1200 E Broadway Columbia, MO 65201 www.slm.stephens.edu Stephens Life is the award-winning studentrun magazine of Stephens College.
THE LINE UP
EDITORS Editor in Chief Aurola Wedman Alfaro Creative Director Leigh Ann Barnett Managing Editor + Copy Editor Hannah Kueck Online Content Creator Jules Graebner
Aurola Wedman Alfaro
LEIGH ann BARNETT
editor in chief
William VÃquez Mora
MANAGING EDITOR + copy editor
online content creator
STAFF Meca Brown-Sanders Bri Bunker Armelia Cox Madison Green Taylor Jones Jessica Kittle Isabelle Loos Makai Patton Caylea Ray Alexanderia Rinehart
Staff Advisors President Dianne Lynch & Erica Pefferman
Stephens College President Dianne Lynch COMO Magazine Columbia Marketing Group Opinions expressed are not necessarily the views of the college, students, administration, faculty or staff. Stephens Life strives for accuracy. To report a correction or clarification, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
FALL 2019 TEAM
THE LINE UP STAFF
Letter from the Editor
The presenters call out magazine names. An excited crowd claps and the voices are muffled. The reverse countdown of the top 10 magazines at the National College Media Convention in Washington is now announcing the third-place winner. I am getting more nervous. Having flipped through some of the other participating publications, I know they are good. I wonder if the judges will see the Voyage Issue the way I do. Will they notice the thoughtful typography, the careful alignment? The airplane on the cover? Will our best photographs captivate them in the same way they hypnotize me when I am skimming through? The Voyage Issue was my first one as editor in chief. So naturally, I am much like the parent who looks at their child with nothing but love. But let’s go back to the moment. Rapid breathing, heart racing. I put my phone down and exchange a look with my peers. I doubt the outcome, but I am certain that we did our best. You know how the story ends. Stephens Life wins first place for the Best of Show with the Voyage Issue. We smile and take photos. We ponder on how to fit the trophy in our already full suitcases. But first, we go out to lunch and get a free dessert. Courtesy of the trophy – which causes the amicable server of a Greek restaurant to inquire about our victory. As we enjoy the frozen yogurt, we agree to come up with a custody agreement that enables each person to have dinner with the trophy once a month. Hopefully, its perks don’t wear off. This story is not about the win. It’s not about how great we are. It’s about the things people can do when they put their minds to it. We have a small staff, none of our students are majoring in investigative journalism. During a convention lecture, an editor mentioned he had just recruited 30 new staff members for his publication. That’s triple our staff! We still won. Freedom is the theme of this issue. Humans have fought, run, endured unimaginable pain, sacrificed their lives for a taste of freedom. The few have stood up against the many, for freedom. Despite the disadvantages and the barriers, changes have been made by smart, determined people who gave their best. Today, we are still fighting for freedom– freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to do what we see fit with our bodies. In this issue, we propose a conversation about freedom. Our stories, poetry, photos and illustrations touch on identity, religion, wellness and even history. While you navigate wrongful incarceration in Guilty Until Proven Innocent or dive into the complicated dynamics of politics and family with Would You Understand Me If I Screamed?, I hope you will find an answer to this question: What does freedom mean to you? If inspiration or answers hit you, turn to the last page. That one is yours to fill. Enjoy, converse & stay curious, Aurola Wedman Alfaro
EDITOR IN CHIEF
table of contents
FREEDOM FROM HAIR 8 WOULD YOU HEAR ME IF I SCREAMED? 16 GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT 24 A WORK IN PROGRESS 30 THREADS OF A REVOLUTION 36 SPEAK UP 42 ANGRY BLACK WOMAN 46 UNTIL ALL OF US ARE FREE 54 DIA DE LOS MUERTOS, DIA DE LOS VIVOS 62 BEYOND THE HEADSCARF 64 THE GHOST OF YOUR HANDS 72 ISSUE CREDITS 81
Freedom From Hair ba n m tèt mwen Photography + Story by Madison Green Poetry by Leigh Ann Barnett
s women, our relationship with our hair is personal. It runs deeper than we may think. The expression of beauty through hairstyles has been a long-standing signature of culture, but more intensely in black culture. Black women have embraced tons of styles, from their afros, African traditional (diaspora) head wraps to protective hairstyles, box braids, Havana twists, faux locs, crochet braids, twists, wigs, and sew ins. Black women use their hairstyles as a personal expression of who they are, so when a black woman decides to shave off all her hair, it can be a liberating experience. In Haitian culture there’s a saying, “banm tèt mwen,” meaning “give my head back.” In a sense, it is a spiritual cleanse in reclaiming your sense of self. Black women are embracing the natural beauty of their own hair, and some are removing their hair completely.
hoenix Bussey, 20 years old, grew up doing all sorts of different styles with her hair. She came to a point of restlessness with her hair and her identity. She put her hair into multiple pigtails and a good friend of hers, Younique Johnson, took scissors to each pigtail. Johnson then took a razor to Bussey’s head and the remainder of her hair began to fall onto her shoulders, onto her lap, and onto the floor. Bussey explains that touching her bald head for the first time, “felt like home in a way; touching it just felt right—like this was what I needed.” She wanted people to see her for more than her hair. She explains that when you think of a black woman, or a mixed woman, you think of their hair. That is just a part of the features of a black woman and the black culture—hair, hair, hair, and more hair. Bussey points out that it’s beautiful to embrace your hair as a black woman, but she feels that it is fetishized and stigmatized. She speaks about the Eurocentric standards and how black women feel like they must have straight hair all the time. Eurocentric beauty standards—a worldview centered on or biased towards Western civilization, creates unrealistic beauty standards for women, as it posits European history and values it as “normal” and superior to others. Women are constantly told that their appearance and beauty is their only defining factor. The pressure to attain and conform to beauty standards is far greater. Bussey continues to explain the experiences she has had with people requesting to touch her hair. When she had a head full of hair, strangers would approach her and touch and pet her hair without permission, she says. For Bussey, shaving her head was like being able to finally take off all the negative components that have been circulating throughout her experience with her hair. Through her baldness, she found herself. She came to the realization that at the end of the day, she is going to be the person that loves herself more than anyone else—and that’s all she really needs.
Something’s different Yes, something has changed On an April day when inhibitions flew away. Braids, sew-ins, twists, rod sets No more, no more, no more No hair, no limitation. Look at me, Look at me! Why won’t you look at me? Crying “this is who I’m meant to be.” All my hair is gone. And there’s nothing left to hide behind The only definable trait for the world to see, Is Me.
“It ’s like I’ve stripped all those negative things away, that was the most liberating part.” -Phoenix Bussey
“Some people are so attached to their hair, and that ’s their identity. My identity is being bald.” -Corinne Bobrow-Williams
The winds said to change, Change what? I don’t know, I don’t know A borrowed pair of scissors. What have I done? What do I do? Let it go. Let it be. As the hair fell A veil lifted Damn, There are no more filters, No more shields. Feeling good, Feeling brave, Feeling Me.
orinne Bobrow-Williams, 21 years old, shaved her head in 2016. It was her first year of college and a time of query for Williams. It was during a time of heavy stress and of questioning herself, those around her, her life, her wants, her needs. Williams headed to her friend Alexis’s dorm room. There, she took her friend’s scissors and started to snip away. She snipped away at her past self.
With each fallen piece of hair, something changed inside of Williams. Her tensions were released; she was able to set down baggage she had held for so long. She explains that when navigating through life you come across so many people, most of them strangers. As a bald woman, there is no hiding your face, no hiding who you are. Williams’s confidence has always been there, but with a shaved head it felt different.
She had no other choice but to be confident, she had to own her baldness fully. For her, if she didn’t love herself completely, if she wasn’t unapologetically herself embracing of all who she is externally and internally, who would? After shaving her head, Williams found that she loved herself more deeply than she ever had before.
uniper Hill (better known as Juni), 19 years old, shaved off her hair at her high school graduation party. Surrounded by people who love and support her, Aunt “Meow Meow,” took a razor to her head. In the midst of a strong wave of anxiety, Hill found comfort knowing those who love her were all around her. Feeling her hair brush against the back of her neck, then to her shoulders, then onto to her lap, and watching it fall to the floor, she knew there was no turning back. Hill describes the feeling as, “coming to be.” She felt like she was finally getting a chance to become who she really was. It was terrifying for her, as well as exciting. The fact that Hill was preparing to move to a different state for school, is what made the decision of shaving her head easier. She had thought deeply about shaving her head; she and her cousin were inspired by seeing a woman with a shaved head on a cruise they were on for Hill’s grandmother’s birthday. It took months of convincing from her cousin, and herself, to shave her head. She picked a date (her graduation party) and didn’t back down from her plan. It was one of the biggest changes in Hill’s life, considering that her hair was such a huge part of her identity. She explained that there were days when her hair wouldn’t “look right” and because of that, she didn’t feel like she could leave the house. She didn’t like being identified by her hair, “it’s such a huge part of our identity and that’s what I just don’t understand. When it comes to people, say someone is describing you to someone who doesn’t know you, the first two things that pop in their mind are your race and your hair, and that’s what I don’t like,” Hill says. Growing up, Hill had curly hair that sat past her shoulders. Her mother had her cut her hair for the first time going into high school. While in high school, she was bullied for her hair, her eyebrows, and even the way that she dressed. She was known as the “black friend with an afro,” and she didn’t resonate with that. “I want to be known as Juniper, because I am Juniper,” she explains. When Hill shaved her hair off, she thought, “ [I] shaved off this part of me that didn’t matter anymore. Hair doesn’t define who you are, who you are as a person defines who you are and that’s all that matters.”
Breathe in, breathe out Everybody’s around. It’s taken months to get here, But what’s there to lose?
New place, new rules Say goodbye to the “afro”, And as it turns out, There was a person behind those curls.
Now you have to see her, And one day you’ll love her because She is free, She is Me.
â€œI feel like I can actually be myself without having this shit on my head that defines who I am everyday.â€? -Juniper Hill
screamed? SL 16
Would you Hear Me if i
Story by Leigh Ann Barnett Illustrations by Taylor Jones
ome people are not political. A sinking feeling seeps into their stomach when politics are brought up around the dinner table, their hands sweat, they find it hard to maintain eye contact, and their throats begin to close. It’s not that we don’t think politics are important; we know how serious they are, but we remember how politics have been handled in our families in the past—with a degrading lecture that left us feeling inferior. It’s time that families start discussing politics in a way that doesn’t leave one party feeling like a lesser person. It’s time for a change.
Dysfunctional + Hurt On the more liberal side of the political spectrum, sophomore English major Emily Louraine has been no stranger to the tension that comes with having different political beliefs and opinions than her more conservative family. At her core, Louraine believes that people have the right to be treated like human beings; they should not be persecuted for who they are. Though her parents don’t disagree that human life matters, sometimes their more complicated political opinions differ. Louraine remembers her family’s arguments beginning around the same time that she entered high school—the same time that the riots surrounding Michael Brown’s murder began in Ferguson. “That was a big turning point for my friends and me. My parents would be watching the news, and I would be on social media, which are biased in their own ways,” Louraine explains. “They saw one side of the narrative while I saw the other. They didn’t see my perspective, and I didn’t see
theirs, and that lack of communication led to [each of us] attacking the other’s beliefs.” “When you’re going into high school, it’s a very important part of your life, and you want your parents to be on your side the entire time. And my dad wasn’t,” Louraine says. These early high school days are essential for teenagers because during this time, they begin to discover who they are—at least, who they want to be. For Louraine, it involved giving up volleyball, one of the only bonding points she had with her dad. Losing this common interest put a strain on the relationship with her father. “Losing [volleyball] led to more fights,” Louraine says. “We had the bad grade fights, we had the political fights, and we had the ‘I’m your father, and you’re going to listen to me’ fights.” The oldest of three, Louraine remembers feeling isolated, unable to communicate with her family, who seemed to be a united front against Louraine. The people she leaned on were her friends, who were all going through similar situations at the time. “We’re going through puberty, we have a lot of emotions, and it was just a lot, all on top of me,” Louraine explains. Because of that crushing feeling, Louraine stopped discussing politics with her family. “I gave up talking about issues that were important to me. I sometimes went to my mom, but mostly I would go to my friends that had the same beliefs as me and would talk to them instead,” Louraine says. “We were the same age and seeing the same things. Instead of learning about politics at my house, I took it to school and focused more on my social life than on my home life. I let my dad be the
[we ] become blind
"if we become too
points of [our]
to the negative
head of the house, and I just did my own thing.â€?
A Subtle Shift
Looking back now, she knows that probably wasnâ€™t the best way to handle the situation, but she just wanted to pull through and hoped that it would get better.
The best way for young adults to form their own political opinions is through education and curating their own values. Louraine explains that she began by researching the click-bait articles that she saw on social media to start the learning process.
“I read over those, to get the basics of what the topic is about and then begin to search for the topic and to make sure all the news articles I’m reading are recent, credible, and [not] onesided,” Louraine says, making a point to research opposing viewpoints, even if she doesn’t agree with them. “I think that’s so important, especially in today’s society. We need to understand both sides, because if we become too one-sided, then
[we] become blind to the negative points of [our] own opinions,” Louraine explains. “Don’t be accusatory; if someone isn’t as well versed in a topic as you are, that doesn’t make them stupid. Both sides should be able to speak and share; it’s a conversation.” According to Sarah Stewart Holland, a political philosopher at Pantsuit Politics, our political
opinions should be based on our values, not on what anyone else tells us to believe. “One of the most important, and often missed, steps is examining your values,” Holland says. “Don’t let partisan police, or worse, politicians, define your values for you. Define them for yourself then find positions that help support them.” As Louraine got older and began to understand the importance of researching deeper into such topics, the relationship with her parents began to heal. “When I turned 18, and it was time for me to vote, I would talk to them about the process and the topics that would be on the ballot. We would talk about their opinions and then discuss my opinions on it, and at the end of the conversation, I ended up agreeing with my dad,” Louraine says. “There’s an understanding now because, as a young adult, I know what I want for my future and they know what they want for their children’s futures. I know that they aren’t just thinking of themselves, but about my brothers and me as well.” While there is no magical solution to improve familial relationships that have been wrecked by opposing political beliefs, every family can start the healing process by having an honest conversation with each other. “Prioritize the relationship instead of being right,” Holland explains. “We want to leave conversations with our families with the relationship stronger, by looking to understand each other better not by scoring points or ‘winning’ debates. Listen to one another. Allow people to share how they’ve felt ignored or pushed away in the past. It’s hard to move on without first recognizing past hurts.” For the Louraine family, their discussions happen at the dinner table, where it’s now an open conversation.
A Little Wiser Once Louraine learned to research political topics that she felt passionate about, the heated debates that she had with her father turned into enlightening conversations. During long car rides, Louraine and her dad started to have actual discussions, not one-sided, uneducated arguments. “I know a lot more, I’m older, and I do my research now,” Louraine says. “I still have the same beliefs, but now it’s become more of a controlled debate, coming from both sides.” Louraine isn’t completely over the way she was treated by her father, but she’s learning to move on from the past. “I’m tentative because I’m still nervous about being shut down. I am still nervous about getting called a special snowflake [or] whiny. Or being told I don’t understand anything about the ‘real world’,” Louraine says. Despite these fears, she has become more confident in herself. “I’ve become smarter in my own political opinions. I’ve become a more well-versed citizen, and I’m standing firm in my opinion and my views, more so than when I was younger,” Louraine says. “I know where I stand, and I won’t waver. I’m past the point of doubt and not knowing if I’m right and believing that I was dumb for having those beliefs. I know I’m not stupid now, and I know I wasn’t stupid then.”
What Now? Growing up is hard, and it gets even harder when the people we have always turned to are no longer people who fully understand why we believe what we do. Sometimes, it may seem like we will never see eye to eye with our family members, but it’s important to try to salvage broken relationships by fostering meaningful conversations with the ones we love.
Guilty until proven innocent innocent Story by Jules N. Graebner Photos by Alexanderia Rinehart
“I remember that first night, they locked us behind the gates and within ten feet [of my cell] there were two guys getting stabbed. The first night—I was 23.” Though his life behind bars was horrifying, Darryl is comfortable talking about it now, if only to make others aware of the conditions prisoners have to face. He describes hearing men screaming and being violated by other inmates, but being unable to help, “Seeing this kind of stuff, not that you get desensitized, but you’re paralyzed. Even in my empathetic heart, I wanted to help some of these guys, but I was too afraid. If you do, you become a target. The main concern for everybody in this place was ‘I just wanna get out alive’.”
or many years, a banner posted at the entrance of the Missouri State Penitentiary said “Welcome to the Missouri State Pen. Leave all your hopes, family, and dreams behind.” This hung over the head of Darryl Burton, who was sentenced to 75 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. While the number of exonerations has risen exponentially since DNA testing has become increasingly fine-tuned, an innumerable amount of innocent people are still sitting in prison— many with life sentences or awaiting execution. Organizations like the Innocence Project have been on the front lines when it comes to exonerating these people, but the sheer number of cases waiting to be worked on severely overwhelms the manpower that is needed to attend to them. “Hell on Earth. That’s the only way I can describe it,” Darryl says of his time in prison.
Darryl was never supposed to be in prison, but due to false reports from eyewitnesses who had been offered plea deals on their own sentences in exchange for testifying against him and an appointed public defender who only spent an hour with him before the trial, he never had a chance. The jury convicted him in less than an hour. “I hated the entire criminal justice system—anyone who worked for the courts or the system. I hated people who never had anything to do with me,” Darryl spent his early time in prison enraged at the injustice committed against him. He realized that this wasn’t doing him any good and began to make a change, “I was in a search for something opposite of the evil I saw. My Grandmother once told me, ‘One of these days, boy, you’re gonna need Jesus and I just hope you remember to call on him.’” So he did. “I was not a believer—not a religious guy. But I challenged Jesus, and I basically said if you’re real, if you help me get out of this place, I’ll serve you and tell the world about you.” Darryl’s newfound faith kept him strong while he was
â€œI used to be ashamed of my dark skin but it became grace my saving grace.â€? -Darryl Burton
incarcerated, “I began to start praying for the folks who did these things to me and for their families. The forgiveness, it wasn’t for them, it was for me. Even my lack of forgiveness, it didn’t affect them, it affected me. I thought, this is gonna help me, even if I don’t ever get out of prison. This is gonna heal me and give me peace—and that’s what it did. When I left Missouri State Prison, I was free. I left all that hate and bitterness inside the cell.” In 1990, Darryl contacted an organization called Centurion Ministries, a non-profit that investigates wrongful conviction cases, in hopes of being exonerated. He was told it would take them ten years to get to his case. “I said, well, I’ve got 75 years. It took ten years before they could take my case and then they got me out eight years after that.” With Centurion’s help, it was discovered that there had been another witness: a woman who was a gas station attendant where the murder occurred. In 1985, she had told court officials, “You got the wrong man. This man is too dark.” The police had hidden this information and hadn’t allowed the woman to testify. Darryl laughs incredulously as he says, “I used to be ashamed of my dark skin but it became my saving grace.” The police had also buried the fact that one of the key witnesses in Darryl’s case—a man who had been facing 30 years in prison and had testified in order to receive a lesser sentence—had signed a sworn affidavit five months after Darryl’s trial saying that he wanted to retract his testimony. None of this came to light until 2007. “I just thank God they still had that information,” Darryl says, “If they had destroyed it, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now.” Life for Darryl would never go back to the way it was before he went to prison, as is the case for so many other people who have been wrongfully incarcerated. Not only are their lives changed forever, but also that of their loved ones. Bill Ferguson is the father of Ryan Ferguson, a man who had been imprisoned for ten years after being wrongfully convicted of the murder of Kent Heitholt. Mr. Ferguson, a realtor in Columbia, believed wholeheartedly in his son’s innocence and dove headfirst into finding evidence to help his son get exonerated, doing what KCUR describes as “detective work that would be impressive for a veteran cop”. “I made a flow chart and a timeline, starting to put these pieces together,” Ferguson says, waving his hands in front of his face while describing the details of his son’s case, as if he were pointing at pieces of evidence. He describes the painstaking difficulty of tracking down eyewitnesses, taking their statements, and getting them notarized, an action which Ryan’s lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, said “You’re gonna make my job a lot easier.”
Bill’s idea to have witness statements notarized came from the knowledge that the police will often twist the truth in order to get the statement they want. Bill says, “They’ll say, ‘so you told Mr. Ferguson you saw A, B, and C, could that have been misinterpreted?’ You’re young and impressionable, they’ll be overbearing, and you’ll go with it, because you don’t wanna get in trouble. If you get it notarized, the police cannot change it, because it’s been signed by both you and the notary.” This was the trouble with Ryan’s case. Charles Erickson, a man who was with Ryan on the night of the murder, was goaded into implicating Bill’s son in the crime. “I got the interrogation tapes,” Bill says, “the police clearly spoonfed [Erickson] with the information. Asked him what [Heitholt] was strangled with. He said bungee cord? No. Rope? No. They said it was his belt. He said ‘really’? He really said that. . . It was clear what was going on.” Despite this, the Fergusons don’t hold any animosity towards Erickson for his false testimony, “He said those things out of fear. They told him that he’d receive capital punishment if he didn’t testify against him. He believed, based on the false police reports, that Ryan did do the murder— [Erickson] didn’t remember anything about that night.” Ferguson, though going to extreme measures to help his son, claims he was doing what any other parent would do. “Every morning I’d wake up and think, oh my God. Is this the day that I wake up and I get a call from the warden that says ‘your son’s been killed’? It really drives you to get out there and find the evidence,” Ferguson says that over the ten years that Ryan was in prison, “I visited him twice a week, for four hours, every week. Never missed a meeting.” “When I was growing up the gold standard was fingerprinting, but we now know fingerprinting is not precise enough to say that there’s a scientific basis for linking it to one person and excluding another,” says Larry Golden, a founding member of the Illinois Innocence Project, a unique organization that is based on the work of undergraduate law students. In the late 80s, DNA testing came onto the scene, a more certain way to convict criminals. Realizing that this opened an avenue to exonerate innocent men and women, Golden describes the beginning of the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization that attempts to free people who have been wrongfully convicted using DNA evidence: “Barry Sheck and Peter Neufeld began to take cases of individuals across the country, almost all of whom were on death row. They claimed they were innocent [and] there was a very clear ability to test whether the evidence used in the case, mostly sexual assault cases, blood, whether it belonged to that individual or not. What they
found was shocking—within a few years they had 70 to 80 cases of people sitting and waiting for execution, using basis of DNA testing, they were able to get, by 1998, 78 exonerations.” He describes attending a seminar held by Sheck and Neufeld in these early days, where they tried to convince people working in law to pursue the cause they felt so passionately about. Nearly 60 people who had been exonerated were also in attendance, stating their name and saying things like, “If it weren’t for the Innocence Project, the state of Florida would have killed me three years ago.” Golden remembers the time with reverence, “No matter how hardened the lawyer, people were all in tears.” There are a multitude of factors that go into why wrongful convictions happen, but false confessions and testimonies are at the forefront. Whether coerced by police, motivated by a plea deal, or an up-for-reelection prosecutor who is looking to pad their resumé, false eyewitness testimony often leads to the conviction of innocent people. This is evident in both the cases of Darryl Burton and Ryan Ferguson, who were victims of shady police work. “The police tell the story the way they want to tell it,” Darryl says, “which is always opposite of the truth.” Despite this, the police are very rarely charged for covering the truth in order to get a conviction. Bill Ferguson explains this by saying, “When the police lie, and the prosecutors lie, they never charge anybody. I’m not saying that every prosecutor is a no-good lying SOB—but they want to win the case. It’s the nature of the beast.” In some cases, the exoneree is able to file a civil lawsuit against the justice department. Ryan Ferguson was eventually awarded $10 million dollars in damages after winning his lawsuit. However, this was an extraordinary precedent and many people who have been exonerated are not so lucky. Darryl Burton fought for compensation for seven years only to end up losing his lawsuit and received nothing. While Missouri has slim compensation statutes for people who have been exonerated through DNA evidence, Darryl’s release was based on testimonies. “I don’t know if you give somebody any kind of compensation that can give them justly, fairly, humanely, 20 or 30 years of their lives back,” Larry Golden explains that financial compensation doesn’t truly cut it: “We try to measure these things in monetary terms, but I don’t know how you’d do that. There are other things that are initially more important— when these individuals get out of prison, they have nothing. They don’t have a cent to their name, they don’t have a change of clothes, they don’t have a place to go, they have nothing.” He goes on to explain the real kicker: when someone has been exonerated, they are no longer considered convicts,
and therefore do not qualify for ex-con services like housing and employment assistance. However, for Darryl Burton, there was something far more important to him—his daughter, Tynesha Lee, saying, “She was seven months when I last saw her, just a baby crawling. She don’t remember me, but I remember her.” Life for Tynesha was difficult after her father went to prison. Her mother struggled with addiction, disappearing for days at a time and leaving Tynesha, only child at the time, to care for her younger siblings. The family fell on hard luck after attempting to relocate to Georgia and spent time living in a homeless shelter. Eventually, her mother’s addiction led her to a prison sentence of her own and Tynesha and her little brother and sister were sent into foster care. “I knew of him, my mother had told me stories,” Tynesha says of her father, and while curious about him, she had spent her life believing that her father was guilty of murder. At the time, there was no evidence otherwise. The first thing Darryl did after he was released from prison was look for Tynesha, contacting her previous foster parents to find out where she may be. One of her foster mothers had repeatedly told him what a respectful, intelligent kid Tynesha was, and Darryl said, “I thought, yup. That’s gotta be my daughter.” “My dad ended up finding me after I emancipated myself from foster care,” Tynesha says, “My uncle saw a story about him in the newspaper and called my mother who called me, yelling, ‘Tynesha! Your father! He’s been exonerated!’” “I was so nervous,” Darryl interjects, “I didn’t know whether she’d accept or reject me.” “He called me and said, ‘Tynesha, this is your dad— Darryl Burton. I’ve been waiting twenty five years for this moment. I’m anxious to meet you. I hope you’ll give me a call back.’” “When she called back and said ‘Hi, Dad’. . . I just lost it. She kept me alive—I told her when I was about to give up, I thought, I’ve got a little girl and I need to see her again.” Tynesha was 25 years old the first time she met her father. “I was excited to see him— to see the person that I came from, the person that I resemble,” she says, “Now that I see him, he’s very outspoken, he’s very passionate. I’m just like him. Now I know where I came from.” “That was my pride,” Darryl smiles at his daughter, “Just to see my little girl again.”
‘Tynesha, this is your dad— Darryl Burton. I’ve been waiting twenty five five twenty years for this...’ -Tynesha LEE
work in progress a
Story by Hannah Kueck Photography by Bri Bunker + Aurola Wedman Alfaro
magine that you’ve come home from a long day of classes or work. You’re exhausted. All you want to do is unwind from this long and stressful day with a movie. But you can’t. Your brain refuses to slow down. Every item on your to-do list is racing through your mind and you start to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and guilty. But why? You’ve been productive all day–don’t you deserve a break? You do. But the shame you’re experiencing is telling you otherwise. This is called productivity guilt, a phenomenon that many people, regardless of age, struggle with today. Scott Young, entrepreneur and writer, explains in his article “What is Productivity Guilt? (And How Can You Prevent It?)” that productivity guilt is the nagging feeling people experience when they aren’t doing everything they can. To overcome this guilt, Young explains that people shouldn’t be their ideal self. Instead of completely morphing into this ideal persona, he explains that people should take small steps towards becoming the person they want to be. He advises to stop justifying the guilt—while it can help motivate, it does not improve productivity and can lead to burnout in the end. Instead, work at a slower pace and be patient with your progress.
“There’s only so much I can do to be a healthy and balanced person.” Jacy Lenore Unplugging The Day Jacy Lenore has many jobs. She’s a blogger, a public relations specialist, and a photographer. On top of all of this, Lenore is also a wife and a dog mom. With all of these roles, finding balance is crucial. But finding this can be a feat in itself. Lenore explains that she’s always busy and doesn’t really get to have a social life. Finding a balance is especially challenging during the fall as her photography business is busy with senior portraits and family photo sessions. Lenore describes that she often finds herself sacrificing sleep to get everything on her to-do list completed. Because of this sacrifice, she has accumulated a “sleep debt.” Lenore explains “I’m sleepy, I’m not as sharp, and I don’t have as much energy. It’s a delicate balance, but if I’m not taking care of myself, then I’m working harder instead of smarter.” When Lenore isn’t working, she constantly feels guilty. Even if she’s trying to get some sleep, her mind won’t turn off; she thinks about everything she could be getting done if she wasn’t trying to sleep. This lifestyle has taken a toll on Lenore and her health. During the 2018 holiday season, Lenore hit a low point. She was working so hard throughout the summer and fall that she started falling behind in her self care. She was tired and burnt out. She had exhausted herself physically and mentally. Lenore describes herself as a naturally motivated person, but once she hit this stage of burn-out, she lost her sense of motivation. This low point in her life was the ultimate wake up call for her. It took her a longer time than usual to build her energy levels back up and to get her motivation to return.
Lenore could never hit such a low point again. So, at the beginning of 2019, she decided that she needed to get better at saying “no” to the activities that she was doing that didn’t help her or advance any of her careers. This was a bigger challenge for her because she’s a people pleaser. She also raised her prices in her photography business so she could work less. Doing this was a scary step for Lenore to take. It’s caused her to feel anxious about not booking many clients, but she reminded herself that this was the step she needed to take in order to have more time for herself. Lenore has also began creating healthy rituals and routines to help her avoid reaching another burnout. She has devoted her mornings to alone time where she will unplug from all social media and technology. Instead of scrolling through Instagram or posting on her social media stories, Lenore focuses on herself. One morning she might practice yoga. Or she might journal and read. At night, she unplugs from technology again to ensure she gets into bed at a decent hour. Unplugging from social media can be difficult, especially when being an influencer. Lenore explains how she would love to stay active throughout the day and engage with all of her followers, but she also has to remind herself that being an influencer isn’t her only job. When discussing her thoughts on unplugging, Lenore explains that “there’s only so much I can do to be a healthy and balanced person.” The final step Lenore has been taking to reduce her productivity guilt is removing the word “should” from her vocabulary. “Should” brings about so many feelings of guilt. Lenore explains “I either need to do
Your worth isn’t measured by how productive you are. So don’t get upset with yourself for enjoying life.
something or I want to do something; if it’s neither a want or a need then it’s not a priority.” Eliminating “should” from her vocabulary has helped Lenore prioritize her time better and it’s helped her to minimize her guilt. This is a tactic she recommends to everyone.
Thespian On-The-Go Lexi Holder, a second-year theatre management major at Stephens College, is another victim of productivity guilt. Being in the theatre program, Holder is no stranger to twelve- and fourteen-hour workdays. She begins her day at 8 a.m., goes to classes until 3 p.m., works for the dean of the school of performing arts, and then has rehearsal for her productions until 10 p.m. Holder spends her summers at Okoboji, a summer theatre program in Iowa. This summer, she had one week off between the end of Okoboji and the first week of classes at Stephens College. She explains how strange this week was because she had nothing to do. This made her eager for classes to begin so she could return to her normal busy schedule. The theatre environment has strengthened her need to stay busy, but this trait has always been a part of her— even when she was in high school she experienced this urge to be on-the-go. “The thing about this job is that I’m constantly trying to figure out how much I can fit into my day” Holder describes as her job as a theatre management major. Holder explains that she can’t give herself a quota for what she needs to accomplish. Instead of setting a quota for herself, she goes into her day telling herself what she needs to get accomplished. She’s learned to accept that she can’t constantly be pushing herself to get a certain amount of things done or else she’ll be too hard on herself and feel disappointed even when it’s not necessary. Holder obviously has long and hectic days. To help her get through these days, she wakes up and asks herself “how am I going to own the day?” This simple question has helped Holder own her work.
“I’m constantly trying to figure out how much I can fit into my day.” Lexi Holder She explains that it’s not just owning the day to make sure it’s a great day for her, but to also help her get things done, and owning every single thing she does. Whether that’s a paper she wrote, or a project she’s working on. She owns everything she does— good or bad. She also makes sure to take ownership of herself and her health. She takes an hour every day to relax. This hour is filled with something creative or practical. She might brew a cup of tea, or she might listen to an episode of “Spooky Listener,” one of her favorite podcasts. Holder still finds herself fighting the need to take a break, but she’s beginning to learn to accept when her body is telling her to take one. Jacy Lenore and Lexi Holder’s stories remind us that we need breaks. Scott Young explains that giving into productivity guilt can lead to poor side-effects, and we see this through Lenore’s story as she reached a state of burnout from overworking herself. Your worth isn’t measured by how productive you are. So don’t get upset with yourself for enjoying life. Don’t get upset with yourself for indulging in a Netflix marathon. Or for going out with your friends. You’re a work in progress.
Threads of a
revolution Story by Makai Patton Photography by Taylor Jones, Alexanderia Rinehart + Madison Green
ashion. Most people see fashion as a form
of art and self-expression, but have you ever taken the time to go back and see what fashion was? During the 19th century, women faced many barriers that limited what they could wear. Knowing what women went through for us to be able to express ourselves is imperative, especially if this is the industry you want to pursue your career in.
Looking back For thousands of years, women have been restricted from wearing certain garments such as trousers. These dress restrictions, according to Lori HallAraujo— fashion professor at Stephens College, “can affect a person’s mental state and sense of selfworth.” Society made sure that women followed the rules they wanted them to regarding what they wore. They didn’t care, nor did they think about how these restrictions would affect them. This issue wasn’t only in America— it was everywhere. And these restrictions are still happening in certain countries today. In France during the 1500s, it was illegal for women to have a “thick waist” meaning it was mandatory for you to have a “hourglass figure” while attending court. To achieve this, women wore corsets made from whale bone. These women worked so hard to achieve this “tiny waist” to the point that some women’s waists measured between 14 to 16 inches. This trend spread rapidly, and women continued to wear them during the 19th century. But during the 1850s, Women began demanding and fighting for our freedom from these contraptions. During this time, women were not only fighting for liberation from the government, but they were also fighting for restrictions of corsets and for women to have the right to wear trousers. Some women wore corsets voluntarily, but many women were starting to fight against them. They claimed that the undergarments made it difficult to move and breathe. According to The Lancet, the oldest medical journal, Corsets caused so much damage to women’s bodies. Because of this, women were unable to adapt to new trends and clothing without them. Later on, the popular hourglass figure went out of style and so did the crushing corset. Instead, women started wearing girdles which gave them a boyish and boxy figure. Around the 20th-century sportswear began to find a place in fashion and the legendary Coco Chanel
“Fashion doesn’t have rules. But if it did, rules can always be broken.”
was turning heads with her new designs which featured trousers and tailored jackets. This was a significant change to women’s apparel as trousers on women had previously been outlawed. But that still didn’t stop them. Luisa Capetillo, a writer, and activist from Puerto Rico believed that women should have the same rights as men. During the mid-1900s, she was arrested for wearing trousers in public. In 2009, following in Luisa Capetillo’s steps towards dress-code equality, 13 women were arrested in Khartoum, Sudan for wearing trousers. Women didn’t give a warning before they started demanding our freedom, they just did it. Not only did women take a stand, but many designers such as Jane Regny and Jean Patou started coming forward with new trends to go along with the sportswear trend. These trends were looked down upon, but they got us to where we are today.
Fashion today Paris Chea, a fashion designer based in Atlanta Georgia stated, “Fashion doesn’t have rules, but if it did, rules can always be broken.” Paris Chea explains, “fashion is art in walking form.” We have our pros and cons, but we can honestly say that fashion has made a huge turnaround. Given the long journey women’s fashion has taken throughout the centuries, we all wonder what the future of fashion will look like. Today, we have so many designers working on making their collections more sustainable. They’re even expressing political views in their garments too. Dior is leading this political trend by developing a collection that included shirts that read “We should all be feminists” and “Dio(R)evolution.” Thousands of these shirts were sold and all proceeds went to the Clara Lionel Foundation. This charity, created by Rihanna, fights against poverty, injustice, inequality and promotes access to education. Fashion requires you to have a voice and a sense of creativity in your work. The fashion industry is more than just clothes and top brands; fashion is a key piece to history that we all should learn from.
“We can dress for the future we’re creating, or the past we’ve already lived.”
speak up Story by Caylea Ray Illustrations by Hannah Kueck
he freedom of speech is protected by The First Amendment and many education institutions have bolstered these protections by putting their own statutes in place. In fact, this is required for public colleges, but a private college like Stephens is not required to implement these same protections. MJ Jonen and Grace Tillet, both Stephens students, speak about how free speech has impacted them. MJ identifies as a liberal, genderqueer, senior creative writing major, while Grace identifies as a queer, conservative, third-year education major, and serves on the advisory board for the free speech policy. Because of their opposing political views, MJ and Grace are able to give unique insight on the way free speech policies affect them in their daily lives.
In your own words, what does freedom of speech encompass? Free Speech should be where you can speak your mind, but there are repercussions. I think that is the biggest thing for me, because the only time I hear people citing free speech is when they’re saying something other people won’t like or they’re saying something offensive. There are only certain things that the legal system can do, and that’s just how our system works. I think more people just need to know, “freedom of speech,” doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want without any consequences.
You can’t explicitly say racist or homophobic things because sex, sexual orientation, and race are all protected classes in the United States of America as they should be. The awesome part about free speech is that it makes sure that everyone has a safe place to say what they think and feel.
Define an incident where freedom of speech was important to you. A few years ago, after Trump was elected, Stephens had a town hall meeting. A couple of students stated that they were afraid for their well-being. These were students of minorities, whether that be gender, sexual orientation, race or religious minorities. Then a student started talking about how she felt scared because people were judging her and treated her differently because she voted for Trump. She was yelled at by other students that were afraid for their lives; she was comparing her fear to their fear. I didn’t agree with her. So, I got up and said ‘Hey, quiet, she has every right to talk.” Though I did not agree with a lot of what she said, she still had every right to speak her views because it wasn’t hate speech. She was just expressing how she felt whether or not it was the same as everyone else.
Last semester, we were discussing the politics of education in class, and the way people are on different sides of the political spectrum, views on education, and the educational policy. My group was working with a very much “us vs. them” approach to the readings. Instead of just reading what we were supposed to, one of the group members would say, ‘those damn conservatives. Like I can’t believe they do this. They don’t care about kids; they don’t like kids.’ I kept trying to repeat, “we’re just trying to learn about what they’re saying. Our goal right now is just to read our textbook.” My peers were unable or unwilling at the time to accept that. Because of the way that Stephens has framed political ideology at this campus specifically, I felt unsafe when speaking up for myself. I was not being listened to or heard. I was being silenced by my peers.
How does your sexuality influence your freedom of expression? I found words to describe myself that I didn’t have before—the creation of new words [and] my own discovery. [Now] I’m more vocal—so I’m kind of like ‘hey if you don’t say stuff the right way, I’m going to confront you about it, but I’m going to correct you politely,’ and some people get defensive, but I’m just trying to make things good between us.
I have experienced how hard it sometimes can feel to be Christian and queer and how that can be a difficult thing. Last year, a person in one of my classes said that they could not trust or respect any Christian because of what Christians had done to their community, referring to the LGBTQ+ community. I want to let you know that, as somebody who is a very, very devout practicing Christian, anybody who has ever been rude to you because of your sexual identity or sexual orientation, we, as Christians, don’t want you to think that all of us are like that because most Christians aren’t.
Going forward, should Stephens put a policy in place to clearly protect the freedom of speech? What should the policy cover? I don’t know what the policy currently is, but I know we can’t have interactive boards anymore in the residence life halls. If you put something on your door, you’re opening that up for anybody to write on it or anybody to do anything to it. What you say, what you put out into the world, or what you wear can have repercussions. I don’t think that there should be a policy where you can rebuke someone for wearing anything for Trump, Bernie, or any other political figure. There shouldn’t be a policy stopping people from having a discussion or saying things to people, as long as it’s not hate speech. If you coddle your adult students now, they’re going to think that they’ll get to be coddled outside of Stephens, and the world will not coddle you.
I would like to see some policy in place that very clearly outlines to all members of our Stephen’s community that we are allowed to be whoever we want to be. I can’t be my true authentic self with my parents. I just can’t. But at Stephens I can be—for the most part. I think that making it clear that we embrace, accept, and love all members of our community, regardless if we don’t love or fully identify with every single part of our peers, is important.
Angry Black Woman SL
Story by Meca Brown-Sanders Photography by Aurola Wedman Alfaro
ichelle Obama states, “as a black woman, I don’t have the luxury of having a wide range of emotions for fear of being called angry. I’m careful about how I present myself, especially with nonblack people. Whenever you have a conversation with someone, you feel like you’re carrying all of black womanhood on your shoulders.” Black women are unprotected, disrespected and neglected in society. It is a narrative about black women and all that is wrong with them. That they are loud, unattractive, and angry. The notion that black women are angry and unreasonably so has impacted their livelihood. It has systematically and socially oppressed them. As well as allowed the media to contribute to this anti-black woman propaganda. A string of stereotypes that persists against them appear daily on the internet, in headlines, government policies, songs, videos, T.V. shows, etc. A caricature that black women can’t seem to escape from, despite how hard they fight to prove it wrong and to prove they are enough as they are. So, are black women angry? Damn right! And reasonably so. Because black women are tired and emotionally exhausted. But they are not allowed to be. They must stay strong, persistent, and suppress their emotions because everyone depends and expects a strong black woman. And even this oppresses black women from being human and being heard.
Black women endure so much on a daily basis. No specific group out of the majority of women have been targeted and demonized like black women. Black women are constantly under the microscope of scrutiny. They are ridiculed, hypersexualized and threatened by their hair, the color of their skin, their bodies, their motherhood, their attitudes, etc. All of which are used to discriminate against them. Little black girls like 15-year-old Deanna and Mya Scot, are suspended from school because their hair is considered “distracting” and “untidy.” They are given ultimatums to change their hair or to never return. 40% percent of black girls are arrested in connection with school incidents. Next there’s colorism: a systematic and social discrimination of skin tone based on European beauty standards; where black girls with darker skin, larger facial features, and coarser hair are told they’re less pretty and are treated differently than their sisters with lighter skin and European features. This causes a rift between black women and a fight over which skin tone is superior. Later, it’s a kindergarten teacher criticized for the shape of her body. She’s ridiculed for looking “too sexy” in her work clothes and deemed too “erotic” to be a kindergarten teacher. Then there’s a majority of single black women who are head of household. Who work two jobs and attend college while raising children. And are criticized for being single mothers, unwedded, and unfit. Aside from that, black women like
Michelle Obama make headlines that read, Angry First Lady because she supposedly frowns or “mugs” while in the public’s eye. Or that she’s too assertive and demanding when making a speech about the betterment of this country. She’s perceived as aggressive, militant, and angry. And lastly, when it comes to violence and maternal mortality rates among black women, those rates are significantly higher than other races of women. According to research data from Harvard Public Health Magazine black mothers die at a ratio of 40.0 deaths per 100,000; from postpartum complications because doctors turn them away when those women report pain after giving birth. Along with that, ACLU reports that 22 percent of black women and 53 percent of black trans women are raped in the U.S.—and 56 percent of black trans women experience domestic violence; while The Institute of Women’s Research reports that 40 percent of cis black women also experience domestic violence. Lastly, ACLU reports that black women are two and a half times more likely to be murdered by men than white women. Black women carry these burdens when they show up to be present as colleagues, coworkers, mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. They are not allowed to show how much these burdens impact them. Those examples of discrimination and violence that black women face derive from three stereotypes: The Mammie, the Jezebel, and the Sapphire. The Mammie is a black woman who is unattractive and only purpose is to bare, birth and nurture children. The Jezebel is a promiscuous hypersexual black woman. And the Sapphire is angry, full of rage, militant and strong black woman. Society created these stereotypes to limit black women to these roles that kept them from moving up the power hierarchy. In an interview with Shaashawn Dial, the inaugural Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Stephens College, she says, “In the workplace, being a black woman, we are placed in these three boxes and none of which serve you well to maintain employment or even get hired.
So, if you’re perceived as angry…the Sapphire… are you even going to be recruited, selected, let alone hired? Let’s say you do get hired…the types of macroaggressions that are going to be said is ‘she doesn’t really fit into the culture, not sure if she’s qualified, not sure if she’s a team player, not sure that people will go to her.’ So, if someone has positional power, the ability to grant access and opportunity, or to take it away, they’re not going to grant it. So, in the workplace there is a systemic pushout of black women…a push out and it’s in all fields. And it’s because we either fit in one of these three when they hire us and if we move out of that box; folks are no longer comfortable or they’re already looking for these stereotypes to pop up.” As these stereotypes impact black women in the workplace, so does colorism. Black women that are darker are perceived more of a threat than those who are lighter by their white and non-black counterparts. They tend to be treated more hostile and result in being terminated compared to their lighter sisters. In an interview with Arianna Varner, a senior and fashion design major at Stephens College, she disclosed a personal experience and one she witnessed on the behalf of her former coworker. She talked about being a lighter skin black woman and how her experience with the label, Angry Black woman differed from her coworker’s experience who is brown-skinned. She said, “As far as being the angry black woman in the workplace, I hadn’t really experienced that until my most recent employment…in the office of design where I worked. There were only three black people, me and two other black women. The office was predominantly white and female.” Arianna goes on to say that one day she made a mistake with a pattern and a production manager sent an email asking her to fix and resend it. After countless attempts to fix it, she realized the problem was her computer system. It was unable to send the right measurements to the machines at her job. So, she decided to ask her mentor to export the pattern and send it to the production team. However, the pattern would never get sent which resulted in a visit from a tech designer.
Know that you are not weak because one day you are not strong.
Arianna said, “she came over to my desk and stood directly over me saying ‘Hey, I don’t know what the problem is, or what is going on with this style because the production team has sent previous emails for it. Are you not seeing it?’ I couldn’t even get out what I was trying to say before she impatiently called for my mentor.” The tech designer then explained the issue to the mentor who acted as if she was hearing the news for the first time and told the tech designer that they’d fix it right away. Arianna felt that her mentor failed to stick up for her in regards to how she was approached. So, she went over to her coworker’s desk to vent. After, she went back to her desk, calmed down, texted her mama, and told her what happened. And then she wrote an email to the tech designer explaining the miscommunication they had. But she never responded back. Arianna says, “White women can get away with not being respectful sometimes but as a black woman when dealing with a white woman you have to be the respectful one.”
But previously, she was evaluated for being too social and interactive. And now she was being told she wasn’t social enough and that other women complained that she wouldn’t greet them. She felt as if she couldn’t just “be” because no matter what there was a problem. In Arianna’s interview about her coworker she said, “So, when I was hired, she got back happy because she had someone to express her transgressions in the workplace with. When you’re in white spaces you can’t dish out stuff; you have to hold it in. No matter if there’s an ally present, they can’t feel that experience. All you can do is tell a story to them. But, to tell a story to someone and to share a story with someone; is two different feelings. And she was missing that.”
“Often, we equate black women with strength, one of our greatest qualities, but that’s not all we are. Black women can be vulnerable. We can be emotional.”
In Arianna’s coworkers case things went a lot different. There was an incident in a conference meeting between a designer and the coworker. The coworker suggested an idea for a style but it was perceived as aggressive and resulted into a meeting where this individual was told she was “abrasive.” Before Arianna was hired, her coworker dealt with being the only black girl in the office for a period-of-time. Which made her become depressed and she started being quieter and staying at her desk more. She wasn’t going out of her way to greet people although she would do that sometimes, but the women in the office wouldn’t say anything back to her. So, she grew tired of that and tired of being the only respectful one in the workplace. As a result of her “keeping to herself” she was evaluated because she was silent and she didn’t interact with others.
No matter if a black woman is sad, excited, irritated, happy, or even angry; they have to limit those emotions. Suppress them even. They must be careful on how they express themselves, how they speak in conversations, how they move, when dealing with white and non-black people in order to avoid the angry black woman label.
And when it comes to feeling comfortable or a sense of belonging in the work space that is ultimately absent in regards to black women, black women feel as though they can be safe to express themselves emotionally in spaces where there are only other black women. In an interview with Azizah Badwan, an alumna of Stephens College, she talked about the experience of being labeled an angry black woman, and how she deals with it, and black sisterhood. In college, Azizah held leadership positions such as, Vice President of Beautiful –now known as BWE– and SGA Diversity Chair. She felt that she had to fight and claw her way through everything when it came to her leadership positions. When it came to certain curricula, she felt she had to sensor herself because others felt she could offend people. But they failed to recognize how she felt when dealing with microaggressions on a daily basis. They were
“To tell a story to someone and to share a story with someone are two different feelings.”
Arianna Varner more concerned with making people uncomfortable than minimizing her experience as a black woman. She talked about having a dominating personality and how it labeled her as an angry black woman. “I was battling with that, like am I okay with being that angry black girl? Or should I die with that? And if they equate ambition, outspoken and confident with being angry, well then God damn it I’m angry as hell.” She got to a point where she didn’t care how people perceived her because she knew who she was and she stood firmly in that. When discussing black sisterhood, she said, “I really learned the importance of supporting other black girls…because we’re all we got. Black women are someone else’s support system, backbone, and we don’t have a backbone besides each other.” As we have learned, being a black woman can be empowering and magical, but it can also be exhausting. When it comes to black women being emotional, people ignore them and are uncomfortable with them. They are never given the time to be emotional, vulnerable, or weak. Black women have internalized the term, “strong black woman” out of fear of being criticized or ridiculed for being labeled as angry or emotional. Black women can’t have a bad day without it being a problem to someone else. They always have to be “superwoman” in order to make others comfortable when they’re uncomfortable themselves. It denies them the ability to be human and to feel like their feelings are validated. So black women, be magical, be unapologetic; know that you are not weak because one day you are not strong. It’s okay to retire that superwoman cape sometimes.
Until All of Us Are Free Story by Jessica Kittle Photography by Bri Bunker
ifty years after Stonewall, Queer people still face mistreatment at the hands of practices and people in power that would rather dilute them than let them live as they want. Often, transgender and nonbinary individuals get the brunt of this discrimination. Workplace harassment, barriers to compassionate healthcare, and a horrific epidemic of targeted violence are among the issues that trans and nonbinary people experience every day. Many people believe that the United States has always intentionally designed dangers for the disempowered in the fabric of its society. They believe that for a country with the still-unhealed trauma of slavery as its legacy, it rewards the same type of people that it always has, and reprimands everyone else. It’s hard to deny that oppressed people live a worse reality than others when the barriers constructed to hold them back have not been dismantled. In 2015, 29% of respondents to the United States Transgender Survey (USTS) said that they were living in poverty, compared to the 12% national average. According to the HRC website, as of this writing, 22 trans or nonbinary people have been murdered in 2019 with 19 of them being Black trans women. Living in a country and in a culture that values freedom so highly while ignoring a large and growing segment of its population that isn’t free is an act of complicity. Being free isn’t enough if everyone else isn’t also free.
Before You Begin... Transgender (adj):
Someone whose identity does not correspond with the gender they were assigned at birth. Some nonbinary individuals identify as trans, some do not.
Refers to someone whose identity is the same as the gender they were assigned at birth.
Refers to someone who does not identify as exclusively masculine or feminine.
A series of LGBT-led demonstrations against an anti-gay police raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich, NY, on June 28th, 1969. Thought by many to be the beginning of the gay rights movement, it wasn’t the first example of its kind, but it’s “the shot heard round the world” as far as its lasting impact as a symbol of queer power.One of several examples of police brutality against marginalized communities that cause Queer people to be skeptical of the police force having a place in their liberation.
MJ Jonen is an author and poet with plans to graduate
with their BFA in Creative Writing this May. They talk with me about their experience as a genderqueer person, starting with their realization that they were not cis. “I never really questioned gender growing up because I didn’t know that nonbinary existed. I knew I wasn’t a boy, so I assumed I must be a girl,” they say. “I didn’t actually start realizing or questioning anything until my first semester here at Stephens. There was an article that came out in the Columbia Missourian that was about a person running for homecoming king at Mizzou that was genderqueer. I saw the word and I was like, ‘why does that connect with me?’ It just clicked and I didn’t know why. So, I took a year off to do research on different genders and just [discover] myself.” Over that year, MJ stayed in Florida, compiling a 22-page information packet on LGBT identities. Besides being incredibly resourceful, MJ is a popular figure on campus due to their involvement in Stephens’s culture. “I put together a panel of individuals of the queer communities to educate people because at that time they weren’t quite as accepted,” they say. “That was three years ago, but so much has changed in three years. Since then, there has been a lot of positive change. It took some activism to get [Stephens] to that place, but since then it’s very much been a safe space for me.” MJ points out a feature in our school gateway that many people aren’t aware of. “I like that now you can go into My Stephens and you can change your preferred name and pronouns, so that on the faculty’s list it says what your pronouns are and what name you want to be called.” They continue, “and right now I know that student development is working with the LGBT planning committee to develop signs [for] the bathrooms. The school is actively doing things to change, instead of waiting for students to complain. People have learned enough now to notice when things aren’t right. It’s good we’ve gotten to that point.” MJ goes on to explain, “One thing that many people do is that, when they see what they assume to be non-binary individuals or they meet people that are non-binary, they automatically see them as other. It’s hard to create any sort of relationship when someone sees you as other [because] you’re treated differently; whether you’re treated better because you’re other, or you’re treated as, ‘I’m going to keep an arm’s length away from you because you’re other.’ “It’s not fun,” says MJ. “I don’t want to be treated any differently than you treat anybody else. Treat me like you would treat your best friend, like you would treat your neighbor. That’s what we want, to be just accepted for who we are. We want to just be and have freedom to be who we are without being treated differently or being judged. And that’s a hard part of things.”
"technically I have freedom to express myself whenever I want... but realistically, society judges a lot. Society is generally unsafe for me."
Asher Lipscomb is an avant-garde makeup enthusiast in
their second year of Costume Design. I sit down with them in the costume library on Halloween to hear about their experience with gender identity. “I choose to use [nonbinary] as opposed to a [specific] gender, because I like that it’s more fluid and vague. For me, I feel like my gender isn’t super defined,” says the designer. “I sort of play on aspects of both masculine and feminine gender roles; I change them around depending on how I feel that day.” The 19-year-old talent has identified as nonbinary since they were 14 years old. “I think I’ve always been less of a strict masculine [or] feminine person,” they say. When they were in middle school, their friends were intrigued by gender and sexuality studies. They found the label as a happy accident. As Asher was sorting out their identity, they “came out” using a name and a label that they didn’t end up liking. “I felt like I was tied to that label for a really long time,” says Asher. “So, I think coming out is a very antiquated concept.” “When I was younger, I sort of felt this pressure from all the sources I had about LGBT people to say, OK, I am this thing. Coming out sort of enforces this idea that you absolutely must be 100 percent sure about what your identity is. I feel like it’s OK to have a little bit of, “I’m not quite sure what I am, but I know I’m not cis.” Even coming out, I feel like, destroys the process of experimentation because it is OK to experiment with your gender and everyone really should, to figure out what suits them the best.” When Asher talks, their eyes twinkle. What makes this more surreal is that, on this day, Ash is dressed in costume as a clown cowboy, complete with their signature blush-red nose. They adjust their cow print vest as they tell me that in general, the community at Stephens has been respectful, but that the language used by the college to describe students could be improved. “Right now, the main thing I have an issue with at Stephens is that every time there’s any event, it’s like ‘Stephens women, Stephens ladies!’ I don’t think a huge portion of the student body is not cis, but I do think there’s a decent enough portion where you should have more inclusivity in your language — especially after this decision that they made, specifically allowing trans women and explicitly saying if you are nonbinary and not transitioning, you’re able to be here.” The policy Asher is referring to was voted into place by the Board of Trustees at the end of 2018 to be enforced starting this semester. It reaffirms Stephens’ mission to teach women, including trans women and excluding trans and nonbinary people who identify primarily as men. Nonbinary students are included in this policy as well. The policy is frustrating to some because of its insistence on using binary language. “If you’re going to have that in your policy, you need to be inclusive in your language, because it can be a little bit frustrating to be in a room of people where you know for a fact that like 10 people are nonbinary,” says Ash. “And it’s like, ‘OK, ladies!’”
"...freedom for me is being able to just do your thing without having to worry about any other issues. If you're not hurting anyone, you should be able to do what you're wanting to do. "
I ask Asher what they wish cis people would do or not do. They reply in two parts. First, they’d like everyone to be open about their pronouns. “I think a big thing for allies is being open about your pronouns even [if] you use the pronouns you were assigned at birth. It can really help to destigmatize that for trans people. Put your pronouns in your Instagram bio or when you start a conversation, say, ‘Hey, what are your pronouns? Here are mine,’” they say. “Because if you are a trans person coming out and you’re the only one in the room introducing yourself with they/them pronouns it can be a daunting task, especially to young trans people.” They would also like to change the media’s representation of nonbinary and trans people. “A lot of cis people sort of have this one vision of what a nonbinary person looks like, and it’s like this perfectly androgynous person that’s like skinny and white and they’ve got the wavy pixie cut. Maybe it’s dyed,” says Ash, their hands making a wavy motion next to their head. “A big thing I would like to see change is the image of what nonbinary is because there are so many nonbinary people who choose to look a certain way that is ascribed as masculine or feminine. “There are fat nonbinary people, and you never see them represented. There are people of color who identify as nonbinary— some of the oldest historic examples we have of non-binary genders are people of color. In the media, you are more likely to see a white nonbinary person in any situation than a person of color or a Black person.”
is a self-described radical anarchist in their second year of Costume Design. While hand sewing lace trim to the hem of a coal-colored dress, the young designer tells me what it means to them to be genderfluid. “Pretty much on the daily, I wake up and I’m like, how do I feel today?” they say. “Sometimes I feel like I identify with something for months. Sometimes I don’t. I also really don’t like to express myself in a way that feels too binary in general.” Emile goes on to talk about how they express their gender. “Even if I do feel pretty [masculine] or feminine on any given day, I can allude to that, but I don’t really like to call myself that with the style of clothing I wear. Sometimes I wear very masculine shit. Sometimes I wear very feminine shit. But it does differ.” Emile remembers feeling, as a child, that people were wrong to call them a girl, though the 22-year old didn’t consciously discern their detachment from gender until they were about 17 years old.
"build your community before you go to people that will not accept you. Learn what causes you pain and what causes you happiness and do a lot of research."
“I realized that I related more to adjectives than I ever did to any gender. Calling myself a gender felt really bad too, both of those things in tandem. So, it was like: I feel searingly powerful today, but I don’t really feel like a girl.” Emile has a laugh that starts at the end of their sentence and rolls off them in bursts like a can of Chef Boyardee on a staircase. It’s very endearing. I ask about their advice for young people who’re about to announce different-than-cis pronouns, and they have this insight: “Build your community before you go to people that will not accept you. Learn what causes you pain and what causes you happiness and do a lot of research.” After attaching lace to the hem of the dress, Emile moves to the neckline. It looks like the designer is just moving their hand in a flourish, over and over. I take a moment to appreciate the skill involved in this effortless labor, as they go on to say that societally celebrated milestones don’t always account for queer people. “Marriage and having a home and a job and that sort of stability is very cis-hetero-normative. How do we redefine that in a way that makes sense for queer people? How do we live in that? How do we take our ethics and our personality and live that out?” I ask Emile about what they wish cisgender people would do or stop doing. They respond with, “Stop acting like your perspective is the best perspective and – the judgment. It’s the fucking judgment that gets me. Obviously, you’re not committed to making the world a better place because, like I say, everything that’s wrapped up in the perfect view of what it means to be hetero-normative is literally the opposite of what we need for social and environmental change.”
what you can do Missouri is a harsh state for Queer people due to its record of little workplace protections and zero healthcare nondiscrimination laws. The Human Right Campaign’s 2018 State Equality Index listed Missouri as a state with High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality, attributing this to its specific exclusion of transgender healthcare from Medicare coverage. This lack of basic equality only adds to the already heaping plate of unique issues that many of our trans and nonbinary friends face. What can one do to help? Show respect to trans people by calling them by their correct name and pronouns. Advocate for them, even when they’re not in the room. Support all trans people and be there for your trans and nonbinary friends. Make sure that everyone gets their stake in freedom. 50 years after Stonewall, we should remember the words of artist Lilla Watson: “If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
Poetry by Aurola Wedman Alfaro Photography by Madison Green
Día de los Muertos, Día de los Vivos For one day, free from the dead Brought back from oblivion Greeted with flowers and food Free from your mistakes Remembered for what you did best No one is as noble as a Dearly departed They smile with open arms To those who knock the door Dead or alive, They greet them. In the land of the living, Those who come from this place Are told to go back Told they should die Forgotten in cells Or living in fear Who dares to dream in this land of freedom? No family reunions No welcoming marigolds Your native tongue You are told to forget Yo te veo Yo te escucho Para mí, no estás muerto. I wish that For one day I could free you from the living.
Hijab isn’t only physical. it is Internal and it’s about modesty. hanna abdulkhaleq
BEYOND THE HEADSCARF Muslim-American women share their hijab experiences Story + Photography: Aurola Wedman Alfaro
knew her religion before I knew her name. The conscious decision to wear a hijab and show affiliation with Islam, which has been surrounded by negative connotations, requires courage. I knew that beyond the headscarf she was like me —a woman with dreams and aspirations. I walked over and said hi. According to Pew Research, the U.S. Muslim population exceeds 3 million, and approximately half of the women who identify as Muslim wear a headscarf. Despite that, the headscarf is still surrounded by curiosity and prejudice. In this article, four Midwestern Muslim-American women share their hijab experiences to spread awareness and understanding of what it means to be a MuslimAmerican woman today.
terms to know Hijab: Originally used to describe any concealing garment worn by women outside the house. Now, it is frequently used interchangeably with the term headscarf. Headscarf: A piece of fabric that covers the head and hair while leaving the face uncovered. Niqab: Garment that covers the face and head, leaving the eyes uncovered. Burka: Garment that covers the full body and usually has a screen across the eyes.
with Summer Albarcha
High school had just started and Summer Albarcha wanted to appear friendly. Like every other ninthgrader at Parkway West High School in Ballwin, Missouri, making friends was important to her. Unlike them, Albarcha had an additional concern: she didn’t want her headscarf to deter anyone from wanting to be her friend. Albarcha, who identifies as MuslimAmerican, was very interested in modest fashion, a way of dressing that reveals less skin for reasons of faith, religion, or personal preference. She was always styling her family and friends and wanted to shatter stereotypes about people who dress modestly. “You can decide to maintain your values and also dress in a way that’s fashionable, fun, and professional,” she says. Instead of allowing her religious beliefs to be an obstacle for her fashion styling, Albarcha’s creativity flowed. She began noticing modest fashion hashtags on social media and decided to start her own blog and contribute to this community. “Pre-social media, the only source of inspiration was in magazines and billboards and there wasn’t much diversity,” she says. Finally, she felt like her interest for the fashion world and modest styling had a common ground. Now, Albarcha is a modest fashion influencer based in New York who shares her styles with over 500,000 followers. She has been featured in Teen Vogue, Marie Claire, numerous brand partnerships and advertising campaigns, including Summer Salt. She was also a model for Karlie Kloss’ Express Runway Show. Albarcha recognizes she had an easy transition into
wearing the hijab and wishes to inspire others who might be struggling, “Whether it be in [wearing] hijab, dressing modestly or just in getting ready in the morning, I would love if someone would come to my page, get their inspiration and then get ready and feel confident,” she adds.
Identifying as a feminist with Humera Lodhi
Humera Lodhi is a University of Missouri journalism and statistics graduate, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the highly selective Columbia University in New York. She grew up in Columbia, Missouri and knew she wanted to wear the hijab since she was a child. During her upbringing, her parents, who are from India, attended the local mosque. Lodhi
grew up in an environment centered around Muslim community and was surrounded by women who wore headscarves. She said that seeing women who she looked up to wearing the hijab, made her want to wear it too.
what was irrelevant about me and highlighting what was most important: my thoughts and my opinions,” she concludes.
“My parents, and my mom specifically, always did a really good job about encouraging me to learn about faith on my own,” she says. Her mother encouraged her to read about the meaning of hijab and why women wear it. Lodhi explains that in a world that objectifies women and focuses on their appearance, choosing to dress in a modest way is inspiring, “Hijab was something that was really empowering for me and actually what lead me down the road of identifying as a feminist. Hijab allowed me to gain confidence. When I was putting the headscarf, I was covering
with Hanna Abdulkhaleq
The transition Life changes are often met with excitement and celebration. For Hanna Abdulkhaleq, a senior biology major at the University of Missouri, this celebration of change occurred when her friends threw her a surprise hijab party. The summer before starting college, Abdulkhaleq went to Dubai with her family. She decided to start wearing the hijab there and come back wearing it. “I thought that was the best transition. I didn’t really have to worry about people around me because the majority there are Muslim,” she explains.
Whenever you are looking at one piece of a culture, you cannot understand it just by looking at that, you have to look at how it fits into all of the other pieces. Sara Diab
Upon her return, her friends showed her their support by putting together a celebration. When Abdulkhaleq walked into her friend Humera’s basement, she was surrounded by pastel party décor, her favorite food, and most importantly, her friends. “I started crying and everyone embraced me,” says Abdulkhaleq, “It was one of the best days of my life. I’ll remember it forever and cherish it.”
She began watching YouTube videos to learn about different ways to wrap headscarves. She also learned from friends and experimented until she found a style she liked. Her favorite fabric for headscarves is jersey, and although she bought some of her scarves abroad, she now orders them online.
This sense of belonging and community was particularly important for Abdulkhaleq. As the daughter of a Japanese mother and a Palestinian father, she and her two sisters grew up eating Japanese noodles and Arabic dishes. They celebrated New Years by cleaning the house and commemorated Eid al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan (Muslim fasting). Initially, being part of two cultures made Abdulkhaleq feel like she didn’t fit in, but when she joined a youth group at her mosque, she found a community. She got more in touch with her religion and started to wear the hijab occasionally when attending the mosque.
with Sara Diab
In high school, Abdulkhaleq knew she wanted to wear a headscarf permanently but was scared to do so. One of her first experiences wearing the hijab was on a Friday after going to the mosque, “I remember this car of guys passing us and screaming things at us, jihad and stuff like that. I got really scared and thought ‘I can’t wear this right now’,” she says. Deciding to wear the headscarf in Dubai was easy, “I was so happy and comfortable. I felt like I fit in,” says Abdulkhaleq, “When I was coming back [to the U.S.] I didn’t feel as comfortable. Whenever anyone starts wearing the hijab, you are more aware of your surroundings. Sometimes you automatically think, is this person staring at me because of my hijab or is it just because that’s how they are?,” she says. However, she was firm in her decision to wear a headscarf, “Personally, I felt closer to God. Hijab isn’t only physical. It is internal and it is about modesty,” she explains. Abdulkhaleq walked into her first college class in a huge auditorium; it was her first time wearing the hijab in a classroom, “I am pretty sure I was the only one wearing it there. I was very nervous, and on top of that it’s the first day of college too,” she says. But with time, it became easier, “I realized college is very relaxed and no one really cares.”
Being a Muslim For Sara Diab, a graduate student at Stephens College, being a Muslim means having a connection with God regardless of the situation you are in. “It means keeping the mentality that God is directly involved in everything, in every aspect of my life,” she says. While xenophobia against Muslim people already existed in the U.S., prejudice grew during the aftermath of 9/11. As a young kid, Diab says she was lucky to be attending a private school at the time. She tells the story of a friend whose headscarf was ripped of her head as a kid questioned her about what she was hiding in her backpack. Diab still had to endure remarks like “your grandfather is Osama bin Laden and you are lying about it” or “your parents are going to force you to get married when you turn 13.” Despite these experiences, Diab moved on and remained strong in her faith. “Humans are resilient; we find a way to deal with it. People are put in a lot of tougher situations and still manage to survive it and go on, things like living in extreme poverty or sex trafficking. In comparison, I don’t think that what I had to deal with was that difficult. This is the path I want to be on and I can’t let other people decide for me to leave that path,” she says. Diab believes that with the internet, things can be better. People who want to know more about Islam, can know. Going beyond the media’s portrayal of Islam can start with a deeper Google search, a book, or a conversation. Diab explains that it is important not to be judgmental and to conduct further research, “Whenever you are viewing a specific aspect of a culture, you are viewing it through your own cultural lens. So, you are not approaching it the same way that people who live in that culture are. Nothing exists in a vacuum. Whenever you are looking at one piece of a culture, you cannot understand it just by looking at that piece, you have to look at how it fits into all of the other pieces,” she says.
Not all Muslim women wear a headscarf. Some wear a niqab or a burka, while others wear none of these garments. The four women interviewed for this story assure that wearing a hijab is their personal decision â€“ something between them and God. However, this is not the case for everyone. In Iran, where the law requires women to wear a headscarf, some are protesting, fighting for their right not to cover up. Others have fought to wear the hijab, niqab, or burka in France, at a boxing ring, in the basketball court, and even in the U.S. Congress floor. It all comes down to freedom. Freedom to choose your religion, your clothing, freedom over your body. Itâ€™s time for freedom.
The ghost of your
Story by Jules Graebner Photography by Aurola Wedman Alfaro + William Víquez Mora
*Disclosure: Names have been changed. Pictured are Shelby Smith + Vincent Sung; they are not the subjects of the story.
spent most of my childhood feeling less than desirable. In middle school, the opposite sex ignored me because I had no bra straps to snap. When the boys weren’t ignoring me, it was because they were teasing me for not wearing a training bra. I didn’t know how to apply eyeshadow and exclusively wore clothing from Goodwill because I thought I looked “interesting”— which really just meant my family was too poor to afford anything else. I stuck out like a sore, badly dressed thumb. I was angry, sad, and brimming with adolescent angst. The summer before high school began, my body finally went through the changes I had been longing for; I had blossomed into an A-cup (though I often wore a much bigger bra to fool my classmates—I doubt it worked), my hair had grown out of its unflattering, childlike shag, and I stopped excessively applying black eyeliner—my mom was pleased about that one. I had emerged from my gawky, adolescent cocoon to reveal a lovely young woman, and my classmates began to take notice. The popular girls invited me to their sleepovers, and boys asked me about my weekend plans. Though I was thrilled with this newfound attention from the opposite sex, I was wary of their intentions. Was this all
just an elaborate hoax? Was I going to end up like the titular character of Carrie; wearing a tiara, but drenched in pig’s blood? Like the irresponsible teenager I was, I decided to throw caution to the wind and take advantage of the gifts puberty had bestowed upon me. I spent the majority of my freshman year dating any cute boy who came my way. There was Clay, a virtuoso who played nearly every instrument but was too clingy for my tastes, Tyler, a ne’er do well teenage womanizer who had been a drug addict since the age of fifteen, and Bradley, a meathead football player who tried to insist that I wear his football jersey (I refused—I found it degrading). After what seemed like an endless stream of lessthan-bright boys, I was tired of listening to the overwhelming voice of my burgeoning sexuality. I wanted someone who I felt was my equal. My sophomore year, I met Adam. He was a senior, popular and one of the oldest in his class. He noticed me one Friday evening at a football game and asked me for my phone number while the marching band played our school fight song. We had our first date at the arcade in our hometown. Adam was a bit shorter than I had remembered, with dishwater blonde hair, a wonky elbow from an old basketball injury, and a penchant for wearing head to toe Nike. While
he wasn’t the most polished in appearance, it was common knowledge that his family was very wealthy, and he exuded an air of importance. Adam wasn’t good looking by any means, but I thought he was beautiful. As we played our fourth game of Dance Dance Revolution, I realized that I had found a kindred spirit. Adam was extremely intelligent, and I was impressed that he could keep up with my thousand-mile-a-minute mind—something that the bevy of boys I had previously dated were never able to do. He made me laugh harder than anyone else I had ever met, his biting sense of humor and understanding of non-sequitur was my perfect brand of comedy. When it got late, he walked me home and gave me an innocent hug goodbye. As I watched Adam walk away, it dawned on me that I was absolutely smitten. In the weeks to come, we fell in love in the crude way only teenagers can, and it was a fucking nightmare. By the time news of our fledgling relationship had spread, it seemed as if the entire population of our high school was on board. I was repeatedly told how funny we both were, how perfect we were together. Adam would drive me to school every day in his seventy-thousand-dollar SUV that no high school senior has any reason to own, and my classmates would watch in awe as I walked into school from his prime parking spot directly beside the front door. I felt like royalty—I couldn’t believe that someone as wealthy and cool as him would want to be with me. I don’t really remember when things got bad. I had always felt like that was such a stereotypical thing for women in abusive relationships to say. I had thought that if I were in a situation like that, I would be able to leave and never look back. I was wrong. One moment, I felt like I was on top of the world, and the next, I was buried deep inside of it. I couldn’t understand what had changed. Adam went from the sweet, charming young man I had fallen in love with, to someone I didn’t recognize. He put me down for all of my decisions. He dictated what I wore. He chose my friends for me. He dangled
his wealth and status over my head. He made sure that I knew how lucky I was to have him, because no one else would want me. Why would they? I was just a weird, poor girl that he had plucked from obscurity. I felt like I was drowning, lungs filled with water, overflowing and preventing me from speaking out. I thought no one would believe me—I was right. I was trapped in a volatile cycle of euphoric highs and earth-shattering lows. After Adam shoved me into a wall, he apologized for an hour and bought me a pair of crystal earrings. When he punched a hole in his bedroom wall an inch away from my face, he took me to the most expensive restaurant in the city. After he held me down on the ground, wrenching my arm behind my back until I was crying in pain, he kissed me gently and presented me with a five-hundred-dollar necklace. Adam’s gifts were not only his way of apologizing, but a means of exerting power over me. I had never owned anything near as nice as anything he had given me. I didn’t know how to say no to his gifts. I spent nearly every night crying, dreading what Adam would do next, praying that he would miraculously revert back to the boy I’d fallen in love with. I was convinced that his aggression was because of something deeper—that I could make him better if only I loved him harder. He needed me. It reminds me of the old wives’ tale about boiling frogs—if you attempt to drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will try to escape. But if you put a frog in a pot of room temperature water and slowly turn up the heat, it won’t realize what’s going on until it’s too late. The frog won’t try to escape. All the frog knows is that he loves being in the water. All I knew was that I was in love. When I finally gathered the courage to leave Adam, he played the role of the perfect, heartbroken boyfriend. He left a huge bouquet of flowers outside my front door and bought me more jewelry. But when I rebuked his efforts, Adam decided to make my life a living hell. He locked me out of my social media profiles—he had required me to give him all of my passwords to make sure I was being faithful. He deleted my followers and made erroneous posts. He spread nasty rumors about me. He turned his friends— my only friends—against me. When I spoke out,
I was determined to claw my way out of the darkness he had created for me.
I was trapped in a volatile cycle of euphoric highs and earth shaterring lows. he insisted it was slander and threatened to sue me. Not that it mattered. To everyone else, Adam seemed so kind and charming. I remember trying to tell a friend about the things Adam had done to me, and she said, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but Adam is my friend and I don’t think he would ever do that.” I was alone. I was empty. I was absolutely broken. Looking back, I’m glad Adam decided to be as cruel as he did. When I initially left him, I immediately wished I hadn’t. I was heartbroken because he had convinced me that I left the only man who could ever truly love me. Had Adam realized this and decided to play on these emotions, I’m sure he could have easily won me back. I could have been stuck in our vicious cycle forever. Instead, his brutal attack against me had ruined any of the warm, fuzzy feelings that I had left. Now, the only person I hated more than myself was him. I was determined to claw my way out of the darkness he had created for me. Thankfully, Adam graduated soon after this. With him gone, his grip on my life began to lessen. My classmates were quick to move on to the next scandal, but I was still scorned by the people that I had thought were my friends. I felt entirely alone, but I was finally free. Over the next two years, I managed to make new friends who didn’t go to my high school and didn’t know anything about my past. I met a boy named Vincent and went on to date him for two years. Though we aren’t together now, I am very grateful to him. He was so patient with me. Vincent helped
me understand that things would get better, even when it felt like they wouldn’t. I still struggle with the aftereffects of being in an abusive relationship at such a tender age. I am extremely wary of charming men. I have trouble accepting gifts of any kind, fearing that there are strings attached. I am quick to close off during arguments, assuming I am always being manipulated or guilt-tripped. Sometimes, when a lover touches me, I feel the ghost of Adam’s hands on my body and recoil. I often wonder what life would be like for me had Adam not come into my life. Would I be happier? On the other hand, I am grateful that Adam broke me the way he did—piece by piece, I have built myself back together. Because of Adam, I know that I am strong, powerful, and intelligent. I know that I am worthy and deserving of love. I know the warning signs of abusive relationships, and I can tell when other people need help. As much as I wish he had never hurt me, I’m so thankful he did. If you ever find yourself in an abusive situation, please seek help. I was very fortunate—many people in abusive relationships do not make it out alive. When you feel safe, and you feel ready, tell your story. Write it down. Burn it. Shout it from the rooftops. Don’t give it power over you. If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or at www.thehotline.org
issue credits Cover Photography: Aurola Wedman Alfaro Models: Deja Grissom, Nandi Hamer + Arianna Varner Assistants: Leigh Ann Barnett + Meca Brown-Sanders Clothing: David’s Bridal Staff Line Up Photography: William Víquez Mora Layout: Aurola Wedman Alfaro Freedom from Hair Story: Madison Green Poetry: Leigh Ann Barnett Photography: Madison Green Layout: Leigh Ann Barnett + Madison Green Models: Corinne Bobrow-Williams, Phoenix Bussey, Juniper Hill Would You Hear Me If I Screamed Story: Leigh Ann Barnett Illustrations: Taylor Jones Layout: Leigh Ann Barnett Guilty Until Proven Innocent Story: Jules N. Graebner Photography: Alexanderia Rinehart Layout: Leigh Ann Barnett Models: Darryl Burton + Tynesha Lee A Work in Progress Story: Hannah Kueck Photography: Bri Bunker + Aurola Wedman Alfaro Assistants: Leigh Ann Barnett + Hannah Kueck Layout: Hannah Kueck Model: Kennedy Jensen Threads of a Revolution Story: Makai Patton Photography: Taylor Jones, Alexanderia Rinehart + Madison Green Stylist: Makai Patton Layout: Taylor Jones + Hannah Kueck Title Illustration: Aurola Wedman Alfaro Models: Leigh Ann Barnett + Brooke Richardson Clothing: Maude Vintage
Speak Up Story: Caylea Ray Illustrations: Hannah Kueck Layout: Hannah Kueck Angry Black Woman Story: Meca Brown-Sanders Photography: Aurola Wedman Alfaro Assistant: Leigh Ann Barnett Layout: Meca Brown-Sanders + Aurola Wedman Alfaro Models: Arianna Varner, Nandi Hamer, Deja Grissom Clothing: David’s Bridal Until All of Us Are Free Story: Jessica Kittle Photography: Bri Bunker Layout: Leigh Ann Barnett + Jessica Kittle Models: Emile Eller, MJ Jonen + Asher Lipscomb Makeup: Jessica Kittle + Asher Lipscomb Día de los Muertos, Día de los Vivos Poetry: Aurola Wedman Alfaro Photography: Madison Green Layout: Aurola Wedman Alfaro Model: Rosey Howell Beyond the Headscarf Story: Aurola Wedman Alfaro Photography: Aurola Wedman Alfaro Research: Aurola Wedman Alfaro + Madison Green Layout: Aurola Wedman Alfaro Models: Hanna Abdulkhaleq + Sara Diab The Ghost of Your Hands Story: Jules N. Graebner Photography: Aurola Wedman Alfaro + William Víquez Mora Assistants: Leigh Ann Barnett + Isabelle Loos Layout: Aurola Wedman Alfaro Models: Shelby Smith + Vincent Sung
FREEDOM + you
What does freedom mean to you? Add your own story, poem, sketch or photo here. Share your work with us on social media.
novaturient [no-va-â€˜tUr-E-ent] (adj.) To desire and seek powerful change in your life, behavior, or situation. It comes from the Latin term novÄ re (to make new).
This is the 15th edition of Stephens Life, the award-winning, student-run publication of Stephens College in Columbia, Mo. Editor in chief:...
Published on Dec 11, 2019
This is the 15th edition of Stephens Life, the award-winning, student-run publication of Stephens College in Columbia, Mo. Editor in chief:...