April 2022: ISSUE 10

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D e a r R e a d e r, Ja m e s B a l d w i n i n t h e T h e F i re Ne x t Ti m e w r i t e s , “ L o v e t a k e s o f f t h e m a s k s w e f e a r w e c a n n o t l i v e w i t h o u t a n d k n o w w e c a n n o t l i v e w i t h i n .” F o r t h i s i n s t a l l m e n t , w e w a n t e d t o s h o w c a s e B l a c k l o v e a s a n a n t i d o t a l f o r c e , a l o v e f o r s e l f , a l o v e f o r f a m i l y, a n d a love for community being keys that unlock a holistic form of Black wellness. Let us f e e l s a f e a n d l e t u s f e e l l o v e d f o r a l l o u r e x c e l l e n c e , a l l o u r p r o f u n d i t y. O u r t e n t h i s s u e e m e r g e s f r o m t h e i m m e n s e a n d e n d u r i n g l o v e o u r f o u n d e r s E l i s h a B r o w n a n d Ta r y n Daniels had for our voices and our stories. I hope this installment brings you the w a r m t h I h a v e f e l t f r o m T h e B l a c k p r i n t s i n c e my f i r s t y e a r.

Wi t h l o v e ,

Isaiah Washington




D e a r R e a d e r, A s e x c i t e d a s I a m t o b e s t e p p i n g i n t o a n e w c h a p t e r o f my l i f e , I a m h e a r t b r o k e n t o b e p a r t i n g w a y s w i t h T h e B l a c k p r i n t . It h a s b e e n a n h o n o r t o b e a p a r t o f t h i s t e a m f o r t h e p a s t f o u r y e a r s a n d I c a n’t i m a g i n e w h a t my c o l l e g e e x p e r i e n c e w o u l d h a v e b e e n l i k e w i t h o u t t h i s . I k n e w s t e p p i n g i n t o t h e r o l e a s a n e d i t o r- i n - c h i e f t h i s y e a r m e a n t I h a d t o b r i n g my A- g a m e b e c a u s e e v e r y E I C b e f o r e m e e x e c u t e d e v e r y t h i n g w i t h g r a c e a n d e x c e l l e n c e . W h e n I g o t t o AU, I w a n t e d t o p u r s u e t h i n g s t h a t m a d e m e h a p p y a n d s u r r o u n d my s e l f w i t h p e o p l e w h o s h a r e d my v a l u e s f o r u p l i f t i n g o u r c o m m u n i t y a n d c u l t u r e s . I f o u n d t h a t a n d s o m u c h m o r e i n T h e B l a c k p r i n t . I f o u n d my p a s s i o n , my s t r e n g t h s , r o l e m o d e l s a n d g r e w i n w a y s I n e v e r e x p e c t e d . T h i s i s w h e r e I c o m b i n e d my l o v e f o r journalism, designing, social media, marketing, public relations, pop culture, social justice and r e p r e s e n t a t i o n . I ’v e m e t s o m e o f t h e c o o l e s t , s m a r t e s t , m o s t t a l e n t e d a n d u n a p o l o g e t i c a l l y b o l d p e o p l e d u r i n g my t i m e h e r e . T h e r e w a s n e v e r a m o m e n t w h e r e I w a s n’t t h i n k i n g o f B P. T h i s h a s a l w a y s m e a n t s o m u c h m o r e t o m e t h a n a s t u d e n t m e d i a o r g a n i z a t i o n . T h e w o r k I ’v e d o n e h e r e h a s f o r e v e r c h a n g e d t h e w a y I l o o k a t m e d i a a n d p u s h e d m e t o t a k e my s e l f a n d my c r a f t s e r i o u s l y. T h e best part of being on this team for so long has been seeing peoples faces light up when pitching n e w i d e a s a n d s e e i n g t h e m s e l v e s f e a t u r e d i n a s t o r y. It w a r m s my h e a r t a n d h a s a l w a y s r e m i n d e d me of the value of shining light on untold stories of our communities. I a m b l e s s e d t o h a v e h a d t h e o p p o r t u n i t y t o c o n n e c t w i t h t h e B I P O C c o m m u n i t y a t AU i n s u c h a u n i q u e w a y. I a m h u m b l e d t o b e a p a r t o f s u c h a n i n t a n g i b l e l e g a c y c r e a t e d b y o u r f o u n d e r s Ta r y n Daniels and Elisha Brown in 2016; I cannot thank them enough for creating this beautiful space. T h e B P w i l l f o r e v e r h o l d a p l a c e i n my h e a r t a s a n e s s e n t i a l m o m e n t i n my g r o w t h a s a p e r s o n . This is the tenth edition of our print magazine, this years theme is Black Love. A love like no o t h e r. A l o v e t h a t t r a n s c e n d s t i m e a n d o b s t a c l e s . A l o v e t h a t s h a p e s o u r v i e w s o f o u r w o r l d a n d ourselves. Designing, editing and producing this alongside our incredibly talented team has been a m a z i n g . We a r e h i g h l i g h t i n g B l a c k L o v e i n a l l f o r m s : r o m a n t i c , p l a t o n i c , f a m i l i a l a n d i n t e r n a l . Yo u r s t o r i e s a n d e x p e r i e n c e s m a t t e r, n o w a n d f o r e v e r. Ev e r y p a g e w a s d e s i g n e d w i t h … y o u g u e s s e d i t . . . L OV E . To t h e t e a m I a m l e a v i n g b e h i n d , t h a n k y o u f o r b e i n g a s b r i l l i a n t a s y o u a r e , i t h a s b e e n a p l e a s u r e g r o w i n g a n d c r e a t i n g w i t h y o u o v e r t h e y e a r s . D o n’t l e t a ny o n e d i s c o u n t t h e w o r k y o u d o — t h i s i s s u c h a k e y c o m p o n e n t t o s h o w c a s i n g t h e B l P O C e x p e r i e n c e a t AU. Ke e p s p r e a d i n g l o v e a n d p r o v i d i n g s p a c e s f o r o u r c o m m u n i t i e s t o t e l l t h e i r s t o r i e s i n t h e b e s t w a y. I a m s o e x c i t e d t o s e e a l l o f t h e a m a z i n g t h i n g s y o u d o w i t h B P. As always: S t a y H o n e s t . S t a y B r i l l i a n t . S t a y W o k e . XOXO,

Festicia Bovell



A Match


AU A LU M S A Q U I L A & O T H N I E L H A R R I S ’ S L O V E S T O RY B Y: F E S T I C I A B O V E L L

Finding the love of your life during your college years may seem like something that only happens in a perfect world; well, the Harrises have created that perfect world of love for themselves.

The two met after a general body Black Student Union Meeting and their connection was instant. Their friends played matchmaker, pairing them together based on what they knew about them and when they finally had a conversation, Aquila says, “We had a lot in common; we’re both the babies of our families, we both grew up playing sports and we have the same values and beliefs. His sense of humor and ability to carry a conversation was also super impressionable.” When asked about his first impression of Aquila, Othniel was not only in awe of her beauty but was captivated by the sound of her voice. “When I first walked up to her the day that we met, she extended her hand and said, ‘Hi, my name is Aquila,’ no girl I had met in college had done that before. Her voice is very formal, positive and upbeat; it drew me in even more.” Their initial connection led them to their first date on Valentine’s Day. They took the AU shuttle to CAVA in Tenleytown and took the time to get to know one another. “I remember I pulled up a random question list of 100 ‘get to know each other’ type of questions from Google and we answered them all until my phone died,” Aquila says. It was that moment of hearing how Othniel thought, learning about his childhood, future goals and aspirations that Aquila knew he was the one. Similarly, after one month of dating, Othniel knew Aquila was the one. They spent a weekend together in the summer of 2017 in Aquila’s hometown of Rhode Island. After the weekend was over, Othniel was heartbroken to be leaving her. “It’s really hard having distance between us, even now, because not only do I love her but she’s my best friend.” The lovebirds agreed that setting their intentions from the very beginning was the key to forming and maintaining their bond with each other. While Aquila dedicates her time to working as a community curriculum teacher in Rhode Island and Othniel dedicates his time working at the US Department of Commerce in Washington, DC, they are constantly communicating with each other and prioritizing quality time together. They have been in a long distance relationship since Othniel graduated from AU in 2019 but although they are apart, they make time for each other through virtual date nights and binge watching Netflix shows like The Ultimatum. Aquila says, “It doesn’t take a lot, but when you’re intentional about it, anything can work.”


8 With a union built on mutual respect and trust, the Harrises have grown together and supported each other through pivotal moments in their lives. “Being that we were together since our sophomore and freshman year of college, we’ve helped each other make some major life decisions and constantly looked for feedback from one another,” Othniel shared. He took Aquila’s advice into consideration when deciding his first job and made a decision that they were both comfortable with while also allowing themselves to grow. After years of laughing, learning and growing together, Othniel was ready to tie the knot. But first, he was sure to get approval from Aquila’s father. Her father and Othniel are both men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. so, on Founders Day, December 4th, they shared a thorough conversation about marriage before Othniel gained her fathers blessing. From there, he prepared by buying Aquila’s ring and planned the proposal with her parents to ensure the moment was as special as their relationship is. During all of the planning, Aquila’s spidey senses were tingling. She remembers her mom mentioning they should get their nails done together and thinking about how random the timing was. She even remembered a moment she shared with Othniel in 2019; while they were making vision boards, he found a cutout of the word ‘engaged’ and placed it on the back of her vision board and signed his name on it. On the day of the engagement, Aquila couldn’t stop thinking about how Othniel may be proposing to her. They went to dinner earlier in the evening and she was so nervous that she was ready to leave as soon as they finished their meal. Othniel had to insist on them having dessert so that her parents could prepare the surprise. When the couple got home, Aquila opened the door to rose petals leading to the well-lit Christmas tree. Othniel got down on one knee and poured his heart out:

“In 2020, the world is changing, I know a lot of people have lost the ones that they love. I want to make a testament that I love you and I want you in my life forever.”


9 The newlyweds committed to each other on March 26, 2022. Othniel’s favorite memory from the unforgettable day was seeing Aquila and her father walk her down the isle. “Seeing how proud her dad looked and how great she looked. Everyone was marveling at her. That was definintely my favorite memory.” Even Aquila was mesmerized by herself and specifically the way her dress flowed behind her as her father walked her to join her husband at the altar. She adds, “Othniel’s vows were also my favorite memory. He is such a great writer and I knew he put a lot of thought and time into what he wrote. It was just beautiful. I need it framed somewhere.” From the friends who introduced them at AU to their family members who helped Othniel plan the surprise engagement, it’s no secret that love stretches beyond romance in their lives. We often hear “It takes a village to raise a child” but Othniel shares, “It also takes a village to get you where you are.” In addition to support from Aquila, he praises his friends and family for supporting and loving him through his highs and lows. He says, “They’re all people that build me up but also people I’m not afraid to be at my lowest with, or express that I am at a low point. I truly wouldn’t be the same person if they weren’t in my life.” The pair shared the same sentiment and Aquila adds, “When people love you, no matter what you’re going through, no matter how low you may feel, having friends, a partner or family to pick you up is really special. Love always perseveres and never fails.” What better way to learn about love than from a couple that has successfully fostered it in every aspect of their lives. They share that the best ways to create love in spaces you enter is to plant seeds of love everywhere you go and you’ll be sure to recieve it back. Investing in friends, showing up for your family and focusing on what brings you joy will guarantee a space of compassion. Aquila says, “Throughout my life, I’ve always had people ask me, ‘Why are you so happy and pleasant all the time?’ and honestly, it’s just my personality.” She added, “Something as simple as smiling at someone or being friendly can brighten their day.” They agree that showing up with love and spreading their values of compassion will ensure a life of love that exists beyond time.


When reflecting on how far they’ve come, they have some pretty wise words for their younger selves. Othniel says, “I’d tell my younger self to not be afraid to be honest about what your intentions are and don’t be afriad to say you like someone. I feel like a lot of young men are afraid to tell a girl they like them. Don’t be afraid to express yourself.” Aquila would tell her younger self, “Be more confident. Everything is going to work out; don’t be afraid to do things another way. Our relationship and our journey is different and for me personally it was really important to have a partner who respected my values and where I was coming from.” The Harrises keep their shared spiritual faith close to them as they reflect on the greatest lessons they’ve learned about love. Aquila quotes Bible verses 1 Corinthians 13:4 and 1 Corinthians 16:14 :

1 Corinthians 13:4

“ Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not

boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ” 1 Corinthians 16:14


“ Let all that you do be done in love.” They emphasize keeping God in the center of their relationship and building love for themselves. Aquila says, “When I think of love, God is love. These two verses capture what it means to not only love someone but what it means to be loved as well.” Othniel builds on this belief by setting clear and honest intentions. “When I first started talking to Aquila she said ‘I date to marry’ and I had no problem with that. I wasn’t going to string her along. When you’re in deep with someone, there’s a certain level of vulnerability you have to be ready to give them.” bell hooks reminds us, “We do not have to love. We choose to love.” Aquila and Othniel Harrises choice to love reminds us of the beauty that grows from a commitment of a lifetime.




FAV O R I T E F O O D Cheesecake


N e t f l i x ’s R a i n


Un c age d C h e f s i n District Heights, MD


A q u i l a’s t h e s a f e r d r i v e r b u t O t h n i e l d r i v e s w h e n t h e y ’r e t o g e t h e r







Tr a v e l i n g t o J a p a n , S o u t h A f r i c a , Nigeria, Ethiopia, Eg ypt & Rwanda


T B D - We ’ l l n e e d a n u p d a t e





Woman of Color




Black students only make up 8.65% of American University’s student population, coining the university as a Predominantly White Institution, also known as a PWI. As conveyed through anonymous testimonies, social media posts and scholarly journals, being a person of color at a PWI can pose a distinctive set of challenges. Students of color at PWIs tend to have lower retention rates, consistently face discriminatory behavior, and disproportionately struggle to assimilate to their environment. Many Black students have testified that institutionalized racism on college campuses causes emotional distance between them and their white faculty and peers. Many people view their college years as a period to experiment with relationships, dating and sex. Students of color tend to have a more challenging time socially assimilating at a PWI at a basic level, such as connecting with professors or befriending fellow classmates. Dating students poses a different level of difficulty, as it requires a much higher level of comfort and intimacy with fellow students. But what significance does a person of color’s gender have on their college dating experience? Through interviewing several Black women on campus about their romantic experiences while at AU, much is to be revealed about the subject.

First Impressions Amongst Women of Color at AU

Upon asking third-year student Jadyn Newman her first impressions of dating at a PWI as a woman of color, she didn’t have the most positive initial reaction. “It’s very difficult in a predominately white space as a woman of color specifically because we’re not as valued I feel. At least in terms of capability for romance like there’s definitely more so fetisization or literally no interest beyond sex.” Right off the bat, that can be a tough pill to swallow. The very fact that your race can make you feel less valued in the dating environmentunfortunate given that the

“ It’s very difficult in a predominately white space as a woman of color specifically because we’re not as valued. ”

inherent desire female students have to date is uncorrelated to their race. This take was echoed by first-year Oni Chaytnor who voiced that the majority-white population at AU enforces white women to be the standard for beauty and dating. Chaytnor went on to


say that women of color, particularly Black women, are often hypersexualized for parts of their body, such as having big butts or curves. Second-year student Aujenee Douglas conveyed a different side of the same coin: “It’s interesting because when I date outside of my race at AU (which it may be tough for people to admit it because we’re perceived as so woke) sometimes I feel like I’m considered more palatable or as if I’m satisfying a white gaze because of my lighter complexion.” Douglas asserted that women of color at AU are often fetishized and she presumes she’s sought out by partners to appease an idea of being someone’s first “Black girlfriend”. Whether it’s a curve on their body or a shade of brown, these women often feel toyed with to satisfy the whims of the male gaze. There’s More than you Think Behind the Sneaky Link Navigating the bounds of dating and sexual relationships can be tough for women especially in college. It has been studied by doctors and mental health professionals that men and women do not enjoy casual sex the same way. Women tend to have a harder time than men preventing emotional attachment from casual sex; they are more prone to feeling used, depressed, regretful, or embarrassed after the fact. A study done within The Journal for Sex Research found a stronger positive correlation of negative emotional outcomes for women who engage in frequent hookups, while men tend to experience the opposite—more casual sex creating more positive feelings. However, racial identity can add another layer to this complex phenomenon. Jadyn Newman voiced the blunt reality that many women of color face while hooking up. “Hookup culture is easier, a lot of times, when being single is a choice rather than a circumstance you’re stuck in. There’s this idea that being single is so freeing, but when being single is due to a factor you can’t control like people not being interested in your race, it’s not fun. It makes hookup culture seem like something you have to do rather than want to do.” It’s not an uncommon occurrence for women of color at AU to be presented with hookups as their only available source of intimacy. A tough circumstance to be faced with, given that their gender is already predisposed to negative emotional outcomes from casual sex. Chaytnor believes there is a balance of women of color being included and excluded from hookup culture. She asserts that due to the hypersexualization of Black women- “of course they’re going to want to hook up with you and then leave you afterwards like you’re disposable. But because of the presence of Eurocentric beauty standards men are always going to be attracted to white women because that’s been the beauty standard for so long.” There were some varied observations amongst the women interviewed regarding hookup culture, but the racial hierarchy in dating presented more unified remarks. What Responsibility do Men of Color Have? It’s not a new observation that men of color tend to put white women on a pedestal while dating, maybe especially so. Abishek “Shake” Chaterjee starring in the television series Love is Blind has been criticized for sentiments fueled by internalized racism. Abishek admitted that he exclusively dates white women and has never dated another race. He also described costar Deepti Vempati- an Indian woman who he almost ended up with- as physically unattractive and compared his feelings towards her as “aunt”-like. However, these sentiments don’t only exist on your television screen.


All women of color interviewed expressed that men of color have a responsibility to understand how the women in their racial group are experiencing life.










Newman pointed out that “There is a level of internalized racism with men of color that choose to explicitly date white girls. If you’re a Black man, like your mom’s Black. Why don’t you want to date Black girls?” Chaytnor commented on how men of color may view dating as a way to gain social traction. “Men of color have been conditioned to believe that white women are the ideal, so they will bash women belonging to their own race to uplift white women and be with them because they want to gain social status.” That may be a tough reality to accept- that a woman of color’s chance of connecting with a man from her own race could be clouded with his desire to be socially accepted. Of course, this could not always be true- but may happen more frequently at a PWI than anywhere else. A strong statement delivered by Newman to conclude on- “This goes for any men of color- you were probably raised by powerful women within your race. So there’s no excuse as to why you feel you are “too good” to be dating a woman of color.” An interesting fallacy is present- being raised by a woman of color would theoretically constitute a man’s identity far greater than dating one. But that logic may pervade most college-aged men- especially those who just want to earn the respect of other men.

An interesting fallacy is present- being raised by a woman of color would theoretically constitute a man’s identity far greater than dating one. But that logic may pervade most college-aged men- especially those who just want to earn the respect of other men. The Effect on Self Perception Are the inequities of dating at a PWI a victimless crime? Well, obviously no laws were broken or crimes were committed. But feeling left-out, rejected, and othered does make women of color question themselves and their self-worth. Chaytnor says, “It’s hard to not associate male attention with how pretty you are because you start to think, if people aren’t attracted to me, like, am I even attractive?” Douglas says that “it was hard to explore dating just because I don’t think I was considered the beauty standard in high school. That somewhat led to insecurities but I am much more confident now and am better and discerning my experience as a woman of color within the romance sphere. I sometimes still struggle with the idea of colorism in my romantic relationships but I think it’s something I’ve just learned to accept or acknowledge.” Acknowledging and overcoming such insecurities seems to be a process that gets easier with time. Newman expressed that she’s done a lot of reading from other women of color on this topic- some of her favorites are This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins, Ain’t I a Woman by Sojourner Truth and Thick and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom. Newman offered a passionate and empowered take of her own: “I’ve decided to free myself from this idea of needing someone and assume that whatever I attract is meant to come to me rather than trying to seek out something that’s subpar because I don’t deserve anything that’s subpar. There’s an understanding you need to have within yourself that you’re worth more than being with someone who doesn’t respect you or consider you their first choice. You should always be someone’s first choice.”



“I’ve decided to free myself from this idea of needing someone and assume that whatever I attract is meant to come to me rather than trying to seek out something that’s subpar because I don’t deserve anything that’s subpar. There’s an understanding you need to have within yourself that you’re worth more than being with someone who doesn’t respect you or consider you their first choice. You should always be someone’s first choice.”



While all the women interviewed had similarities and differences in perspective, they all felt like their identities as women of color made an impact on their dating experiences at AU. They are young women still grappling with these emotions, yet they wanted to offer some helpful advice to other women of color at AU. Douglass assures, “I would genuinely advise anyone that identifies as a woman of color that is also interested in dating to take time to make peace with themselves before pursuing any romance. No matter your race, I think it’s important to develop a strong sense of identity in order to know what you desire and what boundaries are necessary so that you can communicate that with your partner. Know that if you’re ever struggling with entering the “dating scene”, there is someone out there for you and you will find them in due time. There is no need to rush nor accept the first opportunity that comes to you.” Newman had guidance to share of her own: “It’s truly not a reflection of you or who you are if you have bad luck on the dating scene while in college. A lot of the advice I’ve read from other women of color about this have now come out of college and are in happy relationships. Don’t dilute yourself in order to pursue a relationship right now. It may seem like it’s very important and I’m probably talking a lot for someone who still gets very upset about this. Trust me, I’m nowhere near at peace with this because it’s a tough situation to be in. The older you get, the more you will grow at peace with who you are regardless of who likes you or who wants you. You will also begin to understand that this is not an isolated issue by any means. To say that you don’t have the best luck in your four years at college doesn’t mean you won’t meet someone outside. If it is something that’s very important right now there are other circles, other schools in the area. I know some people do long-distance with folks from home. So even if you feel like you’re stuck, which I can completely understand, there always is another option.” There are always options, but that can be hard to realize- especially when the numbers are not in your favor. American University being 63% female and 37% male offers a much smaller dating pool for women who are interested in dating men. Having a racial background that is not as desired amongst said men could limit the pool even further. Therefore, there are statistical elements which influence AU’s dating scene. Do with that information as you will, nevertheless there is a strong community of women of color at AU that have your back and understand our shared experience here. “I would genuinely advise anyone that identifies as a woman of color that is also interested in dating to take time to make peace with themselves before pursuing any romance. No matter your race, I think it’s important to develop a strong sense of identity in order to know what you desire and what boundaries are necessary so that you can communicate that with your partner. Know that if you’re ever struggling with entering the “dating scene”, there is someone out there for you and you will find them in due time.”


B a n y h C


d o r


e i d



24 Chyna Brodie wants everyone to know she’s the people’s president. That was clear when we sat down with the West Orange, New Jersey native over Zoom, who still found a way to greet fellow students with hugs and smiles throughout our conversation. Brodie recently made history in the spring of 2022 as the first two-term student body president, an accomplishment made even more significant by Brodie’s identity as Black woman. Brodie received support from over 1,300 students. While Brodie insists she is just like other students, she has a lot on her plate. Brodie is a junior majoring in Political Science with a minor in African American studies, and is the current student body president, which she noted is about as many hours as a full time job. Brodie has been busy making her mark since her arrival at AU. She hopes to attend law school after AU and potentially pursue a career in politics. Read below to see how Brodie plans to impact AU, the importance of her identity, and about her love for the Black community.

Chyna Brodie’s


Sofia Dean: What activities have you been involved with on campus? Chyna Brodie: Before I was president I created the Black Student Success Series, which met every Tuesday for two hours and we discussed what it means to be Black at AU. I was also a Senator at-large. Since October of 2019, I kind of created this position for myself where I pitched to the Women in Politics Institute director, “I noticed you don’t have any undergraduates. I’d love to start that undergraduate process for you because it’s a graduate institute.” I was also in the Black Pre-Professional Society and Women’s Initiative for two years. Now, being student body president takes up all my time, I work about 35 hours a week on just student body president things. I do have two jobs, one with the Women in Politics Institute and as an AUx Peer Facilitator, but I take being student body president very seriously because I was elected to help serve students.

Sofia Dean: What activities have you been involved with on campus? CB: I’m really excited to keep building upon the initiatives that I started this semester, there’s so much to be done and I am looking forward to continuing growing the projects we have done this semester, like the yearbook. In terms of what I hope to do differently, I hope to reach out to even more communities at AU like transfer students and international students. SD: What kind of impact do you hope to have at AU and beyond? CB: I want people to view my presidency as transformative. I’ve really tried to set the tone that if you come up to me I’m here to represent you, I am the people’s president. We should have no elitism. I am student body president, but I’m also just a student like everyone else. I also hope I’ve inspired someone to believe they can do it. I see that people suffer from imposter syndrome a lot at this school. Representation is super important. It is a key step towards people actually believing that they could do it too and I hope what I’ve done has made that more of a reality for some people. Hard work is also important, and I hope I’ve been a president that exemplifies that. Nothing just happens, you have to make it happen.

25 SD: How has your personal life and background shaped the goals that you’ve had during your time as student body president? CB: I think as a Black woman student body president, the duality in which I serve as not only being Black, but also being a woman is very profound. It’s been super important to uplift Black and POC voices this year. I advocate for all students but as a Black woman, I think it’s been super important to advocate for Blackpeople and marginalized communities. So whether that be sending out a message to the entire student body pushing an event they should be attending or sending out the Black History Month calendar of events. Just further elevating the programming going on by Black organizations. It’s important to not only advocate but be there for the people that you claim to serve. I’ve been to over thirty live events this year, including cultural orgs, just reassuring that I’m there to support and that I’m proud of them for the work they’re doing. I also support any way I can by shifting funding to Black orgs and making sure that they’re getting the funding they need to put on stellar events. So honestly, within every capacity, just making sure that I’m advocating and amplifying their voices.




SD: What are some of the challenges you face being a Black woman and a student leader on campus?


CB: I don’t view anything anymore as a challenge. Maybe not as a challenge, but I don’t view things as being hard. Hard is a mindset. I could do anything I put my mind to. I’m never going to code switch for anyone. I’m always going to be Chyna through and through, and I think that’s powerful. A lot of Black people or people of color with leadership positions feel as if they have to change who their core is to fit into certain spheres. I’m going to be me, my Black girl magic, wherever I am, I’m not changing that for anyone, and I command respect. For me, nothing has really changed. But now I feel like I can’t pop up on campus looking any sort of way. The way in which I approach the table, the way in which I see things, is definitely different because I’m a Black woman student body president because the areas of privilege that I navigate are different from a white man or even a Black man. I love being a Black woman and showing excellence through this role. SD: How do you show yourself love and self care while balancing all of your responsibilities? CB: It’s an arduous process because I’m the type of person that if there’s things due, I really can’t have self care, and for me there’s always something to do. So self-care is something I have been working on. It is difficult because when things are great, I get the praise, but if there was a failure, they would say it fell through because of me. That’s also something that comes as a result of me being a Black woman, people are quicker to scrutinize. I think as a result there comes a lack of self care, or a lack of time to practice self care, but I’m trying to work on it. SD: Could you describe the love you have for the Black community at AU and how you show that as a leader on campus? CB: My love for the Black community at AU is over the moon. I remember within the first couple of days being on campus I was at Roper Hall for like three hours and giving out special business cards to everyone just so they knew they had a resource and support in me. I would not be where I am today without the support of the Black community. The Black community is a powerful group, we are doing a lot of programming and we have a presence on campus. It’s just great to see that and elevate and amplify it. I see with my friends, who are now leaders in a lot of these clubs, the work that they’re doing and I make sure to always give credit. People need to be praised while they’re here. It’s also a good feeling knowing that other Black people at AU know who I am and can come up to me and say what’s up, it’s great to have that. SD: What’s one piece of advice you would give to other Black women at AU, particularly Black women who are looking to be student leaders themselves? CB: Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it. You need to have good people around you who believe in you. You’re qualified, you’re excellent, and you have everything within your arsenal to be successful and to be a leader at AU. AU needs more Black women student leaders because I feel like we’re able to provide a perspective of the AU experience that everyone will benefit from. Black women run this campus like you see with the programming in organizations that’s being done and a lot of that is done by Black women. We need that more at the student government level because I feel like the Black women I know at AU are honestly so tenacious. We need that represented within our student government. Don’t let anything hold you back and have a good team around you. Brodie has made waves on campus, making it a point to make big changes, but also making it a priority to know individual members of the AU community. Her Black Girl Magic has been the driving force behind those waves, and she hopes to continue making change at AU and beyond.


The Makeup Artist Behind The Look: Jordyn McIntosh (instagram: @jmuamakeup) is a junior majoring in legal studies. Her interest in makeup started at a young age with my mothers expansive collection that she wasn’t allowed to touch, It always drew her in. As she got older, her mom would gave her the makeup she didn’t want and she’d buy a lot of her own. She’d would collect a few items here and there and play around and practice with whatever she had. In high school, her friends let her do their makeup for big events like prom. Now, she’s always searching for fun and exciting looks to experiment and practice. She’s still finding her style and what looks best on her, but when she’s sitting at her makeup table is when she feels the most confident.


The Photographer Behind The Shoot: Lex is a 4th year student at American University and a Public Relations and Strategic Communication major. They are a storyteller and multimedia artist. Upon graduation they plan to go full force into the many mediums of art they use.They are an agender lesbian and use they/them pronouns. Their life passion is closing the gaps between the Black community and queer/ trans communities. Photography, art, and community events are their current methods of doing that. Lex’s platform @digitalpplz focuses on magazine style art and photography. They hope to expand content with more feature stories and written or oral interviews. Their platform @dollsbylex houses their digital art and paintings. Lex is a part of a house and collective of nonbinary artists who host events in D.C that center queer and trans people (@dreamdimensionco). Their latest project has been the co-creation of a new platform and collective @blk4theculture - a platform exclusively for Black people that centers queer and trans people. This collective just had its first event which was an all Black flea market including many vendors and open mic performances.










American University’s Black Affinity Housing was established in 2020, opening its arms to embrace approximately 50 students. The residential community is a product of vigorous student efforts, including a widely circulated petition, and the support of the Director of Multicultural Student Support at the Center for Diversity and Inclusion Consuelo Grier and the Director of Residence Life Lisa Freeman, as well as many other faculty and staff champions.


A renovated Roper Hall, chosen for its intimacy and insulation, is a residential option open to all Black American University students regardless of year. The Roper Hall lounge, in particular, is a site of hair being braided over the riffs and runs of R&B vocalists. Canvases are brushed with meaning. Conversations existing at the intersections of race, gender, and ethnicity perfume the room. Concerns are layered with affirmations, struggles twisted with celebration. The space’s hum of solidarity thwarts feelings of being an “only.” Nicole Jean-Pierre, a first-year student living in Black Affinity Housing, said, “Living in Black Affinity Housing allowed me to automatically be a part of a community on campus, especially as a freshman. It has allowed me to feel confident and comfortable in my Blackness despite this being challenged while attending a PWI.” Another first-year student Brianna Freeman describes Black Affinity Housing as playing an integral role in campus adjustment and acclimation, “Roper was a new community once I arrived. I met most of my friends here and I can’t imagine my first year without them.” Black Affinity Housing’s mission to enrich the Black student experience is exemplified through its sustained programming efforts, members of the residential community knowing to expect a game night one Friday and a sip and paint the next. Members of the Roper Hall Council and General Assembly have sponsored events such as a karaoke night, a discussion on the interconnectedness of poetry and healing, and a speed-friending session.

“Living in Black Affinity Housing allowed me to automatically be a part of a community on campus, especially as a freshman. It has allowed me to feel confident and comfortable in my Blackness despite this being challenged while attending a PWI.”




“Roper has allowed me to establish a support system with other Black people and is where I have found my closest friends. This sense of community is crucial to me thriving at a PWI,”

Black Affinity Housing continues to promote fellowship alongside campus organizations such as Black Student Union, Muslim Student Association, and Sister Sister, hosting a Black Club and Organization Fair in the Roper Hall lounge. In honor of Black History Month, Black Affinity Housing collected student perspectives on the month’s significance, helmed a Black Jeopardy trivia game night, and orchestrated

an Instagram challenge, Battle of the Silky’s, where students submitted photographs of themselves in their best bonnets, scarfs, and durags. Education being a cornerstone of Black Affinity Housing, members of the community have been able to partake in a financial literacy workshop and a natural hair care and lash class. The competencies, passions, and luminous visions of Black students animate Black Affinity Housing, a student-run newsletter spotlighting students, resources, Black-owned businesses, and past and upcoming events. “Roper has allowed me to establish a support system with other Black people and is where I have found my closest friends. This sense of community is crucial to me thriving at a PWI,” Nadine LeeSang, a first-year student and resident of Black Affinity Housing, said. An answer to the demands of American University’s Black student body, Black Affinity Housing is preparing to conclude the school year with a brunch bursting with pastel colors, performances, and art, the residential community continuing to fly its banner of “a space for us, by us.”

C Circle 34




Q U E E N O F T H E C A R N I VA L M S . G U YA N A | A R I E L L E M O O R E

K I N G O F T H E C A R N I VA L M R . J A M A I C A | T R E VA U G H N E L L I S

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Love of the Diaspora 20 22






40 Free your Afrikan mind, my brother! Free your Afrikan mind, my sister! Free yourself from the mental chains That say you’re not from that “dark continent” When ain’t no one on the continent darker than you Realize you have been brainwashed by wicked White men But your oppression has also been perpetrated by your own brethren I know the rapings, castrations, and lynchings were grueling But the castration of the mind has more longevity than a lynching


You’re inching further and further away from your motherland You let them tell you that your slave-inspired slang was Ebonics And not a rich Afrikan language with English words And so you were afraid to speak the word You believed them when they told you Africa was dark However, you didn’t realize It’s because they’ve been trying to steal her sunlight for centuries From whitening the ancient Egyptian, To whitening Beethoven, To whitening Michael Jackson You’ve been brainwashed You see, you wanna be American, Though America has decided she no longer needs you While an entire continent pleads for you to come home So free your Afrikan mind!


Free those naps oppressed under that process Free those hips from those tight jeans That only attract negative attention And suffocate your natural, Nilotic curves Free those brown, luscious lips From ravishing red lipstick Free your kidneys from sippin’ 40s And sip fresh waters from the Nile basin Free yourself from feeling you have to step all over your lady And step with me up Mt. Kilimanjaro


Free your mind and stop trying to “free willy” Into your co-partner in our fight for liberation


41 To deny that you’re Afrikan Is to deny your place on earth as the first Why claim to be a nigga and kill over street corners When you can claim ancient Nubia? Why claim a country When you can have a continent? I speak to all of you in denial From Afrikan Americans to West Indians To even continental Afrikans Malcolm and Marcus died trying to free your mind Accepting your Afrikan blood turns you into a worldwide majority And not a national minority It stretches your history much farther than Mississippi It explains why you’re as beautiful as you are, Why you worship like no other, And why you can never be defeated When you stand on the shoulders of God and your ancestors! ALL OF YOU RISE! You ghetto prisoners who are really Ghanaian princes rise! You proud-to-be bitches who are really Burundian princesses rise! You who think being born on the continent Is enough to make you Afrikan rise! Dark-skinned Latinos rise! Confused Cape Verdeans rise! Westernized West Indians rise! Ego-centric Euro-Afrikans rise! Amnesic Afro-Asians rise! Almost annihilated Australian Aborigines RISE!


min IKAN Realize, like Bob Marley realized, That being Afrikan is a state of mind And walk with me into that bright Afrikan sunrise And I guarantee that your mind, body, spirit and nation Will rise, rise, rise, high as the glistening skies Just free your almighty Afrikan mind!

BY: Dr. Omekongo Dibinga

















The Photographer Behind The Shoot: Alia Abdur-Rahman is a junior at American University studying Business and Entertainment. After almost 6 years since purchasing her first camera, her love for photography and videography has continuously grown. In the future, she hopes to pursue creative work within the film and television industry.




Models: Nadine Leesang | Miguel Tan | Kelsey Swan












dating BY :O


preference or prejudice?



ome people prefer potential partners to be extroverted, ready to make wild and exciting memories, while others prefer someone who is quieter and reserved. These preferences, regardless of what they are, play a huge role in today’s dating culture and are prioritized by

those who are actively searching for “the one.” However, “preferences” can often be used to disguise one’s discrimination against a certain group of people, whether it be race, ethnic-based, religious, or ableist discrimination. For dark-skinned Black women in particular, this form of discrimination is known as colorism. Colorism is defined as the “prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone” which, unlike racism, occurs within the same racial/ethnic group. In other words, those with lighter skin are praised while those with darker skin are looked down upon and considered less than. The history of colorism stems from the institution of American slavery when white slave masters gave preferential treatment to slaves with lighter skin by assigning them domestic household work, while the dark-skinned enslaved individuals were subject to brutal treatment and time-consuming fieldwork. Light-skinned enslaved individuals were often the product of enslaved women who were raped by their masters, and because of their proximity to whiteness, they were given certain privileges that darker-skinned slaves could not enjoy. However, even after slavery was abolished in the United States, colorism still remained prevalent in society in the form of what was known as the “brown paper bag test.” The brown paper bag test was a test administered within the Black community to help determine whether or not a Black person could be granted access into certain social groups, employment, colleges and institutions, and other forms of membership. If you were lighter than the Brown paper bag, you were admitted; you were denied if you were darker than it. A prime example of a social group that administered this test was the Blue Vein Society; the term “Blue Veins” came from the idea that to gain admission into the group, you would have to be light enough to see the color of your veins appear on your skin. While the effects of colorism on employment and the college admissions process have diminished since the 20th century, colorism is still prevalent in today’s dating culture. Light-skin is associated with “femininity” and “beauty,” while dark-skin is associated with “masculinity” and “ugliness,” and light-skinned women are sought after more often as dating partners than their dark-skinned counterparts. Light-skinned women have been deemed the beauty standard within the Black community as a result, and have been used to define what a “trophy wife” is for a Black husband. This manifests itself in the percentage rates of marriage for Black women in America. According to a study conducted on 329 Black women in 2009, it was found that women with a light skin tone have a “15% greater probability of marriage.” Black men view light-skinned Black women as a symbol of their “high status and wealth;” as a result, Black men choose them as wives over dark-skinned Black women because they view dark-skinned Black women solely as “flings” or sexual objects that they can easily dispose of.

Dark-skinned Black women are already predisposed to the mechanism of racism when seeking partnerships but the rampant colorism within the Black community makes their dating pool extremely smaller. According to data collected by the dating app OkCupid, Black women “receive the most consistently negative scores”, getting rated -20%, 1%, -18%, and -17% from Asian, Black, Latino, and White men, respectively. Consequently, many dark-skinned women feel as though they must lower their standards in regard to choosing a partner. Research done by professor Darrick Hamilton of Ohio State University validates these sentiments, in which he explains that Black men “have unnatural power within marriage markets” that allows them to “bid up cursory characteristics like skin shade.”

52 The concept of colorism and those who perpetuate this form of discrimination can take a toll on how dark-skin Black women perceive themselves, and the media plays a huge role in this. Popular dating game shows like Love Island and its lack of diversity in contestant casting consistently convey the harmful message that dark-skinned Black women are not “worthy” enough to be the main love interest or deemed attractive at all. There were no Black contestants in season 1 of the dating show, and in seasons 2 and 3, the two Black female contestants, Malin and Montana, had light skin. Yewande, one of the only dark-skin Black female contestants within the entire show, experienced the most difficulty when it came to getting chosen in the “coupling ceremonies” because of her dark complexion. Being picked last in the coupling ceremony definitely had an impact on Yewande’s self-esteem, saying that “I personally struggled a lot because every man who came into the villa said their type was ‘blonde hair and blue eyes.’ I just sat there like, ‘obviously I missed the memo because I’m not blonde and I definitely won’t have blue eyes.’ It was a struggle and I cried so much.”

While I personally have little to no dating experience, colorism has deeply affected the way I perceive myself and the way I approach people I’m interested in. Growing up, boys in elementary and middle school classes made colorist jokes about the dark-skin girls I went to school with, and would almost always lean toward light-skinned/mixed-race girls with loose curls and eurocentric features as romantic interests. When interacting with these boys, I would often hear statements such as “I’m not really attracted to dark-skinned girls, no offense” or “You’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl”, which caused me to become insecure about my skin tone for a really long time. And while I’ve learned to embrace my identity as a dark-skinned Black woman over the years, I still find myself asking “Does he even like dark-skinned girls?” Before getting to know Black men I develop romantic interests in, something that white women and light-skinned Black women don’t have to deal with as much. Like racism, colorism isn’t something that can disappear overnight; it takes the willingness to unlearn any colorist bias you may have(whether intentional or unintentional), acknowledging the privilege you may hold as a light-skinned Black woman, and having those tough but necessary conversations about the prevalence of colorism within the Black community. One of the biggest ways light skin Black women can work to dismantle colorism is by showing solidarity with dark-skinned Black women. Oftentimes, we see many light-skinned Black women getting into relationships with Black men who are publicly colorist (Dababy and Danileigh, ASAP Rocky and Rihanna, etc.), and by staying in these relationships, light-skinned women are giving Black men the platform and opportunity to continue to be colorist and spew negative rhetoric about dark-skinned Black women. If we truly want to stop allowing colorism to dominate dating culture, light-skinned Black women must recognize the role they play in perpetuating colorism and hold these colorist Black men accountable.

Combatting colorism and the problematic beauty standard it has undoubtedly created can also be done in households as well. When raising our Black girls, we must teach them to love their Afrocentric features, dark skin tones, and to be comfortable in their own skin. When raising our Black boys, we must show and expose them to the diverse beauty within the Black diaspora and raise them to be open-minded. Dark-skinned Black women are worthy of the love and respect that society gives to light-skinned women, and it’s time we open our eyes to colorism and the way it prevents dark-skinned Black women from being loved and appreciated properly.

African Migrants & The Fight Against Xenophobioa



African Migrants & The Fight Against Xenophobia


COVID-19, Xenophobia towards African migrants, and a steady rise in violence have spelled trouble recently in South Africa- and the pandemic’s influence isn’t helping. The lives of African migrants in South Africa have always historically been marked by violence, often being blamed by some members of the public to explain rising unemployment and deteriorating living conditions. However, the pandemic has exacerbated counts of violence against African Migrants, and it only continues to grow. Humans Right Watch recounts the experience of an African migrant with xenophobia in South Africa, “I had a shop. I rented the space from the owner of the building. He has said to me, “if you think the xenophobia is over, you’re wrong.” My shop was (then) looted and they beat me. The owner said, I cannot accept foreigners who do business here.” Economic strife may have something to do with rising violence. Like many countries, South Africa’s unemployment rate has been significantly downturned as a result of COVID-19. The Republic of South Africa’s Quartley Labour Survey states, “The official unemployment rate was 34.9% in the third quarter of 2021”. Although many African migrants are self-employed, often having small businesses to keep afloat, the rising unemployment rate begins to paint a picture of the collective frustrations of South Africans over the cost of survival. Many South Africans are asking: What will it take to survive, and who is to blame? South Africa’s long, violent history against transnational foreigners from bordering nations is growing with the establishment of Operation Dudula. In June 2021, Operation Dudula, a Johannesburg-based grassroots movement targeting undocumented migrants in South Africa, was established and has increasingly harassed foreign nationals owning businesses or working in low-skill jobs deemed to be for native South Africans by organization members. Africa News describes participants of an Operation Dudula protest occurring on February 19th, “They [protestors] turned up in a mob of several hundred at a migrant center in South Africa’s Soweto township -- unemployed, wielding weapons and angry with foreigners they accuse of taking their jobs. ‘“Foreigners, go home,”’ they cried, according to witnesses” (AfricaNews, 2022). Going home isn’t an option for many African migrants. The historical movement of migration into South Africa is heavily comprised of people hailing from bordering nations, such as Zimbabwe, fleeing war, poverty, economic instability, or reuniting with family already residing within the country. For some, going home can be a death sentence. Despite the threat of violence against migrant workers and how the organization continues to further a historical legacy of xenophobia against foreign nationals, leader Nhlanhla Luz Dlamini characterizes his organization differently. Dlamini describes the purpose of his organization on Newzroom Afrika, a South African based news net-

55 work, “Operation Dudula is a group of concerned military veterans who partnered with the community to fight social ills, economic ills, political ills…at the center of most crimes you find illegal foreigners”. Though Dlamini’s comments are well-polished, and he continually claims the organization is not xenophobic, the level of violent impact Operation Dudula has had on migrant residents is continually minimized by organization members. Photojournalist James Oatway describes the turmoil of an African migrant residing in Johannesburg during a surge of anti-foreigner attacks, “Whenever I hear rumours of attacks, or see a new flyer on my phone stating that “foreigners must go”, I get heart palpitations and panic attacks. I become absent-minded and feel suffocated by dread”. Continuing the cycle of violence against migrants is a dangerous path for South Africa. The public’s scapegoating of migrants for South Africa’s rise in unemployment or cost of living threatens not only threatens the livelihoods of migrants but contributes to the dehumanization of foreign nationals. Often, foreign nationals are dehumanized by likening their existences to the prevalence of spread drugs in South Africa. Human Rights Watch notes, “a group of South African locals accused foreigners of dealing drugs and beat up random foreigners as they looted and torched foreigner-owned and rented cars Attributing African migrants to drugs and drug use provides a flimsy excuse for brutish residents to exert violence they wish on innocent civilians without having to face moral repercussions. Sickeningly, some assailants might see their actions as heroic. Painting migrants as drug mules, instead of highlighting the struggles and impoverished life experiences of African foreign nationals, reduce them as a problem that needs to be solved, ultimately leading to their dehumanization. Alongside accusations of drug use, the abuse and dehumanization of migrants at the hands of South African police and Operation Dudula has gone actively ignored by Johannesburg’s judicial system. Concerning a court case brought by African migrants fearful of Operation Dudula’s actions five days ago, Sowetan Live reported the response of Johannesburg’s high court, “ Judge Jabu Dlamini dismissed the application, stating that it lacked urgency”. By ignoring the pleas of fearful migrants the high court and South Africa’s government are not only partially accountable for the violence but only embolden the cause of Operation Dudula and anti-migrant sentiment. COVID-19 has managed to shine a brutally honest spotlight on South Africa’s treatment of migrants.

As South Africa is celebrated for the construction of a COVID-19 vaccination plant, built by billionaire Soon-Shiong, or the world watches President Ramaphosa’s bold, scathing accusations of vaccine apartheid, it’s still important to not become overwhelmed by the newest headlines. Honoring and uplifting the voices of African migrants is the most helpful thing we could do, and the most potent way of infusing more black love and solidarity- even while being an ocean away.



Hosted by Amira Tripp Folsom, Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholar at American University Class of 2024, The Other Side of DC Podcast welcomes fellow DC college students and all newcomers to DC to listen to various perspectives on community gun violence from activists and scholars leading the fight against community violence in the DC, Maryland, Virginia (DMV) area. Tripp Folsom further elaborates on the takeaways from her podcast in the following article: For as long as I can remember, gun violence has affected my life one way or another. From reeling with anxiety after the Clackamas Town Center shooting, two blocks away from my high school in Portland, Oregon, to the launch into lockdown drills after the Sandy Hook shooting three days later, to watching a friend lose her father and brother to gang violence. Gun violence has become as routine as brushing my teeth in the morning. The United States can barely go a day without a mass shooting occurring and too many people pretend like that is normal. They pretend that we should just accept that our lives are constantly in danger when they don’t need to be. While gun violence is an issue that affects everyone, it has always frustrated me that there is not the same sense of urgency surrounding the astonishing amount of young Black men and women who die from gun-related homicides that there is for victims of mass shootings. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, gun violence is the leading cause of death for Black children in the United States and Black men make up 59% of all gun homicide victims. Black men are less than 7% of the US population, so how on earth do they make up over half of all gun homicide victims? While school shootings had been on a downturn (one silver-lining of the COVID-19 pandemic spurred by remote learning), Washington, D.C.’s murder rate saw a 16-year all time high in 2021 with over 220 murders and the important note that “the majority of the homicides in D.C. occurred east of the Anacostia River and most of the victims have been Black” according to The DCist. I do not believe that there needs to be a competition in regards to who suffers the most from gun violence, but I need AU students and the American general public to react to community gun violence that takes place daily the same way they react to sensationalized displays of violence such as mass shootings. The problem associated with community violence is the idea that these are just isolated incidents of people getting into disputes that become escalated by the presence of guns. Our society fails to recognize all the forms of structural violence that lead to that altercation and tries to individualize these occurrences instead of holding our systems accountable for creating the environment that sustains this constant cycle of violence. Instead of looking simply at the event involving gun violence, we need to turn our attention to all of the things in that person’s life that led up to that moment. In predominantly Black neighborhoods with little to no mental health/trauma recovery resources, poor education systems, and low job prospects, many young people have a very fatalistic view of life. They do not believe that they have many opportunities to create a future for themselves, so they make do with what is available to them. With the theme of Black Love in mind, the love of Black people and the appreciation of the inherent value that each of our lives hold need to be at the center of bringing a permanent end to community gun violence. I created The Other Side of DC Podcast because I want to be a part of changing the narrative surrounding community gun violence by educating other non-DMV native AU students about the work that is happening here. For my first episode, I interviewed Dr. Joseph Richardson, the Acting Chair of the African-American Studies Department at the University of Maryland. He is also a trained criminologist and medical anthropologist whose research focuses specifically on community gun violence. Dr. Richardson has dedicated his graduate and professional research to studying gun violence; the intersection of structural violence, interpersonal violence and trauma among Black boys and young Black men; the intersection of the criminal justice and healthcare systems in the lives of young Black men; and parenting strategies for low-income Black male youth. For episode two, I interviewed Tiffany Garner, who mentored me during my time as a Giffords Courage Fellow and currently serves as a lobbyist with Giffords Courage to Fight Gun Violence working predominantly in Baltimore, Maryland, a city that experiences a significant amount of community gun violence. She has used her experience as a therapist to address gun violence as a public health issue. From her experience, Garner has found that most violence comes from unresolved trauma. Not only do those who are most vulnerable to gun violence need emotional regulation, but they need to heal. Not knowing who you truly are or how to process your feelings can lead any person to act irrationally or hurt others. Moreover, a common instance of gun violence that is not discussed often is domestic violence. When gun violence occurs in the home, it can lead to that violence being carried out outside of the home by the young people who witness it.


How Loving DC’s Black Community Can Combat Gun Violence In my conversations with Garner, I have expressed to her how I feel that one of the reasons so many people within the Black community do not feel like they have a way to escape or stop the violence is because they are trapped in a cycle of poverty. As the result of slavery, white people have had an over 400-year advantage to build generational wealth while Black people have been institutionally disadvantaged and prevented from accessing these same opportunities. Additionally, Dr. Richardson discusses in episode one that the only way to effectively close the racial wealth gap in this country is through reparations. No matter how financially literate the Black community is, if those same institutional barriers exist, we have no access to upward mobility and thus remain stuck in this horrendous cycle. Additionally, Garner pointed out that no one can be expected to feel good about themselves or their life prospects when their community is being divested from. As a gun violence prevention advocate, I am determined to help institute positive change, starting by bringing this issue to the attention of students who have made and will be making their homes in DC for at least four years. While there is only so much that can be done on an individual level when what we need to be doing is restructuring the systems that force Black people into situations that result in community gun violence in the first place. I have outlined four paths forward in driving down community gun violence in DC, motivated by a love for the Black people that call this city home: GOVERNMENT FUNDING AND DC STATEHOOD: Dr. Richardson emphasized the importance of people across the country lobbying their elected officials to provide funding for gun violence research and violence prevention programs. DC’s lack of statehood status is a significant obstacle in ensuring that those most affected by community gun violence are leading the movement to end it. Funding is needed on both the federal and state levels, so even those who are not in DC can still lobby their legislators to support more funding and statehood for DC. There are many programs in progress right now that are working in preventing gun violence, but it is extremely difficult to continue the work without financial support. SUPPORTING NONPROFITS AND GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATIONS: It is important to donate, when possible, to local organizations that are dedicated to community violence prevention. If you cannot give money, you can give your time through volunteering. Two very active organizations in Washington DC are Guns Down Friday and the Alliance for Concerned Men, whose mentee is featured in episode three of the podcast! Donations are always welcomed and help keep these organizations running. CHANGING THE NARRATIVE: There is not a sense of urgency surrounding the community gun violence that plagues Black communities. We must all do our part in changing the narrative that young Black men are criminals and thugs perpetrating gun violence when, in reality, they are victims of unfortunate life circumstances. It is so important to humanize the issue of community gun violence. Black victims of gun violence are not just numbers or statistics; they are each humans worthy of dignity and respect. ADVOCATE FOR REPARATIONS AND OTHER FORMS OF INVESTMENT IN BLACK COMMUNITIES: Lastly, when recognizing how poverty is the root cause of community gun violence that occurs in predominantly underserved Black communities, it is essential to understand that this poverty is the result of over 400 years of slavery, disenfranchisement, and racial terrorism inflicted on Black people, (more specifically American descendants of slaves). There is no amount of financial literacy, college education, supporting Black-owned businesses, or any individual solution that can undo all of the harm done to Black people in the United States. Black Americans are owed reparations, and it is past due time that the United States pays them.

Listen to The Other Side of DC Podcast on theblackprintau.com, Spotify, Apple Music, & YouTube.


an exclusive interview



A gifted storyteller and video producer, Jenna Caldwell is a former editor-in-chief of The Blackprint and president of American University Association of Black Journalists. A 2019 graduate from the School of International Service, Caldwell is now a production associate for TIME’s virtual conversation series, TIME100 Talks, and a member of the TIME Person of the Year committee. She has received her master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism with a focus on multimedia reporting and production. She is the author of her debut novel Still Waters. Read below to see Opinion Editor Ciara Wells’ conversation with Caldwell. THE BLACKPRINT: This is a really interesting story. Could you retell the story behind your debut novel Still Waters? The background, what this book is about itself? JENNA CALDWELL: My book is a reimagining of the life of George Stinney, Jr. and George Stinney, Jr, is the youngest American ever to be executed in the United States during the 20th century. He was executed when he was 14 years old. He was accused of murdering two little white girls in South Carolina, in a town called Alcolu at the time. Back then, obviously, it wasn’t uncommon for Black people to sort of have this expedited “justice.” So, he was arrested. They allegedly said that he confessed, and that was the only evidence against him, his so-called confession. He didn’t have a lawyer present. He didn’t have his parents present. And, he went to court, he was given a non-criminal attorney. I believe he had a tax attorney. It was an all-white jury, the jury came back in 10 minutes and said that he was guilty. And then he was set to be executed soon thereafter. What my book does is kind of reimagine what his life could look like had he not been killed and not been sentenced to die. And kind of just a reimagining of his future, and what that might have looked like if he had the opportunity to grow up. BP: How did you first hear about this story? JC: I actually don’t know. To my knowledge, I first heard about George Stinney, Jr.’s story just from a Twitter thread years ago. That’s my best guess. But wherever I heard it, it obviously stayed with me. And this was years ago, I read about it a long, long time ago. And because of the summer of 2020, and kind of like this racial reckoning that was happening in this country, we were kind of just constantly revisiting and talking about the lives of young Black boys and men who were taken too early. And I actually work at TIME Magazine. And so I was given an assignment to interview Trayvon Martin’s mom, Sybrina. I pretty much had to go on this really, really deep dive, and sort of this tragic tragedy porn and all these images, and it’s really just traumatizing overall. I kept coming across a lot of content of people saying Trayvon Martin would have been 25, it would have been his 26th birthday, those sorts of posts, and those sorts of commentary. That’s pretty common with Tamir Rice and a lot of other young boys. So for me, I just started thinking about George, and how that story stayed with me and what he would be doing or what he could have been doing had he even had the chance to become 15, 16, 17, 18, plus. That’s kind of how it all sort of came together for me at that moment.


“For me, the most important thing was platforming these underreported stories and these stories that don’t always have a light shined on them because they’re involving a marginalized group. And I think for me, that’s exactly what this book is. It’s me shining a light on a story that too often doesn’t go covered and too often kind of gets swept under the rug.”

PHOTO BY: @artby_akbar

60 BP: Did you have to get permission to write this story? JC: Actually, you don’t have to get permission. Technically, the book is historical fiction, and there’s been other works made about George and his story. But, I was really nervous about just coming out with his book and his family not knowing. So, I did reach out to his family. I spoke to his niece a couple weeks ago, and she was really interested in the story. She was very supportive of me writing the story, writing this book, and that reaffirmed a lot of things for me. And what she had told me on the call was that she really just wants George’s story to be as big as Emmett Till’s story, that meaning if it takes one book, two books, three books, four books, I’m sure they want as much material to be out there as possible so people don’t forget him. BP: Did his family act as resources in your process of writing the book? JC: They actually didn’t. And it was because it took me a really long time to get in contact with them. I pretty much had written the first draft of my book by the time I had gotten in contact with his niece. She pretty much told me a lot of things that I kind of knew already. I read a couple of books about George already and what was really helpful was a book by Kendall Bell. He has a book called Triple Tragedy in Alcolu about the George Stinney, Jr. case. And his book is primarily for context. In 2014, his family went back to court and his case was exonerated, George’s, because they realized he didn’t get a fair trial. What Kendall’s book does is pretty much transcribe that entire trial, so I got to hear or read how his family described him, what kind of person he was, what his hobbies were, his interests. That book helped me a lot in writing my own story. And then when I spoke to his niece, she pretty much confirmed the same things I read, that he was really quiet, really respectful. He was really into art; he loved drawing. BP: What were some of the challenges in writing a fictional extension of someone’s life? JC: It’s all challenges, honestly. One of the biggest challenges is making sure it’s not disrespecting anyone’s memory in any sort of way. That’s why I was really worried about speaking to his family or not. It is challenging because you’re also taking on the qualities or the persona of a 14-year-old and trying to imagine what that person would be like as an adult. If any adult could look back on their 14-year-old self, I think they would cringe or be like, I’m not the same person I was at 14 at all. So, it is difficult to make this into a fully realized adult being when I have so much limited information. And then there were other really small challenges too. Like where does the book take place? The rest of his family after that incident all moved up here to the New York, New Jersey area, which for me felt really kismet because I’m in Jersey, and I’m from North New Jersey, and that’s where his sister had moved. But do I keep it down there? Does he have bigger ambitions to move up here? What does this person want out of life? And all I can do is really just write one of the million paths that could have been taken. I obviously will never know, and none of us will ever know. And that’s kind of the point of the book, that he was taken from us. And this reality, we’ll never know. But I can do my best to kind of take a guess and show people overall that his death was tragic, and what could have been is also tragic in itself. BP: Do you think the circumstances of this case being in 1944 allow you to write a story like this? And do you think you could write something like that for more recent cases of injustice? JC: Yeah I definitely think this similar sort of story can be written and applied to more recent cases. And I actually thought for a second about writing about Latasha Harlins, the young woman that died in Los Angeles in 1982… she was killed by a Korean shopkeeper in LA. And that’s kind of what prompted the LA riots…I was thinking about doing her as well.

61 But I think the hard thing for me personally was just that these stories are a little bit more recent. Because now you’re getting into a different sort of zone, like a very futuristic, like, I don’t know what the world is gonna look like 10, 20 years from now. So, it would be more difficult to do these horror stories, but I definitely think the same thing could be applied. And this story takes place in 1967 when George is an adult, but honestly, it could be applied really anytime throughout history, because the most unfortunate thing is that this is something that keeps repeating itself again and again. I kind of wish another story like this one doesn’t have to be written, but I don’t see that being a reality anytime soon. So I do hope that this book shows a lot of people that George’s story is unique, and that he was executed by the U.S., but it’s not so different from what we see every day. BP: How do you feel now that it’s done, and that you finally publishing your first debut book? JC: Oh my God. I know I’m still trying to get in the habit of calling myself the author. It still feels a little bit like impostor syndrome. And still just very hard to take in that I’ve produced this thing. One thing, it’s really nerve racking, I just hope that when it comes out that it’s a positive response. And if it isn’t a positive response, that’s also okay. I’ll just use this as a learning experience to become better. But I really just hope for a positive response, because it isn’t just about me, but it’s about George and his family and so many other people. And then I guess I’m really just so happy to see how much support I’ve gotten so far. I’m in the middle of my pre-book campaign, and I only needed $6,500 to do softcover books. And then I got that in two days. And then I was like, that’s really crazy. So right now, I think the campaign just hit $9,000. But there’s still 20 plus days left. I’m just very, very happy to see you. BP: I just refreshed my page and it went up $1,000. That’s awesome. JC: I’m really happy that a lot of people are supporting this project. And it’s really good knowing that it’s not just some little passion project of mine that’s weird or really niche, but something that a lot of people can get behind. BP: Yeah, I’m so excited to read it. Do you see some of the things that you’ve learned during your time with The Blackprint that you use in your work today? JC: Everything. I love The Blackprint. I feel like The Blackprint is something I take with me. That’s just instilled in me, something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life. All of the stories I’ve written, all the people I’ve spoken to, all the people I’ve met are just inseparable from who I am as a being now. For me, the most important thing was platforming these underreported stories and these stories that don’t always have a light shined on them because they’re involving a marginalized group. And I think for me, that’s exactly what this book is. It’s me shining a light on a story that too often doesn’t go covered and too often kind of gets swept under the rug. I think every so often, once a year, maybe on the anniversary George’s death, people rediscover the story and kind of go, “Well, did you guys know, a 14-year-old was killed by the U.S. government, isn’t this shocking?,” and then people are kind of outraged for however long it takes to type a tweet, but then people forget about it. But I do really agree with what his niece said in wanting the story to be just as big as Emmett Till’s and really just making sure that when people think of lynchings or really these horrendous crimes and horrendous events in U.S. history, that George’s story is somewhere among there’s, and it’s something that isn’t to be forgotten, isn’t to be repeated.


“Are Babies Racist?” & Other Questions You Shouldn’t Ask an Overqualified Black Woman

On Thursday, April 7, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black female nominee to the Supreme Court, was confirmed in a 53-47 vote. After two weeks of confirmation hearings where she faced nonsensical questioning by Senate Republicans, Judge Jackson was appointed to the highest court in the country. This is a historic moment that has been long in the making. Since the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor in 2009, there has not been a woman of color on the Supreme Court panel. Judge Jackson’s confirmation makes the court total four women and two Black justices. She’s an inspiration to many and an incredibly qualified candidate. In her opening remarks, she made it clear that the importance of her nomination wasn’t lost on her. “I stand on the shoulders of generations past, who never had anything close to this opportunity, who were the first — and the only — in a lot of different fields,” said Jackson. I won’t lie and say this didn’t make me tear up a little bit. I know we’re not supposed to idolize politicians, but every time a Black woman is successful, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride. Former first lady Michelle Obama shared her support on social media saying, “Like so many of you, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride—a sense of joy—to know that this deserving, accomplished Black woman will help chart our nation’s course. So many women of color now have a new role model to look up to as she serves on the highest court of the land. Thank you, Justice Jackson, for giving Black girls and women everywhere—including my daughters—a new dream to dream, a new path to forge, and a future we can all be hopeful for.” However, the Senate Republicans that questioned her didn’t seem to grasp this importance, instead using their platform to waste time asking questions that had nothing to do with her position. Cut to Texas Senator Ted Cruz holding up former American University Professor Ibram Kendi’s children’s book, “Antiracist Baby,” when questioning her about critical race theory taught at Georgetown Day School, where Jackson is on the board of trustees. “There are portions of this book that I find really quite remarkable,” said Cruz (R-TX). “One portion of the book says babies are taught to be racist or anti-racist. There is no neutrality. Do you agree with this book that is being taught with kids that babies are racist?” There it was — the sigh, the long pensive pause that every Black woman has been forced to utilize at some point in their life. It was a brilliant show of self-composure and, if this wasn’t such a serious event, would have gotten a laugh from the peanut gallery behind her. The nine-second pause that it took for Judge Jackson to respond was full of the same frustration that Black women feel when someone asks us a stupid question wrapped in a microaggression that hits a little too close to home. It was embarrassing on Cruz’s part to ask her something not of substance or in her wheelhouse of expertise. Even further, it was just a dumb question.


Yet in the face of adversity, Judge Jackson answered sternly that the content of the curriculum for a school she is on the board of has nothing to do with her work in the judicial system. She fielded similarly thoughtless questions throughout the rest of the confirmation hearing proceedings with poise and grace. The Republicans needed to find a reason to vote against her and were trying everything in their power to find one. They questioned her about her work in child sexual abuse cases, terrorism, and critical race theory in an attempt to throw her off and catch her slip-up. When it came down to the Senate vote, Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Susan Collins (R-ME) sided with the Democrat-backed nominee. Judge Jackson is incredibly qualified for this position: she’s a Harvard Law graduate, a federal judge who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a former trial judge on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and the former Vice Chair and Commissioner on the United States Sentencing Commission. The questions they asked her seemed like they were meant for someone with fewer titles under their belt. This is such a historic moment for Black women across the country. She’ll serve as a role model to many, but specifically for young Black girls who never envisioned this as a possibility.
























a b lack girl’s g uide to n avigat i ng s e lf l o v e + dul t ho o d



by: chrisraine gilpin

Why do we fail? It’s an age-old question. One that we ask ourselves almost right after we learn to ask questions. “Why did I fall off of my bike?” “Why didn’t I make the team?” “How come this person I want to be friends with doesn’t want to be friends with me?”


From an early age, we experienced situations like these. After all, failures are a part of being human. So time and time again, we found ourselves faced with obstacles and heartbreak. In response, we would cry, we would scream, we would talk to our friends, and above all, we would look towards our parental figures for help. It used to be that when we needed them, they were only a few rooms away. But that’s not the way things are anymore. Now, we’re off at college. Which means mom and dad, or whoever it was that took care of us, are often entire states away. Busy taking care of our siblings, or working hard at their jobs. So now more than ever, we have to learn how to navigate our failures on our own; and work towards answering the question of why it is that we failed in the first place. In self-love and navigating adulthood, there are millions of failures to be had. Let’s start with self-love. One common failure occurs when people start constantly comparing themselves to others. You don’t like the way your body looks because it’s not the way another person’s body looks. You don’t like your hair because it is not as good as another person’s hair. People of color in particular can destroy themselves by comparing their features to the ones that white people have. Another common failure is agonizing over small things that you view as “defects” in your appearance. Acne, stretch marks, hyperpigmentation, scars. You hyperfocus on them to the point where they are all you see. It’s like the rest of your body isn’t even there anymore. And you don’t have your auntie next door to confide in. Your cousin isn’t there to tell you that they’ve struggled with the same thing. Now more than ever, your self-love has to be able to stand on its own two legs; and in a college world, that’s hard. It’s easy to fall into the trap of go ing onto Tinder just to seek validation. In a world of nightclubs and parties, it’s easy to feel pres sure to look your best. Somewhere along the line, you find yourself looking into the mirror and hating what you see; and you’re not the only one. This begs the question…why? When it comes to issues of self-love, why do we fail?

Well, the reasons why we fail are institutional. European features have been idealized as the pinna-

71 cle of beauty for hundreds of years, whereas the features of people of color were demonized as animalistic and inhuman. That discrimination, that false dichotomy, continues to affect much of the world’s thinking to this very day. Afros aren’t “professional.” Boys “shouldn’t have long hair.” Day after day, constant messaging has convinced many of us that we are ugly- when in fact, we are not. Instead, it’s just another form of modern-day racism. The beauty industry and various forms of media often edit images of models to a level of inhuman perfection that can never be achieved. Not to mention that nowadays, even the average person can hyper-edit their features! I mean, have you seen some of the new filters on Instagram? One word: Yikes. So many of us are yearning to have a face that, quite literally, does not exist. Similarly, we crave bodies that are not real. But when we are exposed to these edited images day after day on social media, in magazine ads, photos and posters, and in a million other places, we begin to think that these faces and bodies exist. And as such, we start to feel bad about ourselves. We are constantly faced with unrealistic beauty standards that shame us when we do not achieve them. That is why we fail to love ourselves. So then, how might we succeed in loving ourselves? Well, to start off it is important that we are constantly cognizant of the fact that these unrealistic standards surround us. That is the first stepping-stone on the path to self-love; and it is followed by many others. However, I don’t want to insinuate that the path to self-love is one size fits all; because it certainly isn’t. The path to self-love is multiple choice. Many people adhere to the concept of body positivity; an idea where you are supposed to love your body no matter what; regardless of shape, size, scars, color, or any other kind of variation. This approach does work for some people. However, others have found more success in the concept of body neutrality. Body neutrality focuses on what your body can do for you instead of focusing on loving your body no matter what. It is all about accepting the way your body is and focusing on its abilities instead of its appearance. Both of these options provide a path to self-love; and some people have even found success in mixing the two. Everyone’s path to self-love is different; what’s important is taking that huge first step of getting started. Now that we have covered the topic of failures in self-love and how we might overcome them, let’s move on to failures in navigating adulthood. Oh boy, there’s definitely a lot to unpack here. There are a million ways to fail at being an adult. You can overspend, you can show up to work late, you can fail to keep in touch with old friends, you can go on a weekend bender that leaves you absolutely wrecked on Monday, or even adopt a pet that turns out to be way too much for you to handle, to name a few. There’s no more parental supervision, no one there to put their foot down and say, “I won’t allow that’’ or “you’re not ready for that.” No one is going to bang on your door at 1 A.M. and tell you to go to bed. Everything is up to you now. It all rests squarely on your shoulders. Then there’s another level to navigating adulthood as a person of color. You come to recognize people’s implicit biases- you come to see that some of them are wary or afraid of you. Some might verbally abuse you or treat you unfairly. Nevertheless, you must find a way

72 to navigate around or through these types of people and situations on your own. Inevitably, there will come a time when you fail, and you won’t be the only one. So the question becomes when it comes to navigating adulthood, why do we fail? In this instance, the reasons why we fail are largely based on inexperience. Because we are living away from home for the first time, many of us are not used to having to self-regulate. It wasn’t that long ago when we used to have someone who would almost always get the final say on what we would or wouldn’t do. “No, your friend can’t stay over; it’s a school night.” “I’m cutting off your allowance until you stop buying so much stuff from Amazon.” Etc., etc., etc. We aren’t used to having to be the one to hold ourselves back. There was always that external force that would come down on us before we slipped off the edge of a cliff. Nowadays, there is nothing to stop us from free-falling. The media gives us an unrealistic expectation of what adulthood will look like. Think about it. Nearly every college movie has the “insane frat party” scene. In contrast, can you think of how many scenes you’ve seen of a college student sitting down and budgeting? Not many, right? I would be surprised if you could even name one. The media likes to show us the exciting parts of being an adult- things like driving yourself places, hanging out with your friends, making major purchases and going on spur-of-the-moment vacations. Instead of the other side of the coin, they focus and glorify that aspect, the one filled with careful spending, adhering to your responsibilities, and staying true to your previous time commitments. In a world like that, it’s not hard to see why many college students fail to navigate adulthood successfully. They were spoon-fed lies about what it would be like for years. So now that we know why many of us fail in navigating adulthood, how can we work towards succeeding in it? Well, an essential part of starting to navigate adulthood successfully is to recognize the fact that you were underprepared for it. Our society isn’t currently situated in a way that is conducive to kids becoming prepared for adulthood. You are expected to agree to take on massive amounts of student loan debt when only a couple months ago, you had to ask to go to the bathroom. You really weren’t ready for all of this, and realizing that is your first step towards changing your situation. The next step in changing your situation is to make a list in the areas of navigating adulthood you are weak in that you would like to work on. Maybe you struggle in consistently updating your calendar. Perhaps you don’t know how to create a budget. Maybe you don’t know the difference between business and business casual attire. Or maybe you just suck at saying no to your friends when they want to stay out all night but you have a test you need to study for. Once you have your list, you can explore ways to improve in these areas. Again, just like in self-love, this part of the journey isn’t one size fits all. Maybe you need to talk to an older college student to get some advice. Your RA might be a good place to start. Or maybe you can turn to the internet, and purchase some self-help books or watch some tutorials. Whatever avenue you choose, results will come for you. There are so many ways we can fail in self-love and navigating adulthood. However, you must always keep in mind that there are just as many ways in which we can succeed in them. If you are constantly stuck in a self-deprecating mindset of how you aren’t good enough and can never change, you will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As you start your journey towards self-love and navigating adulthood, I encourage you to emphasize the fact that even after your shortcomings, you can change for the better. So the next time you find yourself looking inward and asking, “Why did I fail?” Follow that question up by immediately asking yourself, “Next time, how can I succeed?”


HOW TO LAND YOUR DREAM INTERNSHIP 4 ESSENTIAL TIPS BY: Z AC H A RY G R A D I S H A R My name is Zachary Gradishar and I am a second-semester senior at American University graduating this May with a Bachelor’s in Public Relations & Strategic Communication. Throughout my undergraduate career, I have had the pleasure of securing a total of 8 internships across the field of public relations and communication including but not limited to healthcare, nonprofit, agency, government, and entertainment. This past summer I secured my dream internship with the Television Academy Foundation in Los Angeles as a Public Relations & Publicity Intern. Each internship experience I have had has been different than the next and as someone who has had a breath of internship experience, I thought I would share a few tips on how you can land your dream internship. Nowadays finding an internship can be just as difficult as finding a job. Some companies and organizations expect college students to have at least one internship experience during their undergraduate careers. Have you ever thought to yourself “how can I get an internship, if I do not have any work experience?” Well below are four essential tips that I believe will help you land your dream internship. 1. Start Early! It can be argued that going through the internship process is quite similar to participating in the job hunt. Meaning, those who are in positions to hire interns can take their sweet time in doing so. That being said, you should start applying to internships sooner rather than later. For instance, if you are seeking to have a summer internship odds are you should submit your applications no later than February and start putting a list of potential internships during the winter months. Starting the application process earlier allows for the applications to be submitted earlier which could mean hearing back from them sooner. Another reason why you should start the internship process early is to avoid any errors that could result in you rushing to apply by a specific deadline which could negatively impact your overall application. 2. Make Sure Your Resume Is As Good As Can Be Your resume is the document people use when determining whether or not to offer you an internship. A good resume should include the following… Contact Information | Education History | Work Experience | Unique Skills | Any Awards and Achievements This is typically one of the first things recruiters look at and can determine if you can continue through the internship process and undergo any additional application steps. 3. Include a Customized Cover Letter A cover letter is another document that can be included as part of an individual’s internship application material. You should include the following when writing a cover letter… - An introduction of yourself - Mention the internship you are applying for - Articulate any applicable skills and experience that would make you qualified for the position Even though not all internships require a cover letter, most jobs do. So, if you are writing cover letters when applying to internships that give you practice and can allow for you to write an even better cover letter for when you apply for full-time positions. 4. Practice Your Interview Skills There can be additional steps in an internship application process and one of them are interviews. Interviews are conducted to allow recruiters to learn more about who you are as a person and more than what is mentioned in your resume. Most of the time if you are asked to partake in an interview, it means that you might be considered for the position. That being said, it is imperative that you practice your interview skills. These 4 essential tips helped me secure my dream internship at the Television Academy Foundation. If you keep these four essential tips in mind, you are more than likely to secure your dream internship!



Black women in R&B have long shaped the way we hear,e S P E C T ,” t o J a n e t J a c k s o n ’ s “ A l l F o r Y o u ” a n d A a l i y a h ’ s “ R o en singing about love seamlessly and authentically.Nota sented love in all of its beautiful forms, from friendship come with heartbreak. Here are four R&B female artis Black love throughout th Ari Lennox

The first artist that came to mind is undoubtedly Ari Lennox. Blending Neo-Soul instrumentals and her “smooth-as-shea-butter” vocals, Lennox speaks of intimacy in authentic and vulnerable ways throughout her music. In “I Been” on the now-classic 2019 LP Shea Butter Baby, Lennox, for example, bellows the all-too-familiar feelings of frustration and awkwardness for young, Black women in the dating world today. Self-love comes out in Lennox’s “Apartment,” where she celebrates her own success and most authentic version of herself while resting at home in a catchy, relatable way. Undoubtedly, intimacy is also conveyed in Lennox’s music. In her latest 2021 single, the artist speaks of pleasure and love in “Pressure,” which draws on the upbeat vibe of Disco as seen in her music video that accompanies the song. From pleasure to heartbreak and to self-love, Ari Lennox effortlessly weaves themes of Black love in the most authentic way possible. Recommended Songs: Pressure, I Been and Whipped Cream


Black love as a celebration of community and as a means of resistance to cultural assimilation is central to understanding what love means to blackness. No artist does this as smoothly and dreamily as Solange, who importantly reminds us all of the beauty of blackness in all of its forms. Love for the Black community is unabashedly etched throughout Solange’s career, especially in her most recent project, When I Get Home, opening to wide acclaim in 2019 from audiences and critics alike. In “Almeda,” Solange proclaims her love for her melanin and ancestors, as heard in the now-iconic line “Skin can’t be washed away; not even in that Florida water.” She further expresses her love of blackness throughout the album, like in “Binz” where she emphasizes the need for self-care, rest and strong community. If you haven’t already, explore Solange’s album and take a deeper listen to how she expresses her love for the Black community in all of her projects. Recommended Songs: Binz, Dreams and Mad (ft. Lil Wayne)


If sensuality were personified, Syd would be just that. Starting her career off with Odd Future in the early 2010s and then as front vocalist for The Internet, the R&B artist has paved her own strong path in the industry ever since. Syd’s unique vocals make her a refreshing artist in the game and add the perfect butterfly feeling that we all associate with love. Importantly, Syd brings the much-needed Black, WLW representation into the genre. Experiences of queer, Black love can be heard throughout her songs, like in the 2015 song “Girl” from her work with The Internet produced by KAYTRANADA, and in the single “Birthday,” featuring another WLW R&B legend in their own right, Kehlani. If you haven’t already, it’s time to add some of Syd’s diverse catalog to your playlist. From her funk-inspired and alternative R&B days with The Internet, all the way to her recently released collection of singles like “Fast Car” that emulate traditional R&B, sensual Black love remains at the forefront of her art. Be on the lookout for her sophomore album coming out this year, titled Broken Hearts Club. Recommended Songs: CYBAH (ft. Lucky Daye), Fast Car and Under Control


e x p e r i e n c e a n d t h i n k a b o u t l o v e. Fr o m A r e t h a Fra n k l i n’s “ R E o c k t h e B o a t ,” t h e r e i s a l o n g - s t a n d i n g t r a d i t i o n o f B l a c k w o m ably, throughout R&B and Soul, these trailblazers have reprep and familial love to romantic love and the tribulations that ts continuing the fortified legacy of speaking on authentic, eir respective catalogs today.




If sensuality were personified, Syd would be just that. Starting her career off with Odd Future in the early 2010s and then as front vocalist for The Internet, the R&B artist has paved her own strong path in the industry ever since. Syd’s unique vocals make her a refreshing artist in the game and add the perfect butterfly feeling that we all associate with love. Importantly, Syd brings the much-needed Black, WLW representation into the genre. Experiences of queer, Black love can be heard throughout her songs, like in the 2015 song “Girl” from her work with The Internet produced by KAYTRANADA, and in the single “Birthday,” featuring another WLW R&B legend in their own right, Kehlani. If you haven’t already, it’s time to add some of Syd’s diverse catalog to your playlist. From her funk-inspired and alternative R&B days with The Internet, all the way to her recently released collection of singles like “Fast Car” that emulate traditional R&B, sensual Black love remains at the forefront of her art. Be on the lookout for her sophomore album coming out this year, titled Broken Hearts Club. Recommended Songs: CYBAH (ft. Lucky Daye), Fast Car and Under Control

Ravyn Lenae

Last and certainly not least, Neo-Soul artist Ravyn Lenae flawlessly incorporates Black love into her music in its most innocent and intimate forms. The Chicago singer first received praise with her 2016 project Moon Shoes EP, picking up steam in 2018 with the hit EP Crush. This project perfectly simulates its title; the innocence that comes with crushing hard. Her silky soprano runs and bedroom pop beats replicate the feeling of falling in love for the first time, as heard in “Computer Luv” featuring Steve Lacy where she chronicles the common, modern tale of long-distance love and online crushing. On her 2022 single “Skin Tight” again featuring long-time collaborator Steve Lacy, Lenae sings warmly about the strong energy ties accompanying all forms of love in a slowed down, intimate fashion. Listen to my favorite project, Crush, perfect for when you’re falling for that new, special someone in your life. Recommended Songs: Skin Tight, The Night Song and Computer Luv (ft. Steve Lacy) It’s important to note that, of course, Black love in R&B does not start nor end with the ladies highlighted in this article. From the Blues era of the early 20th century to the Disco days of the 1970s and Neo-Soul of the 90s, the tradition of Black women dominating R&B is eternal and long withstanding. The way that Black female artists since the beginning have spoken on Black love authentically stands out and truly encapsulates love in all of its complex forms. Consider the contemporary aphrodites, if you will, and add some more love from the perspective of Black women onto your playlist today.










My parents began their love story 500 miles from each other, separated by the blue-green waters of the Caribbean sea. While my mom grew up in a family of 11 children on the island of Trinidad and Tobago, my father grew up in Haiti with eight siblings. Though my parents grew up in different countries, their narrative was similar: poor family, with lots of siblings and lots of love. As my parents grew up, little did they know they would migrate to the United States of America, where they would conquer not only the American dream, but the quest of love. My father came to the United States at the age of fourteen and settled in Stamford, Connecticut with his Uncle Ben. A few years later, at the age of 22, my mother migrated to the United States and moved in with her Aunt, who just so happened to live within 3 miles of Uncle Ben’s house. As my mom walked back to her aunt’s apartment, she was stopped by a man driving a gold 1994 Buick looking for directions. Now, after a few years, my dad did admit that he indeed knew where he was going, but he used “looking for directions” as a pickup line, and oddly enough, it worked. Although my mom explained to my dad that she would be of no use for the direction she had just moved to the area and had no idea where anything was, my dad somehow engaged her in conversation and ended up getting her phone number. This is where their love story took off. It began with weekly phone calls, which my mom only answered sometimes. And then eventually my dad began dropping my mom off to work every morning. Later, he convinced her to go on their first date to see Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker star in “Rush Hour”. A few years later, my parents brought their first child into the world, and they continued their journey as a young couple raising a child. While my mom pursued her nursing degree, my dad supported her and watched over me. Eventually, they were able to purchase their first brand new car and eventually their first home in 2009, which is something very few people in their families had achieved before. The beauty of being the child of two young parents is that it feels like I have watched them grow. I’ve seen both of them mature in their careers, their own lives, and their relationship. My parent’s relationship was never perfect, but the love always remained. No matter how much food is left on his plate or how hungry he is, my dad always shares with my mom. No matter how many times dad puts his laundry next to the basket instead of inside of it, my mom yells at him the same way, but she always forgives. I’ve seen my parents work hard to achieve all that they have. Nothing was handed to them. While they created a path for my siblings and me to achieve success, they have also made it their mission to help others. Whether it be shipping barrels of groceries and supplies to Haiti, or sponsoring family members to migrate to the United States for a better life, my parents have never forgotten where they came from. My parent’s relationship has taught me that love is not always easy. In fact, it is hard work. But most importantly, it has taught me that love is patient, love is kind and love is forgiving.




We recognize Solange Knowles as the “Face of Music in the Key of Black Solidarity.” Destiny’s Child backup dancer turned Grammy-winning artist, Solange embodies Black love in all of its variations. Her eclectic and empowering discography has served as the soundtrack to self-care routines, family reunions, and protests. On “Scales,” she pens a love letter to Black men, “You’re a superstar,” she croons. On “Almeda,” she lovingly lists “Black-owned things.” She reminds us to not “let anybody steal your magic” and that “you got the right to be mad” among other preachings. In her graceful vocals, comforting production, and revolutionary lyrics, we heard a call to love ourselves, to love our community, to love where we have been and where we are going. “Watch us walk, watch us move, watch us overcome, listen to our voices, the sway. The resilience. The innovation. The raw, unfiltered, and untouched soul we have can not be touched.” written by: isaiah washington

LOVE ANTHEMS playlist curated by: amira tripp folsom

01. naive ft. beyonce 12. stay flo 13. almeda 02. 6 o’ clock blues 14. my skin my logo 03. ode to marvin 15. we deal with thee freak’n 04. losing you (intermission) 05. don’t let me down 06. rise 16. jerrod 07. mad 17. binz 08. interlude: tina taught me 18. i’m a witness 09. scales ft. kelela 10. can i hold the mic (interlude) 11. i got so much magic, you can have it ft. kelly rowland & nia andrews





Ethiopia can you hear me? This is your daughter far from home. This place has made a foreigner of me… Changed me…reshaped me… reimagined me in it’s image. Ethiopia can you hear me? I’m calling out to you with this foreign tongue. Have you forgotten me? Do you recognize me? Daughter of the diaspora. I feel so far from from you. Every night I dream that I’m in a dream and from the dream I can’t wake up. I reach out my hand but I strain to feel your touch. Ethiopia do you miss me? Do you think of me? feel me? need me? weep for me? search for me? long for me?

I dream of you wondering if you have forgotten me. I reach for you wondering who will hold me. Embrace me… Daughter of the diaspora. Daughter of your hopes and dreams. Broken vessel trying to hold on to everything. This place gives more than it takes or takes more than it gives depending on the day. My soul is heavy without you. My spirit knows no rest. My name does not sound as sweet. Ethiopia… I just want you back… on a trial run. I just want to feel you… close. I just want to know you again the way I knew you before… but better. I dream of you wondering if you have forgotten me. I reach for you wondering who will hold me.

Embrace me… Every night that I go to sleep I dream of memories Pray for me… and prophecy… of what was, what was supposed Bait your breath for me… to be, and what is yet to come. In my dreams my Amharic is perfect. In my dreams the Kik Aliche is warm, it fills me. Injera nourishes me. I pick carrots from the garden. I sing loud with laughter. I bask in the sun. I dance by the water…free. In my dreams freedom washes over me. God watches over me. I wait for you to call to me.

Daughter of the diaspora. In the mirror I am the perfect reflection of you. Call my name Meron Selamawit Bethlehem Tarikou … Washington. Daughter of the diaspora. Wait for me. I’m coming home.



“ Art promotes the overflow of peace and inner

wellbeing and challenges us to strive to sustain this very principle.” - June Mwaniki

june mwaniki


sophomore student athlete artist

I am June Mwaniki, a sophomore student-athlete in Track & field + Cross Country, major-

ing in International affairs specializing in Global inequality & development. Art to me authentically

gives me a platform to express and cultivate the very thing that I’ve come to know as love. In these

art expressions, what pours out of me on to the canvas is the experience and intrinsic vibrancy that love represents. I expressed this love in the form of self love as how the promises we make to ourselves emulate the beauty and core nature of who we are.


Where Does the Love Reside? BY: SOFIA DEAN

In the sweet sticky air, we share mango wine and bright orange kisses. Heat swells to match and our cheeks are now painted in shade “fire.” In the smooth slink of a saxophone, your tears do a dance in response. Who let your heart move like that? I say a prayer, Thanking God for Jazz. In get-together-rituals soundtracked to belly busting laughter, fed by the richness of a lover’s secret. Whispers overpowered by a language never adequately translated. In intimate letters that drip with so much life and lust and fears and dreams and we lap them from the page. They leave our tongues perpetually parched. We will always want more In a lush forest that only those living in such painful dissonance could ever be so silly to survey. And we are too spell-bound to share too filled-with-mango-wine to remember how we got there.

85 Mama’s hands don’t hesitate Two braids from my roots I yell in agony She says “shaanti” To calm the anxiety I daydream Under the fluorescent school lights, my fingers undoing each knot Finally, I’m normal

mama’s hands don’t hesitate by : vedik a mahe y

Mama’s hands don’t hesitate Dropping the red spice in the food But then she packs it She says “never waste food” I remember as I take my walk of shame at lunch Into the trash, her hands break What have I done? I pick up her hands Trying to carefully lay the Mehndi I stare in frustration at my work Mama says “shaanti” She loves the unconventional She teaches me it takes patience I look down and I dream: can my brown skin glow like hers? Mama’s hands never hesitate


so beautiful

musiq soulchild

best part

h.e.r & daniel caesar

all over love all over me monica

tiwa savage

like a star

corinne bailey rae

lets stay together al green

all my life k-ci &jojo


the carters

you’re the one kaytranada & syd

can’t take my eyes off of you lauryn hill

S o f t S p o t

at last

etta james


my baby just cares for me nina simone


queen latifah

kiss of life sade

p l a y l i s t

hrs & hrs muni long

let it burn

jazmine sullivan


kendrick lamar

brown skin girl

leon bridges

best i ever had nicki minaj + drake

afro blue

robert glasper


LETTE It’s 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night after work. Both of us are stressed out, and we’re on a FaceTime call to co-write this since we now live eight hours away from each other. It’s our first article we’ve written together in over six years. Who knew in summer 2016 when we decided to create The Blackprint—an independent news and culture site for students of color at American University— after we grew discouraged by the lack of diverse coverage and leadership within student media, that the online publication would end up extending its reach on campus and becoming a platform for marginalized voices at the university. Now, The Blackprint is a part of student media and has expanded to include a print zine and countless successful events. Even better, dozens of editors and reporters on the staff have since graduated and developed successful careers in media. Launching The Blackprint together was difficult, but it was also one of our greatest achievements, an experience we would never take back, and we have remained the best of friends over the years since leaving Washington, D.C. Our post-grad journeys have been filled with ups and downs —both professional and personal— that we would not have gotten through without our friendship that began while co-founding the publication. Our bond and love for each other began at AU, dealing with countless microaggressions and feelings of self-doubt and failure, despite what might look like successful beginnings. Here are our personal reflections on life after college and advice to The Blackprint readers: I owe a lot to the inaugural BP writers for allowing me the chance to experience spaces of camaraderie, collaboration and professional excitement. There is a true magic to being in spaces where everyone looks like you, where all of your goals just align. Upon graduating, I soon found that the number of spaces that mirrored that feeling lessened with every new job I took, with every new promotion I acquired. In class, they taught us that you’ve made it in your communications job once you’ve gotten “in the room.” Once you can say that you’ve been a part of the important conversations. But my selflove plummeted the second I entered those rooms and had to then navigate the feeling of being one of few, of no longer feeling like there was that warmth, that professional love around me. Now don’t get me wrong, I am so proud of the woman I’ve become and of the professional mountaintops I have reached with still so much career left to go. Almost six years in the digital media industry, and I can say I have created social media campaigns for companies that 20-year-old me had only dreamed about. Despite all of the self-doubt and the moments of questioning what I have yet to accomplish, I often find myself focusing on the moments of gratefulness and love for those who have guided me in my career. I love Elisha for agreeing to edit all my articles especially when I am such a bad speller (and for being one of my best friends!).


ER FROM O U R F O U N D E R S I love the writers who chose to ride with us back when we were just an idea, when our pitch was all we had to show for this magical platform that would soon be the force behind this very zine, and I love all those who have since carried The Blackprint beyond us, and made it something the students to come can call a place of refuge - their first space of warmth. Keep it going. You have no idea how important these spaces are until you’ve left them. -- Taryn I would not be in the position I am today as a reporter without the mentorship of a Black woman journalist who encouraged me to seek opportunities that I did not feel confident enough to apply to; she saw potential in my work during my first internship after college. Despite her support, I struggled with an inferiority complex in workplaces during my early 20s that led me to shrink myself and overly-criticize my work. At times, those feelings of self-doubt prevented me from advocating for myself and pitching stories that I knew I was capable of writing. On those days when I felt bogged down by the weight of working in breaking news, I would set-up a FaceTime date with Taryn or my other friends of color in media. I’d also ask some of my Black women colleagues to grab coffee, which provided me with comfort and hope. I cherish those moments and the lessons I’ve learned from them. I encourage Black women and femmes to reach out to one another and set aside time to check-in about your personal lives outside of work. Even if you have Black peers who you’re not as close with, supporting them online by liking a post they shared about an achievement also counts as lifting one another up. There’s not a lot of us in this industry, so we should stick together to foster kinship. -- Elisha Considering that the Spring 2022 zine is all about love, know that love between friends, especially friends who have seen each other at our best times — cheering for each other when we get career wins and actually finding decent partners in the cesspool that is millennial dating — and worst times — seeing each other’s cards declined in Georgetown and actively staying in touch during a pandemic that left us both isolated and dealing with familial tragedies — is invaluable. If there’s one thing we hope you get from this piece, know that being conscious of the love in your life will carry you through the moments of doubt and discouragement. Professional love is within the foundation of The Blackprint, within the home created to foster emerging writers and media professionals. Platonic love is in the Black friendships you make, in the people who will always be around to hype you up on IG or go to a gallery with you because you’re lonely. And selflove? True self-love, which takes time, is being content with yourself and proud of how far you’ve come. Even if you’re not where you planned to be, oftentimes that’s where you’re meant to be.


Ta r y n D a n i e l s & E l i s h a B ro w n