Renegade Magazine | "The Feel Good Issue" | Fall 2019

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Fall ‘19

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The “Feel Good Issue”

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leTTers from The ediTors


irst and foremost, I want to say thank you. YOU inspired the theme of this semester’s issue. We made the Feel Good Issue with intentions to uplift spirits on campus. Don’t be afraid to lean into any emotions you feel while reading. We are surrounded by so much hate and negativity, but our hope is that you will read these articles and feel something different. Love. As the first ever male editors in chief, Jalen and I felt it was our duty to bring something to Renegade that you haven’t seen before. Our team has worked tirelessly to make sure that we did just that. Individuality is something that we really focused on this semester. We go to an institution with people from so many different backgrounds and each person has their own story. This issue is focused on how these differences and stories unite our community, and Renegade is a symbol of that unity. As your editor in chief, I pledge to continue to give an active voice to the Black community and all of those that are unheard. It’s crazy to think that four years ago Renegade took me under its wing, and for that, I’m so grateful. Believe it or not, I remember sitting in my first ever general body meeting as a freshman and look where I am today. It is an honor and a pleasure serving as editor in chief, and I am excited to see what the rest of this year brings. Peace and Love, Blake Duncanson

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’ve spent sleepless nights imagining what the future would hold. Now, it’s finally here. Getting here has been a long journey with many twists and turns. Featuring high-pressure moments, it challenged me to test my limits and form meaningful relationships which helped support me through it all. I reflect on this journey with three main takeaways. First, that passion, consistency, and patience are precursors to success. “Rome was not built in a day,” and true success starts with a strong foundation. A tall skyscraper with a weak foundation will quickly rise but will inevitably fall. Buildings with strong foundations may rise slowly, but they will stand the test of time. Second, that Black spaces are necessary. This campus was not built to include us. Administrators were not chosen to serve us, police were not hired to protect us—a hard pill to swallow. As Black students, we will be encouraged to join spaces where we are included or accepted. Third, understanding the value of creating spaces that celebrate us. Let’s invest into platforms that empower us to excel. That said, “don’t be afraid to be a renegade.” A renegade is “someone who rejects conventional behavior.” Without courage to progress, we remain stagnant. Through premium content, events and coverage, Renegade aims to spread that rebellious spirit and inspire students to express themselves without hesitation. Our team has continued the legacy of the renegade; our goal is to build upon this foundation. Renegade must always exist to drive campus culture, hold the powerful accountable and empower students to develop and express their talents. We must commit ourselves, not just to the prosperity of our organization, but the prosperity of those it serves. With your help, this vision can come into fruition, and our community will remain protected by renegades. Sincerely, Jalen Nash

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sTaff lisT ediTor-in-chief

Blake Duncanson


Jalen Nash

creative direcTor

Elena Flordeliz Demet

ediTorial direcTor/ coPy ediTor

Cydney Lee

PhoTo direcTor

Saad Metla

Fashion direcTor WeB direcTor fronT of The Book ediTor

Erica Jules Dassy Kemedijo Caitlin Joyles Easy

Back of The Book ediTor

Elena Whittle

social media direcTor

Ayaa Mesbah Haniyah Philogene

fiscal agenT evenT direcTor

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Julio Burgos Khari Brandes

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feel good Black sPaces


geT ouT your Bag


The Joy of PoPPing ouT


feel good PlaylisT


desTigmatizing menTal health


hoW i learned To Be my unaPologeTic self


PosiTives of social media


Black TWiTTer




unconvenTional Black suB cultures


leTs Talk aBouT seX


mediTation guide To mindfulness


arT and meThod of manifesTation


The BeauTy of our Blackness


nature TheraPy


feel good Black shoWs


renegades choice


you do you!


TaBle of conTenTs

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“Brothas and sisTas are making Thier dreams inTo realiTies, and don’T Think We haVen’T noticed! leT’s shed some lighT on The movers and The shakers Who may not alWays Be headline makers, and The sTories from a culture That is sTrong, creative, and daring. you may not haVe heard... BuT if you don’T knoW knoW you knoW.”

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By Mena Sawyer Black spaces are the glue of the Black community. These places are often the only way to be around people who can truly understand and uplift our Blackness. Each space serves its own unique purpose, but all celebrate Black culture. The church is the epicenter of the Black community. Every Sunday, aunties dust off their most extravagant hats and uncles shine their best pair of loafers in order to prep for that strut down the aisle to the offering basket. With an offering in hand, folks dressed in their Sunday best exchange hugs, blessings, and smiles with each other against the background of a gospel choir. Church is a weekly event that inspires us as a community to look our best while offering an outlet to bond through a shared religion. The full church look is often achieved with a fresh hairstyle so every few weeks women and men travel to salons and barbershops. A hair appointment for a fresh line up and a new set of braids means bringing the best hot takes to distract ourselves from how long we’re going to be sitting in the chair. These spaces are known for its conversations about Black culture. This setting is so unique as it serves as an open forum that allows us to bond over our similarities and become educated on our differences. Cookouts are another staple of Black culture. It’s where we come together to enjoy each other’s company and simply enjoy being Black. The mix of soul food and Motown music is the backdrop for dancing, card games, and laughter as we reminisce about the past and talk about the big plans for the future. As some Black students move away to predominantly white colleges, a reoccurring question arises whether our school will have the Black spaces we have become so accustomed to in our hometowns. The first thing we are eager to do when we touch down on campus is to find other Black people and hope they lead us to the Black spaces we are longing for. So, in college, instead of popping out at church, we get dressed up to support our friends at fashion shows and dance showcases. At each event we walk through the aisles to find our seats and we get the chance to greet our friends with smiles and hugs. We move our conversations from salons and barbershops to kickbacks and parties where all our friends are welcome and all hot takes are encouraged. Instead of traditional cookouts, we throw darties that consist of good food, good music, good company, and strictly good vibes. Having Black spaces is essential to the Black experience. Black spaces make us feel safe, they make us feel good and they allow us to celebrate the community we all love to be a part of.

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geT ouT your Bag fighTing The culture of sadness

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By Haniyah Philogene With the emergence of rappers like Lil Uzi Vert, XXXTentacion, Trippie Redd, Lil Skies, and Juice WRLD, an interesting cloud of sadness has been hovering over hip-hop. This new wave of rappers brought along a new subgenre of hip-hop, emo rap. Emo rap is a combination of two genres: emo and rap. The emo genre is defined as a style of rock music resembling punk but having more complex arrangements and lyrics that deal with more emotional subjects. In the late 90s to early 2000s, this genre was mainly popular in the white community and was very rarely seen amongst young black kids. Rap, on the other hand, has always been very popular amongst the black community. Many of these artists admit to being musically influenced by various emo and pop punk-adjacent groups like Paramore, Never Shout Never, and 3OH!3. Now, the combination of these two genres has produced iconic lyrics like Uzi’s “push me to the edge, all my friends are dead,” and X’s “suicide if you ever try to let go, uh / I’m sad, I know, yeah.” Filled with dark, gothic, and abstract images and messages, emo rap attempts to shed light on the dark sides of mental health, heartbreak, drugs, and suicide. Although many of these artists are simply talking about the harsh realities that many people face with mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, the somber aesthetic of their music has expanded into social media, fashion, and the youth as a whole. I think it is fair to say that we live in a hyper-conscious society in terms of mental health. Nowadays, people have a clearer understanding of what mental illnesses are, how much they affect society and the youth, and how serious and crippling these illnesses can be. The presence of artists like Trippie Redd, XXXTentacion, and Lil Skies in the music industry can symbolize a step in the right direction, as they are artists who blatantly talk about their struggles with mental illness in their music. Although the success and acceptance of these artists in the music industry highlight inclusion and diversity of thought in the hip-hop world—which is historically known for being very narrow-minded—it has also created a number of issues within the community. Whether consciously or subconsciously, these artists have contributed to the normalization of sadness. Their catchy, mumble rap mixed with the dark, emo lyrics has led this generation to think that having a mental illness is “trendy” and has desensitized them to the actual severity of these conditions. Because of this, teens are ignorantly self-diagnosing themselves with serious mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc. all because their favorite artists have made these conditions look and sound “cool.” Despite the prominence of these artists who constantly put us in our bags, there are ways to combat this sadboy/sadgirl culture. We, as a society, have many reasons to be sad. We’re young, in college, and are living in a world that may be completely submerged in water within the next fifty years. However, just as there are numerous reasons to be sad, there are a number of reasons to be happy. First, there is an infinite list of feel-good rappers like Chance The Rapper, KYLE, D.R.A.M, Lizzo, GoldLink and more. Despite constantly highlighting his marriage in his music, Chance’s upbeat mixes and catchy/funny lyrics are almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face and/or make you feel good. I don’t think there is anyone that can say they haven’t smiled while listening to songs like “GRoCERIES,” “No Problem,” and “Hot Shower.” In addition, if you look at pre-Kim Kardashian Kanye West albums, one could say that he falls under the feel-good category with songs like “Good Life.” There are a number of reasons why these artists fall under the feel-good category. Whether it’s the upbeat tempo of their music, the positive lyrical content or playful music videos, at the end of the day, feel-good music is subjective. Although there are artists who make it their mission to create feel-good music, sometimes feel good songs/artists are those that remind you of a happy memory or time in your life. Renegade | 9

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The Joy Of

Popping Out By Mena Sawyer


’m a real homebody, so actually wanting to go out and party only happens every once in a while. Usually I just like to chill and smoke a joint, but when your homegirl hits you up with that “we going out” text, then sis you’re going out. I feel like getting ready to go out is better than the function itself sometimes because…. It’s the end of the week, I’m leaving all the stress and anxiety of classes behind me, and I’m ready to do dumb shit with my friends. I’ve put on my 90’s/2000’s playlist—cause that’s the only playlist you should get ready to—and of course, “Independent Women Pt. 1” by Destiny’s Child comes on, which means it’s about to be a good night no matter what. As I’m trying to hit Beyoncé’s runs, I grab a bottle of tequila and a joint, and have them waiting for me on the side while I beat my face. I don’t know what it is, but getting dressed in one of your best fits, beating your face to the gods, and singing to 90’s music while laying your edges down is such a euphoric feeling. Knowing you look and feel good for nobody but yourself just makes me feel pretty. Maybe it’s just the alcohol and weed, but everything is just better. The nostalgia from the songs is perfect, my energy is on another level, and I’m excited to chill with the homies. “Beautiful” by Snoop Dogg and Pharrell comes on next, and I’m already out of my seat singing and dancing along as I apply my setting spray. I finally get a text that my friends are pulling up and once I unlock the door they all come busting through, already on some dumb shit and I love it. There are hundreds of drinking games, but my favorite is Kings. It fucks with you mentally, and my friends get drunk quicker and quicker, which means it doesn’t take long for them to be acting like fools—which is always a good time, especially when they end up on your Snapchat memories. By the third round of Kings, the mood is perfect; we’re all as happy as can be. Cam’ron’s “Oh Boy” is playing in the background, and we’re reminiscing about good memories within our group. We’re all drinking, laughing, roasting each other, and I never want this feeling or moment to end; it’s so pure and peaceful. I feel like I’m floating, completely surrounded by love, warmth and good energy. Soon enough, it’s time to leave, and my friends are dragging my ass out the door. I’m almost a little sad since I hold onto this ecstatic feeling, but I know as long as I’m with my crew, shit is always gon’ be good.

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feel good PlaylisT By Khari Brandes

dothatshiT! Playboi Carti

21 QuesTions 50 Cent (feat. Nate Dogg)

crush on you Lil’ Kim (feat. Lil’ Cease)


W Koffee (feat. Gunna)

mrs. officer Lil Wayne (feat. Bobby V & Kidd Kidd)

sky Walker Miguel (feat. Travis Scott)

adorn (remiX) Miguel (feat. Wiz Khalifa)

ooh Good Gas & Fki 1st (feat. 03 Greedo and G Pericho)

like That Doja Cat (feat. Gucci Mane)

mediTation Goldlink (feat. Jazmine Sullivan & KAYTRANADA)

manneQuin challenge Young Thug (feat. Juice WRLD)

BeauTiful Snoop Dogg (feat. Pharrell & Uncle Charlie Wilson)

This side Burna Boy (feat. YG)

one For me Wizkid (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)

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Mental health is an essential part to living a healthy and balanced life. The quality of our mental health impacts our decision-making, our emotional and our social well-being in everyday life. When emotionally healthy, we become more productive in spaces like school and work. This is what allows us to develop meaningful relationships. Going to college is not always sunshine and rainbows, and maintaining mental health is often overlooked. Cons of being a college student consist of not having your support system in the times you need them the most. For example, when you argue with a roommate, or you have a bad day at class, or even when negative things are being said about you throughout campus. I would consider myself to be social, but this past summer, my mental health was put to the test. Finding myself amidst a toxic situation, I discovered the best thing you can do is talk to people. Music has always been a remedy for my mental health struggles. J. Cole has been a big influence not only on my life, but the lives of many. Although his music is not exclusive to one specific group, one can say that his music targets and speaks to the lives of minorities in America. Artists like J. Cole have helped fans reduce their depression or anxiety, expand their interpersonal skills, and lift self-esteem—ultimately improving their mental health.

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By Shawn Villeta

Cole is a man of the people and is always looking to change the community in any way he can, especially through his music. How Cole brings mental health to light is great because with his platform, he can get people to open up about their problems and not mask them. The project with the biggest impact on my life was on J Cole’s 2010 mixtape, Friday Night Lights. On it, he reflected on his life-changing record deal and explained his vengeance for the rap game, because he felt underappreciated and like he had something to prove. “I’ma kill the game and invite witnesses / No death penalty, I’m giving life sentences / Like keep grinding boy, your life can change in one year / And even when it’s dark out, the sun is shining somewhere,” he raps. This verse will always hold a special place in my heart. It drove me to be better and made me obsessed with winning and hard work. I didn’t live the average teenagers’ life. I was fortunate enough to go to one of the top boarding schools in the country for basketball. That’s when I realized that I have an opportunity to do something special and change the lives of those around me. This verse was my blueprint. It taught me that no matter how rough things are, try to smile and make light of the situation. Ever since I heard these words, I can say my mental health has been at an all-time high, which has positively affected my life socially and professionally. We need to find that one coping mechanism that takes us away from the problem and use it to bring us to a better place. Mine is music… what’s yours?

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By Cydney Lee Growing up in predominantly white schools, I was always surrounded by peers who didn’t look like me. My white peers always wanted to touch my hair, they would turn to me when slavery was discussed in history class as if I lived through it. They always expected me to act a certain way—“ghetto”— because that was their expectation of what a Black person was. It was always a lose-lose for me. When I didn’t fit into the molds they made for me—which I never did—I was always the “whitest Black girl” or an “Oreo.” Coming to college, I purposely began surrounding myself with more people who looked like me. But to my surprise, I still felt out of place. I felt the proverbial “too white for the black kids and too black for the white kids.” During my sophomore year, I battled with this notion as I tried to figure out where I belonged. My feelings were warranted back then, but I’ve matured tremendously from that point. Now in my senior year, I reflect on those moments and can’t help but laugh... because now I know it was all bullshit. Of course this IDGAF attitude didn’t come without some help. It took a lot of reassurance from my Black peers and people I look up to. I wouldn’t even say I’m fully there yet, but I’m pretty damn close. As a pop culture head, a good amount of my role models are celebrities. One of my favorite artists, Tyler, the Creator uses his platform to assure fans that the opinions of others should not discourage us from freely living our best lives. Despite the problematic moments, he is unapologetically himself—which is arguably his most admirable trait. Tyler’s influence goes beyond his artistry in ways that resonates with Black youth on a more personal level. He constantly contests stereotypical ideas of Blackness through his endeavors, and honestly, I love him for it. I remember scrolling through my timeline and seeing a thread of tweets where he mentioned how he wanted to snowboard but had never done it before since “black people don’t do that.” He then tweeted “don’t let your identity be your identity…i feel like that might not make sense.” I often think about these tweets. As someone who has struggled with identity issues before, I understand exactly what he means. Tyler is very vocal about both his opinion on self-expression and his idea of Blackness as a self-defined entity. While acknowledging the value of Blackness, he also realizes that we shouldn’t hinder our creativity because of what others MIGHT say/think about it. While there are many other figures out there who do have similar effects, Tyler is the one that I resonate with the most. Their newly adopted and authentic brand of self-expression inspires me to be comfortable in my own skin and comfortable in expressing my identity. It’s very cliché, but do you. Don’t shy away from liking or trying things for fear of what others have to say about it, and don’t suppress your emotions during trying times. Believe in yourself and trust in your creativity. You will be just fine. Renegade | 13

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Social Media Can Be Good — If You Want It To Be By Cayla Dorsey

If we’re being honest, social media can be a huge distraction that prevents us from being truly present in real life. There’s always a story to click through, something to laugh at, or a photo to like. As Gen-Z, we are knowingly addicted to a mindless, constant flow of entertainment, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. THE GOOD For one, social media allows us to feel connected in ways that have never been experienced before. The resonance of popular memes create bonds through feelings of relatability. These “units of culture” are crucial in making up the way our generation thinks and builds connections. Additionally there’s never an excuse to lose touch with a friend, social media allows casual connections no matter the distance between two people. Through DMs, we are allowed to socialize without being forced to be present, which gives us more of a wide-spanned network than ever. Everyone is accessible. Finally, we are more aware. There is no excuse to not have knowledge of current news due to mass-storytelling across platforms. The biggest benefit being that we are all storytellers and have an equal platform for our message. While social media activism isn’t the most effective tactic, (Thank you, Barack!) several crucial campaigns such as #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, and the Climate Change movement wouldn’t be nearly as visible without the power of digital sharing. For the first time in history, the smallest voices have a chance to be heard and are able to tell the truth. This is—in my opinion—the most powerful component of social media. THE BAD With an increasing amount of people feeling overwhelmed and drained by their social media activities, “taking breaks” has become popular for those who realize the screen time is just too much. Feeding yourself photos of manufactured influencer ads and 25k vacations can lead to a serious lack of self-esteem.

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If you feel drained after a social media binge, be sure to take a step back and remind yourself to be aware of what’s actually happening in the world. Social media often pressures us to meet certain standards in order to feel included. Groupthink and widespread misinformation is the biggest danger to us on these platforms. We have to learn to distinguish what is fact and what is just opinion.

CHECK YOURSELF Find your balance. That paper you scrambling to write because you can’t stop checking the ‘gram? Set your social media apps to limit screen time through your phone settings, if applicable. Try to commit and stick to 2-3 hours a day. There is no reason to be wasting your time and feeling stressed when it’s your phone holding you and your GPA back! Set a purpose. Are you on social media to start your business? Are you using Twitter to increase awareness about a cause? Networking with someone who works at your dream job? Understanding how social media will move you forward and sticking to that purpose will allow you to use it to your advantage. Because let’s face it…reposting the Kardashians is not getting you a check. Connect with friends that might have drifted. There’s no excuses anymore to be a sh*t friend. What you put in is what you get out. Send someone you miss a tweet that only you guys would understand and watch the relationship grow into something better. It’s NEVER that serious! No one really cares about what you’re posting unless it’s about them. And that, I promise you.

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Black Twitter @Renegade

By Mena Sawyer Twitter has always been a popular social media app. It’s home to the latest trending news, celebrity gossip, popular hashtags, memes and so much more. In more recent years, Twitter has become a safe haven for Black youth. A place where we can vent, connect and laugh with people, and uplift people and has been coined the name, “Black Twitter.” Black Twitter has done so much for the Black community including helping expand businesses, opening dialogues for much needed conversations, and even becoming a platform for activism. #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, #SudanRevolution, and #PRIDE are just a few trending hashtags that were fueled by activism that took over the Black Twitter timeline. This past summer, almost every active member of Black Twitter had a blue profile picture to raise awareness for the revolution in Sudan. That’s just one example of the unifying spirit of Black Twitter. So much emotional support is provided in Black Twitter. People promote their businesses, give and receive donations, and share music. Lil Nas X became a Twitter sensation after dropping multiple variations of the record-breaking single, “Old Town Road,” and the adversity that he faced helped shine a spotlight on Black musicians trying to find a place on the country charts. He was also able to use his platform on Twitter to come out and be an advocate for queer rights. Another Black Twitter success story comes from Kelvin Peña, aka Brother Nature. He gained recognition and attention online for his videos interacting with animals. From there, he began using his influence to begin nature reserve initiatives and now encourage others to do their part to help out the environment. Black Twitter is so powerful that even corporate America sometimes engages and reaps benefits from it. Popeyes gained so much press and attention after dropping their new spicy chicken sandwich. There was an entire Twitter war between Popeyes and Chick-Fil-A that started amongst the Black Twitter dwellers, and the two corporations took notice and used it to their advantage. So many memes came about as a result which is what usually happens when things start trending on twitter. Twitter memes are great, but they’re not just funny pictures or videos. They are mediums of relatability. The memes that are the most popular are the ones we can relate to the most. As Black people, we are all diverse and different in so many ways, yet there are many instances when our cultures and experiences diverge. Black Twitter creates a discourse and community for all of us to relate and celebrate our differences and similarities. It allows us to shed light on our triumphs and struggles through jokes and memes. The best way to unify people is to get them to start laughing and that’s exactly what Black Twitter does. It’s the reason I log on every day. 4:12 PM · Nov 22, 2019 · Twitter for iPhone 163 Retweets

12.2 K Retweets

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The #NotAgainSU movement has been transformative. Bringing so much of the student body together, we inspired the support of alumni, faculty, and presidential candidates. The masses came to support as we organized, protected, and supported ourselves against a string of hate crimes and an administration that was remarkably complicit. Students responded to the crisis by coming together in solidarity. The student body rose up against the toxic climate, which peaked at the point of campus-wide terror. The demands of the #NotAgainSU movement were very clear. The chancellor signed 16/19 of these student demands, supposedly without revision—a significant step to progress and equity on this campus. After five years of persistent issues, despite a complete lack of trust, university leadership verbally and contractually agreed to address the issue. The schools’ public relations and media teams worked very hard to control our narrative. But eventually, our story will leave the mainstream. The momentary fame will pass and all that’s left will be the legacy of what we’ve accomplished. Do not let the administration taint our legacy. This experience should teach us why we must remain diligent in the fight. With or without the support of the administration, we must actively work amongst each other to create safe spaces, equal representation, and positive student experiences for all of us. #NotAgainSU has proved the power of student solidarity. “These last two weeks have been the most supported I have ever felt in this predominantly white institution,” says senior Eduardo Gomez. “We came together as a community to show that our people MATTER and we will not rest until we are RECOGNIZED!” For many students, this time was one of the scariest, most emotionally-taxing, powerful, and riveting moments of their college careers.

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Together we felt anxiety, we felt pain, and we felt doubt. We gathered in collective protest while we felt a collective tension each time our phones buzzed. But together, we found the courage to overcome it. Student Isabella Bai put it best, saying, “I am afraid, but that fear has been overcome by the pride in my peers and the power of the people.” The power of the student voices was put on full display during the latter parts of the protest. Feeling abandoned by the administration, we stood in solidarity to raise attention to the issue, we collectively decided to cancel our own classes, and together we marched out of Hendricks Chapel when our demands were not met. A student in the protest, sophomore Joelle Wright, remembered the moment well. “Seeing a large number of people leaving Hendricks Chapel after the forum, it felt like true solidarity,” she said. “When I saw a hundred people in front of me and a hundred people behind me, I knew we were all in this together.” In the (hopeful) aftermath of this terribly surreal week, we must remember the story of #NotAgainSU and be diligent in protecting its legacy. In these past ten days, we have fallen in love with a vision— one where solidarity can trump division, courage can conquer fear, and people are more valuable than profits. We must remember the fear, remember the tears, remember the struggle, recognize the demands, and remember how each of these things made our vision more clear. “#NotAgainSU, a Black student-led movement, believes transparency from the administration is necessary. The safety of ALL students on this campus—specifically the safety of underrepresented and underserved students—is paramount.” Remember why we fought so hard for this and never forget the power we have. Renegade | 17

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uncovering Black life and culture have made far-reaching contributions in the lives of all people, but that does not mean we cannot look outward to find inspiration. We have produced the best contributors in the fields of science, medicine, and performing arts, so it’s known that we have the range. But sometimes we may want to step out of what is created in our image and enjoy things simply because we like it. There are many enjoyable things created by non-Black cultures. It may be hard to love, because of historical implications, but we love the things they create. Humans have the intrinsic need to connect and engage with a common thread, but if every master narrative seeks to tell us that only certain people are fit to like a certain thing, we are shunned. Despite societal norms, there is no universal law that says that we cannot enjoy these things. It’s natural for Black women, men, and children to like music from other cultures, but we have to do in a way that makes sense to us. In these spaces, we have to show what being Black means to us and how can we apply that to who we already are. You may feel alone, but everything you love that is wholesome and good is a safe space and you deserve to be there. As a Black woman, I grew up at the intersection of my Caribbean heritage and African-American upbringing. I loved musicals, popular music, and family-friendly television shows, which often were not considered popular with my peers. They were more interested in rap and hip hop. I was only marginally interested in those things. It would take some time for me to actually love it. Evidently, I was teased. After I got over not having something in common with my peers, getting older, I realized that the spaces I moved in were dominated by more non-people of color. I started to doubt my passions; maybe there was something not great about these things and my people knew why.

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I definitely had moments when I felt like I shouldn’t memorize the lyrics, spend money on the posters or attend the events. Like I should retreat into myself. But that’s not my personality. I love knowledge and all of the things that would make me “cultured” just as much as I ride for my heritage. I’m still going strong with Broadway musicals; I love the cadence, musicality, poetic language, and story-telling. Hamilton: An American Musical is really important to me. It normalizes people of color and changes the historical narrative marrying hip-hop and Broadway standards. This led me to clipping., an underground rap trio based in LA that reams out virtuosic lyrics over the wildest noise instrumentals you couldn’t even dream of. Think of a scanner, microphone feedback, and marbles rattling inside of a tin can. Never in a million years did I think I would love listening to them because of their style and lyrics. Funny enough, it has become a passion project for me to listen and piece together the culture so beautifully embedded in the music. Mainstream music has never excited me. The main takeaway from this is that finding your passions and being a fan is completely about knowing your truth and walking in it despite anyone else’s opinion. Knowing your strengths is what brought Lil Nas X to where he is now. He created the song “Old Town Road,” a country and hip-hop crossover qualified for its unique rhythm, production, and lyrics. It is an intrinsic part of Black culture woven into something one would think is “white music.” “Can’t nobody tell me nothing” was his mantra, and the rallying cry which led fans and collaborators, like Billy Ray Cyrus, to fight for his song to stay on the Billboard country charts. Lil Nas X’s journey to viral internet fame actually began with him being unafraid to show his true colors. He became famous for sharing snippets of his humor and personality with his social media following. Creating memes and choosing music samples that fit his tastes. His openness brought him closer to the success he earned. Black people have always been integral to the success of “white spaces.” Our labor supported the creation of their buildings, our courage progresses their moral conscience, and our dollars sustain their industries. History has seen us make monumental and impressive additions to the world as we know it. That said, we belong in all spaces. The time has come to embrace all of our passions and not be deterred by the burden of not belonging. Black people have contributed to the success of all spaces, and we have a right to be here.

bla c k sub ack cul r es c u lt u ures

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leT’s Talk By Valkyrie Hardy From the moment we start to reach maturity, sex is literally all that’s on our minds. There’s an evolution that comes with it. Your thoughts change, you find yourself thinking about different things, like: How do you get better at it? When can I do it again? How can I keep doing it more consistently? We all have these thoughts, yet for some reason many are afraid to talk about it. Today’s society is hypersexualized. Sex creates celebrities and sustains industries. Yet this hypersexualization often seems to come at the expense of women, as billions today face varying levels of sexual repression. Society has progressed on the topic of sex, but we still have a long way to go. Birth control, contraceptives, and other safe sex practices are a lot more common in mainstream society today. Even sexual education is required in most public schools. Yet, sexuality remains a taboo subject— especially for women. 21 Questions, a popular icebreaker, is notorious for talking about sex. The questions start off basic such as, “what’s your favorite color?,” but by question #6, you’re asking each other’s favorite sex position. 21 Questions is an early example of the strong level of curiosity we all share when it comes to sex. But why are we disguising it with childish icebreakers? If you ask me, I think there’s multiple reasons sex isn’t normalized. The first one is the reputation you get once you start doing it. I don’t mean whether you’re good or bad in the bedroom. I’m talking about the very sexist, highly gendered sex expectations. When you have sex, you’re a whore. When you don’t, you’re a prude. Have sex too soon and you’re “easy” but if you don’t give it up, you’re playing games. These labels also apply to men, but they don’t have the same consequences. Like it or not, these expectations hold a heavy weight and make it hard for women to enjoy having sex. We’re too busy worried about our reputations. These pressures shouldn’t exist in the first place. Sex is a private matter and what you do in private

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aBouT seX shouldn’t impact your public reputation. If your sex life happens to get out in the public, it shouldn’t matter because we all have sex. Another reason sex isn’t normalized is because of the gender roles and norms that come with it. Men are supposed to like sex and have it all the time, while women are supposed to suppress their urges and barely engage. Those who stray from these roles are considered deviant or struck with other harmful labels. These gender norms end up hurting all sides. If a boy feels pressure that he’s not getting enough action, he might try really hard to seek out sex. On the other hand, if society pressures a girl into believing she shouldn’t have sex or at least not right away, she’ll probably end up repressing her hormones and shutting down. In reality, there’s no “right amount” of sex one should be having, but it’s often these expectations that lead to sexual violence. Masturbation is one solution for those lonely nights. Yet again, masturbation is highly stigmatized across the female community. Women are considered freaks if they masturbate or watch porn, which deters many women from pleasing themselves. There are so many women today who don’t know how to pleasure themselves that becomes an issue when it’s time for the real thing. Not being able to please oneself leads to sexual insecurity which is another barrier to normalizing sex. Too many people are insecure when it comes to having sex due to ridiculous standards that are placed in the bedroom. Guys have to have humongous dicks and girls have to have pebble-sized vaginas. Those standards are unreasonable and far from the average and it makes those who don’t fit those criteria uncomfortable when it’s time to engage in sexual activities. Luckily, society is getting better. More women are pushing past expectations and are investing in dildos, vibrators, and other methods of sexual pleasure. Sexual expression is becoming somewhat of the norm as more women are empowered to live comfortably in their own skin. Sex is a natural thing that shouldn’t be sensationalized or stigmatized, but normalized. Because why should something that makes you feel so good make you feel so bad? Renegade | 29

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mediTation guide To mindfullness By Valerie Torres a sTeP Back We all have those moments in which our workload of everyday living becomes piled up in a mess of stress and distraction. The days may seem to fly by, or even worse, drag on as if tomorrow will never come. The assignments for the week speed in your direction, and your emotions arise in a paradoxical way that is both intense and yet numbing, as you probably don’t process what you felt in the first place. Your thoughts are in a race, you’re not really aware of the little things that you worry about, and in the midst of chaos, you forget that sometimes you really just need to slow down. My personal tactic to help remedy the effects of my own emotional woes has always been to meditate. Through my own experiences, understanding the importance of practicing meditation has transformed the ways in which I have rationalized the ups and downs of my own life. While the rules for meditation are different for everyone, and there is never one way to do it, here are some helpful tips that may help in your own roads for mental alleviation: make a commiTmenT From the moment you decide you will meditate, to allocating a specific amount of time, it’s important to make sure you stick to it. geT comForTaBle Pick a cozy, quiet, isolated spot. This is you time. Close your eyes, and allow yourself to be soothed by the comfort that you’ve chosen.

Breathe in, Breathe ouT Pay attention to your breath. Relax your body, let your stomach round out as you inhale, and back inside as you exhale. Listen only to your breath. Move to where these sounds take you. leT your ThoughTs floW As you begin to relax, many of your thoughts will begin to flow. Let them simply pass through the wave in which they arrive. No stress, no reaction. Just flow. accePT iT all Many of your thoughts will come and go. Some may make their way back for a second encounter. They are meant to be there, they are meant to flow through your mind and exist. Accepting your thoughts for what they are is crucial, because at this moment, you are present in your time of comfort. keeP Focus As inclined as you’ll probably be to feed into the second or third return of thoughts, you must stay loyal to your commitment, and focus on the goal. Be with your breath and be with yourself. feel your muscles Follow your muscles and spend some time flowing through different parts of your body. Reach all points patiently, focusing only on wherever you are. affirm yourself Being outwardly kind to yourself and providing yourself with positive reassurance allows you to bask in the presence of only your own company. This helps to create a bond with your own solidarity, letting you be with you. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the frenzy that your journeys may bring you, but we all owe it to ourselves to take a step back, and be present in each and every moment that we are dealt. Even if you have never practiced meditation, it never hurts to open up the possibilities for yourself, and just try something new.

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The arT of manifesTation By Madison Tyler “ask, and iT shall Be given To you. search, and you Will find iT. knock, and The door Will oPen To you.” matTheW 7:7 People have always wanted bigger and better things for themselves. As we strive for those things, multitudes of millennials and the like have poured hours into their Pinterest vision boards, scrolling through Instagram clichés, and Monday Motivation affirmations. Just as long as people have been chasing their dreams, they’ve also been told how to go about chasing their dreams. In fact, this particularly ambitious generation devoted to “the grind” has given way to a whole industry dedicated to self-help and goal-setting. “in 2016, The u.s. self-helP indusTry Was WorTh aBouT $9.9 Billion dollars according To a rePorT from research and markeTs,” noted Medium. What happens, though, when the same old quotes like Walt Disney’s “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them,” in their flowery fonts layered onto stock images of fireworks, or a long road in an unknown setting, or of a Jane Doe posed on the edge of cliff, arms outstretched to the sky at sunset is no longer enough?

Manifestation is about feeling a sense of control over what happens to you in life. It’s about aligning yourself with the energy required to achieve your goals. It’s about believing that what is for you will come to you. “search, and you Will find iT.” The idea of manifestation is founded on the idea that the universe is made of energy and that this energy vibrates at certain frequencies. Essentially, vibration attracts like vibration. In other words, not only can you attract what you want, but you can also attract what you don’t want. Jen Sincero, author of You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life wrote, “When you learn to consciously master the energetic realm, believe in the not yet seen, and stay in your highest frequency, you harness your innate power to create the reality you desire.” Therefore, manifestation is not passive. Besides saying what you want out loud, you must raise yourself to the highest frequency possible to achieve your goals.

Simply setting goals and creating an action plan doesn’t necessarily guarantee success—making faith crucial in the efforts to get what you want. The pursuit of many aspirations takes time and hard work whether it be landing a dream internship, getting into a graduate study program, or making a big move to a new city. It can be hard to maintain hope in these situations. Enter the art manifestation. While many boil manifestation down to the single phrase of “speaking things into existence,” it’s so much more than that. Renegade | 31

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The Beauty In Our Blackness By Dassy Kemedjio I love being Black. I love the coil of my hair, the curves of my hips, and the deepness of my melanin. I cherish the richness of my heritage, the vibrancy of my culture, and the resilience of my people. I appreciate all of these facets of myself that culminate in my identity, the person that I truly am. But sometimes, I can’t help but wonder: what does it truly mean to be Black? This category was assigned to us based upon the color of our skin, this racial stratification that was imposed on our ancestors by those who perceived them as “lesser than.” I am Black, but beyond that I am Cameroonian, and beyond that, I am a descendant of the Bamileke people—but you would never know that by looking at me. I have struggled with this question for what it seems like my entire life, and I believe that I still don’t have a complete answer. However, this long journey of introspection regarding this part of my identity—my Blackness—has led me to several revelations about myself, my people, and my place in this world. Hopefully, in sharing some of this self-discovery, I will answer questions that you might have posed to yourself at any given point in your life. My truth comes from accepting my Blackness as a part of me, but certainly not the whole of me. What I mean by that is, I am so much more than the color of my skin while simultaneously, I can’t imagine myself being any other way—and I’m so grateful for that. Recognizing the beauty in my Blackness means that I draw strength from my community and that I rely on a millennium of tradition. It also means that I am always re-inventing what it means to be Black. I am a young Black woman who loves hip hop as much as indie pop, who likes eating anything from soul food to sushi, and someone who enjoys competitive swimming just as much as a three-on-three basketball (though I can’t promise that I’m any good). I say all of this, all while being conscious of the fact that Black people were historically banned from swimming pools, largely excluded from pop music for decades, and the soul food we know and love today was created out of necessity because of slavery. This is where the true beauty lies. Black people know how to create anything out of nothing, and we have been given centuries and centuries of nothing. We create joy when we are given pain, opportunity when we are given rejection, and love when we are given hate. That is what makes me proud to be Black, and to not shy away from the categorization—despite the way that we are portrayed, there is no shame in being Black. There is, and can only ever be, pride in the fact. My existence as a Black woman does not hinder me, even though the world has historically tried to make it so. My Blackness allows me to breathe, it permits me to thrive, and it makes me shine.

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By Ayana Herndon The sun reflected off of our faces like a natural filter highlighting our melanin skin. As the car sped up, we couldn’t contain our excitement as our feet dangled off the wagon and we breathed in the clean crisp air. What we saw was incredible. The stretch of trees running for miles and the symphony of orange, yellow, and brown that looked as though it was painted. As we soaked in the fall day, I thought to myself, ‘this is living.’ I went apple picking at Beak and Skiff Apple Orchards this semester, and it was one of the most relaxing experiences of my life. When I think of self care, usually it involves a face mask and some nice music. But when the stresses of a ten-page paper kicks in, or having three tests in one day, those tactics don’t quite do it for me anymore. On a larger scale within the Black community, I believe that when and if we are talking about self care, the idea of being in nature rarely crosses our minds. But after my experience apple picking, that opinion changed. I’m a city girl, Bronx born and raised. I never even had a backyard and especially didn’t have a knack for picking apples. But then the spontaneous idea arose, and my friend and I took a 15-minute trip to go pick some apples. I don’t know why, or how, but when I was around that fresh air, open space, and wholesome fruit, my mood changed. Instead of relying on alcohol and Summer Walker to calm me down, all of a sudden I had the ability to sit with my stresses and sort them out in an open space. Maybe it was the direct sunlight that instantly lightened my mood, or maybe it was the fresh apples that weren’t from a supermarket or infused with loads of pesticides. Nevertheless, with a bakery, a cider store, and a restaurant/brewery, Beak and Skiff changed my whole mood in one afternoon. So even if it’s sitting outside to soak in the sun before your next class, or playing outside with your friends instead of cyphing in the crib, being around nature can be a really great way to improve your mental health. I encourage everyone should try it.

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feel good feel good By Fredaye Wilkes

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Starring Will Smith, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a ‘90s sitcom classic. The comedic show was about a boy who moves in with his wealthy aunt, uncle, and cousins, who live in Bel-Air. Will brings his Philadelphia culture and bold personality, disrupting his upper-class relatives’ lives for the better. The show addresses serious topics while staying light-hearted. Overall, the show was a well-curated place for Black families to watch something with a cast that reflected the diversity of Black people.

The Proud Family/The Boondocks (TIE)

The Proud Family was an animated Disney Channel show that gave insight on an average African-American teenage girl’s life. The point of view is what made the show so original. One of the first shows of its kind, many viewers gravitated towards and could relate to Penny Proud, whether through her annoying parents, school troubles, or teenage drama.


Martin is arguably a classic and was based around the life of a young adult Black male. Set in Detroit, Martin lives an entertaining life of a bachelor--for part of the show--with his friends, who have just as distinguished personalities as he. This show is iconic so much that you can still catch late night reruns of it on BET.

That’s So Raven

That’s So Raven, a Disney original show starring Raven Symone, a teenage psychic, who is constantly put in crazy situations, but with the support of her friends, family, and psychic abilities, she always manages to get through her situation. It is easy for many to relate because Raven had a schemeful brother, annoying teachers, but also, she was an admirable character who dressed well, had two best friends, and had so much fun. The addition of her being psychic gave younger viewers a wild imagination. This show makes you feel good by Raven’s fashionista personality, colorful settings, cheerful cast, and catchy theme song.


Blackish is a television sitcom following a suburban upper-middle class Black family. In the show, the father (played by Anthony Anderson) has a successful job and a beautiful family, however, he tries “to create a sense of ethnic identity” for his family. Their day-to-day life is kept light-hearted and portrayed in a comedic way—much like the other shows on this list.

black black shows shows Renegade Magazine Fall '19 Issue.indd 35

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renegade’s choice Ayaa Mesbah

“someTimes The Wrong choices Bring us To The righT Places. To Be creative and ProducTive in life, you musT firsT lose your resisTance To Being Wrong.”

Blake Duncanson

“you can only conTrol your conTrollaBles.”

Caitlin Easy

“everyThing BeauTiful in This life is atTracTed To you in aBundance.”

Cydney Lee

“create The life you WanT To live.”

Dassy Kemedjio “There is PoWer in your Presence and sTrengTh in your TruTh.”

Elena Demet “you are enough.”

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Elena Whittle

“relaX, you’re going To do great.”

Erica Jules

“rememBer That you originate from kings and Queens, noBody can Take That aWay from you. you’re roYAlty.”

Haniyah Philogene

“shoW uP and PoP ouT.”

Jalen Nash

“don’T Be afraid.”

Khari Brandes “Thank you For Waking uP and Trying a neW day.”

Saad Metla “Be Bold. Be BeauTiful. Be you!”

Sonia Goswami “you can’T fiT in When you Were Born To sTand ouT.”

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noW you do you! draW What makes you feel good. use The hashTag and Tag us!

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