RENEFAM ISSUE SPRING 2022
Where do you call home? Brooklyn but my friends told me to stop lying so Trenton, NJ
What’s your Big 3? Leo sun (we love the confidence), Capricorn rising (chill out gang), Pisces moon (get out your bag) What did you wish you had majored in? Anything other than bioengineering
Drums or flats? Drums
How tall are you? Now how tall do you tell people you are? 5’10” but 6’6” on a good day
Who is your favorite artist at the moment? Solange all the time
Which summer do you cherish the most? Summer ‘16
How many hours of real work do you per day? 15 focused minutes
Whose approval matters to you? My own. Fuck the haters
What brings you joy? Seeing Black people living their best lives
What is the meaning of life? Being your happiest self without any regrets
Fight or flight? Knuck if you buck
What is a conspiracy you believe in? Mattress firms are a front
Describe your life in seven words. Creative, comical, corny, comfortable, charismatic, crafty, complex
Who do you look up to? Andre 3000
What do you love about being Black? We the most envied and influential. No competition
Where do you call home? Rochester, NY (shoutout the 585!)
What’s your Big 3? Taurus sun, Scorpio moon, Scorpio rising (so don’t cross me lol)
What did you wish you had majored in? Playwriting or journalism
Drums or flats? Flats all the way
How tall are you? Now how tall do you tell people you are? 5’ 3”, sometimes I switch it up and say 5’ 4”
Who is your favorite artist at the moment? Tems!
Which summer do you cherish the most? Summer ’17 has my heart forever
How many hours of real work do you per day? 5-6 hours on a good day (but I think “work” is subjective)
Whose approval matters to you? My loved ones, my ancestors, and of course, myself
What brings you joy? FaceTime calls that go on for hours, fried plantains, and witnessing the downfall of capitalism
What is the meaning of life? Love
Fight or flight? Usually I’m doing the dash, but if you test me watch out
What is a conspiracy you believe in? The US government is behind MLK’s assassination
Describe your life in seven words. Doing my best with what I got
Who do you look up to? My parents (love you Maman and Papa)
What do you love about being Black? Without us, the world doesn’t turn
RENEFAM ISSUE SPRING 2022
Co-Editor In Chief
Co-Editor In Chief
Editorial Director Writers Chris Ajao Ifetayo Dudley Guerdyna Gelin Rainu George Ibet Inyang Dassy Kemedijo Nogaye Ndiaye
Graphic Design Head
Anwuli Onwaeze Sofia Rodriguez Madison Tyler
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TABLE OF CONTENTS 7
A Letter to the Future
The Black Experience at Cuse
The Cult of Celebrity
Black Fashion Designers
College Survival Guide
The “R” Doodles
Friends & Family
Mental Reality of College
Streets Lamps & Chandeliers
The BBL Effect
15, 25, 37, 38
The Renegade’s Choice
A Letter to the Past
Christopher Wallace The Notorious B.I.G Biggie Smalls Big Poppa
“Brothas and sistas are making their 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, & daring. You may not have heard... but if you don’t know now you know.”
THE BLACK EXPERIENCE AT CUSE 1994 1995 2004 2013 1996 2005 2014 1997 2006 2015 1998 2007 2016 1999 2008 2017 2000 2009 2018 2001 2010 2019 2002 2011 2020 WORDS BY: GUERDYNA GELIN
In a 1994 edition of Syracuse University’s first Black publication, The Black Voice, which is one of the offspring nourished by the Student AfricanAmerican Society (SAS), Amma Tanksley remarked, “We are mentally Institutionalized so that they need not worry about our physical actions.” For Black students at Syracuse University to be “mentally Institutionalized,” implies that their voices are not heard, no matter how much they amplify it. Tanksley’s remark is proof of why strengthening Black voices on campus is critical. Without it, we will not see progress. The Student African-American Society (SAS) was founded in the Spring of 1967. This group works to unite, educate, and empower students of color on campus. Despite this, Syracuse University still had an ongoing history of political disputes between its administration and Black students. It was not until 1969 that Syracuse University’s administration became interested in Black students’ problems. Black students began to witness an increased Black student enrollment, and an increase in the presence of Black faculty members. They also saw a curriculum that reflected on Black culture as a result of political awareness and action among Black students, but there was still much work to be done. The African American Studies program was underfunded and underutilized. Many Black students believed it was too difficult to obtain credit for AAS courses, so they avoided the program. Some students didn’t know what the program was because they lacked exposure to it. As a result, nearly 200 African-American students marched in March 1989 to protest the inequity in Syracuse University’s African American Studies program. Furthermore, 400 African-American students challenged a 59-million-dollar investment in the Science and Technology Building, notwithstanding an investment of that magnitude in the AAS department. “A milestone for us as students was the broadening of Martin Luther King Library, which was barely alive during my freshman year,” recalled Andre Cole ‘96, an African American Studies major. “It became a great space for African American Studies majors, and anyone taking those classes to use as not only a personal library, but an academic space” he added. Furthermore, Black students were never given special attention at homecoming at SU. While white fraternities and sororities, for example, had funding available for homecoming, Black fraternities and sororities on campus did not. That’s why the Coming Back Together (CBT) weekend is
important to minority Syracuse alumni; it allows them to display their cultural traditions and values, and sense of community as a Black and Latinx collective, which was previously limited within this university. Regardless of the Black experience at Syracuse, the memory of all the individuals that returned to help Black students on their journey at Syracuse continues to inspire Syracuse alumni to do the same and give back to current students. In October 1994, an unnamed culprit vandalized the SAS office, specifically a sign that targeted African Americans with the words “The South Will Rise Again.” A piece of SAS history was destroyed. SAS sought to not only enhance the Black student experience here at Syracuse, but all student experiences. They sought to set goals, get results, and contribute to change. Despite these attempts, marginalized students as a whole felt unwanted, as though the institution established boundaries of what Black and Latino people should be like and refused to accept any deviations. As Black students at a predominantly white institution, Syracuse University is a relatively true picture of how race operates in the real world. Students of color have identified a lack of diversity among both students and faculty as the most major concern. The University does a lot of talking, but not enough action to back it up or have a significant influence on Black students. This is evidenced by today’s Black student experience. There are some support networks, but there aren’t enough and there needs to be more visible diversity engagement. The opening of the house at 119 Euclid Ave in September 2021 aims to commemorate the Black student experience at Syracuse University while also providing a secure and welcoming environment. Said to be almost entirely student led, Black students are able to grow and make this space their own, all while learning more about Syracuse’s Black history, which should be continually amplified and never neglected. “I am very proud of the way the students are going about #NotAgainSU and how the students have focused on getting a word out and have gotten in front of alumni,” says Andre Cole ‘96, reflecting on the progress Black students have made over time and the work that still has to be done. “It is important to stay connected and know what is going on. We want to make sure that students know that if they have any questions regarding Syracuse history, they can ask us. We are here to support.”
THE CULT OF CELEBRITIES WORDS BY: NOGAYE NDIAYE ILLUSTRATION BY: MAIA WELLINGTON From music to fashion to visual culture the influence of Black celebrities on the Black community has long been folded into the fabric of Black life even before the advent of internet culture. In the era of social media, Black socialites, artists, and athletes have been able to not only share large amounts of their own content depicting the best parts of their life but, be able to reach millions of people while doing so. Through social media, specifically Instagram, everyday people like you and me, are exposed to images of idealistic lifestyles, of excess wealth and fame obtained by people who look just like us. Our generation’s fascination with Black celebrities has left many people designating Black celebrities as ideal representatives for the community as a whole, and for some, on a personal level.
Have you ever wondered why people get really angry when you critique a celebrity they admire? Or why so many people, specifically women, are so adamant to deny the allegations made against R-Kelly regardless of the amount of evidence against him? Yeah, me too. A November 2021 study published in BMC Psychology uses three categories to describe people who have a strong infatuation with celebrities they favor – entertainment-social, intense-personal, and borderline pathological fans. Borderline pathological fans tend to talk about their favorite celebrities’ accomplishments, admit to talking about celebrities even when they genuinely do not mean to, and agree that if they were to meet their favorite celebrity they’d do anything they were asked by them, even if it was illegal. At this rate, it’s plausible that people are no longer consuming content at a level that suggests they admire a particular influencer, but idolize them. Arguably, a substantial amount of the Black community’s most favored role models are those with large online followings, modern day celebrities. We look up to them for anything from fashion to entrepreneurship tips. Our goals have changed from acquiring college degrees, to looking the best in the room, or finding a fast way to come up just like the online personality you keep up with daily. Now, many of us can admit to making at least one, or several, purchases on the simple fact that their favorite celebrity told them to. Or that many men draw on the actions of their misogynistic faves to teach them how to treat women and raise their children. Can we acknowledge that the fact members Beyhive and Barbs coming for each other’s necks for women they’ll never meet or be acknowledged by is behavior that’s obsessive and possessive, if not borderline pathological? Is it not absurd that our ideals of love bounce between rappers like Lil Durk and his fiance, India Royale, and quotes from an Instagram page, Justinlaboy? Is it not concerning that many people’s main news source is the same page they use to find the hottest “tea” about their favorite, and least liked, celebrities – for example, The Shade Room? Black celebs’ influence may seem harmless on the surface, however, the impact they have on the Black community has gotten far too large to deny its part in toxic stan culture and regarding Black celebrities as the ideal representatives of the Black community. Some argue that these are fine representatives of the community exemplary of Black excellence, but what about the other representatives? One can argue that the real role models are the Black
politicians, lawyers, doctors, authors, teachers, and grassroots activists. Are they not as important and even essential to our livelihoods? The truth is they’re not as popular mainly because they aren’t wealthy or famous, and don’t base their own value in designer clothing but in the work they actually do. Admittedly, it’s difficult to maintain interest in complex subjects like politics or social issues when we’re living through a global pandemic and are overwhelmed with the issues in our own lives. Instead, it’s easier for people to indulge in the lives of others. The problem is that we’ll be left disappointed when celebrities do not come through in the ways we’d expect them to, as all humans are capable of doing. While many celebrities do give back and offer help within their own communities, giving them your full attention while neglecting others can be detrimental. Celebrities aren’t the people advocating for people who look like us in court, they aren’t passing legislation, and they don’t directly impact structural issues such as the school to prison pipeline. If something were to go wrong in your life right now, you wouldn’t call up your favorite Youtuber. That’s just not how it works. It’s the people we don’t pay attention to or even know of that do the most critical work that impact our daily lives. This isn’t an attack nor a generalization of the Black community or the Black celebrities in question, but a reminder of the harm in making these people our only source of inspiration. Black children and young adults deserve to have more than artists, athletes, and social media influencers as their role models because they need to know they’ve got more options than that. They deserve to know that being successful in life is harder than it appears on social media. They deserve to understand that your value isn’t based on how many material items you acquire but in the work you do to maintain yourself and the community around you. While we can all admit to enjoying tapping into the lives of the rich and famous, it wouldn’t hurt to engage with contents that actually furthers us as a community and even indivdually.
WORDS BY: CHRIS AJAO GRAPHIC BY: LANCE EVANS Over the past couple of years, there has been a shift in the high fashion culture. The fashion industry is predominantly white and submits to Eurocentric beauty standards. However, Black culture has heavily influenced fashion in every facet spanning from jewelry, clothing, hairstyles, and more. The fashion industry doesn`t thrive without Black culture as it`s an avenue for Black people to express their creative visions. For that, we have to give our flowers to prominent pioneers in the fashion world such as designers Ann Lowe, Jay Jaxon, Willi Smith, Tracy Reese, Kimora Lee, and more. They paved the way for Black fashion designers to break out into the high fashion scene. Now Black fashion brands are gaining more mass media attention thanks to social media and other outlets One of the most prominent Black fashion designers today is Telfar Clemens. Telfar started his eponymous brand Telfar in 2005 while studying at Pace University. As the years went by Telfar collaborated with different celebrities such as Solange, and big brands such as Gap, UGG, and White Castle. For his 2017 White Castle collaboration, he used the proceeds to bail out minors incarcerated at the notorious Rikers Island. Now, Telfar is widely known for his Telfar Shopping Bag, which has been a hit, especially in New York City, his home. The bag`s lowest retail is $150, which is considered a steal compared to other luxury fashion products. Kerby Jean-Raymond is another trailblazer in the fashion world known for his award-winning brand Pyer Moss. Kerby started Pyer Moss in 2013, aiming to highlight heritage and activism through menswear and womenswear fashion. Intent on the brand to being focused more on culture than clothing. Showing he isn`t afraid to make a political statement with his brand. He showed that with his
2016 collections which focused on social issues in the Black community. His spring 2016 collection on the second day of New York Fashion Week began with a short film showcasing cases of police brutality on Black people such as Marlan Brown and Eric Garner. His fall 2016 collection with Erykah Badu titled “Double Bind” highlighted mental health battles with statements on the clothing. Kerby`s brand has been worn by several celebrities such as Odell Beckham Jr., Gabrielle Union, First Lady Michelle Obama, and more. Recently, Kerby was selected to be the Global Creative Director of sportswear for Reebok making strides through this predominantly white industry. Some Black fashion designers are taking over traditionally white fashion brands, such as the famous Virgil Abloh. Virgil got his start after college while interning for Fendi with Kanye West in 2009. He garnered attention with his work at Fendi leading to his appointment to a position at Kanye`s agency DONDA. In 2013, Virgil created his fashion brand Off-White in Italy garnering international attention. At that time collaborated with several brands such as Nike and IKEA. Abloh used his brand for social justice as well with his EVERYBODY.WORLD line where the proceeds went to Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. After years in the fashion world, he was appointed as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton in 2018, becoming one of the first African men to lead a luxury French fashion house. Black fashion designers are on the rise as they`re transitioning into positions of power in luxury high fashion brands. Their authenticity and creativity are no longer being overshadowed as the world is taking notice of their accomplishments. The fashion industry is finally giving Black fashion the respect it deserves.
WORDS BY: ANWULI ONWAEZE Take Gen Ed Requirements Seriously. These classes may seem like a hindrance in your academic career, but they can actually open up a new interest to you. Try learning something you’ve always wondered about, most professors here are actually researchers and experts in their fields. They can offer a lot.
Make up a holiday for yourself.
Schedule one day where you don’t have class and have all of your work done. Basically a wellness day, but make it for yourself. It’s great even having one day where you don’t have to worry about getting things done, or have time to do fun stuff you usually don’t have time to do
Attend school events.
These are great for expanding your social circle, having cool experiences, and even getting free stuff! The student orgs at Syracuse are constantly hard at work putting these amazing experiences together, so make the most of them. You might learn something new or meet someone new.
Check out local second hand shops for room decor.
Your South Campus Apartment doesn’t have to look bland! Cluttered Closet and 315 are just two second hand shops near campus that have lots of cute decor and trinkets to make your dorm a little more homey.
Explore syracuse. If you stay on campus, then you may feel like there’s not much to do in Syracuse. However, if you look, the city has some great things to do. Invest in seasoning. Seasoning can make or break those dining hall meals. You can take advantage of the array of seasonings the halls provide or even keep your own on deck. Keeping up with healthy habits can be hard with the stress of being a student. Making sure your food is yummy can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Check instagram to see if your peers offer services.
Need to get your hair done? We got student hair stylists. Need to find some good food? We got student caterers. Need a photoshoot for your bday? We got student photographers! There’s so much talent on this campus, so support your peers. Plan ahead. Figuring out the bus route and leaving early instead of buying ubers. Knowing how much you want to spend for the week. Saving for a trip you want to go on. This isn’t an easy task, but the headache in planning saves you from having a headache executing
Some reimagined, some in plain sight. These are the many R’s of The Renegade.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY: LANCE EVANS
RENEGADE’S CHOICE: What does family mean to you?
Family isn’t necessarily just sharing the same DNA with one, family becomes the people who are there for you when you think you want to be alone. Family are the friends who can you can count on, call on, and be your true honest self with without any fear of judgement.
Ashley Andrew Jonah Family to me is being surrounded by people (blood or not) that love and support you no matter what.
Family is everything to me. Everything I do is for my family, to make them proud.
Family means having people who can care, support, and have love for one another no matter what. I believe family is not limited to just blood relatives but can be chosen too.
Friends & Family Welcome to the cookout. Here, we mingle in our gold hoops and fittesd to enjoy a sunny afternoon. This is a place of joy, so leave your worries and frustrations at the door. So grab a plate, chop it up, and get jiggy with it - we’re here for a good time, not a long time.
Photos by Philip Provilus and Andrew Prado-Alipui
Former Renegade Magazine Editor-In-Chief, Nia Gibson graduated with a degree in Communications and Rhetorical Studies from VPA in 2019 and went on to get a Master’s degree in Broadcast and Digital Journalism from Newhouse in 2020. Nia is currently a Broadcast Associate at the National Basketball Association. WORDS BY: IFETAYO DUDLEY DESIGN BY: LANCE EVANS
During your time at Syracuse University what did you study and when did you join Renegade Magazine? I was a Communications and Rhetorical Studies major, and I joined Renegade Mag my sophomore year as part of the Photography team. I was gradually getting into writing stories for the mag here and there. Then my junior year, I became a part of the E-board as the Event Coordinator, but at this point, I was willing to just be on the E-board, so this position was just a foot in the door for me to move up from there. So after that, I was able to become the Editor and Chief my senior year, where I ran it by myself Fall semester and then with my Co when Asia during the Spring semester when she came back from SU LA. What has life post-grad been like for you and professionally, especially in the heat of the pandemic when you graduated in Spring 2020? It was definitely hard. We all know graduating and adulting is one thing, but then doing it in the midst of the pandemic was another thing. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to walk in the ceremony for grad school, but in the midst of a very rigorous graduate program, we had to convert from in-person to online for a very hands-on major, Broadcast and Digital Journalism Major, with a Sports emphasis. So we had to transition from always being out in the field, talking and interacting with people, to being online; still applying what we’ve learned and continuing to learn was definitely a learning curve. But I think it is also a learning lesson because the world is definitely going to be the same. Switching to this mould of things being online or hybrid. Mentally it was tough because with the pandemic comes a lack of jobs. I had a parttime position with Overtime, but they also got hit by the pandemic, so I had legit part-time hours and was still pretty broke. For about eight months, I considered myself unemployed, broke, comparing myself to some of my friends who were doing fine, which will definitely steal your joy from time to time. But getting this job was definitely a blessing. Overall the pandemic was hard but how you look at it is how you can apply it to your life.
Have you felt prepared post-grad since leaving SU as far as what you’ve learned inside and outside the classroom? What has prepared you most for your professional career now? If Newhouse did anything, it definitely prepared me for being adaptable. If anyone is in Newhouse, you know their teaching methods are almost like throwing you out to the wolves. They make you very comfortable being uncomfortable, we’ve all heard that cliche saying, but they make sure that’s a skill. You have to be adaptable to do almost anything. Working in the NBA, you’re constantly learning something, so you’re constantly uncomfortable, and that became a very familiar feeling. Being able to learn quickly, move quickly, work under pressure at all times was stressful, but I felt prepared for it. I wasn’t scared or nervous. If there were one thing you would tell your old self in undergrad, what would it be? I would tell my younger self, “Girl, relax, stop taking yourself so seriously. It is not that serious.” One thing I’ve learned to do is laugh at myself. Do not take yourself so seriously, to the point where you’re stressing yourself out and thinking that you’re not where you’re supposed to be. You know, when it comes down to it, I’m still fairly young and in the middle of a pandemic. Being from the North East and especially New York, we never just learn to stop and smell the roses. Everything is a hustle and bustle. Once we accomplish one thing, we never stop and think about it, and that’s a good mindset to have, but it’s also okay to stop and smell the roses. And that’s one thing I’ve been practicing to do. What were the emotions of transitioning from working at a company like Overtime to getting an offer from the NBA? My emotions definitely came in waves. Initially, I was like, yes, let’s turn this pandemic into a bandemic. But I think once those initial feelings died down and the start date was coming closer, I did feel a bit of imposter syndrome. Even when I first started the job, that feeling you have to nip in the bud because it can affect your performance and confidence. I spoke to my mentors and mom, and this was a great example of when you need your village around you. Their words, prayers and thoughts have really gone a long way for me.
What has been the biggest challenge since working at the NBA? The schedule has definitely been the hardest for me. I work a lot of nights and weekends, but I just have to remind myself this is what I asked for; this is what I prayed for. Keeping up with my selfcare is being in the gym because I am a gym rat, and it’s therapeutic for me and where I do my best thinking. So with not having much of a routine right now because my schedule is indicative of the NBA schedule. Sometimes I’m eating dinner at home or in front of 15 television screens trying to monitor different games, which can be a lot but again, I remind myself this is a good problem. So overall, adapting to the schedule and being in a space where I’m constantly learning. Of course, Newhouse prepares you for that, but it’ll never be comfortable. Was there ever a time when you had selfdoubt entering the field of Sports Media in a male-dominated field? Yes, and the way you combat that is to make sure you’re well prepared. It’s very similar to being a black woman in this country. You know you have to always work four times hard as your white counterparts as well as your white male counterparts. What are five tips you can give current undergraduate students when applying to jobs and internships? Make sure you’re reading that description properly and gear your resume to that description of what a company is requiring and not just a generic resume that you send out to all companies. Make sure that your resume is easy to follow and easy to read - making sure it stands out. Connect. Connect. Connect. Network - Even if you meet someone who may not be offering you a job or position still take their advice seriously! Your cover letter is important, same as your resume; make sure you gear it towards the job you’re applying for. Speak that shit into existence. But not only do that but do the work. Faith without work is dead. Affirmations are very important, but also make sure you get to where you need to go when you need to go. So that’s having deadlines for yourself and a kind of roadmap on how you’re going to get to that point.
Tips to leave students? Take advantage of the Newhouse Career student center even if it says Newhouse because it isn’t limited to just those students and for anyone who wants to get into Journalism, understand that you’re not working a regular 9-5. You’re not entitled to holidays off, weekends off or nights but in the same sense understand what you need as a person and take the time off when necessary.
RENEGADE’S CHOICE: What does family mean to you?
Haniyah Bushra Zoe Family may not always be bonded genetically but is always rooted in love, acceptance and a deep sense of belonging.
Family, to me, means having people around you who are unconditionally loving and supportive of you. Family is having loved ones celebrate you everyday.
To me, family is a lot of things, but the two things that come to mind are “comfortability” and “home.” When I can be my most authentic self with others and be comfortable with them, that’s my family. Family won’t always be bloodrelated either, and funnily enough, your relatives aren’t always family. I gained a second family on this campus these past four years and we’re all individuals coming from different walks of life and backgrounds. Family is such a special word that I use for the people close to my heart and that I can always count on.
Madison Bryanna To me family extends beyond blood relatives. It’s about kinship, community, your village – anyone who shows up consistently in your life to catch you when you fall and raise you up. In turn you’re there to do the same for them.
What family means to me is a support system who is always there for you and guiding you through the way no matter the circumstances. Giving unconditional love and security; the ones you can count on.
WORDS BY: SOFIA RODRIGUEZ ILLUSTRATION BY: BRYANNA HULL The mental reality of college stems from a cycle that students find themselves in which they’re where they are searching for a place to belong. Underclassmen For underclassmen, they come into college needing to assimilate to a new environment with a newfound sense of independence as a form of survival; whereas In reference to upperclassmen, they are faced placed with the burden of preparing to enter the “real-world” with no sense of true guidance. However, what college students tend to have in common is that they experience they are faced with imposter syndrome, thus, leaving them to contend with face various obstacles.; Imposter syndrome can could be defined as feeling out of place because you do not deserve what you have achieved. Javier Payne, a sophomore in SU’s Whitman School of Management majoring in accounting, moved from Miami, FL to Syracuse, NY in pursuit of a chance to experience life on their own. Javier emphasized made an emphasis that “every single day it takes all of [their] effort just to get up and sometimes it is not enough.” Unfortunately, many college students feel this way because there is a constant state of competition amongst peers and life becomes about thriving academically instead of pursuing individual happiness. Sam Testani, a junior majoring in biochemistry and physics,
came to Syracuse to achieve his lifelong dream of attending medical school to become a doctor. Sam said, “Junior year starts to feel like you have to start seriously thinking about college. That adds a new layer of stress that was not as intense the first two years of college.” Depression and isolation tend to come hand-in-hand because of the pressures that come with attending a university as demanding as Syracuse University. Depression often manifests with feelings of loneliness and hopelessness, but is magnified by isolation. That being said, with every challenge we face as college students in the 21st century, we must focus on offering resources to students who tend to be ignored by the educational system in America. There has always been a stigma against receiving assistance and creating a sense of connection amongst students who suffer from mental health disorders or imposter syndrome or feeling left out. Therefore, our current goal should be establishing a space for students like Sam and Javier, a space where we promote the well-being of others and each other while educating students in understanding their own mental state. Depression is a disease that feels like we cannot fight and as a reminder, you are not alone. You are worthy of what you achieve, and you are definitely here for a reason. Never forget that.
Photos by Ryan Ally and Jonah Sierra
CREATED BY: LANCE EVANS
WORDS BY: RAINU GEORGE ILLUSTRATION BY: ABIGAIL OFORI
Black women have to fight to embrace their natural beauty, to be proud of their authentic and attested bodily curves and shape. This is all due to the myriad of ways the media influences the public’s minds and project distorted bodily expectations of Black women to the public to preserve. Black women have been subjected to hypersexualtion and commodification since the colonizers set sail, but the traces of the spoils still persist as the norm in our everyday lives. If history has taught us anything, it’s that slavery is the root to some of the most presistant and relevant issues in our contemporary life. In the 1800s, a British physician captured and enslaved a South African woman named Saartjie Baartman and described her body to be “animated,” “large,” “grotesque,” to fixate on the distinct appearance of Black women. His examinations lead him to put Sara’s body on display to the public for their entertainment. This disturbing action was how the Western world perceived Black women’s bodies since the 1800s. Her body was given the name Hottentot Venus and traveled through the major European cities like Paris and London. The dissimilarity stoked the colonizer’s curiosity which led to objectifying her body in barbaric and inhumane ways; they utterly dehumanized her body. It wasn’t until 2002, after Nelson Mandella led a protest for proper funeral rites to preserve her sanctity, that she was returned to South Africa. Society has defined and marginalized the image of Black women, objectifying and sexualizing Black women to the very core. The media and film industries have rebranded the standard of Black womanhood. Hollywood and popularized social media platforms push Black women to fit stereotypes that have been maliciously planted in history. Fuller buttocks and smaller waists have become the epitome of “sexiness” to society. Consequently, the hypersexualizaition has
been normalized, leading to dangerous medical procedures like Brazilian Butt Lifts. The BBL is the surgical procedure in which excess fat is removed from either the abdomen, side or hips, or lower back and is grafted to the buttocks to create a fuller appearance. According to reporting done by Vox, the procedure can cost $5,500, with aftercare doubling the price. The American Board Cosmetic Surgery has reported a heightened demand for BBL procedures. Since 2015, the number of BBLS has risen a staggering 77.6 percent and it’s now the fastest growing procedure in the world. Since the demand is so high, there are physicians that falsely claim they have the credentials to perform these procedures, and at a lower cost. This, unfortunately, attracts many to resort to risky and hazardous procedures. The side effects of BBL procedures range from soreness, scarring, infection, tearing of tissue in infected regions to complications that could prove fatal such as fat embolism to the heart or lungs. As of 2020, the mortality risk is one in 20,117 according to the International Open Access Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Women still choose to endure the possible side effects, and risk death, if it means they can fit the standard. It is imperative to disrupt the narrative around hypersexualization because young Black women are conditioned to believe they need a medical procedure to conform to naturally unattainable societal standards for their bodies. For the coming generations, body positivity should be embracing the body’s natural shape and curves and breaking free from society’s fabricated expectation of Black women.
WORDS BY: MADISON TYLER Since the cataclysmic year that was 2020 – political unrest, a global pandemic, yet another police brutality caused death – we’ve collectively been going through a racial reckoning. In more ways than one, as a community, we’re not just reacting to singular acts of racism, but rather looking inward to reevaluate our values and build something better for ourselves. We will no longer tolerate homophobia, transphobia, sexism, misogynoir, respectability politics (Go ‘head and wear your bonnet in public), xenophobia, anti-poor attitudes. The list goes on and on and on. Hopefully, the tide is turning and we’re finally heeding the words and instructions our elders and ancestor have left us, their gold nuggets of wisdom – the blueprint, if you will. Unfortunately, there are some who’ve slipped through the cracks and missed the memo. They’ve wholly misunderstood the assignment and have had to called in and called out. Read further for a list of Black public figures who needed to be checked in the past couple of years and a few who are leading us to a better future by example. In the spirit of subverting the subconscious of goodness to whiteness and “badness” to Blackness, we’re putting the ones setting us back on the White List, partly for upholding some shit that’s anti-Black, and putting the trailblazer on the Black List.
Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles
Lil Nas X
Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles are GOATs in their respective sports, tennis and gynmanstics, with incredible talents and skill that could be dubbed superhuman-like, but at the end of the day they are human. In 2021, Naomi and Simone both put themselves and their mental health first. Naomi withdrew from the French Open, to take a break from tennis, since she’d been suffering from bouts of depression since 2018. And this came after she got heat from tournament officials for declining to take part in the press conferences after the tournaments because negative questions about her playing negatively impacted her mental health. Simone Biles withdrew form the Olympic final, during a whole pandemic mind you, to prioritize their mental health. Black women often feel the pressure to be perfect, to succeed, to hustle, to say yes to every opportunity because you don’t know when the door might be open again. To see Naomi and Simone walk away from such high stakes competitions was a breath of fresh air and it’s allowing young Black women everywhere to give themselves permission to priortize their mental health and rest.
Lil Nas X’s influence on the culture shouldn’t be underestimated. When my brother, who’s firmly heterosexual, asked me if I’d listened to Montero when it came out, I knew we’d come a long way, considering the ways in which homophobia manifests in the Black community. We still have a long way to go, but twenty years ago I’m sure folks never could’ve imagined a Black gay rapper’s mainstream success. By openly being himself, standing in his truth, and clapping back when necessary, Lil Nas X is making space for the queer Black community, especially youth.
Nikkole Hannah Jones ICYMI, Nikkole Hannah Jones is a Pultizer Prizewinning journalist who covers racial justice for The New York Times Magazine. Her bold truth telling about America’s racist and anit-Black history in The 1619 Project has shed light on how the legacy of slavery is entrenched within each institution of American society. The project is so threatening to the status quo and those in power that it’s got white conservatives, (and some Black ones too – smh) talking about some shit they don’t know about, critical race theory, banning books left and right, and making teaching the true history of race in America illegal. However, Nikkole Hannah Jones is pushing the people forward and getting the last word. In July 2021, she curved UNC Chapel Hill and took a position at Howard University after UNC Chapel Hill’s Board of Trustees essentially rescinded her tenure who had issues with The 1619 Project. In an interview Hannah Jones said, “I’ve proven all that I’m going to prove. And I just really wanted to use the talent, the platform, the resources that I have managed to commit over time and to bring them to a Black institution where I won’t have to prove that, and where I can help other young, Black journalists — who come, many of them, from disadvantaged backgrounds themselves — to be able to compete.” Go HBCUs! In 2022, we stop going where we’re not wanted or respected.
Janicza Bravo, A’ziah King aka @Zolar Moon, and Taylour Paige If you haven’t heard “Y’all wanna hear a story about why me and this bitch here fell out? It’s kind of long but full of suspense,” all across your feed, we must not be living in the same universe. Black Twitter is where culture is created. So it was only a matter of time before a viral Twitter story jumped mediums to film. Director-writer Janicza Bravo brought @ZolarMoon’s tweets to life in Zola in a tragicomic way that honors King’s voice, style, and humanity. How rare! (Can you believe this was originally to be written and directed by a white man??!) And Taylour Paige, who plays the titular character, is giving depth and interiority in her performance, something not often afforded to Black women in film. Do yourself a favor and see this film.
Stacy Abrams and Latosha Brown Both of these women have been doing important grassroots work on the ground to make sure Black people exercise their right to vote. Even though we gained that right officially in 1965 with the Voting Rights Act, lawmakers have been slowly chipping away at those rights. When Stacey Abram lost the gubernatorial race in Georgia in 2018, owing to voter suppression, she didn’t just throw in the towel. She got to work, founding Fair Fight which has an initiative to fund and train voter protection teams in 20 battleground states. Thanks to her and Latosha Brown, who cofounded Black Voters Matter, and countless other Black women, whose names haven’t made it to mainstream media, Georgia turned blue in the 2020 election and we can continue the fight to ensure our voter rights, again. Of course, politics and progress don’t end with elections, so we need to be vigilant and hold our elected officials accountable, always.
WORDS BY: MADISON TYLER
To describe what DaBaby did as a misstep would probably be an understatement. Back in August 2021, Da Baby made anti-gay comments at a Miami concert that communicated that a level of misinformation about AIDS/HIV that’s entirely unacceptable with all we now know and the activism and grassroots work that’s been done in Black communities to educate folks and provide them with the necessary resoruces for their sexual health. Not only that, but he also got the nerve the get defensive on social media, issue a non-apology after being dropped from several music festivals, and then taking back his non-apology. The question always comes down to, will he grow from this? And until he does, will we continue listening to his music?
Tyler Perry is a complicated figure to say the least. There are people who absolutely love his films and television shows and feel seen as an audience with them. On the hand, they perpetuate harmful stereotypes and misogynoir that aren’t uplifting for the community. (I know “uplift” is loaded word, but you know what I mean.) However, back in 2020 Perry, in an Instagram post Terry revealed he doesn’t use a writer’s room for his television shows, which is a problem. Not only does it deny up and coming Black writers opportunities, but also means he creates an echo chamber of his own mind, which honesty explain a lot. When a writer’s room works well, you should get a diversity of experiences and perspectives.
Kenya Barris To be quite honest, Kenya Barris has been on many people’s “you’re on thin ice lists” for a while. While he’s been criticized for colorist casting choices for his shows Blackish, its various spin-offs, and the confused, cringey (in my humble opinion) Netflix series #blackAF, my issue is with something he told The Hollywood Reporter. In the profile, he’s quoted as saying he’s more interested in cultivating thought leaders like Wes Anderson and Malcolm Gladwell instead of someone like Charlamagne tha God, who panned #blackAF on The Breakfast Club. Now, I know Charlamagne tha God is not everyone’s cup of tea, but t it seems to me like Barris has a limited scope of who he considers to be a “thought leader.” So far, esoteric cinematic works have not really been Barris’ bag, so I have no idea what to expect from him next and I’m wondering who his imagined audience is.
T.I. In 2019, there was a heap of backlash against T.I. comments on the Ladies Like Us podcast about going to the gynecologist with his daughter every year “check her hymen” and make sure it’s still “intact” to confirm she’s still a virgin. First of all, that’s not even how female anatomy works. Sex education has historically failed us. And, we absolutely must leave this toxic, outdated double standard when it comes to Black sexuality and virginity behind! Can we please normalize gifting each other our fave Black feminist lit? Mo’Nique’s Comments About Wearing Bonnets in Public I am by no means saying we cancel Mo’Nique. People aren’t disposable. With that being said though, cancel instructing Black women on what they should and should not do with their hair or their bodies. Sometimes Black women police each other, when we should be fostering growth and healing that challenges the internalization of white supremacy. Rememeber, respectability politics will not save us. International flights be long as hell and you must protect the crown at all cost. Wear your bonnet wherever and whenever you want to!
Black TikTok WORDS BY: DASSY KEMEDIJO
Dances. Songs. Trends, trends, and more trends. These are the main pillars of TikTok, the popular social media app centered around short-form videos ranging from fifteen seconds to ten minutes. What was once regarded as a platform primarily for tweens and younger children has risen to global prominence, with a user base of over one billion people of all ages. Achieving consistent TikTok fame is now a highly-coveted status that comes with clout as well as coins (hello brand deals), but there’s a catch—you have to actually be credited first for what you create. A significant amount of those songs, dances, and trends that run TikTok have a common thread that ties them together: they were created by Black people. Blackness is central to TikTok culture, just like Blackness is the foundation of American culture and beyond, but Black creators rarely reap the benefits of their influence. TikTok reflects the reality of our whitewashed society that waters down Black culture and makes it palatable to the masses (read: white people), then refuses to give credit to the actual people who created the culture in the first place. The worst part of this
phenomenon of erasure is that what’s happening on TikTok isn’t new. We’ve seen this time and time before on social media apps like Vine and Twitter, where everything from Black music to Black beauty and fashion trends to AAVE (African American Vernacular English) is appropriated and distorted by white users who want to stay relevant. While TikTok is a microcosm of the Internet and can be used as a powerful platform to share knowledge and connect with others, its perpetuation of racism and discrimination of Black creators is the app’s fatal flaw—and it may even lead to its downfall. Let’s start with the dances. It’s just dancing right, who cares? Wrong. Hundreds of millions of people care, so much so that the term “Tiktok dance” is specifically used to refer to a viral dance trend on the platform that people quite literally make billions of videos of. No, you didn’t read that wrong, billions. These dances go hand in hand with viral Tiktok sounds, such as the viral dance to “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion, created by Keara Wilson (@ keke.janajah), or the equally sensational dance to “Corvette Corvette” by Popp Hunna, which was originated by Dorien Scott (@yvnggprince).
Undoubtedly, the most famous Tiktok dance in the app’s history (which arguably is what put Tiktok on the map in a major way) is the “Renegade” dance created by Jalaiah Harmon (@jalaiahharmon). Before Jalaiah was rightfully recognized as the dance’s creator, she was overshadowed by popular white influencers who were believed to have originated the dance trend. Luckily, Tiktok users mobilized and called for credit to be given where it was due. However, others aren’t so fortunate, and many do not get the recognition that they deserve. The co-opting of these dances is so extensive that it has even wormed its way into traditional media, such as when popular white Tiktoker Addison Rae performed several Tiktok dances on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show. The backlash surrounding her appearance invoked conversations about cultural appropriation and the erasure of Black creators, as the issue is not that she performed the dances, but that the dance’s Black creators were never even considered to come on to the show. That encapsulates the issue at hand, which Tiktok creator George Lee (@theconsciouslee) summed up perfectly: “When the cultural product is detached from the cultural producers, we get cultural appropriation.” There was even a time when Black Tiktokers even went on strike and refused to make a dance for Megan Thee Stallion’s hit song “Thot Shit” because they were tried of white Tiktokers appropriating their work. Too often our culture is co-opted, cheapened, and commodified so that it can be marketed to a white audience. Though it may seem trivial, that cultural erasure combined with a lack of proper compensation is a form of violence against Black Tiktok artists and creators. On top of the blatant harm in a cultural content, this extends to financial damage as well. According to Forbes, the highest-earning Tiktokers have net worths ranging from $4.75 million to $17.5 million— and only one, Avani Gregg (@avani), is Black (she is of African American, Mongolian, and Indian descent). Only one. While these (largely white) top-earning Tiktokers are securing lucrative brand sponsorships, TV deals, and even movie contracts, most Black creators struggle to make ends meet. In July 2021, Tiktok creator Ziggi Tyler (@sunjellyyy) went viral when he exposed the racial bias coded in the platform’s algorithm. He described how phrases like “black people,” “supporting black excellence,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “pro black” were censored from the app’s Creator Marketplace, but phrases such as “pro white,” “white supremacy,” and “supporting white excellence” were not. Black creators are frequently shadowbanned, which is the app’s way of partially or fully censuring an
account and limiting the account’s visibility, often with no explanation why. The app continually hits Black Tiktokers where it hurts them the most— in their pockets. Despite this problematic past and present, there is a light on the horizon. Increasing numbers of Black creators are being recognized for their contributions to the platform. Fashion Tiktoker Wisdom Kaye (@wisdm8) recently starred in Coach’s Spring 22 campaign, Tiktok star Avani Gregg was invited to this year’s Met Gala, and in the fall of 2021, Jalaiah Harmon starred in I Am: Jalaiah, a docuseries about her life. Times are changing, but are they changing fast enough? Tiktok would be nothing without Black people, and it is time that Tiktok realizes that. Or else, we may be forced to take our talents elsewhere, and that would be a shame. One thing is for certain: when our culture is at stake, we will protect it from those who seek to exploit it. Don’t act brand new— we run the culture because we are the culture.
RENEGADE’S CHOICE: What does family mean to you?
Dassy Fawaz Erin Family is home, plain and simple. It is those who we choose and who choose us back, time and time again.
Family is unconditional support, it’s being there and showing up for the people you love, it’s also guidance and leaning on those to steer you in the right direction.
Family to me is anyone who you love and support, and that loves and supports you back. When I think of family I think of not only those that are related to me, but also anyone who has been there for me throughout my different journeys.
Lance Family is the grounding element to everything. They’re with you through the tough times and remind you of the good times. They give you experiences, for you to create. Maybe even meals too, I hope.
RENEGADE’S CHOICE INDEX: What does family mean to you?
Ifetayo: Family isn’t necessarily just sharing the same DNA with one, family becomes the people who are there for you when you think you want to be alone. Family are the friends who you can count on, call on, and be your true honest self without any fear of judgment.
Ashley: Family to me is being surrounded by people (blood or not) that love and support you no matter what.
Andrew: Family is everything to me. Everything I do is for my family, to make them proud. Jonah: Family means having people who can care, support, and have love for one another no matter what. I believe family is not limited to just blood relatives but can be chosen too.
Haniyah: Family may not always be bonded genetically but is always rooted in love, acceptance and a deep sense of belonging.
Bushra: Family, to me, means having people around you who are unconditionally loving and supportive of you. Family is having loved ones celebrate you everyday.
Madison: To me family extends beyond blood relatives. It’s about kinship, community, your village – anyone who shows up consistently in your life to catch you when you fall and raise you up. In turn you’re there to do the same for them.
Zoe: To me, family is a lot of things, but the two things that come to mind are “comfortability” and “home.” When I can be my most authentic self with others and be comfortable with them, that’s my family. Family won’t always be blood-related either, and funnily enough, your relatives aren’t always family. I gained a second family on this campus these past four years and we’re all individuals coming from different walks of life and backgrounds. Family is such a special word that I use for the people close to my heart and that I can always count on.
Bryanna: What family means to me is a support system who is always there for you and guiding you through the way no matter the circumstances. Giving unconditional love and security; the ones you can count on.
Dassy: Family is home, plain and simple. It is those who we choose and who choose us back, time and time again.
Fawaz: Family is unconditional support, it’s being there and showing up for the people you love, it’s also guidance and leaning on those to steer you in the right direction.
Erin: Family to me is anyone who you love and support, and that loves and supports you back. When I think of family I think of not only those that are related to me, but also anyone who has been there for me throughout my different journeys.
Lance: Family is the grounding element to everything. They’re with you through the tough times and remind you of the good times. They give you experiences, for you to create. Maybe even meals too, I hope.
Photos by Ryan Ally and Andrew Prado-Alipui
words by: dassy kemedijo design by: lance evans
YOUR STUDENT FEE