently, then yes, you’ll continue to get the same thing over and over and over again,” Moore said. Pepperdine: It’s time for a change Although the Black is Beautiful Campaign started in the 1960s, all 10 Pepperdine students interviewed said they don’t always feel comfortable in their own skin, even at a university that preaches Christian values and community. At a predominantly white institution like Pepperdine, Black students expressed their inability to be their true selves and complained that others have not tried to understand what a Black experience is like. “When I look around, I see primarily blue eyes and blonde hair,” Wilkins said. “So that’s kind of the standard of beauty here. When you look around and you don’t see yourself represented as much, you can feel inferior.” Pepperdine’s Black Student Association created Black is Beautiful T-shirts for their members to help instill Black pride. Although they didn’t teach members about the campaign’s history, Black students wear the shirts as an outright expression of identity. Black students are a numerical minority on campus. As of Oc-
“MY RESILIENCE IS SOMETHING THAT I PRIDED MYSELF UPON BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE IT IS THE RECIPE OF ME. AS A BLACK WOMAN, I NOT ONLY HAVE TO FACE WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A WOMAN ... BUT I ALSO HAVE TO OVERCOME THE STRUGGLES THAT COME WITH BEING BLACK. ... I KNOW THAT A LOT OF MY FAMILY AND THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE ME HAD TO BE RESILIENT. SO I FEEL LIKE IT’S AN HONOR FOR ME TO STAND HERE AND CALL MYSELF RESILIENT. ... I AM THEIR DREAM COME TRUE. I AM WHAT THEY STRUGGLED SO HARD FOR.” -HEAVIN HUNTER-HERNANDEZ tober 2018, there were only 176 Black or African American students enrolled in Seaver College out of 3,627 students, according to the Pepperdine Office of Institutional Effectiveness Common Data Set. That’s less than 5%. Senior Ikechukwu Egwuonwu said he has felt stigmatized on Pepperdine’s campus. “A lot of people ask me if I
Modeled by Peace Ikediuba, Olivia Robinson & Heavin Hunter-Hernandez was here [at Pepperdine] based on some diversity thing or something, or the reason I’m a Posse scholar is because I’m Black or just people acting like I didn’t earn this,” Egwuonwu said. For Black students, simply being on a campus that is not diverse in terms of students and faculty can cause internal issues. “If you don’t see any Black faculty members, you think you’re not being represented,” Bell said. “Decisions and talk are going to be had, but your voice isn’t going to be heard. You are going to feel like your opinions don’t matter as much.” Black professors are hard to come by at Pepperdine. “The Humanities and Teacher Education division [is] one of the largest academic divisions on campus, yet we only have one Black, female, full-time professor and one Black, full-time, male professor [Holmes, who is leaving in December],” Moore said. When faced with being the only Black person in a class, Black students often have to deal with being the spokesperson for
their entire race when they are not representative of every Black person, students said. Black faculty and students believe that the first step to change is to just have their voices heard. “We need to include more voices, more perspectives, more cultures into the discussion,” Satchel said. She cited an African proverb: “Until lions have historians, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” Students expressed that there are too many general education classes that focus on white and European history and none solely about Black history. They want to hear about Black history from the perspective of Black people. “We should have a more diverse curriculum,” junior Amani McCalleb said. “If what we learn could be tailored to what students actually want to learn, like an African American GE, it can help others who are not Black have more diverse views.” Students at Pepperdine can help remove the racial sentiment of light and dark by becoming an ally for Blacks on campus, faculty and students said.
Wilkins said it’s important for students who are not of color to support Black organizations on campus and attend all of their events. “I think really just supporting all of our [Black] initiatives and making sure that the community is tight, and we have a strong enough presence [will help],” Wilkins said. It’s important for non-Black students to not be afraid to step outside of their comfort zone and research the history of others, students said. “Engage in relationships with people who are not like you and bring something to the conversation that allows the space for questioning,” senior Olivia Robinson said. Wilson said all students on campus should take time to understand how Black is beautiful. “The call is to courageously move forward in embracing diversity, to embrace a way of looking at beauty, not just from one’s own point of view but learning other people’s point of view,” Wilson said. “This is what it means to be like Christ.”
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By | James Moore Photo by | Milan Loiacono For many, it’s the first light one sees in the morning and the last light one sees at night. Glowing devices make communication easier and knowledge more accessible. However, using screens for prolonged periods in the evening may cause the decline of cognitive and communicative abilities. In 2015, Bank of America conducted a research survey of American adults and found that 71% of respondents slept with their smartphones within arm’s-length. Many peruse their phones as they prepare to go to bed and continue to check their devices throughout the night. Sophomore Lindsay Hack said she can tell the difference in the quality of her sleep depending on the length of time she spends on her phone at night. “If I’ve had a long night of scrolling through Instagram or Twitter, it’s a lot harder to fall asleep and stay asleep,” Hack said. The science behind blue light Roy Raymann, the vice president of sleep science and scientific affairs at SleepScore Labs,
has studied sleep for more than 25 years. He holds a doctorate in sleep neuroscience and contributed to Apple’s sleep-related iPhone features, including Night Shift. Additionally, he worked for tech company Philips to develop light products that improve sleep and alertness. Raymann said blue light from screens is detrimental to sleep because of eye receptors that connect to the visual and sleep-wake systems of the brain. “We have visual and non-visual light receptors that have a direct connection to a structure in your brain, which is called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, also known as your biological clock,” Raymann said. “The main purpose of that structure is to send a signal to our brain when there is light to wake us up. When it is dark, it sends a signal that it’s time to sleep.” Raymann said blue light is particularly problematic for sleep cycles because of its connection to evolutionary biology. “[Researchers] found out that the main light signal that is affecting this 24-hour cycle regulation is that of a specific bandwidth of blue light,” Raymann said. “This
makes sense because if you look at the sky, it’s blue.” Raymann said LED lights, the lights used to make phone screens, emit this bandwidth of blue light at very bright levels. However, the impact of blue light depends on the amount of light one is exposed to throughout the day. “So far, studies on the effects of light on sleep show a direct effect of light on melatonin [the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle], but it has been very hard to actually find direct effects it has on sleep itself,” Raymann said. Raymann cited a 2015 Harvard study in which researchers compared reading a book for four hours in dimly-lit conditions to reading on an iPad for several hours on the brightest setting. The researchers found that the people who read on the iPad had more problems sleeping and showed lower levels of melatonin. Raymann said he thinks the conclusions of this study are flawed when applied to the real world. “Who the hell is actually reading four hours in a row on the brightest setting of an iPad just before bedtime?” Raymann said. “The effect of screen use at night also depends
on the settings of your iPhone and the distance between your screen and your eyes. It’s very simple: the larger and brighter and whiter the screen, the more likely it is to disrupt your melatonin release.” Solutions to the effects of blue light Scientists like Raymann are now working with companies on solutions to limit the effects of blue light on sleep. Perhaps most notably, Apple’s Night Shift function reduces the amount of blue light in iPhone and laptop screens, giving them a warmer color temperature. On Android, there’s a similar feature called Night Light. Hack said she has used the
Night Shift feature since it became available in 2017 because of its ability to improve her sleep. “I have Night Shift set so it turns on automatically when the sun sets and turns off at sunrise,” Hack said. “It’s been really helpful; even when I’m using my phone at night, the screen just hurts my eyes less, and I think I sleep better, too.” Another solution is blue light glasses, which are orange-tinted to counteract blue light waveforms. Upon entering college, freshman Matthew Furrer developed severe headaches and dryness in his eyes. He suspected it was from the long nights spent on his computer. A friend of Furrer recommended that he use blue light blocking glasses. “My eyes don’t dry out anymore; they used to get super irritated by
the computer,” Furrer said. “My headaches have gone away.” Furrer said he opts to wear the glasses at night when he’s studying. Previously, when he wore the glasses in the day, people would make comments about them. “Especially from my friends back home and my mom, they were all like, ‘Why are you wearing those?’ and I’m like, ‘Hey, they help me, man! C’mon!’” Furrer said the biggest benefit the glasses provide him is the flexibility to work into the evening. “It gives me the freedom to do assignments whenever I want to,” Furrer said. “I don’t have to worry about getting headaches the next morning or having to take Advil before I sleep.”
Modeled by Daniel Lee
By | Alex Neis Photo by | Milan Loiacono Daniel Perez knows how to burn the candle at both ends. Perez, a second-year graduate student earning his Master of Divinity, spends his days studying Greek and Hebrew, working with the Office of Convocation and surfing or skating in whatever free time he has. When many students head for bed, Perez enjoys the creative energy and freedom of the night. Playing music, reading and watching skate clips help him reset after a long day. “I’m pretty introverted, so being alone definitely gives me time to recharge even though I don’t get a lot of sleep,” Perez said. Perez said he appreciates the solitude that comes with the night and sees each night as a chance to escape and be himself. “I don’t have to interact with other people that might have a different opinion of what is cool, especially music-wise,” Perez said. “So I’m really able to explore different sounds and create weird things on my computer, with my guitar — whatever instrument that I have available at the time.” Freedom from distractions, Perez said, gives him the space to be creative. “Sometimes I feel pretty pro-
ductive during the day, but the thing is, when I’m productive, I tend to shut out a lot of people,” Perez said. “I can’t really interact with people and be productive at the same time.” Perez said his abnormal sleep habits are motivated by introversion but they may also have to do with his family. “My dad doesn’t sleep that well; he has legit insomnia,” Perez said. “I think maybe I got a little bit of that too. There’s nights where even if I’m tired and I want to go to sleep, I find myself laying in bed and listening to music for two or three hours before I’m able to fully go to bed.” Perez is an example of a student who, amidst a busy schedule, sets aside time for himself to do things he loves. In the solitude of his room, alongside his records, guitar, drum machine and laptop, Perez said he feels most comfortable to explore his interests. “When I’m in my room, I don’t have the distraction of other people around me, and I don’t feel bad focusing on one thing,” Perez said. “Whereas, during the day, when there’s always people around, I feel bad tuning them out to get things done.”
By | Anastassia Kostin Art by | Milan Loiacono & Jordan Smith 58
natural rhythms and flows of the universe, and you need dark and light — you don’t even know what one is without the other.” The idea of balance in Daoism
The yin yang, an ancient symbol of harmony and balance, challenges the conventional association of light with good and darkness with evil. While Western culture tends to oversimplify the complexities of human behavior and experiences by placing them in one of two categories — part or whole, negative or positive, competitive or collaborative — yin yang emphasizes the necessity of each to create balance. Following this mindset, light and darkness lose their original associations and become part of the deeper dy-
namics at play in an individual’s journey. In Daoism, yin is associated with darkness, depth, weakness, submission, intuition and femininity. On the yang side, there is lightness, warmth, summer, aggression, rational thought and masculinity. “The point isn’t that one side is better than the other,” Religion Professor John Barton said. “The Daoisitic worldview is that all of those things are needed. They’re all part of the flow of the universe. They’re all part of each of us.” Students from Taiwanese and Chinese cultures, as well as two experts, reflected on how this symbol is related to paradoxical thinking and achieving balance based on internal flow. In Christianity, light and darkness function as a set of moral categories, Barton said. Light is “morally good” and something one should strive to expand. Darkness is “morally evil” and something one should strive to defeat. “The Daoistic use of those metaphors is very different,” Barton said. “Darkness is not something to be overcome. Darkness is something that’s part of the
“In every revealed religion [religion based on divine revelation], there is this notion of balance, because inextricably tied to the universe is this idea of balance,” said Eric Wilson, associate dean of Diversity and Inclusion. To achieve this balance, the Daoist approach emphasizes aligning oneself with the equilibrium flows of the cosmos and living in harmony with nature because of the belief in a natural order or “the way.” These flows exist in physical spaces, which gave rise to the ancient art and science of feng shui in China. Feng shui teaches that there are certain ways to set up a room to not obstruct the flow, Barton said. Senior Douglas Liu said yin yang philosophy is part of Chinese tradition when setting up a home, where yin energy is expressed as black and yang energy as white. “Outside of Shanghai, pretty much everywhere in China, the houses face south ... because the sunshine gets rid of the yin,” Liu said. Another concept that defines the nature of yin yang is that it is not static. For example, day and night gradually flow into each other and the balance between them changes with the seasons. “For each thing, there’s a dif-
ferent kind of force in power,” said Hannah Tu, a junior from Taiwan. “You need to make sure it matches in order to balance. If you don’t balance, you get bad luck.” Emphasizing one extreme over the other is what causes one to lose equilibrium. Moving from binary to paradoxical thought In addition to the central idea of balance, the word ‘paradox’ can also characterize the yin yang symbol. “Is dark really bad and is light really good?” Wilson said. The statement is both true and false, Wilson said, because it depends on what mindset an individual is working from. Much of a person’s worldview is constructed from their past experiences and community interactions. “If you’re driving down the road in America, you want to drive on the right side of the road; it is an either / or,” Wilson said. However, the yin yang mindset is very comfortable with paradox. “That [mindset is] saying that it’s not an either / or proposition, that it is a both / and proposition,” Wilson said. Daoist koans illustrate the both / and proposition, taking the form of questions or paradoxical statements. These brain-teasing sayings help individuals understand key Daoist concepts and realize the limitations of logic and reasoning. “Paradoxes like yin yang are confusing because [they] force us
to think deeper than the presenting concept itself,” Wilson said. “Another viable both / and would be, ‘Whoever saves their life will lose it and whoever loses their life for my sake and the Gospel will save it,’ Mark 8:35. It almost reads as a Daoist koan.” Yin and yang, therefore, should be considered a both / and proposition because the philosophy balances polar opposites to expose the fallacy of binary thinking.
ophers believe that utilizing the concepts of yin yang can help people realize that, just like the symbol’s interlocking spirals, life is a permanently evolving passage, and both light and darkness are needed in balance. “There’s a lot of great things that go on in an individual’s life and some terrible things,” Wilson said. “And you could honestly say, ‘I am both of these things, but when I strike a balance with them, that’s when I can function well within the world.’”
Achieving balance as an internal and communal journey Those on a journey to achieve balance can measure their progress based on their own internal flow, Barton said. “If you’re obstructing the flow in your body, that will manifest itself in certain mental, social and spiritual ways,” Barton said. “It will also manifest itself in social environments that get out of balance — dysfunctions in families, wider communities, nations and so forth.” Inevitable struggles in life can cause imbalance and prevent personal growth. Daoist philos-
This edition of Currents Magazine explores the cultural, racial, and historical ways in which elements such as dark and light, black and whi...
Published on Dec 2, 2019
This edition of Currents Magazine explores the cultural, racial, and historical ways in which elements such as dark and light, black and whi...