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Spring 2020 - Issue 4

The Beautiful Project


Graphic Design Winnie Okwakol AlineSitoe A. Sy Dana Tankard Pamela Thompson Israel Thompson Lacquen Tolbert

͇hats inside?

Images & Text Contributors Ahmadie Bowles Kaci Kennedy Zoey Bowles Madylin NixonJade Clauden Taplet Kyla Clauden Avery Patterson Khayla Deans Sydney Patterson Jamaica Gilmer Tiffani Reaves Jocelyn Gilmore Erin Stephens Editors Khayla Deans Pamela Thompson

Spring 2020 - Issue 4

Front Cover Collage by: Winnie Okwakol Photos by: Jamaica Gilmer

The Beautiful Project Journal

This publication is a product of The Beautiful Project. The Beautiful Project is supported by the NoVo Foundation, William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, Annie E. Casey Foundation, United Way of the Greater Triangle and the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation. For more information about our organization and our work, please visit us online at www. Thebeautifulproject.org

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4.

8.

10.

12.

14.

Letter from the Editor

Meet the Artists

The Lost Turtle by Israel Thompson

What is Precious to You? by Lacquen Tolbert

Damola Akintunde by Avery Patterson

16.

18.

20.

22.

23.

Space Spies by Jocelyn Gilmore

Queens by Aline Sitoe A. Sy

Sibling Connection by Ahmadie Bowles

In The Deep by Dana Tankard

New York on the Fourth of July by Tiffani Reaves

24.

26.

28.

30.

32.

Happy Birthday by Jade Clauden

What’s Your Style by Sydney Patterson

Family by Kyla Clauden

Ms. Demi at the Shop by Zoey Bowles

Beautiful Days: A Journey with Pen, Lens & Soul

36. Resources for Practice

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Spring 2020 - Issue 4

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The Beautiful Project Journal

Letter from the editoá„Ś Spring 2020 - Issue 4

I

remember being a little girl feeling

peers so that we could engage with ease. At home,

free and joyful. My life was simple but it

my mama created systems to foster independence

was full of opportunities for me to participate

and responsibility so that her latchkey daughters,

in what was happening in my family and my

my older sister and I, knew to let ourselves in, and

community. As an 80’s baby, most of my days were

nobody else, get a snack and get right to homework

spent outside playing, skating or riding my bike. My

until she got home. At school, teachers prepared

mama would release me to the adventures waiting

lesson plans and arranged group work in attempts

for me outdoors between our spacious backyard

to make learning mundane subjects interesting to

and the block she marked from our mailbox to

middle school aged minds. At church, our youth

that of a neighbor a few houses down, as the

leaders sat through Thursday night leadership

parameters for how far I could go. Life was golden.

team meetings and searched out opportunities for

While I was busy enjoying the liberty of making

us to serve our community and build relationships

my own choices on how I would spend my time,

with one another.

I was unaware that my world was predetermined and ordered by clusters of interactions and

For the most part, the adults in my life cared about

experiences that oscillated between family, school

me and wanted me to win. They wanted to help

and church. Within those containers, there was

me create memories and prepare me for future

always something to do, some group to belong

opportunities so they poured into me and pored

to, some objective to help create purpose for my

over me to that end. Although their intentions were

involvement.

in favor of my development and happiness, rarely did they invite me into the process of creating my

Back then, the adults in each of those settings worked so hard to set things up for me and my

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own good. In hindsight, I can see that they cared


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for me but I can also see that they didn’t trust

Over the past two years, we have invested ourselves

me. They didn’t trust that I was aware enough or

and our time in training girls and then yielding to

capable of adding value to endeavors designed for

their interpretations and ideas about how to use

me. Or, maybe it was simply just more convenient

these tools and skills. This edition of The Journal

to do it for me.

is dedicated to the dreams and visions of the little

Little girls love to play imaginative games. Some

them in the activist work of image making. We lift

of my favorites were school, store and church. As

up their bold and remarkable iterations of what

I watch my daughters play their version of these

can be created by Black girls when we take the

same games and some new ones they’ve made

time to equip them, put our confidence in them

up, I see one main thread between us all—in their

and give them the prerogative to create through

imaginative play, they are in control. They are the

exploring photography and writing. We have been

ones making the decisions, running the show,

enlightened, thrilled, challenged and stretched in

directing the outcomes. In essence, I was, and they

pursuit of connecting girls to their own brilliance

are, practicing what they see, what they believe

and prowess by showing them how to do a thing

adulthood to be--done their way, with their own

and then stepping back and allowing them to do.

unique flair. We live our lives in front of them

the. thing.

daily, and they are a captive audience. As often as we can, we should provide opportunities to show

This Journal is a manifestation of minds and hearts

our girls that they can take the lead and, in turn,

of our young image makers. It is our intention to

they are worth us taking a seat as their enthusiastic

make space for our girls to quiet their inhibitions

audience, cheering them on as they lead the way.

and distractions and connect with themselves in order to hear the whispers of their heart where

For the life of The Beautiful Project, it has been our

stories are yearning to be told. Our dream is

honor to work for and with Black girls. Our work

to see Black girls unencumbered, fiercely and

features Black girls and is aimed at highlighting

courageously writing and documenting themselves

and centering their beauty, wisdom, complexity

into history.

and joy. Throughout time, we have refined and extended our programming and positioned writing and photography as tools the girls can use to

We hope you enjoy,

remarkable perspectives and visions. Unlike the

Pamela Thompson

well-meaning adults of our youth, we have been

Pamela Thompson

careful not to repeat the mistake of creating worlds

Co-Editor

express themselves and share with the world their

and work for girls without creating space for those girls to speak about, think through and create for themselves, alongside us.

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Spring 2020 - Issue 4

girls and their families who trusted us to train


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Spring 2020 - Issue 4 6


Spring 2020 - Issue 4

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Photo by Kaci Kennedy


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Meet tȴe Artists

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18

14

22

10

14

Ahmadie Bowles

AlineSitoe A.Sȸ

Averȸ Patterson

Dana Tankarᄓ

Israel Thompsoᄤ

Jade Claudeᄤ

AGE: 14

AGE: 10

AGE: 12

AGE: 8

AGE: 8

AGE: 9

“I want my photography to impact the world by showing you can have a voice and be heard by using photography. You can show people how you see the world.”

“Through photography, I want to break every stereotype in the book. I also want to show we are Queens.”

“As Black women and girls, we believe that everyone should be respected and loved no matter who they are.”

“I love writing stories and journaling.”

“I enjoy writing. I enjoy it because it's like creating your own characters in your own way and it's just kind of being yourself, on your own. I hope to learn how to create really cool, fun characters for my stories because I don't want my stories to be boring.”

“I want girls all over the nation to know that they are special in their own individual way.”

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28

12

26

23

30

Jocelyn Gilmore

Kyla Claudeᄤ

Lacquen Tolbert

Sydney Patterson

Tiffani Reaves

Zoey Bowles

AGE: 9

AGE: 11

AGE: 10

AGE: 12

AGE: 13

AGE: 9

“The part I enjoy most about writing is writing things that don’t happen in reallife (fictional stories) and explaining my imagination in those stories.”

“I’m aiming for girls over the nation to realize that it’s ok to be different.”

“I would like to impact other Black girls with my photos by taking pictures of things that are precious to me and other Black girls.”

“I want my photography to let them know that Black girls can do anything. I want the whole world to know that they are strong and to have confidence.”

I love writing and I enjoy it most because I can be creative with stories.

“My family, my friends and TBP make me feel important by taking care of me and listening because some people don’t listen.”

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Editors note: girls’ ages at the time of art production


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The Lost Turtle

By Israel Thompson

Chapter One

“Trouble with Lights”

Spring 2020 - Issue 4

One day something special happened. A turtle

Just as Carmen was making her way through

was born. Just like a miracle, in the quiet of the

the letter, she noticed that the remainder of her

night, the turtle broke through its tough shell and

mother’s words had been washed away by the

tumbled onto the big, beautiful beach already busy

ocean waves crashing upon the shore. Confused,

with many forms of life. After some time adjusting

Carmen stood still to think and try to figure out

to breathing outside its shell, stretching its little

what to do. Suddenly, a strong gush of wind and a

legs and figuring out how to use them, the little

loud whooosh rushed past her once, twice, three

turtle, whose name was Carmen, walked across a

times, spinning her around, making her dizzy

letter that had been drawn in the sand. The letter

with fear and panting to catch her breath. Things

said:

seemed to calm down just long enough for Carmen to glance upward to see what the commotion was

Dear Carmen,

all about. It was Dragoon, the vulture. He had been

It’s your mother. Welcome to the

looking for a snack and Carmen was the perfect

world! Your dad, brothers and

match. Dragoon screeched to his sidekick Pear,

sisters and I am so happy you are

who really was a flying pear with a face on it,

here. We have been waiting for you

for quite some time. We decided that

“We may not have caught her just now, but

I will catch her and have her for dinner! Ha, ha,

after you were born, we’d all move

haaaa!”

to the next beach where my sister,

her husband and your cousins have

As soon as Carmen recognized Dragoon, she

took off running in the direction of the nearest

found a beautiful place for all of us

light she could find. Up to now, all she knew was

to be together. But we have to move

that she was at the beach. But what she was about

quickly! As soon as you read, follow

to learn, is that she was headed into the city, Los

this trail. But be warned, there are…

Angeles to be exact.

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The Beautiful Project Journal

had finally gotten to more light and very far away from the beach, even farther away from the path her mother told her to follow to find the rest of the family, who was waiting for her so that they could move to the next beach together. Carmen was tired. She found a safe place to rest and fell fast asleep. When she awoke, it was morning. Two eyes were staring straight at her. They were the eyes of a bulldog. The bulldog growled for a second then

“I love the beach! I go with my best friend

every weekend. I’ll bark loudly so she’ll think I need to use the bathroom and let us out.”

Tracy barked and barked and jumped at the

fence. Before long, a tall brown girl with thick, curly hair, ran out of the house and into the yard, smiling at Tracy, rubbing her ear as she called to her to come on out.

sniffed Carmen and said,

“I’ll go around the corner and wait for you.

My friend won’t look for me right away so we’ll

“Who are you? My name is Tracy.”

“My name is Carmen.”

“What are you doing here? Most turtles don’t

have some time to start on our way before she gets worried. Meet me just around that corner.” Tracy

hang out in the city. They prefer the beach,” Tracy asked curiously.

Carmen asked shyly.

“Yes, I do prefer the beach. I’m looking for my

family. I was running away from a crazy vulture who was trying to attack me. I’ve got to find my family before they leave this beach headed to

instructed.

“Got it!” Carmen said excitedly.

She was grateful to have a friend join her for

The Lost Turtle by Israel Thompson

After much running, climbing, and jumping, she

this exploration. She had no idea what was ahead but she would soon see that she was much stronger and smarter than she ever imagined.

the next one. Would you like to come with me?”

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Editors note: “Trouble with Lights” is chapter one of Israel’s adventurous saga The Lost Turtle


The Beautiful Project Journal

͇ȴat is Preciouȷ to you? by :Lacquen Tolberᄨ

Spring 2020 - Issue 4

Gran-Gran: WHAT IS PRECIOUS TO YOU?

“My ability to understand and have compassion for all people, God-inspired, love for my fellow man. Also, strength, and talents, grace and mercy.” -Gran, Lacquen’s Grandmother

Lacquen: WHAT IS PRECIOUS TO YOU?

“Things that are precious to me are my name, my sketchbook, my stuffed animals, my hair, and food.”

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Lacquen Tolbert

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Damolᄒ Akintunde by:A verȸ PatteɁsoᄤ

Spring 2020 - Issue 4 14


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AS A BLACK WOMAN, WHAT WAS GROWING UP LIKE FOR YOU?

While I was growing up, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what it meant to be a young Nigerian American woman in a world that was constantly trying to tell me who I should be. I felt this in the ways in which I was told how I should present my physical self or how my way of speaking determines how Black I am. It wasn’t until I

Damola Akintunde by Avery Patterson

got older that I was able to realize that I had ownership over who I am and I had the tools to share my narrative. HOW DID THAT IMPACT WHO YOU ARE NOW?

My upbringing made me more sensitive to the fact that Black womanhood is multifaceted and therefore I don’t have to water myself down to fit into certain molds. I also make an effort to allow other women of color to use me as a tool to share their stories and show the diversity in our journeys. AS A BLACK WOMAN, WHAT DO YOU WISH THE WORLD WAS LIKE?

I wish for a world that allows for all people to live in their truth and give space for healing. WHO DO YOU LOVE?

I love myself and I love the people I keep close to my heart which include my family and friends.

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by:jocelyn gilmore

pace spies

The Beautiful Project Journal C H A P TE R 1

Into space

Quin Getton woke up with a yawn.

stopped. “You are right. I have got to let them

“Come on, Quin!” his friend, Ashley yelled at

him.

“Ashley, calm down. I have to get to the space

station by 4:30.” Ashley pointed at the clock.

“Holy Moly. 4:00!?”

Quin raced around his small apartment to get

4:20, he was ready to go.

followed Quin and Ashley. Meanwhile, Quin had just piled all of his stuff in the ship. “Hey, Ash?” He asked Ashley. “This mission is

all to find out if there are other species in space, right?” Ashley nodded.

“It takes 15 minutes to get there, you know.”

Ashley opened the doors of her car so Quin could put his stuff in.

Vadam said. He and Burin got in the elevator and

pants, extra clothing, and lots of food. Finally, at

be free. Be themselves, not uptight all the time.”

“What if I am the first 20-year old Albino man

to ever do that?”

Ashley thought for a second. “That would be

really cool, Quin. Really cool. And your best friend

“I know. But I’m the one spending 6 months in

would be the Ashley,” she lowered her voice. “who

Spring 2020 - Issue 4

space, not Mr. Vadam.”

went up to space too.”

He piled all of his stuff in and then joined Ashley in

Quin laughed. “I love you.” Quin hugged her.

“I love you too.” She hugged him back.

He kissed her on the cheek then ran to get his

the front.

“I’ll miss you, a lot. So don’t get stuck up

there.” She started the car and drove him to the space station. Mr. Vadam and Ashley’s dad, Burin, were standing at the front of the station. Quin got out and looked at the spaceship that he was about to get on.

“Quin, stop staring and get your stuff. We

planned liftoff at 6:30. We gotta get you into that suit and pack up the ship.” Mr. Vadam snapped and hit Quin’s arm with his cane.

“Yes sir.” Quin grabbed his stuff and ran into

“Some crazy kiddos.” Burin watched as they

took the elevator up.

“Awwww. You guys are such a good couple.”

Ashley turned to see Ms. Jessie and Mr. Greg, Quin’s parents.

“Hello, Ash. So good to see you.” Mr. Greg said.

Ashley gave them both hugs then went off to find Quin.

the station. Ashley followed.

spacesuit on.

“Nice seeing you!” She waved and disappeared

into the changing room. “Quin?” She knocked on every stall. After finding out which stall he was in, Ashley waited for him to come out. “Umm, news came in,” she pointed to herself. “Jessie and Greg are-“ She gulped. “Here.”

“You’ve got to give them a break though,

Vadam. They are just 20 years old, we’re lucky to even have Quin be working with us.” Burin turned to Vadam.

Quin giggled. “Good one.” He kissed her.

“For a second I thought you were-“ He opened

the door.

Vadam shook his head.

“Listen, Burin. If I were you, I would stop

talking so I don’t start calling you a stupid-” He

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“Hi, Quin!” Jessie waved. Quin closed the door

back.

“Fo reals.” Ashley crossed her arms as he fell to

the floor.


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“Of course I was,” She bent her fingers like

bunny ears. “Fo reals. Why would I play around about that? This is soooo serious.” She helped him up.

“Oops.” He tip-toed down the stairs. Ashley

and Quin giggled.

“Okay. You will be okay.” She said. She gave

him a device. “I guess I’ve got to get to that ship, don’t I?”

Quin frowned.

“Yep.” Ashley nodded sadly.

Quin nervously opened the door, expecting

“What is this?” Quin examined it.

“It’s a phone. A space-proof phone. It’s for

emergencies or if you just need someone to talk to. To call, you press the name, then that green button.

lipstick on his head from his mom, and a football

To hang up, you press the red button and to leave

in his face from his dad. But instead, he didn’t get

a voicemail, press the blue button.” Quin spotted

anything. Greg and Jessie were on the second floor,

three buttons at the bottom and nodded.

eating breakfast. “Thank you, Lord.” Quin looked up. Ashley looked around the floor to see. No one.

“Alright people!” Mr. Vadam appeared at the

stairway. “Liftoff in 5 minutes.” Jessie and Greg

“Yesss!” She did a dance.

appeared after Vadam.

Mr. Vadam stomped up the stairs to check on

“Quin, Quin. You’re going into space. Your

them. “Good job, Quin. Ashley, you know the air

dream is coming true in 5 minutes.” Jessie held his

pipes and emergency buttons. Make sure they’re all

face in her hands.

on the right way, would you?” Vadam asked her.

Her jaw dropped. “Yes s-sir.” She nodded. He

Greg stepped in front of Jessie. “My little

astronaut. I’ll miss you, but we’ve still got little

grinned at them and went back downstairs. They

Carrie.” Greg laughed. Quin sighed and rolled his

exchanged glances.

eyes. “We will definitely miss you.” Greg gave Quin

“What in the world just happened? Since when

a fist pump.

is Mr. Vadam nice?” Quin asked as Ashley patted his

leg.

him on the back.

“I dunno. Anyway, the pipes and buttons look

good. She pulled out her phone and looked at the time. “It’s 6:00. Thirty minutes till I don’t see you for half of a year.” Quin looked at her as a tear strolled down her cheek. “Oh, Ash. It’ll be okay.” He hugged her.

“But what if you don’t come back?” She started

“Adios, Quin. I wish you luck.” Mr. Burin patted

“Goodbye, Quin.” Mr. Vadam gripped Quin’s

shoulder.

Quin then turned to Ashley. “I hope these

months zoom by.” Quin kissed her on her cheek. “I really hope so too.” Ashley started to cry

again.

to cry.

“Get in there, Quin. 2 minutes to liftoff. Burin,

go check the calculations to liftoff. Everyone else,

“I will.” Quin stroked her bouncy red and black

behind that bar,” Mr. Vadam demanded. Everyone

hair. “I promise.” He handed her a tissue. She blew

backed up, behind the bar and watched as the

her nose.

spaceship lifted off.

“Quin!” Greg ran up the stairs.

“Dad!” Quin yelled at him. Greg then spotted

Ashley crying.

“Bye, Quin.” Ashley whispered. Inside the ship,

Quin waited until Darrington, Alabama, was a tiny dot on the Earth.

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Space Spies by Jocelyn Gilmore

“By Ash,” Quin whispered.

Editors note: “Into Space” is an excerpt of chapter one of Jocelyn’s science fiction story, Space Spies.


The Beautiful Project Journal

Queenȷ

by: AlineSitoe A. Sy

Spring 2020 - Issue 4

A PORTRAIT SERIES TO BREAK DOWN STEREOTYPES ABOUT BLACK WOMEN AND GIRLS

When people say “powerful black woman” the first person who comes to mind is my mom. She stands up for what is right whether people like it or not. It’s important to appreciate people like my mom because they help with family and community more than you know by always standing up for what’s right. She’s the best mom EVER! I

photographed

myself

because

I

am

named after AlineSitoe Diatta, an African Revolutionary who was strong and powerful. I wanted to capture myself as a young lady who is strong and beautiful. I want people to know that BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL no matter how dark or light the skin. I think Ms. Jamaica is beautiful and kind spirited. She genuinely cares for everyone. I feel that she is perfect for this project because she embodies how people SHOULD see beautiful black women.

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AlineSitoe A. Sy

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Siblinሴ Connectioᄤ by: Ahmadie Bowleȷ

Spring 2020 - Issue 4

Oliviᄒ HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR SIBLING?

She’s an honest kind-hearted person. DO YOU TRUST HER?

Yes because she is trustworthy. She’s not a gossip type person.

Brooke HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR SIBLING?

I think she’s an amazing friend and person. She’s also very funny and caring. DOES SHE MAKE YOU BETTER SOMEHOW?

She does make me better. She’s someone I can talk to and rant to, which helps me in the long run. She’s also a good role model and a close friend that gives me great advice.

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Kaᄗ

Ahamdie Bowles

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| AGE 3

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR SIBLING?

I feel happy about him. I feel good about Maxy. DO YOU TRUST THEM?

I trust Maxy. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. DO THEY MAKE YOU BETTER SOMEHOW?

Yes, I like him when he’s nice to me and that makes me nicer too.

Max

| AGE 6

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR SIBLING?

I feel good about him. I feel love, grateful, hopeful…that’s all. DO YOU TRUST THEM?

Yes because he’s my best friend. I like him. DO THEY MAKE YOU BETTER SOMEHOW?

Yeah, because he’s my best best best best friend. 21


The Beautiful Project Journal

Spring 2020 - Issue 4

by: Dana Tankarᄔ The ocean is very nice and beautiful, But in the deep there is a wishing fish, Wishing that you’ll never know What’s in the deep. In the deep, there are lots of shiny, bright fish. I wish I was looking in the deep.

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The Beautiful Project Journal

the n o k r o Y New y l u J f o h t r Fou by: Tiffani Reaves

“Hey, can you get the hot dog buns from the

maybe even your daughter’s babysitter, they may

kitchen, Eddie?”

say any number of things like,

…New York City is a very astonishing place.

“Sure, Louise, my darling,” Eddie cooed

romantically.

…There are so many wonderful places to visit

like Madison Square Garden, Times Square and

“Well isn’t he just a handsome man?”

Louise’s mama asked

the Yankee Stadium.

…The food is delicious! You can literally find

“Oh yes, Mamma, he definitely is.” “Well umm, when is your wedding because

I have never seen you this happy with a man

originally from Waco, Texas. We moved to New

“Yes, darling?”

York when I was 10 years old. We decided to

“He hasn’t proposed to me yet.”

move from Waco because my dad died on my birthday a couple years before. The old house

“Oh. Ok.” Mamma walked

away, crying in fear.

I have lived in New York for most of my life

and I know both the city and the country. I am

“Ummmm….Mamma!?”

with its large crust and ooey gooey cheese…

before.” Mamma said.

every cuisine there is! From the NY style pizza,

When you hear about New York from people like your friends, family or

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reminded us too much of him so we just left everything and started a new life together. Just us, mother and daughter.


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Happy Birtȴdaȸ by: Jade Claudeᄤ Spring 2020 - Issue 4 24


Jade Clauden

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Wȴat’s ȸour ȷtyle? by: Sydney Pattersoᄤ Spring 2020 - Issue 4 26


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Leilanᄘ HOW DO YOUR CLOTHES REPRESENT YOU?

Sydney Patterson

I wear clothing that represents my interests, like bands or movie T-shirts. I wear a lot of comfortable clothing so I'm not limited by what I wear. Some of my clothing is inspired by the people I see on TV.

HOW DO YOU THINK OTHER PEOPLE’S CLOTHES REPRESENT THEM?

If you see someone who looks like they put a lot of effort into their outfit that shows that they possibly care about themselves and their appearance. If you see someone wearing a shirt with a band that you like, that can spark a conversation. You could make a friend.

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Familȸ by: Kyla Claudeᄤ

Spring 2020 - Issue 4 28


Kyla Clauden

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Mȷ. Demi at the ȷȴop by: Zoeȸ Bowleȷ Spring 2020 - Issue 4 30


Zoey Bowles

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Beautifuá„™ Days: A J O U R N E Y W I TH PEN, LENS & SOUL

Spring 2020 - Issue 4

I

t has been our honor to facilitate experiences

over the years centering Black girls as they learn and explore photography, writing and self care in their journey of self discovery and self definition. In reflection of this moment, we took some time to capture vignettes from Pamela Thompson, Jamaica Gilmer, and Erin Stephens on the privilege and joy of learning and sharing with the girls in our programs. The work that the young artists created in this Journal has been featured in the Pen, Lens & Soul: The Story of The Beautiful Project exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from December 2019 through February 2020.

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The Beautiful Project Journal

Peᄤ At the start of each session, I would pose this question to the girls to ignite a wildfire in the kindling of their bodacious minds,

Upon first hearing this, their sweet, brown eyes would cautiously roam the room, looking for permission, some small sign, that it was safe to be audacious. It’s as if they were thinking, “Can I really write whatever I want to write?” Second to that came the thoughts every writer has at some point in their journey, “What do I want to write and how will I command the words to coalesce and concede to the thoughts that are in my head and heart?” And there, within their quiet insecurities, was the basis of my work: prepare the material and provide the presence that would together serve as the windflow, reminding these girls that they are combustible and their firelight and brilliant imaginations can illuminate the whole world. One of the most quoted statements from the poignant, unmatched Toni Morrison, says something to the effect of, if there is a story you want to read that doesn't exist yet, then you must write it. This quote has become an adage beloved by her audiences, especially the artists, because its resonance is steeped in disrupting our need for corroboration. We want to know that the art we hope to create will be "good enough" and that it will be accepted. Auntie Toni invites us to forsake the pursuit of permission, abandon the aspiration of being pleasing and, instead, grant ourselves the authority to make the art we want to indulge, allowing our own appeasement to be our guide. TO T H AT, I SAY, TOU C H E ! P ROL I F E RAT E , LIT T LE S I STAS ! START WH E RE AND H OWE V ER YO U C AN, B U T START WRI T I NG NOW. YOU H O LD WI T H I N YOU RS E L F WORL DS OF WOND E R A N D S C H OL ARS H I P, C ROWNE D WI T H T H E RE MA R KA B LE MU LT I - DI ME NS I ONS OF B L AC K GI R LH O O D. T H E RE I S NO ONE L I KE YOU AND Y E T YO U R E XP E RI E NC E S , TOL D I N YOU R VOI C E , C A N H E LP U S F E E L S E E N AND KNOWN I N WAYS W E H A D LONG S U RRE NDE RE D.

Pamela Thompson

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Beautiful Days: A Journey with Pen, Lens & Soul

“Now that the pen is in YOUR hands, what story will you tell?”


The Beautiful Project Journal

Lens When I became an adult I found a quote by Gordon Parks, “I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs."

I wanted the girls I get to work with in TBP to discover the camera as their sword or as a conduit for them to say what they want to say to the world. I just wanted them to feel a glimpse of their dream coming true even if they didn't know it would happen, and to feel that imbedded in an experience of sisterhood with other Black girls of different ages, different heights, different interests, different hair who are all willing to love and partner and show up for each other.

Spring 2020 - Issue 4

There are a couple stand out moments from my time with the girls. First, I loved being with the girls, teaching photography, going back and forth on aperture and shutter speed, and then stopping to play. Every time we did hula hoops and jump ropes and competitions and freeze tag, it just made me happy. We were ultimately teaching how to interconnect sisterhood, image making, and playing.

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Erin pushed us to make sure to ask the girls about their experience. We learned how the girls felt what we hoped. They had a place where they belonged and a community they knew who believed in them. Also hearing back from the parents that they can see things that we didn't know that they could see. We also learned how much the parents appreciated that we already saw where the girls had both talent and skill as photographers. We weren't interested in trying to own and erase their wonder. It was lovely to discover where the girls are talented and had deep level of skill. One of the parents said that's not typical for their children's experience. Usually, people do not value their girls as brilliant authorities in their own right. MY ME SSAGE TO B L AC K GI RL S AND YOU NG WO M E N E V E RYWH E RE : I DON' T WANT YOU TO A IM FO R P E RF E C T I ON. I WANT YOU TO AI M FOR FAN TASTIC . I N ORDE R TO DO T H AT, YOU ' RE GOI NG TO H AV E TO L I ST OU T WH AT FANTAST I C ME ANS FOR YO U. S O T H I NK WI T H ME FOR A MOME NT, AND I MAGI N E TH E L AST T H I NG T H AT YOU T H OU GH T WAS FAN TASTIC . RE ME MB E R T H E L AST T I ME YOU F E LT FAN TASTIC . WH E N YOU ARE T RY I NG TO C RE AT E , AI M FO R T H AT F E E L I NG. AND DON' T B E AF RAI D TO FAI L .

Jamaica Gilmer


The Beautiful Project Journal

Souᄠ

Beautiful Days: A Journey with Pen, Lens & Soul

As a collective of Black women and girls image-makers, our interests are in how we can make use of photography, writing and other artistic tools, as a mechanism for cultivating our power and voice in ways that can disrupt cultural narratives and institutions that normalize and advance our unjust treatment. My vision for the girls was mostly informed by what our team had observed during time spent with the girls. The team named specific matters that were coming up for this cohort such as body autonomy. Upon hearing the differing degrees at which the girls were beginning to confront this, the goal was then to create a space to help them learn more about what our values are, and then to build a relational foundation and discover how to support them in cultivating their own voice and power on issues that concern them. Toward this end, we explored a set of questions with our girls:

What does power look like in our lives? What does it mean for Black girls to hold power? How can Black girls disrupt power dynamics that negatively impact them? We designed a series of workshops for girls meant to cultivate resiliency and aid in the growth of their voice and power to be able to speak to various issues that affect us. School pushout is one of the topics we explored. Scholars like Kimberly Crenshaw, Monique W. Morris, Connie Wun and LeConté Dill have pointed to the myriad ways that Black girls are challenged to navigate educational spaces with stereotypes, bias, criminalization and institutionalized injustice. Too often interpreted as hostile, uncaring, arrogant and disruptive, the racialized and gendered dimensions of school pushout result in Black girls disproportionately experiencing punitive discipline measures like suspension and expulsion. It was cool doing this activity with them because I enjoyed hearing their perspective and seeing how they illustrated what they observed about their lives. Though I wasn’t surprised by their responses, it was interesting to find out what their observations were and what some girls saw and what some didn’t. I E N CO UR AGE G IRLS TO TAKE OPPORTUNI TI ES TO US E YOU R VO IC E S A N D E XPLORE YOUR OWN POWER TO POS I T I V E LY IM PAC T THE WORLD AROUND YOU. WHATEVER YOU DE S I RE YO UR C R A F T TO BE — WRI TI NG, SPEAKI NG, ART, ADVOC ACY, A N Y THIN G! — TAKE THE TI ME TO PRACTI CE AND PU T I T TO USE . E VE N W HEN I T’S SCARY, TAKE RI SKS AND BE L I E V E YO U C A N DO HARD THI NGS. WHEN POSSI BLE, P U RS U E YO UR C R A F T IN COMMUNI TY WI TH TRUSTED OTH E RS S O THE IR SUP P O RT AND FEEDBACK CAN STRENGTH E N YOU A N D HE LP YO U GROW.

Erin Stephens 35


The Beautiful Project Journal

Resourceȷ foᄥ PɁactice Spring 2020 - Issue 4

WE COLLECTED A FEW RESOURCES AND

MOMENT WHERE WE ARE ALL STAYING

ACTIVITIES THAT HAVE ANCHORED OUR

SAFE AT HOME, HERE ARE SOME ITEMS

EXPERIENCES WITH THE YOUNG IMAGE

FROM OUR TOOLKIT THAT MAY HELP OPEN

MAKERS AND STORYTELLERS AT THE

UP YOUR IMAGINATION, HONE SKILLS, AND

BEAUTIFUL PROJECT. IN THIS CRITICAL

ENCOURAGE YOU TO CREATE.

Resources for tȴe Souᄠ We use six values as a means of checking

or come up with some solutions with

in with ourselves and each other. We

someone you trust. Reflecting on our

invite you to review our set of values

values helps us live with purpose and find

and to think about how these values are

peace in our lives. Whether it is these

showing up in your life. Ask yourself

values or completely different ones, we

questions about the values, like — do I feel

encourage you to practice checking in

good about family in my life? Is balance

with yourself and what is important to

hard for me right now? Appreciate where

you.

you find yourself in sync with the values; where you find disconnection or difficulty.

VALUE: A PERSON’S PRINCIPLES OR STANDARDS OF BEHAVIOR; ONE'S JUDGEMENT OF WHAT IS IMPORTANT IN LIFE.

Think about how you can strengthen those values in your life. Maybe you need to switch up the way you’re doing something

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The Beautiful Project Journal

Familȸ These are my people; the ones who give me my foundation and teach me how to relate to the world around me. Here, I am connected. I am supported. I am challenged. I am cared for. I am seen. I am heard. I am loved. From this position, I can face the world and confront what it presents.

Ambitioᄤ I can do anything. I believe that all is feasible for me. I dream big, wild dreams, allowing my imagination to run free. And I strive, work, and do everything in my power to make room for myself to explore, dream some more, and soar.

Balance opportunities. I try very hard to keep an open mind about what is in front of me and learn from what is behind me. I show myself kindness and respect for my capacity and greet each new day as it comes.

CultuɁe I will explore each facet of life and all that is going on in the world in order to understand what is happening here, how I belong here, and what portion of my brilliance I desire to contribute to it all.

Spiritualitȸ I respect the presence of a belief system as a function to keep one steady, inform morals, and guide one in how to relate to and care for others.

Wellness I require care and I understand that I must be the main participant in the care of my mind, body, and soul. Each day, when I open my eyes, I will try very hard to be kind to myself, be patient with myself, challenge myself, and, ultimately, offer myself so much tenderness, joy, and love. 37

Resources for the Soul

My life is full of beauty, challenges, goals, responsibilities, and


The Beautiful Project Journal

Resources for tȴe Lenȷ FOR BUDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS, WE HAVE SIMPLE GRAPHICS ON HOW TO USE A DSLR CAMERA AND HOW TO USE APERTURE, SHUTTER SPEED AND FILM SPEED TO CAPTURE AN IMAGE. IN OUR VERY OWN WORKSHOPS, WE’VE USED THESE INFOGRAPHICS AS TECH CARDS TO TEACH OUR GIRLS THE MECHANICS OF A CAMERA AND HOW TO USE IT ON MANUAL SETTINGS. WE USE THESE FANTASTIC GRAPHICS ON HOW A DIGITAL CAMERA WORKS FROM CUBA GALLERY.

Photographȸ Cȴeat Sȴeeᄨ

ISO Is the Sun on?

APERTURE / F-STOP /

Spring 2020 - Issue 4

What do you want in focus?

SHUTTER SPEED

SMALL F STOP

ex: f1.8

BIG F STOP

ex. f11

= Fuzzy background

= More in focus background

SLOWLY because

I want to let in as much light as

possible

/ SS /

How fast do I want to snap this picture?

Camera basicȷ

It’s like a light switch turn down in bright light - up in low light *Tripod lets you use a low iso in low light

FAST

because I already have enough light

This infographic shows the basic workings of a standard digital SLR camera. The Diagrams have been simplified to highlight only the key functionality

MIRROR

VIEWFINDER

APERTURE

DIGITAL SENSOR

LIGHT

MIRROR

38

SHUTTER

The Mirror and shutter lift to allow light into the sensor


The Beautiful Project Journal

The aperture is an adjustable hole int eh lens which lets light into the camera. It can be adjusted to vary the amount of light on the camera sensor. A large aperture lets more light in, and small aperture reduces the amount of light.

APERTURE

Let more light into the camera.

F 1.4

F 2.8

Lets less light into the camera.

F 18

F 5.6

FINE GRAIN LARGE APERTURE: Very blurry background SMALL APERTURE: Everything stays in focus

Shutter speed is the length of time the shutter is open allowing light on the camera sensor. This sometimes called exposure time. A faster shutter speed will freeze action (1/250sec), a show shutter will allow action to blur (1/15 sec).

SHUTTER SPEED

Let more light into the camera.

SLOW

1/60 SEC

1/15 SEC

FINE GRAIN SLOW SHUTTER: Blurred action

ISO / FILM SPEED

Lets less light into the camera.

1/500 SEC

FAST SHUTTER: Helps freeze action

ISO is the level of sensitivity of you camera has to available light. Shooting with a low ISO will give you a high quality image with fine grain, to do this you'll also need losts of light. Using a higher ISO means can take photos in low-light conditions, the trade-off is it will have more grain or "noise".

FINE GRAIN

100 EFFECT

FAST

ROUGH GRAIN

200

800

LOW ISO: Needs more light

1600

3200

HIGH ISO: Needs less light

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Resources for the Lens

EFFECT

EFFECT

F 22


The Beautiful Project Journal

Resources for the Peᄤ THE WRITERS IN TBP USE DESIGN THINKING ELEMENTS CULTIVATED FOR BLACK GIRLS AND WOMEN WRITING ABOUT OURSELVES AND OTHER BLACK GIRLS AND WOMEN. BELOW ARE SOME TIPS YOU CAN USE WHEN SETTING OFF

Spring 2020 - Issue 4

TO PURSUE YOUR OWN WRITING ADVENTURES.

EMPATHIZE: This is the word we use to encourage ourselves to self-explore, self-define and consider ourselves a worthy source. In other words, start with you! Be bold in writing about yourself, your experiences, what you like, what you think and whatever else your imagination gives you. Accept yourself as someone you can trust to offer good things to write about.

DEFINE: When writing, we believe that curiosity is key. Ask questions and then ask follow up questions and then ask more questions. Allow this curiosity and questioning to lead you in discovering what it is you want to know and write about.

IDEATE: When we say “ideate” we mean gather with a small (or large-ish, whatever works best for your personality) collective of writers to share space and time, cultivate vulnerability, read, and learn together. You can organize this on your own with girls at school or in your community. Also, be on the lookout for opportunities to gather with groups of writers at The Beautiful Project!

EXPERIMENT: This one is our favorite and one is that best understood with just one sentence: Instead of thinking about what to write, write in order to think. So, break out your pen or pencil and write! You can do this in your journal or on a computer. Don’t wait for the words to come to you. They are already there, inside of your brilliant mind. Sit down and write until you recognize the words of your heart and mind, on the page.

Editors Note: Design thinking is a process for creating problem solving that is people-centered. There are plenty of resources about the process of design thinking.

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I believe in you. Thank-you for believing in me. Togetȴer we will cȴange tȴe world, one day at a time.

41

Resources for the Pen

The Beautiful Project Journal


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The Beautiful Project Journal: Celebrating Black Girlhood | Issue 4 | Summer 2020  

The Beautiful Project Journal is a biannual publication that gives insight on the inner workings of a collective of Black women and girls st...

The Beautiful Project Journal: Celebrating Black Girlhood | Issue 4 | Summer 2020  

The Beautiful Project Journal is a biannual publication that gives insight on the inner workings of a collective of Black women and girls st...

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